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Bourgeois Concerns

Rev. Roy Bourgeois, founder of the School of the Americas Watch, and three other protesters were arrested April 24 after staging a sit-in at the Embassy of El Salvador in Washington, D.C., to call attention to 17 Salvadoran women in prison for having had miscarriages. Bourgeois will speak in Buffalo on May 7.
Bourgeois Concerns
Western New Yorkers Supporting The Lives of Latin Americans

Over the years many Western New Yorkers have made visits, worked on building projects or travelled to learn about the culture and politics of the Latin American people and their countries.

For the past 28 years, Dr. Thomas Potts, a dentist, has dedicated much of his time and effort in travelling to southern Mexico to developing a very successful dental clinic in Chenalho, located in one of the southern states(Chiapas) of Mexico. This clinic services up to a dozen small villages in the immediate area. Potts has organized a local dental committee made up of people from the area of Chenalho. Recently they have developed a relationship with a dental college which has sent interns to work at this clinic. Potts has maintained that the people of the area must be a part of the decision making when it comes to the work of the clinic. Potts has also worked in Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador doing dental work.

Another person, Dr. Bill Jungels, videographer and former media professor for the past eight years has conducted interviews with mostly farmers in southern Mexico on the effects of trade bills when it relates to their livelihood and the economy of the region they live in.

As Jungels states on his last visit: “The PRI(poltical party in control of Mexico) is rushing to complete the neoliberal agenda which was negotiated back in 1993(NAFTA). This has caused the transnationals to gain a foothold in Mexico’s mining and drilling industry causing environmental damage to some very fertile land. The lives of the poor continue to get worse. Such things as hauling 30 gallon jugs of water down a steep incline. Most of the wives of poor farmers have taken up the art of weaving. It seems to result in a little better income than the selling of corn, which prices have been undercut by the multinationals.” Over the eight years that Jungels has held these interviews he will soon be ready to put those together in a DVD.

A former Buffalonian, Christine Eber, has spent approximately 35 years developing a school in Chiapas, Mexico. The school teaches dignity, democracy and justice. Any products made at the school are fair trade and support Mayan women in the area. The online School for Chiapas store provides a market for the Zapatista women working in local cooperatives throughout the state. The school pays these women full price for their products and provides feedback on what we can successfully sell to their supporters. Also, a boarding school has been developed for Mexican and international students. Another part of the school has stated “that since corn has taken care of us for more than 500 years and with the onslaught of GMO corn flooding the area the school is protecting non-GMO corn by studying contamination, planting alternative crops, nurturing stingless bees, and planting organic orchards.” More

Another former Buffalonian, Crystal Massey, has worked on the U.S./Mexican border to stop the violence at two different sites in Texas. She works for the Southwest Asylum and Migration Institute in El Paso and just a year ago she gave a presentation at the 33rd Annual Bissonette/Latin American Event. On the border she meets those fleeing for their lives from uncontrolled violence. Massey has prepared immigrants for the dangers that will happen, namely 24 hours of isolation. Many of these people are young or teenagers. She stays in the area until people are released, when many have to go into hiding. She helps others find a place to stay and have access to legal aid. This is a highly volatile area that is very dangerous.

Ever since the NAFTA Agreement was signed(1992) many more people and families have attempted to cross the border. Documentation has shown that from 1994-98 there had been an increase of immigration to the U.S. of 400 percent. We were told by three presidents that NAFTA would not take jobs away from U.S. workers; that pesos would increase in value and there would be more jobs created in Mexico. In none of these issues was that the truth. This is why the U.S. administration is having such a problem of passing another trade bill. Unfortunately, the president and the Republican Congress will attempt to fast track this bill (namely the Trans-Pacific Partnership), which would include more countries to a devastating trade bill.

The Latin American Solidarity Committee wants Western New Yorkers to know that many people throughout the Latin American solidarity movement (both nationally and internationally) would urge western New Yorkers to contact their congresspeople on many of these vital issues.

At this time LASC would like to invite you to our 34th Annual Bissonette/Latin American Event at Daemen College, on May 7th, at 6:30pm, at the Wick Center. Light refreshments and wine will be served. Admission is $20 at the door, $15 in advance by sending a check to WNY Peace Center-LASC, 1272 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY 14209. All proceeds will go to humanitarian aid in Latin America. The featured speaker will be Fr. Roy Bourgeois, founder of the School Of The Americas Watch. This organization has documented some of the atrocities that started in many Latin American countries in the 80’s and continues presently. The school, located in Ft. Benning, GA, trains recruits from Latin American countries that then go back and repress many of the people of Latin America. History has shown that the murder of Bishop Romero, the Jesuit priest and the nuns in El Salvador was traced back to those trained at the SOA. These murders continue to happen.

Another example of these atrocities is the country of Honduras, where the police are corrupt and are involved with organized crime. The government of Honduras is itself a product of an illegitimate election after a military coup that deposed the duly elected President Manuel Zelaya in June, 2009. During that time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made no statement as to the wrongfully appointed government of Honduras. The U.S. meantime is pouring funds into Honduras security forces and their military plus developing bases in that country. This is just an example of one country under the domination of the U.S. Government. Presently the U.S. has made some very intimidating statements about Venezuela. 121 Latin American Solidarity organizations and their leaders both nationally and internationally have signed a statement sent to President Obama expressing the fact that this would create a situation that could end up with more suffering for the Latin American people.

Wayne Alt is Coordinator of the Latin America Solidarity Committee at the WNY Peace Center.

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