Press Conference for Justice in Future Relations with Cuba + (video)

Press Conference Calls for Justice in Future Relations with Cuba

Thursday, December 1 2016

Los Angeles/Harbor Area, (San Pedro) California

Transcript:

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…

CANEY ARNOLD:

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.

RACHEL BRUHNKE

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.

JULIA SCOVILLE

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…)

RACHEL BRUHNKE:

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.

DAVE ARIAN

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.

(Applause)

RACHEL BRUHNKE:

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.”

(Applause)

…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.

(Applause)

CARRIE SCOVILLE

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.

(APPLAUSE)

RACHEL BRUHNKE:

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.

(APPLAUSE)…

Viva Fidel

Thursday, December 1, 2016 San Pedro Courthouse

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

FALL SPEAKER’S TOUR PUBLIC EVENTS

Join Witness for Peace Southwest and Venezuelan organizer María Gabriela Del Pilar Blanco for a series of discussions about the current climate in Venezuela. We will be visiting a variety of spaces in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington states. Please see our listing below for confirmed public event dates. Please contact Regional Organizer Jeanette Charles if you are interested in attending and would like more information: jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com or 805.669.VIVA

Sunday October 2, 2016

“Venezuela y la revolución bolivariana – una conversación con activistas venezolanas”, La Casa Roja, 1251 St. Andrews Place, Los Angeles, California 90019

12-2pm

Women, Gender & Sexuality in Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution”, CIELO galleries/studios3201 Maple Ave, Los Angeles, California 90011

6pm – 830pm

 

Monday October 3, 2016

“People’s Power and Popular Movements in Venezuela”, Scripps College, 1030 N Columbia Ave, Claremont, CA 91711

9:35-10:50am @Scr Hum 105 & 2:45-5:30pm @ Scr Balch 218

 

Wednesday October 5, 2016

“Sexuality, Gender Diversity and Feminism in the Americas”, California State University Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St, Northridge, CA 91330

2-3:15pm @ Room JR 319

 

Thursday October 13, 2016

Indigenous Rights Center, ABQ, NM more details TBA

 

Tuesday October 18, 2016

“Venezuela: Queer Liberation and the Bolivarian Revolution”, The Eric Quezada Political Education Center, 518 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

7-9pm

 

Thursday October 20, 2016

Napa Valley, CA public event, more details TBA

 

Saturday October 22, 2016

“Una al margen: documentary about being trans in Venezuela” Comalito Collective, 302 Georgia Street, Vallejo, CA 94590

discussion at 6:30pm (documentary screenings throughout the day starting at 1pm)

 

Sunday and Monday October 23 & 24, 2016

Portland, OR & Seattle, WA Public Events, more details TBA

 

Tuesday October 25, 2016

“Building People’s Power in Venezuela: LGBTQ and Women’s Perspectives on the Bolivarian Process” California State University, Los Angeles 5151 State University Drive Los Angeles, CA 90032

3-:430 pm @ KH B 3008

 

Support Solidarity Across the Americas

Witness for Peace Southwest Speaker’s Tour! Three weeks until we take off!

This year’s annual tour is slated with María Gabriela Pilar del Blanco, member of the Venezuelan Sex and Gender Diversity Revolutionary Alliance (ASGDRe). We will be touring 3 states: California, Arizona and New Mexico. We will visit at least 10 cities and towns across the region. We have organized public events and organizers’ exchanges at more than 20 organizations, schools and community spaces combined. If you’re interested in hosting an event with us please contact me as dates and locations are filling up. Our tour begins October 1st and we close out October 29th.

To achieve all this work, we need your support.

Witness for Peace Southwest is a grassroots donations’ driven organization. Speaker’s tour is vital for our region to thrive, inspire and sustain solidarity across the Americas. 

Your donations three weeks before the tour starts on October 1st, will go toward logistical support for the tour:

Transportation:

Bus fare – tickets range in price from local buses to inter-regional buses. Help move us around Los Angeles County and from Phoenix, Arizona to Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Flights – because of the geographical expanse of the tour, we will need to make at least one domestic flight! One way tickets average at approximately $120

Food:

Help keep our speaker’s tour team nourished! We’re asking our home-stays and co-sponsoring organizations to help cover most major meals but snacks, on the road pit stops and occasional meals we need help to cover.

