Tuesday, September 22, 2009

EMERGENCY RALLY - Supporting Zelaya's return to Honduras

We invite Canadians to participate in an emergency rally on Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at noon in front of the Brazilian consulate in Toronto (77 Bloor Street West) to show their support for the return to democracy in Honduras.

In light of the news of President Manuel Zelaya’s return to Honduras, the Latin American Solidarity Network wishes to make known our statement regarding this development.We commend the valiant acts of the Honduran people who have been resisting for 87 days. We also recognize the efforts of the countries of Latin America to find a peaceful resolution to this conflict, in particular we would like to thank the Brazilian government and its officials in Tegucigalpa, who have been providing for the safety of President Zelaya.

We fully agree with the statements made by Juan Barahona, the general coordinator of the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup, who has called this is a peaceful popular insurrection and has claimed that the de facto government of Micheletti has few options before them if they wish to stay in power now that Zelaya has returned. "The Armed Forces would have to commit a blood bath in order to [keep the de facto government in power]," stated Barahona. Members of the military have already stated they are willing take the lives of their fellow Hondurans.

We demand that the Canadian government condemn the acts of repression that have already been occurring and that they pressure the de facto regime to cease its repression.

We have received reports of the following:

  • Police attacks on peaceful protests in front of the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, including the use of live ammunition, Telesur reports that there are 2 dead and many wounded as a result of the repression

  • The targeting of pro-democracy journalists, the de facto government has attempted to shut down Radio Globo, TV Canal 36, and has targeted members of the international press

  • A complete militarization of the country, with a curfew imposed around-the-clock, and the suspension of electricity and mobile phone networks

We call on the Canadian government to immediate declare its support for the return of President Zelaya to power and the return to democracy.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Breaking News: President Zelaya has returned to Honduras

By Lucho Granados Ceja

It has been confirmed that the legitimate President of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya Rosales, has returned to the capital, Tegucigalpa, after traveling by land over a period of two days. Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, spoke with Zelaya on the phone and has called for the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti to respect the life of Zelaya and to peacefully return power to Zelaya.

The valiant people of Honduras, who have been resisting for 86 days, have already taken to the streets by the thousands to support the return of Zelaya. Juan Barahona, the general coordinator of the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup, has called this is a peaceful popular insurrection and claimed that the de facto government of Micheletti has few options before them if they wish to stay in power now that Zelaya has returned. "The Armed Forces would have to commit a blood bath in order to [keep the de facto government in power]," stated Barahona.

Juan Barahona of the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup

Zelaya was ousted by political elites in a coup on June 28, 2009, the same day that a referendum was set to take place in order to determine the desire of the Honduran people to re-write the constitution. It was this prospect of a more progressive constitution that would favour the interests of the people and not the rich that drove them to oust the President.

Developing story...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Rally Against Human Rights Violations in Honduras by de facto Government

The Latin American Solidarity Network will rally at 12 p.m. on Saturday, August 8 at the US Consulate in Toronto (360 University Ave. @ Dundas St.) to demand the US government work towards the immediate and unconditional restoration of Manuel Zelaya to the Honduran presidency in order to put an end to the human rights violations presently occurring in Honduras.

“The International Mission confirms the existence of grave and systematic violations of human rights in Honduras subsequent to the coup d’état. Some of these violations originate from the application of norms in open violation of the international agreements for the protection of human rights, the militarization of security functions and state institutions, abuses on the part of the State security forces, and lack of response from the guaranteed mechanisms of the State,” said a public statement by an International Human Rights Commission composed of fifteen independent professionals that recently visited Honduras.

The statement further concluded, “We have confirmed serious limitations on freedom of expression and intimidations intended to restrict the circulation of information criticizing the de facto regime. At this time, we consider a portion of the mass communication intermediaries of the country have had an attitude inconsistent with the plurality of ideas and democracy.”

Democratically elected Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup in June and the de facto government has categorically refused to allow his return to power, threatening instead to arrest him if he sets foot on Honduran soil.

This rally will serve as lead up to more actions on Tuesday, August 11, the Global Day of Action Against the Coup in Honduras. The Latin American Solidarity Network is an independent and inclusive group of people and organizations working in solidarity with Latin American grassroots movements and struggles.

For more information on the state of Human Rights in Honduras click here.

For more information, contact:
Luis Granados Ceja
Phone: 416-417-0931
E-mail: granados.ceja@gmail.com

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rally Against US Complicity in Honduran Coup

The Latin American Solidarity Network will rally at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 18 at the US Consulate in Toronto (360 University Ave. @ Dundas St.) to demand the US government stop lending legitimacy to the coup leaders and work towards the immediate and unconditional restoration of Manuel Zelaya to the Honduran presidency.

Despite public statements by President Obama condemning the coup, the US State Department has refused to take steps to effectively pressure the de facto regime nor to legally certify the events in Honduras as a "coup d’état" – something that would require the US to suspend economic, diplomatic and military aid to Honduras immediately.

Activists in Toronto wear maks and handcuffs at a rally on July 14 to represent the repressive regime of Roberto Micheletti

“No one doubts Washington's involvement in the coup in Honduras that began on June 28. Many analysts, leaders and even presidents, have denounced this,” stated Eva Golinger, a distinguished journalist who helped expose the US role in the coup against President Chavez of Venezuela.

Democratically elected Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup in June and the de facto government has categorically refused to allow his return to power, threatening instead to arrest him if he sets foot on Honduran soil.

The US Ambassador in Tegucigalpa, Hugo Llorens, was fully aware prior to the events of June 28 that a coup was being planned yet allowed the coup leaders to proceed. The Obama administration has subsequently pursued a policy of facilitating “negotiations” between the coup regime and Zelaya. This strategy only serves to discredit President Zelaya and legitimize the coup leaders.

