Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Gaza: Treading on Shards
By Sara Roy
February 17, 2010

On January 21, fifty-four House Democrats signed a letter to President Obama asking him to dramatically ease, if not end, the siege of Gaza. They wrote:

"Do you know what it's like living in Gaza?" a friend of mine asked. "It is like walking on broken glass tearing at your feet."

The people of Gaza have suffered enormously since the blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt following Hamas's coup, and particularly following Operation Cast Lead.... The unabated suffering of Gazan civilians highlights the urgency of reaching a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we ask you to press for immediate relief for the citizens of Gaza as an urgent component of your broader Middle East peace efforts.... Despite ad hoc easing of the blockade, there has been no significant improvement in the quantity and scope of goods allowed into Gaza.... The crisis has devastated livelihoods, entrenched a poverty rate of over 70%, increased dependence on erratic international aid, allowed the deterioration of public infrastructure, and led to the marked decline of the accessibility of essential services.

This letter is remarkable not only because it directly challenges the policy of the Israel to complete article

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tags: Juan

Posted on February 20, 2010 by juan

From Nahunta, GA

Sometimes I wish I could go up to a member of the KKK and ask them, “if I were able to promise you that Bogota is a city in western Idaho, would you hate me just a little bit less? Would you see me as any more of a human being?” The entire concept of “nationality” seems to strange to me sometimes. Who in this world has NEVER moved anywhere? Whether it be to live in a larger home, for job opportunities, for safety, for better weather… etc. What makes your family’s migration from Pennsylvania to Florida any more “legal” than my family’s migration from Colombia to here. The purpose here isn’t to start an endless debate about policy, but rather to get us to really think about the human difference in one family trying to make a better living for those they love versus another in another region of the world. Yesterday, a gentleman who “owned the land” where we stopped to rest briefly off the side of a highway said to us, “I find it extremely disrespectful that you would think its appropriate to just sit here on another man’s land without their consent.” All of this seemed so foreign and hipocritical to me. I wish someone would have said that to Christopher Columbus. Maybe I’m just being difficult, but seriously, when did it become illegal to stop and take a breath? At what point did we give people the right to shoot someone if they touch your patch of grass? It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Today we drove to Nahunta, GA where the KKK was organizing an anti-immigrant demostration, under the premise that “God put each race in their respective continent and they were meant to stay there. “ I can’t help but keep being amused by these concepts that the very organization can’t seem to be able to uphold appropriately. Is the KKK secretly on a campaign to reclaim all lands back for the indigenous people of North America and preparing for the voyage back to Europe? I find this highly unlikely.

It is disappointing that after so many years of social reformation, we still have organizations filled with so much hate convening and gaining the support of communities. When will people actually listen to BOTH SIDES OF THE STORY. I was there too! Hello!? Anybody willing to listen to MY story? I promise I won’t try to convince you of something as obviously absurd as “immigrants are the cause of unemployment and global warming.” How did we do that? With Jalapeno peppers? I’m very confused about this.

Ultimately, the success of today was to be able to stand hand in hand with our friends from the NAACP; singing liberation songs together and acknowledging our united struggle for racial justice. We ALL deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. We all deserve to be acknowledged for our humanity.
link to

True Reasons

Posted on February 19, 2010 by felipe

from Americus, GA

I would like to dedicate today’s blog to Nancy, a DREAMer, who dreams of giving her parents a home someday so they can live comfortably and at peace.

When I was a small child I learned a Brazilian song by Toquinho,

“Era ma casa muito engracada

Nao tinha teto

Nao tinha nada”

“Once a upon a time there was a very funny house

It didn’t have a roof

Nothing at all”

This children’s song depicts the picture of poverty and the desire of millions of people each day who dream of having a home. What many leave out of the immigration debate are many of the true causes of migration. Today, we visited the headquarters of Habitat for Humanity in Americus, GA. One of the most interesting parts of this small town is a place called Global Village. This place shows various models of homes that Habitat for Humanity has helped to build all around the world. The vision behind this place is to display to Americans the living conditions of so many people around the world and inspire them to invest in providing housing for others who are willing to work to rebuild their communities.

As I was walking through the very small alleys between the shanties, I couldn’t help but have constant flash backs to the time when I was five and had to go up a very tall mountain to visit an aunt –jumping over sewage to get to the structure that she called, “home”. It also reminded of when I was ten and I had to help my mother build the house we lived in, carrying as many bricks as I could on the wheelbarrow and trying my best to align them appropriately so the wall wouldn’t come out crooked.

I remember when my mother and I moved to the last house we lived in Brazil. It had two main rooms; the kitchen and the place where we slept. We had a “bathroom”, but we didn’t have any running water or a sewage system. I had to go each day, for many years, to a hole in the ground four hundred yards from my house to get water so we could use for drinking, cooking, cleaning, etc. It wasn’t easy. However, every block that I helped to lay on those walls have a story and sometimes even some of my blood mixed into the concrete. Even more important than anything else, I will remember how that house was my mother’s dream.

My mother, like so many others in this world went from the countryside to a big city seeking better opportunities. Her desire to better herself led her to work three jobs at a time for pennies, and in horrible conditions. Having to face abuse and poor living conditions, she never found a way to get an education and like so many others got stuck in cycle of perpetual poverty. She saw in us, her children, hope to break the curse of scarcity that had followed her through her whole life. So she gave us her best, even if it meant that she wouldn’t eat until her body couldn’t take it anymore. I am in this country as a result of her reaching her physical limits and needing to send me away to be taken care of by other family members when she simply couldn’t provide for me any longer. She dreamed again, with my departure, that an education in the United States could keep me forever out of poverty.

