Human Rights News
Justice Time in the Borderland
With spring just around the corner, the Paso del Norte borderland buzzes with multiple activities that have a common theme: justice. Forums, protests and a symposium are scheduled for the coming days in El Paso, Texas, and neighboring Las Cruces, New Mexico, where outstanding issues of immigration, education, human rights, and a fair food system will all be on the agenda.
Multiple events are planned for the historic visit of students and parents of students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College of Ayotzinapa, Mexico. Kicking off a campaign to inform the U.S. public about the police killings and mass kidnapping of Ayotzinapa students in the state of Guerrero last September, as well as the ongoing struggle for justice in the case, the Mexican visitors will first stop in El Paso.
“It’s important that citizens and government leaders of other countries are aware of the injustices in Mexico and that the international community sees what is the globalization of repression,” said Felipe de la Cruz Sandoval, spokesperson for the Ayotzinapa tour, in a press release announcing the visits.
On Monday, March 16, the Ayotizinapa students and parents will be joined by local community members for an 11:30 am march beginning at the Border Agricultural Workers Center, 9th and Oregon in south-central El Paso, and culminating at the Mexican Consulate on the edge of downtown El Paso.
At 5:30 pm on the same day, the Mexican activists will participate in a community forum scheduled for La Mujera Obrera’s Centro Mayapan, which is located at 2000 Texas Street in south-central El Paso.
Dr. Camilo Perez-Bustillo, visiting professor at New Mexico State University (NMSU) in Las Cruces and member of the Ayotzinapa-Las Cruces Support Committee, said the week of March 16 offers a timely coming together of human rights and immigration issues.
The week ahead represents “a historic convergence of unprecedented crises in Mexico, when things are unraveling in all directions,” Perez-Bustillo told FNS.
On Thursday, March 19, Aggie Solidarity and the Ayotzinapa-Las Cruces Support Committee will sponsor a noon rally at the federal courthouse in downtown Las Cruces, where a call will be made to suspend U.S. assistance to Mexican military and police forces due to human rights violations.
Prior to the demonstration, an open-air forum with the participation of Ayotzinapa representatives will be held in front of the Corbett Center on the main campus of NMSU beginning at 10 am.
The Ayotzinapa caravan members will also be honored guests at the 11th Annual J. Paul Taylor Social Justice Symposium set for next week at NMSU.
Entitled “Justice for Migrant Youth,” the 2015 edition of the J. Paul Taylor Symposium is sponsored by NMSU’S College of Arts and Sciences, the Center for Latin American and Border Studies, other campus departments and community organizations.
Hitting high gear on March 17 and March 18, the symposium will feature academics, researchers and human rights defenders speaking on the realities facing migrants- especially children- on the long and tortured trail between Central America and the United States.
“This is a unique and special opportunity to bring together and learn from experts with direct experience working to promote justice for migrant youth and children in Central America, Mexico and the United States,” said Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the Regional Center for Border Rights of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico.
Among many others, the invited speakers and presenters include: Maria Eugenia Ponce Sevilla, co-founder of Los Otros Dreamers; Laurie Ann Guerrero, poet laureate of San Antonio, Texas; Gabriela Contreras, Guatemalan attorney and representative of Guatemalan victims of the 2010 San Fernando Massacre in northern Mexico; Pablo Alvarado, president of the National Day Laborers Organizing Committee; and Blanca Navarette, director of a Ciudad Juarez project that supports deported youth on the Mexico-U.S. border.
The March 18 keynote speech will be delivered by Father Alejandro Solalinde Guerra, renowned migrant advocate and winner of Mexico’s National Human Rights Award of 2012. Persecuted for his activism, Solalinde is internationally recognized as one of his country’s most outspoken and leading human rights defenders. The March 17 and 18 symposium events will be held at the ASNMSU Center for the Arts, 1000 E. Unversity Avenue in Las Cruces.
Finally, on a separate but ultimately related note, El Paso’s Social Justice Education Forums will sponsor a March 21 presentation by NMSU Professor Lois Stanford on food justice in the U.S.-Mexico border region. According to forum planners, Dr. Stanford’s presentation will draw on “lessons and insights into food justice at the local level.” The event is programmed for Saturday, March 21, from 10 am to 11:30 am at the Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, Culture and Technology Center, 721 Ochoa St. in El Paso.
Noting the divergence between largely white middle-class alternative food consumers who can afford pricey organic items and lower-income people struggling to put food on their tables, forum organizers said Dr.
Stanford’s presentation will examine efforts to deepen and diversify the fight for food justice.
“To bridge this gap, many communities of color now engage in food justice activism in order to provide food for their residents, broadening the food movement to address not only ecological sustainability but also social justice,” according to forum organizers.
For more information on the events described above readers can consult the following sites and/or contact persons:
J. Paul Taylor Symposium: http://artsci.nmsu.edu/en/j-paul-taylor-symposium
March 21 El Paso food system event: https://www.facebook.com/sjeducationep
Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico
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