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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Congress Poised to Vote on Unaccompanied Minors

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U.S. folks – please act now to prevent Congress from stripping provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). The TVPRA contains important provisions designed to protect the rights of unaccompanied minors. Many of these minors have fled violence – including state-sponsored repression and torture – and have come to the U.S. seeking safety and protection.

Guatemala Human Rights Commission

Right now in Congress, our elected officials are considering lifting important protections for migrant children currently provided under the Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA) — a law which requires children to have a hearing before a judge and to have an attorney present.

We must demand that our elected officials ensure the safety of children arriving at the US border.
You can take action now by signing our petition calling for Congress to protect Central American children.

Our friends at the Chicago Religious Leadership Network have also circulated this call to action. Please join us in supporting this important initiative:


Congress is Preparing to Vote on the Unaccompanied Minors! Can you spare a minute to make sure they vote the right way?

Call (1-866-940-2439 ) or email your U.S. senators and representatives in the next 48 hours and urge them to pass the Senate Bill…

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Chiapas: Muslim Tzotziles protest in solidarity with Palestine

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“ We are a group of Tzotziles that converted to Islam 18 years ago and are protesting for the people of Palestine, that the genocide against them be stopped.”

27/7/2014 Tzotziles musulmanes se manifiestan en Chiapas en solidaridad con Palestina

La Jornada    ::    Alrededor de 60 personas de la comunidad musulmana, formada por indígenas tzotziles, marcharon y rezaron para exigir que “cese el genocidio en contra” del pueblo Palestino

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chis.

“Somos pocos pero no podemos callar ante la masacre en contra del pueblo de Palestina”, dijo Hibrahim Checheb, representante de la comunidad islámica de México Mezquita Al-kauzar.

Los musulmanes iniciaron la protesta cerca del templo de Caridad y luego de marchar tres cuadras por el andador Eclesiástico con banderas de Palestina llegaron a la plaza y frente a la catedral de San Cristóbal realizaron un acto en el que insistieron en que “pare la guerra”.

“No a la guerra. Palestina Libre. Chiapas contigo” y “Palestina, el mundo llora por ti”, escribieron en cartulinas los musulmanes radicados en esta ciudad, quienes por primera vez participan en una manifestación de este tipo en esta ciudad.

“Queremos justicia, queremos paz ahora, no más guerra, viva Palestina, Palestina libre”, corearon en español y en árabe hombres, mujeres y niños, quienes dieron dos vueltas al parque central, luciendo atuendos tipo árabes.

En la manifestación participó también Nahela A. Morales de la comunidad musulmana radicada en Nueva York, Estados Unidos, quien sostuvo que “los ataques en contra de Palestina son inhumanos y no tienen nada que ver con la religión ni razas; duele porque las víctimas son principalmente niños y mujeres inocentes”.

Hibrahim Checheb afirmó que “esta es la primera vez que nos damos a conocer y nos manifestamos públicamente, pues no sólo como musulmanes sino como seres humanos nos deberíamos de unir para reprochar todos estos ataques en contra del pueblo de Palestina por parte de Israel”.

En entrevista agregó: “Somos un grupo de tzotziles que nos hemos convertido al Islam desde hace 18 años y nos estamos manifestando a favor del pueblo de Palestina para que pare el genocidio que está ocurriendo” en ese país.

Señaló que la comunidad musulmana radicada en esta ciudad está formada por entre 600 y 700 personas, dividida en tres grupos, cuyos representantes participaron en la protesta, que finalizó poco antes de las 14 horas con una plegaria en la Plaza Catedral.

English translation: If I were Palestinian, by Eduardo Galeano

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Source:  Walter Lippman

Translation from CubaNews, Walter Lippman:

gaza, child, human rights

Child injured in assault on Gaza. Photo credit: Jewish Voice for Peace.

“If I were Palestinian”
Eduardo Galeano

2012

A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.

Since 1948, the Palestinians have been condemned to live in never-ending humiliation. They can’t even breathe without permission. They have lost their homeland, their lands, their water, their freedom, everything, even the right to elect their own government.

When they vote for whom they shouldn’t, they are punished. Gaza is being punished. It became a dead-end mousetrap since Hamas won the 2006 elections fairly. Something similar had happened in 1932, when the Communist Party won the elections in El Salvador: the people atoned for their misbehavior with a bloodbath and lived under military dictatorships from then on. Democracy is a luxury deserved by just a few. The homemade rockets that the Hamas combatants cornered in Gaza shoot with sloppy aim at formerly-Palestinian lands currently under Israeli rule are born out of helplessness.

And desperation, the kind that borders on suicidal madness, is the mother of the threats that deny Israel’s right to exist with ineffective cries while a very effective genocidal war has long denied Palestine’s right to life.

Very little is left of Palestine.

Step by step, Israel is wiping it off the map.

The settlers invade, followed by soldiers who retrace the borders.

Bullets shot in self-defense consecrate the plundering.

No aggression fails to claim it’s purposes are defensive.

