It is Your Duty to Refuse: Former Army Rangers Write to U.S. Troops

Central Americans seeking asylum status

To All Active Duty Soldiers:

Your Commander-in-chief is lying to you. You should refuse his orders to deploy to the southern US border should you be called to do so. Despite what Trump and his administration are saying, the migrants moving North towards the US are not a threat. These small numbers of people are escaping intense violence. In fact, much of the reason these men and women—with families just like yours and ours—are fleeing their homes is because of the US meddling in their country’s elections. Look no further than Honduras, where the Obama administration supported the overthrow of a democratically elected president who was then replaced by a repressive dictator.

These extremely poor and vulnerable people are desperate for peace. Who among us would walk a thousand miles with only the clothes on our back without great cause? The odds are good that your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived similar experiences to these migrants. Unless your ancestors are native to this land, your family members came to the US to seek a better life—some fled violence. Consider this as you are asked to confront these unarmed men, women and children from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. To do so would be the ultimate hypocrisy.

US is the richest country in the world, in part because it has exploited countries in Latin America for decades. If you treat people from these countries like criminals, as Trump hopes you will, you only contribute to the legacy of pillage and plunder beneath our southern border. We need to confront this history together, we need to confront the reality of America’s wealth and both share and give it back with these people. Above all else, we cannot turn them away at our door. They will die if we do.

By every moral or ethical standard it is your duty to refuse orders to “defend” the US from these migrants. History will look kindly upon you if you do. There are tens of thousands of us who will support your decision to lay your weapons down. You are better than your Commander-in-chief. Our only advice is to resist in groups. Organize with your fellow soldiers. Do not go this alone. It is much harder to punish the many than the few.

In solidarity,

Rory Fanning
Former US Army Ranger, War-Resister

Spenser Rapone
Former US Army Ranger and Infantry Officer, War-Resister

 

Published in The Nation, November 2, 20018
Click Below
RORY FANNING AND SPENSER RAPONE

 

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The Little Golden Book of American Regime Changes


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EXCITED ABOUT YOUR FIRST REGIME CHANGE?

Let’s begin with Chile

Jon Jeter / Mint Press News

On September 11,1973, General Augusto Pinochet’s troops stormed Chile’s presidential palace. Organized by Henry Kissinger and the CIA, the coup targeted Chile’s popular socialist President Salvador Allende, who the Nixon administration feared was another Fidel Castro in-the-making. As the attack unfolded, workers in the basement of a Santiago publishing house shop were hard at work printing what was to be the military junta’s 500-page economic plan.

Villa Grimaldi: Chiles memorial to victims of torture

CHILE’S FACES OF TORTURE: Over 30,000 people were tortured by the CIA- sponsored Pinochet regime. (Villa Grimaldi Memorial)

 

Believing himself to be a messianic figure, Pinochet put his faith in a coterie of young Chilean advisers who had trained under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago’s School of Economics, the academic vanguard of neo-classical economics. With his bloody crackdown on dissidents, artists, college students and union leaders, Pinochet’s repressive regime censored the press, banned labor unions and political opposition parties, murdered an estimated 5,000 leftists, tortured another 30,000 and handed the “Chicago Boys” – as they came to be known – a blank check to remake Allende’s nationalized economy, and return the country at South America’s southwestern edge into the Empire’s orbit.

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Nearly 15 years before economists coined the phrase “Washington consensus,” and a decade before Reagan’s trickle-down policies began dismantling the New Deal in the U.S., Chile was the guinea pig for anti-Keynesian macroeconomic policies designed to fatten corporations’ share of global wealth. Pinochet slashed duties on imports, from an average tariff rate of 94 percent in 1973 to 10 percent by 1979. He privatized all but two dozen of Chile’s 300 state-owned banks, as well as utilities and entitlements such as social security. By 1979, he had cut public spending almost in half and public investment by nearly 14 percent. He lowered taxes, restricted union activities and returned more than a third of the land seized under Allende’s land-reform program.

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Pinochet’s reforms worked like a fast-acting virus. A recession in 1975 caused Chile’s economy to shrink by 13 percent, its greatest decline since the Great Depression. The recovery that followed was fueled largely by foreign cash, which poured into the country as investors gobbled up utilities and stashed money in Chile’s currency markets. The prices of imports fell sharply; between 1975 and 1982 the number of foreign cars sold in Chile tripled. Domestic manufacturing shriveled by 30 percent. Domestic savings plummeted. Wages fell, and the income gap between rich and poor widened by a factor of 50.Monetary policy was liberalized on two important fronts. First, Pinochet allowed “hot money” — speculation on the currency market — to flow in and out of the country without obstacle. And in 1979 he fixed the exchange rate for Chile’s peso, requiring the central bank to keep $1 in reserve for every 39 pesos printed. This kept the bank from merely printing money to pay bills and curbed an inflation rate that had soared to nearly 400 percent annually under Allende.

By 1982, Chile had accumulated $16 billion in foreign debt — nearly $42 billion in today’s dollars — and foreign investment represented a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. The money flowing into the country flowed out just as easily, to pay debts and bills for imported goods and through capital flight as investors soured on Chile’s currency market. The economy had overheated and was now in a meltdown.

With a third of the workforce unemployed and unrest growing, by 1984 Pinochet began to “reform the reforms,” the Chilean economist Ricardo Ffrench-Davis said in a 2003 interview.

