ROCLA Fall 2022 Newsletter
ROCLA News & Updates
Join or Renew Your Membership and Help ROCLA Thrive!
As we near the end of 2022, we send a huge THANK YOU to our members and friends for supporting the Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA) and attending our varied special programs on Latin American countries’ current issues throughout the year. During this, our 49th year, ROCLA has joined with the Latin America Solidarity Committee (LASC) of Buffalo to co-sponsor our monthly programs – Latin Americans with intimate knowledge about their countries’ issues, solidarity activists working on the ground to fight for justice in their adopted countries, and Latinx artists and activists working in diaspora communities in the US. ROCLA’s Steering Committee, especially our wonderful webmaster, newsletter designer and social media director Maryann Stopha Reissig, continues to create new ways for ROCLA to meet the challenges of the pandemic’s limits to in-person events.
2022 has been a year of both accomplishments and growth for ROCLA:
- We welcomed Wesley Costa de Moraes, a native of Brazil and professor at SUNY Geneseo, who has joined ROCLA’s committed all-volunteer Steering Committee, led by Convener Tom Ward.
- We have gained new members through ROCLA’s Zoom audiences and enhanced social media presence.
- We have increased our outreach to ROCLA members to ask you to advocate regarding key issues affecting justice and democracy in Latin America.
- ROCLA members and friends contributed $2,661 to the Pastors for Peace Friendshipment mission to provide material support to Cuba and fight the continuing US embargo of Cuba.
- ROCLA continues to support the annual Rochester Labor Film Festival.
- Our newsletter editor brings you ROCLA’s quarterly newsletter containing wide-ranging research and articles about important current events and issues happening in Latin America.
- ROCLA connects with many different groups and individuals in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean that help us keep abreast of Latin American events.
- And, finally, after 3 years, ROCLA will welcome you to our Rice & Beans 50th Anniversary Celebration on June 23, 2023! (See details below) More updates will follow in our Winter Newsletter, including ticket information and additional ways we can all celebrate!
Please help ROCLA continue to grow by renewing your membership, becoming a new member, or signing up as a Monthly Sustaining Member!
Suggested donations: Student: $30; Member: $50; Patron: $75.
Thank you to ROCLA’s members and friends for your faithful support!
Become a ROCLA Member
Please consider giving generously to ROCLA so we can ensure a future that allows us to inform and support the efforts of those in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Donate below or send your tax-deductible check made out to MJ/ROCLA to: Kathy Goforth, 45 Lynbrook Drive, Rochester, NY 14609.
become a ROCLA monthly sustainer
Becoming a ROCLA Monthly Sustainer provides reliable support for our monthly programs and events. As a Sustainer, your donation will renew and your credit or debit card will automatically be billed.
Rocla's 50th Anniversary Rice & Beans Celebration!
ROCLA is planning a special Rice & Beans Celebration for our 50th Anniversary! We will hold it on June 23, 2023, at 5 PM, at the Roundhouse Lodge in Genesee Valley Park.
We will honor Dan Kovalik with the International White Dove Award. He is a human rights lawyer, internationally-known author of many articles and several books on US policy in Latin America, and producer of a recent documentary on Nicaragua. Dan is well-known for his detailed critiques of US foreign policy and recently presented ROCLA’s September 2022 program.
To add to our 50th Anniversary celebration, we are planning to invite our past White Dove Award winners and, of course, offer the usual delicious dinner and array of homemade desserts.
Entertainment by the Trinidad / Tobago Steel Drum Band will make this Rice & Beans Celebration a very festive event. The Steering Committee is still in planning mode, so we welcome your ideas about celebrating the 2023 Rice & Beans dinner and 50th Anniversary! Share your suggestions at: email@example.com.
Urgent Action: No Foreign Intervention in Haiti!