Latin American Solidarity Network is an independent and inclusive group of people and organizations working in solidarity with Latin American grassroots movements and struggles.

Background information:

For more information, contact:
Carlos Torchia
Phone: 416-962-0904
E-mail: ctorchia39@aol.com

Luis Granados Ceja
Phone: 416-417-0931
E-mail: granados.ceja@gmail.com

Peter Kent’s Constituency Office Closed to Canadians with Concerns Regarding Honduras

RESPONSE: Please call, fax, email the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), Peter Kent at his constituency office to demand that the Canadian government immediately suspend aid to the de facto government of Honduras.

On Tuesday, 14 July, approximately 40 demonstrators picketed in front of Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Peter Kent’s constituency office in Thornhill, Ontario to protest his and the Canadian government’s ambiguous position on the military coup d’état in Honduras. Despite having scheduled a meeting with a group of concerned citizens to discuss the Canadian position, Kent’s constituency office staff locked the doors and put up a ‘closed’ sign forcing demonstration representatives ready to meet with Kent and/or his staff to leave a prepared briefing with clear demands (see below) stuck to the door.

Take Action!

To encourage Minister Kent and his constituency office staff to embrace democracy and openness and to continue to demand that the Canadian government take strong action against the illegal government in Honduras, please:
  1. Call, fax, or email Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) Peter Kent at his constituency office, Tel: 905-886-1426, Fax: 905-886-5267, Email: Kent.P@parl.gc.ca. Use the call script below.
  2. Call, fax, or email your MP (click here to contact your MP using your postal code) to demand that the Canadian government:
  • unequivocally denounce the military coup
  • refuse to recognise any ‘de facto’ government in Honduras
  • insist on the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of the legitimate Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya
  • cut aid to the illegal Honduran government
  • demand respect for safety and human rights of all people in Honduras
  • demand justice and reparations for the illegal actions and rights violations committed during this illegal coup
Note: Please send copies of all email correspondence to the Latin American Solidarity Network at ctorchia39@aol.com.

Call Script:
I urge Canada to take strong action to reject the military coup in Honduras. In keeping with the Canadian government’s stated condemnation of the coup, please demand the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of legitimate Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, as our European allies have already done. I know that Honduras is the largest recipient of Canadian aid in the Central American region. As several countries around the world have already done, please also cut all Canadian assistance to the de facto government, including military aid. Canada must immediately back up its words with actions to further isolate the illegal government in Honduras.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cut aid to illegal Honduran government

Call the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), Peter Kent, to demand that the Canadian government immediately suspend aid to the de facto government of Honduras.

Democratically elected Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup on June 28th, and the de facto government has categorically refused to allow his return to power, threatening instead to arrest him if he sets foot on Honduran soil. Zelaya attempted to return to his country on Sunday, but his plane was unable to land after the Honduran military placed vehicles on the runways of the international airport. Meanwhile, at least two peaceful protestors have been killed and others injured, civil liberties have been suspended, and journalists have been harassed and detained by the current authorities.

The Canadian government has denounced the coup. However, its position remains ambiguous. Canada has not cut aid, including military aid, to the illegal government that assumed power following the early morning kidnapping of President Zelaya ten days ago. Honduras is the largest recipient of Canadian aid in the Central American region.

The suspension of aid would further isolate the illegal regime that has taken power in Honduras. Already, the United Nations, Organization of American States (OAS), European Union and others have condemned the coup and called for Zelaya's return. The OAS has expelled Honduras, European and Latin American nations have withdrawn their ambassadors, and multilateral financial institutions including the World Bank have frozen loan payments.

We stand in solidarity with the thousands of Hondurans risking their lives in the streets to demand that their voices and their votes be respected. We join the Honduran and other Latin American communities in Canada in demanding that the Canadian government move beyond words in this urgent situation and take strong action against the illegal government that has taken over in Honduras. Call Minister Kent today!

Take Action!

  1. Call, fax, or email Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas), Peter Kent at Tel: 613-992-0253, Fax: 613-992-0887, Email: Kent.P@parl.gc.ca. Use the call script below.
  2. Call, fax, or email your MP (click here to contact your MP using your postal code) to demand that the Canadian government:
  • unequivocally denounce the military coup

  • refuse to recognise any ‘de facto’ government in Honduras

  • insist on the unconditional reinstatement of the legitimate Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya

  • cut aid to the illegal Honduran government

  • demand respect for safety and human rights of all Hondurans

  • demand justice and reparations for the illegal actions and rights violations committed during this illegal coup

Note: Please send copies of all email correspondence to the Latin American Solidarity Network at ctorchia39@aol.com.

Call Script:
I urge Canada to take strong action to reject the military coup in Honduras. In keeping with the Canadian government’s stated condemnation of the coup, please demand the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of legitimate Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya, as our European allies have already done. I know that Honduras is the largest recipient of Canadian aid in the Central American region. Please also cut all Canadian assistance to the de facto government, including military aid. Canada must immediately back up its words with actions to further isolate the illegal government in Honduras.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Barrio Nuevo's Statement on the Coup in Honduras

Barrio Nuevo continues to strongly condemn and oppose the military coup d’état carried out in Honduras forcibly removing the democratically-elected President, Manuel Zelaya. We call for the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of President Zelaya and for those responsible for ordering and carrying out the coup d’état to be brought to justice. Barrio Nuevo stands in solidarity with the Honduran people as they mobilize in the streets to denounce the coup in the face of violent repression from the military.

