ROCLA Spring 2022 Newsletter
ROCLA News & Updates
Join or Renew Your Membership and Help ROCLA Thrive!
COVID-19 has posed great challenges to the Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA) since 2020, but it has also spurred us to grow, change and create!
Throughout 2020-2022, ROCLA’s committed all-volunteer Steering Committee, led by our new Convener, worked hard to provide informative and wide-ranging programs to our growing audiences. Using Zoom has provided the opportunity to present our audiences with on-the-ground current programs about Bolivia, Brazil, Chiapas, Nicaragua, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, and Chile. Zoom has also allowed us to include many more Latin Americans in our speaker lineup. We have also been able to invite the Latin America Solidarity Committee (LASC) of Buffalo to co-sponsor presentations with ROCLA, and include LASC’s members and friends in our program audiences, leading to greater participation, livelier discussions, and growth in our outreach to other organizations.
Unfortunately, COVID’s impact on ROCLA’s financial health has not been as positive. In 2020 and 2021, we were unable to hold our major annual Spring fundraiser, the Rice & Beans Dinner, reducing our budget considerably. And we have all missed enjoying your company, our keynote speakers and a great dinner! Our costs for monthly speakers’ honoraria and technical support remain the same, and we would like to rebuild and increase our historic support for solidarity, immigrant and Latin American civil society groups fighting for justice in the US and Latin America. However, we can’t do this without your help!
Please consider giving generously to ROCLA!
Suggested donations: Student: $30; Member: $50; Patron: $75.
We are proud that we now provide ROCLA’s members and friends with an expanded quarterly newsletter that covers many more Latin American countries and timely issues such as climate change, migration and cultural change. Its new online user-friendly format gives our editor much greater flexibility to include varied in-depth articles with more photos and illustrations. Our newsletter designer/webmaster has also brought ROCLA firmly into the 21st century by greatly increasing our presence on social media and upgrading and expanding our website. Both of those efforts have significantly increased ROCLA’s online following, our program participation and responses to urgent action alerts…
Our members are our most important resource for financial support and we need you more than ever! We ask that you generously contribute now so that ROCLA can continue its work in the future. We look forward in 2022 to celebrating with you all at a special Rice & Beans Dinner, presenting new programs, increasing our support for democracy efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean, and providing regular action opportunities to fight for justice! We extend a grateful THANK YOU to all those who have supported us throughout ROCLA’s nearly 50-year existence.
–The ROCLA Steering Committee
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.
Rice & Beans Celebration in 2022!
We think it’s time to celebrate our members and our accomplishments, and have already decided to honor Dan Kovalik with the International White Dove Award. Dan is a human rights lawyer, internationally-known author of many articles, several books on US policy in Latin America, and producer of a documentary on Nicaragua.
Unfortunately, even now in mid-April, COVID-19 is very much with us in our area, and we want to be cautious to protect everyone’s health. So we are considering a date in the late Summer or Fall. Stay tuned as we address the date and other details. The Steering Committee welcomes your ideas about how to celebrate the 2022 Rice and Beans dinner and fundraiser. Share your suggestions at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support New York’s “Coverage for All” legislation!
Coverage For All (A880/S1527) would create a state-funded essential health plan eligible to New Yorkers up to 200% of the federal poverty line regardless of immigration status. New estimates place the cost of the bill at $345 million in order to cover tens of thousands of uninsured New Yorkers. Both versions of the legislation have progressed out of each legislative houses’ Health committees. The Senate bill will now go to the Finance Committee. Every New Yorker, regardless of immigration status, deserves access to affordable care. We need as many New Yorkers as possible to support “Coverage for All” in order to pass it this year. Support Coverage for All.
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. Please let our Newsletter Editor know if you or someone you know would like to submit an article or other work: email@example.com. Thank you!
Victoria Razo photojournalist
Victoria Razo is a freelance photographer based between Mexico City and Veracruz in Mexico. Her work focuses on Human Rights, gender, migration, and environmental stories.
Razo is a “Hostile Environment and First Aid Training” (HEFAT) certified photojournalist, who often contributes to National Geographic, Agence France-Presse and Cuartoscuro Agency.
In 2021, one of her images was selected as National Geographic’s Photo of the Year. She has received numerous awards, including the 2022 Picture of the Year, 2021 Picture of the Year LatAm, and 2018 + 2020-1 CEAPP Veracruz Research Journalism Award. In 2018, one of her images was selected as TIME’s 100 Photos of the Year. In 2017, as part of the collective “Periodistas de a Pie”, she received the Gabriel García Márquez Award for the project “Buscadores en un país de desaparecidos.
