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IRTF Events Calendar

November 23, 2019 to November 24, 2019: Fair Trade Fair - St. Mark, Cleveland
Sat 4-6, Sun 8:30-2
St Mark Catholic Church, 15800 Montrose Ave, Cleveland, OH 44111

IRTF works towards justice and equity in the distribution, access to, and participation in the production and consumption of the world’s resources for the people of Central America and Colombia. The conventional trade model is accelerating a race to the bottom that hurts workers, consumers, and the environment. Moreover, it further divides us into “haves” and “have nots.” As an alternative model, fair trade sets a series of standards to ensure fair wages and human dignity for producers, community investment, environmental sustainability, and more. 

IRTF’s fair trade program generates thousands of dollars in much needed income for artisans and farmers in Latin America.  This happens through the generous invitations of schools, community groups, and congregations that offer us table space at 40-50 events each year. Fair trade is an important part of IRTF’s human rights mission: to call together people in NE Ohio to walk in solidarity with oppressed peoples of Central America and Colombia to achieve peace, justice, human rights and systemic transformation through nonviolence.

Come visit the IRTF fair trade booth and other fair trade and local vendors.

Volunteers needed.

If you can help for a 2-hour shift, please email us at OhioFairTrade@irtfcleveland.org.

Thank you!

November 24, 2019 to December 4, 2019: Join the USLAW – AfGJ Delegation to Colombia
Colombia

Please support IRTF's full-time volunteer Paul Schmitt, who will be taking part in this important labor rights delegation. The Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) and United States Labor Against the War (USLAW) are leading a joint delegation to Colombia from November 24 – December 4, 2019, timed to coincide with the third anniversary of Colombia’s peace accord that ended more than five decades of war between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC-EP). To contribute toward Paul Schmitt's delegation costs, please click on the DONATE button at the top of the IRTF website. Thank you. 

In addition to the third anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords (November 2016), this Colombia Labor Rights delegation also occurs 8 ½ years after the signing of the Labor Action Plan (LAP), a side agreement of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement to address repression of the labor movement. The delegation will assess the changing situation for Colombian labor unions and working and farming people since these key dates and will issue a comprehensive report on our findings. The delegation will provide a prime opportunity for the establishment of new, direct worker-to-worker solidarity among unionists. While the delegation will mainly include union members, there are some slots available for community allies and students. 

Colombia’s peace accord is in crisis and labor unionists are among the most affected. Since January 2016, 700 social movement leaders have been murdered, as well as at least 160 ex-insurgents and family members participating in the peace process. That is at least 860 persons killed in political violence at a rate of one victim every 1.5 days, or two victims every three days.

Between January 2016 and the end of 2018, 70 unionists were murdered. Since the adoption of LAP, 172 unionists have been murdered. While LAP was adopted to protect unionists, it has had no effective enforcement mechanism. Colombia continues to be the most dangerous place in the world to be a union member and its rate of unionization is lower than many countries where it is illegal to belong to a union. The Fensuagro union of agricultural workers has had more victims of political and anti-union violence than any other union. Fensuagro represents rural workers, the segment of society most targeted for repression and forced displacement. Fensuagro is a founding member of the Marcha Patriótica, a group that makes up more than 40% of the victims. The vast majority of acts of political and anti-union violence are committed by right-wing paramilitary death squads and Colombia’s Armed Forces. The violence and displacement almost always happen in areas where transnational corporations and big landowners want to acquire and exploit resources for private profits.

The labor and peace crises are rooted in and exacerbated by US government policies. Through Plan Colombia, the US has provided more than $12 billion in mostly military and “security” funding. The administration of President Donald Trump has had Colombia’s Peace Accord in its sights, attacking key components, including provisions designed to improve the conditions of rural workers.

This delegation will divide its time between the capital city of Bogotá and the Departments of Cauca and Valle de Cauca. Cauca is home to the largest indigenous population in Colombia, and has endured the highest level of political violence. Valle de Cauca is similarly impacted. It is also home to Buenaventura, with the largest urban concentration of Afro-Colombians. Buenaventura is Colombia’s largest port on the Pacific Ocean and an important center for union activity. We are planning an agenda to include meetings with national and local leadership of Fensuagro as well as unions representing oil workers, miners, port workers, electricians, flower cutters, bottlers, injured workers, and more.

