Interview On KBRP-LP Bisbee

On the last night of 2006 I recorded an interview with Noah Suby for his show on Bisbee, AZ's low power radio station, 96.1 KBRP. It's a unique project, one I support any way that I can, it's one-of-a-kind in its area (south of Tucson). Noah and his family are great people, and Bisbee is almost an adopted home town for me at this point. It was a good time to say the least. We talked a bit about the area, about immigration and other things. I also read some poems, one of which, "Taxco, Something in the Sky" is very new. Noah wrote to say that the interview is going to be aired again this Saturday, January 20th at 3pm Arizona time (MST). You can listen in, thanks to KBRP's live streaming, which is a very cool thing for an LP station to have. Sooner or later a CD-R of the interview will make it to Mexico, and when it does, I'll post the audio here as well. Hasta entonces. Happy Wednesday.

Border Policies Claim the Lives of 205 Migrants in Arizona Alone

Released recently from los compañeros de la Coalición de Derechos Hermanos: In the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2005 and ended on September 30, 2006, two hundred five migrant deaths were documented in Arizona. Numbers from the Pima, Yuma, and Cochise County 152 males, 48 females, and 5 individuals whose gender is still unknown. This also includes the documented deaths of 8 children, whose number make up approximately 4% of the total number of migrant deaths this past fiscal year.

Most tragic is the alarming number of unidentified migrants who die on the Arizona-Sonora border. This fiscal year’s count included 93 migrants whose identities are as of yet unknown, 45% of the total number of migrant casualties. Since 1995, more than 1/3 of all border deaths remain unidentified.

“In addition to the pain caused by the unnecessary deaths of hundreds of men, women and children in our communities every year, is the agony that comes with not knowing the identity of so many,” says Anna Ochoa O’Leary of Derechos Humanos. “Hundreds and hundreds of families must endure the torture of not knowing what has become of their loved ones.”

As the immigration “debate” continues to provide fuel for political positioning as the elections near, the human rights crisis continues to be ignored, or worse, in some instances used as justification for calls for more militarization of our border. Xenophobic and racist rhetoric is routinely given free range, while demands from border communities for meaningful dialogue on these issues have received no attention.

As a small, non-profit human rights organization that seeks to bring change and justice to the border, Coalición de Derechos Humanos began in 2003 to systematically document the deaths along the Arizona/Sonora. For twelve years our bloated federal agencies have refused to provide true accounting for the deaths, as corroborated by the GAO in its latest study, Border-Crossing Deaths Have Doubled Since 1995; Border Patrol’s Efforts to Prevent Deaths Have Not Been Fully Evaluated.

“We call upon our communities to come together in our demand that our leaders put an end to border deaths by implementing immigration and economic policy reform that address the issue of migration, and by immediately demilitarizing our borders. As we have witnessed for more than a decade, and as the increasing loss of human life serves to attest, our current border agencies are rich in resources, and extremely poor in human decency, failing in their obligations to humanity,” stated O’Leary.

The list of migrant deaths is available on the Derechos Humanos website: This information is available to anyone who requests it from us and is used by our organization to further raise awareness of the human rights crisis we are facing on our borders.

Razing the House to Fix the Broken Door

On the eve of our Congress passing a “comprehensive immigration reform package,” and just about a week after our President gave a rare speech from the Oval Office calling for the same, this country has still not come to grips with the true nature of what we are about to undertake. The stakes are far higher than immigration or even border security, however even at this late hour few recognize the effect of what we are about to do.

President Bush defined in his speech last Monday the five elements he sees as comprising “comprehensive” reform. Among them, border security, a guest worker program and a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants already working in our country. It occurs to me that while Bush currently has the lowest approval rating of any president ever, we can consider ourselves at least mildly lucky to have a President now who is a former governor of a border state. We’ve already seen the proposals that equally radical conservatives without border experience have come up with: Santorum and Sensenbrenner just to name two.

Regardless, the current “immigration debate” in this country is laughably limited. In a political climate controlled by fear and religious radicalism, deporting 11 million people is presented as a reasonable part of the solution while our country’s role in destabilizing Latin America economically—and thus causing much of the immigration ourselves—is never mentioned.

But at this late hour we’re lead to believe that the “debate” has been defined, and it’s the details that our lawmakers still have to hash out for us. What worries me most is the guest worker program. Of course there must be a way for people to enter this country legally to work. It is both a personal necessity for them and a necessity for our entire economy. But we’re missing what a guest worker program as currently proposed would really be.

A guest worker program without a path to citizenship would be the formal murder of the American Dream. Further, we would be codifying an American caste system the likes of which haven’t been seen since slavery. If we invite poor workers to come into this country to work in our restaurants, pick our food, build our homes, maintain our roads, clean our buildings and in the same stroke of the pen deny them any chance to be come full, voting citizens of our country, where does our democracy stand?

It is the era of doublespeak. Under the guest worker program, employees would be tied to their employers for their status in this country. We once had another name for this system in this country, though it’s long out of fashion and longer out of use: indentured servitude.

How likely is a guest worker to report his or her employer to the government for withholding wages, if that worker knows that he or she could lose their right to be in this country? How likely is an indentured servant to report abuses when they fear the same? If we legally create a foreign working underclass, how far off could wide-spread discrimination and racism really be?

And, it cannot be mentioned enough, we tried this type of system before, not even that long ago. But how often do you hear the Bracero Program and its failure mentioned in the current debate?

All of this, however, isn’t very surprising. It is also the era of burning down a house to fix a broken door. Codifying an American underclass is seen as the only way to solve the immigration issue just as NSA wiretapping, the USA PATRIOT Act and the wholesale loss of civil liberties is billed as the only way to fight terrorism.

Many argue that the American dream has been dead a long time. As the chasm between the rich and the poor continues to swallow the middle class whole, I suspect they are right. But if we pass a law destroying this critical part of our national mythology, our country will have turned a corner and embarked down a path that we may never come back from.