Pinochet allowed the peso to float and reinstated restrictions on the movement of capital in and out of the country. He introduced banking legislation, and ratcheted up spending on research and development efforts through quasi-governmental institutions and other collaborations between the public and private sectors — creating, as one example, the billion-dollar salmon farming industry out of whole cloth.

 

 Penitenceria prison in Santiago

 

Still, Chile’s economic woes persisted. By 1989, real wages had declined by 40 percent from 1973, and the percentage of the population living in poverty had doubled to 40 percent. The number of Chileans without adequate housing had also climbed to 40 percent, up 13 percentage points from Allende’s final year in office. The country’s poor consumed 1,629 calories per-day-on average, compared to 2,019 in 1973.

Ill-fed, and ill-housed, Chileans began to refer to the cadre of advisers not as the Chicago Boys but as Si, Cago; Voy — which translates to “Yes, I shit; I go.”

FILE- A man lights a candle at the National Stadium, that served as a detention center in the early years of the military dictatorship, during a vigil marking the 42nd anniversary of the military coup that ousted the late President Salvador Allende, in Santiago, Chile.
 A man lights a candle at the National Stadium, that served as a detention center in the early years of the military dictatorship, during a vigil marking the 42nd anniversary of the military coupA plebiscite in 1989 ended Pinochet’s rule and Chileans gradually began to reorganize their economy. Since 1990, it has consistently been Latin America’s strongest performer. But in its violent, fascist crackdown on the left and its fealty to Wall Street bankers, Chile under Pinochet presaged the entirety of the United States’ global class war against workers — in Argentina and Zambia; Flint and Venezuela; Philadelphia to Greece; Haiti, Iraq, Ukraine, Honduras; Russia in its post-Cold war transitional period, and South Africa after the collapse of apartheid.

POLITICS Pinochet protest /Lords Stock Photo

The two 9/11s twenty-eight years apart bracket the United States’ descent into madness. Much like the vintner’s abolition of the dop, the downing of the Twin Towers should’ve triggered some soul-searching in the United States, and an examination of our accumulation of stuff through the dispossession of other human beings. As we mourn the losses on that Indian-summer day in 2001, what we need to contemplate is redemption, not revenge — and how we might begin to rejoin a human community that we’ve wronged, again and again and again.

Image result for Pinochet regime prisonsFamilies and supporters of victims of the Pinochet regime demonstrate in Santiago in remembrance

God Bless America. . and everyone else too.

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NOTE: The introductory paragraphs of this article by Mint Press News writer Jon Jeter were omitted for length, and all photos/caps were added. To see the original post, as well as links to Jon Jeter’s impressive body of work, click on his name at the top of the screen.

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VIENTOS DE PUEBLO (WINDS OF THE PEOPLE)  Victor Jara

Once more, they want to stain my country with workers’ blood.

I want to live now with my child and my friend, to go together toward the springtime we’re building each day.

You masters of misery can’t scare me with your threats;

The star of hope continues to be ours!

Winds of the people bear me, carry me, blow through

my throat so that I can go on singing even when death takes me,

down the roads of the people.

EXCERPT 

 

The Town that Fought ICE

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MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — One morning in April, federal immigration agents swept into a meatpacking plant in this northeastern Tennessee manufacturing town, launching one of the biggest workplace raids since President Trump took office with a pledge to crack down on illegal immigration.

Dozens of panicked workers fled in every direction, some wedging themselves between beef carcasses or crouching under bloody butcher tables. About 100 workers, including at least one American citizen, were rounded up — every Latino employee at the plant, it turned out, save a man who had hidden in a freezer.

The raid occurred in a state that is on the raw front lines of the immigration debate. Mr. Trump won 61 percent of the vote in Tennessee, and continues to enjoy wide popularity. The state’s rapidly growing immigrant population, now estimated to total more than 320,000, has become a favorite target of the Republican-controlled State Legislature. In 2017, Tennessee lawmakers passed the nation’s first law requiring stiffer sentences for defendants who are in the country illegally. In April, they passed a law requiring the police to help enforce immigration laws and making it illegal for local governments to adopt so-called sanctuary policies.

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But Morristown, a town of 30,000 northeast of Knoxville that was the boyhood home of Davy Crockett, has drawn migrant workers from Latin America since the early 1990s, when they first came to work on the region’s abundant tomato farms. As stepped-up security has made going back and forth across the border more difficult, many of these families have settled into the community, enrolled their kids in school, and joined churches where they have baptized their American-born children.

So the day Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents raided the Southeastern Provision plant outside the city and sent dozens of workers to out-of-state detention centers was the day people in Morristown began to ask questions many hadn’t thought through before — to the federal government, to the police, to their church leaders, to each other.

Donations of food, clothing and toys for families of the workers streamed in at such volume there was a traffic jam to get into the parking lot of a church. Professors at the college extended a speaking invitation to a young man whose brother and uncle were detained in the raid. Schoolteachers cried as they tried to comfort students whose parents were suddenly gone. There was standing room only at a prayer vigil that drew about 1,000 people to a school gym.

Here, based on interviews with dozens of workers and townspeople, and in their own words (some edited for length and clarity), is how it happened.