Honorarium:

For all our tours, we make a contribution to our speakers and the organizations they come from. While WfPSW is not a charitable organization, we do believe that grassroots solidarity through economic sustainability initiatives is important and often times, necessary.

In the long term:

Your donation helps facilitate organizing to build and strengthen solidarity across the Americas. You’re supporting face to face exchanges between communities in the US and Latin America and the Caribbean at the forefront of transformative political, social and economic change. Your dollars fund organizational development to build campaigns against detrimental US foreign policy and destructive US corporate practices.

How to make a donation: 

You can make an online donation here or by calling in your credit card number to (805) 669-VIVA (8482). Donations can also be mailed to WFPSW PO Box 1781 Ojai, CA 93024.

You can donate online safely and securely through our PayPal account. You do not need a PayPal account to donate. Click on the Donate Button and follow the PayPal instructions for your donation. Any questions contact wfpsw@witnessforpeace.org or jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com

Who is this year’s speaker? What organization does she represent? 

ASGDRe is a collective spread across Venezuelan national territory focused on building consciousness about the LGBTQ struggle in Latin America and the Caribbean. Their organization recently celebrated 7 years since its founding and has worked with a wide variety of national and international grassroots movements. Their work spans political education workshops, cultural events, literary publications, social consciousness raising, food sovereignty projects and movement building within the Bolivarian process.  Gaby will also discuss the current status of legal rights for the LGBTQ community and current campaigns to continue transforming Venezuelan society supported by the inclusionary political framework of the Bolivarian Process.

Gaby is originally from Higuerote, Venezuela an Afro-Venezuelan town. Currently, ASGDRe has membership in Lara, Táchira, Mérida and Miranda states. Gaby will speak to the current political, economic and social climate in Venezuela and share her personal experiences as an organizer within the Venezuelan queer community. The framework for her presentations, exchanges and talks will focus on people’s power, popular movement narratives and the realities that communities face on the ground – their achievements, their challenges and their alternatives. Gaby’s presentations will also include multi-media materials including video clips, photo stills and other references showcasing the collective’s wide variety of projects.

Any contribution helps from $1, $5, $10, $20 to $100. We need all the support folks can share as we build connections across borders.

In solidarity and in gratitude,

Jeanette, Regional Organizer

Seeds of Solidarity, Venezuela Delegation: Oct. 24-Nov 1, 2016

Sponsored by the Task Force on the Americas and SOA WATCH Organized and led by Lisa Sullivan, 30 year resident of Venezuela. 

Most have read about the brutal economic war that has engulfed Venezuela and caused a grave food shortage. Fewer have heard about the creative efforts of many Venezuelans to provide food for their families and communities by growing it.  In balconies, backyards, median strips, old tires, vacant lots and more.

Come to Venezuela in October this fall to bring solidarity to local Venezuelan communities who are stepping out of food lines and into the soil to grow healthy local food. They are forging an alternative economy to the half-century-old model of fossil fuel exports for food imports that was a key cause of this crisis. This incipient economy is based on local production, barter, solidarity and sustainability.

The delegation will participate in celebrations of Venezuela’s National Seed Day, on October 29th, in the Andean village of Monte Carmelo. Venezuela has the world’s most progressive seed law, prohibiting GMO seeds and encouraging community seed banks.

The delegation will visit urban and rural conucos (Venezuela’s traditional food garden)They will also meet with leaders of the new Urban Agriculture Ministry and agronomists and campesino leaders involved in this local food-growing movement.

An optional add-on trip to the Afro Venezuelan communities of Ocumare and Cata is offered from November 1-4. This group will spend a day visiting the tropical small farming and fishing initiatives on the coast, and enjoy 2 relaxing days at one of Venezuela’s most pristine and peaceful beaches on the Caribbean, Bahia de Cata.

