Indigenous Day Shifts from Columbus

by Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, Oct 12, 2020

Richard Cowes lifted a wooden bear claw filled with smoldering white sage up to one side of Gary Tinney’s face and, whispering a prayer for peace, wafted the fragrant plume of smoke with a hawk feather.

Cowes and Tinney were celebrating Indigenous People’s Day along with 50 people late Monday afternoon on the New Haven Green.

Both Cowes and Tinney live in West Haven. Both are members of the Golden Hill Paugussetts. And both braved the blustery cold not just to celebrate Native American history and culture with a community of peers, but also to reflect on an extraordinary year of symbolic shifts.

In New Haven as elsewhere around the country this year, many of those changes have centered around a reappraisal of the legacy of the 15th-century explorer Christopher Columbus, with an eye towards the role he played in a white, European settler-led genocide of Native people.

Those local changes have included the Board of Education’s vote to rename Christopher Columbus Academy on Grand Avenue; the tumultuous removal of the Christopher Columbus statue from Wooster Square; the ed board’s renaming of Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day; the Board of Alders’ renaming of the second Monday of October as Italian Heritage Day; and the alders’ formal recognition of racism as a public health crisis.

“This struggle has been a long one,” said Norm Clement, a member of the local Quinnipiac tribe. “It’s been 528 years since colonization in this country.

“But we’re starting to win back who we are. We’re starting to be recognized. Some of the mascots are disappearing. The statues are disappearing. That is all part of the decolonization of this nation. We have to continue to celebrate who we are and what we represent and to do that in a good way.”

Read the full article here: www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/indigenous_peoples_day1.

City Unveils Statue of William Lanson, Black Engineer and Activist

Simisola Fagbemi, Yale Daily News, Sept. 28, 2020, Contributing Reporter

On [Sept. 26] the Elm City dedicated a new statue on Farmington Canal to William Lanson –– a prominent 19th-century Black engineer, entrepreneur and civil rights activist in New Haven.

On Saturday morning, city leaders and community members gathered at the Farmington Canal Trail to unveil a 7-foot bronze statue commemorating the life and legacy of Lanson. Oakland-based sculptor Dana King created the statue as part of an effort —coordinated by the New Haven City Plan Department and the Amistad Committee, a Connecticut based non-profit that educates the public about African American history —to celebrate oft-overlooked accomplishments by the city’s Black residents. […]

The Amistad Committee has been envisioning such a project for ten years. In 2010, the committee received a grant to expand the Connecticut Freedom Trail, which is a group of historic sites that offer a glimpse into the African-American experience in the state. […]

According to Connecticut History’s website, William Lanson was a formerly enslaved man who moved to New Haven with his family at the start of the 19th century and quickly became one of the city’s leading innovators. In 1810, he led a successful effort to expand the city’s Long Wharf by 1,350 feet –– a move that made it possible for larger ships to dock in New Haven and stimulated the city’s economy.

[Read the whole article at https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2020/09/28/city-unveils-statue-of-william-lanson-black-engineer-and-activist]

Unions Are Beginning to Talk About Staving Off a Possible Coup

by Barbara Madeloni, Labor Notes, Oct. 15, 2020

“Therefore, be it finally resolved that the Rochester Labor Council, AFL-CIO calls on the National AFL-CIO, all of its affiliate unions, and all other labor organizations in the United States of America to prepare for and enact a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a Constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power as a result of the 2020 Presidential Elections.”

These words conclude a resolution passed October 8 by the Rochester Central Labor Council. In calling for all of labor to prepare to strike for democracy, the Rochester CLC may be the first out of the gate to call for direct action over concerns many share: will there be a peaceful transfer of power after the November election? Will votes be fairly counted, and will the outcome be determined by the voters—not the courts?

A few nights later the representative assembly of the Seattle Educators Association (SEA) passed a resolution stating that its board will call an emergency meeting within seven days of the election and, if it determines there has been election interference, call a meeting of the representative and general assemblies as soon as possible to vote on a work action.

And on October 20, the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee will host a discussion among labor leaders including Flight Attendants President Sara Nelson: “What Can Workers Do to Stop Trump from Stealing the Election?” EWOC is a pandemic-era collaboration between the Electrical Workers (UE) and the Democratic Socialists of America.

Ready on a Minute’s Notice?

In Rochester, the discussion began with concerns about whether or not Trump would step down if he lost the election. Then it moved to talk of the appointment of Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General, the subsequent mail delays, and Trump’s efforts to undermine faith in mail-in ballots.