She dreamt of seeing my two sisters and I graduating from college. For her, a single mother without any formal education, living in a developing nation, this was always close to impossible. However, she never gave up on us and never gave up on me! When I first found out that I couldn’t go to college she was the first person that I called. In the midst of my despair, she simply said: you have made it through so much worse and I don’t have any doubt that you can get through this as well. It is heartbreaking for me that despite the greatest efforts in this country, I feel like I still can’t make my mother proud enough as I would like to because of the numerous obstacles to my education. I hope that some day people can understand that all I want is to be good son to her and give my mother what she was never able to attain that satisfaction that her son succeeded in completing his college education the way she always dreamt for me to. I don’t think that’s a crime, and I wish I wouldn’t be treated like a criminal for trying to fulfill that aspiration.
link to

Friday, February 19, 2010

Free Spirited Koinonia
Tags: carlos

Posted on February 19, 2010 by carlos

Americus, GA Feb. 18th:

Today, we began our day walking from the outskirts of Leesburg, GA towards a small city known as Americus, GA. As we approached the outskirts of the city, we were greeted by Nashua, a young spirited local community organizer, who was waiting for us in his car alongside the road. As he drove us to Koinonia farm, our social lunch destination, Nashua shared stories with us concerning local Latino community struggles and how attentive the community has been with our walk. He mentioned how word had gotten around quick that we were entering town and that people were following each step of our walk, even though they weren’t physically present. “Many other people are walking in the struggle” he said, referring to the thousands of people who vigorously work in the immigrant rights movement.

Nashua also explained to us the historical context behind Koinonia farm, which was an important interracial community center founded in 1942 by Rev. Clarence Jordan. In those days, Koinonia farm was ahead of its time in that it was an intentionally desegregated Christian community. By that I mean, white and black people would work together receiving equal pay, eat together, and build their own houses together in this small community. In those times, Koinonia farm was a controversial and unpopular location for several local white residents, who boycotted all the goods produced by the farm because of its social integration. Rev. Jordan, its proud founder, thus began shipping out goods from the town, and came up with a double meaning slogan, “Help us send the nuts out of Georgia”. The people that resided in Koinonia farm experienced all types of racially motivated aggravations, such as gun shot firings into the farm and even bombs attacks by the Ku Klux Klan. Yet, Koinonia farm stands today, and people from all walks of life still communally eat together almost on a daily basis. The economically affordable houses built by the people of Koinonia, inspired one of its residents, Miller Fuller alongside his wife, to establish the organization Habitat for Humanity. Jubilee community, another interracial community, came after the Koinonia farm establishment as well.

Koinonia is currently visited by people all across the world, fascinated and completely captivated by its simplicity based on peace, love and joy. I was completely intrigued by this community, especially having seen a young white girl, wearing a long purple dress, walk nearby us. With her radiant smile, she walked barefoot as she beautifully sang a social justice freedom song. We all felt accepted with open doors from the first minute we walked into the social lunch location, where people were eating together as they usually do. The locals were in solidarity with our journey as we engaged in conversations with them. Koinonia farm was a good reminder to us, how we all may be different on the outside; but as people we hold the same feelings on the inside and have the capability to love one another as close brothers and sisters.
link to

Stateless People

Who is a Stateless Person? Someone who is undocumented in the U.S. - doesn't matter if you have lived here since you were an infant, if you do not "papers" you are stateless. There are Stateless people all over the world...


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Innocent Voices
Tags: felipe

Posted on February 15, 2010 by felipe

February 15:

from Albany, GA

I’m exhausted! I’ve been carrying a huge physical load. Everyday we have to wake up early in the morning and walk -even though we have been going to sleep at 12 AM almost everyday. However, the emotional pain of our people is so great that I am having a hard time digesting it all. A few days ago we met a fifth grader, Oscar, who told me about his dream of becoming a therapist and his views on our plight. He is a gifted child that was sadly forced to understand the complexities of his reality. What I impressed me the most was his willingness to speak up about his struggle. When asked to talk in front of a crowd in a press conference he stood resolute to deliver the most heart breaking plea to the president. He said, “Please give my parents a chance. It would be too painful to lose them.”

The question that remains unanswered is what motivates a child to become so versed on the parallels between his life and the life of his fellow African American friends. In his own words he said, “the immigrant problem is similar to what happened to African American in the past. They couldn’t vote, we can’t vote.” He explained many more points about the historical and current intersections between the African American and immigrant plight. This eleven year-old boy does not have any choice but to try to make sense of his reality. His older sister had been consistently called a “wetback” in school, his father is currently facing deportation and his mother cannot get a job other than decorating cakes. In his utmost effort to make sense of his suffering he found in history books a place that healed some of his wounds.

We got to Albany and we found several children that wanted to walk with us. They ranged from 8-12 years old. All of them were born in the US and yet had to live with the fear of losing their parents. One of the most important parts of a child’s life is their family. The constant threat of losing a parent has traumatized our children to the point that they don’t know how to live in such instability. What we do when the answer lies on the hands of congress people who have not walked with us all this way? What do we do to relay the message of these youth to greater audiences that continue to judge us as less than human because of our immigration status?

While walking, Oscar and his sister were making jokes and laughing the whole time, however, when we talked about the issue, it was as if we opened Pandora’s box. The children started sobbing! Their pain was so evident that I couldn’t do anything else other than cry as loud as they were. Our tears have been flowing down for so long and yet we keep being marginalized. In a country that claims to be a place that values children, we still see the constant discrimination against and exploitation of Latinos through an unfair system that is breaking our spirits and families. What happened to us? Where are we going as a nation? I hope that somehow their tears reach those in Congress that have chosen to take an apathetic approach to just and humane immigration reform. We just can’t afford to wait any longer. The clock keeps ticking…
link to

I am learning to crawl in my new skin
Tags: felipe, georgia
Posted on February 13, 2010 by felipe

Camilla, GA

In one of her incredible poems, slam poet Andrea Gibson mentions the love of a mother, daring us to think about the joy our mothers felt the first time they said our first name. When I heard the poem, I thought about it for many days, however, I kept thinking about why a woman would love her child –just as my mother has loved me- even though babies spend nearly nine months eating up all of their energy and nutrients from the inside out and they have to deliver it through a process of pain, blood and tears.