Denver immigrant rally

Fotos from yesterday's immigrant rights rally in Denver, CO. Over 75,000 were in attendance, making it Denver's largest public rally ever. I attended with the infamous Ken Arkind, and it was awesome. The Denver Post has this to say. Thanks to Katie FS and Cindy for the sandwiches. denver rights rally

denver rights rally

denver rights rally

denver rights rally

denver rights rally

denver rights rally

Listen to this Now


In honor of today's May Day events, I'm posting an audio file online that I'd like you to listen to.

Variations on Thirst: "And I Walked..." 6:06, 7mb

This is a radio story produced by Kara Oehler and Anne Hepperman, two talented friends of mine from the Flagstaff days. The story debuted at the Third Coast International Audio Festival as a shortdoc in a few years ago, the theme that year was "thirst." It is narrarated by Charles Bowden, a well-known hombre fronterizo. More of his work can be found in this series of stories.

In these days of debate, we must remember that desperate people will always do desperate things. If it was your children who didn't have enough to eat, you'd cross a desert too. It's time for immigration reform based on this reality. It's time to remember the human face of the "issue." Thanks to Kara for permission to post the story here.

A Day Without Immigrants

español sigue abajo For Immediate Release

Tucson May 1st Coalition Joins International “Day Without Immigrants”

Tucson- More than 22 local allied organizations will unite on May 1st to commemorate the International Day of the Worker, otherwise known as May Day, by joining in an economic boycott and work stoppage for immigrant rights. Dubbed, “A Day Without Immigrants,” participants will refrain from making any purchases, sending money abroad, making phone calls to or from México, and going to work or school. These actions are part of an internationally-coordinated boycott of American goods intended as a wake up call for the U.S. Congress to acknowledge the vital role of immigrants as co-workers, neighbors and members of society.

“The Boycott will send a message that immigrants and our communities cannot support pending compromise immigration proposals which offer legalization for a limited few and second class status for immigrant workers under exploitative “guestworker” programs,” said Sebastian Quinac , a volunteer with the Tucson May 1st Coalition. The unprecedented mobilizations of undocumented immigrants over the last several weeks have improved the proposals in Congress, but organizers say that all of the current proposals contain numerous repressive measures which intensify the policing of all workers and their families at their work sites, schools, in their neighborhoods and along the heavily militarized U.S.-Mexico border.

Boycott demands include legalization for all immigrants, the protection of human, labor and civil rights for all, an end to deadly border militarization policies which have directly resulted in the deaths of 4,000 people and a rejection of H.R. 4437 and other repressive proposals now in the U.S. Congress. The May 1st Coalition also seeks to stop the attacks on immigrants in the Arizona state legislature.

The Coalition invites the community to Armory Park on May 1st to participate in a youth teach-in, music and spoken word concert, community service booths and voter registration, ending with an evening interfaith prayer vigil.

“Immigrant workers, students and families are making incredible sacrifices to raise their voices for themselves and future generations, in the face of raids, recriminations and disciplinary actions from the Migra, employers and schools,” said Consuelo Aguilar, a University of Arizona student participating in the Boycott.

May 1st Coalition members include: Alianza Braceroproa, Barrio Viejo Neighborhood Association, Community Food Bank, Derechos Humanos, PCIC, AFSC-Arizona, Su Voz Vale, Fundación México, Promotoras de Derechos Humanos, Las Adelitas, No More Deaths, Tucson Jobs with Justice, Salt of the Earth Labor College, Center for Biological Diversity, WILPF, MEChA (U of A., Pima College, Tucson High), Defeat 200, National Writers Union, Wingspan, NAACP, Dry River Collective, LULAC, Cesar E. Chavez Holiday Coalition, SEIU, Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, Tucson Club of the CPUSA, Pan Left Productions, Acorn, Steelworkers Union, U of A. SACASA and Peregrinos Juntos. ###

Qué: Conferencia de Prensa Cuando: Jueves 27 de Abril de 2006, 10:00 am Donde: Centro Armory Park (220 S. 5th Ave.)

La Coalición 1ro de Mayo de Tucson se Une al Internacional “Día Sin Inmigrantes”

Tucson- Más de 22 organizaciones locales se unirán el 1ro de Mayo para conmemorar el Día Internacional de los Trabajadores, también conocido como Día de Mayo, uniéndo en un boicot económico y en un paro laboral por los derechos del inmigrante. En el nombrado “Un Día Sin Inmigrantes” los participantes se abstendrán de hacer cualquiera compra, de mandar dinero al exterior, de hacer llamadas telefónicas para o de México, y yendo a trabajar o a la escuela. Estas acciones forman parte de un boicot internacionalmente coordinado de productos Americanos con la intención de hacer un llamado que despierte al congreso de los EE.UU. para que reconozca el papel esencial de los inmigrantes como compañeros de trabajo, vecinos y miembros de la sociedad.

“El Boicot mandará un mensaje que inmigrantes y nuestras comunidades no pueden apoyar las propuestas pactadas de inmigración pendientes que ofrecen legalización para un grupo limitado y de un status de segunda categoría para trabajadores inmigrantes bajo el explotador programa de “trabajador huésped,” dijo Sebastián Quinac, un voluntario de la Coalición 1ro de Mayo de Tucson. Las movilizaciones sin precedentes de inmigrantes indocumentados en las últimas semanas han mejorado las propuestas en el Congreso, pero los organizadores dicen que todas las propuestas actuales contienen numerosas medidas represivas que intensifican la vigilancia de todos los trabajadores y sus familias en sus sitios de trabajo, en las escuelas, en sus vecindarios y a lo largo de la fuertemente militarizada frontera entre EE.UU.- México.

Las demandas del boicot incluyen legalización para todos los inmigrantes, la protección de los derechos humanos, laborales y civiles para todos, un fin a políticas de militarización fronterizas mortales que han tenido como resultado directo las muertes de 4.000 personas, y un rechazo a la H.R. 4437 y otras propuestas represivas que están ahora en el Congreso de los EE.UU. La Coalición 1ro de Mayo también procura parar los ataques hacia los inmigrantes en la legislatura estatal de Arizona.

La Coalición invita a la comunidad al Armory Park este 1ro de Mayo para que participe en los talleres juveniles, la música y el concierto, mesas informativas de servicio comunitario y registración para votar, terminando en la tarde con una vigilia interfé de oración.

