Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Christmas announces that every human being is a beloved son and daughter of the God of love. Every human life is beautiful in the eyes of God, since God has become one of us. From now on, we reject exclusivity, racism, sexism, and discrimination of any kind, and embrace everyone as equal. We stand on the margins with the excluded, the marginalized, the outsiders and outcasts. From there, we envision a new reconciled humanity.
photo 1: the central plaza of El Paso, TX
photos 2-3: farmworker family children
photo 4: a Border orphan child and orphanage caretaker/Madonna & Child Border-style
Wishing you peace and joy!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
One of the most violent and dangerous cities on earth is but a thirty minute stroll from my front door. By a deliberate and difficult act of my will, I choose to look with compassion on the drug cartel members whose war of greed is waged with actions that are sub-human by any definition.
I cannot change them, but I can refuse to retaliate with hate. I will regard them with compassion. I will not lower myself. Lovc...always love.
Merry Christmas, Everyone! May peace prevail on earth!
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Now this, from the National Immigration Justice Center: these unfortunate workers affirm that they were mocked, injured, and needlessly hurt in the process by federal officers conducting the raid. The courageous Florida International University Professor Erik Camayd-Freixas interviewed 94 detained immigrant workers in Florida this fall before they were deported to Guatemala. Two of them provided statements detailing the abuse. Camayd-Freixas has given permission for the affidavits to be posted online. Download the PDF file here.
Two Guatemalans, Marvin Danilo Perez-Gomez and Mardoqueo Valle-Callejas, describe being kept awake for more than 48 hours, shackled. They claim people were humiliated when taken to the bathroom, and, worse, that they received threats and violence.
From the affidavit of Marvin Danilo Perez-Gomez:
That day they had us suffering hunger. I had started my shift at 4:00am, and they didn't give me anything to eat until 10:00pm. I felt my head was going to explode. In Waterloo [National Cattle Congress] they kept me sitting down without my sweatshirt and barefoot in the cold from 8:00pm to 2:00am, while they arranged the paperwork. Then they put me in one of the cages where they had the cots for sleeping. But they did not let us sleep at all for 48 hours. They kept coming every so often to run the scanner over the barcode of a bracelet they had put on us. They would come in shouting: "Wake up!" There were also cages with women. Those who asked to go to the bathroom were told not to be such a nuisance, and whenever they were finally taken, it was with four guards or chained, amid mockeries and humiliations. They made us eat and drink in shackles, and you had to lean way over sideways on the chair in order to sip a bit of water from the bottle. Then they would mock us for the way we walked with the chains, and since our clothes were too long on account of our short height, they would tell us "You look like clowns." I, when they would tell me all of those insults and humiliations, all I could see were the faces of my daughters, and I would cry.
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff need to investigate these sworn statements which contradict the testimonies given by officials from the Attorney General's office and the ICE Office of Investigations during a House Immigration Subcommittee hearing in July 2008. Camayd-Freixas and a team of researchers at FIU have started compiling information about allegations of abuse of detainees by ICE officers during raids. "This is a trend nationwide, which is just now starting to be documented," he said.
VivirLatino suggests: From reading just two affidavits, one gets a tiny sense of the horror experienced by hundreds. Multiply that experience by the number of ICE raids that have happened across the country. The affidavits also reveal the criminality of the businesses, who violated a number of labor laws, not to mention international human rights law, and just basic laws of human decency.
We will stand for justice and denounce oppression! Our proud nation cannot tolerate abuse in the name of our citizens.
The 111th Congress opens in Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2009. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, ask to speak to your senators and representatives, and tell them that fair immigration reform that ends inhumane detention and deportation practices must be a priority for 2009.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Ciudad Juarez registered 81 femicides so far in 2008, more than doubling the worst years of 1996 and 2001 in which the city recorded 37 women murdered. provided the following accounting of femicides since 1993, when Esther Chavez Cano, a local human rights activist, first called attention to problem:
Year & Femicides
Of the 81 cases so far this year, 55 deaths resulted from organized crime, while the Special Investigator for Deaths of Women (FEIHM) is handling the other 26 cases. Sixteen of these 26 cases remain under investigation while the other ten cases have been declared resolved. Two twelve-year-old girls are among the victims.
Femicides are reported as a special concern in Juarez. These deaths of women typically involve sexual assault and mutilation. The murders are not solved or persons who are clearly innocent are framed for the crimes. The crimes are crimes of wanton power, ruthless and apparently done in colusion with lawful authorities. Lovely young women are abducted and brought as a special prize to cartel leaders, then their naked mutilated body is found tossed somewhere--or perhaps strategically placed to embarrass a property owner.
The 2008 movie Bordertown, starring Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Bandaras, highlighted the situation. The movie production occurred largely out of town, in part due to the death threats it received. It is a place to good start if you're just learning about this situation.
This post is based on information from the Mexico Solidarity Network. They have a staffer on location in Juarez.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Eight years ago when my stepson married a European woman, I learned that laws had changed since my 8th grade civics classes! She was by no means an automatic U.S. citizen. Impoverished and illiterate laborers have about as much chance of winning the lottery as they would gaining the "green card" needed to legally do our work.