The Canadian government’s position remains unacceptably ambiguous. Although it has denounced the coup, the Canadian government continues to qualify its position by referring to an alleged and unsubstantiated violation of the Honduran constitution by democratically-elected President Zelaya as a possible justification for the illegal actions taken by the Honduran military. For example, in the OAS, Peter Kent, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, is insisting this is not a simple one-sided problem, “that Mr. Zelaya was a highly polarizing figure who clashed with the Supreme Court, Congress and army,” that “there has to be an appreciation of the events that led up to the coup.” This equivocal position of the Canadian government must be rejected. Such implied justification for the coup from the Canadian government is dangerous and irresponsible at best. At worst, it bolsters the current illegal government in Honduras, a regime that has suspended various civil rights and is detaining without charge leaders and members of Honduran civil society. There is and can be no justification for the Honduran military coup and militarization of the country.

Please call or send a message to Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, demanding that the Canadian government unconditionally 1) denounce the coup d’état; 2) not recognize any illegal government in Honduras; 3) call for the immediate reinstatement of President Zelaya. Please send copies of any correspondence to Minister of State for the Americas, Peter Kent, and to the leaders of the three opposition parties. Finally, we call on allies and progressive organizations to support Honduran democracy, to demand President Zelaya’s reinstatement, and to remain vigilant as further actions and demonstrations are organized.

Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Tel: 613-992-5516
Fax: 613-992-6802
Email: CannoL@parl.gc.ca

Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)
Tel: 613-992-0253
Fax: 613-992-0887
Email: Kent.P@parl.gc.ca

Michael Ignatieff
Leader, Liberal Party of Canada
Email: IgnatM@parl.gc.ca

Gilles Duceppe
Leader, Bloc Quebecois
Email: DucepG@parl.gc.ca

Jack Layton
Leader, New Democratic Party of Canada
Email: LaytoJ@parl.gc.ca

For more information or to get involved, contact Barrio Nuevo, barrionuevo.canada@gmail.com

Thursday, April 16, 2009

May Day 2009 / Día del Trabajador 2009

Cultural and Political Festival / Festival Cultural y Política:
Friday / viernes, May 1, 6pm - Steelorkers Hall, 25 Cecil St.

'NO ONE IS ILLEGAL' Rally and March / ‘NINGUNA PERSONA ES ILEGAL” Concentración y Marcha
Saturday / sábado, May 2, 1pm – Sherbourne and Carlton

On April 2nd and 3rd, over 100 temporary and undocumented workers were attacked by armed border guards, dragged in to detention and are now being forcibly deported. On 2 May, thousands of us will say Enough!

Migrants, poor and working people; undocumented people and people of colour live in constant crisis in Canada, attacked daily. A crisis has always existed in Teesdale, in Regent Park, in farm fields, on factory floors and in hotel service areas.

Corporate and political elites are using the current 'Economic Crisis' as an excuse to attack poor, working-class and racialized communities by increasing immigration enforcement; stealing public funds; wrecking social services; taking away people's jobs rather than cutting profits and targeting those they perceive as the weakest - indigenous people; the homeless; refugee claimants; women in shelters; queer and trans migrants, caregivers; factory workers and temporary workers.

We say there are no illegal human beings, only unjust laws and governments. No one, poor or undocumented, is illegal. The struggle of workers - waged and unwaged, with or without immigration status – is against powerful elites and systems of oppression. Citizenship, jobs and houses - granted to some and denied to others - are tools to divide us.

We will not be divided.

On May 2, join thousands of us as we take to the streets and demand an end to corporate and state attacks on our communities. We demand an end to detentions and deportations. We demand access without fear to essential services. We demand an end to security certificates and secret trials. We demand a full and inclusive regularization program. We demand justice, dignity, and status for all!

We did not create this crisis, and we will not pay for it. On May 2nd, create power. Resist. Because No One Is Illegal

Rally at Sherbourne and Carlton, 1pm.

March will begin shortly afterwards.

En Español...

Las comunidades inmigrantes, los trabajadores, las personas sin estatus y de color viven en una crisis constante siendo atacadas todos los días en Canadá. La crisis siempre ha existido en comunidades marginadas como Teesdale, Regent Park, en el campo, las fabricas y para trabajadores de limpieza.

Los ricos, las corporaciones, y los políticos están usando la “crisis económica” como una excusa mas, para atacar a los pobres, los trabajadores y las comunidades de color. Han incrementado el numero de oficiales de inmigración y de redadas, están robando fondos públicos y recortando los servicios sociales. También nos quitan nuestros trabajos en lugar de recortar sus ganancias. Hostigan a los que perciben que son los mas vulnerables—las comunidades indígenas, las personas sin hogar, los que piden refugio, las mujeres en los albergues, los inmigrantes queer y trans, las trabajadoras temporales en el campo, en los hogares y los trabajadores en las fabricas, en la limpieza y en la construcción.

Afirmamos que ninguna persona es ilegal, solo las leyes y gobiernos injustos. Nadie, ni pobre ni indocumentada/o, es ilegal.

La lucha de los trabajadores—con o sin salarios, con o sin estatus migratorio—es contra los sistemas que nos oprimen, que es controlado por los ricos. La ciudadanía, los trabajos y hogares son otorgados a unas personas y negados a otras para crear diviciones entre nosotros y afectarnos en nuestra lucha.

No lo lograran.

El 2 de Mayo, únete a las miles de personas que saldrán a las calles para exigir el fin a los ataques del gobierno y las corporaciones en contra de nuestras comunidades. Exigimos servicios sociales para toda/os. Exigimos justicia, dignidad y estatus para toda/os.

La crisis del capitalismo nos la están imponiendo. Nosotros no creamos esta crisis y no vamos a pagar por ella. El 2 de Mayo, juntémonos porque juntos somos más poderosos. Resistamos.
Porque Ninguna persona es ilegal.