“Los trabajadores inmigrantes, los estudiantes y las familias están haciendo sacrificios increíbles para alzar sus voces por sí mismos y por generaciones futuras, enfrentando redadas, recriminaciones y acciones disciplinarias de la Migra, los empleadores y las escuelas,” dijo Consuelo Aguilar, un estudiante de la Universidad de Arizona que toma parte en el Boicot.

Miembros de la Coalición 1ro de Mayo: Alianza Braceroproa, Barrio Viejo Neighborhood Association, Community Food Bank, Derechos Humanos, PCIC, AFSC-Arizona, Su Voz Vale, Fundación México, Promotoras de Derechos Humanos, Las Adelitas, No More Deaths, Tucson Jobs with Justice, Salt of the Earth Labor College, Center for Biological Diversity, WILPF, MEChA (U of A., Pima College, Tucson High), Defeat 200, National Writers Union, Wingspan, NAACP, Dry River Collective, LULAC, Cesar E. Chavez Holiday Coalition, SEIU, Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, Tucson Club of the CPUSA, Pan Left Productions, Acorn, Steelworkers Union, U of A. SACASA and Peregrinos Juntos.


foto 10abril2006

Border lights. Naco, Sonora / Arizona. The lights of the border wall on the outskirts of Naco, Sonora / Arizona as seen from Arizona State Route 92.

un momento de brecht

El peor analfabeto es el analfabeto político. No oye, no habla, no participa de los acontecimientos políticos. No sabe que el costo de la vida, el precio del poroto, del pan, de la harina, del vestido, del zapato y de los remedios, dependen de decisiones políticas. El analfabeto político es tan burro que se enorgullece y ensancha el pecho diciendo que odia la política. No sabe que de su ignorancia política nace la prostituta, el menor abandonado y el peor de todos los bandidos que es el político corrupto, mequetrefe y lacayo de las empresas nacionales y multinacionales. --Bertolt Brecht

Mainstream America Suddenly Notices Immigration

Southeastern Arizona This is an exciting and scary time. Finally, the largely ignored working underclass of this country has been provoked into organizing and demanding that their voices be heard. It's like my neighborhood is suddenly at the center of a debate that has caused some of the largest protests in American history. You can bet I'll be writing on this, I'll also be posting some of the articles I've been reading as all of this is unfolding. Hit this, let's talk about this:

First, a round up from the Mexico Solidarity Network, current as of 26marzo:


More than 500,000 demonstrators (according to police - organizers claim a million) clogged downtown Los Angeles on Saturday demanding immigration reform favorable to 12 million undocumented workers currently living in the US. The largest demonstration in the history of Los Angeles came on the heals of similarly historic mobilizations in Chicago (200,000), Milwaukee (30,000), Atlanta (80,000 immigrants participated in a day-long strike), Phoenix (officially 20,000, though probably many more as the march closed the downtown area), Denver (50,000), Washington, DC (30,000), and dozens of other cities. Late last year, the House passed the Sensenbrenner Bill, which would criminalize undocumented workers, fine employers and build a 700-mile wall along the border. President Bush endorsed the bill, but has been less clear recently as he promotes an ill-defined guest worker program that would accompany the more draconian measures. Republicans are divided. Big business (particularly corporate farmers, meat-packers, hotel and restaurant owners, and construction companies) is demanding access to cheap labor, while overtly racist conservatives want to preserve the predominant culture. Democrats are also divided. Sen. Ted Kennedy (joined by Republican John McCain) supports a path to citizenship for undocumented workers who pay a fine, settle back taxes, and learn English, while Sen. Dianne Feinstein supports more limited reforms that would allow agricultural workers to harvest fruits and vegetables in California?s central valley. On Monday, the debate will be centered in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where there seems to be little chance for compromise among widely divergent opinions. President Fox claims the Bush administration is on the verge of breakthrough immigration reform, but Fox is playing to a domestic audience in the midst of a presidential campaign in which the PAN candidate trails badly. As Congressional elections approach in the US, comprehensive reform is unlikely. It may take more time for the burgeoning immigrant rights movement to make its weight felt in the halls of Congress.

Missing so far from the debate is a clear understanding of immigration dynamics. More than 500,000 undocumented workers enter the US each year from Mexico, a direct result of neoliberal policies promoted by the Bush administration via the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and NAFTA. Nearly one percent of the Mexican workforce leaves for the US each year because Mexico?s export-oriented economy provides no alternatives for millions of workers. Until the US ends its insistence on neoliberal policies that result in an upward concentration of national resources, immigration will be the only option for millions of poor families.

Also largely missing from the debate is the extreme exploitation of undocumented workers. Many immigrants work in factories and restaurants using false identification. Employers deduct social security from their paychecks, but the workers never have the possibility of enjoying retirement benefits. The Social Security Administration has over US$30 billion in its coffers that cannot be linked to registered recipients. In effect, millions of undocumented workers are subsidizing the US budget deficit with these uncollectible contributions. In addition, undocumented workers pay sales taxes and real estate taxes (via rent payments), and often pay payroll taxes, without any possibility of participating in welfare programs or other social services. Many undocumented workers earn the minimum wage or less, making fruits and vegetables, hotel rooms and restaurant meals cheaper for the rest of the public. And 12 million undocumented workers generate their own economic dynamics that provide increased jobs and wealth for the country.

Does this country really think it can deal with 12 million felons created overnight by a congressional bill? Law enforcement couldn't handle it, some cities have vowed not to enforce it and I'm sure that the immigrants in this country wouldn't tolerate it. Even these people--who tolarate so much in this country everyday--will only stand for so much. Immigration laws must be enforced, sure, but not without a viable guest worker program and real opportunity for citizenship.

Tonight on Newshour with Jim Lehrer I heard Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform actually say that the American middle class does not benefit from the presence of illegal immigrants in this country. I wonder if Mr. Mehlman thinks it would impact the middle class if we could only buy oranges at $5.oo a pound instead of .20. I wonder if Mr. Mehlman ever goes out to eat, sends his dirty dishes into the kitchen. I wonder if Mr. Mehlman or any of his friends have built a house in the last ten years.

