RCNV Blog

THANK YOU to all those who attended and supported our ANNUAL DINNER and Program!

i Nov 26th Comments Off by

THANK YOU to our Resource Center for Nonviolence Annual Dinner hosts, all of those who attended, and our Business Sponsors:

We appreciate your support! All of you made the Dinner the most successful ever!  Proceeds from the Dinner, held on October 22, 2014, support our ongoing Resource Center for Nonviolence programs.

Table hosts: Santa Cruz Friends Meeting, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom- Santa Cruz Branch, Palestine-Israel Action Committee, United Services Agency, Santa Cruz County Community Coalition to Overcome Racism (SCCCCOR), Darrell and KarenDarling, Kris Kennedy and friends

Sponsors: Markley Morris, Senator Bill Monning and Dr. Dana Kent, Diane K. Pike, NAACP-Santa Cruz Branch

Supporters: Nancy Abbey, Tatanka Bricca, Maria Elena de la Garza, Debra Ellis and Kali Rubaii- The Islah Reparations Project, Chris Johnson-Lyons, Tom Helman and Mary Ann Balian, Deena Hurwitz, Yolanda Henry, Iverne Rand, Barbara Rogoff, Diana Rothman, Dan Spelce and Yolanda Provoste-Fuentes, Joe Williams, Stephen Zunes and Nanlouise Wolfe

SPECIAL THANKS TO

Chef Eileen Balian, Peace United Church of Christ, Pat Arnold, Liz Klotz-Chamberlin and The Flower Garden Wedding Florist, Maitre’D Brian Murtha, Edgar Ontiveros, Kris Kennedy, Kate Doyle, Stephen Zunes, Joe Williams; Eric Thiermann, Michael Hernandez

THANK YOU to our Business Supporters:

Mitchell Page, Bob Taren, Darling House Bed and Breakfast, Ron and Kay Bailey, Monarch Cove Inn, Land of the Medicine Buddha, The Hotel Paradox, Best Western Plus All Suites Inn, Larry Bernstein, CST, Ron and Kay Bailey, Chardonnay Sailing Charters, La Posta Restaurant, NHS, Inc., Ken Foster, Manuel’s, Restaurant, Hula’s Island Grill, Nickelodeon Theaters, Riverside Lighting and Electric, Linda’s Seabreeze Café, Lundberg Studios, Christokiffer Designs, Go Green Cab, Sones Winery, Pacific Coffee Roasting Company, Play It Again Sports, Zameen Mediterranean Cuisine, Way of Life, Pacific Cookie Company, The Bagelry, Penny Ice Creamery, Artisans’ Gallery, World Market Bazaar, Native Revival Nursery, Martinelli’s, New Leaf Community Markets, Kelly’s French Bakery, Beckmann’s Bakery

THANK YOU to our ANNUAL DINNER VOLUNTEERS

Willow Katz, Nanlouise Wolfe, Gabriel Skinner, Dan Spelce, Juan Salinas Robert DeFreitas, Gigo da Silva, Steve Schnaar, Alexander Gaguine, Tom Monahan, Kathleen Eschen- Pipes, Mari Clare Daly, Tom Monahan, Teela Williams, Racquel Felix, Vasiliki Argyris, Leslie Munoz, Shanti Zunes -Wolfe, Kalila Zunes-Wolfe, Felicia Davidson, Christian Villamil, Cappy Israel, Mary Mykhaylova, Karen Puerta, Arlon Johnson, Jamie Epstein and all Staff and Steering Committee members

Support Islamic Center of Santa Cruz

i Nov 23rd Comments Off by

The Resource Center for Nonviolence stands in support of our neighbors in the Islamic Center of Santa Cruz who suffered vandalism on their place of worship. We support free and safe expression of religion for all. We believe each person is responsible, in what we say and do, for violence in our community and culture. We build nonviolence when we renounce violence and stand with victims of violence. We ask neighbors in Santa Cruz County to speak out against intimidation and scapegoating of any person or group.

