Archives: October 2007
IMMIGRATION ON MAIN STREET
two links to the program:
Morristown mayor Don Cresitello, a Democrat, wants to invoke a
Department of Homeland Security provision that would grant his police
department federal enforcement powers in dealing with undocumented
immigrants charged with criminal activity. "I'm not suggesting that all
of these people are involved in criminal activities," Mayor Cresitello
tells NOW, "But for every one who is here illegally that's one more that
didn't need to be here. We have enough problems with our own crime."
An hour away, Hightstown mayor Bob Patten has turned his little town
into a so-called "Sanctuary City"—a place where efforts are made to
protect the civil rights of law-abiding undocumented immigrants. "We
don't ask people what their immigration status is now," says Mayor
Patten. "We simply want to treat everybody justly, fairly. There's a due
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NICARAGUA and EL SALVADOR: Severe Flooding
Tropical Depression Brings Devastating Floods to Nicaragua!
Nicaragua has again been hit with a natural disaster. Ramón Arnesto Soza, head of the National System for the Prevention and Mitigation of Disasters (SINAPRED) said that the tropical depressions of the last two weeks have brought an average of 6.4 inches of rain each day, a total rainfall greater than that of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. Yesterday, President Daniel Ortega declared a state of emergency saying that special measures were called for. He ordered all government agencies to put together plans to confront the emergency in the affected areas which, as reported in the Nicaragua Network Hotline on Wednesday, includes almost the entire country.
SINAPRED Director Soza said that the Rio Grande de Matagalpa overflowed its banks in the city of Matagalpa when four inches of rain fell in less than an hour. All the neighborhoods near the river were flooded. Over 1,700 people were forced out of their homes in the city. Nelson Artola, former mayor and presently director of the Emergency Social Investment Fund, said that two neighborhoods had practically disappeared with most houses losing even their foundations to the river.
In the entire country SINAPRED estimates 213,000 persones have been affected by the flooding. Soza said that Nicaragua cannot effectively respond to these recurring natural disasters without international assistance and called for help from the community of nations.
If you are able to make another donation (we know we just asked you to donate for the victims of Hurricane Felix) we will send your contributions to the Ernesto Gonzalez Foundation in Matagalpa with which we have been working since the bottom fell out of the coffee market in 2001. They will use the funds to buy urgent supplies for those who have lost their homes. Send a check made out to Nicaragua Network to 1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003. Write "Flood Relief" in the memo line. Or go to our new web page at www.nicanet.org and click on "Donate." Then click on "other" and write in "Nicaraguan floods" so that we will know what your donation is for. You can also call us on Monday, October 22 to make a credit card donation over the phone.
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SOA NEWS: Bolivia and Argentina
We are very excited to announce that President Evo Morales announced October 9,2007 that Bolivia will gradually withdraw its military from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the School for the Americas (SOA). Bolivia is now the fifth country after Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela to formally announce a withdrawal from the school!
"We will gradually withdraw until there are no Bolivian officers attending the School of the Americas," said Morales. Questioning the U.S. government's foreign policy he noted that "they are teaching high ranking officers to confront their own people, to identify social movements as their enemies."
This is a great victory for torture survivors, social movement leaders and human rights activists of Bolivia and the Americas. The SOA/WHINSEC has played a significant role in Bolivia's recent political history, Hugo Banzer Suarez, who ruled Bolivia from 1971-1978 under a brutal military dictatorship attended the school in 1956 and was later inducted into the school's "hall of fame" in 1988. The SOA has trained tens of thousands of Bolivian military officers in the past fifty years. In October of 2006, two former graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC, Generals Juan Veliz Herrera and Gonzalo Rocabado Mercado were arrested on charges of torture, murder, and violation of the constitution for their responsibility in the death of 67 civilians in El Alto Bolivia during the "Gas Wars" of September-October 2003.
In March 2006 a School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) delegation led by Lisa Sullivan-Rodriguez, Salvadoran torture survivor Carlos Mauricio, and SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois met with President Evo Morales to request that Bolivia cease to send troops for training at the SOA/WHINSEC.
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UPDATE ON CAFTA IN COSTA RICA
It's Time for the "No!" Vote to be Heard!
