Chair - DA Belgium

  • rsvped for Larry Cohen Webinar 2020-07-02 08:14:16 -0400

    Democrats Abroad Webinar with Larry Cohen

    Join Democrats Abroad as we speak with Our Revolution Chairperson Larry Cohen on Wednesday, July 8, at 9 am Eastern (Washington, DC time). 

    Larry will talk with Democrats Abroad members about the upcoming elections, the successes of Our Revolution in reforming the Presidential primary process, and the Democratic Party Platform.  Larry is the former chair of the Communications Workers of America union. He joined the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2015 and Our Revolution in 2016. He headed up the "Sanders" team in the negotiations on changes to the rules for the2020 Democratic National  Convention, including reducing the number of "super-delegates" and reducing their role in the selection of the nominee.  He is a member of the Democratic National Committee.

    To join the call, just RSVP below. Once you RSVP, you will receive an email with instructions about joining the webinar as well as how you can submit questions to Mr. Cohen.

    And while you are doing that, consider joining Larry Cohen in supporting our voter mobilization efforts with a $10 donation (or more!). Donations large or small will help us win in 2020. Please consider donating today.

    WHEN
    July 08, 2020 at 9am
    WHERE
    Zoom Webinar
    251 rsvps rsvp

  • published Voices from our Community - The Rebel Queen in News 2020-06-30 04:48:37 -0400

    Voices from our Community - The Rebel Queen

    THE REBEL QUEEN

    The Rebel Queen

    Statues are incarnations of those we choose to honor in our public spaces. They are also testaments to how art breathes life into history. Spurred by the global Black Lives Matter movement, statues in the US that were raised to recast the South’s defeat in the Civil War have now been defaced and removed to protest glorifying that racist past.

    Too many countries have tried to hide their role in benefiting from Africa’s exploitation, choosing instead to build statues of those who profited from it, like the one recently thrown into Bristol’s harbor, from where Africans were shipped across the Atlantic to endure centuries of dehumanization. Defacing and toppling statues from their pedestals is one form of protest. Unpacking history and learning from it is another.

    A handful of cities have tried to do this quiet yet vital work. Bordeaux, France, for instance, has put up plaques that explain exactly how the slave trade enabled the city to erect its beautiful buildings. France’s second largest port for the slave trade shipped some 150,000 Africans to its then-richest colony of Saint-Domingue. In 1998, Karfa Diallo, a native of Senegal who moved to Bordeaux, founded Memoires & Partages, an association dedicated to never forgetting France’s role in the slave trade. He and others lead city tours that reveal history hiding in plain sight. Thanks to their long-term efforts, that work coming hand-in-hand with protests and demonstrations, now street names are being changed in Bordeaux. 

    Included in the tour is a statue of Modeste Testas, created by the Haitian sculptor Caymitte Woodly, who recently sculpted a bust of George Floyd. Modeste was an African woman who survived abduction at the age of 14, deportation from her homeland, then slavery and sexual exploitation for decades in Bordeaux and Haiti. When the man who owned her and for whom she bore children died, she was finally freed. Modeste lived to be over 100 years old, and she died in Haiti, the only country in the world borne from a revolution of the enslaved. A statue like this is a rarity. Why is this so?

    Amnesia and injustice go hand in hand. It is much easier to ignore history (or avenge it), than to look it squarely in the face. The Fourth of July is known as Independence Day in the US, a celebration marking the fight against the colonial powers of England. This year, in the wake of our global reckoning with racism, our Independence Day should also be a day for reflecting on all people of African descent who fought for their right to be free from slavery and oppression, and who have been deliberately erased from history. 