In Santa Cruz County and abroad, the Resource Center for Nonviolence sees violence as traumatic and counterproductive. We object to all violence by persons, groups, parties, and states in the Middle East. We object to targetting of people and communities because of their group identity, such as people worshipping in a synagogue in West Jerusalem or farmers tending olive groves near Bethlehem, or Sunni or Shiite Muslims or Western journalists.  Scapegoating and collective punishment have been waged by national militaries and political parties as well as by terror groups and distressed victims of oppression. Realistically, we especially renounce violence that we share responsibility for.  American military action in the Middle East, in support of American interests, has contributed to collective punishment of Iraqis, Afghanis, Palestinians in Gaza, disintegration of societies in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and militarization of societies in Israel and Egypt.  U.S. warfare in the Middle East teaches a way of blame and violence that comes home in Santa Cruz County.  As Americans, we share responsibility for this violence, in our community and overseas.

“The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy,” said Martin Luther King. This is not a moral statement. It is a practical statement. Recent Resource Center guest Dr. Erica Chenoweth said,
“We found that during the period of 1900 to 2006, nonviolent resistance campaigns are about twice as effective as violent ones in achieving their goals. We also found that these trends hold even where most people expect nonviolent resistance to be ineffective — for instance, against dictatorships and highly repressive regimes.”

The way to peace, justice, and dignity for all our neighbors and our allies and our enemies is to renounce violence in our community, renounce violence by our nation, and support nonviolent civil action for justice, freedom, self-governance,, and mutual security in Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Iran, all the regions of the Middle East and world and our nation and county too.

SAVE THE DATE: Wednesday, January 14: JOHN McCUTCHEON Benefit Concert for RCNV

i Nov 10th Comments Off by

John_McSave the Date:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 7:30p.m.

New DAY:  WEDNESDAY

John McCutcheon BENEFIT CONCERT for RCNV

at the Resource Center for Nonviolence

612 Ocean St., Santa Cruz

 

Join us for a rousing concert with John McCutcheon! This year, it is a true benefit, with all proceeds benefiting RCNV. We want the biggest crowd ever for this musical celebration. Please help us to spread the word far and wide!

For more information about John McCutcheon:  http://www.folkmusic.com/

John McCutcheon’s eclectic catalog of ballads, historical songs, children’s songs, love songs, topical satire, fiddle and hammer dulcimer instruments, and even symphonic works are among the broadest in American folk music. His thirty-six albums have earned 6 Grammy nominations. His songwriting has been hailed by critics around the world; his song Christmas in the Trenches is considered a classic and was recently named one of the 100 Essential Folk Songs.  John McCutcheon is an American folk music singer and multi-instrumentalist who has produced 36 albums since the 1970s.  He is regarded as a master of the hammered dulcimer, and is also proficient on many other instruments including guitarbanjoautoharpmountain dulcimerfiddle, and jawharp

 

Details coming soon.

Erica Chenoweth on Why Nonviolence Works…

i Oct 28th Comments Off by

“We found that during the period of 1900 to 2006, nonviolent resistance campaigns are about twice as effective as violent ones in achieving their goals. We also found that these trends hold even where most people expect nonviolent resistance to be ineffective — for instance, against dictatorships and highly repressive regimes.”            — Erica Chenoweth

Erica Chenoweth was the featured speaker at our Resource Center for Nonviolence Annual Dinner and Program on Friday, October 24, 2014

We will have a link soon to video and photos from the event. If you missed it, see:

Interview with Erica Chenoweth by John Malkin, in the Good Times:  ”Melt The Guns”:  http://www.gtweekly.com/index.php/santa-cruz-news/santa-cruz-local-news/6003-melt-the-guns.html

 

Discovering the Unexpected Power of Nonviolence: Street Spirt Interview with Erica Chenoweth: http://www.thestreetspirit.org/discovering-the-unexpected-power-of-nonviolence-street-spirit-interview-with-erica-chenoweth-4/

Friday, October 24! ANNUAL DINNER & PROGRAM to feature Erica Chenoweth, Friday, October 24, 2014

i Oct 17th Comments Off by

Why Civil Resistance Works

PLEASE JOIN US FOR OUR ANNUAL DINNER & PROGRAM

There’s plenty of room at the Program, and still a few spaces left for the dinner, but RSVP SOON!