Call to Action!
The Stop CAFTA Coalition and the Alliance for Responsible Trade
Join us as we demand that the CAFTA Referendum results in Costa Rica NOT be certified by the OAS!
Yesterday in Washington, DC at 12:30pm, International Observers to the recent Referendum on DR-CAFTA (Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement) in Costa Rica and other concerned civil society members conducted a street theater action, held a press conference and presented a letter to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), demanding that they intervene to stop the certification of the DR-CAFTA Referendum.
You can join us by flooding the OAS with calls demanding a delay in the certification of the referendum. It is crucial that you call today, as the certification process will likely take place over the weekend. (If they tell you to send an email, tell them this situation is too important and that you want your voice heard now. The OAS is our best option for delaying or blocking the certification of a fraud-filled vote.)
Call the Political Office of the Organization of American States at (202) 458-3946.
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NFWM Action Alert:
National Farm Worker Ministry
Our Florida staff, who work with farm workers affected by pesticide exposure daily, urge us to sign a petition calling on EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to immediately reverse the agency’s approval of methyl iodide.
Nemagon Case Goes to Jury in California!
[The Nicaragua Network has received this press release from the Law Offices of Juan J. Dominguez. For more information contact: IRodriguez@JuanJDominguez.com]
October 15, 2007 U.S. Multinational Corporations Face Jury Verdict on Bell-Weather Sterility Cases
A sworn jury is currently deliberating on the claim by 12 Nicaraguan banana plantation workers that they were sterilized by Dibromochloropropane ("DBCP") pesticide.
By Suzanna Collerd: CPT in Colombia
"There are two questions that we need to ask ourselves: Do we want to stay here in the mining zone of the South of Bolivar? Or do we want to leave the mining zone? If we want to leave, all we have to do is shake the cockroaches off of our suitcase and pack, but if we want to stay, there is a lot of work to be done." This is how the mining leaders began meetings in the communities of Chocó Mine, Flea Mine, Easy Mine, Snail Mine, Backpack Mine and Stump Mine between the 21 and 26 of September. More...
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Report from FESPAD
“Record Batteries” and the Right to Health
Lead poisoning has serious implications for human health. Low level exposure to lead contamination can result in developmental delays, behavioral problems, memory lapses, dizziness, decreased auditory sensitivity and stature reduction. In acute cases it can lead to encephalopathy and finally put the life of the person at risk.
Lead is a heavy metal that is used in various industrial processes including the production of electrical batteries where it is used to make the terminals, braces and contact breakers between battery cells. The metal is not biodegradable and remains in the soil, air, water and home where it accumulates and can poison generations of children and adults unless it is removed.
Inhabitants of the Sitio del Niño village in the municipality of San Juan Opico, La Libertad have been exposed to lead emissions from the “Baterias de El Salvador” factory, known as “Record Batteries”. The factory has been operating in the area for the past eleven years.
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CAFTA REPORT:COSTA RICA: charges of fraud
Defend Democracy in Costa Rica!
Sign letter to OAS Secretary General!
Investigate Irregularities Now - Don't Certify the CAFTA Vote!
We Need Your Signature by Tuesday afternoon!
On October 7th, the Costa Rican people held an historic referendum to decide the future of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). After three years of country-wide debate, the vast majority of people understood the grave consequences that would befall their unique and beautiful democracy if CAFTA were allowed to be implemented. Because Costa Rica has managed to fend off the multiple attempts to dismantle their very effective social service system, which provides free health care and education, as well as low cost telephone and electric services, their public enterprises continue to be the most desired 'prize' sought after by trans-national corporations.
Faced with a seeming defeat on the referendum, the U.S. and Costa Rican governments poured in massive funding and broke many electoral laws to secure a 'victory' for the referendum. Quest for Peace and Nicaragua Network staff were part of an international delegation that released a report on CAFTA and formed an observer team, and we are outraged at the subversion of democracy, especially by our government.
It is clear that the referendum had so many irregularities; it should not be certified by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Costa Rica. We have filed a complaint with them, but feel we must do more. We Call on the Secretary General of the OAS to Defend Democracy in Costa Rica.
