B o r d e r l a n d s    D i g e s t
Reading and Writing about Justice Issues
an independent monthly journal with a focus on
 the environment, immigration and criminal justice

August and September 2019   (last updated September 17)

this site is under construction for an October 1 release

What's New: Page 1- Report from Cultural Survival; Attack on Rainforest Defenders in Brazil;
EPA must regulate cross-state pollution
Page 3 - New Books on No More Deaths and McCarthyism;  More Poetry by David Bolton; 

Photo by Craig Rock
Editor Craig Rock, duniterock@gmail.com
Send in your stories, poems and photos by the 24th of each month.
Click on most images to enlarge

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A Report from Cultural Survival


Cultural Survival Photo

From its origins, Radio Muk’ul Lum of Oxchuc, Chiapas, Mexico, was intended to be a community radio station governed under the principle of equity among its members. This principle has allowed for the active participation of several women radio journalists. Over time, women’s participation has increased thanks to an open call and personal invitation made by the radio station. Five women volunteers began to have a presence at the radio. Through an internal training process, they developed their own capabilities, delving into issues related to Tzeltal community life and were involved in decision-making processes as serving on the secretariat.

Throughout this community journalism project, the young journalists have been participating both in the training modules and in the process and preparation of materials. One of the most significant results has been the creation of radio scripts and programs by the women such as spots on the celebration of International Women's Day, both in Spanish and in Tzeltal.

New Programs Address Justice Issues 
and Community Health

Now programs such as: “Pearls of Great Value” are transmitted, discussing topics on community health, gender violence, women's rights and treatment with dignity, as well as sexual health for adolescents. Similarly, "Planet Alert" is a program that addresses the care of the environment, recycling, natural disasters, and climate change. Another program, “Cupid's Hour,” addresses the issue of dating and falling in love, reflecting on the attitude and rights of young people. This program is specifically aimed at young people, providing them with a space to discuss their romantic relationships. The program is accompanied by musical themes. Finally, "Positive Vibes" is a program aimed at youth with low self-esteem, presenting reggae music, and encouraging and motivating them to find the meaning in their lives.

Involving women has been fundamental for the development of the radio station. One of the participants, Mariola Santiz López, gives the following testimony: “My participation in this project has been pleasant, there has been no mishap with the partners, although most are men. Women are still few, perhaps because they are afraid to do new things or because the family does not give them permission. However, I think that little by little they will be more and more integrated into the project. As for the type of participation, as women we have had the opportunity to create programs aimed especially at the female audience, created from our way of seeing life, from our own ways of thinking. In these programs, we try to focus on women's rights, on the freedom we have as people and the things we can do beyond being locked in the home, aspiring to something more than that. The message is also aimed at men because we are in a constant coexistence. I want to mention that a partner, Rosalba, has already been in charge of coordinating this project. We believe that this has also been a great step for us.”

The efforts made by Radio Muk’ul Lum have been supported by the Boca de Polen Network of Communicators, who facilitated the training modules related to community journalism and who have contributed to promoting the participation of women in community radio stations. These training processes have helped Radio Muk’ul Lum consider the importance of various radio formats for our daily activities. As radio journalists they have helped us generate new content.

The involvement of women in community journalism at Radio Muk'ul Lum has strengthened our research capabilities and increased access to information. The example of Rosalba, who was elected to the position of coordinator of the group of communicators, is an example for other community radio stations that do not yet have the initiative to promote the participation of women, to begin to do so.

Cultural Survival advocates for Indigenous Peoples' rights and supports Indigenous communities’ self-determination, cultures and political resilience, since 1972.

For more information about Cultural Survival, click here

Welcome Women and Men of All Colors
Creeds, and Sexes
by Craig Rock, Editor

Welcome to the August/September issue of Borderlands Digest. This is last mailing you will receive announcing the online availability of the monthly issue. In the future, links to major news stories and press releases from environmental and human rights groups will be posted weekly. Feature stories will be posted on the first of every month. Simply log on to borderlandsdigest.com for updates. As I mentioned before, the success of this project depends on your help in submitting stories relevant to your community. Again, stories should focus on the environment, immigration, and criminal justice. To date, submissions have been minimal. To that extent, this news journal has been a failure. I hope it has been successful in painting a bigger picture of the continued injustice fostered by the Trump administration especially in the areas of human rights and the environment –- a big enough picture to argue for working together as a team of concerned citizens rather than individuals with special interests. See the full article on the Archives page.

