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CRLN has been trying to get co-sponsors on HR1945, the Berta Caceres Human Rights and Honduras Act. Representatives Rush, Lipinski, Garcia, Quigley, Danny Davis, Schakowsky, and Foster have already signed on. If your rep. has not signed on, please respond to the following action alert. 

Currently, Honduras has erupted in reaction against calls for further privatization of health and education. Our friends at SOA Watch have issued a call to action and thorough report on the situation which we re-post here:

Take action: (From SOAW – complete article follows)

  1. If your Representativeis not a co-sponsor of HR 1945, which would suspend US security aid to Honduras, please ask him/her to do so. Call the Congressional Switchboard – 202-224-3121, ask for your Representative’s office, and then the foreign policy aide.  Ask that the staffer request your Representative co-sponsor HR 1945, the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, and to let you know when they decide to do so.
  2. Call your Senators (Capitol Switchboard: 202- 224-3121) and ask them to oppose continued US backing of the Honduran regime and take the next opportunity to cut US military and security aid to Honduras.

 

Since late April, teachers, doctors, and medical workers in Honduras have been demonstrating against the privatization of education and medical services. The demonstrations in defense of public education and health services have grown into massive and ongoing national mobilizations demanding the resignation of Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.

US-backed economic policies – such as privatization policies promoted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) – are at the heart of the current crisis in Honduras. Furthermore, it is US political, economic, and military backing of the Hernandez regime that enables him to maintain his grip on power. Honduran social movement leader Carlos H Reyes recently said, ”The United States government is too brazen in the case of Honduras, throwing a lifeline to a dying regime. If it were not for them, the regime would have already fallen.”  With massive demonstrations ongoing against the regime, the US Embassy in Honduras recently announced the arrival of nearly 300 US Marines and others with the US Southern Command’s rapid response force to Honduras and surrounding countries.  The US Marines will conduct ‘training and security cooperation’ with the Honduran security forces, which routinely fire live bullets at teachers and other civilians during demonstrations.

Read more about the US and IMF role in the current situation in Honduras here.

As Honduran economist Hugo Noé Pino and sociologist Eugenio Sosa wrote in a recent article: “The current conflictive situation in the education and health sectors in Honduras has its background in social policies since 2010. The budgets of both sectors have decreased during current decade. For example, spending on education by the central government was 32.9% of the total in 2010 and in the approved budget for 2019 it is 19.9%. Health spending was reduced from 14.3% to 9.7% in the same period.” Notably, this startling decline in education and health spending occurred following the 2009 coup d’etat carried out by SOA graduates. During this same period ‘security’ and defense spending have increased.

The situation in public hospitals is notoriously disastrous due to lack of equipment, medicine, and supplies. In fact, it is so bad that doctors report operating by the light of cell phones and there have been reports of newborn babies having to be placed in cardboard boxes or two per bassinet. There are schools that are falling down and in disrepair.

The dramatic reductions in social spending combined with the increased cost of living is one of the factors that leads thousands to leave Honduras in hopes of working in the United States. Ironically, the head of the IMF Mission that recently visited Honduras celebrated that Honduras’ GDP grew in 2018 ‘supported by private consumption, which was driven by an important growth of international remittances’.  Indeed, there is no denying that the IMF and US-backed neoliberal policies of privatization and reducing public spending benefit the economic elite and result in migration of the general population, leading to increased remittances upon which the economy will increasingly be based.  One must wonder if this is actually their unstated goal for improving the economy — make the situation so bad people leave and then they’ll send home remittances.

Another source of indignation is the corruption and criminal groups that pervade the Honduran government. President Hernandez’s brother, Tony Hernandez, was arrested by the US in 2018 and is currently awaiting trial in New York for drug trafficking. Court documents recently filed in that case revealed a US Drug Enforcement Agency investigation of President Hernandez and others close to him, including SOA graduate Security Minister Julian Pacheco. Numerous public corruption scandals have rocked the country, but Hernandez and his inner circle have remained untouched. Meanwhile, those who speak out and defend the rights of the population are shot at, criminalized, and threatened with death. Read more here.

Take action:

  1. If your Representative is not a co-sponsor of HR 1945, which would suspend US security aid to Honduras, please ask him/her to do so. Call the Congressional Switchboard – 202-224-3121, ask for your Representative’s office, and then the foreign policy aide.  Ask that the staffer request your Representative co-sponsor HR 1945, the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, and to let you know when they decide to do so.
  2. Call your Senators (Capitol Switchboard: 202- 224-3121) and ask them to oppose continued US backing of the Honduran regime and take the next opportunity to cut US military and security aid to Honduras.

Thank you,

SOA Watch 

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WBEZ has decided to end Jerome McDonnell’s “Worldview” program at the end of August. We are in shock. Where else can we regularly hear interviews with such a diverse group of people—activists, academics, artists, cultural critics– from all over the world, talking about important issues from perspectives that are not usually broadcast on other programs.

Please sign the change.org petition found at this linkhttp://chng.it/gKBw45JF-to keep “Worldview on the air.

The official Save Worldview site asks for written support as well: —https://saveworldview.org/–!

Jerome has interviewed many of the guests from Honduras, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Cuba that CRLN has invited to speak in Chicago, amplifying their voices to reach many more people than could possibly be reached otherwise with their on-the-ground analysis of what is happening in their countries. We don’t want to lose this valuable resource in Chicago.

