Letter from SW Board Member to LA Times on US Right Wing Legacy in Latin America

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Protest against Donald Trump in downtown Los Angeles, California this January. (Reuters)

The following text was submitted by regional board member  Rachel Bruhnke to the Los Angeles Times denouncing President Trump’s pick for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorusch on the weekend of Ronald Reagan’s birthday. The statement reads…

The irony of President Trump announcing, on the weekend of Ronald Reagan’s birthday, judge Neil Gorsuch as his pick for a Supreme Court Justice does not escape those of us in the Latin American Solidarity community in the United States. Ronald Reagan was wrong in the 1980’s to side with the power elites in Central America, against the will of the common people. Mr. Gorsuch was an unapologetic defender of Reagan, no matter the illegality of the case.

Mr. Gorsuch staunchly defended the Reagan administration during the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980’s, and dismissed as “a superficial issue” the illegality of Reagan’s covert operations to overthrow the Nicaraguan Sandinistas. Indeed, his senior yearbook quote was from the infamous (in Latin America) Henry Kissinger: “The illegal we do immediately, the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

As someone who has lived many years in Latin America, including as a Peace Corps volunteer, a university student and a sustainable development engineer, I know firsthand, as Mr. Gorsuch cannot, that he was wrong to oppose necessary changes to unjust political and economic systems in Latin America. The Reagan Wars in Central America began a generation of unnecessary tragedy in the region, and caused hundreds of thousands to flee…Where, ironically? To the U.S.!

The nomination of Mr. Gorsuch strengthens our understanding that President Trump is not interested in the law, nor equality. We can only hope that in this tumultuous process in America, those who are only now just “waking up”-on both sides of these issues-take the time to learn about what those of us have known for decades.

Welcome to the debate, America. Let the education begin.

Rachel Bruhnke

Witness for Peace Southwest Regional Board Member

San Pedro, California

Conversatorio sobre Cuba, Venezuela y México, 15 de enero de 2017 (+ volante en español)

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Más de 200 Zapatistas participaron en el Encuentro Internacional (Con)ciencias en San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas para interrogar y retar a la comunidad científica y también buscaron cómo infundir a sus tradiciones ancestrales con estrategias científicas para vencer los efectos negativos del cambio climático en sus comunidades y el mundo (Radio Zapatista).

Procesos revolucionarias por las Américas – volante oficial

Evento bilingüe

DOMINGO 15 de enero de 2017

4:00 a 6:00pm, las puertas abren a las  3:30pm

La Casa Roja, 1251 S St. Andrews Place Los Ángeles, CA 90019

*Donación sugerida de $5 a 20, nadie será rechazadx por falta de fondos *

*Libros, artesanía & más a la venta* & *Refrigerio* 

Bienvenidxs a nuestro primer evento de 2017 con charlas sobre los procesos revolucionarios en Cuba, Venezuela y Chiapas, México. Aracely Barboza Cabral es una mujer de color y queer de Los Ángeles del Este con raíces mexicanas y 14 años de experiencia de organización. El noviembre pasado, Aracely participó en una delegación de personas de color a Cuba con WFP. Aracely y otrxs delegadxs aprendieron sobre los logros de la isla y su movimiento en los contextos de justicia social, educación, salud y su transición del capitalismo a otra economía más justa basada en el pueblo. También, lxs delegadxs asistieron eventos con el pueblo cubano de luto después del fallecimiento físico del líder revolucionario Fidel Castro. Este evento celebra el espíritu revolucionario de Cuba.

Jeanette Charles, organizadora regional de WFP, volvió recientemente de Venezuela y Chiapas, México donde los movimientos están combatiendo al capitalismo e intervención estadounidense. El pueblo venezolano sigue definiendo la Revolución Bolivariana y Socialismo del Siglo XXI en sus propios términos a pesar de los ataques de la oposición derechista apoyada históricamente por los EEUU. Las comunas, cooperativas y colectivos trabajando a nombre de la soberanía alimentaria, iniciativas dirigidas por trabajadorxs y en pro de prácticas populares y no capitalistas siguen creciendo en todo el país.