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ANGELA SMITH, 42, A LONGTIME RESIDENT OF THE AREA: My first thought was one of sorrow. Oh my goodness, this is going to hurt so many people in the community. It’s going to hurt their kids, our kids. It’s going to have a ripple effect throughout the entire community because these people are part of Morristown. Immediately, I drive over to the parish center to see what I can do to help. I had to park way at the end because it was so packed. I go in, I said, I’m an attorney, how can I help?

The April 5 operation signaled a return to the high-profile immigration raids that last happened during the presidency of George W. Bush. President Barack Obama’s chief workplace enforcement tactic was to conduct payroll audits and impose fines on businesses found to employ unauthorized workers. The Trump administration, on the other hand, has vowed to quintuple worksite enforcement. Last week, ICE agents arrested 114 employees at two worksites operated by a gardening company in Ohio.

All 97 workers taken into custody in the Tennessee raid now face deportation, though several have been released pending hearings. And much of the town is reeling. Up to 160 American-born children have a parent who could soon be ordered to leave the country; many families are relying on handouts.

Nataly Luna, 12, whose father, Reniel, was detained in the raid, at a march through downtown Morristown on April 12. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

NATALY LUNA, 12, WHOSE FATHER WAS DETAINED: My mom had told us one day it could happen, that one day one of them would be taken. The hardest thing is talking about it.

After the raid, immigrant advocates organized a peace march, and Nataly carried a sign bearing the image of her father, a native of Mexico who had been working in the United States without papers for 20 years before he was taken into custody at the meat plant that day. “We Miss You,” the sign read. “We need you by our side. You are the best father.”

The Town

Nestled between two mountain ranges and flanked by two large lakes, Morristown is the county seat and industrial hub of Hamblen County, where most of the plant workers’ families reside.

The Latinos who arrived here, especially those who came after the late 1990s, were part of a swelling wave of migrants bypassing traditional gateway states like California and Texas to seek opportunity in the fast-growing South. Word reached their villages that jobs were plentiful.

More recently, as with other places, Tennessee has been struggling with a meth and opioid epidemic. As drug abuse has sidelined many working-age American men and women, local employers have increasingly turned to immigrants.

KATIE CAHILL, A RESEARCHER WHO STUDIES PUBLIC HEALTH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE, KNOXVILLE: Tennessee is facing one of the highest rates of opioid addiction among states. Within this challenged state, you have a county that is doing even worse.

These days, Latinos make up about 11 percent of Hamblen County’s population and account for one of every four students in its public schools. Immigrants toil in meat, poultry and canning plants, as well as at automotive parts, plastics and other factories that dot the area.

MARSHALL RAMSEY, PRESIDENT OF THE MORRISTOWN AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: We don’t get into immigration issues. As long as they are pulling their weight as workers, that is what we appreciate. We’re very proud of our diverse heritage. My wife is actually a seventh-grade schoolteacher here in town and about 50 percent of her class is Hispanic. She raves about parent-teacher conferences. The parents show up. The kids know that the parents have high expectations of them. The parents feel like the kids have been given an opportunity.

Not everyone in town has been welcoming, though. One theme many expressed: The workers were lawbreakers who got caught. In the parking lot of the local Walmart, where several people were talking about the raid at the meat plant, one woman said it could open up employment opportunities. But not everyone agreed with her.

CAROL JONES, A RETIRED NURSING HOME WORKER : Send them back. There will be jobs for Americans, if they get off their butts.

CHARLES ATKINSON, A RETIRED TRUCK DRIVER : You can’t get no Americans to work on the farm or nothing. Mexicans get right in there and do the work.

The Plant

Undocumented workers from Mexico and Guatemala formed the backbone of the work force at Southeastern Provision, located 10 miles north of Morristown in the town of Bean Station. They killed, skinned, decapitated and cut up cattle whose parts were used for, among other things, oxtail soup and a cured meat snack exported to Africa.

Immigrants were critical to the family-owned abattoir’s growth over the last decade. Many of those affected by the raid, fearing further action from the authorities, spoke on the condition that only their first names be used.

A closed taco truck outside a trailer park where a number of the immigrant families live. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

ELISABETH, 38, WHOSE HUSBAND WAS DETAINED IN THE RAID : He worked there for nine years. When he started, there were only around 10 people. The plant expanded thanks to the Hispanics. It was hard work. He would come home tired and say, ‘We killed 300 cows today.’ In the early years, they’d kill only 15 cows a day. A few months ago, the workers were talking about striking for better pay and work conditions.

With the $11.50 hourly wage that her husband, Tomas, made at the plant and the $9 she earns as a seamstress, Elisabeth and her family could afford the $700 rent for a house big enough to accommodate their six children, three from her previous marriage, and live a relatively stable life, she said. To be sure, the work was heavy, gory and low-paying. Day after day, the workers endured the smell of manure, blood and flesh. But Southeastern Provision offered a major advantage over other businesses: The management, several workers said, didn’t seem to expect them to bother with fake work authorization documents.

ALMA, 35, A NATIVE OF MEXICO WHO WORKED AT THE PLANT FOR TWO YEARS:It was the one place where we could get work using our real names. I made $10 an hour. My job was to operate a big machine that takes the nails out of the hooves and one that slices the skin from the cows’ faces.

Federal authorities said there was evidence that the company had run afoul of the law. In an affidavit, the Internal Revenue Service said the company had withdrawn millions of dollars in cash and told bank employees the money was needed to pay “Hispanics”— suggesting that the company knew it was hiring undocumented workers and evaded payment of federal employment taxes.