The resolution was passed unanimously by the executive board and the full delegate body.

What if Trump refuses to accept a loss? “If he doesn’t, we need a plan already in place, ready to implement on a minute’s notice, to remove him from office,” wrote Rochester CLC President Dan Maloney in an email. “A national general strike, if joined by all democracy-loving Americans, can be the impetus the Congress and judiciary need to fulfill their role as co-equal branches of government.”

[Read the entire article here: labornotes.org/2020/10/unions-are-beginning-talk-about-staving-possible-coup

Statement from Green Party of Connecticut Candidate Justin Paglino

by Ronna Stuller, Secretary, Green Party of CT

A unity of local Green Party chapters, the Green Party of Connecticut is committed to grassroots democracy, social justice, non-violence and ecological wisdom. These are the Four Pillars of all Green parties worldwide.

Green Party candidates accept no PAC contributions, only donations from individuals. In this year’s election we are running over a dozen candidates in municipal, state, and federal elections all across Connecticut.

In this PAR article we feature a statement by Justin Paglino MD, PhD, of Guilford, who is our nominee for US House of Representatives in the Third Congressional District, the seat currently held by Rep. Rosa DeLauro. We invite readers to visit our website https://www.ctgreenparty.org to learn more about our positions and our candidates. We also invite readers to consider changing their voter registration to Green Party, and/or to consider visiting your local Green Party of Connecticut chapter to learn more and get involved. You will be most welcome.

Statement by Justin Paglino M.D. Ph.D., Green Party of CT candidate for US House of Representatives, CT-3:

This year I decided to run for US House of Representatives so that voters in my congressional district would have the option of voting for a representative who supports Medicare for All, Ranked Choice Voting, Reduced Military Spending, a bold Green New Deal with Carbon Pricing, Fracking Ban and Federal Jobs Guarantee, and other policies that my opponents in this race do not support. Many voters do, however, support these policies, and these issues need at least one candidate on the ballot who supports them, so that voters can show where they stand on these issues.

Unlike my opponents, but like most Americans, I support Medicare for All.   Single-payer healthcare will not only provide comprehensive healthcare without charge to all Americans, but will also save up to $500 billion a year thanks to efficiencies of scale and removing the profit motive from healthcare insurance.

Unlike my opponents, I am a strong advocate for Ranked Choice Voting (RCV), an electoral reform that ends two-party dominance by eliminating the spoiler effect.  RCV accomplishes this by allowing voters to rank their candidates in order of preference on the ballot. This reform exists now in Maine, where Lisa Savage is running as a Green Party candidate for US Senate; because of RCV, she will not act as a spoiler.

Unlike my opponents, I seek to rein in overblown Pentagon spending and redirect these funds towards the needs of Americans, including a Federal Jobs Guarantee. Rep. DeLauro, in contrast, this year voted YES for the $740 billion dollar Pentagon budget, and voted AGAINST a modest 10% cut (the Pocan amendment).

Unlike my opponents, I am willing to support bills that would enact the bold greenhouse gas-reducing policies that science calls for, such as HR763, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019 (Carbon Tax and Dividend), or such as HR5857, the Ban Fracking Act. Neither bill is supported by our current representative.

I encourage PAR readers: always vote for what you want, not only against what you fear. If you want something, you have to vote for it, or you’ll never get it. There is a way out of the two-party system – it’s Ranked Choice Voting – but first you have to show you are willing to vote for it.

Please visit me at justin4all.org, e-mail me at justin@justin4all.org. Follow me on facebook/justin4all, twitter/justin4all2, insta/justinpaglino, youtube/justin4all.

And thank you to all you progressive activists!

– Justin Paglino M.D. Ph.D.

New Haven residents paint Black Lives Matter mural on Bassett Street | New Haven Register

Residents came together to emblazon the words on the street Saturday, painting them brightly and boldly so the world could see: Black Lives Matter.

The community mural, the first planned in New Haven, was welcomed by the city of New Haven Department of Arts and Cultural Affairs, in conjunction with Black Lives Matter New Haven, community organizers, and local artist Kwadwo Adae, according to a release from city spokesman Gage Frank.

Ala Ochumare and Sun Queen, co-founders of Black Lives Matter New Haven, said they wanted to help organize the project to help residents be in community with one another, share art and affirm the idea that the lives of Black people are valuable, with an equal claim to dignity and respect.