If you're not current on immigration law, the chart from Reason Magazine provided a cheat sheet on how to become a citizen. Due to it's small size, even if you click to embiggen this graphic, it is still small. You'll want to check out the original on the Reason website, which enlarges nicely. Even better, download it onto your own hard drive for a good look.
Then you can hand a copy to the next person who asks you: "Why don't they enter the U.S. LEGALLY?!?
reprint from Reason Magazine
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Russ from What Are You Looking At? got me thinking when he left a comment on my last post about the three undocumented immigrants who recently entered the U.S.
He said: "don't know what to say other than I will pray for them....."
There is not a thing wrong with prayer. I learned, though, that Russ went on to post a photo of crossers [derogatorily known as "wetbacks"] on his blog and linked his post to the story of my three crossers. So he did prayed and acted.
It is empowering to act. We need to take action to avoid slumping into passivity. I thought I'd start a little list of things you can do to assist the homeless migrants. You don't have to move to the Border to do any of them.
1) Support Annunciation House. This house of refuge is a safe place for migrants to stop on the journey, to rest and refuel themselves. This place functions completely on small donations from persons of good will. I know for a fact that there wasn't any (instant) coffee for the migrants' breakfast [or any meal] earlier this week. If they don't receive it, they don't have it to give. Your gift to Annunciation House will be well used.
1003 East San Antonio Ave,
El Paso, Texas 79901-2620
2) Support immigration reform. This subject is such a hot potato politically that it was completely absent in the last presidential campaign. Not one question was raised about immigration at any of the debates! Our elected leaders need to know that we demand this broken system be fixed--the sooner the better.
3) Seek out undocumented workers in your community. They are everywhere. Often church leaders are in touch with the migrant communities. Ask how you can best help them. My octogenarian mother-in-law tutors English as a second language to migrants in her town.
4) Send a donation to Postville, IA where undocumented workers are caught in the Catch 22 of being unable to work, unable to return to their countries, yet unable to leave Postville. The churches shouldered the responsibility of maintaining their lives. Read this story if you're willing to let your heart be broken.
Make your check out to St. Bridget’s Ministry, write in the memo “Postville Relief Fund” and mail to:
St. Bridget's Hispanic Ministry
ATTN: Postville Relief Fund
P.O Box 369
Postville, IA 52162
You can also go online to donate at:
When the web page opens up, on the right hand bottom, click:
1-Select :Specific Disaster,
2-Then Designate a specific disaster: Postville Disaster
5) Last year a local family decided to forgo giving each other personal Christmas presents and instead sponsored a migrant family for Christmas. Something to think about for next year.
6) Print up the photo from Russ's blog and post it on your dresser or your bathroom mirror. It will keep the plight of the migrants in your field of vision each day.
7) Read the fascinating and Pulitzer-prize winning Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario, likely it's at your public library. You won't have a problem reading it; the hard part is putting it down. Raising our awareness of this reality is a way to change our hearts. That means a better world for migrants.
8) Support the work of the Scalabrini order of priests. See this story about their shelter in Tijuana. Mr. B.E. and I stayed there overnight some years back so we could learn more about the plight of the migrant. One migrant we met there modeled gratitude through adversity and wowed us: one of the noblest people I've ever met.
Feel free to add other ideas in the comment section. Helping the migrants also helps us:
- take control of a rotten system and turn it around.
- participate in a human rights movement that supports the Earth Charter.
- realize that we have it pretty good, no matter how bad we have it.
Monday, December 15, 2008
They came because the economy in their country is "screwed." Even if you could land a "really good job" you might expect a salary of $100/week. Expenses there are the same as here. Pepsi is $2. A hamburger is $5. One hundred a week isn't enough. And you're dreaming if you think you'll make more than $60/week.
What work will they do here? "Anything!"
The three cousins left beloved family behind who are worried about them. For those loved ones they are here to eke out enough money to build "a humble home" back in Honduras--perhaps a two room house. Oh yes, they want to go back to them. "It is good to be with your family," the young woman stated simply.
Young--all in their twenties--they were relentlessly robbed and extorted throughout the almost two week journey by train through Central American and--perhaps worse--through Mexico (where they are also considered "Illegal Aliens.") They were robbed by police, by train security, by gangs and by common robbers. When they finally made it to the border they had 200 pesos between them (less than $20) until a knife-wielding bandit took even that.
They hopped trains to make the journey. They saw a woman who fell as she was severed at the waist when the train bisected her. They saw a man lose his foot to the train. One of them fell from the train and injured his leg, but he can still walk with pain. They want to continue on the train to seek out relatives who will shelter them in the U.S. They will need warmer clothing so as not to freeze.
They arrived here with nothing but the clothes they were wearing. No bag. No nothing.
I hugged the woman when I excused myself. "It is much harder on women," her cousin choked with clouded eyes. I fear she was raped. I could not ask. It wouldn't be right to ask.
They are not angry.
I am angry. Why are they not angry?