One-man crime wave invades El Paso
Commentary by Denise Holley
(To view Holley's blog, click here - see bio below)

That young man who massacred 22 shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, Aug. 3 reportedly posted comments online that he was angry about the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.” He must have slept through history class, when kids learn that Texas was part of northern Mexico until 1848, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the Mexican-American War.

The shooter was the invader. He traveled to a largely Latino border city with one of the lowest murder rates in the country, lower than Portland or Seattle. He created a one-man crime wave in a place where residents live in relative peace with each other.

I don’t know El Paso, but I am familiar with Nogales, Arizona, a much smaller border town where I lived for three years. When I arrived in November 2007, the sheriff told me there hadn’t been a murder in Santa Cruz County for years. More recent reports cite one murder in 2011 and one in 2018.

Border cities are bi-national communities where thousands of Americans and Mexicans cross the border daily for business, shopping, or visiting family. By and large, U.S. citizens of those cities do not view Mexico as a threat, but as a neighbor and a vital partner in commerce.

President Trump tries to paint Mexico as a source of dangerous criminals just waiting to sneak across the border to sell drugs and commit crimes of violence. Yes, people try to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the U.S., where most of their customers live, and that is why we have well-trained customs agents to intercept those shipments.

Trump touts walls and fences as the solution to protect U.S. border towns and the interior. But those fences lining our southern border could not protect those Americans and Mexicans who went to shop at Walmart that morning because the danger came from the north. A U.S. citizen brought his weapon, ammo and mind full of hate to El Paso and shattered the lives of dozens of people he had never met.

(Denise Holley wrote for newspapers and nonprofit organizations for 24 years, including three years on the US-Mexico border. Her work has won 10 local and statewide awards for reporting. She helped edit a newsletter for No More Deaths, a migrant aid organization in Tucson, Arizona, and carried water out to the desert for border crossers. In 2017, she published the book "Why the Undocumented Belong to America." Currently, she works as a communications assistant for the Latino Community Association in Central Oregon.)

Earth Justice Report - September 13

D.C. Circuit Rules EPA's Failure to protect people from 
cross-state pollution is illegal

Washington, D.C. —

In a major victory for public health, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is illegally failing to control ozone pollution — smog — that travels across state lines and contributes to unhealthy air in downwind states. Today’s ruling requires EPA to secure clean air by reducing the pollution emitted by coal-fired power plants and other polluting industries in upwind states — pollution reductions that will save hundreds of lives and prevent hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks every year. The court also rejected arguments by polluting industries and red states that the pollution reductions EPA has already required are too costly.

The case was briefed and argued by Earthjustice attorneys representing Sierra Club and Appalachian Mountain Club.

Because the Court rejected a legal argument that EPA has now made over and over — that EPA doesn’t have to follow the Clean Air Act’s deadlines for achieving clean air — today’s ruling also has major implications for other pending lawsuits, including a case scheduled for oral argument on September 20, 2019, in which environmental groups and downwind states jointly challenge the Trump administration’s refusal to reduce cross-state air pollution (New York v. EPA, No. 19-1019). It also means that EPA must promptly implement pollution controls that are needed to achieve the updated clean air standard that EPA adopted in 2015. That updated standard was upheld against a challenge by polluting industries in a D.C. Circuit decision issued August 23, 2019 (Murray Energy v. EPA, No. 15-1385). The court required EPA to consider strengthening the standard to better protect ecosystems and agriculture.

49 counties with more than 36 million people in the eastern United States and Texas suffer from ozone levels that exceed the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Ozone exposure at this level and below can result in chronic respiratory diseases like asthma, scarring of the lungs, and premature death, and is particularly harmful to children. The areas of the country that suffer from unhealthy air due to cross-state pollution are disproportionately home to communities of color.

“This is a big win for millions of people who will get to breathe cleaner air,” said Earthjustice staff attorney Neil Gormley, the lead attorney on the case. “We already have the technology we need to end this dangerous pollution and save lives; today’s decision means no more excuses.”