    In Copenhagen, Denmark, is an old harbor warehouse that was once filled with sugar and rum for which Black lives were traded. In front of it now stands “I Am Queen Mary.” More than 20 feet tall, a regal Black woman sits on a throne, holding a torch in one hand and a knife for cutting sugar cane in the other. She was inspired by Mary Thomas, who led a slave revolt in the Danish West Indies. It is the only statue of its kind, commemorating a Black female slave who led a fight for freedom. I imagine the Rebel Queen’s words today: “The vote is a powerful weapon we never had. Use it well!”

    This breathtaking monument was created by two Black female artists, LaVaughn Belle from the Virgin Islands and Jeannette Ehlers, a Dane with Caribbean roots. When I learned more about I Am Queen Mary, I shared her origin story with my 81-year-old mother. She and my father, who passed away in 2015, were born and raised in Haiti. Our ancestors may well have been shipped from Bordeaux. We will never know because before Haitian independence, only the French ancestry in our family tree was documented; it includes a leader in the American Revolution. 

    My mother made a vow that one day we would see Queen Mary together. So last December, she traveled from the US for 20 hours to meet me and my husband in Copenhagen. As a chilly winter rain lashed our faces, the three of us made our way gingerly across slippery cobblestones. We were making a pilgrimage to a monument against silence and erasure from history. We were honoring the power of art to shine a light on those hidden in the margins of history. We gazed up at the Rebel Queen as if she held the past, present, and future in her hands.

    Nadine Pinede - Democrats Abroad Belgium


  • Voices from our Community - On Atlanta & Fast Food

    With this post, we begin a series that aspires to showcase the diverse voices of our Democratic community in Belgium.  We understand that some might prefer to remain anonymous - that is fine. Our intent is not to shine a spotlight but rather to open our eyes to voices other than those we might usually be hearing. If you would like to share your voice, send a note to info-belgium@democratsabroad.org.

    On Atlanta & Fast Food

    Rayshard Brooks is the most recent victim of the deadly use of force by police. He was shot in the back as he ran away from police, in the parking lot of a Wendy's fast food restaurant in Atlanta, Georgia. Police had approached him because he was asleep in his car, and when he failed a sobriety test, he scuffled with them and took one of their tasers. A taser, however, is not a lethal weapon, and the police were not in any imminent danger. On the other hand, the young white man who in 2015 methodically shot and murdered 9 black parishioners in a Charleston, South Carolina church, was handled quite differently by police, who even bought him a Burger King hamburger when he was detained for questioning. Not all lives matter in the same way to those entrusted to protect us.

    Brussels - June 14, 2020


  • signed up on Progressive Caucus Signup 2020-06-07 06:58:27 -0400

  • published Black History Month in Brussels in News 2020-02-20 15:41:19 -0500

    Black History Month in Brussels

    Black History Month kicked off on February 8th at Toukoul Cafe in Brussels, with an inspiring program of readings, song, and a few rounds of Black History Bingo, complete with prizes.  We met new friends, registered new voters, and learned more about a part of our history that most of us never really learned, whether here in Belgium or back in the States.  But thanks to DAB volunteers, Robin Lofton & Sandra Keegan, we inaugurated what we hope will become an annual Lunch, and we prompted even more spontaneous get-togethers around the theme of Black History.  The following week, members gathered to see the film "Just Mercy" at UGC DeBrouckère in Brussels; other are planning to attend the premieres of "Queen & Slim" and "Harriet", and many will  hear DAB member, Dorrie Wilson, moderate a Writer's Panel ahead of the March 1st showing of the documentary on acclaimed writer, Toni Morrison, "The Pieces I Am" (tickets still available here - http://www.bozar.be/en/activities/163357-toni-morrison-the-pieces-i-am).

    We’d really like our attention to Black History and the African-American experience to go beyond the month of February, so if you can help organize an event in the coming months, please get in touch!