These people are here because we have no choice. Our economy completely depends on them--from their contributions to Social Security and taxes to their muscle powering our most basic and necessary industries.

These people are here because they have no choice. It's like a man told me one rainy morning, waiting for a collectivo bus in Chicamán, Guatemala: "Aquí no se gana." You don't earn anything here.

He then asked me for advice on how to arrive here, on how much the coyotes would charge to smuggle him across. I didn't know what to say, didn't know how to explain to him that life here would be hard too, a different kind of hard. I didn't want to tell him that it could cost almost $7,000 to arrive here. That morning I felt as I do tonight: as though there are no good answers, only hard questions we must continue to ask. There's no going back now, the cat is out of the bag. This country will no longer be allowed to ignore illegal immigrants while eating of their hard labor. In the coming weeks, this situation will either begin to be fixed or begin to spiral toward disaster.

More to come.

What They Left Behind

Huachuca Mountains, southeastern Arizona

Gallon jug left by migrants

They were here, but they're gone now. All that's left to remember their passing is the piles of discarded items brought with them from Mexico: toothbrushes, jackets, endless water bottles, Red Bull cans, cosmetics, a McDonald's hat, worn shoes, blankets, underwear, bras, diapers, broken mirrors, perscription drugs, Jumex cans, and black plastic bags.

They've also left questions, though these can't be seen and aren't often asked. Why were they taking pain medication? Why are all the backpacks that were left behind ripped near the bottom? Where do these people live now? North Carolina? Toluca? Michoacan? How old was the child that wore these pants? Why have they left so much behind?

This stuff has been here awhile, now wet with melting snow and covered in decaying brown leaves. There are no answers here.

Trash left by migrants Trash left by migrants.

A child's pants left by migrants A child's pants.

A shirt left by migrants A tshirt.

Upper Brown Caynon Upper Brown Canyon, Huachuca Mountains

San Pedro River Valley Sierra Vista and the San Pedro River Valley as seen from Brown Canyon

Immigrant Remittances Top US $20 Billion

Palenque, Chiapas, México From the Mexican Solidarity Network:

Family remittances from Mexican immigrants working in the US topped US$20 billion in 2005, according to the Bank of Mexico, an increase of 21% over 2004. Family remittances represent an important source of income for about one-quarter of Mexicans families. Remittances are Mexico's second most important source of foreign currency, behind only petroleum sales and well ahead of tourist income.

Letter to Youth of the Peaks


As Mike 360 said, as Leslie Marmon Silko said, as Rigoberta Menchú Tum said, as Miguel Angél Asturias said, as Simon J. Ortiz said, as Blackfire said, as Gloria Anzaldúa said, as Youth of the Peaks screams now,

¡Qué viva la cultura! ¡Qué viva la lucha!

Hello Youth of the Peaks,

my friends, I write you from central Guatemala, Sololá department. I write you on the occasion of your February summit, hoping that you are all well and that snow has blessed the lands since I left. I should be more specific: just enough snow for the trees, not enough for Snowbowl to open. Snow from the sky, and not what we call here "agua negra." Though I feel very far from the mountains that I have called home, I have been reminded of Flagstaff and especially of you all often on this camino. I write you hoping to pass on some of the things that I am seeing in my travels.

Outside San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas the most humble cement neighborhoods have spraypainted signs that read "AGUA ES VIDA, CUIDELA." Here the traditional Maya people consider their flesh to be made of maize. Foreigners like me are of course "wheat people."

The people here have also seen changes grow strong in the last years: "where culture and economy collide," rings true here as well. On the Lago Atitlán, one of Guatemala's most-touristed places, las milpas (fields of maize) still grow on terraces down the shore. Here too the peaks are sacred: the three volcanoes that form the walls of the lake hold the clouds tight around them, and café and maiz are grown in their soil. In the northern jungle along the Rio Ixcán, la tierra is so fertile that it gives harvest twice a year. Elders still wear the ropa tipica (traditional dress) and new hotels are built every year.

The thirty-six year-long civil war officially ended in 1996 when the indigenous, mostly Mayan highlander guerillas signed los Acuerdos de Paz with the government. Over 200,000 people, mostly indigenous civilians were killed or disappeared. Most of the tourism industry has developed in the last eight years, along with government infrastructure. The central government continues to build and improve "services" in the jungle, leading to a large influx of poor ladinos (guatemaltecos of mixed blood, no longer folllowing traditional ways) onto land that had been of the Chuj, Jacalteque, Kanjobal and Ixil. With the war ended, lives are generally safer but traditional ways of life continue to be in danger. Like in Flagstaff, here they also try to disguise the cellphone towers as trees. For the past 500 years the people here have been made to work, first as slaves then later for pennies on the foreign-owned fincas (plantations) of café, algodón (cotton), and azúcar (sugar). Now the practice of leaving the mountain aldeas (villages) for the coastal fincas to work for 4-7 months a year is becoming less popular than leaving to the United States, often for years at a time. When I tell people here I'm from Arizona, they know exactly where I mean.

When I tell people here that a group of jovenes indigenas (indigenous youth) from northern Arizona have organized politically to protect their cultural beliefs, they're not sure what to say. During the war, organization was very dangerous. In the early 1980's the government adopted a "scorched earth" policy against the guerillas, entire aldeas were massacred and buried in mass graves as punishment for allegedly supporting rebel groups. Currently things are safer for civil society, but still not like what we know in the States. People here smile when they hear of you.

Sometimes it seems that all I'm doing by traveling is searching for perspective. Sometimes the farther away I get, the clearer things become. Sometimes it's the opposite. I'm writing you to share these things I'm learning, but also to tell you that from here, removed from your area, what you all are doing seems yet even more incredible. You have like-minded people all over the continent that share your vision. There are many in this world who value culture before money. Like the graffiti in San Cristóbal says, "¡VIVAN LOS RESISTANTES DEL MUNDO!" The first indigenous president of Bolivia, Evo Morales was just inaugurated wearing ropa tipica, and indigenous groups around the country came together to hold a ceremony naming him as their leader, the first time they have held the ceremony in about 500 years. Part of his inauguration speech from just a few weeks ago:

The 500 years of Indian resistance have not been in vain. From 500 years of resistance we pass to another 500 years in power... We have been condemned, humiliated ... and never recognized as human beings... We are here and we say that we have achieved power to end the injustice, the inequality and oppression that we have lived under... The original indigenous movement, as well as our ancestors, dreamt about recovering the territory.