Sign on to the letter and help us demand that the Organization of American States (OAS) intervene and pressure the Costa Rican government to delay the certification of the results until a more thorough investigation of the irregularities can be carried out. The letter will be placed as a full-page ad in the major Costa Rican paper Diario Extra this week to send a message of solidarity to the Costa Rican people who are still fighting to stop CAFTA and to amplify our request to the OAS.
We need your support -- and we only have a few days!
Please join with us in helping to defend democracy in Costa Rica. Only with your signature and $20-$100 donation will this ad be realized. The ad will be placed on October 19th before the certification deadline the following day. Please also help us outreach and send along the request to friends, family and colleagues.
TO SIGN NOW GO TO:
Alliance for Responsible Trade
coordinated by the Quixote Center
PO Box 5206, Hyattsville, MD 20782
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PERU, FREE TRADE and ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER
The Free Trade Agreements allow companies to avoid responsibility about labor rights and safety and environmental safeguards. Companies like Doe Run Peru can continue to contaminate the land and water in La Aroya, raising the lead levels in children and adults to life-threathening levels.
Congress is set to pass four trade agreements based on the same discredited ideas unless we act now.
In spite of widespread public opposition to the failed NAFTA trade model, the Democratic leadership is promoting quick passage of the Peru FTA, a carbon copy of the NAFTA/CAFTA Democrats campaigned against last November.
We know if this flawed bill passes the full Congress, it means years of economic damage to Peru and this country. But yesterday, the House Ways and Means committee passed along the Peru Free Trade Agreement after only 15 minutes of consideration!
We think this means the full House will vote on this agreement within the next two weeks. We need to raise our voices NOW if we are going to stop this latest effort to expand the failed CAFTA/NAFTA model.
There is good news. There is a group of Democrats who disagrees with the leadership and is working to gather opposing votes. Our calls to Congress will enable them to stand up to the leadership.
The Capitol Switchboard is (202) 224-3121.
Go here to find out who your House representative is
Here's the link to contact your Senator
Please stand with us to oppose these terrible free trade agreements. Please add your voice to this message:
No more of this failed model
No new trade agreements until a new model is put forward.
Call today and tell your Representatives and Senators- “NO” to the Peru FTA!!!
A handful of Democrats just joined the White House and the Republicans in charge of trade to announce a "deal" on the pending NAFTA-style "free trade" agreements (FTAs). The deal falls way short of the expectations that the American public had for the new Congress.
Most dangerously, this new "deal" -- applauded by corporate lobbyists and President Bush -- sets Congress on a slippery slope to giving the president even more authority over trade and globalization policy.
Please take a moment to contact Congress and urge them to oppose the pending U.S.-Peru NAFTA expansion, and any more NAFTA-style trade deals. We need a new, fairer model of trade policy. Unfortunately, this "deal" just doesn't cut it.
Take action now at http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizations/publiccitizen/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=12561&t=
Talking Points for your call:
A key part of the Democratic victory last November was based on opposition to this trade model and pledges to promote a new one. Unfortunately, the Democratic leadership is reneging on these promises and is again selling out to corporate pressure by expanding this failed model. In spite of their propaganda to the contrary, this FTA will not lead to a reduction of poverty in Peru; rather it will further exacerbate the situation of extreme income disparity.
The ‘reforms’ touted by the Democratic leadership in the labor and environmental chapters of these new agreements are merely the same kind of diversionary tactic used to get NAFTA approved, and were created to provide cover for Democrats who want to keep their corporate sponsors ponying up the fat campaign checks.
This agreement will promote the dumping of subsidized U.S. agricultural products in Peru which will:
*destroy the rural economy.
*lead to an increase in coca production.
*create a massive exodus from the countryside.
Unless there is real job creation in the cities, this will ultimately result in more migration to the United States. More...