Friday, October 24, 2014

AT: Peace United Church of Christ

900 High St., Santa Cruz

NEW this year:

5:00 – 6:00p.m.

Social Hour and Silent Auction

6:00p.m. Dinner

Gourmet Vegetarian fare

7:00p.m. Program featuring political scientist,

author and professor Erica Chenoweth speaking on

“Nonviolence is Participatory.”

The Annual Dinner celebrates the community that supports and participates in the program work of the Resource Center for Nonviolence.

Political scientist Erica Chenoweth, Ph.D., coauthored “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict.” Dr. Chenoweth is Associate Professor at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies, and is Associate Senior Researcher at the Peace Research Institute, Oslo. Foreign Policy magazine ranked Chenoweth among the Top 100 Global Thinkers in 2013 for her efforts to promote the empirical study of civil resistance.

The Annual Dinner is one of our biggest annual fundraisers. Please be as generous as possible. If you cannot attend, please consider a scholarship donation so youth and families that would not otherwise be able to attend will participate thanks to your support.

We invite you to come early to find easy parking, socialize, enjoy wine, locally brewed beer & other beverages, and peruse our Silent Auction, featuring local Restaurants and Businesses, Bed and Breakfast stays, hotel stays, SF Warriors tickets, and much more! The Annual Dinner is one of RCNV’s biggest fundraisers- it supports our staff and programs. Please be as generous as possible.
If you cannot attend, consider a Scholarship Donation to help others attend.

NEW this year:  5:00 – 6:00p.m. SOCIAL HOUR 

(wine and beer available) and SILENT AUCTION

6:00p.m. DINNER- Gourmet Vegetarian fare

7:00p.m. PROGRAM 
featuring political scientist, author and professor
Erica Chenoweth  

speaking on 

 

“Nonviolence  is Participatory.” 

 

Tell us how many of you are attending. You can pay at the door (cash or checks) or click below to pay now via Paypal.

(prices here include 3% paypal fee):

GENERAL RESERVATIONS: $42-100 per person sliding scale for the Dinner and Program.

Table Host $500 -$1000  Reserved seating for a table of 8.

Organizational Host $300 – $500  Reserved seating- table of 8 for community organizations

Sponsor $200 – $300  Reserved seating for 4 people.

Supporter (2) $100 – $200 Reserved seating for 2 people.

Supporter (1) $60 -$100 Reserved seating for one person

Scholarship Donation: if you cannot attend: any amount

Program Only: $8.50 – $25 sliding scale.

 

& more Details

Our Souls Turned into Weapons… Eulogy for an Afghanistan Vet: “During basic training, we are weaponized:our souls turned into weapons.”

i Oct 17th Comments Off by

 

This is a very moving story from Common Dreams, of an Afghanistan Vet who served three tours and then came home to work for peace through activism and through his music – he recently took his own life… Click link or read story below…

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2014/10/16/our-souls-turned-weapons

U.S. veteran Jacob George, a deeply admired anti-war activist who ended his own life last month, had gone from being a soldier of war to a warrior for peace. (Photo: Ward Reilly)

“During basic training, we are weaponized:our souls turned into weapons.”

Jacob George’s suicide last month — a few days after President Obama announced that the US was launching its war against ISIS — opens a deep, terrible hole in the national identity. George: singer, banjo player, poet, peace warrior, vet. He served three tours in Afghanistan. He brought the war home. He tried to repair the damage.

Finally, finally, he reached for “the surefire therapy for ending the pain,” as a fellow vet told Truthdig. He was 32.

Maybe another war was just too much for him to endure. Military glory — protection of the innocent — is a broken ideal, a cynical lie. “Times for war veterans are tough because we know exactly what is going to happen with the actions that Obama talked about in his recent speech,” his friend Paul Appell told Truthdig. “Jacob and other war veterans know the pain and suffering that will be done to our fellow man no matter what terms are used to describe war, whether it is done from afar with drones and bombs or up close eye to eye.”