“We welcome today’s court decision that ruled in favor of protecting public health,” said Georgia Murray, Staff Scientist for the Appalachian Mountain Club. “Now, EPA must not delay in cleaning up outdoor air so people and their families can be outdoors and enjoy healthy recreation.”

“The Court’s decision was a clear step in the right direction to protect states from their neighbors’ pollution and putting public health ahead of the profits of a handful of wealthy business executives,” said Zachary Fabish, Senior Attorney for the Sierra Club. “We look forward to the EPA taking action through this court ruling to protect public health and for state governments to reign in their polluters.”

Journal Contents 
(Pages are accessible from links at the top and bottom of each page.)

Page 1 - Recent news links; updated stories.

Page 2 -  Older News Links and press releases including Keeping an Eye on Big Brother;  Some Ways to Help Migrant Children; Dangers of Keeping Asylum Seekers in Mexico; Amnesty International's report on Humanitarian Aid; More Food for thought.

Page 3 - Books available about No More Deaths and McCarthyism vs Clinton Jencks; Tucson's Benedictine Monastery; Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights; The Quaker abolitionist disowned for condemning slave owners; Exploring the Library of Congress on child labor; Teaching Art for Social Justice;  Poetry Corner;  Just Keep Going North (Harper's magazine story on the many people affected by border life.); And other stories.

Page 4 (Environment - Links and Press Releases) -
More Press Releases from Environmental Groups and related news links; Press Release from the Committee to Protect Journalists;  Links to Interesting Websites.
Breaking News

The youth are watching: Global Climate Strike
draws students, adult allies to Friday
demonstrations in Seattle (and elsewhere)
Seattle Times, September 20, click here

Inspiring photos from the San Francisco Climate March
SFgate.com, September 20, click here

Climate strike die-in held in Vancouver as part of
worldwide demonstrations 
Canadian Broadcasting System, Sep 21, click here

Greta Thunberg, on Tour in America, 
Offers an Unvarnished View
New York Times, September 18, click here

Trump to Revoke California’s Authority to Set Stricter
 Auto Emissions Rules
New York Times, September 17, click here

Warren and Trump Speeches Attack Corruption,
but two different kinds
New York Times, September 17, click here

N.Y. attorney general exposes $1 billion in wire
 transfers by Sackler family
Washington Post, September 14, click here

Dangerous New Hot Zones are spreading
around the world
Washington Post, September 11, click here

Supreme Court says Trump administration can begin denying
 migrants’ asylum while legal fight continues
Washington Post, September 11, click here


Human Rights Watch Report - September 17

Brazil: Criminal Networks Target Rainforest Defenders

Violence and Impunity Endanger Climate Change Commitment

(São Paulo) – Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is driven largely by criminal networks that use violence and intimidation against those who try to stop them, and the government is failing to protect both the defenders and the rainforest itself, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. 

The 165-page report, “Rainforest Mafias: How Violence and Impunity Fuel Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon,” documents how illegal logging by criminal networks and resulting forest fires are connected to acts of violence and intimidation against forest defenders and the state’s failure to investigate and prosecute these crimes. 

“Brazilians who defend the Amazon are facing threats and attacks from criminal networks engaged in illegal logging,” said Daniel Wilkinson, acting environment and human rights director at Human Right Watch. “The situation is only getting worse under President Bolsonaro, whose assault on the country’s environmental agencies is putting the rainforest and the people who live there at much greater risk.”  

Cláudio José da Silva is the coordinator of the “Forest Guardians” of Caru Indigenous Territory, in the Brazilian Amazon. The Guardians patrol indigenous land to detect illegal logging and report it to the authorities.

 The criminal networks have the logistical capacity to coordinate large-scale extraction, processing, and sale of timber, while deploying armed men to intimidate and, in some cases, kill those who seek to defend the forest, Human Rights Watch found.

On September 23, 2019 the United Nations will hold a summit meeting to discuss global efforts to mitigate climate change. As its contribution to those efforts, Brazil committed in 2016 to eliminate illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.

Human Rights Watch interviewed more than 170 people, including 60 members of Indigenous communities, and other local residents in the states of Maranhão, Pará, and Rondônia. Researchers also interviewed dozens of government officials in Brasília and throughout the Amazon region, including many who provided inside accounts of how President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies are undermining enforcement efforts. 

During his first year in office, Bolsonaro has scaled back enforcement of environmental laws, weakened federal environmental agencies, and harshly criticized organizations and individuals working to preserve the rainforest.