Farmworker Sunday - November 4, 2007
The bishops of Florida have designated November 4 as Farmworker Sunday. The following items are provided to assist parishes in planning activities during the Masses held November 3-4. Florida Catholic Conference: www.flacathconf.org
> Bulletin insert on immigration (English) (Spanish)
> Sample Intercessions
> Gospel Reflections
> Hymn Suggestions
> Prayer for the Harvests
> Prayer of Blessing
> Prayer Before a Meal
> Farmworker Contacts
> Small Group Discussion
Chertoff Blames Border Crossers For Land Damage
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; Page A17
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, whose department has come under fire from environmentalists for fencing off hundreds of miles of the U.S. border with Mexico at Congress's request, said yesterday that he knows of something worse for nature than a wall: illegal immigrants.
"Illegal migrants really degrade the environment. I've seen pictures of human waste, garbage, discarded bottles and other human artifact in pristine areas," Chertoff told the Associated Press, in remarks confirmed by his spokesman. "And believe me, that is the worst thing you can do to the environment."
Chertoff spoke as DHS announced it has more than doubled the number of miles of border fencing in the year that ended Sunday, to more than 150. The agency is on track to meet a goal of 370 miles of fencing and 200 miles of vehicle barriers along the 2,000-mile border with Mexico by the end of 2008.
Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it will conduct environmental impact studies on two proposed stretches of fencing, one extending about 70 miles southeast of Rio Grande City in south Texas and another about four miles east of San Diego.
Environmentalists say studies are being done piecemeal and were neglected at six active construction sites in Arizona. They say fences affect migratory and mating patterns and destroy habitats used by 500 kinds of birds, as well as threatened species such as jaguars and the Sonoran pronghorn antelope. Construction crews and the Border Patrol use off-road vehicles that worsen the environmental damage caused by immigrants, they say.
Yesterday, the Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife appealed to the Interior Department to stop construction in a wildlife area on the San Pedro River in southeastern Arizona.
Congress has given Chertoff authority to waive legal requirements, including environmental laws, to build border barriers. Pending legislation could require DHS to consult with local and federal agencies to minimize environmental damage.
-- Spencer S. Hsu
Court Extends Order That Blocks Government From Implementing Flawed Social Security No Match Rule (10/1/2007)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SAN FRANCISCO - After a hearing today, a federal judge extended an order that temporarily stops the government from implementing a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) rule that would cause U.S. citizens and other authorized workers to lose their jobs, and which would illegally use error-prone social security records as a tool for immigration enforcement. The judge's order also stops the Social Security Administration (SSA) from beginning to send notices to approximately 140,000 employers across the country notifying them of the new rule, which would impact approximately eight million workers. The temporary restraining order is not to exceed ten days.
"We are pleased that the judge saw the need to continue to block this rule that would lead to increased exploitation of workers,” said John Sweeney, President of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). “More than 70% of SSA discrepancies refer to U.S. citizens but the DHS regulation would encourage employers to fire any worker based on these erroneous discrepancies, especially if she has an accent or is perceived to be foreign born.”
Today’s order comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in August by the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Immigration Law Center (NILC) and the Central Labor Council of Alameda County along with other local labor movements. In the lawsuit, the groups charge that the misguided rule violates the law and workers' rights, imposes burdensome obligations on employers, and will cause discrimination against workers who are perceived to be immigrants.
For years the SSA has sent “no match” letters to employers if the name and social security information reported by a worker on a W-2 form does not match up with the information contained in SSA databases. The “no match” letters were never considered reason to believe that an employee did not have permission to work in the U.S, and currently employers who receive "no match" letters are not required to take any action. In fact, there are many innocent reasons for such discrepancies such as clerical mistakes, name changes due to marriage and divorce, and the use of multiple surnames that are common in many parts of the world.
Under the new DHS rule, employers receiving “no match” letters might be required to fire employees whose SSA discrepancies are not resolved within 90 days after the "no match" letter is received. If the employer does not respond to a “no match” letter, DHS may conclude that the employer had “constructive knowledge” that an employee was not authorized to work in the U.S. and prosecute the employer accordingly.
Today's order was handed down in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
In addition to the AFL-CIO, which is represented by the law firm of Altshuler Berzon LLP, other parties bringing the lawsuit include the Central Labor Council of Alameda County, represented by the ACLU, the ACLU of Northern California, and NILC, as well as the San Francisco Labor Council and the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, represented by Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld.