Read the article at The New Haven Register: New Haven residents paint Black Lives Matter mural on Bassett Street – New Haven Register

Oct. 7, 2020, marks the 19th year since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East began

Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice will return to remembering the cost of the continuing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East by placing the September stone on the Memorial Cairn at the intersection of Broadway, Elm and Park streets in New Haven on Wednesday evening, October 7, at 6 p.m. That date will mark the 19th year since these wars began. We will practice social distancing and expect all participants to wear masks.

Don’t Move to South Dakota!

by Joseph A. Luciano Sr., Rapid City SD

[Joe Luciano, currently of Rapid City, lived in Seymour and was a fierce advocate for disability access and disability rights. He would often contribute articles to PAR. We are glad he sent us his musings about disability access (and non-access) in his new home town.]

Last year I moved west from downtown Seymour after realizing it would never become a Livable Community in my lifetime. (By “livable community” I mean ADA compliant, ready to support independent living and Aging in Place.)

The New Haven Register’s senior editor, James Walker, did a story about me going westward: “A senior with disabilities heads west.” (www.nhregister.com/news/article/James-Walker-Bound-A-senior-with-disabilities-13772366.php)

While the town demolished pot-holed downtown streets and broken sidewalks and replaced them with crosswalks and curb ramps, the work was botched. Some crosswalks led to sidewalks not provided with ADA-required curb ramps; some curb ramps did not lead to ADA-required level landings. In winters, law enforcement continued its policy of not enforcing the snow-removal ordinance. Because of that, disabled residents using wheelchairs (myself included) encountered barriers of snow, denying us accessible routes to groceries, pharmacy, banking, and other common needs. Most appalling, the police department held a “Coffee with Cops” good-will event . . . at an inaccessible downtown restaurant. They just didn’t get it.

Quality of life in downtown Seymour became so intolerable I decided to move. I chose the “Fifth-Best Place in America to Successfully Age in Place.” Rapid City, South Dakota.

Actually there were other reasons that were the deciding factor: both my sons lived there—also my grandchildren. And my home church was there too. And a world-class cancer care institute. I needed all of those.

To anyone thinking of following in my wheel tracks: Don’t! South Dakota has the worst reputation in social and human services. (Teacher salaries are the lowest in South Dakota.) Elders with disabilities who chose to live independently (like me) are struggling to make ends meet. That’s because the bar to qualify for support services, personal care aides, companion/homemaker aides, and South Dakota’s version of Medicaid is set so high it’s beyond reach of most who need it. And if you need healthcare you will drown in co-pays. What’s more, accessible housing costs are unreasonably high; I’m paying more for less space. As for the para-transit system (Dial-A-Ride), it’s the worst. (I suffered in-juries on my very first ride; I tipped over backwards be-cause drivers do not practice safe standards for boarding wheelchair passengers like in Connecticut. As for pizza, no place here in “prairie land” makes pizza like Pepe’s Pizza or Modern Apizza. (But I get equal or better pizza; my sons built a backyard brick, wood-fired pizza oven.)

Nevertheless, I’m staying here. The reason is simple: I’m living near family. My sons are just a few minutes away by car. They are my rides to church and Sunday dining out, some medical treatments, road trips, and family gatherings at their homes. Views of the Black Hills from my apartment are spectacular.

Stay where you are!

Breonna Taylor March Shuts Down Whalley Ave | Thomas Breen New Haven Independent

Thomas Breen photos Protest dance party breaks out at Whalley and Sherman.

Read the whole story and see all the photos here:

https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/breonna_taylor_march/

Two dozen young, Black women jumped and danced and sang in the middle of the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Sherman Avenue as several hundred fellow protesters sat in the street and blocked traffic on all sides.

“Black women matter!” the group cheered, a portrait of Breonna Taylor held aloft nearby. “Black women matter!”

That spontaneous, cathartic 10-minute dance party came more than two hours into a Thursday evening rally organized by Black Lives Matter New Haven in honor of Taylor.

Taking place well after the sun had set, with cars honking—some in frustration, some in support—all around the island of protesters, the moment represented the emotional climax of four-hour action filled with grief, outrage, joy, indignation, and an intensely political thirst for justice.

The catalyst for Thursday’s march was a Kentucky grand jury’s decision the day before to not charge the officers who shot and killed Taylor, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, in her Louisville home in March during a botched drug raid. The only indictment the grand jury did hand down was a charge of wanton endangerment against a now-former detective who shot into Taylor’s neighboring apartments. The grand jury decision has sparked demonstrations throughout the country.

