Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA) partners are energized and filled with hope due to their Peace Baskets (PAN PAV) project which offers them the opportunity to address the multiple viruses their societies are facing, including the hunger virus and the domestic violence virus. The virtual appeal has gone out and been well received so far. Honduras will be the first country to begin implementation next week; like everyone in Honduras, our partner, Ondina Murillo, is only allowed only to go out two days a month as assigned by the government. El Salvador and Guatemala will begin implementation soon afterwards.
The Peace Baskets will be delivered to families in economically marginalized and high-conflict urban neighborhoods (Red Zones) and will include food, disinfectants, hygiene items, messages of peace and emergency contacts. Women, men and youth in many of these families have been trained in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). Recipients of the baskets will be encouraged to pass on the peace to others through sharing food and messages of peace with their loved ones and neighbors. Colombia and Ecuador will be the next countries to begin this project; in Colombia, the focus will be migrant families and in Ecuador, indigenous families.
Under States of Exception and severe lockdowns, all partner countries are vulnerable to human rights violations. We have seen flagrant abuse of civil rights, including the use of tear gas and live bullets to disperse women and children seeking food (Honduras), assassinations of community leaders and their families (Colombia), arbitrary arrests and incarceration of informal sector workers (El Salvador) and police repression of the LGBT community (Ecuador). The regional situation is ripe for continuation of State abuse on multiple levels with little recourse for redress. Salomón Medina, National Coordinator in El Salvador, was held with 36 others in a State-sponsored detention center in San Salvador for 39 days upon return from Ecuador. He describes manipulation and threats by authorities as well as the non-violent collective actions taken to gain release; such iron-hand policies of the government have only increased.
Our partners extend deep gratitude to all for their moral, spiritual and financial support. Please continue to hold them in the light. Gracias!