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IRTF Events Calendar

November 13, 2019: Clone of Clone of Fair Food Action Forum - join us!
7-8pm
zoom conference via internet

Monthly meetings: Sep 11, Oct 9, Nov 13

Equal Exchange Action Forum - You can help us take back our food system!

Equal Exchange Action Forum - a network of active consumers across the US

Alternative Trade Organizations (ATOs) are at risk

Equal Exchange was founded in 1986 as an alternative trade organization (ATO) with the mission of connecting US consumers and small marginalized farmers from the global south from countries like Nicaragua, Peru, or India. Alternative trade organizations have foundational influence in the broader fair trade movement but have become isolated from even their most natural allies including coops, citizen movements, community economic organizations, unions, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  This isolation has caused ATOs to not only be under grave threat for the future but at risk of not surviving the market in the next ten to fifteen years.

Fair Trade is being stripped of its original meaning

The Fair Trade idea may have won successes in the last 10 years, but those successes have been limited. And in the process of gaining recognition and support, control has been wrested from small farmers and turned into a marketing attribute at the service of northern companies; it has been commodified and stripped of all real meaning. While some northern ATOs are still here and hundreds of farmer groups in the Global South hang on, "Fair Trade” as envisioned 30 years ago, is no longer recognizable.

Our food system is being controlled by large corporations

In the wider food system, corporations control everything from seeds to supply and prices, while relentlessly chipping away at the regulations that inform and protect consumers. They fight feverishly to prevent us from knowing if GMOs are present in our food. They continue to promote production methods that hasten the warming of the planet—a present-day threat to millions of small farmers and others around the world. And, corporations count on consumers remaining unorganized to maintain the status quo.   

We need active consumer involvement

We now know that we cannot possibly succeed in our goal to transform the food system without the active, deep and committed participation of citizen-consumers like you. An authentic Fair Trade system requires democratic organizing of producers in the South, worker democracy for businesses in the North, and active consumer involvement in the North.  We are taking a powerful, new step in building a democratic brand that connects small farmers in the South to consumers in the North. We believe that in order to be successful in realizing the original Fair Trade vision, we need to deepen involvement and participation in our model. In doing this, we go back to the best that Alternative Trade has always been about: innovation, global solidarity, social imagining and learning, and economic justice. This will be a long, slow process and a great challenge. We need your buying support, your investing support, and your political support. 

Please join us in building this dream. We invite you to help us shape the Equal Exchange Action Forum. 

Here are some ways to get involved:

-Educate yourself. See resources on the food system, fair trade coffee, coffee producing in selected Latin American countries, sustainable farming, cooperatives, solidarity economy

-Join the Behind the Barcodes campaign

-Urge Congress to pass the Food Anti-Trust Review Act

-Become a member of the Food Action Forum

-Connect with like-minded folks at monthly Fair Trade Meet-Ups. See more at http://ohiofairtrade.com/

November 15, 2019 to November 18, 2019: SOA Watch Annual Commemorative Gathering
Fort Benning Columbus, Georgia

IRTF will be coordinating a delegation to travel to and participate in the weekend's events at Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA. If you are passionate about this work and would like to join us on this journey with IRTF and SOA Watch, please fill out our delegation application

The regular cost of attendance per person is $250 (includes travel and lodging). Financial assistance is available upon request. We welcome all to apply and will do what we can to make sure that anyone and everyone has the opportunity and ability to join in this important delegation.This year's gathering marks the 30th anniversary of the Central American University (UCA) massacre — one of the many atrocities that occurred in Central America as the United States funded civil wars, trained military at the SOA/WHINSEC, and ensured that right-wing governments remain in power regardless of their human rights violations.

From SOAW.org:

Given that it’s the 30th anniversary of the Central American University (UCA) massacre, we will gather at the gates of the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, GA, from November 15-17, bridging the past and present. Together, we recommit ourselves to never forgetting the violence that our communities have been subjected to, not only in word, but in action.

Make no mistake, we will not rest until we dismantle the wall and all the racist, xenophobic, classist, dehumanizing policies that prop it up. We also want to be clear that our work to dismantle border imperialism is ongoing, and we still need to respond, we still need to resist — no more deaths from SOA to the Borderlands!! To the implementation of increasingly xenophobic and racist practices, we say “BASTA – NO MAS! ENOUGH – NO MORE!”

Memoria y Resistencia: Close the School of the Americas

We understand that the conditions people are fleeing in Central America are a result of the training, support, and funding that the United States has funneled into state violence for decades....The US has deployed troops and border patrol agents to Guatemala in order to “halt migration”, justifying it as “humanitarian aid”. The architects of death would like us to believe that what happens in the borderlands is distinct from the training provided at SOA/WHINSEC, but we know that US-supported state violence is at the root of forced displacement and the reason people are dying at the border right now.

We know that we must be as fierce, strategic, and effective as possible to hold the US accountable for the decades of intervention that have devastated communities throughout the Americas, resulting in torture, forced disappearance, mass displacement, assassination, and forced migration.

Read more at SOAW.org.

November 16, 2019 to November 17, 2019: Fair Trade Sale: Buy Once, Give Twice
Sat 3-7, Sun 8-1
St. Noel Banquet Center (at St. Noel Church), 35200 Chardon Rd., Willoughby Hills, OH 44094

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-hr shift, please contact OhioFairTrade@irtfcleveland.org or call 216 961 0003.

Thank you. 

See the Facebook event here.

November 23, 2019 to November 24, 2019: Fair Trade Fair
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

The Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) and United States Labor Against the War (USLAW) are pleased to announce a joint delegation to Colombia from November 24 – December 4, 2019. This delegation is 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). It will also occur 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. The cost for the trip is $1,400, not including international airfare. THOSE UNABLE TO PAY ARE ENCOURAGED TO CONTACT ORGANIZERS ABOUT FUNDRAISING IDEAS AND OPPORTUNITIES AND TO SEE IF YOU QUALIFY FOR A DISCOUNT OR SCHOLARSHIP.

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.