An informant hired at the plant in 2017 told investigators that workers felt they couldn’t complain about poor working conditions because of their immigration status. Some had to work unpaid overtime, the informant reported. He said he saw others required to work with “extremely harsh” chemicals without protective eyewear.

A closed Morristown store that sold dresses for quinceañera celebrations. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

STEPHANIE TEATRO, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE TENNESSEE IMMIGRANT AND REFUGEE RIGHTS COALITION: So far, it has been the workers who have borne all the consequences of the employer’s violations. ICE could have decided to audit this employer, and forced him to pay fines and correct his practices. Instead they conducted a raid that left over 160 children without a parent from one day to the next.

No charges have been filed against the company. A federal criminal investigation is ongoing, said Bryan Cox, an ICE spokesman. The owner, James Brantley, said he couldn’t talk about the case. His lawyer, Norman McKellar, also declined to comment. “We are in a difficult situation,” he said.

The Raid

It was just after 9 a.m., about two hours after more than 100 workers had arrived for the 7 a.m. shift, when shouts of “inmigración, inmigración” rang out across the plant.

Alma went numb. In the cutting line, another worker, Raymunda, put down the butcher’s knife she was holding and raced toward an exit. So did dozens of others, their blood-smeared smocks and protective aprons weighing them down. They soon realized that ICE agents, backed by state law enforcement, blocked every door.

Agents cornered and grabbed workers, sometimes barking “Calma!” in Spanish to those who cried and screamed. Some workers reported that agents pointed guns at them to stop them from fleeing. “I stuck myself between the cows,” Raymunda said. It was to no avail.

RAYMUNDA: We didn’t come here to kill or to steal. We came here purely to work. I have a sister and we were both picked up at the same time.

Within minutes, all the Latinos at the plant were rounded up, including at least one American citizen and several other people who had legal authorization to work.

ONE OF THE WORKERS WHO IS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN: An officer with an ICE vest on grabbed me by my shoulder. He grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go. I told him he was hurting me and he told me to shut up. They were grabbing people however. For me, basically all the Hispanics because of their color were handcuffed. The white people just stood there.

Immigrants who were lined up, many of them crying, tried to give the woman messages to pass to their loved ones, because they knew she was an American and, therefore, likely to be freed.

THE AMERICAN CITIZEN: When I tried to talk to workers in the line, they put metal handcuffs on me that bruised me. When I told them I am American, they asked me, where are your documents? I said I had them in my car. When I told them that, they asked me, why don’t you carry your documents? I told them I don’t carry my documents with me because where we work is very dirty. I use a squeegee to clean the blood off the floor in the killing room.

In groups of about a dozen, according to several workers interviewed, Latinos were placed mainly in plastic handcuffs, escorted to white vans with tinted windows and transported to a National Guard Armory. A helicopter hovered above.

Word began to spread that “la migra,” as ICE is known, was in the area. Panicked immigrants walked off the job at other companies in the region and frantically texted each other.

The National Guard Armory in Morristown. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

VERONICA GALVAN, 29, A WELL-KNOWN FIGURE IN THE LATINO COMMUNITY: I started getting message after message. Is immigration in town? Do you know? I started going through my news feed. I need to find out, especially because my mom works at one of these plants. I pull up to the armory. All these text messages were coming. Are you there? Are you there? Please tell me something, I am desperate. The first thing I thought was, I am going to livestream it on my Facebook.

Ms. Galvan described how she arrived to a crowd amassed behind yellow police tape surrounding the armory, as state troopers stood guard. Relatives of plant workers were crying and obsessively checking their cellphones for news.

Inside, workers said they waited hours to be interviewed and fingerprinted by agents, a process delayed by computer glitches. When agents asked women who had young children to identify themselves, virtually every hand went up.

By late afternoon, agents had released only a handful of people, mainly those in frail health or who had proven they had the legal right to work in the United States.

ANGELA KANIPE, A THIRD-GRADE TEACHER AND BUS DRIVER : Two non-Hispanic kids on the bus were having a conversation about how they were worried about their friends. And they were talking about how God was going to be mad because he doesn’t want you to be mean to people. Why would someone take away someone’s parents? When I think about it, it just breaks my heart. It’s hard not to cry.

JOHNNY GALLARDO, 15, RAYMUNDA’S SON : I saw a lot of Hispanic kids crying in the hall at school. I called my dad and asked, ‘Are you O.K.?’ He said, ‘I’m O.K., but this thing happened to your mom.’ I went to soccer practice like he told me. I tried to take my mind off it. I just played. I have a goal. I want to go to college. Could my dream be destroyed by this?

In the evening, Johnny headed to the armory with his father and 7-year-old sister, Brittany, who was weeping. They brought insulin injections to be delivered to his mother, who is diabetic.

Families were gathering in an elementary school across from the armory. By nightfall, about 100 people, including teachers, clergy, lawyers and other community members had assembled. Volunteers distributed pizza, tamales and drinks.

JEFF PERRY, SUPERINTENDENT OF HAMBLEN COUNTY SCHOOLS: I got a call from some of our staff members that they had detained several of the parents at the armory. So we had several hundred people beside the road of the armory. As the numbers grew, the situation became more and more dangerous. We provided access to a school facility to keep folks safe. A lot of our administrators were there, several of our principals there to comfort kids.

As the night wore on, about 30 of the detainees, including Raymunda and Alma, were gradually released.

