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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

People in Detroit in solidarity with Juarez

Money has never been one of my favorite things, yet I know that it's necessary for living. When I was told about the need to raise funds for the Juarez trip, I immediately thought of all the parishes at which I have ministered and decided to speak to the pastors about the possibility of asking for support from the parishioners. I have been at St.Anne's, St. Gabriel's, Maria Madre de la Iglesia, Queen of Angels, Most Holy Trinity, Holy Redeemer, and St. Hedwig's. These are all inner city parishes in Detroit.

I am humbled by the response of the people, by their generosity, their promise of prayers. and all the hugs and love that have filled my heart.

Allow me to share one of my most favorite experiences: I had lost track of a former catechist of mine and when we finally reconnected, hearing my voice on the phone she broke out in tears. It was more that just tears -- there were sobs and she finally said that she couldn't take the pain any longer: She had just learned that her mother in Mexico had serious cancer, her husband had an infection that the doctors told her could be fatal and her little boy also seemed to have the same infection. Plus, she had just found out that she was pregnant.
We talked at length and I said that I wished we were face to face so I could have just held her and received her pain. Finallly she asked me what I was doing. I shared with her my plan of going to Juarez, also telling her how I was seeking support at all the parishes where I had ministered. Her reply - in the midst of all her pain -was that she was going to make some flan and sell it. She wanted to be part of my cause and help me. Wow, what selflessness!!
Then, it was I who had to cry and thank her for her goodness and compassion for the people of Juarez! I have received support beyond my expectations that tells me, "Yes, the people in southwest Detroit are in solidarity with Michigan Peace team and want to be part of the effort to empower the people of Juarez."

They know that Peace is Possible!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

MPT Juarez article appears in Lansing City Pulse newspaper

Mission to Juarez

Two Lansing women prepare for a four-month peacekeeping mission to the front lines of the war on drugs

Sandra Cade and Sister Nina Rodriguez, both in their 60s, know they are not going to the sleepy tourist border town that Juarez, Mexico, used to be. Instead, their mission as part of the Michigan Peace Team will be to serve as bodyguards and consolers for those who can’t escape.

“Juarez has become a place of fear and violence for people who can’t afford to go elsewhere,” Cade said. “There is no doubt any place Michigan Peace Team goes there is a risk of danger.”

Their goal is to establish a long-term presence in Juarez using a technique called “nonviolent intervention,” which ranges from simply listening to stories to physically protecting citizens. Accompanying Cade and Rodriguez will be Angela Mann, 18, from Ann Arbor and Megan Felt, 23, from Des Moines, Iowa.

This will be the Peace Team’s first trip to Juarez. The organization has been based in Lansing for about 16 years and has done most of its nonviolent intervention work in Israel.

Rodriguez, Mann and Felt leave Tuesday and will be joined at the end of October by Cade, who has a consulting business teaching intercultural communication to young children. All four are scheduled to return Dec. 20. The trip is being paid entirely through fund-raising, though as of last week, Cade estimates the team is about $4,500 short of its goal.

“We want a long-term presence there to build up relationships of trust with the people who are hurting,” Cade said.

Across the Rio Grande River from El Paso, Texas, the violence in Juarez is largely blamed on the U.S.-Mexico war on drugs. The Mexican government has estimated that 28,000 have died in drug war violence.

“Unfortunately the war on drugs has become a war on people,” Cade said. “We are not doing anything to stop the hunger of drugs here (in the U.S.).”

But Cade, 64, said the so-called femicide — the often brutal murders of hundreds of female factory workers, in and around Juarez beginning in the mid-‘90s, according to Amnesty International — is what sparked her interest in the trip.

Rodriguez, 69, has spent a good deal of her life as “a person of peace,” as she calls herself, having spent 14 years living in Peru during a time when Peruvian terrorists attempted to overthrow the government by killing people who supported it. She recalls one night when her small coastal village was raided by terrorists seeking medicine.

“They took me aside, and I didn’t know if they would kill me or not,” Rodriguez said. She remembers one young man to this day who was sitting with her when their conversation turned to Mexican comedy routines.

Rodriguez remembers a fleeting bond. “Since then I have had the hunger to be a person of peace. It’s a journey and that’s why I am going (to Juarez).”

Felt recently graduated from the University of Iowa with degrees in anthropology and Spanish and is a Catholic volunteer. She was part of a nonviolent intervention mission in Colombia that sparked her interest in the work and learned over the Internet about the Michigan Peace Team’s trip.

“I have heard of the killings and the rapes of women and know the dangers,” Felt said. “It’s concerning but all the more reason to go.”