For the fourth time in a century, the US is preparing for another invasion and an expanded occupation of Haiti. The new invasion would culminate almost twenty years of misery and oppression following the US-directed 2004 coup against the popular government of Jean Bertrand Aristide. That coup reversed important gains for the people and plunged the nation into chaos, puppet governments, and harsh austerity measures, all exacerbated by the 2010 earthquake, UN occupation and resulting cholera epidemic, and prolonged absence of elected representation in government.
Please send an email to the White House, Congress, and the UN to demand NO US/UN/FOREIGN invasion and new occupation of Haiti.
In this section we publish personal narratives, opinions, or creative work of Latin Americans or from members of the Latinx diaspora. We prefer that these articles be from directly affected people working for justice in Latin America or Latinx people fighting for change in the US, such as for immigrant rights. However, articles from those working in solidarity with directly affected organizations and individuals in the US and Latin America will also be considered. Articles can be in English or Spanish. Contact our Newsletter Editor if you or someone you know would like to submit an article or other work: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
Books to read!
Catherine Nolin and Grahame Russell, eds.
“Testimonio: Canadian Mining in the Aftermath of Genocides in Guatemala,” Between the Lines (2021)
“Testimonios” weaves together the articles and testimonies that tell the stories of horrible crimes committed against Guatemala’s Indigenous majority living predominantly in rural areas by Guatemala’s powerful and corrupted economic, political and military elites. With the support of the United States, and in conjunction with the economic interests of Canadian mining companies, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, these institutions and the mining companies that benefited from the repression placed profits before the well being of Guatemala’s Indigenous communities, the very places where coveted mineral and other resources are. These elites and their international partners contributed to, participated in, and/or benefitted from the repression ‘needed’ to get access to the resources.
Daniel Kovalik, Nicaragua: A History of US Intervention and Resistance, Clarity Press (2022)
This important book explores the pernicious nature of US engagement with Nicaragua from the mid-19th century to the present in pursuit of control and domination rather than in defense of democracy as it has incessantly claimed. In turn, Nicaraguans have valiantly defended their homeland, preventing the US from ever maintaining its control for long. Nonetheless, destructive US interventions, including its continuing support of generations of Somoza dictators, the10-year CIA-led Contra War in the 1980s, and the neoliberal leaders of the 90s that left Nicaragua continually impoverished and underdeveloped. Kovalik describes the US’s current anti-democratic policies against Niacagua, including worsening destructive sanctions designed to overthrow the Sandinista government.
News from Latin America
In this section, ROCLA’s newsletter editor has chosen timely and important articles highlighting political, economic and justice stories about various Latin American countries. We select a wide range of current news for you to learn more about the important events in Latin America and the Caribbean, but we undoubtedly didn’t locate some too. We welcome our readers’ suggestions for articles and research we may have missed. Please send your suggestions with links to the content if it is online, to email@example.com.
Your Title Goes Here
Pauline Villegas, “Besieged and ignored, Brazil’s Indigenous women are running for office,” The Washington Post, September 30, 2022.
RIO DE JANEIRO — For more than two years, Vanda Ortega Witoto watched from her village in the Amazon as Brazil’s chaotic response to the coronavirus brought catastrophe to her people.
“I saw my leader die without oxygen,” said the 35-year-old nursing technician, a member of the Witoto people. “I saw my relatives being buried after no ambulance took them to the hospital.”
Now Witoto, who lives in the remote Aldeia Colônia in Amazonas state, is running for Brazil’s congress.
Jessica Brice, Andrew Rosati, and Tatiana Freitas, “The World Sees Brazil’s Election as a Climate Flashpoint. Brazilians Have Other Concerns,” Bloomberg Businessweek, September 30, 2022.
Andrew Downie, “Large parts of the Amazon may never recover, major study says,” The Guardian, September 5, 2022.
Environmental destruction in parts of the Amazon is so complete that swathes of the rainforest have reached tipping point and might never be able to recover, a major study carried out by scientists and Indigenous organisations has found.
