ROCLA Spring 2020 Newsletter

COVID-19 and ROCLA

A Message to ROCLA’s Members and Friends

 

Dear Friends,

Due to the COVID-19 danger, and following Gov. Cuomo’s stay-at-home order, the ROCLA Steering Committee regrets that we are canceling all of our programs for the Spring. This includes Lisa Valenti from Pastors for Peace, who was scheduled to speak about Cuba on April 7th, and Gabriel Hetland, scheduled to speak about Venezuela on April 17th.

Unfortunately, also there won’t be any Rice and Beans Dinner in 2020. We are already planning the 2021 R&B dinner. It will have to be twice as large and twice as good! We hope that the situation will have stabilized by our first Fall program on September 2nd. We will keep you informed.

In the meantime, we recommend that you view Dan Kovalik’s film “Nicaragua: The April Crisis and Beyond,” on YouTube.

It’s under an hour, and definitely worth watching.

In solidarity,

Arnie Matlin, Secretary
Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA)

Urgent Actions

Stop Deportations!

LAWG Covid-19 AsylumGraphic

Please sign this petition provided by the Latin American Working Group, one of ROCLA’s partners that regularly updates us on migration issues, Central America and Colombia. During this time of the COVID-19 crisis, we need to end the anti-immigrant dangerous Trump policies that have resulted in a virtual end to asylum in the US, and the health dangers imposed on vulnerable populations confined in detention, in refugee camps holding thousands on the border in Mexico, and on the countries receiving deported people, including Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.

Demand federal benefits for undocumented US workers!

Migrant workers picking strawberries in fields

Strawberry picking by Mexican workers. (Photo by: Andia/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

We have received this request and others from directly affected groups and immigrant rights organizations that are fighting to include undocumented workers in federal COVID-19 benefits, including unemployment benefits, free testing, paid sick leave and family leave, and direct payments to workers. We know this virus will impact everyone – regardless of immigration status, age, race, and economic status – but Congress passed bills that exclude many immigrant families. At present, undocumented workers like farmworkers, food processing workers, caregivers, and many other workers deemed “essential” under current law, have been left out. It is essential that these critical workers be included.

Please write or call your Senators and Representative and demand:

  • Give states the option to provide Medicaid to all individuals regardless of immigration status, including DACA recipients, TPS holders, green card holders, and undocumented individuals to ensure that they have access to testing and treatment.
  • Provide cash benefits for all individuals who file taxes with an ITIN.
  • Automatically extend work permits for individuals with DACA and TPS and nonimmigrant visas for the same time period as the individual’s status or work authorization.

Donate to the Alianza Agrícola Emergency COVID-19 Solidarity Fund!

Luis Jiminez president alianza agricola at work on dairy farm

Alianza Agrícola President Luís Jimenez at the dairy where he works.

During this COVID-19 pandemic, undocumented farmworkers have not so far benefited from Federal benefits. They continue to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week, because they are considered “essential workers” and don’t get paid unless they work. But they are not provided masks or other protective equipment, are not being tested, often don’t have access to healthcare, and if they get sick, will not have paid leave. The Alianza Agrícola, New York’s first worker-founded worker-led organized group of farmworkers, has set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds to help their members should they or their families become ill. As ROCLA’s 2018 White Dove Award winner, we are pleased to support this fund and ask you to consider donating to the fund here.

Announcements

ROCLA Membership Drive

Thank you to all who have renewed their ROCLA membership since November 2019. If you have not yet renewed, please consider doing so now, as ROCLA continues meeting virtually and distributing funds to its selected beneficiaries during this difficult time. Thank you!!

 

Write for ROCLA’s blog!

ROCLA is looking for guest bloggers! If you are interested in submitting a blog – we are happy to review and assist your writings!