Part of the delegation price will include contributions toward a new community and workers center in Cali, which will be managed by the Permanent Committee for Human Rights (CPDH) serving the Cauca and Valle de Cauca areas. Besides providing a meeting space for social and labor movements, the center will include lodging for international accompaniment and for unionists and activists who are in need of transitional housing because of threats against them.

Join the USLAW-AfGJ delegation and help build lasting peace and labor rights in Colombia!

FOR MORE INFORMATION, SEND AN EMAIL TO:

James Jordan, Alliance for Global Justice: James@AFGJ.org

or

Yasemin Zahra, US Labor Against the War:  

yasemin.zahra@gmail.com 

November 30, 2019 to December 1, 2019: One World Artisan Market - fair trade
Sat 11-3, Sun 9:30-2
St. Rita Church, Mazanec Hall, 32820 Baldwin Rd., Solon, OH 44139

IRTF works towards justice and equity in the distribution, access to, and participation in the production and consumption of the world’s resources for the people of Central America and Colombia. The conventional trade model is accelerating a race to the bottom that hurts workers, consumers, and the environment. Moreover, it further divides us into “haves” and “have nots.” As an alternative model, fair trade sets a series of standards to ensure fair wages and human dignity for producers, community investment, environmental sustainability, and more. 

IRTF’s fair trade program generates thousands of dollars in much needed income for artisans and farmers in Latin America.  This happens through the generous invitations of schools, community groups, and congregations that offer us table space at 40-50 events each year. Fair trade is an important part of IRTF’s human rights mission: to call together people in NE Ohio to walk in solidarity with oppressed peoples of Central America and Colombia to achieve peace, justice, human rights and systemic transformation through nonviolence.

We are grateful to St. Rita for organizing this One World Artisan Market.

Come visit the IRTF fair trade booth.

Volunteers needed!

If you can help for a 2-hour shift, please call 216 961 0003 or email us at OhioFairTrade@irtfcleveland.org .

See a flyer for the event here.

Thank you. 

December 2, 2019: Commemoration of the Martyrs of El Salvador
7-8pm
Church of the Resurrection, 32001 Cannon Rd, Solon, OH 44139

Join us for a special Taize holy hour commemorating the 1980 martyrs of El Salvador: Jean Donovan, Sister Dorothy Kazel, Sister Maura Clarke, Sister Ita Ford, St. Oscar Arnulfo Romero. 

On December 2, 1980, four US women working with the poor and displaced in El Salvador were kidnapped, raped and murdered by the US-backed military of El Salvador. Two of those women—Jean Donovan and Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel—were from the Cleveland Latin America Mission Team.  In the end, they, along with Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford, met the same fate as thousands of unnamed poor of El Salvador who were killed or disappeared.

St. Oscar Arnulfo Romero was assassinated March 24, 1980. Jean Donovan and Sister Dorothy Kazel were among the faithful women who kept vigil at his coffin during the public wake in the days leading up to his funeral on March 30, attended by 250,000 Salvadorans. In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 March as the "International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims" in recognition of the role of Romero in defense of human rights. Romero actively denounced violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable people and defended the principles of protecting lives, promoting human dignity and opposing all forms of violence.

We commemorate the sacrifice of these martyrs, honor their legacy, and recommit ourselves to stand, walk, and speak in solidarity with poor and marginalized communities throughout Latin America. 

All of Us Can Do Something: Prophets of the Future

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. 

The kingdom of God is not only beyond our efforts, it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

This is what we are about.

We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

 This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

 It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

 We are prophets of a future not our own.

Amen.

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 This prayer was spoken by Cardinal John F. Dearden (Detroit Archbishop 1958-80) during a homily he gave at a Mass for deceased priests in November of 1979. The prayer is often attributed to Romero, even called the Prayer of Romero. 

Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was martyred in El Salvador on March 24, 1980, was canonized (made a saint) by the Roman Catholic Church on October 14, 2018. He is considered a martyr because he was killed “in hatred of the faith,” but (to quote his Vatican biographer) it was “a hatred for a faith that, imbued with charity, would not be silent in the face of the injustices that relentlessly and cruelly slaughtered the poor and their defenders.”