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: email@example.com or mail a check to Witness for Peace Southwest @ PO Box 1781 Ojai, CA 93024.
In solidarity, peace and justice,
WfPSW Regional Organizer: firstname.lastname@example.org & email@example.com, 805.669.VIVA (8482)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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.
Press Conference Calls for Justice in Future Relations with Cuba
Thursday, December 1 2016
Los Angeles/Harbor Area, (San Pedro) California
Thank you for coming this evening, on the occasion of the death of leader Fidel Castro, to discuss our future relations with the government and people of Cuba. My name is Rachel Bruhnke and I am on the Board of Directors of Witness for Peace Southwest.
Witness for Peace is a national organization begun over 35 years ago during the Reagan Wars against Central America. (It was begun in order) to defend the poor farmers of Central America who were struggling to create a just system in their countries and who, unfortunately, were bombarded by U.S. Military might and were unable to create the change in their system that they were trying to do.
So Witness for Peace (Southwest) has been in existence ever since and we invite you all to look at our website and join us in the struggle for what used to be seen as separate continents, but now with the immigration issue in the United States becoming so front and center I think it is very, very important that we make the point that in so many cases, and the American people need to understand this, it is U.S. wars abroad that create immigration into this country. People fleeing their countries’ economic and political violence in order to come here.
We are here to help the American people, the Cuban people, and the World. Fidel Castro died this week, and the press that was made in the United States is not the press that the rest of the world saw. So we are here, people of goodwill, of truth, of peace and of justice, to make our own press.
We believe that it is an historic opportunity that can produce true understanding in the population of the United States of the important role that peace with Cuba can play for ourselves, for the Cuban people, and as a model of peaceful and constructive dialogue so needed in the world today.
Some may call us Communists. So be it. If goodwill, and truth, and peace, and justice are labeled Communist, then it is not we, but the name-callers who have a lot of explaining to do.
The American people today are facing extreme hardships by not having affordable and adequate education and health care, secure neighborhoods and communities, affordable housing, lives not burdened with crushing debt, uplifting rather than debasing culture all around us, nor environmental protection. Nor do we have peaceful international relations with all nations, or constructive media coverage. Because of this, it is incumbent upon citizens of all levels, including in media, to participate and assist their government and their communities in solving these pressing problems.
All of the above-mentioned hardships, faced in one way or another by the over 300,000,000 in the United States, have been positively addressed by Cuba and its people for over 55 years. The American people need to be free to share in the open and constructive discussion of problem-solving with any and all people of the world. We should not be oppressed in our desperate need to meet our own human needs.
So we, local stakeholders in U.S. healthcare, education, trade and labor, environmental protection and community democracy are meeting here tonight to express our support for improved relations with Cuba, and to reject the uninformed reaction and bellicose threats of Donald Trump and his advisors.
We, on the steps of the San Pedro Courthouse, call for justice in our future relations with the government and people of Cuba…
I would like to introduce a few of our speakers today. The first one, his name is Caney Arnold, running (as a Green Party Candidate) for local office, and his main issue that he is going to speak to tonight is the problem of homelessness in the Harbor Area. Caney…
Thank you, Rachel. Thank you for inviting me here to speak for a few moments. As Rachel said, my name is Caney Arnold. I am a candidate for Los Angeles City Council here for District 15, which includes San Pedro, Wilmington, Harbor City, the Gateway and Watts, and in all those areas, economic and social justice is a major issue.
Since we’re here in San Pedro the one thing that I’d like to talk about is the issue of homelessness, as Rachel mentioned, a major economic and social justice issue that is not being adequately addressed by our City today. Most areas around the country have understood now that “Housing First” and affordable housing are the ways to solve the homelessness issue that Los Angeles seems to not to be able to come to grips with.
We see huge numbers of homeless here in San Pedro and throughout Los Angeles, and instead of using a more humane and empathetic approach, what we see is people being moved from encampment to encampment, pushed from one area to another, spending huge amounts of money that instead could easily be spent on housing, on drug addiction and on alcohol abuse addiction rehab, bringing people up, uplifting them, giving them job training, being able to then put them into affordable housing or even public housing. (It’s) a much simpler approach. More humane approach. More empathetic, and actually less expensive than the current approach. That’s one of my major platforms, and I just want to be able to say again, thank you Rachel for having me here to speak on this today.
Thank you. There are many things that the Cuban people may not have, or have to do, and one of them is to have to step over homeless people on a daily basis. There are no homeless people in Cuba. While there are over 200 million people who are homeless every day on Earth, not one of them is homeless in Cuba.
It’s very important to have affordable housing, and one of the first things they did back in 1959 was to lower rents in the cities and to also begin to secure housing for all of the people of Cuba. We would now like to call up Julia Scoville, who is a (95-year old!) retired nurse to speak on health care issues, here, and what she has seen in Cuba also.
