ROCLA Summer 2020 Newsletter
In this Issue
ROCLA Adapts to COVID-19
We are celebrating ROCLA’s success in adapting Steering Committee meetings and presentations through June to the limitations imposed by COVID-19, a process that seemed somewhat daunting back in March. The Steering Committee wants to especially thank Maryann Stopha Reissig, ROCLA’s Webmaster, Newsletter designer and computer guru, and Tom Ward, our convener, for their technical assistance to those of us learning to use Zoom for the first time!
Thanks to the collective work of the Steering Committee, especially Program Coordinators Arnie Matlin, Vic Vinkey and Richard Rosen, ROCLA was able to present several successful programs this spring by Zoom—we hope you were able to participate!
- May 14, 2020— Gabriel Hetland, “Venezuela: Still Under the Gun – Podcast and Zoom Discussion”
- May 26, 2020—”Stephen Sefton Reports from Nicaragua“
- June 29, 2020—“Medical Collaboration between Cuba and the US in the time of the Pandemic,” with panelists Jennifer Wager, an active Pastors for Peace Caravan participant; IFCO/Pastors for Peace Caravan Coordinator John Waller, IFCO/Pastors for Peace; and Jacobi Medical Center physician, Dr. Joaquin Morante, who was trained in Cuba.
We are also beginning to plan the 2021 Rice & Beans Dinner and have nominated journalist Dan Kovalik to be ROCLA’s 2021 International White Dove Award winner. He previously presented to a ROCLA audience of over 100 in April 2019 and is a dynamic journalist and speaker. In anticipation, we encourage you to view Dan Kovalik’s film “Nicaragua: The April Crisis and Beyond,” which is available on YouTube.
ROCLA is planning a new Fall program on El Salvador on September 2nd with expert speakers from El Salvador Magda Lanuza and Jeanne Rikkers. We will keep you informed about our plans for Fall programs and the Rice & Beans Dinner. As the next few months of COVID-19 become clearer, we will continue to abide by New York State Health Department guidance.
We always welcome your blogs for our website, ideas and new speakers for programs, and help with 2021 Rice & Beans Dinner! For newsletter contributions, contact email@example.com; for all other questions/ideas/help, contact Convener Tom Ward, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we want to thank you for your continued loyalty during these challenging times. We will get through this together!
Nov. 6, 1933 – May 27, 2020
“Those people I must acknowledge as having changed my life are the people we met in the war zones of Mexico, in Cuba, in our inner city health centers, on the staff and boards of NGOs and among the political refugees we’ve met from Central America..who see beyond the present reality and feel a sense of hope, a spirit, a deep faith completely unexplained by this world…” –Peter Mott, 2006
The peace, solidarity, and justice movements grieve the loss of our friend Peter Mott, a peacemaker who always searched for truth.
Peter Mott was a physician who was part of the Kennedy-Johnson “War on Poverty.” (Yes—the government was actually trying to help poor people back then.) He worked to set up federally funded health centers in Baltimore and Tucson, where he was Medical Director of El Rio Santa Cruz Neighborhood Health Center. In Rochester he was Director of the Rochester Regional Medical Program, and one of the first Board-certified geriatricians at Monroe Community Hospital.
During this period he was Co-Chair of the Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA), and coordinator of the Central American Caucus.
Peter retired at age 60 to devote his life fully to peace, justice, and solidarity work. He and his wife, Gail, created and edited the national newsletter INTERCONNECT. He co-founded the Latin America Solidarity Coalition (LASC) and the Mexico Solidarity Network. He was Board Chair of the Genesee Valley Chapter of the NY Civil Liberties Union, and was Co-Convener of the Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA).
In 1990, Peter participated in the Pledge of Resistance in which hundreds were trained in civil disobedience – ready to try to stop the US military if they started to enter the Nicaraguan war on the side of the contras.
Peter was also very active with the Pastors for Peace’s “Friendshipment Caravans” to Cuba to break the US embargo of that country by crossing the border with humanitarian aid without a license. He accompanied medical and other supplies to Cuba, via Montreal, in the fall of 1999.
Peter was also part of an international human rights observer delegation in 2000 to Amador Hernandez, Chiapas, where the Mexican army had parachuted into and attempted to take over that village, but were shouted down the ravine and into the jungle by the women and children. There the army set up camp and intimidated the people. Gail accompanied Peter because he had had open-heart surgery nine months before, and she felt the need to go with him.
