Fall 2009 El Aviso - Members.efn.org

members.efn.org

Fall 2009 El Aviso - Members.efn.org

A publication of the Latin America Solidarity Committee Fall 2009

Fort Benning and the SOA Watch, Then and Now

by Peg Morton

I have been a fan of the SOA Watch

movement ever since I began participating

about nine years ago

and I continue to be

inspired by the creative

ways in which the

movement has changed

and expanded.

SOA Watch now

has a permanent office

in Latin America

and delegations

make regular visits.

Several countries

I’m not exactly sure what I expected to find

in El Salvador when I visited for the first time

this summer, but I do know that any expectations

I may have had would have fallen utterly short.

I had spent the last few years studying social

movements in Latin America, pouring over books

and films about revolutions, popular movements,

and the current situations in these diverse nations.

I had decided to spend my summer working

somewhere in the continent, and after Mauricio

Funes won the presidency in March, El Salvador

quickly rose to the top of my list of places to

be. My hope was to gain some insight into what

this political victory would mean for the people

of El Salvador, Latin America, and beyond. An

opportunity arose to teach English classes for an

NGO named Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad

(CIS) in San Salvador, so I decided to jump on it.

I arrived in San Salvador on the morning

of June 11, just 10 days after Funes was

inaugurated as president. You could literally feel

Peg at Close the SOA display in Eugene, May 27

have withdrawn their troops from military

training at the SOA/WHINSEC at Fort Benning.

There are deepening

actions and informative

articles in solidarity

with the struggles in

Latin America. For

example, SOA Watch has

denounced the Honduras

coup and sent an

emergency delegation to

Honduras. They continue

to urge congressional

continued on page 6

LASCera Finds Salvadoran People Ready for Change

by Heather Wolford

the excitement in the air. It was clear from the

very beginning that I was bearing witness to a

very important moment in Salvadoran history,

as the transition from an ARENA-dominated

government began. While ARENA still held a

slight majority in the National Assembly, FMLN

candidates won many important races throughout

the nation, including the presidency. Political

graffiti and posters covered walls throughout the

city, the vast majority of which in support of the

new president. One favorite piece of graffiti,

found on a wall outside the national university,

declared “ARENA=miseria”. The faces of Funes

and the new vice-president, Salvador Sánchez

Cerén, were everywhere, along with their

campaign slogan, “Un cambio seguro”. Women

making pupusas on the street were wearing

FMLN t-shirts, and red flags were flying on the

mountainsides. It seemed that the people of El

Salvador were ready for change.

This was not what I had expected to see in

continued on page 7


*JUNE*

*The 18th Annual Smashing Estate Sale raised

almost $700 toward our rent payments to CALC,

and it also helped us connect with our neighbors

here in the Whiteaker neighborhood.

*Published and mailed Summer El Aviso newsletter.

*Informal presentation/potluck on the People’s

Summit of the Americas by UO professor Irmany

Reyes-Santos.

*JULY*

*The Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba stopped

in Eugene; we held a potluck dinner and a

discussion of US-Cuba relations, led by members

of the delegation heading south.

*LASC began holding weekly vigils for the

return of democracy to Honduras on the corner of

7th and Pearl.

*LCC intern Jessica and office volunteer

extraordinaire Dorothea organized a bakesale at

the UO Bookstore. Despite 106-degree heat and

several bureaucratic barriers, the sale raised over

$80.

Jessica Zuckerman and Dorothea Marcomb

staff the July bakesale (picture taken before

thermometer topped 100 degrees)

Recent LASC Activities

*AUGUST*

*Began working on this issue of El Aviso—and

now it’s finally done!

*New table banner and a new email listserv both

debuted, both of which will promote “LASC” as

our not so new name.

*Hosted Jose Cervantes, UO grad and first-year

med student at Cuba’s Latin American School of

Medicine (see short piece on page ---).

*Cohosted with CALC a Latino Art Show at 458

Blair Blvd., as part of the Whiteaker Last Friday

Art Walk.

*SEPTEMBER*

*Fall program work began: the “Close the School

of the Americas” subcommittee was reborn, a

push to normalize relations with Cuba and “Free

the Five” started up, and work began in earnest

by a local coalition (including LASC) that is working

to bring attention to resisting “free trade”.