I’m a retired registered nurse, and I had the opportunity to visit Cuba several times. I was very impressed with the health care. First of all, the World Health Organization has indicated that Cuba has a lower infancy death rate than the United States, which is something when you consider the scientific efforts that we have here.
The other factor that impressed me was their generosity in sending medical help wherever it is needed around the world, whether it is earthquakes, floods or whatever. They offered to send help to Louisiana during the floods several years ago, and they were rejected. They could have really helped because a number of people died after that.
The other thing that impressed me was that the medical staff lives right among the patients, among the people they serve. Usually, when we were travelling, if anyone in our group was ill, they would send a whole group of people, medical staff to take care, and in just a few minutes because they were right nearby…
The other thing, and I don’t know if many people know this, but they also help to train medical students from the United States, medical students who are refused entrance to (cannot afford) the U.S. medical schools. If they qualify, they get free medical education and can work wherever they’re needed.
The other factor about their health care is their generosity in sending medical people to different parts of the world. They were very active in many of the tragic situations that occurred. One of the things that they worked on was the (West Nile) mosquito Virus. They go right in and take care of it.
So I think we should be working together in cooperation because we each have something to learn.
(Cheers and clapping from crowd members…)
Yeah!…The United States Government, in all its cynicism toward Cuba, has often said that those international attempts to help around the world is just a form of “Cuban propaganda” to get people on their side, and in the beautiful Cuban way, their answer to that is, “Then the United States should do better propaganda than us. It would help more people.”…Now I’d like to introduce Dave Arian, who is President and Founder of the Harry Bridges Institute to speak on the history of labor relations between the United States and Cuba, and we are calling for a complete end to the U.S. Embargo against Cuba, and to open and fair trade between our nations.
Thank you, Rachel. You know, the Harry Bridges Institute was founded on the principles that Harry, who was the founder of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union stood for, and one of the main things he talked about was the support for international workers everywhere.
In 1948 there was a coalition between the ILWU, who had sugar workers and farm workers in Hawaii, along with the sugar workers in Cuba and a series of other countries. And that coalition was fighting for better wages and conditions for sugar workers worldwide. At that moment that regime that was in Cuba, assassinated the head of the sugar workers in 1948. The ILWU came to the defense of his wife and his kids and stood strongly with the workers in Cuba. The ILWU has had a close relationship with the Cuban workers from that day to this, and has always said that we need to open up trade, that we need to be supportive of worker to worker. We’ve been there a number of times, and let me give you just one, short story.
After Fidel came in, he understood that in order to move the country forward he needed to educate the people, and he needed to be able to ensure that people had jobs, and ensure that they had housing. When you go outside, right outside of Havana, you’ll see a housing area that has high-rise housing, and there are seven of them, and one of them is dedicated to all of the individuals who work on the waterfront. In other words, you go to work on the waterfront, you’ve got medical care, you’ve got housing, you’ve got the basics that are taken care of in terms of what you need. And you see this. The next set of housing belongs to the steelworkers and so forth and so on.
But you know, there was an understanding from day one, the government had to play a role, not only in putting people to work, providing medical care, housing and education. It would be a great advancement in America if this country was committed to the same thing. But it’s not. (Applause) So I’d just like to say, I’d like to thank Rachel and I think the key question here is opening up trade with Cuba. I think, you know, it’s on the verge of doing that. It’s in the interest of the Cuban people. It’s in the interest of the American people and it’s in the interest of workers throughout the world. So again, thank you Rachel for pulling this thing together.
Thank you, Dave. One more note on trade that I would like everyone to maybe research for yourselves is the current trade paradigm we always here is “free trade, free trade”, and what we need to understand when we here free trade, it’s actually really about unregulated trade. And what we’ve been finding, and even the people of the United States of America, who have lost out because of these quote unquote free trade agreements, are coming to understand: that we need a different paradigm of trade.
Let me offer to you a paradigm that Cuba and Venezuela began almost 20 years ago. It’s called ALBA. It’s a Spanish acronym which basically means the “Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America”. So if you would look that up. It’s A-L-B-A, and it’s a beautiful paradigm that talks about “fair trade” between nations. That the purpose of trade between two countries should be to uplift, uplift both countries, especially if they are poor. So it’s not just how we trade, but it’s what we trade, and for what purpose.
They quantify-economically-cultural and sports trade and travel between people that has nothing to do with products. And if we can start “valuing” people sharing together in cultural events, and sporting, or international conferences or cooperation as Dave mentioned, then we start to truly “value” peaceful international relations in a quantifiable sense. So it’s very, very important that we also change our trade paradigm and Cuba is already beginning that throughout Latin America.
I would like to read a couple of quotes. Two people who could not be here, but about 15 years ago, we (Global Exchange/Eco Cuba Exchange) held another press conference in Washington D.C. It was specifically between United States and Cuba in the area of Sustainable Development and in Environment. Many of us had been going for many years to Cuba, working in areas of energy, and agriculture and water especially. And these people got up on the halls of Congress and were able to share their experience as American experts in these very important resource issues, and their experience, therefore, in Cuba.
