Thursday, January 28, 2010

Trail of DREAMs XI- Meditative Walking

January 28, 2010

Gainesville, FL: Today, by far has been one of the most exhausting days we’ve had during the trail. We walked our record best 22.6 miles on a windy sun piercing day. It was a rather lonely day; but I am sure it is going to be in my most cherished memories. Today I was able to concentrate on site seeing the beautiful terrain and I felt truly centered – at one with nature. Before the trail, I looked forward to these days, when I’d be able to practice walking meditation, observing the sky to my left and right, see the sun and moon competing for stares and feel the resistance against the invisible cold wind. Days like this would allow me to forget that being undocumented is an existential state of being and would allow me to view our human race holistically and recognize our own insignificance within our universe.

As walkers, our minds truly become expanded with these lonely days, with the fear of being undocumented dispersing as if it were only a gust in the wind. Feeling as if the pathway towards liberation from systemic oppression reaches fulfillment only through the physical pain absorbed in the body. Our will to walk and our will to strain ourselves with mental and physical ailments in the name of justice and liberation of imposed fear can’t be taken away. In the words of the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King, “Courage faces fear and thereby masters it”.

Felipe M., reminded us how we are merely “soldiers on the ground” and I began reflecting on that. We feel the pulse of underprivileged, undocumented people living in the shadows, the millions that feel hopeless in the despair of social, economical, and political contexts. Hence, let us not drown in the pretentious political realm or get lost in their rhetoric, instead, let’s focus our energies in adhering to the necessities of our communities and tap into the reservoirs of our lost voices.
In solidarity,
Carlos Roa

For Disaster-Struck Haitians, Arrival in U.S. Does Not Mean an End to Problems
Published: January 27, 2010

MIAMI — Marie Violande Guerrier-Cavalier arrived in Florida from Haiti on Jan. 16, with little more than her feverish infant son, Marcley, his tiny legs in casts because of a birth defect. She left her husband and four other children behind, living in the yard outside their broken house... link to complete article

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Trail of DREAMs X - The Skin Gets Darker

Turning Brown January 27, 2010
Jan 26 Ocala, FL-

I dedicate today’s walk to an incredible young man named Alejo, for his courage and determination to fulfill his dreams despite all obstacles! I have never quite understood what it means to be a Brazilian man who bears the traces of a very diverse culture in the USA until now. I have always been confused for something I am not. I’ve been called white, Cuban, and Colombian -to name simply a few of the many labels that have been ascribed to me. Friends and acquaintances could not understand why I had an accent to my Spanish and also managed to have a subtle foreign accent that
nobody could quite distinguish its origin. I never really paid much attention to
what that meant to me until I was engaged in the immigrant rights movement. I
have felt that people who don’t speak Spanish as their first language many times
are either misrepresented or pushed to the sidelines. Although we have to go
through the same problems as everyone else, our voice is not regarded as
relevant in the mist of the debate.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the
richness of my first language- Portuguese. Its rhythm, tone, and the history it
bears has intrigued me beyond my wildest expectations. I keep thinking of the
slaves that were forcibly brought to the newly colonized land in South America
around the 1600’s who, despite their chains, managed to shape the language and
culture of a nation. I keep in mind the millions of Indigenous people killed and
displaced of their lands that still found the ways to keep all of the names they
had given to places across all of Brazil, despite the conscious attempt to erase
their culture and the history of their struggle. I cannot deny that I even think
back to the immigrants that came in the 1900’s seeking paradise, only to find
poverty and struggle in their new home.

Their stories and DNA are part
of me and run through every vein in my body. I am Indigenous, Black, Portuguese
and German. I remember my late grandmother treating people of illnesses with
herbs from the land. She understood that Earth had the answers and trusted it
enough to always evade any doctors. Furthermore, I continue to be lured by the
impact of beats and music in my culture, dating back to African drums and
Indigenous practices. When I hear the beat of drums, my whole body instantly
moves and my heart aligns itself to its rhythm.

However, this also means
that I have more melanin in my skin than the majority of people that I have
encountered in this walk. Today, when we were walking in Marion County, one of
the many places in Florida that has a 287 (g) agreement with Immigration Customs
Enforcement (ICE) -agreements that deputize local police to function as ICE
agents- I realized that I am quickly becoming darker due to the constant
exposure I have to the sun –more so than most of my friends. Needless to say,
the relationship between local police and ICE is very problematic especially
because its enforcement has resulted in continuous cases of racial profiling.
One of the people in the local area told me to be very careful because I look
“immigrant”. I didn’t feel threatened, but was simply reminded, yet again, of
what it means to be a brown person in the USA. I can finally comprehend the
culture of fear that we have been subjugated to and how much I want to break
free from it.