*LASC tabled at Eugene Celebration with CALC

and Campaign to Counter Military Recruitment

*SAT, 9/12: National (and local) Day of Action

to Free the Five; local signature-gathering at the

Saturday Market

*Hosted a presentation by Mike Beilstein of

Corvallis, and recently of the Pastors for Peace

Caravan to Cuba

Contents:

Recent Activities.........................................page 2

Local Action for Honduras.........................page 3

Latin America School of Medicine.............page 3

Immigration Reform for America...............page 4

Lawsuit for the Cuban 5.............................page 5

Upcoming Events.......................................page 7

LASC is looking for volunteers and interns! Call

485-8633 or email ciscap@efn.org.

Page 2 El Aviso


Local Action for Honduras

Since a military coup brought down the elected

government of Honduras on June 28th, LASC has

held a sign-waving vigil at the Old Federal Building

in Eugene every Monday afternoon. Beyond raising

awareness in the local community and calling

for action by the Obama administration, these

gatherings have also been a time for LASCers to

share the latest about the situation, and to plan new

stratgies for action. As this issue goes to press,

President Zelaya has returned to Honduras, but his

calls for dialogue are still being ignored by the coup

regime. For information on upcoming actions on

Honduras, go to our website at www.efn.org/~ciscap

and click on “Calendar.”

OSU Alum José Cervantes

Reports After First Year at

Cuban Med School

by Jessica Zuckerman

On Thursday, August 27th, LASC held a

potluck in honor of OSU alum José Cervantes who

returned from his first year studying at the Latin

America School of Medicine. The school, which

was established in 1999, is located in Cuba and is

free to those who attend. Over ten thousand students

from twenty-seven countries go to the school. José

described his application and interview process, his

housing, food and studies. He was accompanied to

this event by Juanita Rodriquez, who encouraged

him to apply to the school. She is from Corvallis

and they had met while he was a student at Oregon

State.

Students from LASM are encouraged to go back

to their communities after graduation to work in

low-income communities. Tuition, accommodation

and room and board are provided by the school

and students also receive a small stipend. After

Sixth Annual Benefit

to Close the SOA

with

Tom Rawson,

Folksinger &

Storyteller

Saturday,

October 17,

7pm

Eugene Friends

Meeting House,

2274 Onyx St.,

Eugene

Suggested Donation:

$5-15

info: 485-8633

www.efn.org/~ciscap

www.tomrawson.com

two years at the school, students are placed in

internships in Cuba using their medical knowledge

and obtaining hands on experience.

About twenty people attended the event and

brought delicious food to share. Many of the

attendees shared their past experiences about Cuba

and asked Jose great questions. Look for more

information from LASC on the Latin America

School of Medicine, and updates on José, in the

future.

El Aviso Page 3


What is the

Campaign to Reform Immigration for America?

by Guadalupe Quinn

The Campaign to Reform Immigration for

America is a united national effort that brings

together individuals and grassroots organizations

with the mission to build support for workable

comprehensive immigration reform.

The campaign connects people from

communities across the country who are ready to

work together towards achieving the 279 votes

needed to win just and humane comprehensive

immigration reform legislation: 218 votes in the

House of Representatives, 60 votes in the Senate

and one signature from the President.

We will be working especially hard with

advocates and leaders from faith communities,

small business owners, unions and labor advocates,

and community-based civil rights, human rights and

immigrant-serving groups.

Our vision of reform is immigrants and nativeborn

U.S. citizens working shoulder to shoulder

to achieve better wages, working conditions, and

labor protections. Making sure everyone is playing

by the same set of rules so that it is harder for

unscrupulous employers to cheat immigrants and

therefore harder for everyone to be cheated. We

need to build faith in our immigration system so that

people respect the process and so that the process

respects them. That’s our vision for a stronger

America.

Why Now?

Plain and simple, the U.S. immigration system

– as it currently exists and operates – no longer

works. Fixing it presents a daunting challenge,

but action must be taken sooner rather than later.

The time is now to do the right thing and fight for

practical solutions that benefit all of us and are

rooted in the restoration of the rule of law, earned

citizenship, united families, and fair treatment of

workers.

Untargeted raids in workplaces and

neighborhoods and rogue enforcement agents at

all levels are terrorizing immigrant workers and

families without making us any safer and without

fixing the real problems with our immigration

system. Families are being divided as our out-ofdate

laws force many American families to remain

separated for years – and in some cases, decades

– because of backlogs and barriers to family

unification in our immigration system.

American-born workers suffer if there is a vast

pool of undocumented workers who are easily

exploited who can be used as a tool by employers in

unfair competition. All of us are stronger if all of us

have rights.

