TANYA COLE – Letter to the Editor (Ventura County Star) – Drug war spending

In a recent forum for the candidates for the 26th Congressional District, Candidate Jess Herrera was asked if he were elected, would he work to combat the failed drug war by reducing U.S. Drug War spending abroad and decriminalizing drugs at home. By the reaction of the audience, this seemed to be a tough question.

Mr. Herrera said Mexico and Latin America need our help combating the drugs and the police at home are doing a fine job. Perhaps Mr. Herrera is not aware that the “Failed Drug War” is named so for a reason.

After billions of U.S. dollars have been spent in drug war aid to Latin America, we have only seen an increase in drug production and an increase in human rights violations by the militaries we fund, particularly Colombia, Mexico and Honduras. At home we have the largest prison spending and prison population in the world with most people in the system for non-violent drug related offenses.

I hope our congressional candidates do a bit more homework before this election.

During President Obama’s trip to Colombia for the Summit of the Americas last weekend, he received an earful from Latin American presidents about the failures of Washington’s drug war. Of all countries, we should understand supply and demand economics. President Obama should refocus our drug policies to drug prevention and rehabilitation programs. Decriminalization/regulation of drugs will put the cartels and drug dealers out of business. Investment in our communities instead of guns and jails is money better spent.

– Tanya Cole,

Ojai

Published at http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/apr/18/drug-war-spending/

La Gotita Sobre el Acero: a poem in English and Spanish

By Franciso “Chavo Romero”

They call me El Chavo, and I was born and raised on the coastal city of Chiques (aka Oxnard, CA), territorio ocupado del Pueblo Chumash.

I am an organizer in the barrio… organizando spaces of resistance with la gente de abajo y a la izquierda against repression in all its forms. Soy indigena, descendant of various pueblos orginarios on this continent, Guachichile, Juchipila, Coahuila roots. Mexicano, cien porciento. Aqui estamos..y no nos vamos.

I taught middle school math and reading for 10 years, now I currently am the Events Coordinator at the Acuña Gallery and Cultural Center at Cafe on “A” in Downtown Oxnard.

As part of my commitment as a community organizer and activist I organize with Unión del Barrio and serve on the Raza Press and Media Association Editorial Board and on the Witness for Peace Southwest Regional Board and an active participant in the Todo Poder al Pueblo Collective.

The following poem was inspired by a report published last week by the organization No More Deaths. It is a report that details the “abuse, negligence and dehumanization of migrants as part of the institutional culture of the U.S. Border Patrol…”

I would like everyone to read this report, called Culture of Cruelty
. I hope it makes us think, get together, organize and fight these catastrophic violations. We are one people, Without Borders!

-Chavo
From the occupied territories of the Chumash People

El siguiente poema fue inspirado por un reporte que se publicó la semana pasada por la organización No Mas Muertes. Es un reporte que detalla sobre el “abuso, negligencia y deshumanización de migrantes que es parte de la cultura institucional de la patrulla fronteriza…”

Quiero que todos lean este reporte, nombrada Cultura de Crueldad
 – Espero que nos ponga a pensar, después a reunirnos, organizarnos y luchar contra estas violaciones catastróficas. Somos un pueblo, Sin Fronteras!

~Chavo
Desde los territorios ocupados del pueblo Chumash

La Gotita Sobre el Acero (English translation below)

Tranquilamente penetra el acero,
Las gotitas de sus llantos,
Oxidándose sobre los siglos,

Cultura de crueldad e impunidad.
Los agentes brutales maltratan,
Gritándole y burlándose con abuso psicológico,

“Que se muera!”

Tirada y entumecida sobre la celda,
Manos detrás sintiendo el frió del metal,
Penetrando y picando sus huesos,

Una gotita de sangre,
Penetra el acero.

Despierta con estómago retorcido,
Come galletitas insípidas y sin sabor,
Asquerosas condiciones apestan a heces y orín,

Aire frio congela su alma,
Sin cobija y sin dignidad,
Descalza con ampollas en el corazón,
Enroscándose como un bebe,

Lagrimitas chocan con el concreto,
Cierra sus bellos ojos,
Soñando de su querido pueblito,
En el pie de la montaña.

Una gotita de sangre,
Penetro el acero.

Penetrates the steel.

Video

Gerardo Torres: An Insider’s Perspective on Militarization, Repression, and Privatization in Honduras

Gerardo Torres is a representative of the International Commission of the National Front of Popular Resistance of Honduras, General Secretary of the Political Organization Los Necios/Las Necias (Organización Politica Los Necios — OPLN). Torres is also a member of the Analysis Commission of the FNRP and Ideological Education of the National Front of Youth Movements in Resistance of Honduras.