In 2006 he wrote Cancer in the Body Politic: Diagnosis and Prescription for an America in Decline. This book “critiques American domestic and foreign policy from the perspective of the poor, and offers a strategy for a future based on social justice and citizen empowerment.”
Among Peter’s awards, ROCLA honored him with the local White Dove Award in 1995 as “a leader in the struggle for peace and justice in Central America, and publisher of the quarterly national newsletter, INTERCONNECT.” In 2012, Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace recognized him as Genesee Valley Peacemaker. The award, given only once every five years, was given to Peter “for untiring work for peace, justice, human rights, and solidarity in the Genesee Valley and around the globe.” Both awards were given to Peter and his wife, activist Gail Mott.
Those of us who knew Peter saw him as patient, calm, caring, and loving. He was passionate about peace and justice, and he spent his entire life helping to make the world a better place for everyone.
Now, the rest of us have to work even harder to make Peter’s vision come true.
We say, Peter Mott, ¡Presente!
Listen to Dr. Arnold Matlin, ROCLA Secretary send a greeting to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua!
Respected sisters and brothers,
My name is Dr. Arnold Matlin. I have worked in solidarity with the Sandinista revolution for over 30 years. I am Secretary of the Rochester Committee on Latin America. Greetings to everyone on this glorious anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution.
Estimadas hermanas y hermanos,
Mi nombre es Doctor Arnold Matlin. He sido solidario con la revolución Sandinista durante más de treinta años. Soy el Secretario del Comité de Rochester sobre América Latina. Saludo a todos en este glorioso aniversario del triunfo de la Revolución.
Renew Your ROCLA Membership
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 to distribute funds to its selected beneficiaries during this difficult time. The need continues to be great, especially because COVID-19 is spreading in Latinx communities in the US and in some Latin American and Caribbean countries. We are grateful for all those who have continued their support in 2020!
Donate below or send your tax-deductible check made out to MJ/ROCLA to: Kathy Goforth, 45 Lynbrook Drive, Rochester, NY 14609.
Sign this petition!
Tell Your U.S. Representative to Stand with Colombian Social Leaders by Co-Signing a Letter to Secretary Pompeo.
Support Asylum and Deportation Moratorium Legislation!
This is urgent. The administration ramped up forcibly removing and deporting men, women, and unaccompanied children from the United States and returned them to their home countries, with only a temperature check before placing them on deportation flights, many times after they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 in immigration jails. At the same time, they’ve expelled over 40,000 asylum seekers at the border without a day in court. This is a violation of the right to seek asylum. And we won’t let this stand.
Our concerns are being heard loud and clear, by some. Senator Markey (D-MA) just introduced the Immigration Enforcement Moratorium Act which would halt all deportations and immigration enforcement during the global pandemic and defund the illegal expulsions at the border, and Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) introduced the Haitian Deportation Relief Act which would halt deportations to Haiti during the pandemic. We need to make sure these bills gets strong support!
So, what can you do?
Take a stand. Make your voice heard whether through Virtual Asylum Advocacy Days, calling your senators or representative, or all three. Now is not the time to be complacent. We MUST act!
Call and email your senators to co-sponsor Senator Markey’s (D-MA) Immigration Enforcement Moratorium Act
- Find your senator here and leave a message on their D.C. office phone!
- Phone Script: “My name is __ and I am a constituent from ____. I urge Senator ___ to co-sponsor the Immigration Enforcement Moratorium Act. Deporting and forcibly expelling individuals, families, and children during a pandemic is inhumane and unlawful and must stop immediately. The administration should not be weaponizing a pandemic to close the border to asylum seekers.”
- Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have already co-sponsored the bill but make the phones ring off the hook and leave a voicemail for the rest!
- Don’t feel comfortable calling? Send an email! Find your senators here, click the contact link, fill out your contact information and urge them to co-sponsor Senator Markey’s Immigration Enforcement Moratorium Act to halt deportations and detention during the pandemic and defund expulsions at the border.
Call and email your representative to co-sponsor Rep. Wilson’s (D-FL)
Haitian Deportation Relief Act (H.R. 6798)
- Find your representative here and leave a message on their D.C. office phone!