A little after 1 a.m., the agents announced that no one else would be let go. Workers still in detention — 54 in all — were put on buses to Alabama and then Louisiana.

ELISABETH : I was hoping my husband would be freed. Others came out. But my husband never came out. My husband never came. They have ruined our family. He is a good person. He never mistreated me. He cared for my three older children as if they were his own. My favorite moment was when we all sat together to dinner, blessed the meal and shared our day with each other: What did you do, how was school? We all talked about our day.

IRVIN ROMAN, 21, ELISABETH’S SON: He helped with everything. Now, I have to literally step into his shoes.

Irvin Roman, 21, whose stepfather was detained in the raid, cleaning his family’s home. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

The Church

St. Patrick Catholic Church’s parish center was converted into a crisis response center. All day, people arrived with food, clothing, toys and supplies for the affected families. At one point, six trucks waited to unload donations.

Volunteers, who showed up by the dozens, received color-coded tags: Yellow for teachers, white for lawyers, and pink for general helpers, who prepared meals in the kitchen, packed grocery bags and performed other tasks.

Bleary-eyed immigrants packed the main room. In smaller rooms, teachers entertained children with stories while their parents received legal services.

COLLEEN JACOBS, A YOUTH MINISTRY COORDINATOR : There was definitely crying, but you could tell you were in a place of people of faith. You still felt love and connection, more than you felt sadness and despair.

Members of other churches turned up to help, some bearing gift cards and checks.

DAVID WILLIAMS, PASTOR AT HILLCREST BAPTIST CHURCH : As a minister of the Gospel, my concern is for affected families and especially the innocent children. These people are my neighbors and live in my community. Our congregation as well as the community is divided on the issue. I try to keep it humanitarian, not political, and certainly not racial!

On Topix , a community website where comments are posted anonymously, one person asked, “Why does St. Patrick Catholic Church support law breakers?”

Another person wrote, “This bust is legal, the people are illegals. Why the big sympathy case? I don’t get it.”

Still, a couple of days later, “we had more volunteers than we knew what to do with. We had to turn people away,” Ms. Jacobs said.

At a news conference, faith leaders and Elisabeth, surrounded by her sons, pleaded for the community to pray for the immigrants.

ELISABETH : I have been here 20 years. All my children were born here. We came here for a better future. We didn’t come to steal or to take anyone’s job. Please help all our families. Pray. Pray a lot.

Hundreds of children missed school after the raid. On the evening of April 7, about 120 teachers and school staff packed the church’s basement to talk about how to assist students. On a poster board, they scrawled their feelings. “I cried Thursday night wondering which of my students were without parents that night,” one teacher wrote. “I feel helpless,” wrote another.

Food donated to families affected by the raid filled a Sunday school classroom at St. Patrick Church. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

JORDYN HORNER, A SCHOOL LIBRARIAN, ON FACEBOOK : These past two days have been the hardest of my career and I wasn’t prepared. Finding ways to comfort your students who are in tears, upset, angry, and afraid is nearly impossible.

On Monday, three days after the raid, a prayer vigil at Hillcrest Elementary School drew nearly 1,000 people who sat in the bleachers, in folding chairs on the court and, when the chairs ran out, they stood along the walls. A 16-year-old named Ramon stood up to speak.

RAMON : I want to see my mother again. My mother is the only person I have. I live alone now.

Two nights later, St. Patrick Church’s center still brimmed with activity as immigrants and supporters gathered to make posters and banners for a procession through downtown Morristown. Ms. Smith brought her 8-year-old daughter, Laurel, figuring it was an important lesson. “This community is a snapshot of the dissonance of America on immigration,” Ms. Smith said.

At Walters State Community College, instructors gathered in an auditorium to hear Jehova Arzola, 20, an engineering honors student whose brother and uncle were detained, describe his family’s ordeal. No one knew when, or if, they would see them again, he said.

JEHOVA ARZOLA: At any time ICE can come and get you. It doesn’t matter if you are a criminal or law-abiding. They don’t care. The whole community is afraid to leave their houses and go to work. They are afraid there will be another raid.

Families impacted by the raid and local supporters marched through downtown Morristown last month. Charles Mostoller for The New York Times

The Procession

On Thursday, a week after the raid, about 300 people took to Morristown’s downtown streets in the evening to draw attention to the plight of the families. Some people, like Colin Loring and his partner, Margaret Durgin, drove for an hour to participate.

“We are here to support our immigrant neighbors. The system needs to be fixed,” said Mr. Loring, who is retired from the United States Department of Agriculture. Ms. Durgin arrived with a $540 check to help the immigrants.

Before setting out, a nun led the marchers, who wore white and clutched white flowers, in prayer. “We love Morristown. We are here to send a message of love and unity,” they chanted before heading down Main Street. Along the way, a driver shouted an expletive at the crowd from inside his brown truck and sped off.

Pulling to the front of the line was Raymunda, her youngest children, Johnny, 15, and Brittany, 7, by her side. She said she had a notice to appear in court for deportation proceedings.

RAYMUNDA: The truth is, we don’t know what is going to happen next. We have fear, a lot of fear. What else can I say? My husband is incredibly scared. My greatest fear in the world is to have to leave my children.