And wars don’t end. They go on and on and on, inside the psyches of the ones who fought and killed. War’s toxins hover in the air and the water. Landmines and unexploded bombs, planted in the earth, wait patiently to explode.

In a chapbook that George published called “Soldier’s Heart,” which contains the lyrics to a number of his songs accompanied by essays discussing the context in which they were written, he explains his song “Playground of War.” It was written when he returned to Afghanistan with a peace delegation — George was one of the first Afghan vets to do such a thing — and at one point visited, God help us, a landmine museum.

The guide, “hard-faced,” overflowing with emotion, explains, George writes, that “it would take over a hundred years of working seven days a week to clear every single landmine out of Afghanistan. He says their fathers and grandfathers used to work their fields with plows, but now they work their fields with metal detectors and wooden rods. Instead of harvesting potatoes, they harvest explosives. He tells me all kinds of things that change my life in a matter of minutes.”

This is war. War never ends. George came home with the war raging inside him and rode his bicycle across the country to promote peace. Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh, he understood that veterans “can help lead the healing of the nation” In 2012, he marched in Chicago in protest of NATO and returned his medals. Marching with fellow vets, he led this cadence call: “Mama, Mama, can’t you see/What Uncle Sam has done to me?”

He called his peace work a “righteous rite of passage.” He said it was “how we transform PTSD into something beautiful.”

He also chipped the last letter off the acronym: post-traumatic stress is not a disorder, he realized, but a completely natural, sane reaction to causing harm to others. He called it a moral injury.

A fellow vet, Brock McIntosh, interviewed on “Democracy Now” shortly after George’s suicide, said: “. . . he saw a lot of killing in Afghanistan, and he also talked about seeing fear in the eyes of Afghans. And the idea that he could put fear in someone kind of haunted him. And he had lots of nightmares when he returned, and felt kind of isolated and didn’t really tell his story. But over the last few years, he’s had the opportunity to tell his story and to build long-lasting relationships, not only with other veterans who are like-minded, but also with Afghans.”

In “Soldier’s Heart,” George talked about the dehumanization process that begins in basic training. Young people’s souls are “turned into weapons.” This is an image I can’t move beyond. It’s an insight into the nature of war that cannot be allowed to remain trapped inside every used up vet — that our deepest hunger to do good, to contribute to the good of the world, is commandeered by selfish and cynical interests and planted back into the soil of our being like a landmine.

“Through my personal healing from PTSD, I’ve discovered it’s not possible to dehumanize others without dehumanizing the self,” he wrote in “Soldier’s Heart.”

George, unable to find a place in the society he thought he was leaving home to protect, spoke primarily to all the other returning vets trapped in the same existential hell. What he came to realize was that only by surrendering the rest of his life to the elimination of war could be himself find any peace. In doing so, he made a spiritual transition, from soldier to warrior.

“You see,” he wrote, “a soldier follows orders, a soldier is loyal, and a soldier is technically and tactically proficient. A warrior isn’t so good at following orders. The warrior follows the heart. A warrior has empathic understanding with the enemy, so much so that the very thought of causing pain or harm to the enemy causes pain to the warrior.”

And now one more warrior lets go just as another war begins.

“We have been at war for 12 years. We have spent trillions of dollars,” Bernie Sanders said recently on CNN. “What I do not want, and I fear very much, is the United States getting sucked into a quagmire and being involved in perpetual warfare year after year after year. That is my fear.”

I’m sure that was Jacob George’s fear as well. I’m sure he felt it in his soul.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

The Climate Marches On: on Nonviolence and civil disobedience…

i Sep 15th Comments Off by

http://www.democracynow.org/blog/2014/9/11/the_climate_marches_on

By Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan

“Unjust laws exist.” So wrote Henry David Thoreau in his 1849 essay, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.” The naturalist and pacifist asked, “Shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?” His answer was simple: “I say, break the law.”

