Sunday, May 31, 2015

Archbishop Oscar Romero, a True Salvadoran Patriot

by Jimmy Franco, Sr. 

A ceremony attended by 300,000 people was held on May 23, in the city of San Salvador to honor and celebrate the beatification of El Salvador’s deceased Archbishop Oscar Romero. Supportive commemorations were also held in Los Angeles and other cities. Pope Francis made the decision to beatify Romero which is a step before sainthood after designating him as a martyr who gave his life in 1980 for the cause of social justice. Prior to his death, the
300,000 people gather as Archbishop Oscar Romero is honored and beatified.
300,000 people gather as Archbishop Oscar Romero is honored and
Archbishop had assisted poor communities in El Salvador in order to improve their lives and had been a public and outspoken critic of the brutal Salvadoran military. He had demanded that the army halt the widespread violence and killings being committed against innocent people who were merely attempting to exercise their basic rights. Monsignor Romero wrote a personal letter to President Jimmy Carter in early 1980 pleading with him to end US financial and military support of the Salvadoran armed forces due to its violence and human rights violations being inflicted upon civilians who merely wanted democracy. Carter never directly answered the Archbishop’s letter and Romero was murdered shortly after by a member of a right-wing death squad who shot him through the heart as he gave mass in a cathedral. Days after at Romero’s funeral service, Salvadoran soldiers opened deadly fire on the huge crowd that came to pay their respects to the martyred Archbishop. The murders by the government of many other Catholic church members were to follow as their peaceful activities to help the poor and pronouncements for an end to the violence had them branded as enemies by the military and their US trainers. These anti-democratic actions by the Salvadoran military and their allied death squads would lead to a violent and deadly 12-year long civil war which tore apart the country’s social fabric. Presidents Carter and particularly Reagan openly supported, financed, armed and trained El Salvador’s military and its death squads throughout the long war.
The background of the brutal 1980’s Salvadoran civil war
The civil war in El Salvador was caused by the repressive Salvadoran government that used violence to block fair elections and the democratic participation of the Salvadoran People and their chosen political parties. Peaceful gatherings were regularly attacked with deadly force as a brutal message was being conveyed by the military government to the civilian population that they should accept injustice and stay in their place. The majority of the people as well as many representatives of the church refused to 
The murder of Romero by a US-supported death squad turned people against the govt.
The murder of Romero by a US-supported death squad turned people against the govt.
do so as peaceful protests and public outcries continued to demand that the government respect human rights and cease their attacks upon civilians. These democratic aspirations were met by more violence and deaths on the part of the military. Leaving no other available option, the opposition groups coalesced into the FMLN (Frente Farabundo Marti de Liberacion Nacional) to oppose the US supported military government and civil war broke out.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Republicans Block Immigration of Millions- Again !

  by Michael D. Shear. New York Times. May 28, 2015

Administration officials had hoped to begin inviting millions of immigrants to sign up for the president’s new immigration program as early as this month

The State of Texas, led by Republicans,  last year filed a lawsuit against the president, accusing him of exceeding his authority and failing to follow the proper procedures for establishing new immigration rules. Twenty-five other states joined the lawsuit.
Immigration  efforts have  been shelved since February, when a Texas judge ordered a halt, calling it an executive overreach and agreeing that officials had violated administrative procedures.

On Tuesday, the appeals court refused to overturn that order, saying that it believed Mr. Obama’s lawyers would ultimately lose in their efforts to defend the president’s actions.
Rather than continue to fight the judge’s initial order, administration officials said Wednesday that government lawyers would wait and make what they believe will be a stronger legal argument on the merits of the president’s immigration program.

Stop Pesticides Near Schools

Speak up starting today on pesticides use near CA schools 
Last year, the Department of Public Health (DPH) published a report on the use of health-harming pesticides near California schools. Their findings? California’s current pesticide rules don’t protect schoolchildren from health-harming pesticides. These toxic chemicals are sprayed within a ¼ mile of hundreds of schools where more than 500,000 schoolchildren spend their days. The report documented 144 different highly hazardous pesticides being used near schools — many of these chemicals can cause cancer and derail the development of a child’s brain and nervous system.