And tell J.R. Murray and Bruce Babbit to listen to guatemalteco writer Miguel Angél Asturias when he says “la tierra es ingrata cuando la habitan hombres ingratos.” They say Snowbowl will go out of business due to the drought. "The earth is ungracious when it is populated by ungrateful men."

I'm honored to be counted among your friends. Remember that no judge will ever decide what is sacred or what isn't, as human beings we each reserve that for ourselves. Congratulations on all that you've accomplished and don't stop planning the next thing. Keep in touch.

El pueblo unido...

logan timoteo phillips Cobán, La Verapaz, Guatemala 06febrero2006

Three Days Without Pavement

Cobán, Verapaz, Guatemala To understand this, you're going to need a good map. From Todos Santos Bartek and I headed even higher into the Guatemalan altiplano highlands, through endless fog and rocks to a dismal little town called San Pedro Saloma. It took us an hour waiting by the side of the road in Tres Caminos to flag down a bus. I played guitar and drew a small crowd, most of whom were laughing at me, which is never a bad thing. Then this local kid brought out his cheap Mexican classical that had never been tuned. I put it to the pipes, got it ready and we jammed for awhile, him on the one chord BOOM-pah-pah BOOM-pah-pah and me soloing like the constipated gringo rocker that I am. Full-on antics.

The bus was driving too fast for the narrow road, the driver all hopped up on the blasting spanish gospel music. HEY-SOOS DIVINO, DELIVER ME UNTO THE MUDDY STREETS AND HONKING HORNS OF SOLOMA, I prayed because I was moved to.

Soloma, en medio de la nada, is a Little America. So many men leave from here to work in the States that you'd think you were somewhere near la frontera instead of centroamérica... Western Union offices, llamadas internacionales, VIAJERO DE LA FRONTERA written on the windshield of pickups and men who smile sly when they slip words of engrish into conversation, because they can, pues.

The next morning we caught the first chicken bus out of there. For those unfamiliar, the chicken bus is a unique concept in transportation. They're old school busses from the States and Canada, sold off after they were deemed too old and too scary for white kids. Now they're in Guate, painted evil circus colors, and crammed with over 70 people usually. Riding one of these things up a road that is more potholes than not is really almost like its own Xtreme sport. Sitting over the wheel wells, you should see how much air you can catch at a time. I'm talking spine-compacting, gringo-flipping, diesel-fuming, XTREME ACCIÓN.

This road is that place you've always wondered about: where the sky comes down to meet the earth and talk things over. All around the bus, the clouds were so thick it was impossible to see more than three or four meters. Mud everywhere from here on out.

Four hours of chickbus xtreme hell. We arrive in Barillas, a wet frontier town that I only know through foggy windows. We were stopped long enough to buy a bag of peanuts, four oranges and 40oz of agua pura. Then we piled into the back of a Toyota Landcruiser, along with nine men and two little girls, all covered by a metal frame and canvas.

The road from Barillas to Playa Grande was only built eight years ago, though some of what was some of the most untouched jungle in Guate. It still doesn't appear on many maps, but for 35 quetzales (around four bucks) it's possible to make the five hour trip. This is far, far off the "gringo trail" of tourist Guatemala. During the civil war, especially during the early eighties, this was where some of the most bloody fighting took place. Organized guerillas were supported by little pueblos, and then the army would arrive to masacre, kidnap, rape and tourture people from these little towns for supporting the "communistas." It was a tug-of-war game played on the bloody backs of indiginous peasants.

After the peace accords were signed in 1996, the country entered a new era of hope and the government undertook many rural development projects, such as the road we were on. This can be seen as the government finally coming through on its promises ("Obras, no Palabras") of aiding rural peoples, or it can be seen as creating the infrastructure for greater control of the countryside by the central government. Either way, it meant a boom in rural settlement, with poor ladinos (mestizos, mixed blood) moving into areas that had been home to only indigenous peoples. The land is fertile here, and milpas (maize, corn fields) follow the road for its entire length. So fertile in fact, that there are two harvests a year.

When we dropped out of the clouds the rain stopped and we peeled back the canvas so we could all stand up and feel the wet air on our faces. We were a motley group, the farmers, the traditional indigenas en ropa tipica, the sketchy government official, the kid who worked for national health, the viejo, the young kids and the two gringos. In their eyes, we of course had no reason to be where we were: "¿Están aquí para trabajar? Ai, ¿pasear y nada más?" We were entertaining though, and the half-naked kids on the sides of the road would point as we flew by. Things got even more interesting as we passed the half-way point and I started to notice empty beer cans being thrown out of the cab of the truck.

We arrived in Playa Grande at sunset and collapsed onto cheap beds in a cement room. It was raining. Again. Playa Grande of course means Big Beach. There is neither a Playa nor is the place Grande. There isn't much to tell. It's famous for a laguna, but we didn't have the ganas to go look at more water, especially in the rain. Bartek reported that he actually saw some foriegners on his way to use the satillite internet connection, which really wasn't much of a connection at all.

Yesterday we took a microbus the hell out of the jungle. A microbus, it begs explaining, is a small, boxy, Toyota van. It is also a miracle that the thing does not fall to pieces as it is crammed with 16 people and driven at high speeds over more potholes and through deep mud. It is, however, preferable to the chicken bus as it is faster and may (or may not) have a shred of suspension left. The driver was a total pendejo who tried to charge us for bringing our backpacks with us, but he was an ameture at gringo-jipping, I shot him down with a couple well-placed, quick sentences, in front of everybody. Jaja, fucker. Hablo una chinga de español ya.