Finally, our outdated laws are practically

unenforceable, driving too much immigration into

the black market and not enough immigration

through legal and orderly channels for immigrants

who want to work in this country. The result is

hundreds of thousands of immigrants being detained

each year, hundreds of thousands deported, people

forced to take life threatening risks because they

cannot enter legally, people dying in the desert, and

people dying in detention due to awful conditions

and official neglect. We can and must do better.

Guadalupe Quinn is a local immigration rights

activist. She can be reached at gqperaza@aol.com.









Page 4 El Aviso


Lawsuit Goes After

Another Failure of Justice

in Cuban 5 Trial

by Dennis Gilbert

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, acting

on behalf of the National Committee to Free the

Cuban Five, filed a lawsuit on Sept. 9, 2009 in U.S.

District Court for the District of Columbia against

the Broadcasting Board of Directors (BBG) because

it has “unlawfully failed to disclose specific U.S.

government-paid contracts with journalists” who

published materials that were negative to Cuba and

prejudicial to the case of the Cuban Five.

The legal complaint states: “The public is

entitled to know to what extent the U.S. government

covertly paid journalists who wrote stories related to

the case [of the Cuban 5] ... that were likely to reach

and influence both the jury pool and the seated jury

while the U.S. simultaneously carried out these

prosecutions.”

The National Committee to Free the Cuban

Five, under the Freedom of Information Act,

submitted a request on Jan. 23, 2009 to the BBG

seeking public disclosure of the BBG’s funding of

journalists including specifically identified contracts

between the BBG and these journalists. The

government is unlawfully refusing to produce these

documents.

BACKGROUND TO THE LAWSUIT

Beginning soon after the arrest of the Cuban

Five on September 12, 1998, and continuing

through the trial, the Miami media played a major

role in creating a hostile atmosphere in the city,

through newspaper, television and radio.

It has since emerged that many of the journalists

in Miami who claimed to be independent reporters

were being paid by the United States government,

through the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB)

and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG),

which oversee U.S.-sponsored Radio and TV

Martí. The BBG is prohibited by law from funding

domestic propaganda and attempting to influence

U.S. opinion, yet has apparently been funding

journalists who place stories in domestic media

outlets. Furthermore, if the U.S. government was, as

it appears, funding journalists who wrote incendiary

and false stories about the Cuban Five which were

likely to influence and taint both the jury pool and

the seated jury while simultaneously prosecuting the

Five, it would raise serious issues of government

misconduct and deprivation of the right to a fair

trial.

ABOUT PARTNERSHIP FOR CIVIL JUSTICE

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund is a

public interest legal organization in Washington,

D.C. that handles constitutional law, civil rights,

women’s rights, economic justice matters and

Freedom of Information Act cases (JusticeOnline.

org). Founded by Carl Messineo and Mara

Verheyden-Hilliard, the PCJF has litigated landmark

First Amendment Rights cases against federal and

local law enforcement agencies. PCJ’s litigation

was also the first to expose the use of the FBI’s

Joint Terrorism Task Force against political activists

in the U.S. and also revealed that the District of

Columbia police maintained a domestic spying

operation in which officers were sent on long-term

infiltration assignments posing as members of

protest groups to report on political activities, even

in the absence of allegations of criminal activity.

PCJF has pursued government openness through

FOIA filings and litigation, including a campaign in

defense of free speech rights, and efforts to disclose

information on imprisonment and torture carried out

under the Bush administration.

ABOUT THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO

FREE THE CUBAN FIVE

The National Committee to Free the Cuban

Five was formed in June 2001, soon after the

unjust convictions of the Five. It has organized

hundreds of forums, speaking engagements, and

public actions in support of the Cuban Five. The

Committee is a grassroots organization involved in

research, documentation and dissemination of the

Five’s case through printed publications, internet

outreach, video and communications to the national

and international media. It maintains the most

extensive website at www.freethefive.org

LOCAL EFFORT TO FREE THE FIVE

If you want to support the efforts to Free the

Five in Eugene-Springfield, contact organizer

Dennis Gilbert at 556-8676, or gilbertd@lanecc.edu

El Aviso Page 5


(SOAW continued from page 1)

representatives to sign the resolution sponsored

by Bella Hunt of Massachusetts that condemns

the coup and demands the unconditional return of

President Zelaya.