Concentración en Sherbourne y Carlton, 1 de la tarde

La marcha empezara poco después

Organized by / Organizado por: No One Is Illegal-Toronto | Mujeres al Frente | SAWRO | Migrante Ontario | Canadian HART | Casa Salvador Allende | Basics Newsletter | OCAP | Jane and Finch Action Against Poverty | Sikh Activist Network | Toronto New Socialists | Barrio Nuevo | the Stop Community Food Centre | BAYAN Toronto | PCLS | OPIRG Toronto | CAIA | GGAPSS

FMLN Triumphs in Elections in El Salvador, But the Struggle Continues

by Nicolas Lopez (of Barrio Nuevo) Basics Issue #13 (Apr/May 2009)

Patiently enduring a long road of suffering and disillusionment, the FMLN, the main people’s party of El Salvador, has set an example of how perseverance and conviction can achieve what it aims for. On March 15, 2009 the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) triumphed in El Salvador’s presidential elections, bringing a major political defeat to the right-wing governing party, ARENA, and bringing the people one step closer to the reality of social and economic justice.

During the 1980s, five insurgent groups united to form the FMLN coalition, which they named after the internationalist-minded Farabundo Marti, a Salvadorian leader of a peasant and working class uprising against electoral fraud in January 1932. Dictator Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez reacted with furious violence against the movement, backed by U.S. and British military support. During an event known as ‘La Matanza’ (The Massacre), Farabundo Marti was executed and historians estimate that some 30,000 people were killed during four days. Since then, the people’s movement in El Salvador took to the underground to organize themselves clandestinely to overcome repression. In response, the Salvadorian government began using death squads to kill the revolutionaries’ social base. During those years of fierce repression, the people’s movement was forced to take up armed struggle as a way to defend the poor from the violence imposed on them, enduring the hardships of a gruesome civil war that lasted from 1979 until 1992. Although the people’s movement was unable to seize power from the powerful Salvadorian army aided by a million-dollar-a-day U.S. investment in paramilitary squads, the movement was still able to achieve wide political support and legitimacy, laying the foundation of what today is a victorious movement.

This is the brutal history that set the tone for the 2009 Presidential elections in El Salvador.

A week before the elections, the FMLN closed the campaign in the capital, San Salvador. Hundreds of thousands of people participated in a public gathering, the largest crowd for a political event in decades. It was a show of support far superior to what the right wing party displayed the next day. It was obvious by then that the FMLN had a greater following than the opposing party, and during the days of that week ARENA (Republican Nationalist Alliance) desperately tried to convince people through an intensive media bombardment that if FMLN were to be elected, El Salvador would become subordinate to Venezuela and “President Hugo Chavez’s expansionist project”, and that Salvadorians would risk having remittances from family members in the U.S. halted by the U.S. government.

ARENA’s maneuvers to discredit the revolutionaries included personal attacks against FMLN candidate Mauricio Funes, to which Funes responded by highlighting his party’s proposals to overcome the devastating effects of the neoliberal capitalist policies implemented by ARENA since 1993. ARENA has a long track record of using tricks and foul play to maintain power, but this time the frustrated population would not allow another fraud to occur and perhaps wouldn’t limit their furious reaction.

ARENA has in past handed out thousands of fake IDs to people they brought in from neighboring countries to fraudulently vote for their party. Although widespread evidence indicates this also happened on March 15th, 2009 FMLN was still able to move their voters and supporters to the vote and defend their electoral rights against these ‘tactricks’ of ARENA.

However, change will only occur gradually in El Salvador, with the right still firmly entrenched in the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and with the FMLN lacking a majority of seats in the Parliament. At best, the FMLN’s presence in the government will only be able to pave the ground for future rounds of struggle. For a start, it will begin by opening the books and taxing big business and recover the U$2 billion lost every year on tax evasion. This could allow them to increase wages and subsidies to basic social services, implement land reform and increase agricultural production, increase employment and scholarship opportunities and reduce gang violence in urban areas. Also, the FMLN’s political presence will give them the opportunity to strengthen the social and political capacity of the mass movements, for example by strengthening community media. Furthermore, with the FMLN at the head of the executive branch of government, they will be able to establish independent foreign relations, which under ARENA’s governments were so submissive to U.S. policy.

All of this, however, will only be possible through the continued participation and increased development of an organized mass movement to defend and advance the struggle for the economic and social power of the people.

‘They Don’t Belong’: The Solution is Not Cops

by Rayon
Basics Issue #13 (Apr/May 2009)

A few weeks ago, our high school, Weston Collegiate Institute, had a few people from the NO COPS campaign (Newly Organized Coalition Opposing Police in Schools) pay a visit to us at lunch time. They set up a table across the street and had stacks of free BASICS newspapers to give out. While BASICS organizers are well known for distributing the papers in Toronto communities, the members of NO COPS who were there that day, strapped with their BASICS issues, had another purpose.

What these guys had was a petition to the remove the “Special Resources Officer” - the uniformed armed police officers in high schools – from the 30 or so TDSB secondary schools across Toronto.

For the majority of the students at Weston, this petition is allowing us to voice our concerns about having a cop in our school. There was a lack of community consultation in bringing this cop here in the first place. The Toronto Police Services initiated and funds this program and the Toronto District School Board approved it at an executive level. The feelings among most of the students at Weston C.I. is that they do not want a cop in their school and they feel threatened by the presence of an armed police officer in the school for numerous reasons. The students cannot identify with an individual who wears a massive bullet proof vest and carries a loaded gun and taser, which is quite intimidating particularly for people coming from T.O.’s “priority neighbourhoods” – let’s be honest, ghettoes – who witness and experience police activity in a whole different light than youth from more affluent areas.