What does this fear mean to a young immigrant? The first
thing that comes to mind is shame. I’ve dared myself to diverge from such
thinking and thus become proud of my roots and the color of my skin. I tell
myself that I am brown like delicious café con leche -a drink native to the
South American Andes mountains, that I have been obsessed with since I was a
small child. I am brown as the sweet dulce the leche that goes so well with
different pastries. I am also brown like autumn and its ability to find
resilience to maintain life beyond the harshest winters.

I am the proud
son of a poor, single mother that barely had enough to provide for her children
even tough she spent practically her whole life working three jobs as a maid. I
know how it feels to not have material possessions and must say that poverty
isn’t half as bad to children when they have love lavished upon them to fill
their hearts. However, the bitter taste of injustice stays longer and it is the
only thing that I am determined to eradicate from my life and the life of those
I have come to love all around me and across this continent. The first step to
change is becoming aware of our surrounding, then to create opportunities to
change it forever. I dare everyone who reads this blog to be proud of their
beginnings no matter how simple they were and to express their utmost pride for
it, rather than continue to be melted into a pot that keeps telling us we must
give up our identity and heritage to be more like everyone else.

-Felipe M

link to

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Prejudice and Prop 8


L.A. NOW - Los Angeles Times

Southern California --

Prejudice helped pass Prop. 8, professor testifies

January 26, 2010 | 11:02 am

A political scientist hired by defenders of Proposition 8 admitted under cross-examination today that prejudice played a role in the passage of the 2008 anti-same-sex-marriage initiative.

"At least some people voted for Proposition 8 on the basis of anti-gay stereotypes," Claremont McKenna College professor Kenneth Miller testified during the third week of a federal trial on the constitutionality of Proposition to complete article

Monday, January 25, 2010

Schwarzenegger's Idea for Budget Cuts - Send Prisoners to Mexico?

Just when I was beginning to think the governator wasn't so bad, he comes up with this very offensive and dangerous idea. He probably hasn't seen the inside of the Mexican prison.


Schwarzenegger: Send prisoners to Mexico

January 25, 2010 | 2:50 pm by
Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger floated a different approach to trimming down California’s bloated prison budget on Monday: pay Mexico to build new prisons and ship off California’s incarcerated illegal immigrants south of the border.

The Republican governor has pushed to house California inmates out-of-state before -- but never in a different country.

“We can do so much better in the prison system alone if we can go and take inmates, for instance the 20,000 inmates that are illegal immigrants that are here, and get them to Mexico,” Schwarzenegger said during a question-and answer session at the Sacramento Press Club. “Think about it.”

It’s cheaper to build prisons in Mexico, Schwarzenegger reasoned, and it’s cheaper to staff them there to to complete LAT article


Math and Females: Are you traumatized?

I was pretty good at math until seventh grade. Then something happened. I can't really say what went wrong. But it was disaster after that. I barely made it through Algebra I in High School. College Algebra? Well I survived, that's all I can say.

It doesn't make sense. A person who can get a PhD, write two books (almost three), work a computer, drive a standard shift car and develop photos in a dark room should be able to do math.

How much is in a persons mind? How much was some type of fear conveyed by a teacher? The LA Times is saying it could have been the teacher. I don't want to lay the blame anywhere, but something has not been working, or we would have many more female math and science professors...


Female teachers may pass on math anxiety to girls, study finds

After a year in the classroom with female teachers who say they are anxious about math, girls are more likely to share that attitude -- and score lower on tests, researchers say.

By Karen Kaplan

January 26, 2010

Girls have long embraced the stereotype that they're not supposed to be good at math. It seems they may be getting the idea from a surprising source -- their female elementary school teachers.

First- and second-graders whose teachers were anxious about mathematics were more likely to believe that boys are hard-wired for math and that girls are better at reading, a new study has found. What's more, the girls who bought into that notion scored significantly lower on math tests than their peers who didn't.

