An Urgent Request from Gail Phares, Founder-Witness for Peace


Dear friend,

I come to you with an urgent plea. Whether you have been a Witness for Peace supporter for 30 years or 30 days, I am asking you to help the Witness for Peace Regions in a moment of critical need.

Please send a special gift to Witness for Peace Southwest today to support our important peace and justice work when it matters most.

As you may know, I’ve dedicated most of my adult life to the work of Witness for Peace. I helped found WFP in 1983 to support innocent civilians in Nicaragua faced with the brutal war waged by US-funded Contras. I have since led over 50 WFP delegations into war zones and places of injustice and popular resistance.

I have been there when WFP accompanied Guatemalan war refugees; supported Mexican communities facing armed conflict, unjust trade and a senseless drug war; stood with Cubans calling for an end to a brutal blockade; joined with Haitians calling for economic justice; and provided nonviolent support to Colombians working for peace.

You know how powerful WFP’s work is. But today I come to you as a founder because WFP is struggling. The Great Recession and increasing inequality in the United States have diminished the disposable income available to progressive organizations. Our membership is declining as people have turned their attention to other parts of the world, focusing on the Middle East and other pressing issues.

These–and other factors–have lead to financial challenges that mean WFP has to reduce its staffing, something we are already doing. But it has also created an acute cash-flow problem that we need your help to overcome.

The Witness for Peace Regions are the vital part of WFP that brings Latin American issues to your doorstep and to the doorstep of our congress. WFP Regions bring Latin American speakers to your area, they invite you to travel with them on human rights missions and help you advocate with your congressional representatives to change US policies.

The summer months have been especially hard for our organization, which is why I would like to ask you to make a donation of $15 or more today, when WFP needs it most.

 At this time we need all of the WFP community to rally around the WFP Regions, lending support.

You know as well as I do that WFP’s work in Latin America and the United States continues to be crucially important.

Witness for Peace Southwest just finished leading a delegation to Honduras investigating the roots of the child migration crisis. WFPSW has responded to the crisis in Venezuela with 3 fact finding delegations and 3 live webinars to advocate against US sanctions on Venezuela. We continue to oppose the US embargo on Cuba by bringing US citizens and Cubans together in people to people exchanges.

A Lenca indigenous leader on the front lines for peace and justice in Honduras and a key WFPSW partner, recently said something that explains the importance of WFPSW’s work much better than I can:

“The international solidarity and advocacy work carried out by groups like Witness for Peace is saving lives in Honduras. Now the US Embassy calls me once a week to see if I am okay, this is because of your efforts.”

You know WFP’s work standing with human rights defenders is crucial throughout Latin America. That is why I hope you will join me in making a special contribution to Witness for Peace Southwest in this time of incredible need.
In deep gratitude,

Gail signature

Gail Phares, Witness for Peace co-founder
P.S. Witness for Peace Southwest needs your support now more than ever. Please click here to donate now!

Venezuela: Witness Participatory Democracy in Action


Venezuela: Witness Participatory Democracy in Action

November 9th to 17th, 2014

In the past 15 years, the people of Venezuela have participated in 19 free, fair, and democratic elections. After the untimely 2013 passing of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelans elected Nicolas Maduro to replace him and ratified the ruling socialist party in nationwide municipal elections. But Venezuela’s experiment with participatory democracy isn’t just about voting often. This year, with no election in sight, thousands upon thousands of organized communities decided it was time to form Communes, consolidating their grassroots Communal Councils into larger, more complex, democratic spaces. 795 Communes are now registered with the National Government, and the goal is to build 3,000 by 2019. Meanwhile, the Venezuelan opposition openly rejects the growing “Communal State” and blames the Bolivarian Government for inflation, the scarcity of basic goods, and violence. Deadly protests earlier this year demonstrate that a better understanding of Venezuela’s social, economic, and political transformations is urgently needed.

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This trip will familiarize participants with the ways and means of Venezuelan democracy, providing a unique opportunity to witness the coming together of popular public policies and grassroots organization. Delegates will learn about, and visit, a range of social programs known as the Misiones or Missions – the National Government’s way of implementing the universal right to food, housing, health, education, gainful employment, information, and leisure. Participants will also meet with members of the country’s opposition, including students and journalists, allowing for an integral understanding of Venezuela’s ongoing struggle to heal wounds of the past.

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Cost: $1,150 which includes full program in Venezuela, airport pick up and drop off, in country transportation, bi-lingual trip leaders and interpretation, 2 meals a day, background reading materials, donations to Venezuelan organizations, and lodging. $150 deposit due by October 12th, 2014. Airfare to Caracas NOT INCLUDED.


Contact: Witness for Peace Southwest | |  805-669-VIVA | |