With all that is in me, I hope and pray that stories like theirs never lose their power to move me.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Yesterday, the feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe, was a big religious day on the Border. I awoke to the sound of drums wafting in my window at 5:45 AM from the Cathedral a few blocks away. The matachines did sacred dance to the rhythmic pounding drumbeat. This sound faded in and out all day. I love to watch the matachine dancing. Yet I must always remind myself not to burst into applause upon the completion of a segment of this dance. It is not a performance, it is a prayer.
If you have experienced a pow-wow, you have the idea. The Guadelupe matachine is a Christianized version. [Caution: I am not authority speaking. I've only been on the Border for a bit over a year all told. My impressions welcome clarification from those who actually know what is what here.]
A few weeks ago, just before I left the Midwest, I attended a drumming circle with two of my grandchildren. Here is cutie #1 enjoying the event:
Cutie #2 is 2 1/2 at his first drumming circle. Hit "Play" to catch the rhythm of Pa Rum Pa Pum Pum. [I just learned that I can't rotate video files. Yikes! Sorry!]
At the end of the circle, our facilitator asked: "Did anyone think about their "to do" list during our circle?" No one had. Our individual concerns were completely absorbed in the community experience of creating. Perhaps the matachine experience is similar. The individual is similarly absorbed into a dance of the divine.
FranIAm had a lovely post yesterday explaining the meaning of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadelupe. This story of Mary earns Border Explorer approval: Mary seeks out the marginalized, the nobodies, the poor and oppressed.
As Christmas approaches and seasonal music plays in the background of our lives, we recall that "The Little Drummer Boy," poor as he was, had a gift to bring too.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
We are still at war!
We can't go on meeting like this!
One of the greatest aspects of returning to El Paso was reuniting with our beloved friends at the weekly Friday noon peace vigil, right on the corner of the Federal and the County courthouses in downtown El Paso.
For me, it was also a blogger meet-up with Dada of Dada's Dally (the blog from which I "borrowed" the photo on the right.
We've been fighting in Iraq now longer than we fought in WWI and WWII combined!
We have destroyed
- treasures of the human family
- our image in the world
- the infrastructure of two nations
- the lives of millions of people: dead, grieving, homeless, displaced, walking wounded, and the no-longer-walking wounded
I'm happy that people are faithfully and publicly protesting our nation's aggressive, violent actions and that I can be one of them. If you are unable
- to serve prison time for conscientious objection,
- refuse to pay war tax,
- march in the streets,
- stand on a corner,
- sign a petition,
- write your congressperson
You may always regret your silence if you do not.
Monday, December 8, 2008
Yet, with each friend with whom we reunite, the conversation turns inevitably to the Juarez violence--a reality that colors everything here black. I've never experienced warfare. But living here must be like living in a war zone. Since the beginning of the year, more than 1,400 people have been slain in Juárez (a 30 minute stroll from my house) as two drug cartels duke it out for the corridor rights. Worse: no one has been arrested. Most of the executions have been ambush-style slayings as in Al Capone-style Chicago days.
The good news for me is that so far they are mostly targeted killings, liked to drug trafficking. Nevertheless, that calibre of violence has profound implications on one's daily living activities as well as on the general health and well-being of our twin-city.
This weekend alone 28 were slain. On Friday my friend had just come from her neighbor's wake--dead by ten bullets. Officials discovered a naked cadaver stuffed into a manhole three blocks from her home some months back. I hear story after story.
It is bad here. It's bad all across the Border. For instance, Marjorie of Maggie's Madness has relentlessly blogged the Tijuana violence all summer. Even a quick scan of her blog entries will show you a world of hurt. I sincerely urge you to visit Bruce Burman's Border-Blog. As an artist and long-timer here, his poignant post really says it better than I can.
Photo caption: The Sword of Juarez Do be sure to see Bruce Burman's wonderful photograph of this sculpture. He is a real artist (whom I hope to meet sometime during Round 3 of Border exploring.)
Thanks for visiting me here and for caring about the Border mayhem. Truly, I saw little or (more accurately) nothing of this in the press when I lived in the Midwest.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Everything looks strangly familiar yet oddly strange to me as I acclimate to the Border once again. An important concept that surprised me on Round One of border exploring a few years back was learning that whether one stands in "The U.S." or in "Mexico," we're all standing in the Borderland--and that commonality overrides nationalism here.
This quote elaborates:
"The US/Mexican Border is a wound where the Third World grates against the First and bleeds... the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country--- a border culture." Gloria Anzaldua
Photo caption: Like the Borderland, the bird nest is an entity unto itself, caught in between. We discovered it on a desert hike on Round 1 of Border exploring.
Friday, December 5, 2008
h/t to Missy at St. Anne, Pray for Us
I was blown away by this little vid. Someone is reading my mind...
Do any of you believe this too? Do you take steps toward making it a reality?
I was talking with Mr. B.E. & we both find the "clean water for everyone" statistic ($10B) difficult to believe. Fly in the ointment? Anyone know?
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
"People say, 'What good can one person do? What is the sense of our small effort?'