One hundred and sixty-four years later, on May 15, 2013, Ken Ward Jr. and Jay O’Hara did just that. They navigated a small lobster boat, named “The Henry David T.,” to a point off the Massachusetts coast near the enormous Brayton Point Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built in 1963 that is the largest source of carbon emissions in the region. They dropped anchor and blocked access to the pier, preventing a cargo ship from unloading 40,000 tons of coal. They suspended banners from their boat reading “#CoalIsStupid” and “350,” a reference to the international climate action group 350.org. Three hundred fifty parts per million (ppm) is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that scientists feel is the maximum level that will allow the planet to avoid catastrophic human-induced climate change. Ward and O’Hara succeeded in blocking the coal shipment. From the boat, they reported themselves to the local police and were later arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard.

O’Hara, a Quaker and a sailmaker on Cape Cod, explained, “We were charged with … disturbing the peace, conspiracy to disturb the peace, negligent operation of a motor vessel and a failure to act to avoid a collision of a boat.” They faced years in prison. They decided to mount a “necessity defense,” admitting that they broke the law, but claiming that they did so only to prevent a much greater harm, i.e., the burning of coal that increases global warming. Last Monday, Sept. 8, they finally went to court. Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter offered them a deal. He dropped all criminal charges against them in exchange for a guilty plea to a civil offense and a fine. D.A. Sutter then went a step further — a few steps, actually, to the plaza in front of the courthouse, where he shocked the two defendants and close to 100 of their supporters with a short speech:

“The decision [we] reached today … certainly took into consideration the cost to the taxpayers in Somerset, but was made with our concern for their children, the children of Bristol County and beyond, in mind. Climate change is one of the gravest crises our planet has ever faced. In my humble opinion, the political leadership on this issue has been gravely lacking … we were able to reach an agreement that symbolizes our commitment at the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office to take a leadership role on this issue.”

Sutter’s incredible demonstration of political leadership is timely, indeed. This week, the World Meteorological Organization released its latest Greenhouse Gas Bulletin, packed with dire statistics about the accelerating threat of climate change. “The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013,” the WMO reported, with current concentration of carbon dioxide at 396 ppm. The WMO also warned, ominously, “The current rate of ocean acidification appears unprecedented at least over the last 300 million years.” Defendant Ken Ward, a former deputy director of Greenpeace USA, noting the urgency he feels for the climate, told me, “We should … be taking emergency actions everywhere we can. And the very first emergency action is to stop burning coal.”

Henry David Thoreau is best known for his book “Walden,” in which he describes the year he spent living in a cabin he built on Walden Pond, near Concord, Mass. Thoreau opposed the 1847 U.S. invasion of Mexico. He was a staunch opponent of slavery. To protest these violent policies, he decided he would not pay taxes. When he was jailed for his protest, he was visited by his friend, the poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. It is said that when Emerson asked, “Henry, what are you doing in there,” Thoreau replied, “Waldo, what are you doing out there?” Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience was one of the first modern articulations of the resistance tactic of nonviolent noncooperation. His words and actions have inspired millions, among them Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

The People’s Climate March will happen in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 21. Organizers expect it to be the largest march for the climate in history. The march’s slogan: “To Change Everything, We Need Everyone.” Sam Sutter says he’ll be there, as will the two activists he prosecuted. I asked the district attorney and the defendants if they would be marching together. They all smiled. Prosecutor Sutter said, “It’s certainly possible.” Jay O’Hara concurred, “Sounds like a plan.”

Participate: How Do We Engage More People with Nina Simon. October 8, 2014 at 6:30

i Sep 8th Comments Off by

nina simon

This Fall the Resource Center for Nonviolence is inviting you to PARTICIPATE. We have several events surrounding the idea of participation. One that we are really excited is a reception and presentation with Nina Simon.

We have a great resource in our community on this topic:

Nina Simon, Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History! Nina will share her experience and advice about how she and her team have transformed the MAH in to a participatory experience for our community. The museum’s profile, attendance, and participation have skyrocketed under Nina’s leadership. Nina is the author of “The Participatory Museum,” speaks around the country, and leads a summer professional development camp on the topic of Participation.

Nina Simon and the Resource Center for Nonviolence invite you to participate!

Wednesday, October 8, 6:30 PM for a mixer (light refreshments) 7:30 PM for Nina’s presentation.

Suggested donation, $10-20 sliding scale.