And I have to tell you that after these three people got up and spoke on energy, on water issues and on agriculture, a young man came up to me at the end of the press conference, stunned, and he said, “I work in the international development community. Everyone in the international development community should have been here today to hear this.” And I said, “I know.”
The world needs to understand that there are other models of developing.
So I want to share from Laurie Stone. She is an engineer who works for Solar Energy International and has been many, many times to Cuba, working with renewable energies with those countries. She says:
“Cuba has a goal to produce 24% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.” Just 14 years from now. “And has already made incredible progress in energy efficiency. While the U.S. is in drastic need of an energy transition to efficiency and cleaner sources of electricity, it is imperative for these neighboring countries to work together to both advance towards a cleaner energy future.”
It’s very interesting to be in a country where oil is not for profit. It makes it a lot easier to transition away from it.
And while we’re here tonight, I would like to please “represent” also for Standing Rock and for the people right now who are suffering through a snow storm trying to protect all of our waters, and trying to shout out, loudly to this country, America, that we must transition away from fossil fuels and towards greater efficiency and greater renewable energies. (Applause) Their lives are on the line. We must begin to transition in our own lives.
And secondly, my dear friend and advisor when I was at Humboldt State University. His name is Bob Gearheart. He is a water engineer, and a biologist. He has been several times to Cuba and he’s also been around the world to many, many poor countries, working often with Peace Corps volunteers who invited him to their villages where they are living to work on water treatment systems. Biological, low impact, low cost in areas that have no money. And so he has seen around the world the way that water systems and wastewater treatment needs to happen in order to save lives.
And when he was in Washington DC with us at that conference he said that “Cuba does it exactly right.” That in terms of their wastewater treatment, their top, top priority in terms of water-is Public Health, and that if we come from a perspective of Public Health, then we begin to make water decisions wisely. And this is what he has written for me to read:
“In the several trips to Cuba over the last decade I have had the opportunity to experience the strength and determination of Cubans’ human spirit to prevail and to sustain their culture and development in spite of serious injustices imposed upon them by the United States. There is now an opportunity to engage and innovate in a reciprocal manner for the betterment of all of us.”
…And I’m just going to say a few words before we hear from our final person….I grow food. I’m very much into sustainable agriculture and local agriculture. And Cuba is world-known for urban agriculture, organic agriculture and a transition away from what they used to have, which was more of a large farm, export model, like we have. Entire states in the United States are corn fields, and we have lost, especially since the 1980’s, tens of thousands of family farms.
The irony, and I just need to speak to the rural population of America, is that the irony is (sigh, pause) your great hero, Ronald Reagan, was greatly responsible for the loss of tens of thousands of family farms throughout the 1980’s, and that the transition to corporate agriculture during the 1980’s and since, has been an incredible loss to the American rural way of life, and we need to start recognizing that.
I’m going to bring up Carrie but I want to just say also is that if you know of the organization the World Wildlife Fund. They are the one with the cute panda logo. Ten years ago in 2006 they did a study. They were looking for the nations in the world that could be called sustainable or close to sustainable. And so what they did is they took the United Nations “Human Development Index” (HDI) that showed life expectancy, infant mortality, education rate and basically said, ‘Who in the world, what country in the world, their people are pretty well off in terms of human development, yet also perhaps have a low carbon footprint.’ And when they put those two sets of data together, only one country in the world scored positive, according to the World Wildlife Fund-not a Communist front-in both of those, and that country was Cuba. So they declared Cuba, by their records, to be the only sustainable country in the world at that time…and now Carrie, who works very, very hard to create citizen participation here in the Harbor Area, is going to speak of her experience.
Good evening. My name is Carrie Scoville and I, too, have been to Cuba, twice. Once in 1988 and again in 2007 and the difference was striking, because in 1988 Cuba was able to obtain oil from the Soviet Union. After 1992 they were no longer able to, and they had to go off oil, and they had to become sustainable, as Rachel mentioned. They went to organic farming because fertilizers, by and large, are made with oil, with chemicals derived from petroleum products. They went to organic farming. They brought, they had to bring trained people out of their (work) fields and back to the farms to conduct agriculture, to be able to feed the nation. They couldn’t import food, they had to sustain themselves.
And so I want to talk about that a little bit, because they had to go to fully rechargeable batteries, much sooner than we did. Solar power resources, much sooner than we did. They had to go through it all, much sooner than we did. And they made it, and they sustained themselves. In spite of the Embargo. The Embargo was very, very difficult in Cuba. They had a lot of hunger during that time, during the Embargo, but they overcame it, they grew their own food. Now they have organic food, organic markets. In every community there’s a farmers market along with recipes on how to cook this new organic food, which they didn’t eat before and didn’t know how to prepare. So there’s a mass education program on how to prepare this food, and why it’s good for you, and why it’s good for the country.