On a day-to-day basis, the police harass, bully, and brutalize people from our communities and get away without being held to account for their actions. How can we accept having police in our schools to “build relations” with us if they are getting away with daily brutality and sometimes murder in our communities? (Anyone remember Alwy Al-Nadhir or Byron Debassige?) We have already experienced police (SRO) harrassment at Weston C.I. There was a conflict with two young women and the SRO used unnecessary and excessive force on the two young women. This incident was captured on video.

The effect of having police in schools is going to push more and more marginalized students out of school altogether, furthering the divide between youth from financially-stable homes and communities and youth from working-class homes and communities. We cannot let this happen. We will not let this happen.

We want cops out of our schools!

If you are interested in becoming an organizer with the NO COPS campaign , please contact us at nocops09@gmail.com.

Protests in Toronto respond to Ontario immigration raids

by Syed Hussan, Faria Kamal, and Chris Ramsaroop
Basics Issue #13 (Apr/May 2009)

Nearly 200 outraged community and labour activists rattled the fences of Rexdale Immigration Detention Centre on April 5, demanding the release of over 100 undocumented workers arrested during unprecedented immigration raids across southwestern Ontario.

Chanting ‘No One Is Illegal! Stop deporting people,’ ‘We didn’t cross the borders, the borders crossed us’ and ’Justice for migrant workers,’ teachers, lawyers and organizers from OSSTF D12, Parkdale Legal Community Services, Mujeres Al Frente, the Sikh Activist Network, the Good Jobs Coalition, CUPE, UFCW, CAW, OPSEU and many others joined family members and friends on Sunday morning. Organized by No One is Illegal-Toronto, Migrante Ontario and Justicia for Migrant Workers, the spirited action was in response to three separate but coordinated attacks against undocumented communities.

This past week, Canada Border Services Agency and South Simcoe Police arrested hundreds of people, detaining over 100 workers. At the same time, in Leamington and Windsor, Ontario, dozens of undocumented people were picked up on their way to work, in their homes and in public spaces. Homes were also raided on the Danforth where absentee workers possessions were confiscated.

''For Justicia, these are our friends and our families that are on the inside," says Chris Ramsaroop from Justicia for Migrant Workers. "For Justicia this isn't just political, it’s personal. Our activists are impacted by these workplace raids."

“Racialized people have been targeted once more while working to pay for the basics while corrupt employers go free. And to this we say No!" he thundered.

No charges have been laid against the employer, Cericola Farms. These raids come the same day the migrant worker community celebrated a victory against recruitment agencies charging large “placement" fees to workers even if no legal work was found. Many workers were forced to work under precarious immigration status in order to secure an income.

As supporters encircled the premises of the detention center, the detainees came to the windows, applauding, cheering, pounding at the glass and waving fists. The action saw both the imprisoned and their community allies demanding an immediate end to immigration raids, detentions and deportations.

Numerous Studies Show Cops in Schools Make Matters Worse

by James Campbell Basics Issue #13 (Apr/May 2009)

The first School Resource Officer (SRO) programs began, unsurprisingly, in the United States. The goal of the first programs, started in Flint, Michigan during the 1950s, was to “improve relations between police and young people”. Despite the long history of these programs and their growing expansion to school districts all over the U.S. and Canada, a report by the International Center for Crime Prevention (ICCP) suggests that these programs have no long-term measurable benefit to student engagement or school safety.

If these programs have no measurable benefit, then why would Toronto Police Services (TPS) and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) be spending invaluable financial and institutional capital on an SRO Program at a time when our schools and our students are in crisis?

The answer, according to the ICCP report, is the move made by most police forces in the 1990s towards “community policing”. In the wake of the release of the Falconer Report, in response to the shooting of Jordan Manners at C.W. Jeffries Collegiate Institute, Toronto's own champion of “community policing” Police Chief Bill Blair made his own pitch to the TDSB to install armed police officers in schools.

In keeping with the history of SRO programs, and despite the dire warnings of the Falconer report, about the urgent need to make schools safer places for students, teachers, and staff, the goal of Blair's program is not to make schools safer but to “improve relations between police and young people”.

Despite being explicitly part of the TPS's 'community policing' mandate, there was absolutely no community consultation before the pilot program was implemented in September 2008. The decision to create the program was made in a series of back-room meetings with members of the Safe and Caring Schools department of the TDSB and members of the TPS.

Not only was the program created without consultation, it explicitly ignores two major community consultations done at the cost of millions of precious taxpayer dollars. Both the Falconer Report on School Safety and the Curling-McMurtry report on the Roots of Youth Violence spent months talking with and listening to students, parents, teachers, and school support workers. Out of these direct and extensive consultations, both reports painted a picture of a system in critical need of repair, and outlined extensive and specific recommendations to both engage marginalized youth and make our schools safer. Not once did either report recommend putting armed and uniformed officers in schools.

In fact, the Curling-McMurtry report explicitly points to the racial profiling of racialized youth by Toronto police as a major contributing factor to the increased climate of fear for many youth:

“Many youth also told us that they felt uncomfortable walking through policed areas within their neighbourhoods for fear of being harassed. One senior civic official highlighted this for us when he explained that in one community the youth favoured the use of surveillance cameras in public areas because they created zones where the police did not harass the youth.”

While the TDSB is still struggling to come up with funds to hire the highly-trained youth and social workers recommended by the Falconer and Curling-McMurty Reports, the TPS has stepped in with funding to replace social workers with the very police officers many youth fear.