Lawyers on the case include Scott A. Kronland, Stephen Berzon, Jonathan Weissglass, Linda Lye and Danielle Leonard of Altshuler Berzon LLP; Jonathan Hiatt, James Coppess and Ana Avendaño of the AFL-CIO; Lucas Guttentag, Jennifer Chang, Mónica M. Ramírez and Omar Jadwat of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project; Alan Schlosser and Julia Mass of the ACLU of Northern California; Marielena Hincapié, Linton Joaquin and Monica Guizar of NILC; and David Rosenfeld and Manjari Chawla of Weinberg, Roger and Rosenfeld.
The complaint, a complete list of plaintiffs, and other information about the lawsuit can be found at: www.aclu.org/nomatch
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from NicaNet: Trivelli warns that Nicaragua could be put on money laundering "blacklist"
US Ambassador Paul Trivelli warned that Nicaragua could be put on a "blacklist" of countries with inadequate legislation to prevent financial crime if the National Assembly fails to pass a bill which would facilitate the creation of a Financial Intelligence Unit. Trivelli said that Nicaragua is one of the only countries in the American continent which doesn't have a Financial Intelligence Unit. According to the US diplomat the FIU is an essential tool in the combat international financial crime often linked to terrorist activity.
Should Nicaragua fail to join the other 106 countries which already have FIUs and form part of an international financial intelligence network then the country would be classified as "high risk and would mean that the cost of financial transactions would increase and the competitiveness of the country could be reduced," said Trivelli. "Legitimate bankers and investors would not be willing to come to Nicaragua," he went on, should the country be "considered vulnerable" in terms of financial security. Trivelli said the US would be willing to provide technical assistance for the creation of a FIU in Nicaragua.
Nicaraguan Superintendent of Banks Victor Urcuyo agreed that Nicaragua must look to create its own FIU. Urcuyo said that in 2008 the Financial Action Group will reevaluate the financial intelligence situation in Nicaragua and, should the country still not have a FIU, there could be a "devastating" impact on the national economy. President of the Caribbean Financial Action Group William Zapata urged the Nicaraguan deputies to pass the bill proposed by Washington and offered the group's support for the creation of a Nicaraguan FIU.
On Sept. 26, Supreme Court President Manuel Martinez rejected Trivelli's warning saying that the creation of a FIU as proposed by the US government could turn Nicaragua into a police state. "I'm a Liberal [Constitutional Liberal Party]," said Martinez, "and I wouldn't create a law that would allow that." According to Martinez the Nicaraguan financial intelligence system is very effective but "we don't talk openly about [how it works] because that is confidential state information."
from El Porvenir:
2008: The International Year of Sanitation
El Porvenir Continues Moving Toward the Goal!
The United Nations has announced that 2008 will be designated "The International Year of Sanitation". The declaration is intended to bring greater attention to the enormous need for sanitation facilities throughout the developing world and coincides with calls in the Millennium Challenge to reduce by half the number of people living without basic sanitation by the year 2015, and to provide all rural areas with sanitation coverage by the year 2025.
Often eclipsed by rising public awareness of issues surrounding potable water, access to sanitation facilities is less widely discussed and consequently under-emphasized for its role in community health and sustainable development. The UN Human Development Report for 2006 stated that "in all regions and in almost all countries sanitation provision lags far behind access to water" and that "these gaps matter not just because access to sanitation is intrinsically important, but also because the benefits of improved access to water and sanitation are mutually reinforcing".
Study after study has demonstrated the dramatic impact that a combined approach to water and sanitation development has on the overall health of a community. To maximize the health benefits of potable water access, communities must also tackle the significant hygiene issues associated with insufficient sanitation facilities. In many areas with successful water projects, high levels of uncontained excreta undermine the potential health benefits provided by access to potable water.
El Porvenir has always promoted an integrated approach to water resource development and has been committed to not only assisting in the development of sustainable water systems, but also in the building of individual family sanitation facilities. We receive many more requests for latrines than for water projects because villagers in Nicaragua understand that latrines offer dignity as well as obvious health benefits. Over the last eighteen years El Porvenir has helped families build nearly 6000 latrines in rural villages and barrios throughout Nicaragua. This upcoming year, 2008, El Porvenir has already planned for over 832 new latrines and needs funding for 352 more.