Hitler invaded Poland to prevent Poland from invading Germany.

Bush invaded Iraq to prevent Iraq from invading the world.

With each of its defensive wars, Israel swallows another piece of Palestine, and the feast goes on.

 

Excelente artículo de Eduardo Galeano sobre GAZA

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The following post about Palestine was written in 2012, but is just as relevant today. The United States continues to generously fund the Israeli war machine, and our leaders have only tepidly criticized the recent violence committed by the Israeli military. Activists must continue to call on Congress to ban military aid to Israel. I’m attaching an English translation of Galeano’s words.

Falsasbanderas.com

cartel_noaz[1].jpgPalestina.Cartel de NOAZ.

GAZA

Por Eduardo Galeano

Para justificarse, el terrorismo de Estado fabrica terroristas: siembra odio y cosecha coartadas. Todo indica que esta carnicería de Gaza, que según sus autores quiere acabar con los terroristas, logrará multiplicarlos.

Desde 1948, los palestinos viven condenados a humillación perpetua. No pueden ni respirar sin permiso. Han perdido su patria, sus tierras, su agua, su libertad, su todo. Ni siquiera tienen derecho a elegir sus gobernantes. Cuando votan a quien no deben votar, son castigados. Gaza está siendo castigada. Se convirtió en una ratonera sin salida, desde que Hamas ganó limpiamente las elecciones en el año 2006. Algo parecido había ocurrido en 1932, cuando el Partido Comunista triunfó en las elecciones de El Salvador. Bañados en sangre, los salvadoreños expiaron su mala conducta y desde entonces vivieron sometidos a dictaduras militares. La democracia es un lujo que no todos merecen.

Son hijos de…

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Solidarity actions as Hondurans resist 5 years of coup government

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Honduras, human rights, coup

Assassinated for their resistance to repression in Honduras

June 28th marked 5 years since an illegal coup overthrew the democratically-elected President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya.  Since the coup, politically-motivated assassinations, attacks on poor campesinos, violence against LGBT people, and an overall decline in the security situation have increased dramatically.  Recently, the U.S. ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiskie, congratulated the government of Honduras for fair and democratic elections, despite widespread evidence of fraud and voter intimidation.  The U.S. continues to generously fund the Honduran security forces, who have been implicated in serious human rights violations.

The new President of Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, has vowed to combat violence with an “iron fist” and has already made steps to further militarize Honduran society, outlaw civil society groups, among other anti-democratic acts.  For more information, read Dana Frank’s article, “Who’s Responsible for the Flight of Honduran Children?”.

It is crucial that international solidarity organizations keep up the pressure on our own governments to cut off military spending to Honduras.  We also need to continue to publicize the grave human rights situation in Honduras.  There are many brave individuals and groups who continue to mount political resistance to the current repression, despite enormous risks.

In Chicago, social justice group La Voz de los de Abajo led a solidarity march.  Other participating organizations included the Chicago Religious Leadership Network and Radios Populares.  Photos by Miguel Vazquez of La Voz de los de Abajo:

Honduras, coup, resistance, human rights, solidarity

Solidarity in Chicago with Honduran coup resistance

Honduras, coup, human rights, solidarity

Banner re: repression against environmental activists in Honduras

Honduras, coup, solidarity, human rights

Your U.S. tax dollars at work

Honduras, coup, solidarity

No to Impunity in Honduras!

The following day, La Voz de los de Abajo and CRLN marched with the Gay Liberation Network in the Chicago Pride Parade.

LBGT rights, Honduras, immigrants, human rights

Immigrant and Refugee Rights – Chicago Pride Parade

GLN’s contingent focused on LGBTQ immigrant and refugee rights.  Many Honduran LGBTQ people have fled to the U.S. and other countries as violence against their community has increased.  Gay activist Nelson Arambu of the Movimiento de Diversidad en Resistencia spoke at a GLN event about the harrowing environment in which gay and resistance activists must work in Honduras.  Read more here.

School of Americas Watch has posted an online petition calling for U.S. Congress to cut off military aid.  Please click here to sign the petition.

Tomas Garcia, Honduras, coup, human rights

Tomas Garcia, killed by the Honduran military for his peaceful resistance to a dam project in his community.

 

The Desperate Choices Behind Child Migration by ALEXANDRA EARLY

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Source: Counterpunch

As someone who just returned from living and working in El Salvador, I’m still having a hard time adjusting to our mainstream media’s never-ending wave of know-nothing commentary on the subject of immigration. A case in point is the column penned by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat on Sunday, June 22nd. Douthat expresses alarm about the “current surge” of “unaccompanied minors from Central America” who are dangerously crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in such unprecedented numbers that the Border Patrol and the courts are now “struggling to care for the children and process their cases.”

What has caused this “children’s migration?” According to Douthat it is “immigration reform’s open invitation”–“the mere promise of amnesty” that has now worsened “some of the humanitarian problems that reformers say they want to solve.” Douthat is a conservative but his solution is a familiar, bi-partisan one: “let’s prove that a more effective enforcement system can be built and only then codify an offer of legal status.”