Her images have been published in numerous news outlets, including National Geographic, The New York Times, NPR, TIME, The Washignton Post, L.A. Times, Vogue, and others. Member of Women Photograph, Diversify Photo and Frontline Freelance Mexico.
Award of Excellence: Border Patrol agent detaining a Haitian man
Important New Book!
Daniel Kovalik, Nicaragua: A History of US Intervention and Resistance, Clarity Press (2022)
I have written this book to explore 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 Washington has incessantly claimed. In turn, Nicaraguans have valiantly defended their homeland, preventing the US from ever maintaining its control for long.
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 miss 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Title Goes Here
Latin America 🌎
Adalberto Méndez López, The Time is Ripe for a Clergy Abuse Inquiry in Latin America Al Jazeera, March 29, 2022.
Over the past few years, several countries in Europe have launched new inquiries into the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
Most recently, following the release of new data by the El Pais newspaper, Spain’s parliament approved the creation of an investigative commission led by the country’s ombudsperson, marking an unprecedented move in a Catholic-majority country that had remained largely silent on the issue for years. In France, a national inquiry found last year that an estimated 330,000 children have been sexually abused in Catholic institutions since 1950. Germany held multiple inquiries on the subject in recent years, while Poland, Portugal and the United Kingdom have investigations continuing. In Italy, too, abuse survivors are asking their government to launch a national inquiry, echoing a call made by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2019.
Jane Lorenzi and Jeanne Batalova “South American Immigrants in the United States,” Migration Policy Institute, February 16, 2022.
Immigrants from South America comprise a small share of the total U.S. immigrant population. However, arrivals from the region have increased in recent years and flows are diversifying. Many of the 3.4 million South Americans living in the United States as of 2019 immigrated during the Cold War era, from the 1960s to the 1980s. Authoritarian regimes, poor economic conditions, and internal armed conflicts drove migration from countries including Argentina and Chile, and a shift in U.S. policies made immigration more feasible. In the 1990s and 2000s, social and economic crises fueled further departures from the region.
Diane Jeantet, Mauricio Savarese and Debora Rey, Climate Change Brings Extreme, Early Impact to South America, US News (AP), March 1, 2022.
Scientists have long been warning that extreme weather would cause calamity in the future. But in South America — which in just the last month has had deadly landslides in Brazil, wildfire in Argentine wetlands and flooding in the Amazon so severe it ruined harvests — that future is already here.
Climate Change 🌱
IPCC report: Effects of climate crisis will deepen in Latin America, Diálogo Chino, March 1, 2022.
The UN scientific panel’s latest release warns of rises in heat-related diseases, and threats to food and water security in Latin America, reinforced by the region’s inequality and poverty.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body that brings together climate scientists from around the world, published its latest report, “Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” on 28 February, the second part of its Sixth Assessment Report. It highlights the dangerous and widespread alterations in nature that climate change is causing, affecting the lives of billions of people.
Joshua Collins, How Francia Marquez Aims to Break Barriers in Colombia, Al Jazeera, March 29, 2022.
Longtime activist has faced challenges, achieved stunning successes in world’s most dangerous country for environmental defenders.
Situation of human rights in Colombia, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/49/19), 2022.
Costa Rica 🇨🇷
Costa Rica Chooses Trump-Inspired Outsider, El Faro English, April 4,2022.
After a tense run-off election marked by personal invective and mass voter abstention, the controversial conservative economist Rodrigo Chaves will take office as the next president of Costa Rica in May despite past sexual harassment and an open investigation for illicit campaign finance. The former World Bank official and treasury minister has promised a hard break with the country’s political establishment.
Tanya Wadhwa, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso partially vetoes abortion bill, Peoples Dispatch, March 18, 2022.
On March 15, conservative Ecuadorian President, Guillermo Lasso, partially vetoed the bill that allowed women and girls to access abortions when pregnancy was the result of rape. Lasso alleged that the content of the bill did not entirely correspond to the Constitutional Court’s ruling that decriminalized the termination of pregnancy in such cases.
El Salvador 🇸🇻
Maria Abi-Habib and Bryan Avelar, Hundreds Arrested in El Salvador, Raising Fears of a Civil Liberties Crackdown, New York Times, March 28, 2022
The Salvadoran government’s response to the weekend’s gang violence that left dozens dead is stoking fears that the emergency measures will allow President Nayib Bukele to further consolidate power.
A struggle for the defense of their territories waged by indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ communities in eastern Guatemala could set a historic precedent for Latin America’s native peoples because it would ensure not only their right to control their lands but also their natural resources, denied for centuries.
Jeff Abbott, ‘Abandons its People’: Guatemala’s Malnutrition Crisis Deepens, Al Jazeera, March 3, 2022.
