[UPDATE 4.15.16. This trip appears to be full now. Four from the Rio Grande Valley of Texas will be going. If anybody would like to learn about the issues and receive information about future trips, you can sign up for Rights Action’s listserve here, and “Like” their Facebook page here.]
Rights Action, an organization active in human rights and environmental concerns in Central America, will be leading an educational trip to Honduras, June 4-12, 2016, to visit indigenous and peasant communities that are resisting land grabs and the imposition of dams, mines, monoculture plantations, and other environmentally and socially destructive projects. The tour will be led by Rights Action’s director Grahame Russell, who has been a long-time personal friend of Berta Cáceres, a courageous Lenca indigenous leader who was assassinated on March 2, 2016.
Participants in this trip will meet with grassroots movements, in this country in the super-exploited periphery of the global capitalist empire, who are resisting that empire’s advance where the battle is the fiercest, where the destruction of people and nature is taking place on a large scale and with the greatest impunity. They will learn how this exploitation and violence materially benefits countries at the center of the empire, such as the U.S. and Canada, making us “richer” though only at the cost of destroying the planet. And they will learn how to advocate for these communities back home.
All Souls Unitarian-Universalist Church, in Brownsville, Texas, is offering scholarships to help agroecologists, permaculturists, community organizers, university students, activists, or others, in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and the Mexican state of Tamaulipas, to go on this trip, so that they can return, promote awareness of the struggles of Honduran communities of resistance, and act in practical solidarity with them. Depending on the level of financial need of a given scholarship recipient, the scholarship might cover any or all of the following:
- Rights Actions’ cost of 850 USD
- Reimbursement of round-trip flight to Honduras
- A stipend of up to $80 a day per day away on the trip
The originally published deadline for signing up with Rights Action for the trip was actually April 15, 2016. However, since the trip has not yet been filled up to capacity, it may be that the deadline will be extended. But it could fill up fast.
If you would like to go on the trip, please take these steps as soon as possible:
1. Read Rights Action’s information about the trip, at http://www.rightsaction.org/action-content/honduras-education-seminar-trip-june-4-12-2016.
2. Follow the instructions at the above web page. Write to the two contacts mentioned there, Grahame Russell and Cara-Lee Malange, at the email addresses listed there, letting them know that you are interested, and they will send you more detailed information. If your trip depends on All Souls giving you a scholarship, let Rights Action know you want to go, but you are waiting to hear whether All Souls will be giving you a scholarship.
3. If you need a scholarship to pay for all or part of the trip, email Virginia Costilla, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Barbara Hill, at email@example.com, as soon as possible. They are the members of the scholarship committee at All Souls who will decide on scholarship recipients.
4. If All Souls awards you a scholarship, let Rights Action know that, and that you definitely plan to come. Then wait for Rights Action to confirm whether you have a spot on the trip.
[NOTE: Needless to say, given the circumstances, this trip is a quite a serious thing. It is not about sightseeing or “tourism adventures.” Participants will learn from people who are facing very tense and challenging circumstances, with a view to making a difference, by way of advocacy and consciousness-raising, once they are back home.]
WHY TRIPS LIKE THIS MATTER
Why should we in the RGV of Texas, and in Tamaulipas, get to know and advocate for indigenous and peasant communities of resistance in Honduras?
Berta Cáceres, an indigenous activist in Honduras, was assassinated around midnight on March 3, 2016. After the 2009 coup that ousted Honduras’s democratically elected president, the illegal coup regime declared the country “open for business.” Since then, there has been an explosive increase in destructive mining projects (approximately 30% of Honduran territory is now mining concessions), hydroelectric dams intended to supply power to the mines, land grabs, and violence against peasant communities who dare to stand in the way. Whole communities have been evicted, crops destroyed, and leaders killed. Ms. Cáceres organized Lenca indigenous communities to oppose such projects that are being imposed on them without their genuine consent. To find out more about what happened to her, and the work she did, see the inspiring video at the top of this page, and the links below.
The tragedy of Honduras is no isolated case. It illustrates a pattern of violent capitalist expansion through land and resource grabs, dispossession, and genocide that marked the enclosures of commons in Europe a few centuries ago, the conquest of the North American West in the 19th C., and what is going on throughout the Global South today.
Why should we advocate for, and assist these struggles, that the mainstream media ignore, and that seem so far away?
First, we benefit, materially, from unjust and violent expropriation of wealth from Honduras and other countries in the Global South that is now circulating in our economies. We owe it to them, as a matter of justice, to expose the injustice of capitalism and work to dismantle imperialism.
Second, capitalism is devouring the Earth, destroying the very basis for human and nonhuman flourishing on this planet. It is therefore an urgent necessity, in the long-term material interests of all of us, to stop this monster. The forefront of this struggle is precisely in places like Honduras, where the global capitalist empire is currently attempting to take over new resources and displace indigenous and peasant communities. We must stand behind these front-line communities of resistance, because if they do not win, we will all lose!
Third, a number of us in our region are involved in efforts to practice agroecology and permaculture, to decolonize our minds and ways of life, to support the rights of immigrants, and to build a sustainable and just local economy – and these struggles here are integrally connected with their struggles there. It’s important to see the connections, and to forge common strategies and mutual support with communities of resistance across the globe. We are all resisting a common foe – a hegemonic world system of oppression and domination. Great waves of immigrants are trying to come to the U.S., at the center of the empire, because they are being oppressed and exploited and terrorized by U.S. funded and trained servants of the empire in their country, located on the exploited periphery of that empire. And it’s important to get to know, and learn from, people who are still more in touch with the Earth and sustainable, cooperative ways than most of us who live at the center of the empire. To defeat capitalism, and replace it with sustainable, cooperative ways, we must stop the destruction of peoples who have not yet lost these ways, but who are under heavy assault. We must stand behind them, because if they win – if they reclaim their territories, gain equitable access to land, and defend their rivers and ecosystems – they will be able to help lead us all toward sustainable and just paths.
La vida que no calla: Berta Cáceres, nuestra madre, asumió la historia de resistencia y rebeldía del pueblo lenca – Olivia, Berta, Laura y Salvador Cáceres Zúniga, 4 abril 2016.
Red Radio, La Rojita (live stream of a Honduran community radio station) – “La Red Radio, La Rojita es una radio comunitaria, alternativa y feminista, nace de la necesidad de la Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos de tener un medio de comunicación para denunciar y hablar de las luchas especificas de las mujeres en sus territorios o regiones desde un enfoque feminista. Nuestros programas contribuyen a la creación de nuevas ideas para combatir el patriarcado y la violencia que existe en las comunidades, pues es este al mayor reto que nos enfrentamos las defensoras, el hablar y posicionar el trabajo comunitario realizado las mujeres, por el cual son señaladas y violentadas, además de plantear la necesidad del Autocuido en las mujeres.”
Indigenous Activist Berta Cáceres Assassinated in Honduras, SOA Watch, March 3, 2016.
Berta Caceres: Who She Is & What She Lived For, by Grahame Russell, March 3, 2016.
¡Berta Lives! The Life and Legacy of Berta Cáceres, by Beverly Bell, March 9, 2016.
Why Was Berta Cáceres Assassinated?, by Beverly Bell, March 16, 2016.
Berta Cáceres, the Murdered Honduran Activist, Did Not Die. She Multiplied., by Karen Spring, March 32, 2016.