    DAB member, James Chizungu, reads from James Ellison's "Invisible Man"

    DAB member, James Chizungu, reads from James Ellison's "Invisible Man"
    Ben Koponen speaks on education
    DAB Volunteer, Robin Lofton, takes us through Black History Bingo
    DAB member Ted Simmons sings "Love"
    The Negro National Anthem


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  • signed up on GOTV signup 2020-01-08 15:01:20 -0500

    GOTV signup

    Click below to receive periodic updates from the GOTV and Voting Rights teams regarding our voting rights work.  We will message you when there are important updates and developments to report.

    Sign up

  • published It's Debate Week - join us! in News 2019-10-12 03:54:12 -0400

    It's Debate Week - join us!

    A huge thanks to our volunteers, Joyce Kedzuf Mostinckx & Anne Clark, who registered US students at KU Leuven last month - as they can attest, it's easy and fun!! So consider helping us Get Out the Vote by joining Tuesday's GOTV Volunteer call - drop a note to Trip DuBard at dabbesec2020@gmail.com and we'll send you the call-in details.

    We also have a couple of debate watch events coming up, one in central Brussels on Friday and one out in the 'burbs on Saturday - look for details on our Events page.

    Don't have time but still want to help? Consider making a small donation to DA Belgium through our DAB bank account (DAB-Bronzwaer - KBC BE74 7360 2169 3207) or to Democrats Abroad’s international efforts via this link (Donate).

    Hope to meet you all soon,

    Pauline Manos - DA Belgium Chair

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  • published DEMOCRACY IN ACTION! in News 2019-05-26 06:34:11 -0400

    DEMOCRACY IN ACTION!

    #DAinDC - including our own Annie Tanampai!
    US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand  addresses #DAinDC on her race for the Democratic Presidential Primary
    US Senator Doug Jones spoke to #DAinDC via video, as Alabama went down in history for having the most restrictive abortion laws in the country..
    #DAinDC ws also attended by many of us via WebEx...thanks to our members' generaus donations!!

    This weekend, many of us are voting in European and local elections. We also commemorate Memorial Day in the US, honoring those who gave their lives to defend the democracy that we so often take for granted. Last weekend, that democracy was in action, as Democrats Abroad held three days of global meetings in Washington, DC. Thanks to the DA Travel Fund, one our members, Annie Tanampai, was able to attend, and DA funded many more of us participating from afar via WebEx.

    But fewer than 1% of DA members donate to help us defend this democracy. Please help us change this. Donate Now to Democrats Abroad on a global level. DA provides the resources for us to do what we need to do - from paying for phone calls to our members to social media advertising that helps us get out the vote among the millions of overseas Americans in Belgium and around the world. Our donations really do make a difference, as you saw in our Treasurer's Report at our March Annual General Meeting. So please make a donation now.

    I also encourage you to join our Global Caucuses. You can read more about them on DA’s website, as well as meeting the newly-elected International Executive Committee. The Caucuses are open to all allies of the various groups so consider signing up, following them on social media, and even volunteering.

    Here in Belgium, our events continue into June, thanks to our many volunteers!

    • June 6th 6:30pm - Schaerbeek Pub Social - RSVP here
    • June 12th 6:30pm - Brussels Film Night - Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 11/9 - RSVP here
    • June 27th - Extended ExCom Meeting & Debate Watch Party - pencil in the date and stay tuned for more details in our next email.

    If any of you outside Brussels would like to organize a similar event and help us reach more Americans beyond the capital, please do get in touch with us! This is the time for us to raise awareness, ahead of our January 2020 voter registration drive.