Our culture refers to birth as a beautiful moment in one’s life. Why? A baby doesn’t seem very happy when it comes out his or her mother’s womb and I’m not sure if the mother’s smile is happiness or relief from the labor pains. My conclusion is simple: birth is a painful process. It is a process that requires strength and total vulnerability from the part of the mother and her child. It seems rather ironic that one of the most powerless situations in one’s life is also when we come into being. It is an opportunity for learning and personal growth.

I’ve been born and reborn a few times in my life. The first time it happened was in 1986 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It happened again when I was two and my father abandoned our family without any hesitation. When I was eight some of the most important people in my life immigrated to the USA. I was fourteen when I was born once again upon my arrival to this country. In 2007, I was born as an activist and organizer after a rally to help Gaby’s family stay together in the country where I stood with allies outside the Homeland Security Building in Miami. Lastly, I feel it is happening to me now!

Each time, I had to learn to cope with my new reality and to live under my "new skin". Yesterday while walking in freezing weather I was born again. Little by little, the rain became snow and the skin in my hand turned red as I started shaking uncontrollably. It was in the most arduous test the trail offered me thus far that I was recreated as a human being. It was through physical pain that I was able to achieve clarity and understanding. There were a few times that I thought about stopping, but I didn’t because I knew there was something greater to be accomplished.

Today, the weather was beautiful but a different set of challenges arose in the horizon. The group needed to find a way to relate to the community in a more effective way. We asked Adelina, a statewide community organizer in Georgia, who gave us the most simple and yet wise answer -listen. She told us to listen to the community so their voices could be heard. She didn’t ask us to organize or agitate but rather to simply become a vessel for people to pour their concerns and hopes. When inquired about the sacrifices she decided to take so the trail would succeed she simply answered that we are part of her community. I felt incredibly humbled by her words.

A young seventh grader, Ulysses, decided to spend his whole day walking with us. I did not think that he was going to follow through and yet I was wrong. I was eager to apply what Adelina had taught me earlier today and opened my heart and ears to learn and listen. I’ve learned more about life then I had in years in Miami.

I am learning to crawl in my new skin. The trail is not the movement but only one of the many aspects of it. Each one of us fulfills a function in it. My contribution right now is walking and that’s why I didn’t stop even though every muscle in my body was aching yesterday.

link to
Neighborhood of slaves and presidents
By Liza Mundy
Monday, Feb 15,

Sometime around the middle of April 1804, a slave named John Freeman wrote a letter to the president of the United States. Freeman, technically owned by a Maryland doctor, William Baker, had been contracted to work for Thomas Jefferson, who engaged him to serve in the White House and accompany Jefferson on trips to to complete article

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Don't Educate So People Will Believe Anything

Many say that our public education has been going downhill for decades. Even more so now that "Test Culture" has taken over learning. While students are learning how to take tests, they are not exposed to important aspects of history and society. They don't know who Napoleon is, or Queen Victoria, or Queen Elizabeth 1, Freud, or the Great Society. And of course they don't know anything about places other than Europe and the United States...

This is the way of our world. Now then you wonder why Sarah Palin appeals to so many people. It's a reverse brain washing. Don't teach and people will desperately look for their own teachers... even if the teacher knows very little.

See Palin's Sleight of Hand by Frank Rich and

How Christian Were Our Founders? by Russell Shorto

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Good-Bye Florida
Posted on FEBRUARY 11, 2010 by felipe post comment
Tags: felipe

From Bradfordville, Fl.

Many have traveled through the “Sunshine State” but very little people know how beautiful it really is. From the swamps and creeks to the subtle hills of north Florida, we tried to fully enjoy everything that the scenery could offer. As we prepare to leave our home state to discover a different reality across state lines tomorrow, we acknowledge the beautiful and difficult moments we lived in our state. Needless to say, the Trail of DREAMs did not emerge out of thin air. It came from the hopes, dreams, and everyday struggles of everyday individuals in Florida, and from the need to overcome the different abuses that we are living in our everyday lives. We are the product of a movement of young people screaming on the top of their lungs and not finding a voice or even a refuge in this nation we have grown to recognize as home. It was a personal process that started when I joined Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) two years ago not knowing how to identify my own oppression or how to engage in my own struggle.

It was a long and difficult process of coming out of the shadows, and a process of self discovery and actualization. The Sunshine State is known to be the place that the sun never seizes to shine, but I was pushed into the cold shadows of a system that time after time did not recognize my full humanity. It was also here that I learned to organize myself and my peers to bring about the change that all of us need so desperately. This was the state where I found my voice and the understanding that even if I am shackled to a prevalent system that tries to keep all people of color below the poverty line, I could never lose the freedom of my mind and spirit. As I am getting ready to venture into this next stage of the trail, I can’t deny that I will miss Florida and every single human being that the trail has had the pleasure of encountering thus far.

I will remember every face, smile and tear. When I was organizing back in Miami, I remember being the one having to wipe the tears of and offer a shoulder to so many undocumented students. Now that I am on the trail, I still have to do the same in every town that I go. The question is still present in my heart, “when will the suffering stop?” How many mothers will have to say good-bye to their children because they are being taken away from them? How many more young people will be denied a future? The truth is that if we, as a people, decide to wait for Washington to make decisions on our behalf, then we may never see the change necessary for this country. We must have the courage NOW to change our own communities, challenge the institutions of power that fail to prioritize this human rights crisis, and make it happen ourselves!