The gap in test scores was not apparent in the fall when the kids were first tested, but emerged after spending a school year in the classrooms of teachers with math anxiety. That detail convinced researchers that the teachers -- all of them women -- were the culprits.

"Teachers who are anxious about their own math abilities are translating some of that to their kids," said University of Chicago psychologist Sian Beilock, who led the study published Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study is the first both to examine the math attitudes of teachers and to show that those feelings can spread to students and undermine their performance, said coauthor Susan C. Levine, also a psychologist at the University of Chicago.

Experts said the findings could have implications for policymakers seeking to draw more women into careers in science, engineering and technology. Instead of focusing their efforts solely on female students, they could devise interventions for teachers as well.

"We always need more excellent scientists and mathematicians," said University of Wisconsin psychology professor Janet Shibley Hyde, who examines gender differences in math performance and wasn't involved in the study. "They are the force that drives the nation's economy. You don't want to dismiss 50% of the potential scientists because they're girls rather than boys. That's just crazy."

Beilock and her colleagues recruited seven female teachers from a Midwestern school district and assessed their level of math anxiety -- a condition in which the prospect of doing math evokes unpleasant physiological and emotional responses. Such anxiety is more common among women, but isn't related to math abilities.

The researchers also gave math tests to 117 of the teachers' students and assessed their beliefs about math and gender at the beginning and the end of the school year.

By the spring, 20 of the girls subscribed to the math-is-for-boys stereotype; they were more likely to have been taught by math-anxious teachers. The girls scored an average of 102.5 on a test that asked them to count shapes and do simple addition and subtraction.

The average scores were higher for the other students: 107.8 for the remaining 45 girls and 107.7 for the 52 boys.

Beilock said she and her colleagues weren't sure exactly how the angst was transmitted from teachers to students.

Perhaps math-anxious teachers call on girls to solve math problems less frequently; praise boys more effusively; or simply imply that it's not important for girls to be good at math.

The teachers could also telegraph their own discomfort with math by hesitating when answering questions or speaking in a different tone of voice, and some girls internalize that attitude, Beilock said.

When girls see women struggling with math, it "contributes to the stereotype that math is for males," Hyde said. "It's kind of like the Barbie who said, 'Math is hard.' "

Studies have shown that girls have just as much math ability as boys. In a 2008 report in the journal Science, Hyde and her colleagues analyzed the math test scores of more than 7 million American students in grades 2 through 11 and found no difference between boys and girls at any grade level...
link to complete article

Trail of DREAMs IX - A Walker from the Big Apple

January 23, 2010

Our walk is dedicated to the Roa family. To Peter, a United States Citizen who lived in New York city for 3 decades. For Carlos Sr., who bravely brought his family to the US to take care of his father, Peter -left in immigration limbo after his [father's] death while the petition was still pending. For Carlos Jr. who is currently in the struggle and walking 1,500 miles on their behalf, going on his 24th day walking now.

Our walk today is dedicated to three generations of brave men who lived in the United States trying, with all their might, to achieve a DREAM.

Photobucket Photobucket

On one of the most recognized USA icons, the Statue of Liberty, has engraved on its plaque:

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This week, we were joined by a man from New York city who wanted to walk with us. He flew down on Friday and made arrangements for himself to walk with us for three days. It was a surprise when the person we thought might be a college student turned out to be a grown man, father of two, and successful business owner. I kept feeling it in my heart from the first time we talked about the Trail, that our struggles would be about all: the tired, poor, and all those who like us, want to be free.

After coming from a trip in Spain, Roberto came to his beloved NY and picked up the New York Times where he first learned about the Trail of DREAMs. After 26 years struggling without status, he had recently obtained his green card. Roberto wanted to walk with us because he understood personally what we have endured in this country, as individuals that have held an unwavering passion and commitment to a nation that barely even gave us a passing chance.

As we walked in pairs, Roberto walked with me and asked me to share with him my story. I told him I always felt like a was a cadged bird. Once, I was fine in the cage -it was still small and I had a little room to fly. However, now after fighting six years in the struggle, receiving several college degrees, and having had the opportunity of a fabulous job, my wings have grown too large and the cage began hurting me.

Tears ran down his cheeck because he knew exactly what I meant. The difference now was that he had found his freedom and the golden cage he lived in no longer had any bars. He no longer was restrained from doing what he loved and being afraid of people finding out his immigration situation, or more so, living afraid of being thrown out of the place he calls home.