Felt views the humanitarian mission with a certain angst toward the Mexican and U.S. governments and their policies in the drug war, which she believes is feeding the violence. She is blunt about the nature of the trip.

“Our bodies will be human shields, escorting people during tough situations when you don’t know who will come running through the door,” she said. “And loving that soldier who has a gun at your head. We will be creating space for that love to grow.”

She said almost every one she knows has tried talking her out of going. Though it’s too bad they feel that way, Felt said it’s her mission to do this work, which is giving way to general excitement.

Cade refers to the Juarez situation as “just a step across the bridge that neither country is willing to deal with.”

While addressing a crowd of seven women at the Red Cedar Meeting House in Old Town, Cade fought back tears.

“I’m a bit overwhelmed. I won’t say I am not terrified,” she said following a showing of “Bordertown” — a modern Hollywood drama depicting the femicide in Juarez. “I still don’t believe I’m going, but I’m going. Somebody has to.”

Members of the Michigan Peace Team will chronicle their experience at www.mptinjuarez.blogspot.com

She hopes their presence will be part of a longterm solution for finding peace.

“We have no illusions that we will turn the world around in Juarez,” Cade said. “It’s one person, one soul, one heart at a time.”

— Andy Balaskovitz


Friday, August 20, 2010

Will Mexico Legalize Drugs?

Democracy Now presents a thoughtful discussion of a possible change in Mexico's drug laws and their influence and impact on the economy and human rights.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Day in Lansing, Michigan includes Radio Interviews w/two members of the Juarez Team

Nina and Sandra had a busy day in Lansing Wednesday, August 18, beginning with lunch @ Pablo's Panaderia and Old Town Mexican Restaurant. Several of our supporters also enjoyed the delicious offerings throughout the day, resulting in a generous donation from Pablo that exceeded the 20% promised. We have also been invited to return for a similar event after our sojourn in Juarez. Gracias, Pablo.Next on our Wednesday agenda was a pre-taped radio interview with co-hosts Kyle Melinn and Berl Schwartz, editor of Lansing City Pulse The show, which also featured Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Ingham co. Treasurer Eric Schertzing, and Renegade Theatre Festival Producer Chad Badgero, aired at 7:00 p.m. just as we were starting our Informational & Fundraising Event. Hear a podcast of City Pulse on the Air @ http://www.lansingcitypulse.com/lansing/article-4692-8_18_10-radio-show.html Our portion of the show starts @ 28.18 Just after 6:00 we were interviewed live on the WILS 1320AM show Ebling and You. The podcast is available @ http://www.webwiseforradio.com/site_files/368/Media/8-18-10_Sandra%20Cade.mp3
Thank you to both these Lansing media sources for helping us to spread the word about Juarez.

Our evening ended at Red Cedar Meeting House in Lansing, where about a dozen people viewed the film Border Town with us. All were quite moved by the movie and found that it affirmed many of the reasons that call us to Juarez this fall and into the future.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Percentage Fundraiser & Informational Meeting in Lansing August 18

Pablo’s Panaderia
311 E Grand River Ave, Lansing, MI 48933
(517) 372-0887
Be sure to mention Michigan Peace Team in Juarez when stopping by for breakfast, lunch, or (and?) dinner this Wednesday, August 18 at this great Old Town Lansing Mexican restaurant. Pablo will donate 20% of your bill to support our first peace team to reside in Juarez this fall.

At 7:00 p.m., be sure to walk around the corner to Red Cedar Friends Meeting House at 1400 Turner for a free viewing of Border Town, starring Jennifer Lopez & Antonio Banderas. (See synopsis & trailer below)

Guest speakers include members of the 2009 exploratory team and Sandra & Nina from the upcoming fall team. Fair trade items from Guatemala will be available for purchase as a fundraiser for the fall Juarez team.

Synopsis: Since 1993, almost 400 women have been murdered in Juarez, Mexico, a factory town that is home to people who toil away at "maquiladoras" (border factories) making
cheap consumer goods for the US market. Bordertown tells the story of Lauren Fredricks (Jennifer Lopez), an ambitious newspaper reporter, who has been sent to Juarez by her editor (Martin Sheen) to investigate what has happened to these hundreds of women and how the local police and authorities have been covering up the brutal rapes and murders. Lauren looks up her former colleague (and lover) Alfonso Diaz (Antonio Banderas), who now runs the local paper, and they soon uncover one of the hottest stories of the year when they come across the only known survivor of one of these mysterious attacks. The victim is reluctant to speak, but Lauren convinces her to break the silence; yet the real danger is not the murder, but the larger forces who don’t want the story told. http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4183760/bordertown_movie_trailer/