Letter to Vice President Kamala Harris
Dear Madam Vice President,

Warmest greetings to you. We are holding you in our prayers as you continue your important work leading our nation, including your work examining the root causes of outward migration from Central America to the United States.

We are deeply appreciative of your personal understanding of the immigrant experience and your recognition of the historical relationship between the United States and Central America. We are heartened by your recent reflection stating that the U.S. Department of Agriculture “is going to increase our focus and our resources around helping farmers in that region who have been devastated by crisis in terms of climate and drought … If parents and children cannot literally eat, if they cannot have the basic essential things that everyone needs to live, of course they’re going to flee.”

We firmly believe that all U.S. aid must be directed to trusted civil society organizations and not through the current governments which have systematically repressed protests, demonstrated utter disdain for human rights and the rule of law, and have been implicated in corruption and narcotrafficking.

Our congregations have been walking with the communities of the poor and displaced across the Central America and Mexico and at the border for decades, many dislocated as a direct result of failed U.S. military and economic policies as well as the natural disasters resulting from climate change. Given how they have opened our eyes to the role of our country in enabling authoritarian, corrupt regimes and funding repressive security forces in their countries, a posture of U.S. humility in this context would be important.

We are deeply concerned about the ongoing trauma facing these beautiful families in their homelands, on the journey north, and at our border where they face family separation, criminalization and exploitation.

We are alarmed by policies supporting the militarization of the southern borders of Guatemala and Mexico, creating even greater peril for people exercising their right to migrate in search of safe harbor.

We are worried as we witness governments continue to repress dissent, as evidenced by attacks on environmentalists, human rights defenders and journalists. We are committed to accompanying them and addressing the policies that continue to impact their survival and well- being.
We, as faith communities, are particularly interested in supporting initiatives that grant them the stability to remain in their homelands if they so choose, especially initiatives promoting sustainable ways for the poor and marginalized to grow their own food enabling them to feed their families and their communities.

For the last decade, we have partnered with the U.S.-based SHARE Foundation and local Honduran grass roots organizations.

From July 2- July 12, 2021, a national delegation of 21 religious and community leaders will visit Honduras with the dual purpose to

1. support a promising local initiative – Vamos a la Milpa – to build food security and community bonds.
2. visit the families of eight environmentalists from Guapinol unjustly incarcerated for nearly two years and seek their release.

The delegation is sponsored by the SHARE Foundation at the invitation of Jesuit Father Ismael “Melo” Moreno Coto, SJ and School Sister of Notre Dame Rosa Maria Troches, SSND. Both worked closely with the slain indigenous environmentalist Berta Caceres.

We are supporting Vamos a la Milpa, one alternative to forced migration to the US.

The group of organizations spearheading the Milpa in Honduras includes Radio Progreso / ERIC-SJ, Paso a Paso, the San Isidro Labrador Parish, the San Alonso Rodríguez Foundation, COPA of Bajo Aguan, the National Farm Worker Central CNTC and Berta Caceres’ COPINH.

Vamos a la Milpa draws from the age-old indigenous tradition of planting vegetable gardens of corn, beans, squash, fruit trees, medicinal plants, flowers and more. Not unlike the “victory gardens” planted during WWII in the U.S., the campaign is an effort to promote local sources of food and solidarity as communities confront the devastation, dislocation and hunger caused by the recent natural disasters, the endemic violence and corruption plaguing their countries, and the recent hurricanes that further devastated the region. It also brings communities together to demand basic human rights, the rule of law, and due process.

U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern has stated that:

“Vamos a la Milpa is an important campaign to make sure that no one goes hungry in Honduras. It is so important to build sustainable agriculture and food security at the community level, so everybody feels they are part of this project and can see the direct positive benefits of growing and eating healthy nutritious food.

Vamos a la Milpa is about connecting farmers, community leaders, women, young people, artists, and helping communities become self-sufficient to grow enough nutritious food so their families will always know that they will have food on their table. I thank Fr. Melo; I thank the SHARE Foundation, all the parishes and community organizations. I look forward to supporting your project.”

We have notified the U.S. Embassy and our elected representatives about the delegation, and will gladly share its report with you upon their return.

We welcome any support you and your office can give to the delegation and to their mission supporting Vamos a la Milpa and the release of the eight Honduran environmentalists from Guapinol.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jean Stokan, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas’ Justice Coordinator at jstokan@sistersofmercy.org, 202-841-6354 or Jose Artiga, Executive Director, SHARE Foundation, jose@share-elsalvador.org, 510-848-8487.

Again, thank you for your attention to the human aspiration to live free of fear and to the dreams of our sisters and brothers from the south and their children and extended families who are dreamers, essential workers, our neighbors here in the north.

In gratitude,

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