They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time. We can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes...."
I will not do great things, be remembered by history, accomplish monumental feats. Nevertheless, I try to do small things that are the right things to do...and that will be sufficient.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Yesterday, as the fates would have it, was a gorgeous day for the little border fence gathering of young artistas at the old La Hacienda restaurant, now abandoned (more likely because of its horrific acoustics than its history or savory enchiladas). Upon our return home, I was taken with developing the digital images we had captured during our outing. Upon seeing the enclosed one from [Mrs. Dada's] camera, I immediately thought of you and [your husband]. Hung on the border fence (not wall at this point), the shadows of the border chain links show through the parchment echoing very much the similar "real" background behind it of newspaper houses with newsprint headlines. And knowing of your imminent return, I immediately realized my purpose this day -- to give this image to you as a present.
Dada investigated the identity of the artist and discovered it to be an Iowan woman who now lives in El Paso and is quite a successful artist: Candy Mayer. Her open house is this week, so I'm arriving exactly the right time to meet her. How lucky is that?
Be sure to click on the photo to enlarge it--making the detail clear (very important!)
It looks like I've survived the leap across the split in my split screen life. Life has felt disjointed and chaotic to me. I hope to soon return to regular blogging...and, more importantly, reading my other blogger friends. See you soon!
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
This image of Marie Antoinette is meant to go to bloggers who have something to say, who tell the truth. Diva Jood, one of the best word-smiths I know, received it from Utah Savage--another giant among truth tellers. Diva passed it to me. I could not be better honored, for I would die happy if I were regarded as one who spoke truth. Thank you, Diva. This is the best award ever.
We are to pass this on to others who tell the truth. Brevity is the soul of wit. I pass Marie to:
* James at An Average American Patriot. He is anything but your average patriot. Would that I had his zeal for truth. Or even just a portion of it.
* Enigma at Watergate Summer. She is monumental among bloggers. With energy which appears limitless, Enigma commits herself to telling the truth of our U.S. reality--its beauty and its dark side.
* The Poetryman and his team at The Peace Tree. Mark and the group wield truth unrelentingly to wage peace. Peace begins with justice. They write it so well: with poetry and in prose--as well as in video and Photoshop.
*Renegade Eye. A landmark among my blogging reads. His voice speaks a socialist truth.
*SueJ at Nailing Jello to the Wall. Consistently one of my favorite blogs. Great insight. Well written. So much truth: personal, social and political.
Let us all be about truth. We are privileged with education. With access to technology. With enough wealth to have the equipment to speak our truth to the world. Be a voice for the poor. Speak your truth loud and proud. And as for Marie Antoinette, we will not eat her cake. Rather, we will insist that she and her ilk instead swallow our words of truth.
Careful, oh ye Rich and Powerful--do not choke on them.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
1. Post your list of the seven best albums, the seven bloggers you will tag, a copy of these rules, and a link back to this page.
2. Each person tagged will put a URL to their Blogger Album Project post along with a list of the seven best albums in the comment section HERE.
3. Feel free to post the “I Contributed to the Blogger Album Project” Award Graphic on your sidebar, along with a link back to this page.
4. Post a link back to the blogger who tagged you.
MY SEVEN ALBUMS:
Buena VistaSocial Club
- Blues: Car Wheels on a
Gravel Roadby Lucinda Williams
- Pop: Carole King Tapestry (1 & 2)
- Country: John Denver Greatest Hits
- Soundtracks: (tie) Les Miserables (Broadway) and De-Lovely (film)
- Folk: Wildflowers by Judy Collins
- If I could only have one album: James Taylor (Live)
Susan Phantsy That
Mnmom at Happy to Be from Iowa
Okjimm's Eggroll Emporium
Blueberry of Texas Oasis
Enigma of Watergate Summer
Monday, November 17, 2008
The wonderful Diva Jood of Journeys with Jood gifted me last week with the Superior Scribbler Award, leaving me very touched. [With apologies for going all Sally Fields on ya: now I know she had not simply made a mistake with the Brillante award she bestowed earlier--she really means it.] Diva has an MFA and is not only a fine writer but also a creative visual artist with more accomplished works than she has had time to reveal to us yet. I adore her creative writing posts; particularly memorable are the regular blog posts by her granddaughter, known as the Secretary of Strawberries and Cream. Even better, I thoroughly admire Diva's impassioned writing for justice. Utah Savage gave Diva the Superior Scribbler Award. Utah is one hell of a writer herself. I'm honored to post an award with this ancestry. Thank you very much, Diva. Your friendship and bloggy support really bless me; this award means a lot to me.
Well, here's how this thing works:
*Each Superior Scribbler must in turn pass The Award on to 5 most-deserving Bloggy Friends.
*Each Superior Scribbler must link to the author & the name of the blog from whom he/she has received The Award.
* Each Superior Scribbler must display The Award on his/her blog, and link to This Post, which explains The Award.
* Each Blogger who wins The Superior Scribbler Award must visit this post and add his/her name to the Mr. Linky List. That way, we'll be able to keep up-to-date on everyone who receives This Prestigious Honor!
