On April 13 and 14, 2018, the Quixote Center Reunion gathered long-standing QC friends and former and current staff members to celebrate our shared history of pursuing impossible dreams. If it felt at times like a high school or college class reunion, there is a good reason. Since its founding 42 years ago, the Quixote Center has often functioned as a school where young, idealistic people learned about the nuts and bolts of working for peace and justice.
News & Events
More on this tomorrow, but...today, on the National Day of Prayer, Trump ushered into being a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative to attend to “poverty, religious liberty, education, strengthening the family, helping prisoners, mental health and human trafficking.”
I’m sure they’ll do a great job.
Over the last week there have been a number of stories that have illustrated the ways in which the Trump administration’s war on immigrants is having a disproportionate impact on children. From continuing a hard line against the caravan of migrants, mostly people fleeing violence in Honduras, to the shocking admission that the administration lost track of 1,500 immigrant children last year, the war on immigration is hurting families, and doing so with the intention of discouraging their claims for asylum in the United States.
The NICA Act is legislation proposed by Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the U.S. Senate (a version has already passed in the House) that would require the U.S. representatives at multilateral institutions to vote against new loans for Nicaragua (at the World Bank and IMF that means a veto). The NICA Act is in response to U.S. “concerns” over electoral manipulation by the Sandinistas, and would require suspension of assistance until democratic reforms are undertaken.
As many people – certainly most likely to be reading this – already know, Nicaragua was roiled by protests that turned violent over the last week. Estimates are that 34 people have been killed, most on Friday and Saturday as the conflict extended throughout the country, though the majority of deaths were still in Managua. Sunday, President Ortega announced that the reform of the social security system that set off the protest would be annulled and new negotiations begun.
Environmental changes have always been a driving force for migration. From natural disasters to drought and flooding, changes in the environment impact lives and livelihoods, forcing people to abandon their homes. Over the last 40 years there has been a dramatic increase in the number of people forced to migrate as a result of environmental factors. Catastrophic storms are more common, areas suffering from prolonged drought have tripled in the last 40 years, and rising sea levels put coastal communities at risk.
Over the last few days Trump has been tweeting and fuming over a caravan of migrants crossing through Mexico. Some, not all, may try to gain access to the United States, seeking asylum from economic marginalization and political violence in Central America. Nearly 80% of the 1,200 caravan participants are from Honduras.
"Life here is very hard when we harvest fruits and vegetables. The sun burns so much and we get weak, and you get irritated from so much heat. And despite that we have to work all day putting up with the fatigue, dehydration and hunger. I’ll also tell you that it’s very sad to be far from our land which is Mexico… and our loved ones like my parents, my wife and my son. But we’re here working hard so that we can support our family… and well, it’s very hard to be a farmworker, and sad because you work from sun up to sundown in the fields."
Bioparques workers who spoke to Times reporter Richard Marosi for an investigation published December 10, 2014, described subhuman conditions, with workers forced to work without pay, trapped for months at a time in scorpion-infested camps, often without beds, fed on scraps, and beaten when they tried to quit. (Harper's Magazine, 2016)
We are quite happy with the quality and taste of the tomatoes we are sourcing from Mexico. (Wendy's spokesperson, 2016)
“We started around four [4:00] to four thirty [4:30] in the morning,” one worker reported. “I heard someone say ‘it’s raining,’ I didn’t feel anything but I could smell it. I could smell a chemical smell like a garden product. I heard a plane or helicopter I never saw it but I heard it. I did have symptoms, my head was hurting, and my eyes were itchy and really watery.”