Speakers’ Tour

Each fall, Witness for Peace Southeast coordinates a speaker’s tour in the southeast. Latin American community leaders and activists travel to the U.S. to raise awareness about key policy issues in Latin America. Past speakers have spoken out about the war on drugs in Colombia, the violence against Afro-Colombian communities, and the impacts of US deportation policies on deported youth in Mexico. The tour visits churches, universities, and community centers to share their stories and urge for reform. Latin American speakers humanize the policy issues, encouraging people to fight for policies that respect human rights and dignity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis October, we hosted Nicaraguan Fair Trade advocate Julia Vallejos, a founding member of Masili, a workers-owned, fair-trade, women’s cooperative operating in the Free Trade Zone in Nicaragua. In 1998, Hurricane Mitch flooded her community in Lake Managua, and the entire town was forced to leave their homes and livelihoods behind. After being relocated to a refugee community, many people found work in Free Trade Zones – huge textile factories owned by foreign corporations and contracted by foreign companies. Though they provide employment, the factories have a reputation for poor labor conditions where workers are paid very little and work long hours, and the profit always remains in the hands of foreign corporations.

Julia began meeting with other displaced women, and together they decided to form a worker-owned cooperative factory. With the help of Jubilee House, a U.S-based NGO, the women established Masili, a fair-trade organization operating in the Free Trade Zone. Though it can be difficult, the workers remain committed to fair labor conditions and the use of only organic materials.

Julia visited 4 states, including the following public events:

KENTUCKY (Oct 5-9)


  • Friday, Oct 10th, 6:00 pm, Event at Workers Dignity, Nashville, TN. Sponsor: Workers Dignity.


  • Monday, Oct 13, 6:00 pm, Warren Wilson College, Social Sciences Building Lecture Hall, 701 Warren Wilson Rd, Swannanoa, NC 28778 (near Asheville) Click here for Campus Map.
  • Monday, Oct 13-Tuesday, Oct 14, University of North Carolina, Asheville.
  • Wednesday, Oct 15, 7:00 pm, Elon University, Johnston Hall, 100 Campus Dr, Elon, NC 27244 (near Burlington). Clickhere for Campus Map. Sponsors: Department of World Languages and Cultures, Spanish Major, International Studies.
  • Friday, Oct 17, 7:00 pm, Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (ERUUF), 4907 Garrett Rd, Durham, NC27707. www.eruuf.org
  • Sunday, Oct 19, 10:00 am, United Church of Chapel Hill, 1321 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
  • Monday, Oct 20, 1:15 pm, Elders for Peace, at Carol Woods Retirement Center, Main Entrance, 750 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

VIRGINIA (Oct 20-23)

Speakers’ Tour Links:

Take Action for Fair Trade! 

We had 36 total events, and engaged with over 1,000 people, as well as many more through our online communications. Thank you for your support during our Tour! 

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