Despite explicit assurances that the SRO program is not about school safety, the TDSB continues to justify the program on the grounds that it's making schools safer. This February, the TDSB released its preliminary report on the 5-month-old SRO program. In glowing articles in both The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star, school administrators as well as TDSB and TPS officials told seemingly charming stories about police officers staying late to coach teams and participating in school-wide events by dancing in tutus. Based on these stories and other “anecdotal” reports, journalists and administrators happily concluded that the program was so far a great success in making schools safer.

Not only did these stories ignore the numerous reports by students, teachers, and staff of police harassment and an increasing climate of fear and repression, but they also ignored the TDSB report's own data. While TDSB data shows a reduction in suspensions and police charges in schools with SROs, there is nothing to support the claim that these reductions are the direct result of the SRO's presence. Indeed, these drops are consistent with a similar drop in suspensions and police charges in schools without SROs, which have been credited to the changes made to the Safe Schools Act explicitly intended to reduce suspensions and the intervention of police.

There is only one significant difference when it comes to data comparing schools with and schools without SROs: while the report indicates a 24% drop in violent incidents board-wide, it shows a 15% increase in violent incidents in schools with SROs. (Officials blamed this increase in violence in SRO schools on two major incidents in two different schools, and then conveniently chose to exclude these two incidents from the data set because it “skewed” the results.)

With no contemporary or historical data to suggest SRO programs have any measurable benefit for students, and with much historical and contemporary data that suggests that increased police presence alienates and marginalizes many youth, both the TDSB and the TPS continue to struggle to come up with a rationale for the program. At a time when there is almost universal consensus on what our schools and students need, our police force and school board are spending precious time, energy and resources on a program whose stated goal is not to benefit students in need, but to benefit the police force itself.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month
April 2009

WHEREAS the Hispanic population is among the fastest growing ethnic groups in the City of Toronto and is committed to preserving its rich culture and traditions. Hispanic Heritage Month provides our Latin American communities with the opportunity to showcase and share their lively and captivating culture and traditions with Toronto residents and visitors to our city.

In Toronto, we encourage and welcome cultural celebrations of our many cultural groups that work hard to promote and preserve their rich heritage. Thes celebrations encourage understanding and goodwill and enrich our social and cultura developmen and the quality of life for many.

NOW THEREFORE, I Mayor David Miller, on behalf of Toronto City Council, do hereby proclaim April 2009 as "Hispanic Heritage Month" in the City of Toronto.

Mayor David Miller

For more information visit: http://hispanicheritagemonth.wordpress.com/

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Review of Steven Soderbergh’s 'Che'

by Sana Malik
BASICS Issue #13 (April/May)

Steven Soderbergh's 4.5 hour biopic on Ernesto Che Guevara is an accomplished and respectful take on the revolutionary years of Che’s short life. For those who expect a celebratory tribute to the Latin American figure, Soderbergh’s piece will seem like a vague attempt to represent a hero’s tale. However, Soderbergh’s depiction and stylistic choices – always showing not telling – are as complex as its subject. Che was a principled man, but he was not without flaws or errors in judgement. This is an epic that celebrates his victories, but it just as easily leads you into the frustration of crushing defeat that Che was surely encountering. Soderbergh's strong cinematic overtures, and the contrast in pace and tone between part one and part two provoke questions on who Che was as a revolutionary and as a leader forced to make conflicting decisions. And that's exactly where this picture is the strongest- never making any judgements but leaving the viewer in the position of dissecting Che’s actions as a man of principle, without ever making his thoughts or actions palpable.

Part one contrasts scenes of guerrilla fighting in the 50’s in the Cuban heartland with Che’s first visit to the UN in 1964. His zeal and confidence are on full display in the gritty black and white reel, and a BBC reporter’s voiceover makes distinct the simultaneous suspicion and intrigue the West held of Che. It’s here that Soderbergh introduces and plays on the iconic and visionary poses that make the Argentine recognizable as a revolutionary, while the battle of Cuba wages on in subsequent scenes. Che remains obscure in Soderbergh’s vision - adding to his larger than life image as a popular icon – and Benicio del Toro captivates with perfection in the lead. Del Toro’s Che is equally compassionate and cruel, sometimes dogmatic and other times rash, his brilliant intellect on display and his crucial miscalculations devastating. It makes the man all the harder to understand.

The battle has been won and Cuba’s glorious socialist revolution is now place, and part two begins with Fidel Castro reading Che’s farewell letter to the Cuban people he helped free from the forces of imperialism. Che’s vision for a free and socialist Latin America has compelled his return to guerrilla warfare in Bolivia and to his eventual death. This story is less about his image as a revolutionary icon and more about a man as complex and conflicted as a determined fighter. The glamour is left behind in part one, and the continuation is a more reflective piece that captures Che’s raw emotion and human spirit. Or at least as much is accessible. Soderbergh reconstructs the complexity of Che’s covert battle – in the landscape and with himself – through discrete, but powerful sequences in the fateful year Che spent in the Bolivian highlands. Che sees everything that happened in Cuba in reverse: he is rejected by the peasants he hopes to liberate, his battalion shrinks as fighters die, are wounded, or run away, and the American-trained Bolivian militia encroaches his terrain. But he never turns back and that is the biggest message this film delivers.

The film is challenged by it’s slow pace and choppy storytelling attempting to mesh parts that don’t quite work together. It’s not entirely a glamorous portrayal and part two, especially, will probably suffer in commercial success. But it’s as honest, direct and significant as the subject it portrays.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Barrio Nuevo on Radio BASICS

Pablo Vivanco and Lucho Granados Ceja of Barrio Nuevo were recently featured on Radio BASICS, speaking about their experiences as international observers during the 2009 Salvadorian presidential election.

The clip is below:
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For the entire episode visit:

Be sure to check out other episodes of Radio BASICS and Barrio Nuevo's show "La Esquina", Saturdays from 8 to 10 on 1610 AM (CHHA).

