The Week — July 28

One Victorian starving to make some change, Victoria welcomes torture ship into harbour, then preps for its 150-year celebration

Zac Braciszewicz has gone 13 days without eating, only consuming water, in a protest against social injustice.

Starving to make some change

One Victoria resident is so fed up with the way governments have stolen from the poor to bequeath the rich, that he’s decided to take matters into his own stomach: by starving himself.

Zac Braciszewicz, 34, is on a hunger strike and intends not to consume anything but water until he can’t go any longer, in an effort to draw attention to the political atrocities happening today. As of press time, Braciszewicz has been without food for 13 days. But what seems like torture to most of us is actually something Braciszewicz is well versed in — he’s practiced fasting with some of his Buddhist teachers, and he’s studied the topic extensively.

“I got tired of the state of resource distribution, and how everything is organized into private profits. All we see are the same politicians making the same cuts to the same programs, and this isn’t just Victoria or Canada-wide — this is global,” says Braciszewicz.

Any skeptic can do the math to know Braciszewicz will likely perish before any governments roll over fresh dough for the underprivileged, but that isn’t stopping the philosophy student. Braciszewicz says the human body can actually last weeks without food, so long as enough water and electrolytes (i.e. salt) are consumed, and energy output is low. Weaning oneself back onto food can also take as many days as were fasted, says Braciszewicz, though he says it will be a hard decision to resume eating.

“People get stuck in this idea that all they can really do is vote, and that voting doesn’t work anyway, but it’s not the truth,” says Braciszewicz. “I found the most extreme protest I could think of without breaking the law. Everyone knows what they can do. What they have to get over is their fear, and their fear of losing.”

Braciszewicz has lost nearly a pound a day since beginning his fast, and has been recording his process on YouTube. Find his Facebook page: “Support the Hunger Strike for Economic Justice!”

Speaking of torture

A few Victoria residents are none too pleased with what the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has granted the OK to this week.

A vessel named La Esmeralda will be floating in the city’s harbour, from Aug. 1 to 5, as a historical icon brought in by the Canadian Navy. But the boat was used as a floating torture ship during the Chilean Pinochet regime from 1973 to 1990, with a bloody history that left over 100 Chileans tortured, raped and assassinated. To date, no one has been held accountable for the crimes committed by the Chilean Navy on this ship, nor have the impunity laws  been changed that were passed during the Pinochet regime.

“It amazes me that this icon of torture and terrorism from ‘the other  9/11’ would be welcome in our port. Would cars from Holocaust trains be celebrated here?” says Melaney Black of Victoria’s chapter of Amnesty International. “In a city and province that strives to support human rights, it is incumbent upon the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, the Canadian Naval authorities and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to rescind their invitation to this vessel until official and legal Chilean reparations to victims, survivors and their families have been made.”

So far, no move has been made to rescind the offer to port. “The GVHA is facilitating the Esmeralda’s safe moorage, as we would any other vessel legally entering Victoria harbour, under authority of the federal government,” says Curtis Grad, GVHA CEO. “We would also like to reiterate that we are liaising closely with all concerned parties to fulfill our obligations, including the facilitation of the right of individuals to protest in a peaceful and safe manner.”

Victorians will be invited to tour this ship.

Happy birthday, Victoria!

With next Tuesday, Aug. 2, marking Victoria’s 149th birthday, Monday thought it would be a fine time to ask what the city has planned to celebrate next year’s big one-five-O.

As Vancouver blows the candles out on its 125th, our neighbour has gifted $1.4 million to Van arts groups to help them organize their own events. How generous is big sis looking? Well, she’s got the decorations down pat. So far, the city’s preliminary plans are a lot of, well, signage. Rest assured, everyone will confidently know Victoria is turning 150 years old with the banners, hanging baskets and branding of Victoria 150. The city has also applied for a $750,000 grant from Cultural Capitals of Canada and a $200,000 grant from the Canadian Heritage Celebration Fund. No word yet on what presents could be gifted to city artists, though Mayor Dean Fortin hopes to see artists turn their attention to helping the city bring in the sesquicentennial cheer. Looks like we’ll have to wait to find out if any gifts are hiding in the closet. M

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