Category Archives: News

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Peter Golden and CASC (Victoria Central America Support Committee)|

Peter Golden, founding member of CASC, human rights and solidarity activist, refugee lawyer, friend of many, died July 31. He had lived with cancer and true to his spirit he carried on until almost to the end, engaged and involved in life.

Peter was a constant presence and strength in CASC for more than 30 years. He went on human rights delegations to Central America, met with endangered activists there; helped lawyers and others threatened with death and disappearance. He will particularly be remembered for his hard work for Coca-Cola workers and union organizers in Guatemala. Only recently was CASC with Peter’s support able to help the creation and installation of sculptures of nine assassinated Coca-Cola activists in a prominent place in Guatemala City.
CASC activists will remember Peter’s wealth of knowledge, his compassion for the oppressed, his reasoned discussion of contentious issues, his positive contributions to organizing our Cafe Simpatico gatherings and his humour and warmth.

We remember with fond laughter his incredible ability to fund-raise at Café- going through a performance with his wallet, $20 bills and the collection basket on his head. People always responded and gave generously to his appeal.

Peter attended our last Café Simpatico on June 27, frail, but in good spirits. We treasure this last photo taken with some CASC activists and our Guatemalan guest speakers.

We give our heartfelt sympathy to his life partner, Charlotte Bell, his daughters, brother and the rest of his family. They were with him until his last breath.

His steadfast commitment to social justice will continue to inspire us.

We will miss you Peter.

Peter Golden ! Presente!

TW on behalf of CASC planning committee

Photo at Café Simpatico, June 27, 2018: Peter standing tall 2nd from left in back row. We are wearing photos of murdered and disappeared people in Guatemala.

Invitation to Join Working Group on Human Rights in Mexico

Dear CASC supporters,
After Cafe’s February presentation of Ayotzinapa, the film about Mexico’s 43 murdered students, & Tim’s excellent discussion of the issues raised, CASC has formed a new working group on Canada-Mexico that would focus on issues of NAFTA, human rights, Canadian mining presence in Mexico and the links between the 2 countries.
Tim has suggested that one action to work towards might be, “that the group could put together a letter/paper outlining the issues regarding NAFTA/human rights/mining in Mexico to present to parties and their candidates before the next federal election with the intent of organizing an all-candidates meeting. I believe that with the upcoming election, the timing is great to bring our concerns regarding the deplorable human rights conditions in Mexico and the Canadian connection with those conditions to the attention of political parties, their candidates and to the public.”
Other actions and research can be developed in the group. Several people have already agreed to join this working group. If you are interested please contact Tim: timb(at) He will coordinate the planning of the first meeting. From your CASC planning committee

Celebration of LIfe: Gudrun Doherty

Gudrun Doherty, long-time CASC supporter, died last week after suffering a missive stroke. She would have been 88 next month.

Gudrun came faithfully to CASC events, provided hospitality, billeting and amazing decades of support to the Central America Support Committee and we honoured her, Bill, Andree & Bev, in September.

Andree, John, and Gudrun
Andree, John, and Gudrun

There will be a celebration of the life of Gudrun on Saturday, November 29, at the Fernwood Community Association 1923 Fernwood Road.

Doors open at 1 pm, the program starts at 1:30 pm and it will be followed by refreshments and and time to socialize & look at photos and displays. Donations of finger food are welcome.

Memory, Truth, and Justice in Guatemala

Wendy Mendez spoke to Café Simpatico, the monthly event of Victoria Central America support Committee on March 28, 2014


Report by Theresa Wolfwood

Wendy Mendez was coming home from school in Guatemala City with her brother – looking forward to playing hide- and- seek with her friends, but there were no other children on the street, no people at all. They ran home and found their house full of soldiers and their mother being interrogated. Born in Guatemala in 1976, Wendy’s mother and father were suspect because they were active in the university community during the time of civil conflict and government brutality. She was nine years old when she saw her mother, Luz Haydee Men

dez, being taken away by the Guatemalan Military Intelligence on March 8, 1984. Luz has never been found. Wendy’s grandmother s

at outside every day, waiting in vain for her daughter to appear, thinking she might miss the house in a changed neighbourhood. She died a disappointed mother.

Wendy and her brother were also interrogated, but managed to escape, using those hide- and- seek places they knew so well. They were sheltered and cared for by neighbours and the soldiers could not find them. Her father stopped at a local shop to buy tortillas on his way home; the store-keepers stopped him from going home, they told him that his children needed him and dressed him as a

woman so he also could hide. Three years later, Wendy, her father and brother were in Vancouver as refugees. She grew up and went to school there.