When we were in Miami, we received the blessing from our families and community to take on this journey. Later, we were joined by our friends from Palm Beach that walked with us and embraced us. Soon after, we were in Orlando and Gainesville where our friends from University of Central Florida and University of Florida stopped their busy schedules to take care of our physical and emotional needs. We met with the Sheriff from Swannee County and the Chief of Police from Live Oak to ask for more protection for the immigrant population in that area. Now we are leaving Tallahassee where we met with legislators and the Governor to talk about the importance of in-state tuition. It’s with a heavy heart that I leave Florida –my home- to what it is a foreign land to me. My body and heart have begun to change tremendously. My feet are missing patches of skin and I am constantly feel a numbing pain in my lower back, but nevertheless, my spirits are high. We are very close to begin a new stage that hopefully will continue being as successful and beautiful as it has been so far. We are so grateful to every person who touched our lives during this first month. My skin and voice has gotten stronger, and as we build a platform for other youth to join us, we are forging a place where young people can be heard. Walking is just our grain of sand for justice in this world. We hope that you will step forward and place yours as well.

I dedicate this blog to my family and the families of my peers on the trail, who held us in their arms back the Freedom Tower in Miami filled with hope as well as fear for our endeavor. Be assured that we do this for you and we do it with love
link to

O.C. Trail of DREAMs Solidarity Walk
Posted on FEBRUARY 10, 2010 by
meagan post comment
In solidarity with Trail of DREAMs in Florida and with
United We DREAM, the Orange County Dream Team will collaborate and organize a
march and rally here in Orange County. There are undocumented students
throughout the nation and Orange County is no exception. This event gives
presence and a voice to those undocumented students in our community. These are
students that despite their immigration status do not give up but rather fight
for their educational and career dreams. Please join us in solidarity and

5 Mile Walk

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Meeting time:
9:00 am at El Centro Cultural de Mexico
310 W. 5th
Street, Santa Ana, CA. 92701

Walking to:
Cesar Chavez Campesino Park
(For a Rally)
3311 W. 5th Street Santa Ana, CA 92703

Bring your
signs in support of DREAM, students, families and Comprehensive Immigration
Reform. Bring your instruments to make some noise!
link to

Solidarity and Love
Posted on FEBRUARY 8, 2010 by juan post comment
Tags: juan

California Trail of Dreams: Immigration Reform Now!

Saturday, February 27, 8:00 am to 5:30 pm

Join us as we walk
18 miles in solidarity with the Trail of Dreams, a 1,500 mile journey from
Florida to D.C. that 4 students began on January 1, 2010 for just and humane
immigration reform and equal access to higher education.

On February
27th, students, parents, seniors and workers will come together and walk the CA
“Trail of Dreams” to recognize that immigrants are key to rebuilding America’s


Seoul Int’l Park (3250 San
Marino St)

Federal INS Building/USCIS Office (300 N.
Los Angeles St.)

Salazar Park (3864 Whittier Blvd.)

Radio Korea Lawn (3700 Wilshire Blvd.)

Organizations: Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Dream Team
Los Angeles, Korean Resource Center, National Korean American Service &
Education Consortium, UCLA IDEAS

For more information contact HyunJoo
Lee (English) at 323-937-3703 323-937-3703, Junghee Lee (Korean) at 323-937-3718

This event is part of United We Dream’s Week of Action
link to

Proud of my little sis
Posted on FEBRUARY 6, 2010 by gaby post comment

Today I came up to spend time with my little sister (Gaby Pacheco). It occurred to me that the only way I could truly spend some quality time with her is to walk on the Trail for a whole day. While walking with them, four words kept coming to mind: Love, Courage, Endurance, and Focus.

Why Love? Because of the hard work they are doing for us the “undocumented” to put up with some people’s intolerant attitudes and to address the various forms of mistreatment that are often too difficult to understand; to digest.

Courage, to be walking through desolate, unknown places that some would never even think of passing through.

Endurance, to walk under the sun, against the wind, and sometimes beneath cold rain.

Focus, to always keep in mind the final goal no matter what. Different curve balls are thrown at them each day and yet they still carry on strong.

I THANK my sister and the Trail of DREAMs!!!!!


-Mari Pacheco

(Gaby's Sister)

link to

Wake Up and Remember
Posted on FEBRUARY 6, 2010 by juan post comment
Tags: juan

From Perry, Fl.

Every morning I wake up and have to remind myself why I am doing this.

“Why are you getting up at 6am for the sixth day in a row to walk 18 miles?”

“Why do you keep going, even when it rains, when your feet are in pain, when your legs are tired?”

“Why do you stay up late at night when you know you’re tired simply to write a blog?”

Its important, at every step of this process to reflect on the reasons about why I have done this. Why I left school, work, family, community… EVERYTHING, to walk nonstop for four months… and it always comes back to people’s stories.

I wake up at 6am because I know that nearly every day in Immokalee, Fl (like in many other places around the country), a farm worker is getting up from his bed in his trailer that he shares with 10 people, in order to pay the monthly $1000 rent bill, when none of them make even minimum wage.

I keep walking because once, a young man named Robby went door by door in his neighborhood asking for help with tuition money until he was able to come up with enough to cover at least a single class at out-of-state tution costs, simply because he couldn’t qualify for financial aid.

I walk because in some sacred part of my being I grew to believe that “God” was in the rain, and the waters that wash down my face and over my body with each step are a reminder of the many waters our people have had to traverse in coming here, sometimes never making it through the gale, sometimes drowning just miles from the much awaited shore after a terrible storm.

I walk with the pain because I understand completely that I do not understand AT ALL what it really means to have risked my life crossing a national border, and I am privileged to the extent that my family was able to afford a ticket to fly me here; the privilege to be granted a visa for our entry and departure; the privilege to hold my body upright on two feet when this alone is a feat in some people’s wildest dreams.