Samantha Schmidt, “Chilean voters decisively reject leftist constitution,” The Washington Post, September 4, 2022.
Chileans on Sunday delivered a resounding rejection to a new leftist constitution that aimed to transform the country into a more egalitarian society.
Adriaan Alsemo, “Colombia’s congress gives green light to Petro’s ‘Total Peace’ policy,” Colombia Reports, October 27, 2022.
Colombia’s Congress approved a bill that allows President Gustavo Petro to negotiate the dismantling of illegal armed groups.
The bill gives Petro congressional support for his ambitious “Total Peace” policy, which seeks to reduce violence caused by illegal armed groups and organized crime.
David Tarazona, “In Colombia, a new president faces old environmental challenges,” Mongabay, October 20, 2022.
“What the figures show us today is that President [Iván] Duque’s government is closing out its term by breaking the rising trend of deforestation in Colombia, which had reached its peak in the year 2017 with 219,552 hectares [542,524 acres],” Carlos Correa, the environment minister under Duque, said this past in July, a month before leaving office.
“Cuba overwhelmingly approves same-sex marriage in referendum”, Al Jazeera, September 26, 2022.
Cubans have overwhelmingly approved a sweeping “family law” that would allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt, the electoral commission said, in a move that will also redefine rights for children and grandparents.
Adam Isacson, “The U.S. announced a New Military Aid Donation to Guatemala. Here’s Why it is a Mistake,” WOLA, October 20, 2022.
While “95 vehicles” seems innocuous, the timing of this grant is unfortunate. Beyond concerns with the Guatemalan military’s human rights record that go back at least to 1954, there are six reasons why this military-aid transfer is ill-advised right now.
Daniella Burgi-Palomino and Lisa Hauguard, LAWG; Ana María Méndez Dardón, WOLA; Ursula Indacochea, Due Process of Law Foundation; Corie Welch, Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, “When the Dominoes Fall: Co-optation of the Justice System in Guatemala,” October 2022.
Guatemala’s justice system has been co-opted by a network of corrupt political, economic, and military elites seeking to advance their own interests and to ensure that their acts of corruption and grave human rights violations from the armed conflict remain in impunity, while silencing voices from civil society organizations and independent media. Honest judges and prosecutors have been criminalized, threatened, removed, or transferred from their posts by the very institutions supposed to be advancing the rule of law and justice. Twenty-five judges and prosecutors, including the nation’s lead anti-corruption prosecutor, have fled the country into exile. The impacts of the co-optation of Guatemala’s justice system will set the country back decades.
W.T. Whitney, “Remember Haiti: Think U.S. Military Intervention,” CounterPunch, October 10, 2022.
The news story begins: “The Council of Ministers [on October 8 in Haiti] authorized the prime minister to seek the presence in the country of a specialized military force in order to end the humanitarian crisis provoked by insecurity caused by gangs and their sponsors.”
“Photos: Haitian protesters demand PM’s resignation,” Al Jazeera, October 18, 2022.
Thousands of protesters across Haiti have demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry.
The protest started hours before the United Nations Security Council held a split vote on Monday over sending an international force to Haiti to help with deteriorating security and a surge in cholera after powerful gangs took over the main port and blocked fuel deliveries.
Ashley Smith, “No US Intervention in Haiti!” CounterPunch, November 2, 2022.
Once again, the U.S. and other imperialist powers are threatening military intervention to impose “order” on Haiti’s spiraling economic, social, and political crises. They claim they are responding to the call for international forces from Haiti’s de facto prime minister and president, Ariel Henry, to repress gangs blocking access to gas and water terminals in Port-au-Prince.
Brett Heinz and Beth Geglia, “Why is the US Condemning Honduras for Fighting Corruption?” CounterPunch, October 10, 2022.