Roberto came with his wife and one year old son looking for a better future in 1983. He’s first job was as a carpenter. Shortly after, he was able to open his own business. Even though he was successful and important to this country he was denied a green card nearly 10 times.

When I asked him how he felt about the Big Apple he said “It’s amazing, I love New York. It is one of the most amazing cities I know. You have all the choices in the world, theater, arts, music, public transportation, I can’t get enough of it”

How can we deny the existence of someone who loves this country so much and has tried several times to legalize his status. He said “I have a personal feeling towards it, its my home”

As we continue to head north, I hope people begin to have a deep analysis about why we are in the situation we are in. Are we willing to continue to suffer in this manner or will we take a stance today and fight for our promised words.

-Gaby Pacheco

I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will sing praise.” -Psalm 101-1

Advanced Placement Classes - Really Worth It?

Op-Ed: Advanced Pressure
January 24, 2010

The filmmaker Vicki Abeles features the stories of students and teachers of Advanced Placement classes and the pressures they face in our achievement-obsessed culture.

Click Here for link to Video

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Protect Yourself - Don't Tell All on Facebook or other Websites

3 Facebook Settings Everyone Should Check Now

New York Times - by Sarah Perez

January 24, 2010

...Take 5 Minutes to Protect Your Privacy

While these three settings are, in our opinion, the most critical, they're by no means the only privacy settings worth a look. In a previous article (written prior to December's changes, so now out-of-date), we also looked at things like who can find you via Facebook's own search, application security, and more.

While you may think these sorts of items aren't worth your time now, the next time you lose out on a job because the HR manager viewed your questionable Facebook photos or saw something inappropriate a friend posted on your wall, you may have second thoughts. But why wait until something bad happens before you address the issue?

Considering that Facebook itself is no longer looking out for you, it's time to be proactive about things and look out for yourself instead. Taking a few minutes to run through all the available privacy settings and educating yourself on what they mean could mean the world of difference to you at some later point...That is, unless you agree with Facebook in thinking that the world is becoming more open and therefore you should to complete NYT article

Trail of DREAMs VIII - Central Florida Lakes

January 22, 2010

Tavares, FL- More than 250 miles into our walk the body has become used to the “abuse”. Imagine, everyday I have to wake up at 5 AM, because Juan doesn’t let me sleep until 5:30 AM like everybody else… then I get ready and leave to another amazing adventure. As Carlos mentioned, yesterday we had the opportunity to meet three incredible nuns from the Apopka Hope Center. They have been working with youth and social justice causes for several years.

At one point, Sister Ann asked me who had inspired my personal desire to fight. The first person that came to mind was Maria, the Executive Director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC). I have had the privilege to work closely with her while been part of FLIC. Maria always acted like one of the lakes we encountrered in the trail today. Many perceive them as tranquil and harmless, however, their enormous beauty and depth go beyond our understanding. Maria always spent every minute that we were together to challenge me and to help me to create a holistic counciousness about how to adress issues in the world and respond to current events.

The trail today was full of pleasant surprises and a few setbacks. We started walking on 441 today and later we were joined by the same high school students that accompanied us yesterday. Sonia, the person who gave us lunch today, helped us deliver a letter to Publix that we drafted in support of the Coalition of Imokelee Workers’ (CIW) campaign for fair wages for farmworkers. We did so to highlight one of our four core princinples for just and humane immigration reform -workers’ rights. When we set out to travel the 1,500 miles, we also wanted people to understand that our work is also valuable and must be respected.

The connection between us, those who are currently walking, and those who are in their community is that those who stayed behind have it much harder. When we said good-bye to the high school students that shared their hopes and fears we acknowledged that those who were working on the day to day basis will continue to impact them beyond our undestanding. For some reason, Maria believed in me and she felt that I could accomplish my dreams despite all obstacles. I’m not sure exactly what it was but I saw in Sister Ann’s eye the same gleam of hope I felt when I met Maria. They truly understand social change but most importantly; personal change. In the most difficult moments of the last few years I could count on Maria’s love and guidance. It’s because of people like Sister Ann and Maria that I trully feel that real change is possible.

-Felipe Matos link

Hope in Apopka

January 22, 2010

1/21/2010 Apopka, Florida.

