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!


Rachel Bruhnke

Founder, CUSSP Cuba-US Sustainability Project

Witness for Peace Southwest Regional Board Member


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


WfPSW Announces 2016 Delegations

Consider joining Witness for Peace Southwest on one of our international and national delegations in 2016!

Delegation fees cover all set-up preparation, 2 meals per day, housing accommodations, interpreters, transportation within the country and a trained delegation coordinator. The feel also covers extensive reading and activist tools before and after the delegation. Limited space is available—Apply early!

For more information and an application please contact: Witness for Peace Southwest Regional Organizer Jeanette Charles at 805-669-VIVA or jcharles.wfpsw@gmail.com or Malia Everette at 415-735-5407 or malia@altruvistas.com. For additional information about scholarship opportunities and fundraising assistance contact Jeanette Charle or Tanya Hartley at southwestwfp@gmail.com.

WfPSW has experience organizing delegations to countries throughout the region including Honduras, Colombia and Mexico. If you would like to organize a delegation for your organization, school or community group through Witness for Peace Southwest, please contact Jeanette Charles, Tanya Hartley or Malia Everette (information provided above).


MEXICO-U.S. BORDER March 19-26, 2016: Impacts of US War on Drugs on the Mexico/US Border

Learn more about the Impacts of the US War on Drugs in Southern California and along the Mexico-U.S. border. We will meet with organizations challenging the prison industrial complex, fighting against massive deportations and creating alternatives to free trade. Contact Jeanette Charles for more information regarding this delegation’s overall cost.

Deadline: Application with a non-refundable deposit of $150 is due by January 18, 2016


CUBA April 24- May 3,  2016: Celebrate May Day in Cuba:  Labor and Community Organizing from the Ground Up

Join the Cuban people on International Worker’s Day in Havana, Cuba! Join us for what promises to be a remarkable time to celebrate Cuba’s revolutionary spirit, past and present!

Cost: $2350 without international airfare and $2950 with airfare included from Miami.

Deadline: Application with a non-refundable deposit of $200 is due by February 28, 2016.


VENEZUELA  May 21-30, 2016: Afro-Venezuelan History and Culture    

May is Afro-Venezuelan history month and is full of events marking the significant political, cultural and social contributions of the African Diaspora and the specific struggles of Afro-descendants in Venezuela. Learn how Afro-Venezuelans have secured significant rights with the Bolivarian Revolution and continue to build an anti-racist Venezuelan society today.

Cost: $1950 excluding international airfare.

Deadline: Application with a non-refundable deposit of $150 is due by March 14, 2016.


VENEZUELA  July 21-31, 2016: The Bolivarian Revolution: From Simon to Hugo  

From Simon Bolivar to Hugo Chavez, the Bolivarian Revolution has evolved into building an inclusive society where all Venezuelans participate. Delegates will learn first-hand the ways and means of Venezuelan democracy, providing a unique opportunity to witness how public policies and grassroots organizing come together.

Cost: $1950 excluding international airfare.

Deadline: Application with a non-refundable deposit of $150 is due by May 16, 2016.
PUERTO RICO  Nov. 4-12, 2016:  Boricua: The Hidden Colony $1850 

Their status as a U.S. commonwealth leaves them without a vote and voice in their nation’s political future. Stand in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico as they continue their fight for their independence against US occupation and militarization.

Cost: $1850 excluding airfare.

Deadline: Application with a non-refundable deposit of $150 is due by August 15, 2016.


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

Learn about the Cuban people’s revolutionary history and cultural resilience while also celebrating the New Year! Expect to learn about the importance of arts and culture in Cuban society and its revolutionary development.

Cost: $2850 without international airfare and $3450 with airfare included from Miami.

Deadline: Application with a non-refundable deposit of $200 is due by  September 26, 2016.

Bird-Dog the New Congress! Take a look at our “How To” guide.

Bird-Dog Your Representatives

Bird-dog (bûrd’-dôg), v. To follow, monitor and/or seek out a subject of interest, such as a public official, with persistent attention to get answers to questions or influence the subject.