Thursday’s demonstration in New Haven brought together roughly 300 people to the Green—and then into the streets, for three-and-a-half hours of marching and mourning and chanting and blocking of traffic.

Read the full article at https://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/breonna_taylor_march/

Anti-Police Violence March Shuts Down Grand Avenue | New Haven Independent

New Haven anti-police-brutality activists marched in support of survivors of police violence — they heard a call for action from Emma Jones at the Fair Haven spot where an East Haven police officer shot and killed her son 23 years ago.

“You must continue this struggle,” she implored the crowd, including newer activists in a cause she has championed for decades.

Roughly 70 demonstrators gathered on the Green at 2 p.m. Saturday and shut down Grand Avenue as they marched to the spot where Malik Jones was killed in 1997 after a high-speed cross-border chase.

Police accountability activist Jewu Richardson organized Saturday’s unity walk in collaboration with Building It Together, CT Bail Fund, The Malik Organization, People Against Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter New Haven.

On the Green, Richardson (pictured), who was shot by New Haven police in 2010, said police violence isn’t only the brutality that people see on TV, but is deeper and more systemic: “People are in jail decades because of false charges. A lot of people don’t see that trauma that people are going through and the stuff behind those walls, but it’s real.”

He stated that police and prosecutors work together with “legal tactics” to convict innocent people in Connecticut and nationwide. “When the system we’re supposed to trust and believe ends up abusing and murdering us, we’re left with communities that are suffering from decades of trauma,” Richardson said.

Read the whole story here: Anti-Police Violence March Shuts Down Grand Avenue | New Haven Independent

Kings Bay Plowshares 7 – Update on Sentencing Dates Sept. 3 and 4

Seven Catholic plowshares activists entered Kings Bay Naval [nuclear] Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4, 2018. They went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.”

The seven chose to act on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who devoted his life to addressing what he called the “triple evils of militarism, racism, and materialism.” Carrying hammers and baby bottles of their own blood, the seven attempted to convert weapons of mass destruction.  They hoped to call attention to the ways in which nuclear weapons kill every day, by their mere existence and maintenance.

Liz McAlister was sentenced by video conferencing with the court on June 8, 2020. She was sentenced to time served, 3 years of supervised probation and a portion of the $33,000 restitution.

On September 3, Carmen Trotta is scheduled for sentencing at 9 a.m., Steve Kelly at 1 p.m., and Clare Grady at 4 p.m. On September 4, Mark Colville at 9 a.m., Patrick O’Neill at 1 p.m. and Martha Hennessy at 4 p.m. These dates may yet again be pushed back depending on the course of the virus. The defendants prefer to be sentenced in person in open court with family and supporters present as is their right. It is not sure when it will be safe for all parties to be present.

For more information on this and other actions against nuclear weapons, visit https://kingsbayplowshares7.org.

New Haven Peace Vigil Continues Every Sunday, Noon-1 p.m.

by Joan Cavanagh, New Haven Sunday Vigil

The New Haven Sunday Vigil, ongoing since 1999, began again on July 5 after a four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 shutdown. We’ll keep going every Sunday for as long as possible under the current circumstances and invite you to join us. The war continues on every front. So must the resistance! Below are excerpts from our August flyer:
WHY WE’RE STILL STANDING OUT HERE IN 2020– IN THE MIDDLE OF A PANDEMIC

The amount the [current National Defense Authorization Act] would allocate to the military is more than half the total federal spending budget for FY 2021. $22.3 billion alone is provided for nine new navy ships–the Columbia class submarines to be built at Electric Boat in Groton to replace the current Tridents. (1) At a time when the state of Connecticut faces a $2.3 billion budget deficit and contemplates drastic cuts to social services in 2021, the entire Connecticut congressional delegation voted for this funding.

Overall, a huge proportion of the military budget goes to the “modernization” of the U.S. nuclear arsenal–that is, the replacement of its every component with something “brand new.” This 30-year “upgrade” is projected to cost $1.7 trillion in total.(2)

A terrible legacy: weapons of mass destruction

75 years ago, on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, the United States ushered in the nuclear age with its use of the atomic bomb against civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, destroying those cities and killing approximately 120,000 (by a conservative estimate) of their inhabitants, with repercussions from the results of radiation sickness that persist even to this day. The nuclear arms race that followed and threatened all life in the second half of the 20th century has caused ongoing destruction and deprivation and did not end with the end of the Cold War.