El 1 de enero, 2017, el Congreso Nacional Indígena (CNI) y el Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN) anunciaron su nueva campaña para crear un gobierno paralelo y lanzar una campaña presidencial independiente para el 2018 con una mujer indígena como su vocera. Estas noticias llegan 23 años después del levantamiento del EZLN y marca un capítulo nuevo en su proceso autónomo y en su construcción del poder popular. El EZLN organizó también un encuentro internacional, (Con)Ciencias lo cual retó directamente a científicxs a nivel global a buscar soluciones para resolver los efectos del cambio climático y cambiar la ciencia y tecnología actualmente sometida al sistema capitalista y militarizado.  

Para más información: Jeanette Charles, 805.669.8482, jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.comwfpsw@witnessforpeace.org

Report Back Event on Cuba, Venezuela & Mexico, Jan. 15th, 2017 – Los Angeles, CA (+ English language flyer)

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More than 200 Zapatistas participated in the (Con)ciencias International Gathering in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas to interrogate and challenge science while also looking to infuse their ancestral ways with scientific strategies to overcome the negative effects of climate change in their communities and the greater world (Radio Zapatista).

Revolutionary Process in the Americas (English language event flyer)

Bilingual Event (English/Spanish)

SUNDAY January 15, 2017

4:00-6:00pm, doors open at 3:30pm

La Casa Roja, 1251 S St. Andrews Place Los Angeles, CA 90019

*Suggested donation of $5 -10, no one will be turned away for lack of funds*

*Books, Artisanal Goods & more for sale* & *Light refreshments will be provided*

Join Witness for Peace Southwest for our first 2017 event with a special night of report backs focusing on the revolutionary struggles in Cuba, Venezuela and Chiapas, Mexico.

Aracely Barboza Cabral is a queer woman of color from East LA with Mexican roots & 14 years of organizing experience. Last November, Aracely participated in a people of color delegation to Cuba with Witness for Peace. Aracely and other delegates learned firsthand about the island nation’s achievements in social justice, education, healthcare and the transition from capitalism to another, more just people based economy. Delegates also mourned alongside the Cuban people after physical loss of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.  This event celebrates Cuba’s revolutionary spirit.

Jeanette Charles, Witness for Peace Southwest regional organizer, recently returned from Venezuela and Chiapas, Mexico where movements are challenging capitalism and US intervention. Venezuelans continue to define Bolivarian Revolution and 21st Century Socialism on their own terms amidst historically US supported right wing opposition attacks. Communes, cooperatives and collectives based on food sovereignty, worker-led initiatives and focused on people rather than profit have taken shape across the country.

On January 1, 2017 the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) and the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) made an historic announcement to create a parallel government and launch an independent 2018 presidential campaign with an Indigenous woman as their representative. This news comes 23 years after the EZLN uprising as well as this new chapter in their autonomy and people’s power. The EZLN also organized an international gathering, (Con)ciencias (With the Sciences/Consciousness) which posed a direct challenge to scientists globally to find solutions the world needs to resolve climate change and militarized, capitalist science and technology.

For more information: Jeanette Charles, 805.669.8482, jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com or wfpsw@witnessforpeace.org

In the Spirit of Giving, support WFPSW

 

Dear WFPSW supporter,

Mil gracias. Thank you so much for your accompaniment, contribution to and unwavering solidarity with Witness for Peace Southwest (WfPSW) and our partners throughout Latin America. As WfPSW Regional Organizer I am very excited to share the work we have done this last year. As we begin 2017, we ask for your continued support at this critical time for solidarity across movements in the US, Latin America and the world.

I write you from Central America, Honduras specifically. Here, over the last two years, I have accompanied an unique process with WFP to launch our international program. For us, and our partners, it has been a difficult yet beautiful and necessary struggle to make this happen.  We currently have two international team members on the ground and have organized four delegations in the last year opening opportunities for US based organizers, people of conscious and other interested individuals to engage with Honduran indigenous, African descendants, women, youth and union leaders among others. Next year, WFPSW will host two delegations to Honduras: Radical Organizing Across Difference (March 17th-26th) and The Fight for Reparations (June 25th-July 7th).

I began as WfPSW RO late summer 2015. Since then, I have worked alongside our international teams, national staff, national and regional board members as well as with our grassroots membership to re-build our region from our 2014-2015 hiatus. At WFPSW, we look to take down the walls that divide our peoples, challenge policies that repress our communities and build just, humane societies.