 

Seeking up-to-date compelling articles about Latin America

Seeking up-to-date compelling articles about Latin America and the Latin American diaspora in the US that we can publish in the ROCLA newsletter. Please send them to the Newsletter Editor: graniamarcus@gmail.com

News from Latin America

In Memoriam: Latin American Human Rights Defenders Killed in 2019

These are the names of the 208 human rights defenders killed in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2019, as reported to human rights organizations that report to Frontline Defenders. Colombia has more than half of the total. Honduras, which has quadrupled its total number of defenders killed since 2018, has the greatest rate of growth. We are presenting these names here so that we remember the fighters who have risked their lives to bring justice and democracy to their countries. ¡Presente!

 

Bolivia

Ronald Aceituno Romero

Brazil

Paulo Anacleto
Raimundo Benício Guajajara
Carlos Cabral Pereira
Sandro Cipriano
Francisco de Souza Pereira
Luis Ferreira da Costa
Dilma Ferrera Silva
Paulo Guajajara
Jose Izídio Dias
Nemis Machado de Oliveira
Alessandro Bráulio Matos Fraga
Leo Antonio Michels Ostrovski
Marcelo Miguel Ortiz D’Elia
Humberto Peixoto
Maxciel Pereira dos Santos
Firmino Prexede Guajajara
Eliseu Queres
Edvan José Ribeiro
Ari Ribeiro da Silva
Marcio Rodrigues dos Reis
Rosane Santiago Silveira
Antônio Sobrinho
Emyra Wajãpi

Columbia

Mario Alberto Achicué
Jesús Adier Perafán
Miguel Ángel Alpala
Dagoberto Álvarez
Belisario Arciniegas García
Carlos Aldario Arenas Salinas
Freiman Baicué
Demetrio Barrera Díaz
Cristina Bautista
Hernán Antonio Bermúdez
María Nelly Bernal Andrade
Luis Eduardo Caldera Villamizar
Pablo Emilio Campo Tequia
Toribio Canás Velasco
Wilmar Carvajalino
Asdrúbal Cayapu
Francisco Javier Cervantes Florez
Victor Manuel Chanit Aguilar
Fredy Yesid Chisco Garcia
Magdalena Cocubana
Dilio Corpus Guetio
Alfonso Correa Sandoval
Concepción Corredor
José Cortés Sevillano
Bernardo de Jesús Chanci
Querubín de Jesús Zapata Avilés
José Del Carmen Jara Ardila
José Hugo Delgado Téllez
Humberto Díaz Tierradentro
Gilberto Domicó Domicó
Oneida Epiayú
Marlon Ferney Pacho
Eliodoro Finscue
Samuel Gallo
Lilia Patricia García
Orlando Gómez
Anderson Ramiro Gómez Herrera
Didier Ferney González
Héctor González
Edwin Andrés Grisales Galvis
Enrique Guejia Meza
Miguel Antonio Gutiérrez Martínez
Policarpo Guzman Mage
Milton Hernández
Liliana Holguín
María del Pilar Hurtado
Lucero Jaramillo Álvarez
Joaquín Emilio Jaramillo López
Fernando Jaramillo Velez
Mauricio Lezama Rengifo
Humberto Londoño
Argemiro López Pertuz
José Fernel Manrique Valencia
Aquileo Mecheche Baragon
Elicerio Mendoza
Kevin Mestizo
Dumar Mestizo
Jesús Eduardo Mestizo Yosando
Wilmer Antonio Miranda
Diofanor Montoya
José Arquímedes Moreno
Yunier Moreno Jave
José Arled Muñoz Giraldo
Uver Ney Villano
Jhon Jairo Noscué
Daniel Obando Arroyo
Danilo Olayo Perdemo
Jose Jair Orozco
Aydali Ortega Marulanda
Lede María Ortega Ortiz
José Manuel Pana Epieyú
Wilson Pérez Ascanio
Zaira Bellasmín Pérez Hinojosa
Anderson Pino Castaño
Julián Alexander Quiñones Oñate
Maritza Quiroz Leiva
Constantino Ramírez Bedoya
Ladevis Ramos
Guillermo León Rengifo Ramírez
Walter Enrique Rodríguez Palacio
Daniel Eduardo Rojas Zambrano
Marco Antonio Romero Lozano
Sonia Rosero
Jairo Javier Ruiz Hernández
Luis Manuel Salamanca Galindez
John Salas Barrera
José Rafael Solano González
José Gerardo Soto
James Wilfredo Soto
Miguel Suárez Santiago
Eugenio Tenorio
Wilson Charley Tenorio
Eduardo Torres
Erick Yammid Torres Buitrago
Aydée Trochez
Flower Jair Trompeta Pavi
Victor Manuel Trujillo
Luis Joaquín Trujillo
José Eduardo Tumbó
Gilberto Valencia
Benedicto Valencia
Jairo Vargas Yandi
Eric Esnoraldo Viera Paz
Christian Andrés Vitonás
Yatacué Gersaín Yatacué
Ebel Yonda Ramos