El Porvenir will be commemorating The International Year of Sanitation by continuing to develop and support community-based projects throughout Nicaragua. Please consider helping us to provide more families with basic sanitation facilities.
Building Partnerships to Help Support Nicaraguan Communities
El Porvenir continues to build partnerships with other organizations committed to promoting community-based sustainable development in Nicaragua. During the last year El Porvenir received funding and worked with many diverse groups with an interest in Potable Water, Sanitation, Reforestation, and Health/Hygiene Education. These emerging partnerships not only focus greater resources on the important work of El Porvenir, but also promote the productive synergy that results from shared ideas and experience. In the next several newsletters we will introduce you to these valuable partners.
Water For People is a US-based NGO working around the world in the development of water and sanitation facilities (see www.waterforpeople.org) In addition to the large impact made with "bricks and mortar" projects in many developing countries, Water For People is also focusing on capacity building in the communities in which it works; helping to build the skills necessary to maintain long-term sustainability. Because this an approach promoted by El Porvenir for over eighteen years, the partnership is a very good fit. This partnership will result in three wells and 144 family latrines in 2007, and much more in the future.
Water for People and El Porvenir are working toward the development of a Baseline Data Mapping system in Nicaragua providing a mechanism for long-term monitoring and oversight of El Porvenir projects. A World Water Corps will develop mapping surveys to inventory community resources and create a precise picture of conditions on the ground at the beginning of all future projects. El Porvenir and Water For People welcome the assistance of volunteers with experience in engineering and the operation of electronic mapping systems. Please contact us if you think you might be able to help!
Upcoming Work Trips and Educational Tours
Have you been thinking about joining an El Porvenir work trip or taking an educational tour? Then join one now! Help build a sustainable project with villagers, make new friends, and get to know Nicaragua! All work trips offer recreational activities.
January 27 to February 3, 2008 - Educational Tour with Ray Finney (see below)
February 15 to 24, 2008 - Birding Tour (see sidebar)
February 23 to March 1, 2008 — Open
March 29 to April 6, 2008 — Open
July 24 to 31, 2008 — Elderhostel intergenerational trip *
August 9 to 18, 2008 — Open
October 4 to 13, 2008 — Elderhostel trip *
See the travel section at www.elporvenir.org for details or email us at email@example.com
* Elderhostel trips are for people aged 55 and older; please see the Elderhostel website for details at www.elderhostel.org or call toll-free 1-877-426-8056.
Visit Nicaragua with El Porvenir Board Member Ray Finney, January 27 to February 3, 2008
Socially responsible tourism supports clean water, sanitation, and reforestation in Nicaragua.
Learn about Nicaragua by meeting with environmentalists, doctors, artisans, teachers, religious, and political leaders. Experience the natural beauty of this Third World country, with a visit to the colonial city of Granada, driving to the top of a volcano and hiking around the crater, bird watching around the "isletas" on a comfortable, safe boat in Lake Nicaragua.
The tour includes visits to several communities where you will see first hand how El Porvenir's self-help process makes a difference in the lives of rural Nicaraguans. Visit self-help potable water and sanitation projects that are making health education and community action a reality in rural Nicaragua. You will also see village seedling nurseries and the construction of more efficient wood-burning stoves.
Working together we can make a difference!
Limit 10 people, so sign up now!
Cost: $1200 per person, plus airfare. $250 deposit will hold your spot!
Cost includes food, lodging, travel/health insurance, two bilingual guides, all in-country transportation, activity costs, as well as project visits.
El Porvenir can help find good and economical flights.
The group would arrive Managua Sunday afternoon and leave Managua the next Sunday morning.
For additional information or to sign up, contact:
Mario Bandes, Delegation Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or
Ray Finney at email@example.com, or by phone at (office) 970-731-2100, (home) 970-731-6367, or (cell) 970-946-7491
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IFCLA is planning an event in St. Louis in conjunction with the events in Georgia on Friday Nov. 9 at 7pm:
We have 144 seats reserved. HURRY to SIGN UP!!!