*Each Superior Scribbler must post these rules on his/her blog.
I take awards seriously. It means the world to me when someone says "Good job." It's tough to select only five blogs of the many I enjoy. Upon reflection, I wish to recognize:
*Carol of Carol for Peace. Carol realizes that if we want peace we need to work for justice. She lives it and she blogs it. Whether is is gardening on the personal level or protesting on the national level or volunteering for peace on the local level--Carol is active and is blogging the action. Her scenic Colorado photos add that spirituality dimension that supports peace-living. She's a don't-miss blogger.
*Ruth of Ruth's Visions and Revisions. Some of the finest posts I've read on Blogger were composed at this woman's hands. Ruth's intelligent and level-headed approach tackles the stickiest issues head-on, educating and inspiring her many enthusiastic readers. I certainly also appreciate her pithy comments on this blog. She somehow manages to be meticulous and friendly simultaneously. I met Ruth early on through an awards process by following a link at someone else's recommendation. I'm so glad I did.
*Many people love Sherry of A Feather Adrift and for good reason. I found Sherry through the Iowa connection of Essential Estrogen, but I quickly learned that Sherry's interests are not restricted to Iowa by any means. Intelligent and highly educated, she writes with equal authority on theology, law, politics, and married life. And her photography is also a treat. But my absolute favorite feature is her recent autobiographical series "Godly Humor," more engrossing than any page-turner I've ever read.
*Okjimm of Okjimm's Eggroll Emporium already has this award, but--like a second beer--what's better than a second helping of awards? OKjimm keeps me sane. His lighthearted jibes at the politicos or simply at life--warts and all--are stress relief par excellance. I looked up these outstanding posts of his for you to check out: Word Verification, Juan, and the incredible Easter Everyday. How often do you remember a post and still think about it 2, 3 or 4 months later? Jimm--your cheese curds are in the mail, but you can take the award right now.
Jan of Yearning for God. I typically find something inspiring and underlined with a faith dimension at Jan's. It might be simply a beautiful quotation. It may be a topical post: gay marriage and decrying torture are two recent examples. She is amazingly well-read. In addition, she has very interesting and enjoyable friends in the RevGal Blog Pals ring (and beyond!), so the comments section is just as worthwhile. Visiting Jan is a bright spot in my day; if you don't know her, give yourself a treat. You'll come away a better person from Yearning for God.
Innumerable times I tell myself how fortunate I am that such amazing people read this blog. This is not false flattery; I am sincere. I would like to give every reader an award. Meanwhile, let's enjoy the process that is blogging with thankful hearts. Mine is thankful today.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I've been absent here for a few days. We leave the Midwest in ten days. We're packing--everything must go with us or get boxed up and carried to the basement. It is a hassle, and I revert to my worse self at times like these. I worry I'll forget something vital. I don't take time to blog...or to read your blogs. Mr. B.E. and I argue. I'm stressed.
Worse, I'm seriously bummed out by the latest news about Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois. You may remember I praised his courageous pro-women's ordination stance here in mid-August. His order did their best to protect him, but the long arm of the Vatican reached across the Atlantic and gave him 30 days to recant his statement supporting women's ordination or face excommunication.
Roy wrote back, a response that pretty well seals his fate. I'm sure he was prepared for this consequence and had not acted hastily. Given the state of the Church, he knew his act would be seen as provocative. But...what a state of affairs this reveals.
Let the Roman Catholic Church publish all the flowery and coyingly sweet statements it wants on the value of women. The action here overrides anything they write. I know of no perpetraitors of the sexual assault of children who were excommunicated. Perhaps there were some; I don't track it carefully. But WTF?? Simply to support women's ordination is grounds to kick ya out??? What kind of mysogynist outfit are they trying to run? This makes their negativity toward women...[or is it an insane grasp on leadership power?]...immanently clear to me--and to anyone else who cares to look. I say, "Let the world look. See and judge for yourself."
Some of my friends are personal friends of Roy's. Everyone I know respects him, as do I. Read his statement to the Vatican, and I think you will too. I privately consider his action of support for women's ordination as a sort of spiritual martyrdom act--giving up his life in the Church in a symbolic statement for what he sees as moral. It is his last gasp. He's giving everything but his life to make the point.
Some people are organizing to write to the Vatican. Roy encourages us to speak up; silence is complicity, he reminds us. But I am seriously bummed out, and I think I will save my energy for something more productive. I'm giving up on the Church. I think I've been hanging out in the vestibule, and this might be the usher opening the door out for me.
ACTIONS TO SUPPORT - Rev. Roy Bourgeois
Some have asked for addresses to write their support of Father Roy and to ask that he not be excommunicated. Petitions are also appropriate.
Please write or fax or email to Pope Benedict XVI, and/or the Pope’s Ambassador to the U.S., the Apostolic Nuncio, and/or the Congregation for Doctrine of Faith, the group that is moving toward excommunication of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, and/or the leaders of the Maryknoll Order.
Their addresses are below.