- Phone Script: “My name is ___ and I am a constituent from __. I urge Representative ___ to co-sponsor the Haitian Deportation Relief Act, H.R 6798. Deportations to Haiti are unconscionable, especially during a pandemic and they must end now.”
- Don’t feel comfortable calling? Send an email! Go to your reps website, click contact, fill in your contact information and urge them to co-sponsor Representative Wilson’s (D-FL) bill H.R. 6798 to halt deportations to Haiti.
Michelle Fawcett and Arun Gupta, “Undocumented Farmworkers are Refusing COVID Tests for Fear of Losing Their Jobs,” In These Times, June 19, 2020.
As states reopen for business, the coronavirus is exploding among America’s 2.5 million farmworkers, imperiling efforts to contain the spread of the disease and keep food on the shelves just as peak harvest gets underway.
The figures are stark. The number of Covid-19 cases tripled in Lanier County, Ga., after one day of testing farmworkers. All 200 workers on a single farm in Evensville, Tenn., tested positive. Yakima County, Wash., the site of recent farmworker strikes at apple-packing facilities, now boasts the highest per capita infection rate on the West Coast. Among migrant workers in Immokalee, Fla.—who just finished picking tomatoes and are on their way north to harvest other crops—1,000 people are infected.
The growing numbers reflect the lack of safety guidelines for workers who labor shoulder to shoulder in the fields, travel side by side in vans, and sleep by the dozens in bunks and barracks. On June 2, the CDC and OSHA announced recommendations to help protect agricultural workers, following in the footsteps of Washington, Oregon and California. But there is still no nationally coordinated, mandatory response or tracking of the disease among farmworkers.”
“Coronavirus Ravages Indigenous Communities in Latin America,” La Prensa Latina, May 22, 2020
“The Covid-19 pandemic is cutting a swath through indigenous communities in Latin America left vulnerable by poverty and long-standing official neglect.
The novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 335,000 people worldwide, represents a particular threat to the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin, as the health-care systems of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru buckle under the weight of caring for so many desperately ill people.
Dr. Carissa Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization, said Tuesday that while the official count of cases in Amazonia stood at 20,000, the true number was probably twice as high.”
Eduardo Campos Lima, “Brazil’s Indigenous Communities are being Devastated by COVID-19,” National Catholic Reporter, July 9, 2020.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil, Catholic organizations have warned that protective measures should be taken to keep the virus away from the country’s Indigenous population — or the consequences would be disastrous.
The surge in the number of cases among Indigenous since the end of May appears to demonstrate that the worst has happened.
With at least 367,180 cases of infection and 12,685 deaths, the Amazonian region is one of the epicenters of Brazil’s COVID-19 pandemic. The disease is not only impacting large cities such as Manaus and Belém but has also infiltrated many communities in the countryside, including the villages of traditional peoples that live in the rainforest.”
News from Latin America
“Cuba Solidarity Campaign condemns US threats to Cuban medical internationalism,” Cuba Solidarity Campaign, July 2, 2020.
“The Cuba Solidarity Campaign condemns the ongoing campaign by the US government to undermine Cuba’s international medical cooperation programmes. The most recent manifestation of this is the bill introduced by republican senators Rick Scott (FL), Marco Rubio (FL) and Senator Ted Cruz (TX) on 17 June, which aims to classify Cuban medical brigades as victims of human trafficking, and calls for punitive sanctions against countries which work with them.
Such threats to humanitarian assistance from one country to another are an affront to people across the globe, and particularly repugnant during an international health pandemic which has killed more than half a million people.
More than 30 countries have requested and received help from Cuba in the form of medical brigades to assist in their fight against coronavirus. Over 2,000 Cuban health professionals have treated people suffering from the virus in the Caribbean, Americas, and Africa as well as Italy and Andorra. Recently a brigade of Cuban doctors have been welcomed into the French territory of Martinique for a two-month mission.”
View information and details about the ‘Cut Profits to the Cuban Regime Act, S.3977’
Jeff Abbott, “Outrage as Guatemalan Maya spiritual guide is tortured and burned alive,” The Guardian, June 10, 2020.
“Police in Guatemala have arrested two men and two women on suspicion of murder after a respected indigenous Maya spiritual guide was tortured, doused in gasoline and burned to death after being accused of witchcraft.
