CNY Caribbean Latin America Coalition (CLAC) Update

CLAC includes the CNY SOA Abolitionists, CNY Colombia Support Network, and our two CNY sister communities - La Estancia in Morazon department, El Salvador and Cajibío in Cauca province, Colombia.

Our La Estancia sister community has been ongoing since 1993. Syracuse folks visit this remote cluster of mountain hamlets at least once a year. For about a week in February, members Shirley Novak and Mary Sopchak were in La Estancia. They brought the hamlets about $3000 in financial and material aid and scholarship support. To arrange for talks, call Shirley at 882-1061.

Our Cajibío sister community has just gotten underway in recent months. US members are from Syracuse, Cortland and Ithaca. Several of us have visited Colombia and Cauca, but such experience is by no means necessary for joining this vibrant group.

The Cajibío sister community is now organizing a CNY speaking tour. Marylen Serna-Salinas, from Cajibío, will be with us from March 28 through April 12. She will speak at S.U., Le Moyne, Colgate, Cornell, and to various community groups.

Since 1986, Marylen, a campesina who studied anthropology, has been a community organizer working to empower rural women. It was while she was in prison in 1990 that the Cajibío campesino/a movement was born. In 1999, she and 40,000 other campesinos/as took over a highway for 26 days to demand that the Colombian government redirect economic resources to their marginalized communities. For more information about Marylen’s tour, call Ann Tiffany, 478-4571.

Over the past decade 190 defendants, including members of the CNY SOA Abolitionists, have been imprisoned for their nonviolent dissent against the US Army’s School of the Americas (now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Ft. Benning, GA. Cumulatively we have been detained for 80 years. In January, 27 more SOA Watch activists were sentenced variously to a year on probation to six months in prison with up to $1500 in fines. They include three upstate New Yorkers, several clergy and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. For updates, check out <www.soaw.org>.

The Abolitionists encourage folks to drop Rep. Jim Walsh (R-NY) a note thanking him for once again co-sponsoring the current House bill (HR1258) calling for the closure of the SOA. We also encourage you to join us for our SOA Watch regional meeting 1-4pm on Saturday, March 13 upstairs at Autumn Leaves Book Store on the Ithaca mall.

To join CLAC’s solidarity work, please come to our next meeting on Sunday, March 7. For details (and to get on our mailing list), call Paul Weichselbaum, 478-1592. Or if you just want to have a good time, call Rita Gabaccia, 673-2473, to join the CLAC team at the SPC Bowl-a-thon on Sunday, March 14.

–Ed Kinane