Please send a cc of any message or petitions you send to:
Bill Quigley – Attorney for Fr. Roy Bourgeois 7214 St. Charles Avenue, Box 902 New Orleans, LA 70118 firstname.lastname@example.org
ADDRESSES TO WRITE:
Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio 3339 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W, Washington, DC Telephone: (202) 333-7121 - Fax: 337-4036
Pope Benedict XVI 00120 Via del Pellegrino Citta del Vaticano, Europe The Pope’s email address is: email@example.com FAX from USA: 011-39-06698-85378
Congregation for Doctrine of Faith Piazza del S. Uffizio, 11, 00193 Roma, Italy Telephone: 06.69.88.33.57; 06.69.88.34.13 - Fax: 06.69.88.34.09
Superior General, John Sivalon at firstname.lastname@example.org and to the three-member Maryknoll Council at email@example.com and/or fax to 914-944-3600
Write to: Maryknoll Council, P.O. Box 303. Maryknoll, NY 10545
Again, please send a cc of your message to:
Bill Quigley – Attorney for Father Roy Bourgeois 7214 St. Charles Avenue, Box 902 New Orleans, LA 70118 firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
the Postville situation was her only reason for this visit to the United States.
Menchu was drawn to Postville as she heard reports of human rights violations and the treatment of detainees as if they were criminals of high risk. She said the Postville situation should awaken the curiosity of human rights defenders and that she would ask her colleagues in Amnesty International to become involved, adding that widespread knowledge of this case is the best way to prevent such abuses in the future.
Asked why there had been such a large influx of Guatemalans to the U.S., Menchu said that after years of civil war, peace agreements failed to address the post conflict issues related to massive populations of the neglected poor, widows and orphans. Two and one half million children suffer from severe malnutrition in a country that has a strong potential for the development of natural resources. Essentially there is no work, widespread poverty, and the U.S. allies in that country continue to make increasing profits while not being interested in the poor. She was asked if Free Trade agreements had contributed to the problem and she replied that Central and Latin American countries are governed by the elite who have exploited the poor, and don’t care about civilian populations - and that Free Trade essentially reinforces the wealth of the rich. She will be meeting soon with a group in Costa Rica to discuss new ways to think about Free Trade agreements.
Menchu emphasized that immigration is a global problem. She said the Postville problem runs even deeper and was a “pressure cooker” situation with many injustices occurring that were not known until everything exploded in the May 12 raid. On the positive side of things, because of the Postville situation, she noted that perhaps this is a “fortunate moment” for the United States to deal with its immigration policies.
Although she said that her visit to the U.S. did not include official diplomatic visits, she was doing some private visits in New York on Sunday. She added that January would bring her first request for an audience with the President of the United States. She agrees with President-elect Obama that the U.S. must demand respect for human rights by its allies.
Menchu is an indigenous Guatemalan who has dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of indigenous peoples, especially those victimized by the 1960-96 civil war. She was the recipient of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Postville situation is indeed dire to attract the attention of this world-renown advocate for human rights. Our outrage throughout the summer and fall, as we have kept abreast of this situation here, finds a real justification by the visit of Rigoberta Menchu. I imagine that the people of Postville were honored to enjoy her presence and appreciated her concern and attention.
With the U.S. economy on the decline, the plight of the immigrant in the U.S. will likely similarly decline. Still there is no plan on the horizon to deal with the need for comprehensive immigration reform. The (misplaced) focus is entirely on border protection. Comments from Monday's post ring true here, too: If you have money, you count in this world. If you don't, then you don't matter. You're invisible or--worse--you're in the way and need to be eliminated.
Monday, November 10, 2008
After law school and passing the bar a few times, he landed in Miami last year. Last night he emailed to say that his office was featured in the NYTimes last weekend, the story illustrated with a video about his friend. Arthur, his former colleague, quit his post in the public defenders office due to a staggering case load. My eyes glaze over when Arthur shows us the computer printout of his cases taped to his office wall.
A justice system that works under girds a democracy. When the public defenders have to say "NO MORE CASES" it is time to fix a system that isn't working. Do click over to watch the video or read the article here (I can't embed it, sorry). The short video is really worthwhile, informative and interesting.
What do you think about the state of justice for the poor in our nation?
And--to my sobrino, who occasionally checks out Border Explorer--"Gracias por todo tu trabajo para los pobres. Me siento orgullosa de ti."
[photo credit: NY Times. Arthur on the job for the public defenders office. Bless those guys!]
Thursday, November 6, 2008
This prayer is foundational.
Forgive me when I stray into cynicism, critical or judgmental thinking--and so often I stray.
Let me be the peace I seek on this earth and in this cosmos.
Be the change.
Lord make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
And where there is sadness, joy.
O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive-
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it's in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
download it here: COLOR-YOUR-OWN ELECTORAL COLLEGE MAP by egp
Let's hope we're all going to have fun!
Monday, November 3, 2008
And from the "news you won't hear on CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, ABC, ETC ETC ETC Dept.":
Massive UN Vote Supports Lifting US Embargo on Cuba--The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly for the 17th year in a row to demand an end to the 46-year-old US trade embargo on communist-ruled Cuba, with only three countries saying no [United States, Israel and Palau].