We began this morning walking just off the outskirts of Orlando. During our first stop at a local coffee shop to use the restrooms, while waiting for my turn, I could hear some of the employees behind the counter whispering and smiling to themselves. Immediately, I thought to myself that they must have seen us the day before on the local news channel. So I approached the counter and started explaining to them the walk. Soon enough they offered all six of us free coffee! They were so blown away with our courage and with our community efforts that they gave us $40 bucks in donations to the cause. I told Felipe it would be pretty awesome if we got that kind of greeting every place we walked into, because we definitely need the money.

Approximately, after walking five miles, we stopped around 11:00AM in order to go make a congressional visit and an interview. Yesterday, we visited the offices of a couple of House Representatives and Florida’s two Senators, Sen. LeMieux and Sen. Nelson (Read Juan’s Blog y/day). Gaby and Felipe went to do an interview with the local Univision channel, while Juan, Andrea, and I went to Rep. Mica’s office. That visit was rather short; nonetheless, it was productive as usual. Rep. Mica’s immigration advisor had a tough stance on immigration, but we were able to get her to understand that deporting millions is simply unrealistic.

After eating lunch at nearby park, we convened ourselves, and we headed out to the Hope Community Center in Apopka, FL. I was in complete surprise when we arrived to find so many young leaders from the community. Most of them are the teenage children of the local farmworkers in the area. I was so happy to know that at least these kids where fighting to get their voices heard and were representing their migrant communities. They were seriously challenging the fear of being undocumented. I never had that same opportunity in high school because I was so scared to tell anyone about my situation; mostly because I really didn’t know anyone else in my shoes. Their passion for human rights and their sheer energy excited us all. Afterwards, we began walking around 4:00PM with about 40 of those youth leaders. It was quite an amazing sight! We got car honks left and right, and a lot of laughter and joy from the experience.

At the end of the night, after dinner, we went to the house of the local nuns that manage the Hope Community Center to take showers. It was by far the highlight of the day. I have never sat down with Sisters in the struggle. Their perseverance for justice, solidarity with our cause, and funny sense of humor by far exceeded my expectations here in Apopka! I am especially sure that I am going to miss Sister Ann after we leave town. She is just such an amazing individual and it was a privilege to learn from them. It is always interesting to see people can make such an impact in the lives of so many people and transform entire communities.

In solidarity,

Carlos Roa

Trail of DREAMs VII

January 20, 2010

From the Magic City, Orlando

Our walk is dedicated to Rita and her family, who fights to keep her family together.

A reporter asked me today about the most difficult experience I’ve had during the walk -I thought about: my family, boyfriend, students, friends and although it is hard to be without them honestly, the hardest thing is having to say goodbye everyday. Our walk, most of the time, ends in a stranger’s home.

We’ve had the privilege to find people who treat us like their children. They say the reason so many young children cry the first day of school is not because they are scared, rather it’s because they feel the parent’s sorrow in having to let go of their little one. When we first get there, there is always a great feast. Towels, socks, and blankets are plentiful. Advice, prayers, hugs and kisses are shared, but most importantly we receive tons of love. I was afraid of feeling alone and missing my family yet, in every town we have entered, I feel my family has extended. We are creating a more united community and are helping to develop a unified human race that does not discriminate against nationality, race or creed. Thank you to all those who have open their homes and have made thus far the Trail of DREAMs possible. link

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trail of DREAMs V - Walking While in Pain

January 16, 2010
From Orange County, Florida

Our walk is dedicated to Augusto, Sebastian and Jonathan our modern day HEROES.

A few days ago, I had a set back: I hurt my hip and my sciatic nerve, which started shooting pain from my hip down the length of my leg. The morning started just like any other. I wrestled in the sheets not wanting to get up. Who in their right mind gets up every morning at 5:30 in the morning in 40 degree weather? I always try to get in as much sleep as possible, but it is usually difficult when you have Felipe saying “we have to go, we have to go!”. So before Felipe gets mad at me, I wake up and try to get ready as quickly as I can manage. I duct taped my feet (yes we use duct tape), put on my socks, shoes and got ready to go. We stretched and started to walk.

After the first mile something started to feel funny. I didn’t pay too much attention, since I seem to experience a new type of pain everyday. I rejoice when I have new pain because it means that I am exercising a new area in my body. However, this time the pain was not the usual one. My hip felt like it was on fire! After the third mile, I couldn’t walk anymore. The pain started to shoot down my leg to my knee; I knew I was in trouble.