Also, I had the privilege of being able to go to other countries with Cubans, and see how they are beloved throughout the world. The world loves the Cubans, and that’s what we don’t realize here in the United States. Why do they love the Cubans? Because the Cubans don’t send drones. They send doctors. They send literacy brigades. They teach countries how to train their own people to teach people how to read, so people are literate. We could use that here! That’s all I want to say, and thank you.
World Peace in a nutshell!…And lastly before we end the press conference I want to draw attention to another of the signs we have here is calling for the U.S. Military to leave Guantanamo. Guantanamo is known as a U.S. Military base, a terrorist prison by the American people, but what it is, is a harbor. And it’s Cuba’s second largest harbor and most important harbor, and it was taken over by us Americans, with our tax dollars, over 100 years ago, and they want it back. They have wanted it back ever since. So not only have we defiled it with our military base and our torture prison, but it is their harbor. So we ask you, in the Harbor Area to consider how if our entire Los Angeles Harbor were to be taken over by a hostile power for over a century, how would we feel? So we must have solidarity between our harbor areas and between our countries.
Please consider the words we have spoken here tonight, and again, we are asking for “Justice in our future relations with Cuba.” Thank you very much.
Thursday, December 1, 2016 San Pedro Courthouse
Join us in this webinar on Wednesday – Please note to participate you just need to either call in using the number below or sign in online with the link provided below
Webinar: Justice & Solidarity for Berta Cáceres and COPINH
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
6:30pm – 8pm (CST)
Hosted by: Witness for Peace, Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) & SOA Watch
PIN: 122 085 956#
You are invited to a special webinar to mobilize a US campaign for justice and solidarity for Berta Cáceres, our beloved and missed sister, and the organization she co-founded. COPINH is one of the strongest indigenous organizations in Honduras and it is now more than ever, facing incredible repression.
On the agenda:
Summary of context and what has transpired since Berta’s assassination
Key demands from Berta’s Family & COPINH
Campaign actions & follow up
For more information and the latest WfP action alert, please visit:
Last week, Berta Cáceres Flores, Lenca leader who fought with such dedication for the preservation of her peoples’ natural and ancestral resources, was tragically murdered by at least two individuals who broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying in the Residencial La Líbano in La Esperanza, Intibuca.
Since 2006, Berta and COPINH have been entrenched in a struggle with DESA, a private Honduran company, building the Agua Zarca dam in Rio Blanco, Honduras. The project has been plagued by human rights abuses from its inception, when it bypassed a consultative process with the affected communities before breaking ground. The last protest that took place on February 20, 2016 was accompanied by Witness for Peace, where we witnessed excessive and unnecessary militarization, along with a lack of respect for the Right to Assembly and Freedom of Speech. At the protest, members of COPINH were blocked from protesting by a tractor, and protesters were threatened with arrest.
We are profoundly concerned that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has partnered with DESA’s Social Investment Programming through the MERCADO project, linking US taxpayer dollars to the repression and violence against COPINH.
We strongly condemn the role in Rio Blanco of Los TIGRES, a Honduran specialized police unit, which is funded and vetted by the United States, in defending the private interests of DESA.
We demand that the U.S. Embassy not only offer “all the resources of the United States Government to assist in bringing these criminals to justice” as they have stated that they have done, but rather support an independent international investigation and DEMAND that both the intellectual and material authors of the murder be prosecuted. We also call for all legal and political measures possible to guarantee the immediate and ongoing protection of the witness Gustavo Castro Soto, as well as all members of COPINH.
We further demand that the United States government recall its ambassador to Honduras for consultations until such time as concrete action to end impunity in the murder of Berta Cáceres Flores has taken place, and institutional measures to protect human rights have materialized.
Click Here to ask your Representative to support Human Rights in Honduras
Calls and emails needed to State Department and US Embassy in Honduras demanding the US denounce the brutal attacks that took place at the Honduran congress.
Sample script: “Madam, Are you aware that just recently Honduran military police broke down doors at the Honduran National Congress and subjected elected congress persons to violence, beatings, and teargas forcibily ejecting these elected officials from their congressional posts? Has Secretary Kerry or US Ambassador Kubiske condemend this violent use of force against elected officials of the Honduran congress?”
Call State Department- Honduras Desk:
Kelsi Cambronne 202-647-3505
Emails to State Department and US Embassy:
Kelsi Cambronne, Honduras Desk Officer- CambronneKL@state.gov
Amanda Johnson Miller, US Embassy Human Rights Attache- Johnson-MillerA@state.gov
Honduran LIBRE congress members brutalized and teargassed by military police inside congressional building.
Video here of military police repressing congresspersons inside and outside congressional building.
Video of two women LIBRE congesspersons overrun and trampled by military police.
“The Order From the National Congress Was to Repress All Action by the Opposition.”