Some 185 of the assembly's 192 members approved a resolution, which reiterated a "call upon all states to refrain from promulgating and applying laws and measures (such as those in the US embargo) in conformity with their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law." [What! The USA conform??]
The margin of support for ending the embargo has grown steadily since 1992, when 59 countries voted in favor of the resolution. The figure was 179 in 2004, 182 in 2005 and 184 in 2007.
Ronald Godard, the US State Department's senior advisor for Latin American affairs, defended the embargo and blamed the communist regime in Havana for Cuba's woes. [insert your own anti-American snark here!]
"The real reason the Cuban economy is in terrible condition and that so many Cubans remain mired in poverty is that Cuba's regime continues to deny its people their basic human and economic rights," he told the General Assembly. [And our embargo denied the Cuban children and elderly their basic immunizations, antibiotics, cancer medications, psychotropic meds...anything developed in the US since the 1960's]
Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque welcomed the vote but also looked ahead to future US-Cuban relations after next week's White House election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.
[Background, in case you didn't know]: The US economic, trade and financial sanctions were imposed 46 years ago following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of the Caribbean island nation by US-backed Cuban exiles.
Noting that the US embargo is "older than Barack Obama and my entire generation," [YIKES!!] Perez Roque said the new US president "will have to decide whether to concede that the embargo is a failed policy which each time creates greater isolation and discredits his country or whether he continues, with obstinacy and cruelty, to try to wear out the Cuban people with hunger and diseases."
McCain has promised that if elected he would press Cuba's communist rulers to free the island's people. "If I'm elected president, I won't meet unconditionally with the Castro brothers, [Oh, he's a maverick alright] while they keep political prisoners in jail, stifle free media and block free elections in Cuba," he recently told a rally in Miami, home to a huge Cuban exiled community.
The comment was a swipe at his 47-year-old Democratic rival, Obama, who has said he would meet with the leaders of countries that are enemies of the United States.
A national survey by the Zogby polling organization, released on October 2, noted that 60 percent of Americans believe the White House should change its policy towards Cuba.
In an apparent reference to Obama's campaign theme of "Change," Perez Roque said that "to be coherent with the theme of change in this country (the United States) also means to change the embargo against Cuba and maintain normal and respectful relations with our country."
But Perez Roque warned that "if group interests prevail, notably those of the Cuban (exiled) mafia which controls southern Florida and which exerts great influence, then there cannot be any progress."
In Cuba itself, authorities were jubilant after the UN vote.
It reaffirmed "the world rejection of the genocidal and criminal policy of this siege and the failure of the George W. Bush administration in its aggression against Cuba," Fernando Remirez de Estenoz, head of the Cuban Communist Party's external relations department, told the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina. ["Why do they hate us so much?" clueless US citizens asked one another after 9/11.]
Read the small print for what Europe thinks:
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, France's UN deputy ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix meanwhile said the 27-member pan-European bloc rejects "all unilateral measures against Cuba which are contrary to common accepted rules of international trade."
He said the EU believes that "the lifting of the US trade embargo would open Cuba's economy to the benefit of the Cuban people."
The embargo not only undermines the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and international law, but also acts to "severely threaten the freedom of trade and investment."
Beyond the human rights issue, I'm peeved that this story is not reported in the US mainstream media.
After my husband and I went to Cuba on the Pastors for Peace caravan in 1998 [hit sidebar Labels "Cuba caravan" for those stories] I gave plenty of presentations/slide shows in Iowa. What I said was eye-opening new information to my audiences. I'd like to think that if the majority of us were informed that we could out-shout the Cuban-American lobby and end this embargo which even the Vatican declared "immoral."
Readers, what do you think about this? Talk to me!!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
At the U.S. Mexico Border, the Church celebrates this day with a bi-national Eucharist--the faithful and the presiders gather on both sides of the border wall to jointly pray--particularly for those who have died attempting to cross the border.
I've never attended it, so I don't have any photos to share, but people often speak of it as a particularly moving and special religious service. I'm sorry to miss it.
I've noticed this year a number of people in my life who have keenly felt the absence of a loved one who has died. Do you think it's possible that the veil between worlds is thinner this time of year? While I question whether there is life after death, at this time of year I prefer to put that doubt aside because it feels like there is something special happening. Have you felt anything different around the Day of the Dead?
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Menchú is an indigenous Guatemalan (Quiché-Maya ethnic group). She's dedicated her life to publicizing the plight and promoting the rights of Guatemala's indigenous peoples, especially those victimized by the 1960-96 Guatemalan Civil War.
She received the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and the 1998 Prince of Asturias Award. Menchu will participate in a public speak-out session that at St. Bridget's Church, hearing the testimonies of people affected by the ICE raid. Her day will include lunch with the Hispanic community, a press conference and worship service at St. Bridget's.