I wake up in the morning to think of the people who gave me the strength to even make it here:

•A young, brilliant scientist and mathematician that could be a phenomenal engineer if only MIT would not judge him on a basis of his immigration status. If only it gave him a single chance.
•Carlos, who spent the longest time (when I first met him) taking multiple buses, metros and trains in a three to five hour commute each way from work nearly every day, just so that he could be a single step closer to his dream of completing his higher education and succeeding as an architect.
•A young woman named Angela who slaves away cleaning various people’s houses so that she could help to provide to her brother while also trying to move her career another step closer to designing one of those very homes.
•A young woman named Maria, living in Venezuela, who was taken from her passion to fulfill her educational aspirations in this country, but is committed to NEVER give up on her dreams.

I also think of the things I have been hearing along this journey:

“I stayed here because I believed… that despite the fact that I have worked here for 6 years without any overtime wages or vacation, and the fact that I step out of my home every morning with the fear that I may not return… I still believe there is a potential for this country to be better than this: for this country to stand by and uphold its values like a torch –that it may illuminate all the places where our people have been living within the shadows without ever being given an opportunity or a voice."


I do it for those who have touched my life so profoundly along this jouney.

I do it for those reading my blog in the privacy of their own homes seeking some sliver of hope.

I do it for those who we have lost and have died working for change and believing with all of their hearts and souls that our human dignity is something that is never to be handed over and that no individual should ever have the right to make us feel insignificant.

Kudos to all counties that have realized, are aware of, and are proud to proclaim the countributions and value of immigrants, who have helped to sustain this country and provide is with reliable produce that keeps us all healthy and alive.

I dedicate this to Jesus, who had his body sliced into two by workplace machinery and died… waiting for congress to give the slightest priority to immigration reform –for his life, work, and dreams will NEVER be in vain.

-Juan Rodriguez

Trail of DREAMs
link to

Posted on FEBRUARY 3, 2010 by carlos post comment
Tags: Carlos

Mayo, FL

We resist the presence of omnipresent fear, oppression, and silence.

We will not continue to allow our communities to suffer.

This is our unspoken creed that is cemented on the firm premise of righteousness. If I’ve learned anything in my life as a human rights activist so far, it is that fear manifested in the darkness of silence is self-destructive. The individual, the community, and society as a whole submerge in this perpetual cycle of indefinite darkness unless a resistant gleam of light is present to overcome it.

Last night, we had a social dinner in the City of Mayo, located 70 miles east of Tallahassee and about one hour north of Gainesville. We convened alongside community members whose soft-spoken voices, in their humility, have slowly begun to express the concerns of their underprivileged communities.

Tonight, during a conversation, Guillermo, a local dairy worker and community member of over ten years, explained to us how undocumented immigrants in these areas make excuses for themselves that justify the abuses inhibited by either local law-enforcement authorities or assailants who take advantage of the fact that they’re undocumented. The excuses they give themselves in order to avoid reporting certain discriminating incidents are along the lines of being grateful to be alive and well, even after being physically or verbally altercated and or threatened.

In surrounding communities, there’s a hesitancy to report to local law-enforcement officials because in several previous occasions, police and sheriff reports inaccurately reflect instances of criminal abuse. Such reports are often ignored and swept away by officials, leaving these communities in fear with feelings of vulnerability and inadequate protection. I also strongly suspect that the undocumented view either the sheriff or police officers no different than La Migra.

We are continuing to closely monitor things within Mayo, FL and the surrounding areas. We’re having a town meeting on Thursday to conduct a desperately needed Know Your Rights (KYR) training. This training is geared towards equipping communities with the right information on what people’s rights are as undocumented individuals caught in various predicaments. Situations such as finding yourself in the midst of an ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) raid or having the police pull you over from racial profiling are highlighted because of their commonplace frequency.

Mayo’s reflective community struggles, especially considering the lack of organizing, has certainly reassured our thoughts as to why this walk transcends itself more than just an individual personal journey of mental liberation. We are facilitating the movement building process in these areas, through the sharing of our stories (walkers and those of local community members) and also through our intense desire to deeply listen and engage in dialogues in order to awaken resilient community voices. Together, we are eradicating sentiments of inequality, oppression, and fear and channeling energies towards igniting the long awaiting thirst for justice.


link to

Looking into the Blind Spot
Posted on FEBRUARY 3, 2010 by felipe post comment
Tags: Felipe

From Mayo, Fl.

Little by little, we saw the Floridian scenery changing. First, we climbed our first hill in Apopka, then we saw lakes as we passed Tavares and Mount Dora, but after Gainesville... all we could see were huge farms. We never imagined that hidden in the peaceful expanse of grass fields, the same nightmare ocurring to immigrants nationwide, was present there and intensified by the reality that few, if any, ever take a close look at humble farm towns like Mayo, Fl. I always heard various, random, horrific stories from North Florida about abuses against immigrants, often feeling rather incapacitated, seeing our maps of allies and not being able to identify groups to work with in this area to address these problems. But today, as I looked into the eyes of a victim from the local community and heard his anacdote first-hand, I felt outraged.

As we approached the town, we noticed its small and cozy infrustuctre that had already become familiar to us. It wasn't until dinner that we heard many of the brutal cases that make up the harsh, but unmistakable reality of the immigrants in this community. We ate dinner with community members in the local Virgen de Guadalupe Church, where about ten individuals joined us to share a few words about their daily experiences. We heard about the 2006 mobilizations for immigration reform in Ocala, where more than 4,500 immigrants came out in favor of immigration reform. I was surprised since the towns around here are so small, and apparantly, even many of the local residents were shocked that so many Latinos existed in this area. Profe seized this opportunity to ask the community leaders what they felt the reason was for the local movement to have entered a dormant stage shortly after that effort. "Fear!" A local Colombian resident responded. He told us of the great backlash from local enforcement that led to diminished participation of the community in the movement. In fact, workplace raids started happening and the community was terrorized by sudden waves of deportations, when these immigrant workers were vital for the local economy and the success of the farms.