Gerardo Torres spoke with Uprising host Sonali Kolhatkar on April 28, 2011.

Visit the National Front’s website at: www.resistenciahonduras.net

Martina Steiner recorded this interview.

Video

Organizing Communities with “Chavo” Romero – part 2

Part 2 of interview with Francisco “Chavo” Romero, community activist, and Tanya Cole, Witness for Peace organizer. Discuss immigrant rights and workers rights, including militarization of the border and our communities. Also discuss active organizing work.

Filmed at CAPS TV in Ventura, CA on Mar. 5, 2011.

Video

Organizing Communities with “Chavo” Romero – part 1

Interview with Francisco “Chavo” Romero, community activist, and Tanya Cole, Witness for Peace organizer. Discuss immigrant rights and workers rights, including militarization of the border and our communities.

Filmed at CAPS TV in Ventura, CA on Mar. 5, 2011.

Video

U.S. and Central America – part 2 – interview with Tanya Cole on Dec. 17, 2010

Part 2 of interview with Tanya Cole, Witness for Peace Southwest District organizer, and Cindy Piester of Pulse TV. Discuss the history of U.S. involvement in Central America and migration and immigration.

Video

Tanya Cole: The Brutal Face of U.S. Latin America Policy – Then & Now

Tanya Cole, Witness for Peace Southwest District organizer, and Cindy Piester of Pulse TV discuss the ongoing brutal history of U.S. involvement in Latin America.

Refresh yourself on the CIA’s role of replacing democratically elected Latin governments after overthrowing them, and the brutal campaigns of repression that followed.

Grim history in broad strokes. An update in current ways and means of the U.S. governments continued efforts to control through violence.

VENTURA COUNTY STAR: Oxnard teachers hope to raise funds to visit Cuba

By Mark Storer

Francisco Romero has traveled extensively throughout Latin America. From Mexico to Venezuela and from Nicaragua to Honduras, the 34-year old Oxnard teacher has looked to ways to enhance his own understanding of Latin American culture and education.

But at an early spring conference, a chance meeting with Tanya Cole, a Southern California regional organizer for the Washington D.C. based political action group Witness for Peace, gave Romero an unexpected opportunity.

“I was reading a pamphlet about a chance to be part of a delegation of educators to Cuba,” said Romero who is single and teaches special education resource classes at Haydock Intermediate School in Oxnard. “I was really excited by the opportunity.”

Romero and his sister, Alma, 30, an English language arts teacher at Haydock, will arrive in Cuba on July 19 as part of a delegation of 37 educators from across the United States being sponsored by Witness for Peace They will return home July 29.

Witness for Peace is underwriting most of the trip, but there the Romeros are still in need of funds to pay travel expenses.

“We need to raise about a thousand dollars,” said Romero. “We’ve got $200 of that already, but that’s why we’re holding the fundraiser.”

The fundraiser is a concert and art exhibition to be held Sunday at 6 p.m. at Café on A in Oxnard and will feature music by the band Caliente as well as art work from area artists, Andrea Vargas Mendoza, Louie Moreno and Rolando!

National Public Radio affiliate KPFK’s Miguel Paredes, host of “Soul Rebel Radio” will present a slide show with pictures from Cuba where he has traveled. There will also be Cuban food and beverages available.

“The Cuban government provides universal education to all its citizens from pre-kindergarten on up,” Cole said. “This trip is a way for educators to go and learn about a new model and way of doing things.” Cole said that Witness for Peace has been advocating a change in U.S. perceptions of Cuba. “We think the embargo needs to be lifted against Cuba, and with the recent lifting of the travel ban to the island, we think the embargo can eventually crumble.”

Cole has traveled to Cuba numerous times and said that U.S. perceptions are not necessarily reality. “We have no diplomatic relations with Cuba, and it is a failed policy,” she said. “There’s been a lot of opening up of the island recently.”

Still, Amnesty International released an announcement on June 9 that while Cuba had accepted “some” of the United Nation’s suggestions on enhancing human rights, the organization was frustrated that the Cuban government still would not allow Cuban citizens to travel freely where they wished and did not provide fair and speedy trials within their justice system.

“I definitely want to get first hand knowledge of the system,” said Romero. “I want to know what the political and social realities are under the Cuban system.”

Romero said he wants to focus particularly on teaching methodologies in the island nation and focus on their learning disabled population. “I’m very concerned with some of our dropout rates here at home,” Romero said. “A very high number of our students right here in Oxnard drop out of school, and that number goes higher in the learning disabled population. I want to see how Cuba deals with that. The literacy rate in Cuba is something like 90 percent and that fascinates me. I’m anxious to talk to people there on the island and get a first hand look at how this is done and how they work there.”