Please RSVP by October 1. Space is limited. Email Peter at 2peterkc@gmail.com or call 831.423.1626. It’s all at the

Resource Center for Nonviolence:

612 Ocean Street, across from Hotel Paradox.

We welcome everyone and we especially invite leaders, staff, board members, activists from community groups, non-profit organizations, political and religious groups to meet Nina, visit the Resource Center for Nonviolence, and consider how you can improve participation in your organization.

We hope you will join us!

Anita, Candace, Irene and Peter

 

Like  us on Facebook  or follow us on Instagram and Twitter!

AL HELM (the dream): Martin Luther King in Palestine Film and Discussion

i Jul 31st Comments Off by

AL HELM (the dream): Martin Luther King in Palestine

Film and Discussion

Thursday, August 14 @ 7:00

The Resource Center for Nonviolence 612 Ocean Street

An African-American gospel choir goes to Palestine to sing in a play by Clayborne Carson about Martin Luther King Jr. They become witnesses to life under occupation and a nonviolent movement for social justice.

 No entry fee.

For more information:  Click For Flyer or 831.423.1626

http://www.clarityfilms.org/mlk/

All They Will Call You Will Be Detainees: Good commentary on Central America immigrants…

i Jul 25th Comments Off by
Dear friends,
This is a good article that makes the case, once again, that the problem with the media is not a liberal bias but an Establishment bias. Scroll down for more info;  or click this link: http://www.fair.org/blog/2014/07/14/all-they-will-call-you-will-be-detainee/
    Why is it that the 3 countries from which the vast majority of the kids are coming (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) are the three Central American countries that have been most shaped by US policy and most dominated by the US economically?
    Why is it that Nicaragua, which is just as poor, doesn’t have the same problems with gangs and drug trafficking and not nearly the same level of violence as the other three? According to an article in the London Review of Books (http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2014/07/11/john-perry/the-nicaraguan-model/), “Nicaragua, even poorer than its northern neighbour, does not feature in the US Border Patrol’s statistics of child migrants. Last year it became the safest country in Central America, with a murder rate one-tenth that of Honduras. Yet it has the region’s smallest police force, the lowest military spending per head and the smallest prison population. Aminta Granera, the region’s only female chief of police, attributes these successes to community-based policing in which young people are imprisoned only as a last resort. The model is the opposite of militarised policing, and goes ignored by Obama and Clinton.”
    Why is the media coverage focused on the impact of the child migrants on the US and not on the death and devastation that they are fleeing, its roots in US policy, and the need to address the issue at that end?
    The article suggests some answers.
-Phil McManus
—————–

All They Will Call You Will Be Detainees

Child migrants, Ixtepec, Mexico (photo: CIP Americas Program)Child migrants, Ixtepec, Mexico (photo: CIP Americas Program)

One of corporate journalism’s bad habits is framing international stories on the premise that news is what happens to the US. There is no better recent example of this than the story of tens of thousands of children fleeing Central America for refuge in other countries, including, but not limited to, the US. With some exceptions, this story is covered as the US’s “border crisis,” and the latest installment in our supposed immigration debate, with the children little more than nameless  symbols of a troubled policy.

The framing of the refugee crisis as a domestic political story can be read in the headlines: “Obama, on Texas Trip, Will Face Immigration Critics” (New York Times7/10/14); ”Obama Hardens Tone on Border” (Washington Post7/8/14); “In Border Crisis, Obama Is Accused of ‘Lawlessness’ for Following Law” (Washington Post7/9/14).

Some reporting has bucked the trend and attempted to look beyond US borders. In “Fleeing Gangs, Children Head to US Border” (7/9/14), New York Times reporter Frances Robles reported on the root causes for a refugee crisis that could see 90,000 reaching the US border by the end of this year. Violence, gangs  and poverty are mentioned, and that’s good, as far as it goes, but these stories don’t ask some obvious questions. Like, why are almost all the children from three Central American countries?  The largest number of child refugees are from Honduras, with El Salvador and Guatemala accounting for almost all others. Why these three countries?

Homicides per 100,000 People, Central America (Vox)Central American homicide rates, via Vox.