Marvin Palacios, May 13, 2014. Defensores en Linea (COFADEH)
The President of the National Congress, Maurico Oliva, gave the order to brutally repress the opposition party Libertad y Refundación (LIBRE) and the activists and leaders that were demonstrating peacefully below the National Congress.
The order of the day was repression and violence, said the congressmembers from LIBRE. The violent actions led by agents of the State left several congressmembers hospitalized and dozens of demonstrators with serious blows/injuries, produced by the brutality with which riot troops and military police acted.
Around 4:00 in the afternoon a strong contingent of military police, police from the Special Operations Command (COBRA), and military troops entered into the hall of sessions of the National Congress, occupied strategic positions inside the big hall, surrounded the congressmembers of LIBRE and began to use batons, tear gas bombs, and shields to assault, push and mistreat and beat the representatives of the people.
There was no consideration for anyone, including congressmembers such as Claudia Garmendia, congressmember from the department of El Paraíso, who suffered the charge of the military soldiers, in which she was surrounded on the floor, and rescued by one of her congressmember companions.
Ex-President Zelaya, upon being expelled with shoves and blows from the second level of the National Congress, where he presides over the bench of the 36 congressmembers of LIBRE, said `those who are governing Honduras are beasts.’
Later he added sadly that `it’s only taken 100 days for president Juan Orlando Hernández to show us his fangs; he will not be releected to govern because the Honduran people reject his dictatorship.’
In the streets of the historic center you could breath smoke and pepper gas in industrial quantities, and while people covered their mouths with scarves, others were persecuted and beaten by those in uniform.
The central park was once again the scene of battle between demonstrators and police, but in disproportionate conditions. Many of the protesters were persecuted and beaten by those in uniform.
Congressmember Claudia Garmendia was hospitalized because of the blows and gases she received inside the hall of sessions of the National Congress; also the congressmembers Elvia Argentina Erazo (Copán) and Audelia Rodríguez (Atlántida).
Congressmembers Hari Dixon, Rafael Alegría, and Wilfredo Paz were beaten. The Red Cross transfered several disheartened and injured people to the Hospital Escuela.
Several days ago LIBRE called for a peaceful demonstration underneath the National Congress [Transl: the building is sort of on big stilts, with an open area on the first floor; the actual congress is on the second floor], demanding that, because LIBRE is the second political force in the country, with 36 congressmembers, it be represented in the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The demand was met by a response from the President of Congress Mauricio Oliva that LIBRE had to obtain 86 congressmembers in order to be included. And the other response from Oliva was made this afternoon, in ordering a brutal repression against the opposition politicians, activists, and leaders of LIBRE.
The situation is worrisome to human rights bodies, considering tomorrow environmentalists will arrive at the National congress tomorrow to demand an end to concessions for extraction of the country’s mineral resources.
The Honduras Solidarity Network has set up an emergency fund for Hondurans who need emergency medical help, relocation for security reasons and for the families and victims of human rights abuses and assassinations. Please support the Honduras Emergency Fund if you are able.
Campesinos, Indigenous peoples and members of the social movements launch a “caminata” march across the country with demands for “Dignity and Sovereignty”
Funds still needed for food, housing, transport and medical support for the dozens of organizations participating in the “caminata”. Donate here to the caminata.
National Mobilization of the Territories
May 14 and 15 join the grand national mobilization of the Territories “For Dignity and Sovereignty”
We are mobilizing to demand the immediate liberty of our political prisoner compañero, José Isabel Morales, “Chabelo”, whose complete right to prove his innocence has been violated, unjustly condemned to 17.5 years in prison, because of the power of political interests, in complete violation of his rights as a citizen and of the Constitution of the Republic.
We are mobilizing to demand the derogation of the Law of Agricultural Modernization and for the approval of the Decree of the Law for “Integral Agrarian Reform with Gender Equity for Food and Development Sovereignty”
We are mobilizing to demand the derogation of the mining law and the exit of the Hydroelectric and Mining Projects from the Territories
We are mobilizing to demand the derogation of the Law that puts into effect the Special Development and Employment Zones (ZEDE) or what is called Charter Cities, and we demand the resolution of the suit challenging its constitutionality in the Supreme Court of Justice by representatives of organizations from the Social and popular movement.
We are mobilizing to demand the investigation of the femicides at the national level by the State and the punishment of those who, protected by the impunity that prevails in the Justice system, continue to commit barbaric acts.
More than three months after the takeover of City Hall in San Francisco de Opalaca, COPINH demands that the State of Honduras respect the process of the Indigenous Lenca Government of San Francisco de Opalaca, respect the Indigenous and legitimate Mayorship, for its ancestral and historic authority, unrestricted respect for its self-determination, territories and natural goods. We demand the official removal of the Imposed Mayor.
The Mobilization will begin on Wednesday, May 14th in the morning, leaving from the community of Zambrano.