Finally, through the discourse, we heard the voice of Maria, a fragile-looking woman who raised her voice to tell us the stories of the many violations in the nearby counties. Her voice trembled from an array of emotions that varried from desparation and sorrow to anger. She told us about the crimes that have been happening to Mexicans in the area. They have been targeted by criminals from the area that continue to take advantage of them due to their lack of status. A man, Don Francisco, had been one of the many victims in the area. He was attacked outside his house while speaking on the phone with his family back home in Mexico. As she was sharing, I felt my face turning red out of rage. I imagined this man talking to his family about his day when he felt the first punch: a loud scream on the other end of the receiver followed by complete silence. What kind of an impact must that have had on his loved ones, thousands of miles away? He was in a coma for several days from a skull fracture and had to get five brain surgeries. Maria told us how the hospital and local police were waiting for him to come out of his coma in order to deport him.

When Maria sought help from the local authorities on behalf of her friend, they said that he was an "illegal", therefore, he did not have any rights. She emphasized that was the norm on a nearby town- Live Oak in Suwannee County. Many men and women were victims of burglary and extreme violence in the area that always went UNRESOLVED. What impressed me the most was the fact the local police was trying to instigate hatred and conflict between the immigrant and African American communities, by not only ignoring the crimes inflicted upon Latinos by African Americans, but also by repeatedly telling the Latinos that if they are ever attacked by African Americans, they should just carry a gun and shoot them. She said that the police preached "an eye for an eye" law in communial meetings about the issues. It outrages me how police can think they can just take these issues off of their hands and brush them off, only to escalate greater division and animosity amongst communities of color. The community is even fearful of ethnic wars breaking out in this area. Both of our communities have historically been scapegoated and taken adavantage of for so many generations, and it isn't fair or right for us to continue permitting these abuses to keep happening. I knew that many times the African American and Latino communities were pushed against one another in strife due to systemic forms of oppression, however, the level of violence here was beyond what I had seen in the past.

When we asked Maria why she was fighting so hard for change, I was moved as said "they are all part of my people, I have to do what I can to defend them." Her vision led us to join her fight and meet with the local sheriff to highlight what is happening here, which rarely gets its deserved attention.

Back home we would look at the state map and always see many "blind spots" in the Northern region of Florida, sometimes hearing people make assumptions about there not being many immigrants here. On the ground, we see that this is not the case at all, and many of these horrific stories seem to be the norm. We will be meeting with Sheriff Tony Cameron, of Suwannee County about the human rights abuses in the area this Friday.

Please help us by calling everyday starting today until 3 PM Friday at (386) 364-3443 and ask him to stop the abuses against the immigrant community, to respect the rights of workers, to know that this town will no longer remain in the shadows, and WE WILL keep watching.

-Felipe Matos

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Family Unity
Posted on JANUARY 31, 2010 by juan post comment
Tags: Juan
January 31, 2010
From Fort White, Fl.

One of the primary things I ever learned about my culture had to do with the importance of FAMILY. I grew up in a home that consisted often of not only my siblings and parents, but also my aunts, sometimes their spouses, and my grandparents. I always try to explain this concept to people here as spending Christmas with your family nearly every day of the year. Not in the sense of the consumerist Christmas, but the more fundamental concept having to do with sharing quality time with family and sharing the love.

It was a completely different history of customs. In Colombia, as is applicable in many places throughout Latin America, most people never move out of the homes of their parents until they get married. Maybe I'm wrong, and this is only something that applied to the social class that I was a part of growing up, but that's a completely different blog. The point was that I was always surrounded by family.

When I arrived in this country I lived with family, lots of family. We lived together for several years as people began to settle in to more stable lifestyles, stable jobs, some getting married and moving out, while others slowly moving into greater forms of independence.

Regardless of the adjustments, I never lost my contact with family. We would get together every other weekend and have different kinds of diversions together: picnics, tourism, jump-roping tournaments, domino tournaments, card games, board games, bar-b-ques, pool parties, tennis, ping pong tournaments... etc.

Growing up in my family was like having a weekly subscription to some sort of theme park and you could always expect new fun experiences, discovering the most valuable aspects of existence along side your cousins, your uncles, your grandfather.

I wasn't ready for them to leave. Most days, I'm still not ready to think back to the day they had to leave the country and try to accept it. Why should anyone accept family separation as natural part of life? Why should pain and isolation ever be a standard emotion associated to someone's childhood?

This weekend, I was able to spend some time with the statewide leaders of the Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER) network. It made me remember my first conversations in this country about family and how people would describe to me their friends as members of their family.

"You mean, your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins don't all live in your city?"

"What do you mean you haven't seen your grandmother since last Thanksgiving?"

"SURELY you couldn't POSSIBLY celebrate the 4th of July without being able to hug your sister!"

I've certainly been exposed to a completely different world, and it took me more than a decade to have anyone come to terms with the fact that I couldn't feel at ease with myself if I didn't stop by my sister's classroom at school every day to see how she was doing or visit her during lunch to tell her that I loved her. Or that, "NO, I CAN'T IMAGINE spending New Year's Eve with anyone OTHER than my family."

It was the losses that I had to suffer to this immigration system that pushed me to ever begin to learn what it meant to see FRIENDS as FAMILY and appreciate that "family" is something that should NEVER be taken lightly or for granted. It happened to me with Students Working for Equal Rights (, coming to the meetings in Miami every week and feeling that finally, there was a group that understood the pain that I was going through and that was committed to work with me to change it.