 

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AFRICAN DIASPORA: GLOBAL HISTORY

San Basilio de Palenque: African Tradition in Colombia
 
On the Colombian Caribbean Coast, at a distance of one hour from the city of Cartagena, between mountains and swamps, there is a place where, in spite of the passage of time, its inhabitants live guided by African customs, traditions and rites, just as their ancestors did several centuries ago.
This place, known as San Basilio de Palenque, is famous for its symbol, the palenqueras, dark-skinned women who, dressed in multicolored dresses and swaying their hips, walk while they balance bowls of fresh fruit on their heads. Its inhabitants prefer to have their community called San Basilio de Palenque not Palenque de San Basilio, with the argument that the village does not belong to the saint, rather it is the other way around.
The palenqueras are the image representing the difficult, complicated history of their ancestors. They symbolize the struggles of the black cimarrones – slaves who courageously escaped from their owners in search of a better future.
Since the 15th century, San Basilio de Palenque is considered the first village of free slaves in South America, as well as the birthplace of the African cultural wealth of Colombia. The palenqueras preserve the African traditions brought by the slaves who disembarked on these regions of the South American continent during the Spanish Conquesti. Soon after, in colonial times, palenques began to appear on the mountains.
These were settlements of rebellious cimarrones. The term “palenque” turned into a symbol of freedom because anyone who became a member of one was automatically free.
Social Organization
The palenqueros live by the norms of the social organization inherited from their African ancestors: the ma-kuagro, according to which every society is divided into age groups to allow the division of labor, the protection of the territory, and the preservation of traditions based on honesty, solidarity, and a collective spirit.
Another form of social organization in San Basilio de Palenque is the junta, a committee of sorts that is formed for a specific purpose – an illness, for example – and disappears once its purpose has been fulfilled.
Language
The Palenque language is the only Creole language used in the world that is based on Spanish and African elements. The Palenque language is a Creole language based on Spanish lexicon, but with the morpho-syntactical characteristics of the African continent’s autochthonous languages, especially Bantu. Researchers have also detected that the Palenquero lexicon includes words from the Kikongo and Kimbundo languages.

The statue of Benko Bioho of Senegal, in the town Square of San Basilio de Palenque in Colombia. Bioho led a successful slave revolt in the 17th Century, making it the first free black town in the Americas, which maintained its African cultural tradition.

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This type of Creole language originated as a response to difficulties in communication between Europeans and the various representatives of different linguistic families who arrived in South America.

Stop the press!

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I interrupt this program to announce that I’ve added text to my previous post, One Boy’s Pablo Neruda.  I knew you’d all want to stop whatever you are doing and rush to read it,

As always, I aim only to please, and remain your humble and deeply modest servant.

Heh heh heh… or, as they say in Central America !JaJa Ja!

Latin America Says No to Violence Against Women

Tens of thousands of women across Argentina walked off the job Wednesday to “make noise” against gender violence and economic inequalities in the first national women’s strike in the country’s history . Photo / Cobertura Colaborativa Nosotras Paramos

 

Not One Less! Latin America Says “Ya Basta!” to Violence Against Women 

By Telesure IN PICTURES: Multimedia > Galleries Click for more.
The gruesome rape of a 16-year-old girl has united women across Latin America to demand an end to femicide and sexual violence.

Women from over 150 cities took part in marches to call for an end to the epidemic of violence against women. The marches were organized by the Argentine collective Ni Una Menos, or Not One Less, after a 16-year-old girl was brutally raped and murdered.

Protesters showed signs with the stories of missing or murdered women, chanting “We won’t forgive, we won’t forget!” /Photo: Facción

 

In Costa Rica, women smeared signs reading “I’m tired of being afraid! I want to be alive tomorrow” with red handprints to represent the victims of sexual violence. Photo: Ale Ara

 

In Peru, women held a candlelight vigil to honor the thousands of women who are killed at the hands of men.

Women in Rosario, Argentina yell “We want us alive!”

A man in a march in Chile stands with a sign that reads “I am half naked, surrounded by the opposite sex … and I feel protected not intimidated. I want the same for them.”

Women placed candles in tribute to the victims of femicide, committed primarily by their spouses and partners.

Sign reads “66,000 women are killed each year worldwide.”

 Why God Made Spanish. 

 Spanish Comes Just in Time.

crucesatnight

Las Cruces, New Mexico at nightfall. The city is larger than it appears from this distance, with a population of about 125, 000.

 

Once upon a time, about two and a half months ago, l was stuck in a motel in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where my car had died:  suddenly, without warning, and in the middle of a six lane highway .. wait –

during rush hour. When else?

The cost of the tow truck, a new alternator and the motel bill had left me with exactly $4.26 to my name. Sounds about right. I mean, what’s my point here?

Let’s see..twenty minutes before my car came to a dead stop, I’d been lying in a hospital bed a few blocks away, expecting surgery and rehab for which I’d been waiting three and a half years. I’d prayed only that it wasn’t too late:  that is, I’d certainly been able to walk three and a half years earlier. Had New Mexico’s public health system included actual medical treatment, I’d have been walking long ago.

I shouldn’t have been surprised when I was told there would be another delay, but I was. By now, though, I’ve learned that filing complaints, calling Santa Fe, appealing to state social workers and otherwise pitching a fit are stupid things to do if you are poor in New Mexico. So two nice medics wheeled me out to the hospital parking lot, sort of shoved me into my car, tossed my walker in the back seat and waved as I pulled into rush hour traffic. Hopefully, there’d be someone around to shove me back out of the car when I got home. A few blocks later, my car suddenly slowed down….

