Over twenty of us, amazingly, met for breakfast at 8:00 am on Sunday, September 26, 2010 for the annual convention meeting of the Task Force on the Americas. Most of us there were already involved in work related to the Task Force so we went around and reported on our on-going work and plans for the upcoming year. We were also joined by four law students who were eager to get involved in our work. Below are reports on the work and contact information for how to get involved. Please email the contact people to find out how to get involved.
Andy Reid: reported on the amazing turn-out for two new subcommittees of the IC that he is spearheading. The Environmental Human Rights Committee will coordinate with the existing Environmental Justice Committee and work on global climate change as well as other environmental issues world-wide. The Indigenous Peoples Committee was organized to take up the struggles of indigenous peoples in the US and throughout the world. Contact Andy Reid: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judith Berkan and Jan Susler: Hosted three guests from Puerto Rico— two attorneys and a labor leader, for their successful workshop: Puerto Rico – Our Biggest & Best Colony – Sovereignty. The campaign to get honorary members of the Colegio de Abogados de Puerto Rico as a means of financial and political support continues. The Colegio has issued a declaration thanking the solidarity of the National Lawyers Guild. The campaign for the release of the Puerto Rican political prisoners also continues, as does other work. We will get that and other information about the struggle in Puerto Rico up on the webpage. There are about ten people interested in doing Puerto Rico work. Coordinators are: Jan Susler, email@example.com; Judith Berkan, firstname.lastname@example.org, and Natasha Bannan, email@example.com. Susan Scott, firstname.lastname@example.org, moderated the Housing is a Human Right workshop – which was overflowing – which included the struggle of a community land trust in Puerto Rico protecting a low-income neighborhood.
Mark Burton: Has been working with James Jordan of Alliance for Global Justice to set up a joint delegation to Colombia from May 27 to June 5, 2011. The delegation will help investigate human and trade union rights in Colombia and issue a report after the trip. For more information contact Mark Burton: Burtonslaw2000@yahoo.com.
Robin Alexander: Brought two people from Mexico – including Benedicto Martinez Orozco, Co-President of the Frente Autentico del Trabajo (FAT) and attorney Patricia Juan Pineda, who joined us at the breakfast meeting – and moderated a workshop on the Labor Crisis in Mexico & A Progressive Legal Response. Contact Robin Alexander, email@example.com.
Debra Evenson: Working with Judy Somberg and the NO to formulate the dates and focus of a legal research trip to Cuba. It will be in May 2011, so as not to conflict with the annual Labor & Employment trip in March. We will try to do joint outreach and recruitment with the Labor & Employment Committee. The trip will have a small administrative fee built in that will be divided between the International Committee and the National Office. Cuba 5 support work continues. We need someone to chair the Cuba subcommittee as Art Heitzer is stepping back. Contact Judy Somberg, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Judy Somberg: Regarding Honduras work, we are participating in the Honduras Solidarity network. Lucy Rodriguez participates in the telephone conferences. We have finally gotten the English translation of the constitutional analysis of the coup up on the website. We did not send a delegation to Venezuela for the legislative elections, but Lucy Rodriguez went representing the Guild, as the election was the very same day – September 26. Jorge Guerrero, Consul General of Venezuela and former head of the Afro-Venezuelan Network in Venezuela, was introduced at the IC reception, but unfortunately was not on any panels. Contact Judy Somberg, email@example.com and Lucy Rodriguez, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Haiti: Nicole Philips, Nicole@ijdh.org, staff attorney with the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, did not join us at the meeting, but had brought up leading Haitian human rights attorney Mario Joseph to participate in a workshop: Katrina Lessons Learned: Building Haiti Back More Justly. Social movements in Haiti are planning on boycotting the upcoming presidential election, and IJDH is deciding whether to send a delegation to observe the elections. There is much work in Haiti to be done. Also Joel Kupferman is heading up and Environmental Justice Initiative for Haiti, email@example.com.
Brazil: Jeff Frank, firstname.lastname@example.org, (not at the meeting) brought a human rights attorney from Brazil and moderated a workshop, Criminalization of Protest & Social Movements: Brazil & the US.