They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. - Isaiah 2: 4
Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI), the Beehive Collective, and the Presbyterian Hunger Program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) joined together to organize two touring teams speaking to issues of food economy and human rights struggles in Central America and the U.S. heartland, toured in the Northeast and Midwest from November 2-17, and then converged on the annual vigil at the School of the Americas Watch at Ft. Benning in GA, Nov 18-20. Other sponsors included School of the Americas Watch New England, Oxfam America and Grassroots International.
Many joined us in fellowship to make connections between economic justice and peacemaking through popular education and stories of people from Guatemala and the fields of the United States!
Selfa Sándoval of SITRABI, a banana workers union from Morales, Guatemala and
Isabel Díaz-Ubillús a Peruvian organizer and educator for rural women, among water workers and member of the progressive Andean youth organization (JUNANDINA).
These voices from Guatemala and Peru joined by U.S. farmer and farm worker spokespersons, was complimented with multimedia presentations by popular educator/ artists from the Beehive Collective. We explored the contemporary meaning of James 5: 3-4: You have laid up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the farm laborers, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.
Northeast Tour: Event Windows
Nov 2-5, Events in the Boston, MA-Providence, RI area
Nov 6, Worcester MA area
Nov 7, New Hampshire
Nov 8-12 Vermont, Western Mass
Nov 13-16 New York State, New York City, Maryland, Virginia
Nov 17- North Carolina, northern Georgia)
Nov 18-20 School of the Americas, Georgia
Nov 2-5 Kentuckiana
Nov 6-8 Ohio, Indiana, southern Wisconsin
Nov 9-11 Iowa
Nov 12-14 Missouri
Nov 15-17 Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia
Nov 18-20 School of the Americas, Georgia
Context and Backgrounds on Participating Organizations:
Guatemalan history: Rural peoples in Mesoamerica (southern Mexico and Central America), those peoples who domesticated maize and invented nixtamal for Tortillas and Tamales millenia ago, have experienced 510 years of conquest and oppression. In 1954, the United Fruit Company (now called Chiquita Brands), then the largest landowner in the country primarily invested in the banana industry, used its close ties to the Eisenhower administration to encourage a US-sponsored military overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan government. The country was taken over by a right-wing dictator and plunged into a 36-year civil war costing the lives of an estimated 200,000 people, mostly indigenous peasants. Peace accords were signed in the 90s, but the road to peace and a shared abundant life is still rocky.
SITRABI: Unfortunately, violence is still used to protect the interests of the banana
companies. Selfa Sándoval currently works at the SITRABI union headquarters in the town of Morales. It was in these same headquarters that 20 union leaders were made to resign at gunpoint in October, 1999. A group of 200-armed men carried out the attack on the eve of a large-scale job action organized by the union to oppose the layoff of 1,000 workers on three unionized plantations. The armed thugs also forced union leaders to read a statement on local radio calling off the workplace action and telling workers to return to work. The five elected leaders of the union eventually received political asylum in the United States. The three plantations at the source of the original dispute were turned over to "independent" producers paying a fraction of the wages and no benefits. One of the leaders of the armed gang is reportedly running one of the plantations. Selfa and her fellow union leaders who stepped up after the attack are well into the difficult and dangerous process of rebuilding their organization.
JUNANDINA: Peruvian social movements of youth and workers are struggling against attempts to consolidate imposition of exploitative economic policies, as Peruvian society tries to find a way out of widespread impoverishment left in the wake of the violent years of dictatorship, military and guerrilla violence. International Financial Institutions such as the IMF and WB have had a succession of willing and submissive governments intent on privatizing state assets, including water, but coalitions of Peruvian social movements including youth and state water workers among others have successfully fended off water privatization. Rural women are also raising awareness and empowering themselves to strengthen the grassroots movements. Isabel works with all these sectors as a kind of catalyst and facilitator for change.
Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI), is a 75 year old ecumenical organization that accompanies rural peoples’ organizations and North American churches. This will be the fourth Justice Tour organized by AMI. One of the mandates of AMI is to raise consciousness in U.S. society, including in the churches, to the nature of the struggles being undertaken by rural peoples' organizations and social movements, both within the U.S. and abroad. AMI has been deeply involved in advocating for and accompanying the struggles of small farmers, farmworkers, indigenous peoples and rural women's organizations.
The Beehive Collective is a wildly-motivated, all-volunteer, art-activist workshop that has gained international attention and participation for its collaboratively produced graphics campaigns focused on globalization and militarization. We use elaborately illustrated graphics and an engaging narrative to expose the connections between COLONIZATION, MILITARIZATION and RESOURCE EXTRACTION in the Americas. Join in as the Bees deconstruct the complex and overwhelming issues that are shaping our world using metaphors and bio-regionally accurate depictions of animals and insects - it's a storytelling picture-lecture to be understood by anyone, not just the experts and political analysts!
For thirty-six years, the PHP has provided a channel through which Presbyterians can be engaged in the fight against hunger worldwide. A ministry of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the PHP works to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes, responding with compassion and justice to poor and hungry people around the world. Current Special Programs include: Joining Hands Against Hunger, The Food & Faith Initiative, The Campaign for Fair Food, Enough for Everyone, and Just Trade.
I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality.
2 Corinthians 13-14