And that’s where you came in.

bigtow

 Five years ago, I stood alone against Vampires Are Us Media Group, aka GateHouse Media and its neoliberal lawyer and/or journalist pals.

At stake was the life of a Mexican-American father who was being framed for murder after he had acted to defend himself from a white supremacist attack .1

During and after the case, I was attacked by a relentless barrage of  lies, threats, retaliation, libel, and textbook defamation. 2

It turns out that the idea of a reporter’s faith in the truth is actually a huge media joke.

Everything that made up my life was smashed and broken in order to destroy my credibility.

After they broke my heart, they broke my back.

 

No, I didn’t stay in this motel with the cool sign / Google Images

Meanwhile, Business Begins in the Motel Lobby

In spite of the increasingly surreal quality of my world, I nevertheless maintained a dim sense that life went on. For example, I awoke the next day from motel dreams of swerving traffic and began lurching down the hall toward the free breakfast. A sharp flash of pain immediately reminded me that I’d left my walker on the passenger seat of my old Crown Victoria, which had been towed away.  The pain  remarked, in the overly familiar tone of a permanent guest, that the motel hallway had certainly grown longer overnight.  I ignored it hatefully and leaned heavily into the wallpaper, sliding almost horizontally toward the distant lobby.

rollator-walker-2

The breakfast area was a sea of Anglos:  half of them were attending business meetings, and the rest were families on vacation. I looked around for something to help me through the line and as I grabbed a large luggage rack on wheels, I was pierced with longing: a memory of gliding swiftly through  crowds, able to estimate their size,  take photos, grab phone quotes and spot the outside auditors arrive without missing a beat.

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Then I moved my back the wrong way and cried out as a flash of electricity instantly knocked  me over – I mean way, way over. I was bent completely in half and I couldn’t move.  Everyone just sat and pretended they weren’t looking at me. I looked at the floor because it was all I could see.

“I’ll get to her as soon as I can,” a motel employee said impatiently (and to someone else!) from behind me. Instantly I was resolved not to ask for help.

 

motelbreakfast,

However, I knew that I would soon fall to the floor, so I rapidly ran through my options. I was fairly sure that if I cried in front of this large group of strangers, I would hurl myself in front of the first rapidly approaching cement truck I could find.
I heard what sounded almost  like a sort of scuffle, and twisted my neck as far as I could.  A man rapidly approached, elbowing  people aside so that he could place a chair under me and – very slowly – help me to sit down.  With the authority of a single gesture, he signaled a passing businessman  to assist him in lifting the chair into an adjourning lounge and getting me onto a couch, Once lying on my side,  the pain soon subsided.

 

1950sooliteconcreteco

Just shoot me! Oh, never mind, I’ll jump in front of this cement truck.

 

The man’s name was Ruben, and he was evidently pissed off at the entire breakfast crowd.

(Hey, me too hermano! Over here! I am pissed off too – at everyone. !Mira – aqui!)

?”Usted hablan Espanol?” I asked Ruben. English was not working out for us.

“Si, si!”  he replied enthusiastically and I arranged my brain in preparation.  At least ten or twelve minutes later, however I realized that my brain had bypassed the prep zone and gone, unsupervised, straight to Spanish.

Wow.

This blew my mind. I’d been speaking Spanish freely and effectively without thinking about it!

Let me tell you, it was like a visit from magic! I shall never forget it. My brain had inexplicably changed in significant, even profound ways, and my world had suddenly become much bigger. Infinitely bigger than if I had suddenly been able to get up and run.

 

wespeakspanish

 

Ruben and I didn’t have a complicated conversation, but it was, by every measure the best kind of conversation because it connected us. He was a Mexican national who had recently taken his time exploring North America’s west coast from Vancouver to San Diego. He said he had seen Mexicans everywhere he went. I told Ruben that I have been studying Pancho Villa and E. Zapata. Some of Villa’s generals were actually Americans – these were by far the most moronic scoundrels in the conflict. ( No, I didn’t say “by far the most moronic scoundrels” in Spanish.)

Villa himself, of course, had the heart of a lion.

 

pancho_villa_by_areku_alex-d3ie8is

 

 

emiliano_zapata_001

  EMILIANO   ZAPATA

When I mentioned the EZLN and “Commandante Marcos”, Ruben gave me a huge smile and a small victory sign. I told him that for 15 years my life’s biggest dream has been to join the Zapatista struggle in some way. Ruben said they are a role model for every resistence struggle in the world. He thought the right-wing coup in Brazil should be a global priority right now, because it represents a huge threat to all of Latin America. Looming right behind that is, of course,  the relentless aggression of the United States.

 

Zapatista Youth and Women in La Realidad

 

Hugo Chavez

 

We ended by vowing that Hugo Chavez will live forever and  the Bolivarian Movement will triumph. The very last thing I told Ruben was that although I was born in New York City, Mexico is the country of my heart. Ruben didn’t roll his eyes. (Thank-you, lord ) Instead he called me a sister of Mexico before disappearing around the corner.

 

Southern New Mexico Desert / CLAIRE O’BRIEN 2014

 

caprock_canyons

That afternoon, I drove north through the bright desert. To the west, eight or ten coyote loped  along at easy pace, out well before sunset and close to the flatland farms they know to be dangerous. They were looking for water.