Wendy founded the organization, HIJOS (sons and daughters of the disappeared) in 1999 with others who were children when their parents were disappeared or massacred and during the civil conflict. Many, like Wendy, returned to Guatemala, where a Peace Treaty was signed in 1996, to seek information about their parents and to reveal the identity of those who were responsible for these crimes against civilians. HIJOS also intended to educate the new generation in Guatemala about what happened during the years of repression. They choose June 30 as the day to commemorate the disappeared and the dead, the same day as Guatemala’s annual military parade. They started with 8 people with signs and photos standing in front of the military parade. Every year their numbers increased up to 1000 with more banners and a band playing funeral music. The military has now cancelled its parade and the day is now known, thanks to the efforts of HIJOS and others, as the “Day of Heroes and Martyrs.” Wendy’s presentation to Café Simpatico was inspiring and full of hope. She was able to smile and even joke about these events. She has lived through her story and turned her grief into action. She and her friends say they are not victims; they are survivors and are bold and clear about their activities.

She said that the possibilities of the Peace treaties were not realized; no government has respected the accords and the agenda of the right has always been to continue the repression through economic means, including CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

The torturers and murderers have enjoyed impunity until recently. The trial of Rios Montt, the President responsible for some of the worst massacres and repression, was the result of hard work by HIJOS and other human rights groups and a major victory for justice. He was found guilty of genocide, even though another court overturned the verdict, HIJOS was jubilant. There will be more trials and revelations as determined activists continue their work.

My blood chilled when Wendy told us that in the corridors of the courthouse, upper class supporters of the military said to HIJOS members “Our only regret is not getting rid of you snotty nosed children when we had a chance.”

The present right-wing President Molina, a military man who promised to be tough on crime, is doing his best to reverse the few advances made under President Colon in education and health. Molina has upped the military budget and under him, military bases have been reopened and new ones have been created. In communities fighting to save their natural resources from transnational mega-projects, such as mines and dams that threaten to destroy the land and displace thousands of indigenous people, citizens are constantly spied on and threatened. Wendy reminded us of the deaths of community activists in places where Canadian mining companies are active – and who opposed the environmental and social degradation caused by mining exploration and extraction.

HIJOS continues to call for an end to impunity for those who were responsible for death and disappearance. Members have been threatened, beaten, experienced attempted kidnapping and attacks in Guatemalan media.

Mendez has said that HIJOS believes that the best way to bring honour and glory to their mothers and fathers, to all the victims of genocide in Guatemala, is to continue the struggle for social justice and democracy.

Wendy and her son, Rueben, with CASC activists.

If you missed the Café presentation, you can listen to the podcast of her interview with Chris Cook on CFUV.

HIJOS members confront the Military parade


Victoria International Election Observers to El Salvador

Report 2014:

Victoria International Election Observers to El Salvador

Introduction: CASC invited 2 observers to share their experiences & reflections on the 2014 Presidential election in El Salvador. After 2 elections & a recount Salvador Sanchez Ceren was declared winner by 7000 votes. His inauguration will take place on June1.


From Cory Greenlees

In the fall of 2013, the Victoria FMLN club requested volunteers to serve as international observers in the upcoming presidential election. After several meetings, eight of us volunteered and travelled to El Salvador for the February 2, 2014 presidential election.

Most of the delegation spent about ten days in El Salvador. Our responsibilities included monitoring events prior to the election, including press coverage, attending observer training, election day observation, and post election reporting.

Since the end of the civil war, and the signing of peace accords in 1992, international observers have been participating in El Salvador elections. International observers are invited to help ensure elections are fair and transparent. This year, approximately 6,000 international observers, from 33 countries, went to El Salvador to express solidarity and assist with the election.

International observers receive instructions.


On election day, international observers were dispatched to polls all over the country. The task was to witness proceedings in and around voting places. The instructions we received were not to interfere directly but to report questionable activities to local election officials. Intimidation, fraudulent voting, and inaccurate reporting of ballots were issues to be alert to. Thanks to the organization of the Victoria FMLN, our delegation was able to participate fully and contribute to the best of our ability.


Unfortunately, the first round of voting on February 2, did not produce a clear winner. With 49.5%, the incumbent FLMN party garnered 10 points more than the right wing ARENA party but did not get the required 50% +1 majority. A second round of voting takes place on March 9, 2014 and an FMLN win is predicted

FMLN campaign rally San Salvador 2014


Although a second round of voting is required, reports confirm that the February election was transparent and peaceful. The process of democratization continues to advance in El Salvador. Ease and access to voting places increased, fraud was reduced, and attention to human rights, including those of the disabled, gays, and women were enhanced. And no small matter, the 2014 election was the first election campaign in which no one was killed.

An inked finger serves as proof of voting in the presidential election on Feb 2.