That immigration policy proposal, per usual, totally ignores what’s really driving the big increase in border crossings by impoverished young Central Americans and what the U.S. government could be doing to make staying in Central America a viable choice.

The “Push Factors”

To see things differently, it helps to put yourself in the shoes of others. Let’s imagine that you are poor single mother living in Apopa, a dangerous city next door to the capital, San Salvador.

You work cleaning houses for $15 a day. Your neighborhood is completely gang dominated. When you take the bus to the house where you work you are often late because the police check the bus and make all the men disembark for body searches. There are some mornings when you wake up and send your daughter to the corner store for eggs and she sees dead bodies in the street. They could be the bodies of a neighbor or a storeowner who refused to pay the extortionate demands of the local gang. Just a few days ago, walking with your son you were caught in a shoot out between two rival gangs. You could do nothing but duck and cover and try to comfort your wailing child.

Your son is 12 and one of the gangs–let’s say la Mara Salvatrucha (MS), the country’s most violent–is starting to recruit him. They want to use him as courier to send messages and deliver drugs. Perhaps more frighteningly, your older daughter, 14 now, is attracting the attention of an MS leader in the neighborhood. You tell her to reject his overtures, but you know how hard it is for any young woman to spurn such a relationship—or end it, once it has begun.

No Rural Refuge

You think about just packing up and moving to the countryside, but you have heard stories. Your next-door neighbor, an office worker, faced gang pressure to pay a fifty-dollar a month extortion fee. So she decided to move back to her hometown, a tiny village in rural San Vicente. But even small towns in El Salvador aren’t safe these days. After your neighbor moved back home, her nephew, a 16 year-old scholarship student was killed in the middle of the afternoon in his own front yard, right across the dirt road. He wasn’t the slightest bit involved in any gang activity. All he did was date the ex-girlfriend of a gang member.

In Apopa, you try to keep your kids inside as much as possible. And you worry. You worry about how you will pay the rent and find the money to send them to high school, let alone college. And you think about sending them to la Usa. Your brother lives in Maryland. Maybe he could cover part of the cost of their journey? You know the journey is dangerous but what other choices are there?

How many American parents have ever had to weigh such terrible options—the danger of daily life for their children versus the dangers of illegal immigration? How many have experienced the emotional pain of resulting family separation—first from parents leaving for work in Los Angeles or Maryland, with their children staying behind, and now from the stream of children and teens following the same route north in search of a safer and better life?

Forced to Leave

In February, with my U.S. passport in hand, I left El Salvador and hopped on a plane headed for the U.S. – adios gangs, adios fear, adios poverty. I left behind many Salvadoran friends who will never be able to do the same thing. Just a few months later, a bright young man from one rural community I often visited left to join his father in Washington State. To me, with a steady job and money in the bank, his beautiful mountainside community seemed like paradise. But the young man couldn’t gain admittance to the one affordable, public university in El Salvador and couldn’t find a job. While Douthat bemoans the fact that Border Patrol agents are “neglecting other law enforcement duties” to deal with the influx of child migrants, I am hoping they will be too busy to catch my young friend and that he will reach his destination safely.

The vast majority of Salvadorans, like other Central Americans, don’t want to migrate to the U.S. They love their families and communities and would much prefer to stay and work or go to school in their own countries. Creating stricter immigration rules and deporting more children will not stop this wave of forced migrants; only giving them the chance to survive and prosper at home will.

U.S. Policy Impact

The U.S. Government could do a lot to make life better in El Salvador and Honduras. But right now they are doing just the opposite. In El Salvador, the Obama administration is currently undercutting efforts by the Salvadoran government to support sustainable, small-scale farming. The U.S. Ambassador has threatened to deny a multimillion-dollar aid package if the FMLN government continues to buy seeds from local farmers, instead of from foreign companies like Monsanto, as part of their highly successful Family Agriculture program.

Meanwhile in Honduras, since the military take-over of June 2009 the U.S. has been supporting a corrupt, illegitimate regime responsible for increased economic inequality and violence. I have participated in a number of human rights and electoral observation delegations to Honduras and heard from community leaders about the hundreds of murders of women, gay people, activists and union leaders that have occurred under the watch of the post-coup regime. If I were Honduran, watching right wing hard liner Juan Orlando Hernandez “win” the presidential election through blatant fraud and intimidation would have been the last straw for me. I would have left too.

I am no Harvard trained political analyst like Ross Douthat, but I know that only a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy will help change conditions in Central America and ease the humanitarian crisis at our border. The U.S. government must stop pushing free trade and privatization and start funding social programs. But most of all it must stand up for human rights. And these include the right not to migrate but to stay, study, work, speak out and live happily in your own home country.

Alexandra Early worked for four years in El Salvador as a Coordinator for U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities. She can be reached at earlyave@gmail.com.

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