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Accompaniment IM4HI Vision

Accompaniment and Solidarity in Honduras

by Professor Amy Argenal

Seven years ago, I attended my first pilgrimage to Honduras as part of a group of faith leaders to explore the root causes of migration. I wanted to explore the root causes of migration so I could understand them and become a better advocate and solidarity partner.  Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, along with Share El Salvador, organized the pilgrimage to help us learn and understand more profoundly why so many families and children from Honduras were showing up at the U.S./Mexico border.  Many of us had our own assumptions, especially as the narrative of gang violence was running rampant in our media. But what we heard in Honduras was completely different and it changed me.  

During our first visit in 2015, we spent time with communities who were being pushed off their land for large scale development projects It was tourism causing displacement in the territory of the Garifuna peoples.  We later came to hear about Berta Caceres and the struggle of the Lencan people, who faced attacks by Honduran security forces for protecting their sacred river fromhydro-electric projects. We accompanied them on marches against the corruption of US-backed former President Juan Orlando Hernandez, commonly known as JOH, who had facilitated the theft of the public health system and privatization of the roads.  We returned to the US with their requests to withdraw support for former President JOH and to stop US military and security aid to Honduras that was being used to intimidate and criminalize communities who resisted.

Juana Zúñiga (L), community leader in Guapinol, with Professor Amy Argenal (R)

In 2018, we visited the community of Guapinol.  This community was resisting a large-scale mining project taking place in the Carlos Escalaras national park mountains that was the source of several rivers bringing water to communities in the Bajo Aguan region of the country.  When the mining company, Inversiones Pinares, began constructing the road to get to the mountain, it polluted the Guapinol River. In response,  the community engaged in nonviolent direct action to block the road.  The Guapinol encampment ended in violence between security forces and the community, and eight of the leaders were imprisoned without trial for nearly three years.  

We returned back home to the U.S. and Canada with a commitment to uphold international solidarity by freeing the Guapinol 8 and accompanying  Honduran communities seeking to defend their land and water. 

Reverend Deborah Lee shared with my students that Critical Migration Studies must  interrogate power. It must ask “who makes our immigration laws and policies and for whose benefit?” and “who decides what aid and development projects go where, and for whose benefit?”  Here in the United States, we are often the ones to benefit from large scale development projects that take place in locations far and unknown where we don’t have to see the cost and consequences of our consumption.  

Seven years later, I have continously returned  to Honduras. Sometimes I have gone twice in the same year  to accompany and walk in solidarity with communities struggling for the right to land, water, and the right to remain in their home, the right to not have to migrate. 

Interfaith Movement has deeply instilled in me the question of what does it mean to accompany.   Accompaniment with those suffering injustice takes many forms at Interfaith Movement for Human IntegrityWe accompany newly arrived families, those seeking freedom from immigration detention, and those fighting for the right to remain, who are dismantling oppression and tackling the roots of injustice.  

Accompaniment means to walk alongside, to hold up, to support, and also to follow with open hearts. To accompany must include understanding deeply and showing up when called for. This work is long term, and can take many forms. Relationships are important. The accompaniment of Guapinol over the years meant continual messages of solidarity, checking in, calling members of Congress, posting on social media, and organizing events.  For me it meant to be presente! To show up in court in Honduras as an international observer when the trial started, to carry a banner of the Guapinol 8 at the inauguration  of President Xiomara Castro, and to learn the Environmentalist Cumbia from amazing women leaders like Juana and Juana, like Esly, and Adelia! It meant to pray with Juan sitting outside the court house where the whole community gathered,slept, and strategized with our dear friend Reynaldo.

This Spring 2022, there is much to celebrate on the accompaniment journey with communities in Honduras.  In January, the regime of President Juan Orlando Hernandez came to an end. He is facing extradition to the US on charges for narcotrafficking.  Honduras’ first woman President, Xiomara Castro, was elected and inaugurated.  In the early part of February, local organizing and international pressure freed the Gupainol 8 and charges were dropped.  To see the videos of the leaders arriving back home to their community’s gathering place, the soccer field,  after three years, brought tears of joy to my eyes.   I know that, for the Guapinol community, this is just the start. They still have to fight to close down the mining company, and protect their water, livelihoods, and right to remain.  There is still continued work to pressure the US government to end military and security aid through the Berta Caceres Act and the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act.  Even though there is a new administration, the corrupt and problematic military apparatus that have criminalized and assassinated land and water defenders still remain.  