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  • signed up on Youth Caucus 2019-05-18 15:32:12 -0400

  • signed up on Global Black Caucus Signup 2019-05-18 14:24:18 -0400

  • signed up on Hispanic Caucus Signup 2019-05-18 14:24:01 -0400

  • signed up on LGBT Signup 2019-05-18 14:22:24 -0400

  • published Brussels Women's March Anniversary Event in News 2018-01-21 15:20:22 -0500

    Brussels Women's March Anniversary Event

    DAB was proud to join the Lights 4 Rights group to mark the one year anniversary of our 2000-strong Brussels Women's March.  The beautiful voices of Indigo Creative asbl led us in song (video on our Friends of Democrats Abroad Facebook page!) and we even able to give voting information to a few new Americans.  If you haven't already requested your absentee ballots for 2018, be sure to go to www.VoteFromAbroad.org.  See you at our next event, this coming Thursday!

    https://www.facebook.com/DABelgium/videos/10156129655765990/



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  • published Health Care Landscape Part 2 in News 2017-11-09 15:42:08 -0500

    Health Care Landscape Part 2

    We were very happy to welcome on November 6th Paula Jakub, the CEO of the AFSPA, which administers health insurance  as part of the Federal Health Benefits program.  Paula is also the Executive Director of the Senior Living Foundation and spoke to us of her learnings from running this non-profit organization that is devoted to helping elderly Foreign Service retirees and survivors.   She also answered our questions on Medicare and Medicaid, Essential Health Benefits, long-term health insurance, pre-existing conditions, and the latest on the state of the Affordable Care Act.  A special thanks to volunteer Sandra Keegan for having organized the comfortable venue, which helped soften the blow for some of us who realized we might never be able to move back to the US for a simple lack of affordable health care! 

    To all our members, please take part in the Tiny Action on Health Care - take a selfie in support of Universal Health Care - details on http://www.democratsabroad.org/healthcare_stories.   

     


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  • published It's Back to School Time! in News 2017-09-20 16:24:31 -0400

    It's Back to School Time!

    Thanks to the efforts of our determined GOTV Director, Tiffany Fliss, DAB was at KU Leuven's International Student Orientation Activity Fair on September 20th.  Leuven DAB member Kevin Bardool and Chair Pauline Manos helped sign-up a dozen or so American citizens and encouraged all the other curious students (especially attracted by DA Germany's "Make America Gay Again" postcard!) to help us spread the word.

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  • Scenes from a Civilized Debate between a Democrat and a Republican


    DA Belgium Chair, Pauline Manos, and Republicans Overseas Chair, Mike Kulbickas, spoke on a September 14th panel sponsored by the Université Libre de Bruxelles Extension Program at La Louvière: L' Amérique de Donald Trump....200 jours plus tard! It was a refreshingly civilized discussion (with even a few laughs) that covered a wide range of topics, from the values of each party to the history behind divergent views on issues from health care to foreign policy to immigration, with many thoughtful questions from the 70+ attendees.  Our warm thanks to moderators Jean-Paul Renier and Salvatore Ribaudo for allowing us to move out of our "Brussels Bubble".  

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  • published THIS is DAB!!! in News 2017-08-27 10:52:45 -0400

    THIS is DAB!!!

    No pics, but we had a great Pub Social on August 16th - here's what our crowd looked like:
    - age range: late 20s to 65+
    - time in Belgium: two weeks to 40+ years
    - political persuasion: self-proclaimed sort-of anarchist to fiscally conservative
    - voting states: CA, FL, NM, NC, OR, and more

    And our "Friends of DAB": Wallon, Flemish, Bruxelloise, British, and a couple of D.C. tourists and a vacationing American working in Senegal

    THIS IS DAB, THIS IS AMERICA!!!!

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  • published A call for stories of Universal Health Care in News 2017-02-23 07:00:44 -0500

    A call for stories of Universal Health Care

    Americans Abroad: Stories of Universal Healthcare
     
    America stands on the brink of a new horizon in healthcare, taking a major step forward with the implementation of the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. However, with President Trump and the Republicans prioritizing a ‘repeal and replace’ of the ACA, the future well-being of hard-working Americans is at stake - literally.
     
    And that simply cannot happen.
     
    In Europe and throughout the entire developed world, healthcare is considered to be a NON-partisan, universal human right.
     
    Why not in the United States?
     