What I knew had been lost to me:  I didn’t believe it anymore. But Spanish had returned it to me that morning  (or at least pointed the way) because Spanish holds memory forever. It infuses the past into the present until collective memory crackles in the air. As itself a living thing, Spanish recognizes you.

You have to know the way / Claire O'Brien 2012

Claire O’Brien 2012

 

I was more than halfway home. Although the day remained shining yellow and blue, the earliest signs of  evening had  begun to appear in the western sky – so subtle as to be nearly invisible. By now, Ruben was zipping through West Texas,  heading southeast to San Antonio, where he planned to cross the border at Laredo Nuevo

If only one comrade can hear you, all  can hear you.

Some families are lost to their daughters forever, and some are not. Somewhere, the people are waiting intently for snow.

The last and smallest of the yellow flowers are blooming now in the New Mexico desert,

Still, even in loneliness, no heart beats alone.

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Sleeping Indian, Caballo Mountains, Sierra County

 

!JaJaJaJaJa! (Ha, ha, ha!)   That is the sound of my remembered laughter. No matter what anyone says, it is also the sound of Sandinistas laughing from far away.

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myspanishadventure

   

Was it magic? Well, my Spanish adventure hasn’t happened again – not like that, not that way.  For the most part, except for the common exchanges of daily life, and a political vocabulary known to all, my road to Spanish  remains a careful and deliberate, albeit always generous one.

But hey! Don’t you know that God sends Spanish just in time?

 

divinespanish

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N O T E S

These are meant for readers interested in further clarification, and supplement the numbered statements above.  

111. Media and popular support for my refusal to identify a confidential source evaporated in the face of my conviction for contempt of court. Without my knowledge, First Amendment stars such as Harvey Silverglate and Lucy Dalglish joined corporate media lawyers in a behind-the-scenes effort to force my testimony. This is in and of itself a basis for disbarring all attorney on both sides.

2 Worse, the coverup was itself a series of flagrant federal civil rights law violations that propelled  already alarming evidence of entrenched press/corporate corruption into a much more chilling sphere.  It revealed that non-profit public policy giants such as the ACLU have a real disregard for both the First Amendment and sections of federal civil rights law. It’s a disregard as genuine as that displayed by the most recalcitrant corporate offenders.

 

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A Young Republic’s Struggle for Freedom

Guyana Golden Jubilee Logo 1966-2016

Thanks to Rosaliene Bacchus. Go to link below for story.

IN JUST ONE DAY, BRAZIL LOSES YEARS

In just one day, the US-backed coup has waged an all-out attack on Brazil’s most progressive social and political achievements.
by Claire O’Brien, based on information and graphics from TeleSUR 

These are bad times for Latin America. With the fall of Brazil’s Rousseff government, the U.S. has broken the back of the Union of South American Nations (Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina), which resisted the dominance of American corporate interests  for years. Now, Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution has been kicked in the gut and Argentina has rushed to align itself with Brazil’s right-wing elite. That elite has regained its long-term stranglehold on the country two years after the left-wing Worker’s Party won its fourth straight victory in national elections.

Now, a textbook CIA coup has framed democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff and installed right-wing vice president Michel Temer. When Temer unveiled his new cabinet Thursday it became clear that his government is absolutely hostile to Brazil’s social movements and minority groups. Its 22 white male members include seven ministers who are under investigation for their alleged role in the Petrobras corruption scandal.

Key Ministries Eliminated

Temer reduced the size of the cabinet to 22 ministries, ostensibly in the name of austerity. However, his choice of what ministries to cut requires no interpretation.

  1. The Ministry of Culture has been eliminated
  2. The Ministry of Agrarian Development has been eliminated
  3. The Ministry of Science and Technology has been eliminated (it is now part of a much larger dysfunctional ministry, together with telecommunications)
  4. The Ministry of Women has been eliminated
  5. The Ministry of Racial Equality has been eliminated
  6. The Ministry of Human Rights has been eliminated

Additionally, the Comptroller General, which once enjoyed independent status, has now become the Ministry of Supervision, Transparency and Control, which could affect its ability to investigate alleged corruption.

Temer has already dispatched a delegation to Washington, DC to confer with his delighted bosses.

Brazil’s Big Capital in both nations is sleeping well tonight.

 

We Call it Murder: The Empire’s War on the Border

 

INTRODUCTION BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN

About ten years ago, Homeland Security began creating a vast graveyard in a stretch of the Arizona desert’s most remote and rugged terrain. It did so by focusing so intensely on traditional migrant routes that people crossing from Mexico were forced further and further east. They had to cross where the routes were the roughest, where there are no water resources, no population centers to speak of, and where there are miles and miles to go before there is a ray of hope on the horizon.

Now, at least 7,000 human skeletons lie buried beneath those desert miles. And the U.S, government planned it that way.

 

water

 

What kind of lowlife scum does it take to so gleefully destroy and poison lifesaving water resources for desperate people traversing a desert?

  Claire Marie O'Brien  Claire Marie O’Brien

It takes a pool of Border Patrol applicants from small towns across the Southwest, in regions with skyrocketing unemployment, failed schools, loss of small farmers, a devastating methamphetamine epidemic, and infant mortality rates higher than those of most developing nations.

Keep pay low, stress high, racism rampant, and “investigations” of agent brutality a joke. Sit back and wait.

desert cross