Arrival in Tegucigalpa is planned for Thursday the 15th and we call for participation from the Popular Resistance; FNRP Collectives; Base Organizations of the Social and popular urban movement, artists, writers, feminists, Youth, Leftist Political Organizations; LGBT Organizations and all the organizations that are in the struggle against the oppressor system and the continuation of the Coup d’E’tat of 2009, organizations in struggle against neoliberal policies, imperialism and the patriarchy.
It is important to count on the solidarity of the citizenry in general, to bring water, basic grains (beans, rice, etc.) fuit, vegetables, mattresses, blankets and medicines for during the march and especially for the indefinite vigil that we will maintain beginning May 15 in the plaza below the National Congress.
“Listen People and Join in the Struggle!”
Liberty for Jose Isabel Morales Chabelo Now!
For an Integral Agraria Reform: Raise the Banners of Struggle!
Mining and Hydroelectric Projects: Out of Honduras!
Sovereignty YES! ZEDE or Charter Cities NO!
Justice! Justice! Justice!…Stop Stop the Femicides!
Plataforma Regional Agraria del Aguan, (MOCRA, MARCA, MUCA, MCA, Empresa Asociativa Rigores, Empresa Asociativa Vallecito, Empresa Asociativa Gregorio Chávez, Empresa Asociativa Salado Lis Lis. Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación, ERIC. Asociación Intermunicipal y Vigencia Social de Honduras (AIDEVISH), Organizaciones de la Plataforma del Movimiento Social y Popular; Central Nacional de Trabajadores del Campo, CNTC, Región Norte, Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares del Aguan COPA, Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras, COPINH, Organización Fraternal Negra de Honduras, OFRANEH, Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia, MADJ, Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos, Instituto Ecuménico de Servicios a la Comunidad (INEHSCO)
Red de Comercialización Comunitaria, Red COMAL.
Frente Nacional de Resistencia Popular, FNRP.
Capítulo Honduras – Articulación de Movimientos Sociales hacía el ALBA, ALBAMOVIMIENTOS
Regional Agrarian Platform of the Aguan )MOCRA, MARCA, MUCA, MCA, EARigores, EA Vallecito, EAGregorio Chavez, EA Salado Lis Lis)
Team for Reflection, Investigation and Communication (ERIC)
Intermunicipal Association and Social Force of Honduras (AIDEVISH)
Organizations of the Platform for the Social and Popular Movement
National Center for Rural Workers (CNTC), Northern Region
Coordinator of Popular Organizations of the Aguan (COPA)
Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)
Fraternal BLack Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)
Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ)
National Network of Human Rights Defenders
Ecumenical Institute for Community Services (INEHSCO
Community Commercialization Network (Red COMAL)
National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP)
Honduran Chapter – Grouping of Social Movement to ALBA, ALBAMOVIMIENTOS
Click HERE to Oppose Sanctions on Venezuela.
The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bill for sanctions against Venezuela on Friday morning, May 9. Only Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) and Karen Bass (D-CA) spoke out against the bill. HR 4587 entitled the ‘‘Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act’, is sponsored by far-right Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). The bill is expected to be voted on as soon as next week by the whole House in an expedited “suspension of rules” vote that would waive any debate.
Representative John Conyers (D-NY) is authoring a Dear Colleague letter this week that would support the Obama administration’s own opposition to sanctions on Venezuela in order to give the dialogue process a chance. Calling on more engagement with Venezuela rather than confrontational measures.
Help us in contacting your Reps to vote NO on HR4587 and for them to sign Rep. John Conyers’ Dear Colleague letter opposing any sanctions on Venezuela. The Vatican and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) are right now mediating talks between the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro and the democratic opposition. Sanctions at this time would undercut a peaceful solution to Venezuela’s problems and empower the violent opposition which is trying to achieve what they have been unable to achieve democratically in 16 elections since 1999.
This is an urgent situation. We cannot be complacent and assume that our Congressional allies will stop this ridiculous bill from becoming law. Please pass this alert on to your friends and neighbors and contact your Rep. yourself today telling them that you will be watching closely how they vote.
Click HERE to send a letter to your Rep.
Washington DC Switchboard: 1-202-224-3121
All you need to do is leave a message that you want the congressperson to vote No on HR4587 and you want them to support Rep. Conyers letter opposing any kind of sanctions on Venezuela.
If you would like a list of talking points on Venezuela click here.
To send a letter thanking Reps. Meeks and Bass for their vocal opposition to the Venezuela sanctions bill click HERE. Or Call Washington DC Switchboard: 1-202-224-3121
If you need any assistance or have questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 805-669-8482.
Honduras Dear Colleague letter now with 67 signers! Has your Rep. Signed?
Rep. Shakowsky’s Dear Colleague letter on human rights in Honduras now has 67 signers. See the list below to see if your Rep. Has signed on yet. Click here to send a letter thanking your Rep for signing on. If you Rep has not signed click HERE to send a letter asking them to sign on by the letter;s deadline Wed May 21st.
Click HERE to Thank Your Rep or Ask your Rep to sign the Shakowsky Honduras Letter.