Costa Rica

Sergio Rojas Ortiz

Dominican Republic

Ignacio Alfonso Abreu Romero

Ecuador

Inocencio Tucumbi
Vicente Vera Párraga

El Salvador

Jade Camila Díaz

Guatemala

Rosendo Wosbeli Aguilar Gómez
Delfino Agustín Vidal
Gabriel Humberto Chacón García
Jorge Miguel Choc
Paulina Cruz Ruiz
Willy de Paz Bojorquez
José Roberto Díaz
Diana Isabel Hernández Juárez
Jorge Juc Cucul
Leonel Nájera Mage
Manuel Pérez Hernández
Isidro Pérez Pérez
Julio Ramirez
Melesio Ramírez
Obdulio Javier Villagrán

Haiti

Jeudy Charlot

Honduras

Jorge Alberto Acosta
Edgar Joel Aguilar
Johana Alvarado
José Alejandro Arita
Lesbin Daniel Ávila Caballero
Maribel Boilan
Buenaventura Calderón
Santi Carvajal
Leonardo Gabriel Castillo Lagos
Kerin Francisco Cerna Hernández
Eblin Noel Corea Madariaga
Santos Isidro Cruz
Wilfredo de Jesus Moncada
Noel Isaac del Cid
Bessy Ferrera
Darlin Dionisio Funes Vásquez
Oscar Francisco Guerrero Centeno
Abad Miguel Guity
Leonardo Gabriel Hernandez
Luis Antonio Maldonado
Juan Samael Matute
Solomon Matute
Óscar Daniel Mencía Cantarero
María Digna Montero
Adolfo Redondo
Junior Javier Rivas
Milgen Idán Soto Ávila
Mirna Teresa Suazo Martínez
Maricruz Tolvez
Marco Tulio Cruz
Anselmo ‘Telmo’ Villareal

Mexico

José Luis Álvarez Flores
Isaίas Cantú Carrasco
Arnulfo Cerón Soriano
Gregorio Chaparro Cruz
Sinar Corzo Esquinca
Gustavo Cruz Mendoza
Eulodia Lilia Díaz Ortiz
Samir Flores Soberanes
Luis Armando Fuentes Aquino
Bernardino García Hernández
José Santiago Gómez Álvarez
Abiram Hernandez Fernandez
Noé Jiménez Pablo
Estelina López Gómez
Bartolo Morales Hilario
Mario Moreno López
Rafael Murúa Manriquez
Camilo Pérez Álvarez
Zenaida Pulido Lonbera
Telésforo Santiago Enríquez
Norma Sarabia
Cruz Soto Caraveo
Isaías Xantenco Ahuejote
Maria Cristina Vazquez

Peru

Cristian Java Rios
Paul McAuley
Claudia Vera

Venezuela:

Leopoldo Flores, “Trump’s Narcoterrorism Indictment of Maduro already Backfires,” Common Dreams, 3/28/20

Charges against Maduro

A U.S. Justice Department image displays charges against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and other Venezuelan officials on March 26, 2020.

For twenty years, right wing extremists in Miami and Washington have been slandering the Venezuelan government, accusing it of drug trafficking and harboring terrorists without ever offering even a shred of evidence. They finally got their wish on Thursday, when the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled indictments against President Nicolás Maduro and 13 other current or former members of Venezuela’s government and military. In addition to the indictments, Attorney General William Barr offered a $15 million reward for information leading to the arrest or conviction of Maduro, as well as $10 million rewards for Diosdado Cabello (president of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly), Tarek El Aissami (vice president for the economy), Hugo Carvajal (former director of military intelligence) and Cliver Alcalá (retired general).