Xiomara Castro, the president of Honduras, won a major victory for democracy earlier this year when Congress repealed the country’s Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo Económico law (ZEDE, or “Economic Development and Employment Zones” in English). The legislation enabled the creation of special governance zones, which have “functional and administrative autonomy” from the national government. The zones allowed investors to create their own governance systems, regulations, and courts, providing room for experimentation with privatized government to create a “legal environment adequate … to be competitive at the international level.”
President Xiomara Castro of Honduras,“We Want to Live in Peace!” Speech before the United Nations, Rights Action, October 13, 2022.
“The industrialized nations of the world are responsible for the serious deterioration of the environment but they make us pay for their lifestyle, and for this, they spare nothing to plunge us into their plans and into an endless crisis, trying to tie us hand and foot.”
On September 20, 2022, Honduran President Xiomara Castro addressed the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
“Mexican artisans work to preserve handmade Día de los Muertos decorations,” Associated Press, October 28, 2022.
Mexican artisans are struggling to preserve the traditional manufacture of paper cut-out decorations long used in altars for the Day of the Dead.
Defying increasingly popular mass-production techniques, second-generation paper cutter Yuridia Torres Alfaro, 49, still makes her own stencils at her family’s workshop in Xochimilco, on the rural southern edge of Mexico City.
John Perry, “New US Sanctions are Designed to Hit Nicaragua’s Poorest Citizens,” CounterPunch, November 2, 2022.
The Biden administration has announced new sanctions which are intended to hit the poorest Nicaraguans – both in their pockets and in the public services on which they depend. This latest attack on a small Central American country is, as usual, dressed up as promoting democracy: the sanctions will “deny the Ortega-Murillo regime the resources they need to continue to undermine democratic institutions in Nicaragua.” But everyone knows the real target is ordinary Nicaraguans who voted overwhelmingly to return a Sandinista government in last year’s elections.
Immigration / Migration Issues
Nina Lakhani, “‘Tale of two borders’: how a US Covid-era rule shapes fate of migrants,” The Guardian, September 7, 2022.
As hundreds of migrants line up along an Arizona border barrier at about 4am, agents try to separate them by nationality.
“Anyone from Russia or Bangladesh? I need somebody else from Russia here,” an agent shouts. Then, quietly, almost to himself, he says: “These are Romanian.”
Kristina Cooke, Mica Rosenberg and Ted Hesson, “EXCLUSIVE Dozens of migrant children reported missing in Houston, raising alarms,” Reuters, September 2, 2022.
Federal and local officials are scrambling to locate close to a dozen unaccompanied migrant children, after Houston police raised concerns about dozens of migrant children reported missing in the Texas city since last year, according to U.S. government officials and related emails reviewed by Reuters.
Surviving Deterrence: How US Asylum Deterrence Policies Normalize Gender-based Violence, A Report by Oxfam America and the Tahirih Justice Center, October 2022.
Humane Borders is an Arizona church affiliated not-for-profit founded in the wake of the beginning of the buildup of the militarized border in 1996. Realizing the rising number of deaths of migrant border-crossers in the late 1990’s, Humane Borders has provided many desert water stations to mitigate migrant deaths, annual maps documenting migrant deaths in the desert, and location/identification services to families of missing and deceased migrants. As you can see on the map, the toll of deaths in Arizona alone, approximately 4,000 through 2021, has been horrific. Since approximately 2014-15, however, the migrant flow through Arizona has diminished somewhat, and has greatly increased throughTexas, where documentation is much more limited.
Andrea Castillo and Hamed Aleaziz, “As temporary protected status settlement talks stall, more than 250,000 risk deportation,” Los Angeles Times,” October 26, 2022.
After more than a year of negotiation, settlement talks between the Biden administration and plaintiffs in a lawsuit over temporary protected status fell through on Tuesday, leaving more than 250,000 people at risk of deportation.
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, Richard Rosen, Vic Vinkey, Tom Ward, Wesley Costa de Moraes. Emeritus: Gail Mott, Bob Kaiser
Website: Maryann Reissig; Editor: Grania Marcus