I'm so incredibly proud of them, and proud of having been part of this group that helped me to evolve as a person and better define the meaning of my existence.

Family means a lot of things to a lot of different people, and I'm not about to begin judging or dictating what that should be to any particular individual. All I know is that I shouldn't have to tolerate losing my cousins any more than I should have to tolerate losing my peers and classmates. Our community is crippled every time any of these people disappear; when they're simply taken from us under no moral basis.

Tell me ONE reason how raids and deportations are making this world a better place? Tell me how displacing people is supposed to be a rational answer?

We need to protect one another and not be afraid to stand in defense of those that have made our lives possible; that have motivated and guided us; that have given us the courage not to give up on existence.

-Juan Rodriguez

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Haiti and Aristide - Why is the U.S. Against Him?



Febuary 10, 2010

Actor, Activist Danny Glover: Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide “Mystified” at US Resistance to His Return

Actor, activist and TransAfrica Forum chair Danny Glover joins us just after returning from South Africa, where he met with the ousted former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Glover reports Aristide wants to come back to his country five years after his ouster in a US-backed coup, but the to complete article

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lawyers Back Creating New Immigration Courts

Published: February 8, 2010
Responding to pleas from immigration judges and lawyers who say the nation’s immigration courts are faltering under a crushing caseload, the American Bar Association called Monday for Congress to scrap the current system and create a new, independent court for immigration to complete article

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Immigrant facilities subpar
Chronicle review shows ICE not enforcing its own standards of care

Feb. 5, 2010, 12:56AM

Luis Dubegel-Paez, a 60-year-old Cuban immigrant, lay on the floor of Rolling Plains Detention Center with no pulse, his face flushed, his pupils dilated.

For months before he collapsed at the detention center near Abilene, he had been complaining to nurses about chest pain and heart problems, asking to see a doctor.

“Can't stand the pain,” Dubegel-Paez wrote on a sick call slip on Jan. 1, 2008.

In response, he was treated by a nurse at the center's medical clinic and given cold medicine. As the weeks passed, he filed more urgent requests to see a doctor...
Link to complete article

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More on Story of Henrietta Lacks and Her Immortal Cancer Cells

Henrietta Lacks' cells have traveled through time, leaving her nameless while many medical institutions and corporations have made millions from her unknowing "donation."
Books of The Times

A Woman’s Undying Gift to Science

Published: February 2, 2010

The best book blurb I’m aware of came from Roy Blount Jr., who said about Pete Dexter’s 1988 novel, “Paris Trout”: “I put it down once to wipe off the sweat.” I’m not sure I know what that means. Was the sweat on Mr. Blount’s forehead? On the dust jacket? On the inside of his fogged-up reading glasses? But I like it. link to complete NYT article

Click here for excerpt to the book

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Old South AFTER Reconstruction

New Book by Naomi Mitchel Carrer

Go Down Old Hannah published by the University of Texas Press

"Go Down Old Hannah, well, well, well!

Doncha rise no more.

If you rise in the mornin',

Bring Judgment Day."

—Traditional prison camp work song by Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter

A book of fifteen plays

about Texas

after Reconstruction. Historical Plays about Real People

The fifteen living history plays in this collection were commissioned by museums and historic sites in Texas to show the interdependence of African American experiences and contributions to the living history of Texas. The plays cover subject matter ranging from slave celebrations, family breakups, and running away, to the Civil War, emancipation, and Reconstruction. Each play is research based and performed by Talking Back Living History Theatre as a festival production. These scripts are easily performed, and author Naomi Mitchell Carrier has included production notes in the overviews that precede each play. Lesson plans are also included, which add to the collection's appeal as a classroom tool.

Living history is a style of instructive and entertaining performance that seeks to bring history to life with the use of costumes, tools, and reenactments appropriate to a specific time period. Done well, living history performances illuminate human experience in powerful, unforgettable ways.

link to excerpt


"Go down old Hannah" Blues song as performed by Leadbelly (Huddie William Ledbetter January 1888 December 6, 1949) The song is about prisoners working in the fields...


Henrietta Lacks and Her Immortal Cancer Cells

February 2, 2010
Second Opinion A Lasting Gift to Medicine That Wasn’t Really a Gift

Fifty years after Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer in the “colored” ward at Johns Hopkins Hospital, her daughter finally got a chance to see the legacy she had unknowingly left to science.

Photo Left: Henrietta Lacks and her husband

A researcher in a lab at Hopkins swung open a freezer door and showed the daughter, Deborah Lacks-Pullum, thousands of vials, each holding millions of cells descended from a bit of tissue that doctors had snipped from her mother’s cervix.

Ms. Lacks-Pullum gasped. “Oh God,” she said. “I can’t believe all that’s my mother.” to complete NYT article

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Washington Post

Sunday Take: The theater in the meeting between Obama and House Republicans

By Dan Balz
Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday's encounter between President Obama and House Republicans proved to be riveting political theater. The question is whether it will be remembered as a moment that began to ease the tensions between the two parties -- or an asterisk in this era of polarized politics.

Obama and House Republicans delivered 90 minutes of sharp but civil give-and-take, a spirited debate on both the substantive differences that divide Republicans and Democrats and a frank discussion about the breakdown of government in the age of the permanent campaign.

Rarely has there been such an encounter between a president and the opposition party and certainly never on national television. It was the antithesis of the kind of snarling exchanges that often pass for political dialogue, whether between strategists in the two parties, candidates in the heat of a campaign or on the worst of cable television...
link to complete article

Trail of DREAMS XIII - Exhaustion or Pregnancy?

I think I’m pregnant…January 31, 2010
Jan 30, 2010

From Gainesville, Fl.