Continue to full article 

Nicaragua:

Arnold Matlin, M.D., “Nicaragua: The April Crisis & Beyond,” March 2020

Daniel Kovalik, noted human rights lawyer and advocate, has uploaded a movie to YouTube entitled “Nicaragua: The April Crisis & Beyond.” The film is technically strong, factually correct, and definitely worth watching.

Kovalik brings us step by step along the road to an attempted coup in Nicaragua in April 2018. Kovalik’s approach to the coup attempt stands in marked contrast to the information about Nicaragua that you’ll receive from the corporate media.

Since Daniel Ortega won election to the presidency in 2006, the U.S. State Department has been trying to bring about his overthrow. Our government doesn’t like the Sandinistas. That’s because—as we said in the 1980’s—they pose the threat of a good example. These actions by the U.S. government burst into view during the coup attempt in April 2018.

The U.S. National Endowment for Democracy is the cover organization for our government’s attempts to bring down the Sandinistas. NED, with its immense resources, set about training young, right-wing students in modern telecommunications. These students learned well, and they began the coup with false stories on Smartphones about unarmed students shot by police.

The students helped start the coup attempt, but then they faded away. Armed mercenaries arrived and built tranques, concrete structures that blocked both pedestrians and vehicles. Sometimes they let people through, sometimes they made them pay a fee, and sometimes they abused them.

The horrible part for me is that the coup leaders didn’t have any plans for making Nicaragua better or safer. Their major demand was that President Ortega resign, and then hold early elections. President Ortega serves a country with a constitution. The Nicaraguan constitution calls for presidential elections every five years. The next presidential election in Nicaragua will be in 2021. President Ortega has no constitutional right to call early elections.

No matter how vocally we may condemn President Trump, I’ve never heard anyone call for him to step down and have early elections. This is simply unthinkable in the U.S. However, our State Department has no hesitancy telling Nicaraguans that their country must have early elections.

The 2018 coup attempt failed. Nicaragua is back to normal. However, the U.S. is still trying to foment unrest with sanctions to weaken the Nicaraguan economy. My suggestion is to trust Daniel Kovalik, and to trust his film. Don’t trust Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Marco Rubio, or President Trump. And, definitely don’t believe what you read in the papers!

View the film Nicaragua: The April Crisis & Beyond:

Arnie Matlin is ROCLA Secretary and a member of the Executive Committee of Alliance for Global Justice. Arnie and his wife Margaret co-sponsor Casa Materna Arlen Síu in El Sauce, Nicaragua, which is a joint project between the Mayor’s Office, MINSA (the Ministry of Health) and la familia Matlin. Arnie has visited Nicaragua over 35 times since 1988.

Stephen Sefton, “Nicaragua and the COVID-19 Epidemic,” Tortilla Con Sal, 3/29/2020

While each country’s experience facing the COVID-19 pandemic is different, some common fundamental factors can make the difference between widespread catastrophe and relative stability. Nicaragua has so far been among the most successful countries in Latin America in protecting its population from the virus while also maintaining normal economic life. As of March 28th, Nicaragua has three confirmed cases with one fatality. Another 14 people who may have the virus are under observation but have so far tested negative.

Nicaragua’s public health system offers free, universal health services based on community focused preventive care. The national network of hospitals, health centres and health posts is supported by a network of tens of thousands of volunteer health promoters called brigadistas. Over the last week, health personnel and brigadistas have visited over 1.2 million households in an education and monitoring campaign to address the pandemic.

Continue to full article 

Columbia:

“Colombia’s FARC Rebels Laid Down their Weapons, but a Growing Number are Being Killed,” NPR, 2/6/20

Quintero former rebel on his farm with cow

Juan de Diós Quintero is a former rebel commander turned farmer. The killings “have generated a lot of anxiety,” he says. “We are very worried.” John Otis for NPR

On the green slopes of the Andes Mountains in northern Colombia, farmers are raising chickens, goats and cows and tending to corn crops. It’s a striking change from their previous occupation: battling government troops as members of a Marxist guerrilla group known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC.