This week, the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) will host the first of five  hearings across the state to gather input. It will consider creating no-spray zones around schools, increasing public notification and limiting aerial spraying. Changes like this could protect schoolchildren from exposure to hazardous pesticides. 

Click here to e-mail Brian Leahy, the Director of the Department of Pesticide Regulation and tell him we expect to see real change. Our kids deserve better. Ask DPR to designate school safe zones and put incentives in place for farmers to shift away from outdated use of hazardous pesticides.  
After you take action, please ask your friends and family to take action too. You can send them an e-mail, post this campaign on your Facebook and/or Twitter page by clicking here.
If you are interested in attending, click here for hearing information

Thurs., May 28: Sacramento — 5:30pm, Cal EPA, 1001 I Street, Sacramento CA
Tues., June 2: Salinas — 5:30pm, Cesar Chavez Library, 615 Williams Road, Salinas CA 93905
Wed., June 3: Oxnard —7pm, Rio Mesa High School (Library), 545 Central Ave, Oxnard. CA 93036
Thurs., June 4: Lamont — 5:30pm, Kern County Library, 8304 Segrue Rd., Lamont CA 93241
Tues., June 9: Coachella — 5:30pm, City of Coachella Corporate Yard, 53-462 Enterprise Way, Coachella, CA 92236

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Students want an education

 Children and young adults need to see themselves in the curriculum.  Students, particularly students of color, have low levels of attachment to our communities, to  California and U.S.  civics messages in significant part because the government institution they encounter the most- the schools- ignore the students own history, cultures and experiences. This is not an accident- it was a choice.

The 1987 California History Social Science  Framework still in use today to guide the selection of  California textbooks   expanded African American, Native American, and women’s history coverage but remains totally inadequate in the coverage of Latinos and Asians. The only significant change between the 1985 and the 2005 adopted Framework was the addition of a new cover, a cover letter, and a photo of Cesar Chavez.
You can help us change this situation.  See here

What are they missing? The history of the Chicano movement.
For example:
The Chicano Movement began in 1965 in Delano, California when Dolores Huerta and Cesar E. Chávez, founders of the National Farm Workers Association (later it became the United Farm Workers union), led a national boycott against table grape growers in the region because they failed to recognize their collective bargaining rights. Chávez, the president of the farm workers union, and the farm worker struggle, became the face of Chicano protest and struggles. While the United Farm Workers union brought national and even international recognition to the plight of Chicanos for labor rights, it had overarching consequences. Many young Chicanas and Chicanos felt connected to the farm worker struggle even though the majority resided in urban areas and had never themselves worked in the California agricultural industry.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Farmworkers at Gerawan deserve a union

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters has a piece on Tues, May 19,  about the struggle of farmworkers at  Gerawan   to gain union recognition and a contract.  The parts of the story  used in Walters’ piece were highly selective. The piece was from the point of view of the corporate grower.   Here is a more complete side of the story by David Bacon,

 When Jose Dolores began picking grapes at Gerawan Farming in California’s San Joaquin Valley in 1990, the company was paying a little over the state minimum wage of $4.25 an hour. “We just weren’t making enough, and everything cost a lot. That’s why people wanted the union,” he recalls.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Baja berry strike apparently settled

By  Richard Marosi.
Baja California farmworker leaders and the Mexican government reached a tentative agreement Thursday that would boost wages and guarantee government-required benefits to thousands of laborers, in an apparent breakthrough aimed at ending the nearly two-month-long labor dispute.
In an unprecedented move, Mexico's federal government agreed to pay part of the workers' wages in order to meet their demands for a minimum daily wage of 200 pesos, or about $13.
"This is an agreement that will help us construct an orderly, peaceful, respectful and responsible way to provide a better quality of life for those workers who live in the valley of San Quintin," Baja California Gov. Francisco Vega de Lamadrid said after 18 hours of tense negotiations in Ensenada.
The deal won't be formalized until a signing ceremony June 4 and some key negotiations remain, mainly to determine the industry and government's share of the wage increase. Some observers remained skeptical, noting that the language of the agreement didn't guarantee that the workers' wage demands would be met.
Even so, farmworker leaders struck a positive note as they were greeted by thousands of cheering laborers upon their return from Ensenada to San Quintin on Thursday morning.
The announcement came after weeks of stalled talks and increasingly violent clashes between protesters and police.
In a key concession, the government agreed to ensure that every laborer in the region 200 miles south of San Diego would have access to social security benefits, which provide pensions and healthcare. Some of the region's largest agribusinesses for years have been denying the benefits, which are required by law.
A summary of the 13-point agreement distributed by the Baja California governor's office says that government and industry representatives will try to reach consensus on a minimum daily wage that comes "as close as possible" to workers' demands.

