Join AMI for our Honduras Solidarity Delegation – Apr. 28 – May 6, 2016

Agricultural Missions, Inc (AMI) INVITES you to participate in a Honduras Solidarity Delegation to honor BERTHA CÁCERES, COPINH and the LENCA people in struggle!

WHEN:  April 28 to May 6, 2016

WHY:  To be present in solidarity at this time of tragedy. To document the criminalization of the work of COPINH and overall state of impunity in Honduras. To learn from our inspiring partners. To hear and, upon our return, retell the stories of the Lenca and other indigenous and campesino peoples and organizations of Honduras. To energize and focus the movement for justice in Honduras in the U.S. To prepare ourselves for effective accompaniment and advocacy on behalf of those whose sacrifices we cannot allow to have been made in vain.  

HOW:  Contact Stephen Bartlett to receive an application form:  sbartlett@ag-missions.org or (502) 415-1080  (Cell)

COST:  $900 plus travel, fly into Tegucigalpa. Sliding scale will be provided according to possibilities (ie. fund raising efforts). $200 deposit requested by April 12 (refundable in case the delegation does not make the 7 person threshold.)

DEADLINE TO APPLY:  April 12, 2016

Agricultural Mission, Inc. (AMI) —  www.ag-missions.org

Gustavo Castro Can Return to Mexico Now

Update: Early in the day on April 1st, Gustavo boarded a plane and is on his way home to Mexico. 

Communiqué – San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, México 

March 31, 2016

After being prevented from leaving Honduras for 24 days, the coordinator of Otros Mundos A.C./Friends of the Earth Mexico was notified that the ‘migratory alert’ impeding his travel has been lifted. 

Today, Thursday March 31, 2016, the First Courthouse of Letters of Intibucá, Honduras, acting on instructions from the judge Victorina Flores Orellana, decided to lift the measure prohibiting Gustavo Castro Soto from leaving the country, which has been in place since March 7. 

This decision was made after the Honduran General Attorney’s office requested that it be lifted on the basis of the argument that “all of the [necessary] investigations and scientific tests have been exhausted” in the case of the assassination of Berta Cáceres on March 3rd. 

Gustavo Castro, coordinator of Otros Mundos A.C./Friends of the Earth Mexico, was witness to the murder of the coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and was wounded during the attack. As a Mexican citizen and as a witness and victim of attempted murder in Honduras, he has had the right all along to collaborate with the Honduran justice from his own country, in accord with the Treaty for Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters in effect between Honduras and Mexico. 

However, this right was violated by the Judge Victorina Flores Orellana who on March 7 issued the migratory alert for thirty days against Gustavo Castro, and by the Honduran General Attorney’s Office that took 24 days to revoke this measure. During this period, Gustavo has only been required to undertake two more procedures in the context of the investigation which, as mentioned earlier, could have taken place from Mexico. 

We are pleased with this decision that finally allows our comrade Gustavo to return to Mexico. However, we denounce the lack of reaction on the part of the Mexican government, in particular by the Secretary of Foreign Affairs which, despite its communiqué today, did not take the necessary steps to urge the Honduran government to let a Mexican citizen return home. Meanwhile, the team of Otros Mundos A.C./Friends of the Earth Mexico, the family and legal counsel of Gustavo Castro, organizations acting in solidartiy and international bodies have not stopped denouncing the violation of human rights that this migratory alert represented. 

We demand that the right of Gustavo Castro to continue collaborating in the investigation from Mexico according to the treaty between both countries be respected. 

Our position remains the same: we demand an impartial investigation of the facts until the murder of Berta Cáceres and the assassination attempt against Gustavo Castro are fully clarified and those truly responsible are held to account. 

We will continue to update on this situation. 
Thank you for your solidarity. 

Otros Mundos Chiapas / Amigos de la Tierra México

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¡GUSTAVO CASTRO IS FREE!

Today, April 1 – April Fool’s Day – the power of collective action has trumped the fools, killers, and thieves in the Honduran government. Gustavo Castro Soto is back in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, with his family. His return marks the end of 24 days of captivity in Honduras – first in the custody of the government, which subjected him to psychological and physical torture, and then in the haven of the Mexican Embassy, because the Hondurans prohibited his departure. Gustavo was both witness to, and twice-shot victim of, the assault that killed global social movement leader Berta Cáceres in La Esperanza, Honduras, on March 3.

The Honduran government could not stand up to the international pressure from the US Congress, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Vatican, and many other sources of pressure and denunciation. More than anything, the power of the fraudulently elected regime could not trump that of citizens around the world, who held rallies, sent well over a hundred thousand letters, and committed themselves to continue organizing until Gustavo was freed. The government capitulated yesterday and gave Mexican activist and writer permission to return home. However, it mentioned that it may demand his subsequent return to help with the investigation.