The delegation fee of $1150 covers all meals, lodging, in-country transportation, translation, materials and visa application free. It  does not cover international travel to and from Caracas. The fee for add-on trip to the Afro-Venezuelan coast is $300. A visitor’s visa is required for U.S. citizens. TFA will streamline the visa application process, for an additional $50 to cover visa fee and mailing.

 Interested? Contact  Lisa: lisavenezuela@gmail.com

Join Us on Delegation!

STAND IN SOLIDARITY AND SEIZE INCREDIBLE DELEGATION OPPORTUNITIES WITH WITNESS FOR PEACE!


Honduras
July 16-25, 2016
Learning from Indigenous and Afro-Indigenous Leaders in the Face of Ecological, Economic and State Violence  

Accompany, learn from, and stand with Honduran social movements resisting violence and oppression by U.S.-backed Honduran state security forces, U.S.- and internationally-funded “development” projects, and neoliberal “free trade” policies since the 2009 U.S.-backed coup d’état.

Colombia Sept. 6-15, 2016.
“Post-Accords is Not Post-Conflict” : Support a Just and Inclusive Peace Process

Despite a historic peace accord, progressive social movements in Colombia advocate for a more integral understanding of peace: sustainable peace with justice, the deconstruction of systems of inequality, impunity, and injustice.

Puerto Rico Nov. 4-12, 2016
Boricua: The Hidden Colony

The fight for Puerto Rican sovereignty is centuries’ old. Currently Puerto Ricans are facing bankruptcy and alarmingly high rates of unemployment. Their status as a U.S. commonwealth leaves them without a vote and voice in their nation’s political future. Learn more about the devastating effects of US foreign policy and colonization in Puerto Rico. Stand in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico as they continue their fight for their independence against US intervention and militarization.

Cuba  Dec. 27, 2016-Jan 4, 2017
New Years in Havana: Cuban Socialism and Cultural Resilience

Come and learn about Cuba’s social institutions like schools, hospitals and cultural centers on the Revolution’s anniversary of and celebrate their cultural resilience and the New Year! Engage with organic farmers, community organizers, educators and artists. This delegation will also visit museums, galleries, studies and attend Cuban performing artist shows. Expect to learn about the important of arts and culture in Cuban society and its revolutionary development.

TAKE ACTION: 

Youth Delegation Scholarship Fund: If you’d like to contribute to help a young organizer participate in a delegation, you can donate online here.

For more delegation info and/or an application: Please contact either Jeanette Charles or Malia Everette. For additional information about scholarship opportunities and fundraising assistance email jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com.

Latin American Liberation Series: Colombian Peace Process

Women’s Perspectives on Peace: If Not Now, Then When?
Webinar with Sandra Luna of the Ruta Pacifica 
IMG_20160407_154445044_HDR (1)
The Ruta Pacifica is a feminist pacifist organization.  They have two principle objectives: 1) to make visible the effects of the Colombian civil war on women’s bodies; and 2) to support a negotiated solution to Colombia’s civil war. Learn more about their organization’s perspective on the Colombian peace process.
 
Tuesday April 19 @ 5:30 PST/8:30 EST

Hosted by: Witness for Peace Colombia International Team & Witness for Peace Southwest

For more information about the Latin American Liberation Webinar Series register here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

COPINH: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! — Latest Statement from Lenca Organization in Honduras

2015_BertaCaceres_013.jpg

(English Below) 

¡Basta Ya!

El Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de honduras hace de conocimiento a la opinión pública el asesinato el día de hoy de nuestro compañero Nelson García de la comunidad de Río Chiquito en el departamento de Cortés, a manos de dos personas desconocidas.

Lamentamos tener que informar que el compañero Nelson García fue asesinado cuando llegaba a la casa de su suegra a almorzar, luego de haber estado toda la mañana ayudando a mover los enceres de las familias desalojadas de la comunidad de Río Chiquito.

El asesinato ocurrió en el marco del desalojo efectuado contra la comunidad e Río Chiquito en la localidad de Río Lindo, en el departamento de Cortés, en el cual aproximadamente 100 policías, 20 efectivos de la policía militar, 10 del ejército y varios de la DGIC invadieron el territorio recuperado por 150 familias, en el cual más de 75 habían construido sus casas con los materiales y esfuerzos que han podido obtener.