The U.S. and Russia today possess an estimated 12,600 nuclear weapons combined, other nuclear nations a much smaller arsenal. U.S. policy embraces first-use of nuclear weapons if the government deems it necessary in order to advance its strategic global interests. Pentagon planners have long pursued the ability to fight a “limited nuclear war,” a contradiction in terms. Our government has never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It appears likely that the Trump administration, if re-elected, will not even renew S.T.A.R.T. II (the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) signed by the United States and Russia.

Trump has openly threatened the use of nuclear weapons against other countries. In January of this year, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists set its Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight–closer than it has been since the height of the Cold War.

In addition to the existential threat posed by their very nature, the continued mining, testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons over the last 75 years has caused environmental destruction, the desecration of native lands, and the theft of our tax dollars from health care, disease prevention, housing, education, and infrastructure, all the things we need to live in a just, functional society. We cannot accept or tolerate this any longer.

Since 1999, the New Haven Sunday Vigil has been held here every week from 12-1 p.m. at Broadway, Park and Elm Streets in New Haven, CT, to emphatically say NO to the state of permanent, ongoing war against the world being waged by our government and its allies, a war which is terrorizing the planet and destroying lives in order to consolidate enormous power and wealth in the hands of a very few people.

1 and 2 https://atthebrink.org/podcast/modernizing-doomsday-the-true-cost-of-our-nuclear-arsenal/

Statue Readied to Honor ‘Black Governor’

Thomas Breen, New Haven Independent, July 10, 2020

A seven-foot-tall bronze statue of William “King” Lanson will soon stand along the Farmington Canal — giving a permanent, public, and highly visible form to a Black New Havener who helped build the modern city. The Lanson statue represents the culmination of a decade’s worth of advocacy by the Amistad Committee, working in recent years with the City Plan Department to make the memorial a reality.

The public artwork will honor the early 19th-century local engineer, entrepreneur, and Black political leader who freed himself from slavery, built a section of the Farmington Canal, and constructed an extension of Long Wharf that allowed for the local port to rival New York’s.

He was also elected “Black governor” in 1825, helped found what is now Dixwell Congregational Church, owned land and ran businesses on what is now Wooster Square — and, after encountering opposition from white authorities and the business establishment, died in the poorhouse.

The plan is for the statue to be unveiled Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. on a grassy, city-owned plot near the Farmington Canal and Lock Street, in between the Yale Health Center and Yale’s Benjamin Franklin and Pauli Murray Colleges.

According to a presentation by City Plan Director Aïcha Woods during Monday’s Cultural Affairs Commission meeting, the city-commissioned statue will be one part of an “interpretative landscape” and larger memorial along the Farmington Canal that will be “dedicated to the history of William Lanson.”

Read more at the NHIndependent: www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/william_lanson_sculpture

It’s Time to Demand Gender Parity in Our Governance! Demand Equality Now!!

by Frank Rohrig, Octogenarian/Feminist and PAR subscriber

[Frank Rohrig is in the process of forming a 501(c)(3) organization to ensure that in all levels of government, women and men will be represented equally: “complete unequivocal gender equality/parity in the decision-making process in the governance of your community-state-federal government.” He has asked PAR to print his article so that our readers can become familiar with his work and help him with his organizing.]

The time has come to recognize that the evolution of humanity, nations and nation-states require the immediate transformative transition towards Egalitarian virtues and the full and equal participation of women in the governance of all civilized societies for their very future salvation. Our Democracy has been hijacked and pillaged to satisfy the insatiable need for power and greed by a segment of our society that has maliciously disregarded the circle of virtuosity that helped create this nation’s “middle class.”

The mutually-beneficial collaborative efforts by our financial sector and Corporatocracies have ruthlessly over a period of several decades converted a once-proud, growing society into an unequivocal corrupt Plutocracy.

The denial of women by males in every sector and facet of societal involvement shall no longer be a consideration of our forbearance because it has proven to be somewhat chauvinistic and wrong-headed, along with twenty-seven other amendments to the Constitution that required change to comport to more Egalitarian virtues.

In light of the extreme ideological and theocratic movements to reverse the rights long ago fought for and won, including Civil Rights and Women’s Rights, the zealots amongst us continue with their underhanded, discriminatory and unjustified quests to deny others that Egalitarian Society promised within our Constitution at its inception.