Negotiations between the government and industry representatives were continuing Thursday. "To our knowledge, all parties involved have not come to a mutual resolution," said Alfredo Arvizu, a spokesman for BerryMex, a major grower for Driscoll's, the world's largest berry distributor.
Erik Nicholson, national vice president of the United Farm Workers, which has sent representatives to Mexico to monitor the discussions, said he is unaware of the Mexican government ever agreeing to subsidize farmworker wages. "They have not achieved the 200-peso goal yet," Nicholson said.
The labor standoff, which began in mid-March with laborers blocking the region's main highway to export markets, had been growing increasingly tense in recent weeks. Dozens of protesters were injured Saturday by police firing rubber bullets in clashes that were broadcast across the country.

Richard Marosi. LA Times.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cornel West in Baltimore

Start at 16 minutes.

Someone took down the prior post of Michelle Obama.  I do not know who. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Socialism and Sanders - As American as Apple Pie

Socialism :Long deployed by the right as an epithet, this form of left-wing populism is as American as apple pie.
Now that Bernie Sanders has entered the contest for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, Americans are going to hear a lot about socialism, because the 73-year-old U.S. senator from Vermont describes himself as a “democratic socialist.”
“Ever since I was a kid I never liked to see people without money or connections get put down or pushed around,” Sanders explained in making his announcement. “When I came to Congress I tried to be a voice for people who did not have a voice—the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor. And that is what I will be doing as a candidate for president.”
We can expect the right-wing echo chamber—including Fox News hosts, Tea Party politicians, and Rush Limbaugh—to attack Sanders for espousing an ideology that they’ll likely describe as foreign, European, and un-American.
But Sanders’s views are in sync with a longstanding American socialist tradition. Throughout our history, some of the nation’s most influential activists and thinkers, such as Jane Addams, John Dewey, Helen Keller, W.E.B. DuBois, Albert Einstein, Walter Reuther, Martin Luther King, and Gloria Steinem, embraced socialism.   
Of course, America’s right-wingers say there’s already a socialist in the White House.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Release Melida and Estrella from ICE detention

We support the release of Melida and her 4-year-old daughter, Estrella, from family detention in Karnes City, TX. Melida has a 10-year-old U.S. citizen daughter, a sister with a green card, and other U.S. citizen family and friends all waiting for her in New York and willing to care for her while her case proceeds. She has already endured more than eight months of detention, suffering constantly while her daughter has been chronically ill and required hospitalization. She's terrified of returning to Guatemala, where the family of the gang member who was convicted of murdering her sister-in-law wants retribution. ICE has the authority to release her but, so far, has denied every request. If prosecutorial discretion means anything, it means that Melida and Estrella should be released.
Melida and her daughter Estrella—who celebrated her 4th birthday in detention—are asylum seekers from Guatemala who have now been incarcerated for more than eight months.

They are being held at the family detention facility in Karnes City, TX, where 78 mothers recently initiated a hunger strike to protest prolonged detention and deplorable conditions.1

Melida's sister-in-law was murdered by a gang member in 2012, and her family testified against the murderer. He was convicted, and his family seeks revenge. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

Steps toward an inclusive history of California

The Chicano/Mexican American Digital History project has completed stage one of the effort to amend the History/Social Science Framework for California Public Schools  with the submission of over 35 letters from academics and community activists demanding that Mexican Americans be included in the history courses.
Mexican American/ Chicano history is substantially absent from public school textbooks and curriculum in California- and it has been since  1986.  Latino student political non participation  and disconnectedness is significantly caused by Latino absence from the K-12 textbooks and curriculum.

We thank all of those who have participated in this effort.  On May 8, 2015, the  Instructional Quality Commission (formerly the Curriculum Commission) will meet in Sacramento to adopt a change in their schedule.
The proposed new schedule would be:

California Children in Poverty

Choosing Democracy: California Children in Poverty