Schakowsky Honduras Letter Current Signers / May 12, 2014 – 9:00 am EST
1. Schakowsky (IL)
2. Johnson (GA )
3. Farr (CA)
4. Miller (CA)
5. Grijalva (AZ)
6. Kaptur (OH)
7. McGovern (MA)
8. Lee (CA)
9. DeLauro (CT)
10. Michaud (ME)
11. Tierney (MA)
12. Conyers (MI)
13. DeFazio (OR)
14. Takano (CA) *
15. Capuano (MA)
16. Keating (MA)
17. Waters (CA)
18. Welsh (VT)
19. Moore (WI)
20. Speier (CA)
21. Pingree (ME)
22. McDermott (WA)
23. Bass (CA)
24. Polis (CO)
25. Cicilline (RI)
26. Huffman (CA) *
27. Nadler (NY)
28. Van Hollen (MD)
29. Slaughter (NY)
30. Brady (PA)
31. McCollum (MN)
32. Neal (MA)
33. Honda (CA)
34. Waxman (CA)
35. Matusi (CA)
36. Bera (CA) *
37. McLeod (CA) *
38. Pocan (WI) *
39. Kind (WI)
40. Ellison (MN)
41. Tonko (NY)
42. Lynch (MA)
43. Hastings (WA)
44. Castro (TX) *
45. Blumenauer (OR)
46. Langevin (RI)
47. O’Rourke (TX) *
48. Grayson (FL) *
49. Cleaver (MO)
50. Braley (IA)
51. Jackson-Lee (TX)
52. Garamendi (CA)
53. Lewis (GA)
54. Holt (NJ)
55. Chu (CA)
56. Kennedy (MA) *
57. Brownley (CA) *
58. Pascrell (NJ)
59. Clark (MA) *
60. Beatty (OH) *
61. Swalwell (CA) *
62. Gutierrez (IL)
63. Enyart (IL) *
64. Bonamici (OR)
65. Shea-Porter (NH) *
66. D. Davis (IL)
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!
Contact the Foreign Policy Staffer in Washington DC Office of Your U.S. Rep in Congress!
We need your help! On Monday, April 28, 2014, Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) began circulating a sign-on “Dear Colleague” letter in the U.S. House of Representatives to Secretary of State John Kerry addressing Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras. Reps. Sam Farr (D-CA) and Farr and Hank Johnson (D-GA) have joined as initial co-signers. Reps. George Miller (D-CA) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) have also joined as initial co-signers.
The letter states that “egregious violations of human rights continue” almost 5 years after the coup. It raises concerns about militarization of the police, and the failure to investigate or prosecute human rights abuses, including in the Aguan Valley. The letter also raises concerns about freedom of speech and associations, and questions whether the November 2013 election was not free and fair.
The letter asks State Department to:
Pay close attention to these issues and strictly evaluate U.S. support for Honduran security forces, in accordance with conditions placed on the aid in the 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Act.
Fully enforce the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. assistance to any individual or unit that has committed gross human rights abuses and is not being brought to justice.
The deadline to sign on is May 21, 2014 at 5:00 PM eastern time.
We need your help in securing the signature of your Member of the U.S. House of Representatives on this letter. Only members of the House can sign the letter.
To sign on to the letter (or if the staffer wishes an official copy of the letter), your Rep’s staffer must contact Andrew Goczkowski Andrew.Goczkowski@mail.house.gov in Schakowsky’s office. (NOTE: please do not contact Schakowsky’s staff yourself, but ask the staffer to do so).
Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, give them the name of your Rep, then ask to be connected:
(If you do not know the name of your Rep, please go to http://www.house.gov/ and enter in your zip code at the upper right).
When you call, ask to speak with the aide who handles Foreign Policy. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide does not recall seeing the letter, ask for the aide’s email address so that you can forward a copy of the letter.
If the foreign policy aide is not is not available, ask to leave a message on his or her voice mail. Be sure to get the name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.
Script: “My name is _____. I am a constituent from (town / city) in (your state). I am calling to ask Senator _____ to sign the Jan Schakowsky letter on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras. Has Representative___ seen this letter? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (_your phone number_) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Representative _____ will sign it.”
In your phone conversation, you might highlight why this letter is important to you, especially if you have travelled to Honduras or heard a Honduran speak in your community.
It’s useful to follow up with an email to the aide. You can ask whoever answers the phone what their email is and/or use this formula if you know how to spell their name correctly (the person who first answer the phone can spell it for you): Firstname.Lastname@mail.house.gov, e.g. Jane.Doe@mail.house.gov
In an email, you can just ask them to sign the letter, and then if you like send some information.
Here are two useful general articles, and the recent statement from Reps. McGovern, Schakowsky, and Farr.