Friday, March 6, 2009

Why Jason Marin doesn’t speak for me and shouldn’t speak for Latino/as

A letter from Lucho Granados Ceja of Barrio Nuevo to students at the University of Toronto

“I’m a gay Costa Rican Jew. I think that’s pretty diverse”. That’s how University of Toronto Students' Union (UTSU) presidential candidate Jason Marin responded at an elections forum when students expressed concern that his ticket lacked diversity. What Jason needs to realize is that if he purports to represent the Latino community, he must defend our interests. Unfortunately, he has consistently done the opposite.

Barrio Nuevo and its allies regularly see the detrimental effects of poor leadership amongst our community; issues such as a high drop out rates, low participation levels in post secondary education, and racial profiling continue to plague our community. As someone who works with the Latino community in Toronto, it is my opinion that Jason is the very type of “leader” that has been a detriment to our community and kept us oppressed here in Canada for so many years; “leaders” such as right-wing Toronto city councillor Cesar Palacio, who only champion their ethnicity when convenient, and push anti-people policies once in power.

Jason’s record on New College Student Council (NCSC) gives us troubling clues as to how he might behave should he be elected president of UTSU. As president of the NCSC Jason consistently sided with the University of Toronto administration as they advocated for policies that are harmful to economically oppressed and racialized groups, further entrenching the systemic racism found in our society. Naylor’s agenda includes the deregulation of fees, and while Latinos/as - who already face significant barriers to education – would be further marginalized by the skyrocketing tuition fees that would follow deregulation, Jason was absent from organizing against these policies.

Our elected leaders must see that racism in our society is still a systemic problem and that UofT is no exception. We do not live in a “post-racist” society, and good leaders cannot simply claim to belong to our communities; good leaders must champion our issues to the powerful by taking direction from our communities. Jason, sadly, only takes direction from the administration. Racialized people and their allies need to support leaders that support us, and they will not find such leadership in Jason Marin and his “Change” ticket.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Open Letter to US President Barak Obama

Dear US President Barak Obama:

We write to you as Barrio Nuevo, a young grassroots organization from the Latino community in Toronto. Much like many of the organizations you have worked for in the past, we are working to inspire social change and the development of our community by our community.

As first and second generation immigrants we understand the significance of your election to the Presidency of the United States not only for racialized people in your home country but also for all people around the world. Many in your country have chosen to express their desire for a different direction in your domestic and international policy by casting their votes and resting their hopes on you. It may not surprise you to know that many outside of the United States also have the hope that you will change the foreign policy of the US government and that the state of affairs countries impacted by US foreign policy will improve as a result.

We are concerned about the state of the Latino population in North America and our countries of origin in Latin America. Though we live here in Canada, we are very connected and informed of the state of Latin America and understand the impact of North American foreign policies on that region. This letter asks you to challenge yourself to reach beyond the traditional role that the United States has played in Latin America and to go past the propaganda that is still perpetuated about our region and people.

We ask you to act positively on 4 key matters pertaining to Latin Americans and Latin America:

1. Normalization of the immigrant Latino population working in the United States

There are literally millions of immigrant workers in the United States (primarily in areas that less than 200 years ago were part of Mexico). These people are supporting families and looking to build a future that was denied due to conflicts and problems in their own nations. They are crossing under perilous conditions which include not only recently constructed fences and walls but also the prospect of encountering armed militias that have been self appointed to ‘protect the border’.
As a humanitarian imperative, immigrant workers have to be given status so they can live without fear and without threat of having their families ripped apart or worse.

2. Ending the inhumane embargo against the sovereign Republic and people of Cuba

As seen from your presidential elections, the political tendencies and appetites in the most ardently anti-Castro segments on the United States are changing.
As called for by numerous United Nations resolutions and NGO’s you have a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the World that the United States is no longer interested in playing imperial master by dropping the embargo against Cuba.
Both the US and Cuban economies, and more importantly Cuban people have suffered long enough under this callous project.

3. Respecting the democratic decisions and movements of Latin America

Never in recent memory has Latin America seen such thriving civil societies taking active part on deciding the future of their nations. To the dismay of some, many elections have produced victories for parties that have been labelled pariahs by certain circles and have produced policies which have brought discomfort to those who still worship ‘free markets’.
Whatever the economic and social policies, they are the concern of the people that are determining them. The elections and governments elected in Latin America over the last decade must be respected and US funding and support of opposition parties and fronts must immediately end.

4. Ending military and material support for the Colombian government

While governments and elections must be respected, it does not mean that government must be aided by the United States. The Colombian government, a top recipient of US military aid since before the Bush Administration has been flagrantly implicated in vote buying, drug trafficking and assassination and disappearances of trade unionists, journalists, community leaders and others.
Consistent with our previous point, we are asking you to NOT interfere with the internal situation of Colombia. We are asking you to remove your military aid to this government which is using these resources to commit the worst human rights violations in the hemisphere.

We encourage your will “to begin diplomatic conversations about how to improve relations” and applaud your recognition of “all countries in the region [having] something of importance to contribute” along with the role of your state being “not to dictate policies… but to find cooperation and mutual interest.” We believe that in order for this to happen successfully, each country must be respected equally with the right to political and economic sovereignty.

- Barrio Nuevo Canada

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Cuban Revolution Turns 50

by Hassan Reyes (of Barrio Nuevo) Basics Issue #12 (Jan/Feb 2009)

If revolution is a thing of the past, then the people of Cuba didn’t get the memo. On January 1st, Cuba celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the victory of the popular movements to overthrow US-backed military dictator Fulgencio Batista.