The group decided that they wanted to use the restroom and we stopped at a Walgreens. As I laid down on the floor to stretch my lower back and hip, I knew I couldn’t continue. I didn’t know what to do or say. I was in excruciating pain but I didn’t want to let the team down. Felipe noticed and suggested to Juan to buy a heating pad. Felipe grabbed me gently, looked into my eyes and said, “Gaby, the team needs you to stay and get better.” Juan called Profe right away and asked him to pick me up. I looked at Carlos and he portrayed concern in his eyes. What a disappointment, I was in pain and it was going to be impossible to continue. It was difficult seeing them walk away and disappear in the distance. We have become a family and we love each other wholeheartedly. The pain we feel everyday is a constant reminder that we are being courageous and strong.

Thanks to God I am walking again now. Martha from Voices for Justice was able to secure a visit to a chiropractor and Dr. Carlisle put my hip into place. This afternoon we did 10.5 miles for a total of 19.5 miles for the whole day. We are walking fast and strong! And along the way we are meeting incredible individuals.

Today I met a young student, who brightened my day simply with her smile. Sunshine, as I nickname her, gave us quarters and laundry detergent to clean our clothes. More importantly, she shared with us her stories and dreams. It was so moving to hear her speak about her passion, caring for people. She is studying nursing, and trys to do everything within her power to put into practice all the beauty within her that she learned from her mother and that was instilled in her from her culture. She said to us, “my culture taught me to always help out those around me. When I see someone on the street, I am reminded of my country and how we always provided warmth, food, kind words. That’s all I’ve wanted to do here, and I dream of achieving that purpose as a nurse.” She also told us about the racism she has encountered in this country when a patient told the doctor at the hospital “I refuse to be cared for by a colored woman.” It was painful for all of us to listen to her story, unable to understand how anyone could reject the love and hospitality of such an angel. Moving forward now, we will all think of her constantly, trying to realize her dream along with our own because EVERYONE deserves the opportunity, regardless of nation of origin, gender, or skin color. We held her tightly with a hug and will keep that embrace in our hearts as we take each step tomorrow.

Thank you Sunshine for refueling us and proving to us that our cause is not in vain.

Galatians 5:14
“The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

-Gaby Pacheco & Juan Rodriguez

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Grow Your Own Vegetables and Live Longer

More than twenty years ago someone conducted a study that concluded that Mexican Americans were the fattest people in the United States. I don't think we win the prize anymore. I think just about everybody is tied for first place, except those who live in cities where people mostly walk or take public transportation.

If you are a woman and wear a size 18 on up, you have a good chance to develop diabetes or heart trouble when you reach middle age. Why is that? Because obesity has a strong correlation with these diseases. Why do we all wear such big size clothes? Because we eat the wrong things. We don't necessarily eat too much (nix on the people that say fat people are gluttons) - its what we eat....

There is much to say on this subject, but the first thing to think about is eating more fruits and vegetables. What a better way to do this than by making your own community garden?
January 17, 2010 - New York Times
San Jose Journal

In Latino Gardens, Vegetables, Good Health and Savings Flourish

SAN JOSE — At dawn, Maria Lupercio Alarcon wakens to the heady scent of onions and cilantro from her family’s first garden, outside her bedroom window.

The two-month-old vegetable garden, from which Mrs. Alarcon picks extravagant bursts of broccoli for breakfast with scrambled eggs, is both comforting and unfamiliar. It is one of 30 backyard vegetable gardens recently planted by a nonprofit group here called La Mesa Verde, or The Green Table, which makes house calls to help residents of the city’s low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhoods grow their own organic produce.

“People don’t eat vegetables unless they are close by, to be honest with you,” Mrs. Alarcon, a mother of three who grew up in Guadalajara, Mexico, said of the human tendency to eat whatever is at hand, especially if it is cheap. “If you have vegetables,” she said, pointing to luxuriant tangles of peas and other delights, “then you can come get them. To see them growing is a blessing.”