I have never in my life been so happy to see pavement. I fell asleep in excitement. Cobán is a good place to be. It's a real city, repleat with ATM's (in the nick of time), gallon jugs of agua, food besides pollo y arroz, night life and turismo. It's still a pretty meditative place, surrounded by fincas de café (coffee plantations) and clouds. Kinda romantic, makes me with Bartek was less Polish and more my girlfriend.

And that, cabrones, is three days without pavement. I stink.

foto: bart pogoda

Final Declaration of the III Summit of the People of the Americas

Final Declaration of the III Summit of the People of the AmericasFinal Declaration (English version)

The FTAA should be buried forever!

No to "free trade" militarization and debt!

To truly end poverty unemployment and social exclusion


Final Declaration of the III Summit of the People of the Americas

Delegates of social organizations from all regions of the continent, from Canada to Patagonia; workers, farmers, indigenous, young and old, of all races, women and men with dignity have come together in Mar del Plata, Argentina, to demand that the powerful, who normally ignore us, listen to the voice of all of the people of our America. Like previously, in Santiago de Chile and in Quebec, we have come together in the face of the Summit of the Americas, which brings together the presidents of the whole continent, with the exception of Chile, because in spite of the fact that the official discourse continues to be full of words about democracy and the fight against poverty, the people continue to be not taken into account at the hour that the decisions are made about our futures. We find ourselves here in the III Summit of the People, to express our profound resistance to the neoliberal calamities orquestrated by the imperial power from the north while at the same time constructing alternatives. We continue to demonstrate that it is possible to change the course of history and we promise to continue down this road. In the year 2001, in the official Summit in Quebec, when the vast majority of the governments were blindly inclined towards neo-liberal orthodoxy and to the dictates of Washington, with the honorable exception of Venezuela, the US managed to establish January of 2005 as the end date for their new project of domination called Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) to enter into effect, and that during the 4th Summit which was programmed to happen in Argentina would be the event at which the negotiations for this perverse project would be signed. But on the first of January in 2005 we woke up without FTAA and this offical Summit has arrived with the negotiations irreversibly stalled. We are here today to celebrate this! Without a doubt, the US has not changed their strategy to affirm their hegenomus control of the hemisphere, now using bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements such as CAFTA, which was ratified by a very close margin and AFTA which they are now looking to force on the Andean countries.

Additionally, Washington is moving forward with an “Agreement for Security and Prosperity in North America (ASPNA). They are doing this in spite of a multitude of incontestable evidence of more than 10 years of NAFTA, and now this FTA plus has the objective of imposing the element of ‘security’ of the US on the whole region. But the US is not content to advance the pieces of chess in their project of domination on the continent. They insist on accomodating us in their hegenomic framework while at the same time not renouncing their FTAA project. Now, together with their inconditional governments they come to Mar del Plata with the intention of breathing new life into the cadaver FTAA, when the people have clearly expressed their rejection to an integration subordinated to the US. At the same time, their strategy in favor of the North American corporations has been accompanied by an increased militarization of the continent, with US military bases. And now to finish the genocide, George W. Bush has come to the Summit in Mar del Plata with intentions to promote his policies of "security" to the continent under the pretext of combatting terrorism, when the best way to reverse that is to end his policies of colonial intervention. In the final declaration which is being discussed by our governments, the possibility exists that the real threat could come to pass, even though they try to hide what their real intentions are. This declaration is full of empty words and demogogic proposals to combat poverty and generate decent employment. The reality is that these offers only perpetuate a model which has brought more misery and injustice to our continent, which has the worst distribution of riches in the world. This is a model that favors a select few, which promotes a deterioration in labor conditions, promotes migration, contributes to a deterioration of the environment, privatization of social security and education, the implementation of laws which protect the corporations an not our citizens, as is the case with the intellectual property chapters. In addition to the FTAA, they insist on moving forward with the Doha agenda, which is designed to give more power to the World Trade Organization (WTO), in order to impose non-equitable economic rules on the least developed countries to further promote the corporate agenda. They continue to promote the plunder of our natural goods, our energy resources; the appropriation and privatization of our water aquifers and hydrographic reserves, converting access to water from a human right into merchandise controlled by transnational interests. In order to impose these policies, the empire and its accomplices, use the blackmail of external debt which impedes the development of our people in violation of all of our human rights. The declaration of the presidents offers no concrete solutions, such as the cancellation of payments on this illegitimate debt, the restitution of the extra which has been charged and the repayment of the historical social and ecological debts to the people of our America. The delegates of the different peoples of America are here not only to denounce, we are here because we have been resisting the policies of the empire and its allies. But at the same time, we are in the process of constructing popular alternatives, through the solidarity and unity of our people, constructing a social fabric from below, from a place of autonomy and diversity of our movements with the purpose of attaining a society which is inclusive, just and has dignity.

From this III Summit of the People of America we declare:

1) The negotiations for the creation of a Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) should be SUSPENDED IMMEDIATELY AND DEFINITELY, as well as all bilateral and regional FTAs. We join with the resistance of the people of the Andean Region and of Costa Rica against those FTAs and with the people of the Caribbean so that the EPAS will not come to signify a new era of disguised colonialism and that the struggles of the people of North America, Chile and Central America to turn back treaties of this type which weigh so heavy on them.

2) All agreements between countries should be based on principals of respect of human rights, the social dimension, respect of sovereignty, a complementary relationship, cooperation, solidarity, considering the economic asymmetries, favoring the least developed.

3) We prefer to promote alternative projects of regional integration, such as the Bolivian Alternatives for the Americas (ALBA).

4)We join our forces with the conclusions and actions which have been born in the forums, workshops and encounters of this Summit and we commit to continue going deeper with our process of constructing alternatives.

5) All of the illegitimate un-payable external debt of the South should be cancelled, immediately and without conditions. We take the position of creditors to collect the social, ecological and historical debt with our people.

6)We join with the struggle of our people for an equitable distribution of riches, with dignified work and social justice to eradicate poverty, unemployment, and social exclusion.

7)We commit to promote a diversification of production, the protection of native seeds which are patrimony of humanity, food sovereignty of the people, sustainable agriculture and an integral agrarian reform.

