Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2012 Latin America Track Schedule

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In Latin America, wars have been fought and societies turned upside down by strife over economic inequality. But what does it look like now? The United States has a history of involvement in Latin America, creating trade agreements and providing military and socioeconomic aid. How can we ensure that our government provides aid that will help not hurt our Latin American brothers and sisters? Join us for six exciting workshops that will address these questions. Come learn about free trade agreements, U.S. aid for refugees, the Cuban embargo, the harmful effects of gold mining, alternative national economic models, ecumenical activism for land rights, and more!

Check out the schedule below. To register, click here.

Workshop Session I – Saturday, March 24th – 11:00am – 12:30pm

Successful Economic Alternatives in Latin America

In the past decade, many Latin American countries have elected progressive governments who have initiated a myriad of alternative economic programs with mixed success. Grassroots organizations in Latin America are also creating alternative business models that are more democratic and equitable.  What are some of the more promising examples of these working alternatives? How have they been able to improve people’s lives? What do they tell us in the United States as we look to reform our own economic system?
Speakers: Mike Fox, editor of NACLA; Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic Policy Research

Faith Leading the Way: Ecumenical Activism for Land Rights and Peace Colombia
This past year, a new law went into effect in Colombia that promises to return lands to Colombia’s displaced families. Could this be a real solution to the humanitarian crisis or is it just empty promises? In this workshop, leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Colombia will talk about what’s really happening in rural Colombia and what it means for people of faith to advocate for economic justice from a biblical perspective.
 Speakers: Rev. Jairo Barriga and Rev. Milciades Pua, Presbyterian Church of Colombia; Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo and Rev. Linda Eastwood, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Workshop Session II – Saturday, March 24th – 2:15 – 3:45pm

Trade Agreements and Human Rights: How the Victimizers Sue the Victims in Latin America
Transnational corporations are increasingly utilizing international tribunals to resolve disputes about natural resource rights. Compensation in these cases can be in the millions and foreign investors can use these processes to bypass national laws and regulations designed to protect public health, safety and the environment. Panelists will engage disputes under way in Peru, focusing on the toxic town of La Oroya, and in El Salvador, where a people’s movement emerged to oppose a gold mining operation.
Speakers: Conrado Olivera, Joining Hands Against Hunger Network (Peru) and Mesa Tecnica (La Oroya); Manuel Perez Rocha, Institute for Policy Studies; Alex Herman, Harrison Institute for Public Law; Rev. Alexa Smith, Presbyterian Church (USA) Hunger Program

Keep Your State from Being “Alabama-d”: The Economy & Anti-Immigrant Policies
Immigrants often become scapegoats during economic downturns, despite playing important roles in our communities and economy. This workshop examines state anti-immigrant bills, negative enforcement measures, such as the “Secure Communities” program and the expansion of unnecessary and costly immigrant detention. Come learn how people of faith can powerfully oppose and defeat anti-immigrant legislation, become involved in detention visitation ministry and offer community support to immigrants released from detention. Join us to learn, discuss, plan, organize, and act! 

A Shared Responsibility: Supporting Colombian Refugees in Their Search for Home
In addition to the 5 million people who have been internally displaced by Colombia’s conflict, 500,000 Colombians have taken refuge in Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela. What do these people encounter as they search for safety, security, and new start? How do the cities and countries receiving them deal with this influx of people when they may be already struggling to provide for the needs of current residents? And what can the U.S. government and international humanitarian organizations do to help to help these vulnerable populations and the governments dealing with this crisis?
Speakers: Marc Hanson, Refugees International; Shaina Aber, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA

Workshop Session III – Sunday, March 25th – 11:00am – 12:30pm

Ignoring economic reforms by our neighbor? How the U.S. embargo on Cuba is only isolating US
New economic reforms within Cuba that have allowed citizens to start small private enterprises are only one of the many changes occurring on the island. These small enterprises are allowing Cubans to work for themselves and find a new form of independence. Our government should support these reforms, yet we continue to tout an embargo in attempt to create “regime change.” What can we do to make a difference and help the Cuban people?
Speakers: Luis Rumbaut, Cuban American Alliance Education Fund (CAAEF); Mavis Anderson, Latin America Working Group; Emily Chow, Latin America Working Group

All That is Gold Does Not Glitter:  How Latin America’s Gold Rush is Poisoning Communities
Throughout Latin America, transnational corporations are extracting gold on a large scale, taking advantage of local poverty and weak governance to reap unparalleled profits for their investors in the Global North. Their operations, which generate conflict, shred social fabric, and contaminate the environment, continue to grow at an alarming rate due to the passage of free trade agreements and record gold prices. This panel will examine how the corporate gold rush in Latin America is impacting communities, what those communities are doing to resist, and how we can best support them.
Speakers: Gustavo Castro Soto, Otros Mundos, Chiapas, Mexico; A community leader from the anti-mining struggle in Guatemala (TBA); Nick Magel, EARTHWORKS; Amanda Kistler, Center for International Environmental Law