The fledgling effort to bring backyard vegetable beds to San Jose neighborhoods like the Washington-Guadalupe and Gardner districts — historic portals for immigrants — is part of a national movement, from West Oakland to Little Rock, Ark., to make healthy food readily accessible to marginalized urban to complete article

Trail of DREAMs IV - Comments on Reprieve for Haitian Immigrants

January 15, 2010
From Coco Beach

This afternoon, I checked my email as I walked, and I was in complete surprise to read the title heading: “Secretary Napolitano Announces Temporary Protected Status for Haiti”. For years, our South Florida Haitian community and Immigrant Rights groups nationwide have asked the U.S. Government to grant TPS for Haitians, especially after the Island was hit with four hurricanes in 08’. I felt a great relief and excitement for only a moment because immediately I started to think about the estimated 100,000 people that are believed to be dead after Tuesday’s earthquake. I asked myself, how could it be that this is what it takes to get clemency for our immigrant Haitian brothers and sisters? I hope that as you read this blog, you can take a moment of silence and mentally put yourself in the shoes of those thousands of Haitian refugees, that besides living under extreme poverty levels, now have to deal with their devastated island. -Carlos Roa

Saturday, January 16, 2010

U.S. Intervention in Haiti History

Michel-Rolph Trouillot has written a classic (and critical) book on the history of Haiti. The title is Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History.

What You're Not Hearing about Haiti (But Should Be)
by Carl Lindskoog Published on Thursday, January 14, 2010 by

In the hours following Haiti's devastating earthquake, CNN, the New York Times and other major news sources adopted a common interpretation for the severe destruction: the 7.0 earthquake was so devastating because it struck an urban area that was extremely over-populated and extremely poor. Houses "built on top of each other" and constructed by the poor people themselves made for a fragile city. And the country's many years of underdevelopment and political turmoil made the Haitian government ill-prepared to respond to such a disaster.

True enough. But that's not the whole story. What's missing is any explanation of why there are so many Haitians living in and around Port-au-Prince and why so many of them are forced to survive on so little. Indeed, even when an explanation is ventured, it is often outrageously false such as a former U.S. diplomat's testimony on CNN that Port-au-Prince's overpopulation was due to the fact that Haitians, like most Third World people, know nothing of birth control.

It may startle news-hungry Americans to learn that these conditions the American media correctly attributes to magnifying the impact of this tremendous disaster were largely the product of American policies and an American-led development model.

From 1957-1971 Haitians lived under the dark shadow of "Papa Doc" Duvalier (photo left), a brutal dictator who enjoyed U.S. backing because he was seen by Americans as a reliable anti-Communist. After his death, Duvalier's son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" became President-for-life at the age of 19 and he ruled Haiti until he was finally overthrown in 1986. It was in the 1970s and 1980s that Baby Doc and the United States government and business community worked together to put Haiti and Haiti's capitol city on track to become what it was on January 12, 2010.

After the coronation of Baby Doc, American planners inside and outside the U.S. government initiated their plan to transform Haiti into the "Taiwan of the Caribbean." This small, poor country situated conveniently close to the United States was instructed to abandon its agricultural past and develop a robust, export-oriented manufacturing sector. This, Duvalier and his allies were told, was the way toward modernization and economic development.

From the standpoint of the World Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Haiti was the perfect candidate for this neoliberal facelift. The entrenched poverty of the Haitian masses could be used to force them into low-paying jobs sewing baseballs and assembling other products.

But USAID had plans for the countryside too. Not only were Haiti's cities to become exporting bases but so was the countryside, with Haitian agriculture also reshaped along the lines of export-oriented, market-based production. To accomplish this USAID, along with urban industrialists and large landholders, worked to create agro-processing facilities, even while they increased their practice of dumping surplus agricultural products from the U.S. on the Haitian people.

This "aid" from the Americans, along with the structural changes in the countryside predictably forced Haitian peasants who could no longer survive to migrate to the cities, especially Port-au-Prince where the new manufacturing jobs were supposed to be. However, when they got there they found there weren't nearly enough manufacturing jobs go around. The city became more and more crowded. Slum areas expanded. And to meet the housing needs of the displaced peasants, quickly and cheaply constructed housing was put up, sometimes placing houses right "on top of each other."

Before too long, however, American planners and Haitian elites decided that perhaps their development model didn't work so well in Haiti and they abandoned it. The consequences of these American-led changes remain, however.

