New York CISPES Committee Update
The New York CISPES chapter has made it to autumn electrified by the energy of the summer months. The summer of 2008 brought sweltering heat, opportunities to revel in annual traditions, and at its height, the arrival of a new coordinator.
With our statewide network, New York CISPES co-sponsored the Seventh Annual Jolie Rickman Spanish for Activists Camp. The camp was wildly successful in creating a space for critical reflection of our solidarity work. The three-day camp had an ambitious agenda of alternating workshops and Spanish classes. The camp wrapped up with an all-inclusive discussion, on What we want, what we believe, that carried well beyond the time of our rental agreement.
The summer brought Max García to New York to be the new chapter coordinator. Originally from the Bay Area, he was most recently living in Tucson, Arizona, where he was working with minors and adults in immigration detention. Finding that line of work unsatisfying, he left his position at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project to be a full time volunteer with No More Deaths. The opportunity to coordinate the New York chapter has been a humbling offer that he has taken and run with. One of his very first challenges was the reopening of the chapters office. Housed at the Brecht Forum, the office is in the heart of the citys leftist culture and offers a great space for networking.
Throughout the summer, New York CISPES continued to play a large role in the work of the New York City Peoples Referendum on Free Trade. Recently, the coalition was renamed Trade Justice New York City Metro, but we will all affectionately keep referring to it as La Consulta. Through a weekly program of forums and film screenings, we have been building consciousness and raising awareness of the terrible effects of free trade across the world and what a peoples critique in action can look like. The coalition made headlines when two activists disrupted a Council of the Americas-sponsored reception for Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez to denounce Uribes support for the pending free trade agreement between the US and Colombia.
As summer came to an end we closed it out in style. Michael Lent and Diane Greene-Lent hosted a fundraiser for New York CISPES in their beautiful Brooklyn home. The event was a good time. Members of the FMLN New York discussed the upcoming elections, NY CISPES member Andy Kefel reported back on the fact-finding delegation to El Salvador he participated in, and comida típica was enjoyed by all. While the fundraising aspect of the night was extremely fruitful, the best part of the event was that it offered new CISPES volunteers a chance to mingle with committed supporters as well as veterans of the New York/El Salvador solidarity movement.
As autumn settles in, so has our Fall 2008 Intern, Amanda Peters. Having lived and studied in El Salvador, this recent graduate of Bates College is an articulate and motivated contributor to the chapter. New York CISPES has been strengthened by her contributions in shaping our outreach approach and by the dedication to El Salvador her work shows. This January she will represent New York CISPES on our election observer delegation.
Finally we have various plans in the works to continue strengthening our relationships with local solidarity groups and representatives of El Salvadors social movements. We are currently working to develop exciting outreach tools targeting the citys youth to contribute to youth led international solidarity building. We are looking forward to hosting the fall tour in November and if you are in the New York City area we invite you to contact us at [email protected] to visit our office and get involved. n