And why aren’t children streaming out of Nicaragua, which suffers from “staggering poverty, but not a pervasive gang culture or a record-breaking murder rate,” as the Times‘ Robles notes, but does not attempt to explain? According to the the landmark 2013 study by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Nicaragua, with 11.3 homicides per 100,000 population, has a homicide rate about one-eighth that of world leader Honduras (90.4), and roughly a quarter of that of El Salvador (41.2) and Guatemala (39.9). Why is Nicaragua so much safer?

Here’s where it might come in handy to quote Central Americans and experts on the region. But these vital groups are nearly invisible in coverage, particularly in the large number of stories that treat it as a domestic or political story.

If journalists interviewed University of California/Santa Cruz Honduras expert Dana Frank, they would learn that in the nation with the highest crime rate on Earth, the criminal gang culture extends into every level of government. This includes the US-allied federal government that came to power following a US-backed coup (Guardian6/29/12) that removed a popular, democratically elected president (Extra!9/09). As Frank wrote last Wednesday in “Who’s Responsible for the Flight of Honduran Children?” (Huffington Post7/9/14):

Missing from the discussion about Honduras, though, is the post-coup regime governing the country that is largely responsible for the vast criminality that has overtaken it. Equally absent is the responsibility of the United States government for the regime. Yes, gangs are rampant in Honduras. But the truly dangerous gang is the Honduran government. And our own tax dollars are pouring into it while our top officials praise its virtues.

Mexico City-based writer Laura Carlsen suggests other US policies have also served as important drivers in the flight of the children. Carlsen takes on US reports that cite the laxity of US immigration policies, the lure of social welfare programs and the irresponsibility of the children’s parents, by pointing out how US drug war and trade polices have made conditions increasingly unlivable. In “Child Migrants and Media Half-Truths” (Americas Program6/23/14), Carlsen writes:

So why does the mainstream press seek to place the blame on the parents and a supposed softening of immigration policy?

Because the alternative to blaming migrant families themselves is unpalatable to them.

The alternative is to accept that the Central American and North American Free Trade Agreements have left thousands of youth with no economic opportunities.

It is to accept that US security aid for drug wars has armed and aggravated violence in Mexico and Central America.

It is to understand the high cost of supporting the Honduran coup and how the Honduran people and the US population continue to pay that price, as out migration has surged over 500 percent in the past two years, and human rights violations, instability and violence are skyrocketing.

Veteran Latin American correspondent James North writes in the Nation (7/9/14) that the White House is “showing little concern for international law, and none at all for Washington’s own historic responsibility in Central America,” by “asking Congress to change the law so America can deport the refugee children more quickly.” North explains the US’s responsibility:

The United States has a particular moral responsibility in the Central America refugee crisis that goes even deeper. Americans, especially young Americans, probably know more about the 1994 genocide in Rwanda than they do about how their own government funded murderous right-wing dictatorships in Central America back in the 1980s. The Reagan administration’s violent and immoral policy included $5 billion in aid to the military/landowner alliance in El Salvador, which prolonged an awful conflict in which some 75,000 people died–a toll proportionally equivalent to the casualty rate in the American Civil War. But once shaky peace agreements were signed in the 1990s, the United States walked away, leaving the shattered region to rebuild on its own.

This history is virtually never mentioned in reports on the refugee crisis. In addition to the loss of blood and treasure caused by the US during the Reagan era, the US-supported governments of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras targeted popular democratic organizers and institutions, flooded those nations with guns, and interrupted political and social development. The three countries sending almost all of the refugee children abroad are the same three in which death squads flourished and where US policy became most deeply embedded in the political culture.

Nicaragua, whose political development has taken a different trajectory–seldom in lock step with Washington, its agencies and military advisers–is not experiencing astronomical crime rates or a refugee problem. It’s still very poor, but far less violent.

But there is virtually no media discussion of how “our border crisis” might be somewhat of our own making–”blowback” resulting from US policy going back to the 1980s.

Are US journalists interested in the actual roots of Central America’s refugee crisis? Or are they ignoring them because they confer moral responsibility on the US, and that discussion would spoil a swell debate about just how quickly the kids should be returned to their homelands?