martes, 24 de agosto de 2010

Organic Veggies and Powerful Women Tucked away in the Chalate Mountains

This article was originally written, in a slightly different version, for the SHARE Foundation, who, thanks to sistering groups in the US, was able to support a women's organizing and leadership project for 2010, the continuation of similar projects over the years. Part of this project, to support women's organization and empowerment and respond to the ever-worsening food crisis in El Salvador, was the funding of ten women's communal vegetable gardens. Following is the story of one of these gardens.

Los Pozos, Carasque. From Chalate proper, its another two-hour drive down roads that remind you of the many corners of El Salvador long abandoned by many consecutive governments. It's almost the Honduras border, across the Río Sumpul, site of one of the largest massacres during the twelve-year civil war, taking the lives of some 600 women, children, babies and elderly as they tried to cross the river and escape from the Salvadoran army, only to find the Honduran military shooting down at them from the other bank.

We make it to Los Pozos, but only about halfway up the mountain to the vegetable garden, where the women are waiting for us. We leave the Share-mobile and, in our flimsy flip flops, hike our way up. As we emerge from the brush, we see the vegetable garden, encompassed by cyclone fence, overlooking the view that could make even a lifelong city slicker fall in love: every shade of green imaginable, with the shadows of the clouds lazily making their way over hills and through valleys. Out here, there are no telephone polls, electric wires, bus noises or pollution.

lunes, 16 de agosto de 2010

"us" and "them"

I have spent some time recently poking around for insight into the immigration debate in the US, to see what the proposals are and what the rhetoric is. And while the banner drop in Phoenix (as part of protests against the Arizona law) puts a big smile on my face, the vast majority of the discourse and sentiment leaves me dumbfounded. Anger and fear abound, while real conversation about all of the realities of the immigration issue has been left out, completely.

In mainstream media, there seems to be no talk of the hundreds of people this year alone that have died of thirst, heat stroke, exhaustion or hunger while trying to cross the Arizona desert to feed their families. Certainly not about the situations of poverty and lack of opportunity and employment and hunger and, yes, violence that push people out of their homelands and communities, and never discussion about the US policies that exacerbate—if not create—these situations.

I'm not in the United States to witness the immigration debate. I know that not all people share the hateful, ignorant, bigoted, racist ideas that have left me angered, heartbroken, speechless. I know that not all people share these ideas, and man actively oppose them. And not all people in the US have had the opportunity to live outside of their country, to experience other realities and walk alongside the people whose futures and livelihoods this debate so coldly banters around. And not all people in the United States have a vision of history beyond a fourth grade textbook or a connection to native America.