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OCTOBER: ROLLING FAST for DEBT CANCELLATION
Support our sisters and brothers in poor, debt-burdened countries by promoting debt cancellation, especially through participation in the fall 2007 Rolling Fast to call for a congressional hearing on the Jubilee Act.
We are aware that the day has two components: one is to pray and fast (and there are different ways to fast). The other is to contact the Members of Congress, asking that the congressperson support the Jubilee Act calling for debt cancellation and an end to global poverty. To learn more about the Rolling Fast, go to www.jubileeusa.org .
We hope that you will be able to join us in prayer and fasting in some way. We know the power of prayer to bring about change. We believe the power of fasting will demonstrate the depth of our commitment to help those who are burdened with oppressive and unjust debts.
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COLOMBIA: ARMY MURDERS CAMPESINO NEAR PEACE COMMUNITY
On Aug. 31, campesino Alfonso de Jesus Bedoya Florez went out to gather firewood from his home in the rural community of La Miranda, located about three hours by foot from the San Josesito Peace Community in Apartado municipality in the northwestern Colombian department of Antioquia. Bedoya never returned home. On Sept. 2 his family was informed that he was dead, and that they should go claim his body at the hospital in Apartado.
When the family arrived at the hospital on Sept. 3, with support from the community, they were interrogated by agents from the Technical Investigation Corps (CTI) of the Colombian prosecutor's office. The agents asked Bedoya's relatives what armed group he was part of and what alias he used. The family responded that he was not part of any armed group and had no alias; he was a campesino. The CTI agents told the family that the Colombian army's 27th Brigade had brought in Bedoya's body. The forensic doctor who handed the body over to the family told the family that Bedoya had been substantially tortured, and that his death had occurred sometime on the morning of Sept. 1.
The community asked the National Office of the Defender of the People to question the army about Bedoya's death. The army's response was that Bedoya had been killed in combat. Last June 24 paramilitaries had looked for Bedoya in Caracoli, near San Josesito, and when they didn't find him there they had told one of his sisters that they were going to have to get rid of him sooner or later. [Comunidad de Paz de San Jose de Apartado 9/4/07]
The COLOMBIA SUPPORT NETWORK (CSN) were distressed to learn of the activities of two members of the US military in Colombia. Michael J. Cohen and Cesar Ruiz, assigned under Plan Colombia to the military base of Tolemaida, located in the municipality of Melgar in Tolima department. They are reported to have enticed a 12 year-old Colombian girl to go with them on August 25, 2007, and brought her into the base, where they fondled and raped her.
This is only the latest in a series of misdeeds by US soldiers in the Melgar area. Three years ago soldiers and technicians from the US produced pornografic videos of Colombian youth and put them our for sale at $10,000 pesos (About $ 5 US dollars) apiece. The Colombian young people had to leave their community as a result. And in May of 2005 Colombian Police captured a Sergeant and a military technician from the US with ammunition which they apparently intended to sell to the FARC guerrillas. That same month 5 US soldiers assigned to Plan Colombia duty, were taken into custody and charged with sending 16 kilos of cocaine camouflaged in a military aircraft, out of Colombia through the Apiay military base in Villavicencio.
CSN has on numerous occasions protested the human rights abuses of the Colombian military against Colombian citizens. But we specially decry the mistreatment of Colombians by US military personel. These violations of law and human rights must be investigated and the perpetrators punished. The US government has required the Colombian government to sign and agreement denying Colombia the right to prosecute US military personnel for their crimes committed in Colombia. We understand that Michael Cohen has been taken out of Colombia by the US government. We believe this? action, which appears to put US military personnel above the law, must be rescinded.
Please write to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, US Ambassador to Colombia William Brownfield, and your Representatives in the US Congress to urge them to support the investigation of criminal conduct by US military personnel in Colombia, with severe punishments for those found guilty of the crimes of rape, drug-trafficking and arms-trafficking. And tell them your support of the repeal of the liability waiver for crimes by US military personnel in foreign lands.
IN THE US
Your Senators and Representatives see our website www.colombiasupport.net Click on Action Center http://www.colombiasupport.net
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
US Ambassador to Colombia
Mr. William Brownfield
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