If you learn that your Congressmember has agreed to sign, please notify me, Gary Cozette at email@example.com, so we can confirm the signature with Rep. Schakowsky. Please contact me if you want to know if your representative has signed on. I will circulate updated lists of signers whenever we receive them from Rep. Schakowsky’s office.
NOTE: Please DO NOT send the letter to the media in either the US or Honduras until the letter has secured all signers and is formally delivered to the State Department with all signers and a press release. Also once again, please do not contact Schakowsky’s staff yourself, but ask your rep’s staffer to do to become a signer.
Gary L. Cozette
Honduras Solidarity Network – Congressional Working Group
Join Letter to the State Department Urging Action to Protect Human Rights in Honduras
Current Signers: George Miller, Sam Farr, Henry C “Hank” Johnson, Raul Grijalva
Please join us in signing the attached letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging action on the ongoing human rights situation in Honduras.
While a new Administration has recently been sworn in, grave concerns remain over the human rights situation. Vulnerable groups continue to be targets of intimidation and violence, military forces continue to be utilized for policing, and human rights abusers continue to operate with impunity in the region. The 2013 elections in Honduras were preceded by the assassination of several opposition candidates, and questions remain about discrepancies in the vote.
We hope you will join us in writing to Secretary Kerry to ensure that the State Department continues to urge the Honduran government to protect fundamental human rights in the region, end the use of military forces for law enforcement, investigate and prosecute abuses, and restore the rule of law.
If you have any questions, or would like to sign onto the letter, please contact Andrew Goczkowski in Rep. Schakowsky’s office at 202-225-2111, or by emailing Andrew.Goczkowski@mail.house.gov
Thank you for your consideration.
Jan Schakowsky Henry C. “Hank” Johnson Sam Farr
Member of Congress Member of Congress Member of Congress
May XX, 2014
The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
We write to express concern about the ongoing human rights situation in Honduras. As a new President and Congress have recently taken office, we ask the State Department to use its leverage to urge the Honduran government to protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, end the use of military forces for law enforcement, investigate and prosecute abuses, and, more broadly, restore the rule of law.
Almost five years after the 2009 coup ousting President Zelaya, egregious violations of human rights continue. The Associated Press has documented ongoing death-squad style killings by Honduran police. Independent media and human rights organizations continue to report that vulnerable groups, including members of the LGBT community and indigenous and campesino activists, are being targeted and killed. Basic labor rights are routinely violated and union leaders have received increased death threats in recent months.
Instead of implementing reforms to address those pervasive problems, the Honduran government adopted policies that threaten to make the human rights situation even worse. The former and current administrations have promoted the militarization of police forces and use their armed forces for domestic law enforcement. In August 2012, a new Military Police was created, with a projected size of at least 5,000. That force has committed human rights abuses while engaged in policing, such as the October 2013 raid on the home of opposition activist Edwin Espinal. Members of the armed forces are also implicated in the killing of Tomás Garcia in July 2013. Because of a continuing record of human rights abuses by the Honduran police and military, Members of Congress have repeatedly called for a cessation of U.S. aid to the country’s security forces.
Those and other human rights abuses have not been effectively investigated or prosecuted in recent years. According to the National Commissioner for Human Rights, during the last administration, dozens of lawyers and journalists were killed and 97 percent of cases regarding these suspected human rights abuses remain unpunished. The non-governmental group Rights Action cites allegations of almost 100 killings of lands rights activists in the area of Bajo Aguán. According to a Human Rights Watch study, there is “virtually complete impunity for crimes” believed to be associated with land conflicts in that region of the country.
We are also concerned about recent developments impeding Hondurans’ freedom of speech and association. In the first two months of 2014, the Honduran government published a new decree revoking the legal status of over ten thousand non-profit organizations, including a wide range of opposition groups. Those groups include women’s and environmental organizations, a prominent group that regularly reports on press freedom issues, and schools.
Finally, we are concerned about reports that last year’s election in Honduras was not free and fair. The human rights group COFADEH reports that at least 18 members of the leading opposition party LIBRE were assassinated in the lead-up to the election, with an additional six LIBRE-affiliated individuals and a well-known progressive journalist killed in the weeks after. Election observers documented widespread vote-buying activities, acts of intimidation, and cases of citizens’ names being eliminated from voting rolls. Challenges by opposition parties regarding discrepancies in the vote were not transparently addressed by the Supreme Electoral Council.
We ask that you pay close attention to those issues, strictly evaluating U.S. support and training for the Honduran police and military in accordance with human rights conditions placed in the 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations law. We also ask that you fully enforce the Leahy Law, which prohibits assistance to individuals or units of any foreign military or police body that commit gross human rights abuses with impunity. The State Department, along with our embassy in Honduras, must take a consistent and public stance supporting those threatened with human rights abuses, and strongly encourage the investigation and prosecution of those perpetuating crimes, including state agents.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Members of Congress
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (805) 421-9708 to request a speaker on immigration, Honduras, Colombia, Cuba, solidarity activism or US Foreign policy towards Latin America.