Domingo Choc Che, 55, an expert on traditional herbal medicine who had worked with researchers from University College London, was seized from his home in the village of Chimay on Saturday night by a group of people.
The abductors accused him of carrying out a ceremony on a family grave and tortured and beat him for more than 10 hours before setting him alight on Sunday morning, according to a local prosecutor. Three other suspects remain at large.”
Continue to full article at The Guardian
Meghan Krausch, “It’s Not Just Covid That Has Hondurans Starving. It’s Also U.S. Policy,” In These Times, June 22, 2020.
The spread of Covid-19 is terrifying in Honduras, where the healthcare system has been decimated by corruption and defunding. But when I talked to contacts in Honduras, the first concern on their mind was hunger. Honduran human rights lawyer Prisila Alvarado Euceda tells me “at this point,” people in Honduras are “suffering a famine.” Alvarado says that during the three months that Honduras has restricted movement at gunpoint based on identity card number—including trips to grocery stores, pharmacies and work—many people “have not received any food from the state.” Melisa Martinez is an organizer with the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), in another part of the country: Punta Gorda, Roatán, Melisa Martinez. She tells me, “The hunger, in my view, is fatal.”
Honduras has been under strict lockdown since March. This has meant almost total restriction of poor people’s ability to go out and seek work, while the wealthy and people connected to the current government seem able to flout the order at will. As in the United States, shelter-in-place orders have not been accompanied by robust social programs to ensure that people are able to eat and pay rent while staying at home. In a country where 48.3% of people live in poverty, including 16.5% who live in what is considered “extreme poverty,” and more than 70% rely on work in the informal sector, the effects of the lockdown for ordinary Hondurans have been devastating. “If we don’t die of Covid, we will die of hunger,” Albertina López Melgar, one of the general coordinators of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) tells me.
Continue to full article at In These Times
Nan McCurdy and Katherine Hoyt, “Economic and Social Progress Continues,” in The Revolution Won’t be Stopped, July 2020, pages 10-36.
“The new digital book “The Revolution Won’t Be Stopped” is a publication by a group of international activists in solidarity with the Sandinista Revolution. The work has been coordinated by the US-based Alliance for Global Justice together with the UK-based Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group.
The book is edited by Nan McCurdy and written by a collective of historians, researchers and activists committed to finding and sharing the truth about US intervention in Nicaragua.
2019 was an amazing year in the search for peace in Nicaragua with The Amnesty Law and promotion of Reconciliation between neighbors in every corner of the nation. It was a year of life-giving advances in every aspect of wellbeing: poverty reduction, health, education, gender equity, recreation, culture and infrastructure; strengthened food security, and a new highway that joins Bluefields to the rest of the nation making the first paved transit route from the Caribbean to the Pacific.
[Click on “Complete book in PDF format (3.21Mb)” in English to access the article.]
Continue to full article at Tortilla con Sal
U.S.-Nicaragua Colloquia on Health: A Model of Solidarity
On November 3rd, 1988, Dr. Arnold Matlin touched down in Managua, Nicaragua for nine days of international medical exchange. Less than two weeks earlier, a devastating hurricane rocked the country, ensuring that everything was “turned upside down.”[i] But the U.S.-Nicaragua Colloquium on Health, the event for which Matlin had travelled, remained in motion. In fact, the event became a central facet of U.S.-Nicaraguan health solidarity that year not in spite of the hurricane, but because of it. In a message to the delegates, organizers acknowledged as much, stating that “this group [would] be among the first to not only experience the post-hurricane situation, but to have the opportunity to bring these experiences first hand back to… friends and colleagues in the States.”[ii]
While the colloquium of 1988 came at a particularly auspicious moment for Nicaraguans, the annual event began in 1983. By that point, the Sandinista government had been in power for four years. Accessible, affordable health care remained a top priority, and the focus led to a boom in the number of health clinics and trained community health workers, particularly in rural regions. This was an era of hope, an era of health.
But U.S. solidarity workers struggled to find their place. Dr. Paula Braveman recalls “having to fight back the tears,” as she was told that Nicaraguan’s needed her to go back to the U.S. and advocate, not stay in Nicaragua and serve as a doctor.[iii] That was in 1981. By 1983, Braveman had found a way to make both work. And both were sorely needed. In helping found the U.S.-Nicaragua Colloquia on Health, Braveman struck solidarity gold.