10 Reasons why I might be pregnant

1.I am always hungry
2.I am always craving ice cream- I wish I had some right now…
3.I don’t fit into my pants anymore
4.I have been hyper emotional lately
5.I have swollen feet
6.I have lower back pain
7.My stomach is always making weird noises
8.I have become slightly obsessive- compulsive
9.I see a doctor once a month
10.I haven’t gotten my period

Just a joke to lighten up the mood
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Trail of DREAMS XII - My Real Home

Ecuador is my birthplace but where is my home? January 31, 2010
I celebrated my 25th birthday on January 28. I can honeslty say it was the best birthday of my life time and I could have not celebrated it in another way.

On my birthday I realized three main things. First, I have a family that really loves me. Second, despite what others may echo, I have the most amazing friends in the world. And lastly, no matter where you celebrated birthdays they are always more fun when you are doing something good in your life.

My birthday started at 12:00 AM On January 28, 2010 with a serenade form my father. Him, my sister, her husband, and Jose drove all the way from Miami to Gainesville (a 27 day walk) to see me and wish me a happy birthday. It was a really surprised to me. As I was getting ready to shower, I heard the singing of my father. Puzzled because it sounded toO clear to come from a computer, I came outside to check it out. Once I got to the living room, Carlos and Felipe V. both looked at each other and asked what it was.

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The New York Times

A Radical Treasure

Published: January 29, 2010

I had lunch with Howard Zinn just a few weeks ago, and I’ve seldom had
more fun while talking about so many matters that were unreservedly unpleasant: the sorry state of government and politics in the U.S., the tragic futility of our escalation in Afghanistan, the plight of working people in an economy rigged to benefit the rich and powerful...
Link to complete article

New York Times
Monday, February 1, 2010

Driven to Distraction
With virtually every American owning a
cellphone, distracted driving has become a threat on the nation’s roads. Studies say that drivers using phones are four times as likely to cause a crash as other drivers. Yet Americans have largely ignored that research. Device makers and auto companies acknowledge the risks, but they aggressively develop and market gadgets that cause distractions. Police in almost half of all states make no attempt to gather data on the problem. The federal government warns against talking on a cellphone while driving, but no state legislature has banned it...

link to complete article

Mexico Drug Wars: The Consumer's Responsibility

From San Francisco:
Ciudad Juarez: 2,500 lives in 2009. (Average 6.84 deaths per day in Ciudad Juarez) - Throughout Mexico, drug-related violence has killed more than 15,000 people since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels three years ago. ( Average 41.09 deaths per day throughout Mexico)
I feel that the top of my head will explode sky-high the next time I hear anyone say 'that Mexico needs to fix the drug trafficking problem' or asks 'why Mexico is not fixing.... blah, blah, blah' without going out in full force with a campaign to stop the drug market in the US or at least honestly admits that the demand makes the supply necessary.

Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, is Mexico's deadliest city. Authorities say turf battles between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels are largely responsible for a continuing wave of drug-related violence that cost more than 2,500 lives in 2009.

Throughout Mexico, drug-related violence has killed more than 15,000 people since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown on cartels three years ago.

he Children of Ciudad JuarezIn cities all across the US, the Newspaper Headlines scream news of the drug-related violence in Ciudad Juares and that's good, people need to know what's going on there, however, in the columns that I read, I have not come across headlines screaming that there is such a thing as "The Laws Of Supply And Demand", I only hear profusely about the Supply, but there is a deafening silence about the Demand, specifically, that the USA is the Market where the Demand for Drugs is what makes possible the Supply from Mexico, or that the USA is the largest arms dealer and it is primarily responsible for the guns that end up in the hands of the Drug Suppliers who are doing the killing.

Now, when are we going to hear that the USA is going after the demand? Let's not forget, all that river of cash has to be going through somewhere, but I don't see how this could be accomplished without going through some banks.

What is the DEA is doing to crack down on this here in the USA? the FBI? Hmmmm, mum is the word.

Jan. 31, 2010:
13 young students killed at party in Mexico border
Feb. 1, 2010: At least 23 people were killed in separate mass shootings in northern Mexico as the country continued to reel from drug-related violence.

In Ciudad Juarez, gunmen drove up to a house where a high school party was in full swing and opened fire killing 13 people and wounding 17 others, the city public safety agency said.

Most of the victims were "youngsters," said the Chihuahua state attorney general's office.

It was the third mass shooting of youngsters in Mexico since September when, within two weeks, 28 youths were killed in two separate shootings at drug rehabilitation centers.

Most of the victims were students aged between 19 and 25, authorities said.

The war waged by several powerful drug cartels in Mexico has already left 15,000 people dead. The government has deployed 50,000 troops and thousands of police in an effort to put the violence under control.

Jan. 5, 2010:
Gunman kill 13 people in single day in border city of Ciudad Juarez

Jan. 12, 2010:
Mexico’s Drug War Has 69 People Murdered In One Day
Mexico opened the new year with what could be its most dubious distinction yet in the 3-year-old battle against drug trafficking — 69 murders in one day.

The country resembled a grim, statistical dart board Saturday as law enforcement and media reported the deaths from various regions, including 26 in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, 13 in and around Mexico City and 10 in the northern city of Chihuahua.

More than 6,500 drug-related killings made 2009 the bloodiest year since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in late 2006 and deployed 45,000 soldiers to fight organized crime, according to death tallies by San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute
Nov. 14, 2009: 15 people killed in 1 day in Mexican border city
15 people, including child, 3 women, killed in 1 day in Mexican border city
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — Authorities say a 7-year-old boy, three women and a university professor are among 15 people who were killed in a single day in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez.

Sept. 3, 2009:
17 patients killed in shooting at Mexican drug rehab center

And it goes on, and on, and on... And the USA MSM silent about the Demand for Drugs in the good old USA, what? USA arm dealers?

"Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets."
-- Napoleon Bonaparte

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