Continue to full article

Cuba:

Andrea Rodríguez, “Cuban doctors battle Covid-19 around the world, defying U.S.” Associated Press, 4/8/2020

masked Cuban Doctors protest with Cuban flag

Medics and paramedics from Cuba pose upon arrival at the Malpensa airport of Milan, Italy, March 22, 2020. 53 doctors and paramedics from Cuba arrived in Milan to help with coronavirus treatment in Crema. | Antonio Calanni / AP

Continue to full article

Guatemala:

Guatemala Human Rights Commission, “No Relief in Sight: President Alejandro Giammattei appears to be a new face backed by the same old criminal networks,” 1/15/2020

Giamettei

President-elect Alejandro Giammattei took office yesterday in Guatemala City. He was never expected to win. After three unsuccessful presidential bids, Giammattei made the runoff Presidential election in August by just one percentage point and only after three candidates had been eliminated through legal actions.  His only experience in public office was a 2004-2008 stint as National Prisons Director. In 2010, he was charged with the extrajudicial execution of seven inmates under his watch. Though others indicted on related charges were convicted, charges against Giammattei were eventually dismissed by a judge who was later sanctioned as a result of unrelated corruption charges.

Continue to full article

News from the Diaspora

James Goodman, “Don’t let Trump Make Immigrants Victims of COVID-19,” The Progressive, March 27, 2020.

Last October, Alfredo Espinoza was working at a restaurant in Spokane, Washington, when he was picked up by Border Patrol agents who had been tipped off that an undocumented worker was there.

Continue to full article

Nick Lippa,“Detainees at Batavia ICE facility say they are sick and haven’t been tested for COVID-19,” WBFO (NPR), 4/8/2020

Buffalo Federal Detention Facility sign

Buffalo Federal Detention Facility Credit WBFO news file

Immigrant advocates are concerned not enough is being done to prevent COVID-19 from entering and spreading within the ICE detention facility in Batavia. ICE was in federal court Monday and provided steps they are taking to meet CDC standards. The same day, accounts from multiple detainees said there is a lack of testing, social distancing and medical care for those showing symptoms.

Continue to full article

Steven Berkowitz and Alisa R. Gutman, “Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy is Traumatizing Kids,” USA Today, 1/6/2020

Asylum seeker holding child

Asylum seekers on the international bridge that crosses from Matamoros, Mexico, into the United States on Dec. 8, 2019.

The Trump administration is knowingly putting vulnerable children in harm’s way. Disturbing reports from the border are revealing the human consequences of the administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which forces children and families seeking asylum in the United States to wait for their court hearings in Mexican border towns — some of the most dangerous places on earth.

Continue to full article

ROCLA MISSION STATEMEMT

Founded in 1973, the Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA) seeks to build bridges between the Rochester, New York community and the people of Latin America. Through its speakers, films, newsletters, and urgent actions, ROCLA educates residents about the culture, economics and politics of the countries of Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean, and the ways U.S. policies impact the lives of their people. ROCLA also supports directly affected groups and solidarity organizations that are fighting for justice and human rights in the global south and the United States. ROCLA encourages its members and the Rochester community to advocate for U.S. policies that support human rights and reverse the often-oppressive history of U.S. involvement in Latin America. ROCLA stands with Latin American diaspora communities and ally organizations in the United States in advocating for farmworker rights, a fair and humane immigration system, and racial justice.

Steering Committee: Marilyn Anderson, Kathy Goforth, Grania Marcus, Arnie Matlin, Esperanza Roncero, Richard Rosen, Vic Vinkey, Tom Ward. Emeritus: Gail and Peter Mott, Bob and Marilyn Kaiser

Newsletter Creator: Maryann Stopha Reissig; Editor: Grania Marcus

Support ROCLA

We rely on your membership contributions to fund ROCLA’s donations to worthy organizations in addition to operating our monthly free programs. Please consider supporting ROCLA today as a monthly sustainer or with a one-time donation.