The spring-summer issue of their newsletter

¡Presente! includes an excellent article on the

militarization of Mexico, one applauding the recent

victory of the FMLN in El Salvador and another,

which challenges the SOA Watch and the peace

movement in general for our continuing racism

My personal story:

I have participated in the many faceted efforts of

the SOA Watch since 2000:

-In 2000, there was a coordinated two-week

long fast and action. Several of us in Oregon were

able to maintain the fast and a presence at the

Federal Building daily for the entire time.

-Other activists and I from Eugene have formed

delegations to Fort Benning each year and returned

to give educational programs. This annual massive

and imaginative temporary community of action is

an important and inspiring experience.

-I have lobbied many times when in

Washington, D.C., and participated locally in the

legislative campaign to close the school.

An important component of the SOA Watch

campaign is civil disobedient actions to close the

school, by illegally and nonviolently crossing the

line onto the property of Fort Benning. As of now,

294 people have served 97 years in prison and 53

years of house arrest and probation.

-My first act of civil disobedience at Fort

Benning was in 2000, I believe, when our affinity

group brought and buried dolls representing

slaughtered Latin American people. I brought

a handmade family of dolls that represented the

family of Jesus Teku, who at the age of 11 lost all

but one of his family in a massacre in Guatemala.

That year, and in the two previous years, over

one thousand people crossed the line. We were

detained, fingerprinted, given “ban and bar”

letters, and released. After 9/11, the Fort Benning

converges continued, thanks to successful court

actions. Fewer people have crossed the line each

year since then, all going to trial and most ending

up in prison. In 2003, I joined the group crossing

the line, went to trial, and served in federal prison

work camp for three months in 2004. That action

was for me a time of deepening involvement and

development of friendships with people who

continue to inspire me, both in the SOA Watch

movement and inmates in the prison where I served.

The prison term was an education for me in our

system of injustice. Following that experience, I

was invited to speak at many events around Oregon,

indicating the effectiveness of this kind of civil

disobedient action.

Invitation for Involvement:

-The movement is seeking a huge Convergence

at Fort Benning this year from November 20 – 22.

If you are interested in joining our delegation,

contact Scott Miksch at LASC, 485-8633, or

ciscap@efn.org.

-Look for local actions to coordinate with the

November Fort Benning Convergence.

-Tom Rawson, beloved folk-singer, is again

joining us for a fundraising concert on Saturday

October 17 at 7:00pm at the Eugene Friends

Meeting House, 2274 Onyx. Do come!

-Donate to help our delegation to Fort Benning.

Make checks out to LASC and note for SOA Watch.

-Write or call Senators Merkley and Wyden,

urging their support to close the school and contact

Representative Peter DeFazio to thank him for his

co-sponsorship of the current bill to close the school

- HR2567 - The Latin America Training Review Act.

-Read ¡Presente!, the publication put out by

the SOA Watch. Copies are available in the LASC

office, at events and at the SOA Watch website -

www.soaw.org.

-Join us on the corner of 7 th and Pearl each

Monday from 4:30 – 5:30 for a vigil to demand a

return to democracy in Honduras.

-Consider participating in an SOA Watch

delegation to Chile, October 9 – 18 and to

Colombia, November 28 – December 6.

Page 6 El Aviso


(Ready for Change, continued from page 1)

a nation where death squads operated well after

the signing of Peace Accords in January of 1992.

While I did not have a context against which to

judge the current political atmosphere, I found it to

be surprisingly open. According to the Salvadorans

with whom I spoke, the society has undergone many

drastic changes in this respect over the last 5 years

or so. Generally speaking, people are no longer

living in fear - at least not of the government. It is

now gangs and the horrendous economic situation

(which has only gotten worse since the end of the

war) that has people worried. They are not afraid

of being scooped up by men in a jeep with tinted

windows and never being heard from again; they

are afraid of being shot on a bus, and of not being

able to feed their families. Crime and poverty are

certainly not new concerns in El Salvador, or any of

Latin America for that matter, but they have taken

on new appearances over the years.

What most impressed me about the people

of El Salvador is that, after all they and those

who came before them have experienced, they

continue to be cautiously optimistic, and simply

some of the kindest, most gracious people I have

ever encountered. One of the highlights of this

experience was hearing the testimony of a man

named Don Pablo, who was from the community

of Cinquera. He lost 4 of his 5 children in the war,

and told of atrocities that are simply beyond belief.