Bird-dogging is a tactic that many organizations, and concerned citizens, use to pressure public officialsto take a public stance on an issue, or to question a stance that a candidate has already taken.It usually consists of one or more bird-doggers who go to a public event where a public official will appear. The bird-doggers ask the candidate pointed questions about issues they care about in order to elicit a response. Because members of the media often attend candidate events, bird-dogging plays an important role in getting candidates’ positions “on record.” This is a vital part of holding politicians accountable to their constituents after the elections.

The highest office in America is at stake. Now is the time to ask the candidates what they are going to do about the issues we care about.

Tips for Successful Bird-Dogging

• Know where they stand. Before you bird-dog, check for the latest information about the candidates. Have they taken a stance on the issue? The more you know about where the candidate stands the more specific your question can be. To find out their voting record on certain issues go to www.votesmart.org

• Be assertive. Candidates have very busy schedules and may only take a few questions from audiences during public appearances. In order to be heard, be sure to get in line or raise your hand immediately when it’s time for questions. You also don’t have to wait for public speeches or town hall events. Try for a quick question during a meet-and-greet session or other public appearances.

• Be polite. Most candidates will not take rude people or questions seriously.

• Be direct. Don’t give a long explanation of your question. While you will want to set up your question, the goal of bird-dogging is to force a candidate to respond to an important issue on the record.

• End with a very specific question. Politicians love avoiding difficult issues, so make sure to ask a clear and specific question to ensure that they address the issue you are interested in. Ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no answer. If you feel like your question was not answered, politely ask it again. Here are some sample questions:


It is estimated that lifting the travel ban on Cuba could create as many as 20,000 new jobs and over 1 billion in revenue for the U.S, and that two-thirds of all Americans including Cuban Americans support lifting the travel ban on Cuba. Will you support efforts in congress to lift the Cuba travel ban and work to normalize relations with our island neighbor?


It is estimated over 600,000 U.S jobs were lost after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement while two-thirds of all undocumented migrants in the U.S today came as a result of NAFTA. In the last 2 years during one of our worst recessions the US congress passed 3 more NAFTA style free trade deals. Now a new trade deal is proposed under the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement including 8 pacific rim countries. How will you vote on this next new free trade deal and will you work to re-negotiate the trade agreements we already have?

Drug War:

This year alone the U.S will spend 52 billion on the War on Drugs, mostly on military aid to corrupt foreign governments like Mexico and Colombia and on incarcerating drug addicts here in the U.S. With this strategy we have only seen more drugs on our streets, more drug cartel violence and more people in prison. While 20 million Americans needed drug treatment last year and never received it.  In the next congress will you work to shift Drug War spending away from corrupt foreign militaries and domestic prisons and spend more money on curtailing the demand side of drug abuse by providing community services, drug treatment and de-crimilization of drug addiction?

Work in teams of two or more people and disperse. Bird-dogging can sometimes make people nervous so it’s best to go in teams of two or more for support. Also, if you have two people in a team, one can ask the question while another writes down the response. It’s best if you can get the candidate’s response on camera, but either way, get an accurate quote of what was said so you can pass the information on. The website http://www.birdogger.org is a good place to post candidate responses.

When you ask a question, be prepared with a follow up question – you might just get the opportunity to ask it. And, this way if someone else asks your question you’ll have a backup. If you have a group of people at the event, split them up. Dispersing at the event might allow everyone in the group to ask a question.

Keep it cordial. You are likely to get more of a response from candidates, and make a positive impression on the media, if you are calm and respectful in your demeanor. Hardly anyone is 100 percent opposed to your views, so try and come up with a compliment on a candidate’s position that you can mention before you ask your question.

For a list of congressional races and how much money they have raised go towww.thegreenpapers.com

To find out who contributes to their campaigns go to www.opensecrets.org

For Bird-dogging help contact southwestwfp@gmail.com or call (805) 421-9708.