More than 300 people have been killed during the last decade in the context of conflicts over the use of land and resources in the Amazon – many of them by people involved in illegal logging – according to figures compiled by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT, in Portuguese), a nonprofit organization, and cited by the Attorney General’s Office.

Human Rights Watch documented 28 killings – plus 4 attempted killings and over 40 cases of death threats – in which there was credible evidence that those responsible were engaged in illegal deforestation and saw their victims as obstacles to their criminal enterprise. Most of the cases are from the past five years. Some victims were environmental enforcement agents. Most were members of Indigenous communities or other forest residents who denounced illegal logging to authorities. 

In the Terra Nossa settlement in Pará state, a resident was killed and another disappeared after they announced plans to report illegal logging to authorities in 2018. The brother of one of the victims, who was investigating the crime, was also killed, as was the leader of a small farmers’ trade union after he too announced plans to report the illegal logging. Residents of the settlement reported that all four men were killed by an armed militia working for a criminal network of landowners who were, according to an internal government report, engaged in illegal logging.

Those responsible for the violence are rarely brought to justice. Of the more than 300 killings registered by CPT, only 14 ultimately went to trial; of the 28 killings Human Rights Watch documented, only two went to trial; and of the more than 40 cases or threats, none did. 

This lack of accountability is largely due to the failure by police to conduct proper investigations. Local police, who acknowledged the failure, say it is because the killings take place in remote areas. Yet, Human Rights Watch documented egregious omissions in investigations of killings that occurred in towns, not far from police stations, including the failure to conduct autopsies. 

Investigations of death threats fare no better, with officials in some locations refusing to even register complaints of threats. In at least 19 of the 28 documented killings, threats against the victims or their communities preceded the attacks. Had authorities investigated, the killings might have been averted.

Indigenous communities and other local residents have long played an important role in Brazil’s efforts to curb deforestation by alerting authorities to illegal logging activities that might otherwise go undetected. Scaling back environmental enforcement encourages illegal logging and results in greater pressure on local people to take a more active role in defending their forests. In so doing, they put themselves at risk of reprisals. 

Since 2004, Brazil has had a program to protect human rights and environmental defenders, but government officials interviewed agreed that the program provides little meaningful protection.

During Bolsonaro’s first eight months in office, deforestation almost doubled compared to the same period in 2018, according to preliminary official data. By August 2019, forest fires linked to deforestation were raging throughout the Amazon on a scale that had not been seen since 2010.

Such fires do not occur naturally in the wet ecosystem of the Amazon basin. Rather, they are started by people completing the process of deforestation where the trees of value have already been removed; they spread through the small clearings and discrete roads that have been carved by loggers, leaving veins of dryer, flammable vegetation that serve as kindling to ignite the rainforest. 

As the world’s largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon plays a vital role in mitigating climate change by absorbing and storing carbon dioxide. When cut or burned down, the forest not only ceases to fulfill this function, but also releases back into the atmosphere the carbon dioxide it had previously stored.“The impact of the attacks on Brazil’s forest defenders extends far beyond the Amazon,” Wilkinson said. “Until the country addresses the violence and lawlessness that facilitate illegal logging, the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest will continue unchecked.”

Cases documented in the report include:

  • Gilson Temponi, president of a farmers’ association in Placas, Pará state, reported to prosecutors in 2018 illegal logging and death threats from loggers. In December of that year, two men knocked on his door and shot him to death.
  • Eusebio Ka’apor – a leader of the Ka’apor people who helped organize forest patrols to prevent loggers from entering Alto Turiaçu Indigenous Territory in Maranhão state – was killed in 2015. Shortly after his death, six of the seven members of the Ka´apor Governing Council, which coordinates the patrols, received death threats from loggers.
  • Osvalinda Pereira and her husband, Daniel Pereira, both small-scale farmers, have received death threats for nearly a decade since they began reporting illegal logging by a criminal network in Pará state. In 2018, they found two shallow graves dug in their yard, with wooden crosses affixed on top.
  • Dilma Ferreira Silva, an environmental activist in Pará state, and five other people were killed in 2019 under orders – according to police – of a landowner involved in illegal logging who feared that Silva and the others would report his criminal activitiePDF iconDownload the full report in English