This is why I continue to walk, to accompany, to be in solidarity with, and to strive for a better world where borders do not exist to separate our families, and detain our peoples. Instead, I strive for a world where communities can make a choice about whether they migrate or remain, and where all communities can thrive.  

Professor Amy Argenal is a human rights educator at the University of San Francisco and a life-long learner with Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity.

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Events

Pilgrimage for a Better Future

The Pilgrimage for a Better Future: From the Heartbreak of Immigrant Detention to Thriving Communities is an interfaith, spiritual pilgrimage to bear witness to the preventable human suffering caused by immigrant detention in California, as a prayer for their closures, the safe releases of those on the inside, and the transformation and thriving of local communities in our state.

From May 28th, 2022 – June 1st, 2022, a group of about 35 pilgrimage participants, comprised of community members who have been detained, faith leaders, and leaders in the movement to transform carceral systems, will gather together to undertake this journey. We will stop to gather in reflection, prayer and action at the seven ICE detention centers in the state and other significant sites along the way. These facilities detain thousands of immigrants in California each year, separating families and loved ones from their communities. Immigration detention does not need to exist and local communities are in dire need of different kinds of investments for a thriving and sustainable future.

The Pilgrimage is organized by the Interfaith Movement For Human Integrity, the Dignity Not Detention coalition, local community organizers, and the co-collaboration of each participant who joins us.

While participation on the bus is invitation only, we invite our broader community to join us at the Pilgrimage stops at the detention centers near you; see schedule below. We’ll also be providing a toolkit with educational resources and ways to take action that congregations, school communities, and individuals can use. Look out for these ways to take action soon.

Questions about the pilgrimage? Please contact Pilgrimage for a Better Future Coordinator, Bekah Olstad, or Interfaith Movement For Human Integrity Executive Director Rev. Deb Lee.

Pilgrimage Events Open to the Public (Subject to Change)

Saturday May 28th – Pilgrimage Launch and Prayer Ceremony at San Quentin State Prison
San Quentin, CA 94964
10am – 11am
Questions? Please contact Gala King

Saturday May 28th – Prayer Ceremony in front of Yuba County Jail
215 5th St, Marysville, CA 95901
4pm-5pm
Questions? Please contact Eunice Hernandez

Sunday May 29th – Prayer Ceremony in front of Mesa Verde ICE Processing Facility
425 Golden State Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93301
5-7pm

Monday May 30th – Prayer Ceremony at Chicano Park
Chicano Park, San Diego, CA 92113
12-2pm
Questions? Please contact FreeThemAllSanDiego@gmail.com

Tuesday May 31st – Prayer Ceremony in front of Imperial Regional Detention Facility
1572 Gateway Rd, Calexico, CA 92231
9-10am
Questions? Please contact Rebecca Merton

Tuesday May 31st – Prayer Ceremony in front of Adelanto Detention Center
5-7pm
5pm meet at 10450 Rancho Rd, Adelanto, CA 92301
6pm meet at 10400 Rancho Rd, Adelanto, CA 92301

RSVP Here. Questions? Please contact Hilda Cruz

Categories
Events Justice Not Jails (JNJ)

Sacred Prayer Circle: Bringing Hope to Those Impacted by Incarceration

Join the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, Families United to End LWOP, The Fair Chance Project, and Lincoln Memorial Congregational Church in a Sacred Circle gathering to uplift those crushed by the criminal legal system.

The event will highlight the stories of formerly incarcerated and incarcerated persons and family members impacted by LWOP (Life Without the Possibility of Parole), especially individuals and family members impacted by California’s insane and unfair “Felony Murder Law.” Also, during the event, we will pray for regional and global peace and unite in song to uplift one another for envisioning beloved community.

Sacred Circle aspires to bring the moral voice and the collective powers of the faith community and directly impacted persons together in prayer to help heal, mend, and transform our present carceral system.

Highlights of Sacred Circle include:

  • Stories &Testimonies
  • Prayers from Faith Leaders
  • Music & Songs
  • Action Steps
  • Lunch will be provided
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