El desalojo se produjo al medio día de hoy, utilizando tractores y maquinaria pesada para destruir las casas de madera en las que han vivido desde hace casi 2 años los compañeros y compañeras organizadas en el COPINH, dejándoles sin un techo con qué protegerse. De igual manera se destruyó la huerta y sembradíos de la comunidad, arruinando con tractores las plantaciones de yuca, caña, plátano y pequeñas milpas, violando cualquier tipo de derecho. Incluso se destruyó un horno artesanal que tenía la comunidad y mataron unas gallinas pertenecientes a la comunidad. 

La comunidad de Río Chiquito ha protegido su territorio desde que le fue donado a las mujeres de la misma, sin embargo, han sido atacados por las autoridades municipales, en especial por el alcalde anterior, que utiliza 3 testaferros para despojar a los compañeros y compañeras, y vender la tierra.

El compañero Nelson García fue un activo militante del COPINH, en la defensa del derecho a la habitación, lo recordamos por su activa participación en el proceso de recuperación de la tierra y la fundación de la comunidad de Río Chiquito. Lamentamos esta nueva muerte a 13 días del vil asesinato de nuestra coordinadora General Berta Cáceres.

 El asesinato de nuestro compañero Nelson García y el desalojo de la Comunidad de Río Chiquito se suman a la guerra en contra del COPINH, que busca acabar con su labor de defensoría, resistencia y construcción de más de 22 años.

 Estas agresiones del día de hoy se suman a la gran cantidad de amenazas, agresiones, asesinatos, intimidaciones y criminalizaciones dirigidas en contra del COPINH.

Desde el asesinato de nuestra compañera Berta Cáceres hemos sido objeto de una gran cantidad de incidentes que demuestran el nulo interés por parte del Estado hondureño por garantizar nuestra vida y la labor que desempeñamos. Así como su irrespeto a los mandatos de la CIDH en cuanto a la aplicación de las medidas cautelares que se nos han otorgado.

Las medidas cautelares fueron emitidas el días 6 de marzo y hoy 9 días después nos asesinan un compañero. ¿Cómo se supone que confiemos en el proceso investigativo del Estado si a la coordinación de la organización se le hostiga criminalmente mediante el llamado a declarar investigando su presunta participación en el asesinato, mientras no se investiga a las fuentes de las amenazas? ¿Cómo se supone que se haga justicia en el caso de nuestra lideresa Berta cuando no se garantizan las medidas necesarias para la protección de su familia, y las hijas y compañeros de nuestra compañera Berta han sido perseguidas por un hombre armado en la ciudad de Tegucigalpa en medio de los encuentros con autoridades?

 

Desde el mismo día del asesinato de Berta, las instalaciones del COPINH en La Esperanza han sido vigiladas por personas desconocidas, intimidando a quienes permanecemos en resistencia, siguiendo el legado de nuestra lideresa.

De igual manera los compañeros y compañeras de la comunidad de Río Blanco han sufrido agresiones de persecución cuando se trasladaban a la ciudad de Tegucigalpa para exponer su caso ante entes como el Ministerio de Gobernación y los representantes del grupo de representantes diplomáticos del G16.

Además de un incidente en el cual los compañeros de la comunidad se trasladaron al Río Gualcarque y fueron agredidos por los guardias de seguridad del proyecto hidroeléctrico Agua Zarca, mediante disparos de escopeta, que afortunadamente no hirieron a ningún miembro de la comunidad.

Todas estas agresiones hacen parte de un plan de exterminio en contra de nuestra organización y hacemos un llamamiento a la solidaridad nacional e internacional para luchar en contra del mismo. 

Exigimos que cese la persecución, el hostigamiento y la guerra en contra del COPINH.

Exigimos que el Estado hondureño responda por la muerte de nuestros compañeros y compañeras y no exista más impunidad.

Exigimos justicia para nuestra compañera Berta Cáceres.