When on the afternoon and evening of January 12, 2010 Haiti experienced that horrible earthquake and round after round of aftershock the destruction was, no doubt, greatly worsened by the very real over-crowding and poverty of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas. But shocked Americans can do more than shake their heads and, with pity, make a donation. They can confront their own country's responsibility for the conditions in Port-au-Prince that magnified the earthquake's impact, and they can acknowledge America's role in keeping Haiti from achieving meaningful development. To accept the incomplete story of Haiti offered by CNN and the New York Times is to blame Haitians for being the victims of a scheme that was not of their own making. As John Milton wrote, "they who have put out the people's eyes, reproach them of their blindness." link
Carl Lindskoog is a New York City-based activist and historian completing a doctoral degree at the City University of New York. You can contact him at

Haitian Immigrants get Reprieve

The Haitian earthquake has caused ICE to develop a little empathy. Traditionally, the U.S. has always been hostile to Haitian immigrants.

Print This Article

Haitians already in U.S. get a temporary reprieve

The Obama administration said Friday it would grant tens of thousands of undocumented Haitian nationals in the United States Temporary Protected Status, an immigration benefit sought for years by Haitian activists, immigrant rights advocates and South Florida lawmakers.

In announcing the move only days after Haiti's devastating earthquake, Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement that the TPS designation was part of the administration's effort to support Haiti's recovery following ``a disaster of historic proportions.''

But she also made a point to discourage Haitians from leaving the country -- a sign the administration would crack down on illegal immigration.

``At this moment of tragedy in Haiti, it is tempting for people suffering in the aftermath of the earthquake to seek refuge elsewhere. But attempting to leave Haiti now will only bring more hardship to the Haitian people and nation,'' she said.


TPS will enable about 30,000 Haitians without legal immigration status, most in South Florida, to remain here legally for 18 months. They would also be able to apply for work permits, allowing them to land jobs many need to send money to surviving family members in earthquake-devastated Port-au-Prince.

Only those Haitians in the United States as of Jan. 12 are eligible. Those arriving after Jan. 12 will be repatriated to Haiti. Although shielded from deportation, Haitian TPS holders cannot become permanent U.S. residents or U.S. citizens. Earlier this week, the administration temporarily halted deportations of Haitian to complete MH article

Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Capitalism Helped Destroy Haiti


thanks Margaret!

Help for Haiti

click here for general information on Haiti background and history

Date: Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 9:55 PM
Subject: Post-Earthquake Action Steps for Haiti (Please Share)

People have been asking:

1) Where to contribute

a) Most reliable organizations seemingly best able to provide immediate assistance

These top 4 have people already on the ground & already tending to victims :

i. Having spoken to people on the ground, these two above are serving as a shelter for impacted survivors, providing food & water, but their reserves (normally for several hundred orphans & staff) will not last very long:

Go Free Ministries ( - Click on 'donate' to give by Paypal or credit card - Mail: Go Free Ministries Intl. PO BOX 163108, Fort Worth, TX 76161-3108. - Email inquiries to: (you can direct it to go specifically to Hurricane relief efforts)
or Hope Foundation International Ministries, Inc. 2822 54th Ave. South #229, St. Petersburg, FL 33712 or

ii. Partners in Health or mail Partners In Health, P.O. Box 845578, Boston, MA 02284-5578

iii. Doctors Without Borders, or toll-free at 1-888-392-0392 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
USA Headquarters 333 7th Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001-5004.

b) Good for longer term support

i. Food for the Poor:

ii. The Lambi Fund:

iii. World Vision:

c) Unsure of time-table to get aid on the ground

i. YeleHaiti (Wyclef's org)

ii. Red Cross (although unclear how to direct the funds to specifically Haiti):

iii. For more complete lists of options, see:

d) Clothing Donations

e) Donate Relief Goods

2) What actions can I take

a) Contact your Congresspeople (to get your Senator & Representative's number to MAKE A QUICK CALL, visit to support IMMEDIATE RESCUE EFFORTS to Haiti; and

b) To request TPS for Haitians, not just "halting deportations"

The Obama administration should grant Haitians Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which is regularly granted to the people of other countries who've suffered much less disasters than Haiti; by DHS's own definition, even with the hurricanes preceding this earthquake, Haiti is overqualified.

c) If you want to help & go the extra mile, please WRITE in to media outlets like your local newspaper, and/or newstation's website.


i. Plans are coming together for a trip of Matador volunteers to go to Haiti to assist in earthquake recovery and relief. ; NOAH is also gearing up to head to Haiti.

ii. Hope for Haiti is looking for medical personnel & donations:

iii. So is:


from Régine Michelle Jean-Charles and Dottie Joseph


P.S. Also consider donating or volunteering with Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps is deploying an emergency response team.