While in El Salvador, the Victoria delegation also continued the solidarity work started by CASC, in 2009, with the community of El Milagro. Prior to departure, the Victoria delegation raised about $1600 for El Milagro. The funds were designated for improvements to the community health centre. Once in El Salvador, the delegation delivered the funds and met with people in El Milagro.

The children of El Milagro


Serving as an election observer was fascinating and worthwhile.

If you are interested in participating in the future contact:




Report by Kevin Neish.

For his full account see:


The March 9th second round of the Salvadoran election was a close one, with FMLN winning by only 0.22%, a 6,300 vote lead out of 3 million. How did the right wing ARENA party come so close to over taking the FMLN? Well, basically by using lies, threats, intimidation and cheating. In its 2nd round campaign, ARENA simply promised to do everything that the FMLN had already promised or done, usurping their campaign. For example, the FMLN government gave free education, school books, back packs, uniforms, shoes and a daily meal with a glass of milk to every Salvadoran school child.

As can be seen in this photo, ARENA blatantly steals the FMLN program victory, by proclaiming on its billboards that “We Eat Well in School”, showing healthy kids in new uniforms and backpacks, with glasses of milk in their hands, all of which was provided by the FMLN not ARENA.


As part of the intimidation campaign, the pro ARENA media, ran a daily stream of lurid anti-Venezuela articles, suggesting that the same fascist violence was in store for El Salvador, if the FMLN won the election.

I saw wholesale cheating and intimidation by ARENA on election day, at the “Feria Internacional” polling station in San Salvador.

Election rules state that there can be no campaigning within 300 meters of the poll entrance, but here you cannot even see the poll entrance, behind all the

Voters had to line up amongst intimidating ARENA propaganda and goons, just to enter the polling station yard.


But with the support of the majority of Salvadorans, like this vote being counted, the FMLN won, despite ARENA’s cheating, intimidation and lies.

Now we have to do whatever we can to support the new FMLN government against the expected attacks of ARENA and the US government.

Kevin Neish

CASC observer for both 2014 presidential elections.





First Wednesday of the month , back of 1923 Fernwood Rd., upstairs – 7:30pm

The Victoria Central America Support Committee,[CASC], is based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. It is a non-profit international solidarity organization. Founded in 1980, CASC is one of the longest-established Latin America solidarity committees in Canada. CASC meets regularly on the FIRST WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH to plan educational activities and support local and international solidarity initiatives.

CASC organizes Café Simpatico, Victoria’s monthly activist coffeehouse, and engages in many solidarity and educational projects in Latin America and Canada.

Colombia trade unionist released on bail


Victory! Colombian Political Prisoner Liliany Obando to Be Freed on Thursday, March 1st, after 3 1/2 Years of Incarceration on False Evidence

by James Jordan,

Alliance for Global Justice National Co-Coordinator

Liliany Obando outside prison gates

The International Network in Solidarity with the Political Prisoners (of which The Alliance for Global Justice is a co-founder) has just received the wonderful news that labor activist, human rights defender and Colombian Political Prisoner Liliany Obando will be released on bond tomorrow from the prison where she has been held for three years and seven months on charges of “Rebellion”.

Liliany Obando was arrested August 8, 2008 while serving as the Human Rights Coordinator for FENSUAGRO, Colombia’s largest organization of peasant farmers and farm workers unions and associations. She was apprehended while finishing a report about the more than 1,500 Fensuagro members who had been killed by Colombian military and paramilitary troops over its first 30 years of existence. She was detained on the basis of evidence allegedly obtained from computers that “miraculously” survived an attack against a FARC encampment across the border from the Colombian Department of Putumayo, in Ecuador. That camp was not a camp carrying out aggressions, but was involved in negotiations toward the release of FARC captives Ingrid Betancourt and three US citizens. The Uribe administration had learned that the camp had had back-channel talks with members of the US State Department. The attack, ordered by then-Defense Minister and current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, was widely considered to be an attack on hopes for a peace process itself.

Evidence said to be contained in the computers was not credible. The international police agency INTERPOL said that the sources of files the computer contained could not be authenticated. The chain of custody of the evidence was broken and unaccounted for several times during the first days it was seized and at least two Colombian law enforcement personnel testified that the files had been manipulated. Charges against Obando were made on the basis of copies of emails said to have been found on the computer. However, Police Captain Ronald Hayden Coy Ortiz, who oversaw the initial investigation testified in court that the computers contained no email records.