On July 26th, 1953, the Castro brothers and others attacked the Moncada Police Barracks hoping to spark a revolt. Castro was one of a few who survived the unsuccessful attack and then went into exile in Mexico, where he organized and trained a small guerrilla army while the mass movement inside Cuba recruited members and organized urban resistance.

In 1957, Fidel, his brother Raul, and a young Argentine doctor named Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara were among the 88 who set out to cross the Caribbean in a shoddy boat built to carry up to 25 purchased in Texas. Upon landing in Cuba, only 12 managed to evade capture or execution. Incredibly, within about two years the guerrilla forces and popular movements forced the dictator and his cronies to leave the country. On January 1st, 1959, the rebel forces from the July 26th Movement (named after the day in 1953 where the Castro brothers and others launched their rebellion) marched into Havana to be greeted by tens of thousands of jubilant Cubans.

Cuba has been under a constant barrage from their northern neighbour, the United States, which has never forgiven Cuba for taking its destiny in its own hands and for showing the world that a society based on solidarity is possible. Not only has the US funded and orchestrated numerous terrorist attacks against Cuban civilians, it also coordinated the failed invasion at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961 and has attempted to kill ex-President Fidel Castro more than 600 times. This says nothing of the inhuman trade embargo imposed over the tiny island and its population, which by the US State department’s own numbers has cost Cuba between $84 million to $167 million a year – between $4 billion and $8 billion since the embargo was imposed. The American Association on World Health described the embargo as violating “the most basic international charters and conventions governing human rights.”Despite these monumental obstacles and colossal enemies, what Cuba has been able to accomplish is nothing short of astounding given the few domestic resources at its disposal. The World Health Organization reports that Cuban males have a life expectancy at birth of 75 years and females 79 years, which equals that of developed nations including the US. In infant mortality, Cuba boasts a lower rate than the US, with 5 deaths per thousand in Cuba versus 7 per thousand in the US. Cuba also has 6 doctors to every 1000 people – more than double the amount in the US!

In the area of educational achievements, Cuba was recognized as the first country in the hemisphere to eradicate illiteracy following a massive literacy campaign in 1961. Before the revolution, literacy rates were at best 60%.

Cuba was instrumental in bringing down the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, by sending soldiers to assist Angolan freedom fighters against South Africa and their colonial allies. Cuba also sends thousands of doctors and educators all over the world in areas affected by disaster or poverty to assist those populations, including in Haiti, Bolivia and even Pakistan.

Due to the severe hurricanes that caused over $9 Billion in damages in August 2008, festivities on the island were relegated to concerts in major cities and a humble celebration in the birthplace of the revolution, Santiago de Cuba. Nonetheless, it was evident all over the island that Cubans remain proud of their achievements and are determined to not let them be reversed.

People all over the world should be proud of our Cuban brothers and sisters and work tirelessly to catch up with them in building a just society.

Three T.O. Youth Orgs. Launch, Uniting the People for Change

by Alok Premjee Basics Issue #12 (Jan/Feb 2009)

On the evening of December 10th, 2008, the Toronto-based organizations Hood 2 Hood, Set-It-Off, and NO COPS (the Newly Organized Coalition Opposing Police in Schools) held a triple launch party for their organizations at the AnitAFRIKA! Dub Theatre, working in conjunction with Black Action Defense Committee (BADC), BASICS, and the Strictly Roots Project. The event consisted of music provided by two tenth grade DJ’s from Sir Sanford Fleming Collegiate, dinner, poetry, and dance performances by talented artists from around the Greater Toronto Area.

The purpose of the event was to bring together groups that focus on organizing working class communities, primarily racialized working class communities. The Hood-2-Hood group is organizing in a number of low-income areas in Toronto to bring an end to the horizontal (youth-on-youth) violence that divides our communities and to redirect the attention of the youth towards the real enemies of the community, such as TCHC and the big development corporations conspiring to destroy social housing, or incessant police terrorism.

The Set-It-Off group is a rapidly growing young women’s organization with over 50 members, which is serving as a space for young women’s social networking and fulfilling a self-help function by dealing with issues of teen pregnancy and misogyny; providing a positive space to learn about black history; and organizing cultural activities like dancing, singing, and skills-building like writing.

Set-It-Off is working out of Sir Sanford Fleming, Westview Centennial, & Vaughn Road Academy. One of the important social and political roles that the group has been serving has been to raise political awareness around the planned demolition of Lawrence Heights by the City of Toronto.

NO COPS is a coalition of parents, teachers, students, and other allies which formed as a response to the Toronto Police Service’s and Toronto District School Board’s decision to place armed police in almost 30 high-schools across Toronto. The stated goal of the organization is to mobilize communities opposed to the police occupation of schools with the goal of getting the cops out.

After dinner and a series of presentations from the organizations, the performers hit the stage. Performances were kicked off by the Hustle Boyz, who represented Vaughn & Oakwood and Jane & Tretheweys, followed by Vaughn & Oakwood’s own and T-Dots finest MC Quanche, who performed solo and did a rap duet with the Original Wasun. Following these performers the audience was blessed with some female talent, with reggae artist Rakaya, some beautiful vocal performances from Set-If-Off performers. D’bi Young, one of Toronto’s finest dub poets and the owner of the AnitAFRIKA! Dub Theatre, also mesmorized the audience with one of her poems. Next, the mic was passed onto D-Squad, representing Jane and Tretheweys, who performed a couple of banging tracks, just before the Phantom Dancers arrived straight out of Scarborough, who showcased some of the latest dancehall moves. That set the scene for a dance off and a dance jam that broke out to end off the hype night.

Much respect to the anitAFRIKA! Dub Theatre for providing their extraordinary venue for the grassroots community event.