This morning, Otros Mundos in Chiapas wrote us, “What still remains is guaranteeing security for his family and the team.”  We hope you will remain with us, mobilizing the power of people united, until Gustavo; members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) – the organization that Berta founded 23 years ago this week; and all Hondurans have security and democracy.

To use a favorite term of Gustavo’s: ¡Animo! Let’s do it!

—-

Who is Gustavo Castro?

Gustavo Castro Soto is beloved by movements throughout Latin America, and not just for his political organizing prowess and strategic brilliance. His together-we-can-do-this attitude, easy gap-toothed grin, and quick humor draw people into what otherwise could be overwhelming leadership.

Gustavo – like his dear friend Berta Cáceres– is a fomenter of the collective imagination that says that we can re-envision and build just and humane political, economic, and social systems, that we are not condemned to live in the worlds we currently have.

The name Gustavo chose for his current organization – Otros Mundos (Other Worlds) – combines the World Social Forum slogan that “Another world is possible” with the Zapatista slogan that “In this world fit many worlds.”  

Under Gustavo’s guidance, Otros Mundos – which is also Friends of the Earth Mexico – has become a focal point for environmental defense throughout Mexico and Mesoamerica. The group organizes impacted peoples and their allies for campaigns around water, energy, foreign debt, and climate crisis, amongst other issues. It also connects and mobilizes activists for effective action toward economic and environmental alternatives.

Gustavo is an electric light switch – solar electric – sparking and connecting currents across the region. He has founded and coordinated many Mexican and transnational social movements to build the power of united people. In addition to Otros Mundos, Gustavo co-founded Other Worlds; the Mesoamerican Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4); the Latin American Network against Dams and in Defense of Rivers, Waters, and Communities (REDLAR); the Mexico-based Movement of Those Impacted by Dams and Defending the Rivers (MAPDER); the Mexican Network of Those Impacted by Dams (REMA); the Convergence of Movements of Peoples of the Americas (COMPA); the Network of Alternative Sustainable Family Networks (RESISTE); and the Popular School for Energy and Water, where communities throughout Southern Mexico learn about environmental alternatives; among others.

In times past, he founded and coordinated the Institute for Economic and Political Research for Community Action (CIEPAC) and, together with Berta, the Yes to Life, No to IFIs [international financial institutions] campaign. He served on the coordinating committee of the World Bank Boycott and the board of the Center for Economic Justice, amongst many other affiliations.

On the refrigerator in Gustavo’s home hangs a drawing of him with a computer substituting for his head. A sociologist, he pounds out analyses of neoliberalism, of the devastating impacts of dams and mining on the earth and people, and of the need for a profound transformation.

With his high-speed brain, uncontrollable gray curls, frumpy clothing, coffee, and cigarettes, Gustavo is the archetypal Latin American Bohemian intellectual. Yet he doesn’t spend his days in discussion with a left academic elite, but rather with campesinos/as and indigenous peoples in mountains and villages. Gustavo’s focus has been on popular education, ensuring that those directly impacted by the problems have the information and understanding they need to be effective change agents. He has strongly encouraged the academy to become more socially engaged and useful.

Another drawing of him could just as accurately show a heart on top of his neck. He constantly welcomes friends to share a meal or stay for a week in his home, where he is tightly surrounded by the partner and four children he adores. He has friends and fans throughout the world, of whom an especially close one was Berta.

Motivated by compassion, Gustavo worked for years with the most resource-poor and exploited indigenous and campesino people of southern Mexico and Guatemala, seeking both economic and social justice and an end to state-sponsored violence against them. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Gustavo worked for years in refugee camps with Guatemalans who had crossed into Mexico seeking refuge from the war. Throughout the mid- and late-1990s, Gustavo accompanied Mexican indigenous communities who were harmed by the state violence that surged in response to the Zapatista uprising. He was a key part of the peace negotiations between the Zapatistas and the government, through Bishop Samuel Ruiz’s National Commission for Mediation (CONAIE), which launched in 1994.

From his imprisonment in Honduras, Gustavo published on March 15 “Words to the Honduran people.” In it, he said:

My wounds hurt me terribly, although they are healing. But my greater pain is for my dear Honduran people, who don’t deserve this; none of us do. We’ve always admired this noble, brave people who are fighting for a dignified life for all, without distinction and with justice. That was Berta´s struggle.

I feel love for this beautiful country, its landscapes, its nature, and especially its people. We should not let murders cloud our hope or landscapes.

Berta meant a lot to me, as much as she meant to you. Berta was an exceptional woman who fought for a better Honduras – more dignified, more just. Her spirit grows in the heart of the Honduran people, because we didn’t bury her, but sowed her so that she can grow hope for us.

Soon there will be justice.