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.
This 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)
- Sunday, Oct 5, 1:30pm, Highland Baptist Church, 1101 Cherokee, Louisville, KY. Sponsors: Kentucky Interfaith Task Force on Latin America and the Carribbean (KITLAC), Highland Baptist Church.
- Sunday, Oct 5, 3:00 – 8:00 pm, The Harvest Festival at La Minga Farm, 13125 Highway 42, Prospect, KY. Sponsors: The Harvest Festival at La Minga Farm.
- Monday, Oct 6, 7:30 pm, Centre College, Danville, KY.
- Tuesday, Oct 7, 1:30 pm, Action for Living Wage, Lexington, KY
- Tuesday, Oct 7, 6:30 pm, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Lexington, KY
- Wednesday, Oct 8, 5:45 pm, Union Church, Berea, KY. Sponsor: Union Church
- Thursday, Oct 8, Evening, Berea College, KY, Sponsor: Peace and Social Justice Program
TENNESSEE (Oct 10)
- Friday, Oct 10th, 6:00 pm, Event at Workers Dignity, Nashville, TN. Sponsor: Workers Dignity.
NORTH CAROLINA (Oct 12-20)
- 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)
- Monday, Oct 20, 6:30 pm, Richmond, VA
- Tuesday, Oct 21, 7:00 p.m, Lynchburg College, 1501 Lakeside Dr, Drysdale Student Center (Burton Student Center) West Room/#6, Lynchburg, VA 24501.
- Wednesday, Oct 22, 7:00 pm, Virginia Tech Campus, Holden Hall Auditorium, Blacksburg, VA 24061.
- Thursday, October 23, 7:30 pm, The Stackhouse Theater, University Commons, Washington & Lee Campus, 204 W Washington St, Lexington, VA 24450. Sponsors: Women’s and Gender Studies Program, Environmental Studies Program, Nabors Service League, The Shepherd Program, Student Environmental Action League.
Speakers’ Tour Links:
- Video of Event at Elon University
- Speakers Tour Updates on WFPSE Facebook Page
- Elon Universit (Elon, NC)
- Confidencial (Nicaragua, EFE)
- La Estrella de Panama (EFE)
- La Informacion (Spain, EFE)
- North Carolina AFL-CIO
- Prensa Libre (Nicaragua)
- The Durham News (Durham, NC)
Take Action for Fair Trade!
- Say No “Fast Track” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- Affiliate with the Workers Rights Consortium
- Buy Fair Trade from Zona Franca Masili
- Volunteer with Witness for Peace Southeast
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!