Peacebuilding en Las Américas
Partners Energized by Peace Baskets (PAN PAV) Project!
by Monica Maher, Initiative Coordinator PLA
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!
PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — Interview with Magnificent Magno, participant in AVP workshops of Co-Madres's Group in St. Rafael Cedros, Cuscatlán, El Salvado. Co-Madres is the committee of mothers and relatives of prisoners, the disappeared and the politically assassinated of El Salvador.
PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — In this COVID-19 social crisis, Guatemalans have spent 73 days in confinement and social distancing. Work has decreased in the informal sector. The government has provided food aid to certain sectors of the country such as the most needy and vulnerable, but food is beginning to be scarce. Therefore, when we have checked in with the families of the School of Peace youth in San Patricio, and women in San Jorge, they both spoke about how they have begun to feel the ravages of this crisis, both food, physical and emotional. It is manifesting in intra-family violence, due to the very confinement in which they are found. Through our phone calls, we can continue to promote the tools of AVP by sharing positive thoughts in conflict resolution, tips on seeking peaceful responses, and encouraging them to report abuse if required.
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).
ASIA WEST PACIFIC — A global anti-militarist and pacifist network 'War Resisters' International' (WRI) recently organized an international webinar on 'Pandemic and Militarization.' Participants from more than a dozen countries from every continent shared their experiences. As a member of the WRI executive committee, Subhash Chandra was involved in organizing and participating in the webinar. Pacifist and peace activist participants in the webinar were concerned about the militarized response to the COVID-19 by their government in their countries. Governments and politicians are using language of war to talk about the situation and response to that. You’ve probably heard it yourself, COVID is an “invasion”, a “hidden enemy,” support the “frontline” workers in the “battle” against COVID.
PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — My name is Viviana Duque. I work in Granada, a municipality here in Antioquia, Colombia. In this municipality, there has been a lot of suffering due to war and a lot of violence. The community in general suffered threats and the deaths of their loved ones. There has also been an out rooting, in a time campesinos (people of rural areas) and the villagers of urban areas had to leave, they were displaced to the cities due to the war and violence.
Salomón Medina Attended the Regional Institute on the Study and Practice of Strategic Nonviolent Action in the Americas, Ecuador
PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — Salomón Medina of AVP El Salvador, Sister Patricia Duque and Isaí Romero of AVP Colombia, and Yadira Rodríguez of AVP Honduras were together March 8-15 in Ecuador to attend the Regional Institute on the Study and Practice of Strategic Nonviolent Action in the Americas. It was a rare opportunity to be together face-to-face and an excellent chance to share stories, challenges and joy with each other. The group met twice with facilitators from AVP Ecuador. Salomón co-facilitated with Gabriela Reyes of AVP Bolivia, a mini-AVP for the 50 other activists in attendance. In addition, Salomon offered an evening session for participants on his work in El Salvador.
PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — AVP work resumed in the Granja el Porvenir Prison of La Ceiba on February 16-19 with a Basic workshop for 23 men, and on March 9-13 in the Barrio el Inglés Prison of La Ceiba with an Advanced workshop for 22 men. Ondina Murillo, who coordinated the efforts, expressed great delight to be back with internal facilitators to expand AVP to others who embraced the opportunity with enthusiasm and gratitude. In fact, the workshop in Barrio el Inglés Prison was so well received that the director of the prison, a military colonel, and the sub-director, a military sergeant, attended the closing and chose their own positive names: Avila Aguila (Eagle Avila) and Francisco Fuerza (Strong Francisco).
PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — AVP training began at the Samaritan House ministry for sex workers on 15-16 January with a Basic workshop for staff, some of whom are former sex workers. Understanding the reality of vulnerable and excluded groups is a very difficult challenge to fulfill in El Salvador. This is especially true since we are prone to stigma, stereotypes, contempt, misunderstanding and even ridicule, which can generate discouragement in our work. It is important that we highlight this in order to start changing.
PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — Coordinators are devising creative ways to address the parallel crises of the health emergency, food shortages and family violence during the quarantine. Coordinators created the Peace Baskets Project - PAN PAV with the idea of delivering a peace basket that includes food, disinfectant sanitizers and also messages of peace. Delivery of the basket will allow coordinating teams to determine any additional emergency needs of the family, to offer motivation, and to provide support contacts and emergency telephone numbers. PLA is now receiving contributions for the Peace Baskets Project - PAN PAV. Our immediate goal is to raise $5,000. All donations welcome.
Human Rights Violations: AVP El Salvador National Coordinator and 36 Others Under an Endless Covid-19 Travel Quarantine
PEACEBUILDING EN LAS AMÉRICAS — Salomón Medina, Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) El Salvador National Coordinator, was placed in a government quarantine center in San Salvador upon return in mid-March from Ecuador. One of a group of 37 people, he is being held beyond the initially stipulated 30-day quarantine period. When asked to be released, the group was told by authorities that the quarantine could be extended up to two years. Salomón has acted as a public spokesperson for the group which is well organized and united. Yet, human rights violations are hard to address under the current State of Exception which waives many standard constitutional guarantees. Salomón feels an urgency to return to his wife and children, and to resume his work whenever possible.