Published: May 15, 2020
Dear Friends: Here is an innovative new project underway in Latin America to provide physical, emotional and spiritual support to many marginalized peoples who are the most severely affected by the COVID, and other adversities in its wake:
Peacebuilding en las Américas (PLA, an Initiative of Friends Peace Teams) partners are energized and filled with hope with their new Peace Baskets project which offers the opportunity to address the multiple viruses their communities are facing, including the hunger virus and the domestic violence virus...
Honduras will be the first country to begin implementation next week. Like everyone in Honduras, our partner, Ondina Murillo, is only allowed only to go out (of her home) two days a month as assigned by the government. The governments of El Salvador and Guatemala will begin this implementation soon. The Peace Baskets will be delivered to families in economically marginalized and high-conflict urban neighborhoods (Red Zones) and will include food, disinfectants, hygiene items, messages of peace and emergency contacts. Women, men and youth in many of these families have been trained in the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP). Recipients of the baskets will be encouraged to pass on the peace to others through sharing food and messages of peace with their loved ones and neighbors.
Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Ecuador will be the next countries to begin this project. In Colombia, the focus will be migrant families, and in Ecuador will be indigenous families.
Under the “States of Exception” regulations and severe lockdowns, all our partner countries are vulnerable to human rights violations. We have already seen flagrant abuse of civil rights: the use of tear gas and live bullets to disperse women and children seeking food (Honduras), assassinations of community leaders and their families (Colombia), arbitrary arrests and incarceration of informal sector workers (El Salvador) and severe police repression of the LGBT community (Ecuador).
The regional situations are ripe for continuation of State abuse on multiple levels with little recourse for redress. Upon returning home from Ecuador, Salomón Medina, our National Coordinator in El Salvador, was held with 38 others in a State-sponsored detention center in San Salvador for 39 days . He describes manipulation and threats by authorities as well as the nonviolent collective actions taken to gain release. Such iron-hand policies of that government have only increased.
Our partners extend deep gratitude to all for their ongoing moral, spiritual and financial support. Please continue to hold them in the Light. Gracias!
from Thomas C. Martin, Friends Peace Teams (5/15/2020)