Con la fuerza ancestral de Lempira, Mota, Etempica, Berta, se levantan nuestras voces llena vida, justicia y paz.

¡¡¡Berta Vive, la lucha sigue!!!

La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. Dado a los 15 días del mes de marzo 2016.

—————————————————————  

Enough is Enough! 

The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras [COPINH] makes known to public opinion today’s assassination of our comrade Nelson García, of the community of Río Chiquito in the department of Cortés, at the hands of two unknown assailants.

We regret to have to say that comrade Nelson García was assassinated when he arrived at the house of his mother-in-law to eat lunch, after having spent all morning helping to move the belongings of the families being evicted in the community of Río Chiquito.

The assassination took place in the context of the eviction carried out against the community and Río Chiquito in the locality of Río Lindo, in the department of Cortés, where approximately 100 police, 20 members of the militarized police, 10 soldiers, and several members of the DGIC [investigative police] invaded the territory that had been recuperated by 150 families, where more than 75 of them had built their homes with the materials and efforts they had been able to gather.  

The eviction happened at mid-day today, using tractors and heavy equipment to destroy the wooden homes where the comrades organized in COPINH had lived for nearly two years leaving them without a roof over their heads. The garden and plantings of the community were also destroyed, the tractors being used to ruin the cultivations of yucca, cane, plantain, and small milpas, violating any concept of justice. The community’s artisanal oven was also destroyed, and chickens belonging to the community were killed.  

The community of Río Chiquito had defended their territory ever since it was given to the women there; nonetheless they were attacked by the municipal authorities, especially by the prior mayor, who used three front men to evict the comrades and sell the land.

Comrade Nelson García was an active militant of COPINH, defending the right to habitation; we remember him for his active participation in the process of recuperating the land and founding the community of Río Chiquito. We lament this new death thirteen days after the vile assassination of our General Coordinator Berta Cáceres.

The assassination of our comrade Nelson García and the eviction of the community of Río Chiquito are additional elements of the war against COPINH that seeks to end our more than twenty-two years of work defending, resisting, and constructing. Today’s aggressions are additional elements of the large quantity of threats, aggressions, assassinations, intimidations and criminalizations directed against COPINH.

 

Since the assassination of our comrade Berta Cáceres we have been the target of a large number of that show there is zero interest on the part of the Honduran state in guaranteeing our lives and the work that we perform, as well as disregard for the mandates of the IACHR in terms of the application of the precautionary measures that have been granted us. The precautionary measures were granted March 6th, and now, nine days later, they’ve killed one of our comrades.  

How could anyone expect us to trust the investigative process of the state that criminally harasses the leadership of the organization by announcing that it is under investigation for presumed participation in the murder, while not investigating the sources of the threats?

How could anyone expect there would be justice in the case of our leader Berta, when the measures necessary to protect her family are not guaranteed, and the daughters and companions of our comrade Berta have been followed by an armed man in the city of Tegucigalpa during their meetings with the authorities?

Since the very day of Berta’s assassination, the installations of COPINH in La Esperanza have been under surveillance by unknown persons, intimidating those who remain in resistance following in the footsteps of our leader.

In the same way the comrades of the community of Río Blanco have suffered aggressions and persecution when they went to the city of Tegucigalpa to make their case in front of entities such as the Ministry of the Interior and the diplomatic representatives of the G16.

Also there was an incident in which the comrades of the community went to the Río Gualcarque and were assaulted with shotgun blasts by the security guards of the hydroelectric project Agua Zarca, fortunately without injuring any members of the community.

All of these aggressions are part of a plan for the extermination of our organization and we call for national and international solidarity to fight back.

 We demand an end to the persecution, harassment, and war against COPINH.

We demand that the Honduran state answer for the deaths of our comrades and that there be no more impunity.

We demand justice for our comrade Berta Cáceres.

With the ancestral force of Lempira, Mota, Etempica, Berta, our voices rise full of life, justice, and peace.

Berta Lives On, the Struggle Continues!

La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. Done on the 15th day of the month of March, 2016.