Throughout the year, we have hosted several events from our 2016 inaugural dinner with report backs from Cuba, Venezuela, Honduras, Colombia and Mexico in addition to participating in initiatives against US militarism and occupation such as International Peace week in San Pedro, California. We have also supported campaigns in solidarity with greater Cuba-US relations and commemorative events honoring the people’s driven Cuban Revolution.

Since the spring, our region has also supported larger cross-organizational campaigns for justice. The assassination of Berta Cáceres on March 3rd devastated millions across the globe. We have continued to accompany the Lenca people even more and have campaigned in favor of the Berta Cáceres and Human Rights in Honduras Act (HR 5474) calling for US military divestment in Honduras – similar congressional demands have not been made since the late ‘80s.

Over the summer, we have added one new member to our growing regional  board: Robin Garcia, long-time activist originally from Los Angeles, California. Robin’s work spans across the Americas where she has dedicated her time to working in grassroots journalism and alternative media such as teleSUR and working with Venezuela’s multimedia movement. Robin started in July and we look forward to building more with her in the future.

In the fall, we organized an impressive five state, 11 city tour with two young Venezuelan queer organizers: Maria Gabriela del Pilar Blanco and Paola Martucci Gomez. They witnessed firsthand the harsh realities facing Black and Brown communities across the greater US West region and shared their tales of triumph with the Bolivarian Revolution. Moreover, they gave their own accounts of the challenges currently facing the revolutionary process including: a violent opposition bloc, international media manipulation, economic blockade, sharp drop in global oil prices and the truest hurdle of all, building XXIst century socialism. Their talks were beyond inspiring and engaged autonomous community spaces, universities and grassroots organizations in needed conversations about imagining, creating and sustaining alternatives.

While we are uncertain what the political and economic future holds for our communities and our countries, here at Witness for Peace Southwest, we are certain that our commitment to social justice and solidarity must not waver. Now, more than ever, we depend on your continued support in all facets of our organizing.

We hope to see you on our delegations in Honduras, Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia next year!

We want to make a stop in your community during our next speaker’s tour!

And, as always, your continued financial support is received in the deepest of gratitude and greatest appreciation. Make a donation today! Become a sustaining donor!

Every contribution makes a difference, from $5 to $100. Make a donation once a month or one time.

You can make your tax-deductible donations via our PayPal account using the following email address: southwestwfp@gmail.com or mail a check to Witness for Peace Southwest @ PO Box 1781 Ojai, CA 93024.

In solidarity, peace and justice,

Jeanette

WfPSW Regional Organizer: jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com & wfpsw@witnessforpeace.org, 805.669.VIVA (8482)

2017 Delegations Announcement, Part 1 (+ flyers)

Join Witness for Peace Southwest on two delegations in 2017 to Honduras! Look out soon for additional announcements for delegations to Cuba and other locations across Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Radical Organizing Across Difference: Alternative Spring Break in Honduras

March 17th -26th 2017, Delegation Flyer

The Honduran resistance movement makes up a wide variety of grassroots organizations that are committed to creating alternatives in their country. African descendants, indigenous, women, students, union workers, alternative media outlets and other sectors of Honduran society have taken a courageous stand against the 2009 coup, corruption, impunity and injustice. Their organizing spans generations and their determination to build a more just and equitable society is inspiring.

Across movements and difference, Hondurans have come together to defend their country from state violence and corporate exploitation, their right to life and their right to sovereignty. Join Witness for Peace on an alternative spring break delegation to learn more about grassroots struggles as well as strengthen the links between U.S. organizing and Central American realities.

This delegation will:

● Meet with representatives of grassroots delegations across a variety of organizing sectors.

● Learn about the ways different groups have built coalitions across movements and the country to defend their livelihood and to build their people’s power.

● Develop a better understanding and strategize based on first-hand narratives how our communities can stand in solidarity with the Honduran people in their fight against state repression and corporate exploitation.

Cost: $1000 plus airfare from U.S. (Deposit $150 due by January 15th, 2017) Payment due February 20th, 2017). Delegation fee covers all meals, lodging, interpreters, and transportation within Honduras, along with extensive reading and activist tools. Fundraising support and scholarships may be available.