Those engaged in international solidarity already know that the juncture between helping and listening can be a difficult one to navigate, but if done correctly, gives way to effective collaboration. Those healthcare professionals who travelled to Nicaragua in the 1980s for the colloquia worked tirelessly to meet the criteria for effective solidarity and were successful because they chose to act in tandem with the Sandinistas.
The colloquia began with collaboration between the National Central America Health Rights Network (NCAHRN), the Bay Area Committee for Health Rights in Central America (CHRICA), the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health (MINSA), and the Nicaraguan Health Workers Union (FETSALUD). The event was designed to address both the Nicaraguan need for better access to medical innovation and the underlying U.S. actions that created the situation. On the surface, these conferences served as arenas for the exchange of ideas, and particularly for U.S. doctors to bring new and innovative practices to the country. The stated goal was for “North American health professionals to share their knowledge and clinical experience with their Nicaraguan colleagues.”[iv]
In practice, U.S. health professionals came away from their two weeks in Nicaragua emotionally rattled by the negative impacts of the U.S.-funded Contra war and U.S. economic sanctions against the country. In reflecting on one interaction he had with a Nicaraguan child, Matlin wrote, “Another baby that is going to grow up being hassled by our [U.S.] government and the Contras. It is enough to make anyone cry.”[v] Armed with fresh memories of oppression and deprivation, many of the participants turned their efforts toward educating the American public and ending detrimental U.S. policies in Nicaragua. By bringing advocacy efforts home, doctors were responding to the request made of Braveman in 1981. While sharing ideas remained central to the event, Nicaraguan’s also relied on the connections made to inspire doctors to political action. They may have had little access to medical innovations, but the root problem lay in U.S. policies toward the country – policies that Nicaraguans hoped to change by engaging in solidarity.
Relying on healthcare professionals to carry such a crucial political message home may, at first glance, seem strange. But the Sandinista government knew what it was doing. U.S. policy explicitly targeted health care in part because building popular health networks was a main staple of Sandinista policy. To undermine the healthcare efforts, the U.S. financially and physically targeted the country. Poor, rural Nicaraguans bore the brunt of these efforts as the popular health programs lost funding and were physically targeted by the Contra forces.
This was the violence witnessed by colloquia attendees. Doctors who devoted their lives to helping people saw the devastation wrought by their own country and felt compelled to act. And act they did. The colloquia gave way to a number of collaborative efforts between U.S. health workers and Nicaraguans, including sponsorship of clinics and delivery of equipment and medicine. According to Matlin, “once we travelled to Nicaragua and saw the reality, we were hooked.” He, along with a colleague, founded the Ciudad Hermana Task Force, which still exists today, and forms a vital sister city link between the Nicaraguan town, El Sauce, and Rochester, New York.[vi]
The relationships built at these events made the colloquia successful. In reflecting on the experience, Braveman recalls that “the moral support generated by these activities was probably the largest contribution. My colleagues and I were often told by Nicaraguan health personnel that the efforts… made them feel less alone, and that our belief in the importance of what they were doing helped them to persevere.”[vii] Here were the key ingredients to the healthcare solidarity between the Sandinistas and U.S. health professionals: building relationships, seeking humanity, offering support, and doing what the Nicaraguans most needed doing.
Guest author Brittany McWilliams graduated with an MA in History from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in May, 2020. Her Master’s thesis looked at the work of healthcare solidarity activists in El Salvador and Nicaragua in the 1980s. She is continuing to write on the topic of healthcare solidarity in Central America and on topics within medical history more broadly. She plans to pursue a doctorate in medical history in the future.
[i] Arnold Matlin, MD, “Nicaragua: November 2-12, 1988,” (unpublished manuscript, 1988): 1.
[ii] A letter to colloquium delegates, 1988.
[iii] Paula Braveman, MD, “Find the Best People and Support Them,” in Comrades in Health: U.S. Health Internationalists, Abroad and at Home, ed. Anne-Emmanuelle Birn and Theodore M. Brown (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2013), 168.
[iv] Bay Area Committee for Health Rights in Central America, “VI Annual North America Nicaragua Colloquium on Health,” 1988.