Nevertheless, Obando’s case was stretched out over more than three years without resolution. Even when the Colombian Supreme Court ruled that the evidence against her was inadmissible, she continued to be jailed

But even if the Supreme Court, Interpol and the government’s own witnesses could be ignored, an international campaign for her freedom could not. After years of friend of the court statements signed by such notable supporters as Prof. Noam Chomsky, Sanctuary Movement founder and former President of the Presbyterian Church Rev. John Fife, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin and others, petitions, letters, emails, demonstrations, phone calls and delegations on her behalf, Liliany Obando is finally looking forward to being united with her two children and other friends and family–and to her freedom. It is no mistake that her release was announced concurrent with a major conference in support of the more than 8,000 Colombian political prisoners: the Colombia Behind Bars Forum, with guests from around the world, including representatives of the INSPP and AFGJ. This is yet another example of the power and influence of international pressure!

Press conference

Nevertheless, all is not settled regarding Liliany’s case. The court process has not been suspended and she still could be sent back to jail. Further, political prisoners released into the general public are often at risk of violence in the first days, weeks and months following their liberty.

I spoke today to Liliany at the Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd) Women’s Penitentiary just moments after receiving the news. I was so happy, overjoyed I could barely contain myself. Lily greeted me, “You heard the good news?” Yes, of course, I’d heard it. I asked her how she was feeling, and she said, “I have mixed emotions. I want to leave, but I don’t want to leave the other political prisoners behind. We have to keep working until all the political prisoners are free.”

Yes, that is the Liliany Obando that so many of us have come to know, love and look up to. Never tiring of the struggle for peace, justice and human and labor rights, the day she entered the prison she started collecting the testimonies of other political prisoners and organizing on their behalf. From within the jail cells, Liliany proposed the establishment of the International Network for the Political Prisoners and always insisted that we not only advocate for her freedom, but for the freedom of all her comrades deprived of liberty. And she insisted that we not just advocate for the freedom of the political prisoners, but for peace in Colombia.

From the beginning, the INSPP has insisted that a first step toward a real and just peace in Colombia will begin with a humanitarian exchange of Prisoners of War, and with the immediate freedom of all of Colombia’s Prisoners of Conscience and Prisoners Due to Judicial Set-ups.

Today there are many indications that a legitimate peace process could be ready to begin in Colombia. The recent announcements that the FARC would release all their current military prisoners met with the release of Liliany are significant. But international pressure must not let up! Now is the time to demand the freedom of all Colombia’s 8,000 political prisoners and, more, for an inclusive peace process based on dialogue and negotiations, and wit
hout unrealistic pre-conditions. And for us in the US, we must demand an end to our country’s sponsorship of war and repression in Colombia, including our funding and restructuring of Colombian prisons where political prisoners are concentrated under harsh conditions.

But as we vow to continue this struggle…let us also take a moment to celebrate this great victory. As Liliany once told me, “By day we struggle, by night we dance!

As a high profile political prisoner, Liliany Obando is under the threat and risk of violence and there has been a request for international accompaniment for her during her first days of freedom. AFGJ and the INSPP are preparing for the possibility of traveling to Colombia to help provide protection. There is also a need to raise more than $3,000 to cover her bond payment.

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Local human rights activists reporting from Mexico
We had hoped to meet community activists opposing the destruction of their community life and environment by a Canadian mining company. The activist we planned to meet, Bernardo Vasquez Sanchez, was killed last night, March 15, 2012, and his brother and cousin were wounded. This mine, locally called Trinidad, is operated by Minera Cuzcatlan, a subsidiary of Canadian Fortuna Silver mines. It is in San Jose el Progreso, in the Ocotlan Valley, south of Oaxaca For more information about this tragedy see:

For information about this company see:

According to this website, the mine achieved commercial production in September 2011.
In 2011, the mine produced 490,555 ounces of silver and 4,622 ounces of gold. For 2012, San Jose is expected to produce 1.7 million ounces of silver and 15,000 ounces of gold.
The company has initiated plans to expand mine and processing plant treatment capacity and when completed, San Jose is expected to annually produce approximately 3.2 million ounces of silver, 25,000 ounces of gold, or 4.6 million silver equivalent ounces. Life of mine average cash operating cost, net of by-products, is estimated at US$7.84 per silver equivalent ounce.
This is not the first death of a community activist opposed to the operation of this mine. Another community leader was killed & one injured in January, 2012.
Globally, Canadian mining companies are accused of bribing local politicians and officials in order to operate without proper community consultation and without social or environmental concern. As a result, local activists are killed and injured, and many more are subjected to threats and beatings.
Please write to express your concern and shock about these deaths and attempted deaths to: Ralph Rushton, Fortuna Silver Mines Corporate Office, Suite 650, 200 Burrard Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada V6C 3L6. T: .604.484.4085 & to Also to: The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. Phone: (613) 995-0183 Fax: (613)
996-9795 E-mail:
Please forward this call for urgent action to others who would respond as well.