    The clock must not be turned back on the progress Americans have made regarding their health. Now that millions have experienced the benefits of the ACA for themselves, they are speaking out like never before in favor of the fairness, affordability and inclusiveness that a healthcare system in every democratic, developed country should provide for its citizens.  
     
    “The overwhelming majority of Americans, regardless of political persuasion, understand that we have to go forward on health care, not backwards.”
     
    – Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) –
     
    Following the January 15th and February 25th rallies organized around the country in support of the Affordable Care Act, more and more Americans are getting involved at the grassroots level and voicing their views on healthcare.
     
    As an American living outside of the U.S. (of temporary or indefinite status), you have likely found yourself in conversations with friends and family back home, discussing the benefits of ‘universal’ healthcare policies that you have experienced abroad. Chances are, you have had a quality, professional experience whether you were working, studying or simply vacationing at that given moment. And these are the defining moments that must be shared.
     
    We cannot afford to be silent – and there has never been a more important time than now. America has come too far to watch its long-awaited advances in healthcare be stolen away. We must not regress, but rather strive to improve, expand and make ever-more-inclusive this human right for all people, regardless of economic class, employment status, pre-existing condition, race, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc.
     
    Will you tell your ‘healthcare abroad’ story, in support of the ACA and the principle of universal healthcare as a human right for America?
     
    The U.S. State Department estimates that 7-8 million Americans live abroad. That means millions of healthcare stories.
     
    Please join your fellow Americans in this effort by sending your short story (written or video) to chair-be@democratsabroad.org, to be shared back home with our representatives at the local, state and federal levels.
     
    If you believe that healthcare is a human right and a moral imperative, let your voice be heard, loud and clear – share your story!
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    Americans Abroad: Stories of Universal Healthcare
     
    Becky (Oregon)
     
    As a longtime resident of Belgium, I participate in the national health system, which provides coverage throughout the European Union.  I can go to whichever doctor, specialist or hospital I want. The cost is means-tested and can vary with my income.  It takes the form of a single, quarterly payment that covers both healthcare and pension.  I estimate the healthcare component at 1500-2500 euros/year.  It has no deductible and covers about 75-80% of my healthcare expenses. I also have optional, supplementary private insurance (1400 euros/year) that covers 80% of the remainder of the treatment in Belgium and also covers 80% of the cost, up to a ceiling, of any treatment worldwide outside the EU. In 2002, I had a back operation for a slipped disc, was hospitalised for six days in a 2-person room and received two months' of physiotherapy afterwards.  The total cost of the treatment was approximately 20,000 euros, which was covered.  I ended up only 169 euros out of pocket. During the same period, a friend in the United States had the same operation and was only allowed to stay in the hospital two days. Her expenditure was considerably higher and had a deductible before the insurance kicked in. I believe that the Belgian system works well for two reasons. Although there is a wide choice of administrative bodies to manage reimbursement, known as "mutual societies", they are all run on a non-profit basis.  Secondly, the government regulates the reimbursement rates for all healthcare services and pharmaceuticals. No political party or group questions the need for national healthcare, although rising costs have led to the widespread use of supplementary insurance.
     
     
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    Andy (Michigan)
     