I asked him if he had hope that the new government

would, or really could, work to improve the

situation of the people in his country. He told me

that many people have very high hopes for the new

government, but they also are very realistic about

what a new president can accomplish within a

system that has been so corrupted for so long. They

do not put all their faith in one man, and they know

that they must all work together for the common

good. I think that to a large degree it is this sense

of community that has allowed the Salvadoran

people to persevere through times that are, for us,

unimaginable.

It remains to be seen what lies ahead for this

amazingly beautiful country. With a history

characterized by strife and political unrest, there

are many forces working against the movement

for lasting change that would work in favor of the

people El Salvador. It seems quite likely, however,

that this time the force of the people may prevail.

UPCOMING EVENTS

WED-FRI, Oct. 7-9: UO Street Faire, tabling to

reach out to the UO community. 10am-4pm, EMU

amphitheater, 13th and University, Eugene. Contact

the office to staff the table for an hour or two.

MON, October 12: LASC “New Interest Meeting”:

These “Intro to LASC” meetings are set up

for people who want to learn more about the organization

and how to get involved in local Latin

American solidarity work. The meetings are very

informal and there will be plenty of opportunities to

get answers to any questions you might have. 7pm,

Suite One of the EMU, UO Campus

TUE, October 13: Subcommittee meeting for

LASC’s “Close the SOA!” campaign, 6:30pm at

World Cafe (441 Blair). Discuss delegation to Ft.

Benning and plan local events. All are welcome to

join the campaign at this open meeting.

SAT, Oct. 17: Singer/storyteller Tom Rawson

returns to Eugene for our annual “Close the SOA”

Benefit Concert. 7pm at the Eugene Friends Meeting

House, 2274 Onyx Street, Eugene. Opening

act: In Accord

late October: Winter El Aviso production begins

(publication date in early December)

SAT, Oct. 24: Cornucopia, CALC’s annual multicultural

celebration--live music, silent auction, and

all the ice cream you can eat! 6:30-10pm, Eugene

Hilton, downtown Eugene.

November 20-22: National gathering at Ft Benning

in Georgia to close the SOA

SAT, November 21: Local action and teach-in focusing

on so-called Free Trade and its negative effects

on people here and in Latin America. Presentation

and discussion from 1-4pm in the Fir Room of the

EMU, UO campus. Music, socializing that evening.

SUN, November 22: Local vigil to close the SOA-location

and time TBA

SAT, December 5: Regional gathering in Portland

around so-called Free Trade, and commemorating

the victory of grassroots actions against theWorld

Trade Organization in Seattle ten years ago.

El Aviso Page 7


Support the Latin America Solidarity Committee

Keep LASC strong. Become a LASC member or renew your membership.

____ Yes, I want to become a LASC member, or renew my LASC membership. Enclosed is my contribution of

$____________ ($10/year regular, $5, student/low income).

____ I want to become a sustaining member of LASC (sustaining members make a quarterly donation, and receive

a quarterly update and return envelop as a reminder). Enclosed is my first contribution of $200, $150, $100,

$50, or other $____________.

____ I would like to contribution to CISCAP by volunteering my time—please contact me soon.

Name_________________________________________________

Address_______________________________________________

City__________________________State________ Zip_________ Phone____________

__________Email______________________

Make checks payable to LASC. Mail to LASC, 458 Blair Blvd, Eugene, 97402.

For tax deduction, make checks out to LASC/CISPES Ed Fund.

Tel: (541) 485-8633, E-mail: ciscap@efn.org, Web: www.efn.org/~ciscap

Latin America Solidarity Committee

458 Blair Blvd.

Eugene, OR 97402

Address Service Requested

Printed on recycled paper.

Thanks! ¡Gracias!

To all of the great volunteers putting in time at the office--so much of what LASC

does is done behind the scenes by you! Thanks Greg, Dorothea, and Ronan, and

others who have helped out from time to time during the summer.

To our outstanding summer intern Jessica--thanks for all the time and energy you

put into your work at LASC!

To individual LASCers who made a significant contribution to our

publiceducational events over the past few months. And especially Bryan for

hiswork on Honduras, Dennis for his work on the Free the Cuban Five campaign,

and Peg for her tireless work on closing the SOA.

And last but not least, to the Spring ‘09 El Aviso production team: Jessica

(editing); Malin (ad sales), Ronan (layout) and Herb at PeaceRoseGraphics

(printing).

PRSRT STD

U.S. Postage Paid

Eugene, OR

Permit No. 18

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