The justified essential movement for Gender Parity has never been as important as it is today given the intentions and actions of a growing segment of the male population that won’t be content until the return of a Patriarchal Society that enables them to dictate to others because of their perceived superiority. This kind of thinking isn’t confined to just other distant cultures but remains within the Puritanical thinking of religious zealots amongst us. Nothing less than GENDER PARITY (50% male and 50% female) in the makeup of all taxpayer-funded areas of governance and oversight within the smallest of communities, state houses and U.S. Senate and Congress shall suffice. It shall be through the equally-weighted voices of our females where we can attain a society with greater shared interests beneficial to all our citizenry.

For more information, please call Frank Rohrig at (203) 877-2492. Mail can be sent to 541 Naugatuck Ave., Milford, CT 06460.

Progressive Action Roundtable statement on the latest happenings of 2020

Dear PAR Subscribers:

The world has changed quite a bit since our June newsletter. The brutal murder of George Floyd exposed the ugliness of power in the hands of the police and the entrenched racism against people of color. As Black Lives Matter rallies against police brutality were joined with demands for removal of racist and oppressive historic symbols, the Columbus statue in Wooster Square was removed, and the City formed a committee to rename Columbus Academy. Black Lives Matter marches of over a thousand people blocked highways and rallied at police stations. A thousand people marched in West Haven to demand justice for Mubarak Soulemane, who was killed by a state trooper. Many hundreds demanded Yale pay millions of dollars more to New Haven to make up for so much property being tax-exempt because of Yale University and Yale New Haven Hospital. Two “elder rallies” in support of Black Lives Matter were held on the Green for people wanting to make their voices heard while wearing masks and maintaining appropriate distance from others because of coronavirus. Mayor Elicker reiterated that New Haven is a sanctuary for undocumented immigrants. City and town councils of New Haven, Hamden, Hartford, Windsor, West Hartford and Bloomfield declared racism a public health crisis. In addition, our work for peace and justice around the world has not stopped. Plus we are still in the midst of the pandemic! Quite a busy time!

The Progressive Action Roundtable welcomes articles from organizations around these and other issues of concern to our readers, who not only want to know what’s going on, but read about “report backs” and analyses of their various actions.

Please send in articles and calendar events for our next newsletter before Wednesday, Aug. 19 to parnewhaven@hotmail.com.

The struggle continues!

Update from Nicaragua as the Pandemic Arrives

by Susan Bramhall, New Haven/ León Sister City Project

In March and April, as the world began to face the historic public health crisis caused by COVID-19, the Nicaraguan government flagrantly ignored recommendations of health and human rights organizations by encouraging mass gatherings and requiring school attendance. During the April holidays, people were encouraged to celebrate semana santa as usual with trips to the beach and large gatherings. As of this writing, there are still no recommended social distancing measures and professional sports events continue to draw fans.

In the last few weeks, reports of the coronavirus illness have begun to emerge in the larger cities and there is now an outbreak in Chinandega – not far from our Sister City, León. There is still no acknowledgment that the pandemic is the cause but hospitals are reporting many cases of atypical pneumonia and a rise in sudden deaths from heart attack and stroke. Nicaraguans are reporting that when patients die, the bodies are buried immediately, often before families are notified. Testing, treatment and results are kept secret leading to more fear and suspicion.

The staff of the New Haven/León Sister City Project are currently healthy and trying to work from home but it is difficult to do social distancing or self-isolation. It is common for homes to contain large extended families and multiple generations and often a small store open to the public. During March and April, our staff was able to continue visiting the rural communities bringing some protective gear (masks) and, most important, information about the facts of the situation. As the community has begun to hear of the cases in nearby areas they are becoming more fearful of people from the city and our staff are now doing as much as they can from their homes.
Our León Director, Erendira Vanegas, reminds us that this is a new crisis within the existing crisis created by the 2018 crackdown against protest and the devastating effect that was already having on the Nicaraguan economy. The crisis created by the pandemic on top of the economic challenges already in play have been overwhelming and has created increased food insecurity. Our Nicaraguan team advises that an urgent need is enhanced access to food for the rural population. The Sister City Project has long been supplementing the meal that children get at school – a meal they may miss if they are not in school. We are currently researching organizations we can partner with to ensure food security for Goyena and Troilo.

If you would like to make a special donation to bolster our programs please visit our website at newhavenleon.org/get-involved/give.

As always, muchisimas gracias to all our supporters in the area.

1 2 3 9