[v] Matlin, “Nicaragua,” 6.
[vi] Arnold Matlin (U.S. doctor and solidarity activist), in correspondence with author, March 10, 2020.
[vii] Braveman, “Find the Best People and Support Them,” 175.
Elie Mystal, “The Supreme Court Just Took a Hammer to the Asylum Process,” The Nation, June 26, 2020.
Between the pandemic and the threats of military force against US citizens, it’s easy to forget that the Trump administration reserves its greatest cruelty for nonwhite immigrants. And it’s easy to forget, in the wake of last week’s narrow ruling to uphold the DACA program, that the Supreme Court has been largely willing to give constitutional cover to this bigotry and xenophobia. But Trump’s antipathy for black and brown immigrants never takes a day off. And the courts consistently let him get away with it.
This week’s reminder of this country’s wanton cruelty toward immigrants comes from the Supreme Court’s decision in DHS v. Thuraissigiam. The court ruled, by a vote of 7-2, that the Constitution doesn’t allow an asylum seeker to petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
The victim in this case is Vijayakumar Thuraissigiam. He’s a Sri Lakan national who was stopped and arrested 25 yards into the country. He claimed asylum, which he is legally allowed to do. Thuraissigiam is Tamil, a minority ethnicity in Sri Lanka, and claimed to fear persecution if he were deported back to Sri Lanka. An asylum officer rejected his claim as part of the expedited review that all asylum applicants now face.
–Elie Mystal is The Nation’s justice correspondent—covering the courts, the criminal justice system, and politics—and the force behind the magazine’s monthly column “Objection!” He is also an Alfred Knobler Fellow at the Type Media Center. He can be followed @ElieNYC.
Robert Barnes, “Supreme Court blocks Trump’s bid to end DACA, a win for undocumented ‘dreamers,’” The Washington Post, June 18, 2020.
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the program protecting undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, a reprieve for nearly 650,000 recipients known as “dreamers.”
The 5-to-4 decision, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., stunned President Trump, who said in a tweet that it and a ruling earlier this week that federal law protects LGBTQ workers were “shotgun blasts into the face of people that are proud to call themselves Republicans or Conservatives.”
Deportations of COVID-19
Emily Kassie and Barbara Marcolini, “How ICE Exported the Coronavirus,” The Marshall Project, July 10, 2020.
“Admild, an undocumented immigrant from Haiti, was feeling sick as he approached the deportation plane that was going to take him back to the country he had fled in fear. Two weeks before that day in May, while being held at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Louisiana, he had tested positive for the coronavirus — and he was still showing symptoms.
He disclosed his condition to an ICE official at the airport, who sent him to a nurse.
“She just gave me Tylenol,” said Admild, who feared reprisals if his last name was published. Not long after, he was back on the plane before landing in Port-au-Prince, one of more than 40,000 immigrants deported from the United States since March, according to ICE records.
Even as lockdowns and other measures have been taken around the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, ICE has continued to detain people, move them from state to state and deport them.”
Amy Goodman and Juan González, “Release Is Only Way to Save Lives”: Migrant Families Face Separation as COVID Spreads in ICE Jails,” Democracy Now, July 14, 2020.
As the United States leads the world in coronavirus infections, we go behind the walls of immigrant jails, where infection rates are also soaring, and also look at how thousands more jailed migrant parents may be separated from their children starting Friday. “Release is the only way to save the lives of people in custody,” says reporter Jacob Soboroff, who went inside these ICE jails and first witnessed kids in cages in 2018, which he writes about in his new book, “Separated: Inside an American Tragedy.”
James Goodman, “The Essential, The Undocumented,” The Progressive, June 16, 2020.
In mid-March, a local community group in New Orleans called Familias Unidas en Acción launched an initiative to distribute a “Latino Box” of groceries—everything from corn flour to fresh vegetables—to undocumented workers who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic and who are beyond the reach of federal rescue programs. By late April, about 400 families, many undocumented, along with others in need, were receiving this weekly free food delivery in the New Orleans area.
“We know that we have to create our own realities as immigrants,” says Mario Mendoza, who in 2018 started the group with his wife, Leticia Casildo. “That is the strength we are trying to transmit to our own communities.”
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