8)We energetically reject the militarization of the continent being promoted by the empire from the North. We denounce the doctrine called "cooperation for hemispheric security" as a mechanism of repression of popular struggles. We reject the presence of US troops on our continent; we want neither bases nor military conclaves. We condemn the state terrorism of the Bush Administration which would attempt to bloody the legitimate rebellions of our people.

9)We condemn the immorality of the government of the United States, that while it talks about struggling against terrorism, it protects the terrorist Posada Carriles and continues to detain the 5 Cuban patriots. We demand their immediate release!

10)We repudiate the presence in our dignified Latin American land of George W. Bush, the principal promoter of war in the world, and heads up the neoliberal creed which even impacts the interests of his own people. From here we send a message of solidarity to the dignified women and men of the United States, who are ashamed at having a government which has been condemned by all the world, and who resist against wind and tide. After Quebec, we constructed a huge campaign and continental popular consultations against FTAA and have managed to detain it. In the face of the attempt to bring the negotiations back to life, and to add the military objectives of the US, in this III Summit of the Peoples, we assume the commitment to reinforce our resistance, strengthen our unity in diversity and convoke a new and larger continental mobilization to bury the FTAA forever and build at the same time a new alternative America that is just, free and based on solidarity.

Mar del Plata, Argentina, November 4, 2005

Call to Border Mobilization!

I won't be able to make it to this one, but it'll be good...

Saturday, October 8, 2005

in unity is strength

Join us in a mass demonstration at the U.S./México border. Let us show both governments that we, as people united in solidarity to work for peace, justice, and human rights, demand immediate changes to the border, and an end to border deaths.

For information, click the link below: Para español, haz clic aquí:

Nogales, Arizona, US: 10am: Meet at the park across the street from Walgreens, just before the port of entry. The march to the border will begin there. There is street parking surrounding the park.

Nogales, Sonora, Mx: 10am: Meet at the office of Nogales Infantil,near the port of entry in Nogales. The march to the border will begin there.

“We are one family; we have no borders”

For more information, please contact: U.S: Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras: 520.770.1373 México: Nogales Infantil: 011 52 631 31 24091

Sponsored by: Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras; Nogales Infantil; Promotoras de Derechos Humanos-Nogales, Sonora; No More Deaths; UA Women of Color


¡Llamada a la movilización fronteriza!

Sábado, 6 de octubre, 2005

Acompáñanos en una gran manifestación en la frontera de E.EU.U./México. Debemos mostrar a los gobiernos de ambos países que nosotros, como gente unida en solidaridad, luchando para la paz, justicia, y los derechos humanos, demandamos, inmediatamente, cambios en la frontera, y poner fin a las muertes.

Nogales, Arizona, US: 10am: Reunión en el parque al otro lado de la calle de Walgreens, antes de la puerta de entrada. La marcha hasta la frontera empezará desde allí. Hay lugar para estacionarse alrededor del parque.

Nogales, Sonora, Mx: 10am: Reunión en la oficina de Nogales Infantil, cerca de la puerta de entrada en Nogales. La marcha hasta la frontera empezará desde allí.

“Somos una familia; no tenemos Fronteras”

Para mayor información, favor de contactar a: EEUU: Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras: 520.770.1373 México: Nogales Infantil: 011 52 631 31 24091

Copatrocinado por: Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras; Nogales Infantil; Promotoras de Derechos Humanos-Nogales, Sonora.; No Más Muertes; UA Women of Color

Another release:

Press Advisory: Thousands Scheduled to Protest in 4 Border Cities! ¡Miles Protestan en 4 Ciudades Fronterizas!

Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice Richard Moore, Executive Director Tomás Garduño, Campaign Organizer & 505-242-0416

Thousands Scheduled to Protest in 4 Border Cities, ¡Ya Basta! Stop Vigilante Terrorism NOW! Immigrants YES, Vigilantes NO!

In response to the racist attacks on our communities by criminal vigilantes comes the 5th Annual Border Wide Mobilizations with four simultaneous actions along the U.S./Mexico border on October 8th, 2005. The Mobilizations are organized by the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (SW Network) and the grassroots affiliated organizations in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, California, Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, and Tamaulipas. We have survived through and struggled against 11 years of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a broken and racist immigration system, and now we face another symptom of border injustice: vigilante terrorism. Simultaneously in four border areas on October 8, 2005 thousands will gather to demand justice on the border and around the world.

Participants are invited to join the SW Network, its affiliate organizations and allies, united under the common call for a fair and just economy and border, with living wage jobs and safe working conditions for all workers on both sides of the border; respect for all people©ˆs civil rights and comprehensive immigration reform; and an end to all criminal vigilantes terrorizing our communities. Participants, in all four cities, will walk together toward the Œborder line" to address:

  • A just BORDER that permits free movement of people, not just goods and capital
  • A BORDER based on equality, trust, solidarity, and friendship
  • A BORDER that eliminates racist practices and violent persecution of people who cross the border seeking a just livelihood
  • A BORDER that respects the sovereign and spiritual right of indigenous people
  • A BORDER that protects the flora and fauna and natural resources
  • A stop to vigilante terrorism and racist attacks on our BORDER communities
  • A boycott of Arizona called by the Human Dignity Campaign in response to anti-immigrant fervor

More information on the mobilization can be found at or by contacting (Richard Moore) or (Tomás Garduño) at (505-242-0416) or ( or (

What: 5th Annual SW Network Border Wide Mobilizations When: Saturday, October 8, 2005 @ 12:00 p.m. Where: See Below


ARIZONA/SONORA Nogales/ Nogales Oct. 8 (Sat.)

NEW MEXICO/CHIHUAHUA El Paso/ Cd. Juarez Oct. 8 (Sat.)

TEXAS/COAHUILA/TAMAULIPAS Eagle Pass/ Piedras Negras Oct. 8 (Sat.)

Why: To demand justice on the border and around the world. ¡Ya Basta! No more government policies and trade agreements that leave the people and mother earth in misery and support racist vigilantes terrorizing our communities!

Details: Check out the SNEEJ website at for dates and specific contact information at each location.



