As human dignity organizers in rural Oregon we are often called on to stand up for our community, for the needs and rights of our families and neighbors. At the same time, we live in a globalized world where our lives are tied in unseen ways to the lives of millions of people we’ve never met, and the decisions we make can and do have impacts worlds away.
In the middle of local struggles in Oregon to protect the basic services that we count on daily: free education, health care for the disabled and elderly, and public safety, we can also keep in mind the struggles of others that are connected to us.
This week marks the 8th anniversary of the beginning of the US war in Afghanistan. I’ll never forget that fall morning nearly a decade ago when the bombs started dropping not even a full month after September 11th and I knew that our world would never be the same. Here we are now on the verge of a new resurgence of this ongoing war and our continued protest is as important as ever. ROP member group Corvallis Alternatives to War has never let the war in Afghanistan fade from their actions. They have stood vigil at the Benton County Courthouse every day for the past 8 years with their message of peace. It is truly a triumph of hope over powerlessness, and shows one community’s determination to make a stand.
Congratulations also to Benji Lewis, an Iraq war resister and member of Iraq Veterans against the War who many of you remember from his ROP tour of Oregon earlier this year. Benji recently travelled to Venezuela on a peace delegation organized by the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC). Among his many speaking engagements was this one at VTV, a major Venezuelan state-run TV station. (Don’t worry if you don’t understand the Spanish at first, there is a translator!) ROP is proud that Benji’s talents, his commitment to peace and justice combined with the support of his many friends and allies has allowed his clear and strong message against the Iraq War and US Imperialism to be heard around the world. Go Benji!
Last but not least, some of you also had the good fortune to meet Sarah’s friend Chila from El Salvador during her tour of NW Oregon this summer. In meetings with ROP groups, Chila spoke of the destructive gold mining practices of international corporations who operate in her home state of Cabañas, and the struggle to protect the natural resources from contamination. This struggle has now come home as one of the most destructive mining companies, Pacific Rim of Vancouver, BC, has filed charges against the Salvadoran government under the US-El Salvador Free Trade Agreement (also part of CAFTA). If Pacific Rim wins it’s claim that demands compensation for "lost profits," El Salvador stands to loose $77 million dollars to the corporation.
The El Salvador committee of PCASC is organizing a delegation to Vancouver on October 16th to put pressure on the company to drop the charges, and get out of El Salvador. You can find more information on the PCASC website and if you have a Facebook account, you can find the delgation page here. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in going, or you can sign up for the delegation online. Contact me for more reading and information on the Pacific Rim story or the delegation.
And as we work for justice in the US, may we always keep in mind our brothers and sisters abroad whose struggles are so deeply intertwined with ours.
Hasta la victoria siempre!