More people are going hungry as COVID-19 and vicious storms have wreaked havoc across the country.
Sandra Cuffe, The Hidden Story of a Notorious Guatemalan Nickel Mine, The Intercept, March 27, 2022.
A trove of internal documents related to Solway Investment Group’s Fenix mine reveals bribery, pollution, and troubling efforts to repress dissent.
Honduran authorities detained former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández on Tuesday to potentially face extradition and drug charges in the United States, capping a spectacular downfall for one of Central America’s most powerful men.
David Agren, Sisters of Mercy celebrate release of clean-water activists in Honduras, Catholic News Service, February 21, 2022.
The Sisters of Mercy celebrated the release of six anti-mining protesters in Honduras, who spent nearly two-and-a-half years in pre-trial detention — in a case the country’s Supreme Court said should have never proceeded.
James Goodman, The Fight for Labor Rights in Mexico, The Progressive Magazine, April 5, 2022.
The recent win of an insurgent union to represent workers at the Tridonex auto parts plant in the city of Matamoros, on the Mexico side of the U.S. border, was a blow to the long unholy alliance between corporations and subservient unions in Mexico.
Mexico armed forces knew fate of 43 disappeared students from day one, The Guardian, March 29, 2022.
Mexico’s armed forces knew that 43 student teachers who disappeared in 2014 were being kidnapped by criminals, then hid evidence that could have helped locate them, according to a report released on Monday by a special investigation.
A former Colombian prosecutor, Angela Buitrago, said the group of independent experts found evidence that authorities withheld or falsified evidence from the start of the search.
John Perry, If there was “fraud” in Nicaragua’s elections, where is the proof?, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, November 13, 2021.
Official results from Nicaragua’s elections on November 7 showed Daniel Ortega re-elected as president with 75% of the vote. On the same day, President Joe Biden dismissed the ballot as a “pantomime election” and within 48 hours the Organization of American States (OAS) had produced a 16-page report setting out its criticisms. It demanded the annulment of the elections and the holding of new ones, disregarding international and OAS rules that require respect for the sovereignty of nations. Yet it contained no evidence of problems on election day itself that would substantiate its objections. Nevertheless, local and international media were quick to endorse the accusations that widespread fraud had taken place.
Tanya Wadhwa, Outrage in Peru following Court’s decision to release former dictator Alberto Fujimori, The Peoples Dispatch, March 22, 2022.
In 2017, when Kuczynski was facing an impeachment process in Congress, he signed and promulgated a supreme resolution granting humanitarian pardon to Alberto Fujimori on medical grounds. However, critics at the time pointed out that it was a part of a deal, which is currently under investigation, with the former dictator’s youngest son, Kenji Fujimori. Kenji Furjimori, who was a legislator at that time, had offered the support of the legislators of his sister Keiko Fujimori’s far-right Popular Force party for the no-confidence motion, which Kuczynski won with a slim margin.
Benjamin Norton, Venezuela’s Economy will grow 20% in 2022, despite illegal sanctions, predicts Western bank, Multipolarista, April 6, 2022.
Major Switzerland-based bank Credit Suisse forecasts Venezuela’s real GDP growth to be 20% in 2022 and 8% in 2023. This is despite an illegal US blockade, which starved the government of 99% of its revenue, according to the top UN expert on sanctions.
Dan Beeton, Venezuela’s Coup 20 Years Later, Center for Economic and Policy Research, April 12, 2022.
The enduring legacy of Venezuela’s short-lived 2002 coup d’etat, and the subsequent countercoup, for US-Latin American relations.
Immigration / Migration Issues
Paulina Villegas, “Migrants Stuck at Mexico’s southern Border Sew Their Mouths Shut in Protest,” Washington Post, February 22, 2022.
A group of migrants at Mexico’s southern border sewed their mouths shut Tuesday to demand that immigration authorities grant them passage toward the U.S. border.
Michael K. Lavers, LGBTQ immigrant groups welcome decision to terminate Title 42, The Washington Blade, April 5, 2022.
LGBTQ immigrant rights groups have welcomed the Biden administration’s decision to terminate a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rule that closed the Southern border to most asylum seekers and migrants because of the pandemic.
Dale Russakoff and Deborah Sontag, Changes in Police Policy, Payouts to Latino Victims of Traffic Stops and Arrests Following Investigations, ProPublica, April 8, 2022.
The state of Pennsylvania paid $865,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed in the wake of a 2018 ProPublica investigation of traffic stops of Latino drivers by its state police working with immigration authorities.
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
Newsletter Creator: Maryann Reissig; Editor: Grania Marcus