We think the petition will need over 10,000 signatures to have an impact on WBEZ decision makers.
Please forward the links–http://chng.it/gKBw45JF— https://saveworldview.org/t—o your friends.
Many people love this show and will sign if they learn about the plans to end it.

Featured in the Photo is Jerome and interviewee Alex Escobar, a Guatemalan Environmental Activist and Becky Kaump

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The US has a long record of intervening in El Salvador’s affairs, from taking the side of dictators in civil conflicts to attempting to influence elections after the Peace Accords were signed and democracy was restored in the 1990’s,  US government representatives have frequently threatened to cut off US aid or remittances sent home by Salvadorans living in the US unless they voted for the right-wing ARENA party.  Currently, President Trump’s frequent threats to cut aid to El Salvador are being used by the right-wing media in El Salvador as part of a smear campaign against the current administration in El Salvador (FMLN party) and as a way to intimidate voters in the February 3 Presidential elections.

Representatives Grijalva (D-AZ), Beyer (D-VA) and Serrano (D-NY) are circulating a Congressional  sign-on letter, calling on the Trump Administration to refrain from positioning themselves in any sort of partisan manner or making any statements to influence the decision of Salvadoran voters ahead of the elections. Please call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask to be connected to your U.S. Representative’s office, ask to speak to the Foreign Policy staff member, and tell them why your Representative should sign onto this letter. If the Foreign Policy Staff member is not available, ask to be connected to their voice mail and leave a message or ask for their email and send your message to them in writing.

If you do not know the name of your representative, click here to find out.

Here is a sample script:

“Hi, my name is ________ and I am a constituent of Rep. _______. Representatives Grijalva, Beyer, and Serrano are circulating a Congressional sign-on letter calling on the Trump Administration to respect the democratic process in El Salvador in their upcoming February 3rd elections. Unfortunately, there has been a history in past elections of Republican Administrations making threats to cut off aid, deport Salvadorans from the U.S., or not allow Salvadorans living here to send money to family members in El Salvador if Salvadorans support candidates who are left of center and don’t vote for right-wing candidates.  Because many Salvadorans depend on money they receive from relatives in the U.S. for basic necessities, these public statements are frightening and can sway people’s votes. The U.S. should not interfere in another sovereign nation’s elections in this way.

We need Rep. ______ to sign onto this letter to let the Salvadoran people know that the U.S. will respect their democratic process. The deadline for signing on is this Friday, January 25. You can call Marilyn.Zepeda@mail.house.gov to sign on.”

To be most effective, follow up your phone call with an email and ask the Foreign Policy staff to let you know when your Representative makes a decision about signing on. Please copy shunter-smith@crln.org so CRLN can track the effectiveness of our network.

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American Promise Act of 2017 (H.R. 4253) – House of Representatives

SECURE Act (S.2144) – Senate

 

Action: Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask to be connected to the office of your U.S. Representative, and ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 4253, or thank them if they have already signed on. Representatives Kelly, Gutierrez, Quigley, Davis and Schakowsky of Illinois have already signed on.  Repeat the calls to the offices of your Senators. In Illinois, Senator Duckworth has signed on, but Senator Durbin has not. 

 

Background: Until the recent past, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for renewable periods of 6 to 18 months to immigrant applicants from countries in which civil unrest, violence, epidemic or natural disasters made it unsafe for them to return to their countries. In return, immigrants could get registration documents and authorization to work. Up through January 1, 2017, there were people from 13 countries eligible for TPS.

Under the Trump Administration, DHS is conducting a country by country review to assess whether or not to extend TPS. So far, DHS has ruled that TPS holders from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Sudan will have to leave the U.S., despite continuing violence or lack of recovery from natural disasters in their countries of origin. TPS will continue for Syrians who came to the U.S. before August 2016, but those who came after that date cannot apply for TPS, despite the continuation of the war.

 

Bill summary: H.R. 4253 would change the status of eligible immigrants from 13 countries with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to a status of LPR, lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Immigrants would be eligible to apply if they were granted or were eligible for TPS status, or granted DED, on or before October 1, 2017. Immigrants must apply for this status change within 3 years of the bill’s date of enactment. After 5 years of LPR status, immigrants could apply to become U.S. citizens.

 

Status: Currently, it has 116 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, is in the House Judiciary Committee, and has been referred to the Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. In the Senate, it has 22 co-sponsors and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Below are some talking points you can use:

  1. TPS holders have been in the U.S. for a long time and are well integrated into U.S. communities: Most TPS recipients have been in the U.S. for at least 15 years and many over a couple of decades. They have married U.S. citizens and/or have U.S. citizen children who were born here. It makes sense to naturalize TPS holders rather than deport them and separate them from their families and communities.
  2. TPS holders contribute a great deal to the U.S. economy. In addition, 88.5% of TPS holders are in the labor force, higher than the national average. They have jobs that are essential to the economic health of the U.S.Salvadoran, Honduran, and Haitian TPS recipients alone are projected to contribute an estimated $164 billion to America’s GDP over the next decade, according to the American Immigration Council. The AFSC cites the $6.9 billion they contribute to Social security and Medicare. They pay income taxes. Their work is integral to large industries such as construction, home health care, and hospitality.
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