Contact: WFP Southwest Regional Organizer, Jeanette Charles at jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com or 805-669-VIVA with questions

To apply visit: http://www.witnessforpeace.org/delegations

 

The Fight for Reparations in Honduras

June 25-July 5, 2017, Delegation Flyer

Descendants of the African Diaspora as well as Indigenous peoples across the Caribbean and the continental Americas have historically fought to repair the colonial and imperial wrongs perpetrated against their nations for centuries. In Honduras, the Garifuna, an Afro-indigenous people, have won two unprecedented cases at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in defense of their ancestral rights to land, inherent rights to cultural preservation and their livelihood. These landmark cases have resulted in clear demands for the Honduran state to guarantee the return of all the Garinagu ancestral territories and financial restitution. As Black and Indigenous movements in the US give rise to a new era of organizing, it is a critical time to reflect on shared resistance histories and exchange strategies.

The delegation will:

● Meet with representatives of Honduran Garifuna and Indigenous organizations such as the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)

● Learn about the inspiring organizing and power that Honduran Garifuna and other indigenous movements have generated through their struggles, amidst oppression by state and economic forces

● Develop a better understanding, from first-hand experience on the ground, of how our communities and organizations stateside can be in solidarity with Honduran grassroots movements and build our own campaigns for reparations

Cost: $1000 plus airfare from U.S. (Deposit $150 due by April 30th, 2016). Full payment due May 20th, 2016. Delegation fee covers all meals, lodging, interpreters, and transportation within Honduras, along with extensive reading and activist tools. Fundraising support and scholarships may be available.

Contact: WFP Southwest Regional Organizer, Jeanette Charles at jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com or 805-669-VIVA with questions

To apply visit: http://www.witnessforpeace.org/delegations

Witness for Peace (WFP) is a politically independent, grassroots organization. We are people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. Our mission is to support peace, justice, and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices that contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

On Fidel’s Passing…Words of Solidarity, Words of Hope and Words for the Future

Please find a message from one of Witness for Peace Southwest’s Regional Board members on the physical passing of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and how we in the United States can continue his legacy for justice and humanity. *

“But the ideas of Cuban Communists will remain as proof that on this planet, if you work hard and with dignity, you can produce the material and cultural goods human beings need.” Fidel Castro, Presente

 

Dear Friends,

This is an enormous day, an inevitable day, a sad day, and yet, like Fidel himself embodied….It is also a very powerful day.

When 9/11 happened, and the [US] American people were bewildered, lied to and bamboozled into being clueless to world events. I said, at the time, that when Fidel Castro died, it would be the same. An event of the same enormity has occurred, and sadly, the ignorance and lies in our “media” only distort. They will not clarify nor truly teach.

The whole world’s people will know what just happened. Except the [US] American people.

Fidel Castro, the man, is no longer living. But, he has now with his parting, spread inevitably and profoundly even more deeply into the hearts-and most importantly for communists-into the ACTIONS of millions upon millions of people, in [the] America[s] and all over the World.

Derided as “bleeding hearts” during Ronald Reagan’s wars against poor farmers in Central America, we will humbly, yet proudly answer, Yes. That is called human, to care for, and to bleed for others. Humus. Earth. Connected, without apology or equivocation.

Che’s words of revolution, of humanity ring clear to me now: “Y seremos millones”…and we will be millions…That we are, today. No lies, no mendacity, no fascist, cruel bullsh**t will be allowed in our spaces. We will stand up to it all. We will study war no more. Ever.  

We do not argue with the arguers. We do not appease the fascists, anywhere, in any heart or in any action. We will name you. We will out you. We will resist you. And we will build and show Another Way. Because we have seen it.

And we will all win because:

People, in the end, can’t drink fracked water.

People, in the end, can’t survive the endless murder of each other.

People, in the end, can’t eat radioactive food.

People, in the end, can’t thrive on hate.

People, in the end, have to answer to their children.

People, in the end, will choose survival over lies.

Life, you will see, will [defeat] Trump Capitalism. Amen.

And of course, too, people in the end cannot do what Nature does: Sustain us all on this gorgeous Planet, in this gorgeous space called Life.

Nature Bats Last.

Fidel knew that. In his last, lovely years his focus was on Planet Earth, and on what we as people need to do to survive on [the earth]. He focused on three main themes, as I saw it: Nuclear war, climate change, and…growing food. In fact, in several of his last meetings with world leaders, sustainable (ie, life-sustaining) agriculture was his main concern and topic of conversation. Imagine that. What a terrorist.