En Español:

Red del Suroeste para la Justicia Ambiental y Económica Richard Moore, Director Ejecutivo Tomás Garduño, Organizador de Campañas, & 505-242-0416

Miles Protestan en 4 Ciudades Fronterizas, ¡Ya Basta! ¡Alto al Terrorismo de los Cazamigrantes! ¡Imigrantes Sí, Vigilantes NO!

Como respuesta a los ataques racistas en nuestras comunidades por los criminales cazamigrantes. Realizaremos la Quinta Protesta Anual a lo Largo de la Frontera en cuatro lugares simulaneamente en la frontera entre EEUU y México el dia 8 de octubre, 2005 a las 12:00 del medio dia. Las movilizaciones son organizadas por la Red del Suroeste para la Justicia Ambiental y Económica (Red del SO) y organizaciones afiliadas de base en Texas, Nuevo México, Colorado, Arizona, California, Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, y Tamaulipas. Hemos sobrevivido tras y luchado en contra de 11 años del Tratado de Libre Comercio de las Americas (TLC), un sistema de imigracion fracasado y racista, y ahora nos enfrentamos con otro sintoma de la injusticia en la frontera: el terrorismo desatado por los cazamigrantes. Simultáneamente en 4 áreas fronterizas el 8 de octubre miles se unirán para demandar la justicia en la frontera y alrededor del mundo. Se invita a la comunidad a unirse a la Red del SO y sus organizaciones

afiliadas y sus aliados, unidos bajo un llamado común para frontera y economía justas, con trabajos que paguen sueldos justos y condiciones de trabajo seguras para todos los trabajadores en ambos lados de la frontera; y respeto a todos los derechos civiles y humanos del pueblo y una reforma completa del sistema de imigracion; y un alto a los criminales cazamigrantes causando terror en nuestras comunidades. Los participantes, en cuantro ciudades, caminarán unidos hacia "la línea fronteriza" para exigir:

  • Una FRONTERA justa que permita el movimiento libre del pueblo, no solamente de bienes y capital
  • Una FRONTERA basada en equidad, confianza, solidaridad, y amistad
  • Una FRONTERA que elimine prácticas racistas y persecusión violenta de las personas que cruzan la frontera buscando un modo de vida justo
  • Una FRONTERA que respete la soberanía y derecho espiritual del pueblo indígena
  • Una FRONTERA que proteja la flora y fauna y recursos naturales
  • Un alto al terrorismo cazamigrante y ataques racistas en nuestras comunidades FRONTERIZAS
  • Un boicoteo de Arizona organizado por la Campaña de la Dignidad Humana como respuesta al clima anti-imigrante

Se puede encontrar más información sobre la movilización en el o al contactar (Richard Moore) o (Tomás Garduño) al (505-242-0416) o ( o ( __________________________________________________________________

Qué: Quinta Movilización Anual a lo Largo de la Frontera de la Red del SO Cuándo: Sábado, 8 de octubre, 2005 @ 12:00 p.m. Dónde: Vea abajo

CALIFORNIA/BAJA CALIFORNIA Para Anunciar 8 de octubre (Sab.)

ARIZONA/SONORA Nogales/Nogales 8 de octubre (Sab.)

NUEVO MÉXICO/CHIHUAHUA El Paso/Cd. Juárez 8 de octubre (Sab.)

TEXAS/COAHUILA/TAMAULIPAS Eagle Pass/Piedras Negras 8 de octubre (Sab.)

Por qué: Para demandar justicia en la frontera y al derredor del mundo. ¡Ya Basta! ¡No más políticas gubernamentales y tratados de comercio que dejan al pueblo y madre tierra en la miseria y apoyan a cazamigrantes racistas atacando nuestras comunidades!

Detalles: Revise la página electrónica de SNEEJ al para fechas y información específica de contacto en cada localidad.


We inturrupt this slam...

to bring you a test of the emergency broadcast system. So far this fiscal year, (starting Oct. 1, 2004) at least Number of Border Deaths have died in the southern Arizona deserts alone.

I'm not the only one wondering why the Border Patrol counts deaths according to the fiscal year that they occured in.

Right this moment, as you finish reading this sentance, a burning sun shines.


Arizona Migrant Death Count reaches 151

For Immediate Release Since militarization was implemented on the U.S.-México border in the mid-1990s, it has been estimated that more than 3,000 men, women and children have lost their lives in their attempt to seek a better future for themselves and their families. As a non-profit human rights organization, Coalición de Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras is deeply concerned about these continued deaths. We are particularly disturbed by those deaths that have resulted from attempts to cross our desert—deaths due to exposure and heat related, specifically. These are tragedies, and we feel that such a human rights crisis needs a viable solution.

In order to alert our government and the public as to the true extent of these casualties, accurate numbers of deaths must be recorded. Currently, conflicting numbers are constantly being released, mostly because of the complicated nature of recovering and identifying individuals who often carry little or no identification with them, and because the lack of communications between the many agencies to which this information is passed.

Derechos Humanos began a concerted attempt to keep a more accurate record of migrants who have died on our borders last spring in the hope that a more accurate count of the casualties of border policies will bring about change. With the cooperation of the Pima, Yuma, and Cochise County Medical Examiner offices, as well as the Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary and the Consular offices of Honduras and Guatemala, we began the task of keeping an independent count of migrant deaths.

The migrant death list is available to the community on the Derechos Humanos website: The information will be updated on a monthly basis, as we receive monthly reports from medical examiner offices. We will use this information in order to keep a more accurate record of the deaths and to show the true extent of the casualties of failed border policies. This information will be available to anyone who requests it from us and will be used by our organization to further raise awareness of the human rights crisis we are facing on our borders.

In the fiscal year that began on October 1, 2004, the total number of migrant deaths that have occurred in Arizona reached an alarming 151 deaths by June 30, 2005. The current heat wave has put Arizona on pace to break the record number of deaths for the last fiscal year, which Coalición de Derechos Humanos/Alianza Indígena Sin Fronteras compiled at 234.

Until the true cost of our border and immigration policies are weighed, and viable solutions sought, Arizonans will continue to witness the tragedy of hundreds of our migrant sisters and brothers losing their lives on the border.

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