    Before moving to my current residence in Belgium, I lived in Spain. While living in Madrid with a ‘tourist’ status, I went home to the U.S. at Christmas time to visit my family and broke my wrist in a snowboarding accident. As a result of the break, I spent the next 3-4 hours in a nearby hospital where I received fantastic care from a specialist who not only reset my wrist (non-surgical intervention), but lightened the mood, made me laugh and truly added a personal, human touch to the always traumatic experience of a breaking a body part. Although still under the relaxing effect of the administered anesthetic upon leaving, the mood quickly became somber when I stopped at the check-out window and was presented with the bill. As an ‘unemployed and uninsured’ young person (under the age of 26) living abroad at the time, a 60% reduction was applied to the cost of my treatment, with an additional 10% discount available, pending the payment-in-full of the remaining bill amount within 30 days. Fortunately, my parents were able to assist me in covering the outstanding 30% of the total bill. Unfortunately, the total bill still amounted to over $2,000 USD. A week-and-a-half later, I returned to Spain, where, despite my unofficial status as a tourist (eg. 3-month visa-free tourist agreement between the U.S. and the 26 countries in the Schengen area of the EU), I had already registered myself as a ‘temporary resident’ in Madrid – thus providing me the opportunity to have a “tarjeta sanitaria” (medical card) for foreigners and nationals alike in Spain. With my medical card, I was not only able to visit a general practitioner for routine care, but hospitals and emergency rooms for more intensive care as well. Over the next several weeks in Madrid, I proceeded to make visits to a hand/wrist specialist, have x-rays taken and attend rehabilitation sessions with a physical therapist, paying a grand total of € 0.00 ($ 0.00 USD) out-of-pocket for all services provided. Years later, I fondly recall the entire experience as the time period in which I became a firm believer in universal healthcare not only as sensible, long-term economic planning for more egalitarian societies, but as a human right and moral imperative.     
     
     
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    We're eager to hear your story: healthcare@democratsabroad.org

  • published Join us on January 20th in News 2016-12-20 10:48:40 -0500

    Join us on January 20th

    Lights for Rights - Brussels Women's March

     In solidarity with those fighting for women’s rights and social justice around the world, join us to light a candle at Place de la Monnaie on January 20th at 5pm. EVERYONE is welcome to this gathering, invite your family, friends and colleagues and help spread the word! Kids and families are very welcome, too, as we will stand with the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, and with the Women’s March in Washington DC.  Click on the link above to join the Facebook event for up-to-date information or keep an eye on the DAB site.  

     


  • published Moving to Action - What's Next in News 2016-12-05 09:25:47 -0500

    Moving to Action - What's Next

    We had an energizing "Post-Election Reflection", with many suggestions on how to move into actionable opposition mode.  Here are a few:

    • January 21st - Solidarity with the Women's March on Washington - we are requesting a permit to gather in Brussels in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington (objective on the event's national website, http://www.womensmarch.com).  Pencil in the date (it's open to all, not just women!) and we will keep you posted on the event, particularly as we connect with others working in the same direction. If you'd like to volunteer to help out, let us know.
    • Take the Overseas Vote Foundation Survey -  http://www.research.net/r/USVote_2016_PostElectionSurvey - literally less than five minutes on a phone, laptop, or desktop.  It is important that we get the data to improve our overseas voting efforts and ensure our voices as Americans abroad are heard.  And as we discovered in our many Get Out the Vote efforts this past year, the challenges are many.
    • Participate in DA's Congressional Call Storm - http://www.democratsabroad.org/congressional_call_storm - this is a targeted effort towards the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform  to support investigations into Trump's conflicts of interest. It's a great way to act directly and also remind your state officials that they speak for Americans abroad, too.
    • Take regular action through our Facebook page - our DAB Facebook Page is becoming our one-stop shop to collect the myriad of ideas that allow us to channel our anger and disappointment into concrete action.  Like the page and scroll through for articles and suggestions.
    • Volunteer to help out - DAB is in desperate need of an events coordinator, as we've had many suggestions for 2017 events but need the arms and legs to find venues and manage communication - estimated time commitment would be a couple of hours a week in the month leading up to the event.  In a similar vein, the DPCA (Democratic Party Committee Abroad, aka DA Int’l) is looking for volunteers who’d be willing to spend at least 3hrs/week on the Communications team on an ongoing basis.  Let me know if you’re interested in either.

    And with that, I think we have enough to keep us busy through the upcoming holidays!  May they be peaceful for you and your friends and family and may we start the new year with the same energy and momentum that we have today.  

    All the best, 

    Pauline

    Pauline Manos
    Chair, Democrats Abroad Belgium