Many of the undocumented workers arrested in the raid were native Guatemalans who were displaced, or whose parents were displaced, by the civil war and its political and social aftermath. They emigrated to the United States to find the employment that's unavailable in their native country which suffers from an economy and living conditions devastated by years of war and by the effects of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement on rural agricultural communities.
I did my Spanish language studies in Guatemala over a period of three years. Trying to understand the context of the country I read Menchú's testimonial biography "I, Rigoberta Menchú." It turned me on to a new way of thinking. She's received numerous international awards for her advocacy for human rights, particularly giving voice to indigenous peoples.
Menchu's presence in Postville brings international attention to this horrible situation, a mess which Diva Jood so beautifully described last month in her comments on this blog:
I think the Postville raid and the abuses by Agriprocessors has become the poster child of everything wrong with America. Greed, short-cuts, lies, dissembling, arrogance, brutality. Not what those immigrants expected when they came to this country - legally or illegally. No. They came seeking hope and wound up with leg bracelets to monitor their where-abouts.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Halloween trick? Sholom Rubashkin, former manager of the Agriprocessors plant in Postville IA was in federal court in Cedar Rapids IA yesterday afternoon on criminal charges.
I returned to Iowa in May just in time for the historic ICE Raid on the Agriprocessors meatpacking plant in Postville IA--the largest ever, at the time. Almost 400 "illegal immigrants" were rounded up, their lives destroyed, their families made destitute. They suffer to this day: in prison or branded with detention bracelets on their ankles--no income, no future.
As the raid played out, it trained a spotlight upon the seamy reality of the Agriprocessors plant whose practices even included child labor. Finally, yesterday, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports that Rubashkin, 49, was arrested. He faces federal charges of conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens for financial gain, aiding and abetting document fraud and aiding and abetting aggravated identity theft, according to documents filed in the case.
For me, it's a Halloween treat. It's not that I wish him evil. It's not that I want to make anyone suffer. But I so desire to see justice triumph from time to time. And it's time for some higher justice in this case.
Rubashkin was released, after agreeing to surrender his passport and the passport of his wife, to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, restrict his travel to the northern district of Iowa and execute a $1 million bond, $500,000 of which must be secured by Wednesday. [Prosecutor are concerned Rubashkin could be a flight risk. He's rich enough to go a long way away.]
Rubashkin, 49, is the son of the company's president and principal owner, Aaron Rubashkin.
Yes, sometimes the higher ups also fall.
Join the Postville moms, Solomon, and live your life with an ankle bracelet for awhile. You will never suffer as much as the people whose lives you've used and destroyed:
PS: Two notes of thanks: 1) TO MY READERS--thanks for agonizing and outraging along with me throughout the summer as we have decried this nightmare.
2) to the Cedar Rapids Gazette for top photo and story details. Click title for a link there.
Every year voters get turned away at the polls because they don't know how to stand up for their rights. This year, make sure your vote counts and go to the polls armed with the Voter's Bill of Rights.
As a registered voter, you have the right to:
1. Cast your ballot free from interference in a private and secret manner unless assistance is requested.
2. View written instructions on how to obtain and cast a ballot.
3. Ask for and receive further instructions from election judges concerning the manner of voting.
4. View a sample ballot in the polling place before voting.
5. Cast a vote if you are in line by the time the polls close.
6. Receive another ballot if your ballot is accidentally spoiled or you make an error.
7. Vote by provisional ballot if your name is not on the precinct register and the election judges or election authority cannot determine your registration status.
8. Vote early or absentee as provided by state law.
9. File a grievance with the Secretary of State’s office if your rights under the Help America Vote Act III have been violated.
Check with your local Secretary of State’s office for a complete list of your voting rights.
from Democracy for America 2008
This video is going viral, so you perhaps saw it...but it's perfect for this post!
Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah
McCain is the man
Fought for us in Vietnam
You know if anyone can
Help our country he can
Taxes droppin low
Dont you know oils gonna flow
Drill it low
I'll show our economy will grow
McCain's the best candidate
With Palin as his running mate
They'll fight for gun rights, pro life,
The conservative right
Our future is bright
Better economy in site
And all the world will feel our military might
But McCain and Bush are real close right
They vote alike and keep it tight
Obama's new, he's younger too
The Middle Class he will help you
He'll bring a change, he's got the brains
McCain and Bush are just the same
You are to blame, Iraq's a shame
Four more years would be insane
Lower your Taxes - you know Obama Won't
PROTECT THE LOWER CLASS - You know McCain won't!
Have enough experience - you know that they don't
STOP GLOBAL WARMING - you know that you won't
I want Obama
Stick with McCain and you're going to have some drama
We need it
HE'LL BRING IT
He'll be it
YOU'LL SEE IT
We'll do it
GET TO IT
Let's move it
Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah
I'm talking big pipe lines, and low gas prices
Below $2.00 that would be nice
But to do it right we gotta start today
Finding renewable ways that are here to stay
I want Obama
Stick wit McCain you gone have some drama
MORE WAR IN IRAQ
Iran he will attack
CAN'T BRING OUR TROOPS BACK
We gotta vote Barack!
Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like, I said
You can vote however you like, yeah.