Fascism is derived from the Italian word meaning division. There is no division on Earth, only Unity. That was Fidel’s magic, to see that unity and to fight for it until his last, lovely god-given breath. Yes, god, little g…a “g” that belongs to all of us, that excludes no one.

Fidel, history has absolved you. You left a country that is a beacon of resistance and hope and humanity that, despite the Empire’s blockade, too many of us have seen with our own eyes…and the cat, as they say, is out of the bag…

We have been teaching, and we will continue to teach, to “red” and “blue” alike. And, we are unstoppable.

In my master’s thesis on Cuba’s Energy Transition, I quote philosopher Emmanuel Kant: The Actual Proves the Possible. Cuba’s example has proven to us:

Another World is Possible.

So I do not lose heart. I am sad today, of course. But emboldened and very, very grateful for my understanding, my knowledge and my ability to serve.

Never Fear, Fidel Was Here

Fidel, Presente!

Paz

Rachel Bruhnke

Founder, CUSSP Cuba-US Sustainability Project

Witness for Peace Southwest Regional Board Member

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Fidels-Last-Speech-20161126-0005.html

*All images can be found on On Cuba’s facebook page. 

Venezuela Solidarity Event in Portland, OR (+video)

In case you weren’t able to catch WfPSW on tour in October, please catch this entire presentation captured on film from Portland, OR. Here, speakers Maria Gabriela Del Pilar Blanco and Paola Martucci Gomez speak to the current political, social and economic challenges facing the Bolivarian Revolution including a recent opposition led attempt to coup democratically elected President Nicolás Maduro!

Videos, Pictures and Links to: WfP Southwest 2016 Speaker’s Tour w/ Venezuelan Organizers

In October, Witness for Peace Southwest toured with organizers Maria Gabriela Del Pilar Blanco and Paola Martucci Gomez of the Revolutionary Sex and Gender Diversity Alliance (ASGDRe) from Venezuela. These two young queer women shed light on the current political, economic and social conditions facing Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution. We toured five states across the West including: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. We stopped in eleven cities and towns and hosted events with dozens more organizations, autonomous spaces and universities. Check out some pictures from our speaker’s tour! You can also review here 20+ videos of greetings from across the Southwest with organizers and organizations we visited in addition to SW’s reflections during the tour. Shortly, we’ll be posting a list of resources, other materials and actions that you can take to stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuelan and larger Latin American liberation movements. FMI: jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com

WfPSW 2016 New Year’s Message!

Happy New Year!
¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

We are organizing for a world where many worlds fit, as the Zapatista movement has echoed since January 1, 1994. Their uprising, launched on the New Year, marked another chapter in Latin America and the Caribbean’s revolutionary spirit with the likes of the Cuban and Haitian Revolutions. As we too begin another new year, we remember their legacies and continue to tread along shared paths.

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“I am Latin America…a people without legs that marches on…”

At Witness for Peace Southwest, we usher in 2016 with renewed hopes for a more just and humane world. We move forward while we reflect on another year of hard work in the struggle to change US policy actions in Latin America and to strengthen our growing solidarity. Changes have been underway here in the SW and we know we are better for them!

In 2016, join us on our international delegations to Cuba and Venezuela over the summer and for New Years. Exchange with grassroots organizations domestically along the Mexico-U.S. border and in Puerto Rico this March and November. Become a trained delegation coordinator or design your own customized delegation for your school, church, community or organization!

In 2016, work with WFPSW to organize speaker’s tours events in your area, host local WFPSW chapter meetings and congressional visits on key issues facing Latin America and the Caribbean. Also, consider submitting materials for our newsletter.

Contact me, Jeanette Charles, your Regional Organizer, directly at jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com or (805) 669-VIVA to get involved, ask questions or simply to build community.

And finally, please consider making a donation to WFPSW. Our work is sustained by the commitments of individual activists, believers, teachers, workers, students, freedom fighters, organizers and everyone in between across the Southwest. Checks can be made out to Witness for Peace Southwest and mailed to PO Box 1781 Ojai, CA 93024. You can make secure tax deductible donations here. And consider becoming a monlthy sustainer supporting peace, freedom and justice in the Americas.

 
In peace and solidarity, 

JeanetteCharlesBioPic

Jeanette Charles
WFPSW Regional Organizer

PS. Remember to like our Facebook page and join our group