Category Archives: Newsflashes

Donation appeal: food and health in el Salvador

November, 2020

Dear CASC supporters,

Your CASC planning committee has been meeting on ZOOM  during this  pandemic time, trying to carry out  our responsibilities to CASC.

We have had a successful ZOOM Café presentation by Kay Gimbel on Nicaragua and have plan another ZOOM Café on Dec. 11 at 7 pm.

( see:

CASC received an appeal for a donation to a food and health security project in El Salvador. The  appeal came  via several friends of  CASC, including Jay Hartling of Nova Scotia  who has spoken at Café Simpatico. 

The request was from a small isolated mountain community, Pachimalco.  It is one of a few remaining places in El Savador that has an Indigenous language and culture. It is also a poor community.

CASC was able to donate $600 to the project. As you can see our donation was spent on a chicken-raising initiative of the community’s plan to increase food security.  It is a modest amount but helps our friends have a more secure life. Other parts of the project included health supplies and tools which they were able to acquire with other funds.

Several  CASC members have been to this village and remember one of the  oldest trees in El Savador in the centre of the villaage – a massive CIBA (kapok) tree.

Terry Wolfwood for CASC planning committee

Write a Letter: Human Rights in Mexico

After January, 2017 Café with excellent presentation by Claudia Barrueta Martinez and Tim Boultbee, we encourage CASC supporters to take this follow-up action:

Below is a letter addressed to our Prime Minister and other officials regarding the ongoing human rights abuses in Mexico. I wrote the letter to Trudeau because I believe that while learning about an issue is valuable, it is usually not followed up by any action. The letter to Trudeau gives you the opportunity to do something. Change it if you wish so that what you send becomes something from you in your own words – but please, do something!
The contents of the letter come from a report I wrote in September, 2015 called Mexico – Human Rights in a Narco State.  At the end of the report, I provide a list of sources so that anyone who reads the report can go into more detail by going over the evidence first hand.
If you think that sending a letter to Trudeau will not make a difference, I would like to tell you the following story. During the Vietnam war, the Nixon administration’s message to protesters was that the peace movement was not affecting government policy. Years later, however, when papers from the Nixon administration were declassified, they showed that the administration was very concerned about the what people were saying and doing to stop the war. With this in mind, we have to realize that our efforts to create a world where social justice and environmental values are the bedrock of our existence will never be recognized by those in power.
If you read Mexico – Human Rights in a Narco State, please follow up your growing awareness by taking action such as writing a letter to our prime minister and other officials. We may never receive acknowledgement for what we do, but as the protests from the Vietnam era show, officials seem to pay attention to our efforts to create a better world.

Thank-you for doing something!

In Peace,

Tim Boultbee, Victoria, B.C.


January 2017

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

I am writing this letter to you because I am concerned with the ongoing and deteriorating human rights situation in Mexico.
One matter I find greatly disturbing is the situation between the Toronto based mining company Excellon and its la Platosa mine in Mexico’s state of Durango. In February, 2015, MiningWatch Canada and the United Steelworkers released a report called Unearthing Canada’s Complicity: Excellon Resources, and the Canadian Embassy, and the Violation of Land and Labour Rights in Durango, Mexico. In part, the authors write that

“documents obtained from the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) under an access to information request directly implicate the Canadian Embassy in Mexico in Toronto-based Excellon Resources’ efforts to avoid addressing the violation of its agreement with the agricultural community (Ejido) on whose land it operates the la Platosa mine in the state of Durango. This included Embassy tolerance of, and even support for, violent state repression against a peaceful protest at the Ejido La Sierrita during the summer of 2012.”

This dispute has not been resolved as evident in an article in the Mexico News Daily written in January of this year.
Sir, I find it appalling that the Government of Canada, through its embassy in Mexico city, is in any way linked to repressing the rights of Mexican citizens to peacefully address issues pertaining to the operation of the la Platosa mine. I would like to hear your views on this issue and what the Government of Canada is doing in light of the above revelation.
I would also like to bring to your attention a report written in 2015 by the Permanent People’s Tribunal which states that Mexico’s government has acknowledged that over 26,000 Mexicans disappeared between 2006 and 2012. This figure does not include the 43 students from the Raul Isidrio Teacher’s College of Ayotzinapa that disappeared on September 26, 2014. After an “investigation,” Mexican officials stated that the police detained the students, and then handed them over to a criminal gang who killed the students and burned their bodies. I hope that you, like me, find it incredible that a police force would work with a criminal organization to disappear anyone. Almost a year later, the Inter-American commission on Human Rights rejected the Mexican government’s account of the Ayotzinapa case.
Given incidences like Ayotzinapa, and the conflict at the la Platosa mine, I urge you, Mr. Trudeau, to do all you can to help reverse this crisis by speaking up about human rights, by directing your government and Canadian embassies worldwide to uphold international laws regarding human rights and protection of the environment. I further urge the Government of Canada to enact laws that govern the means by which Canadian companies like Excellon conduct their operations outside the country and punish those companies that violate such laws.


cc. Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland; Mexican Ambassador Augustin Garcia-Lopez Loaeza; Excellon Resources Chairman Andre Fortire; Murray Rankin, Victoria M.P.

Prime Minister Trudeau
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington St.,
Ottawa, ON

Foreign Affairs Minister, Canada
Chrystia Freeland
125 Sussex Dr.,
Ottawa, ON

Mexican Ambassador to Canada
Augustin Garcia-Lopez Loaeza
45 O’Connor St., #1030
Ottawa, ON

Excellon Resources
Andre Fortire Chairman
20 Victoria St., Suite 900
Toronto ON

Don’t forget to send a copy of any letters you write to your local MP

Call for Action: “A Stake in the Peace”

After November, 2016, Café Simpatico’s excellent presentation on the Site-C dam with film speakers, CASC agreed to buy “a stake in the Peace” for $100.

This dam is not necessary; in fact it appears both unneeded for BC as well as socially and environmentally destructive. Its construction is an act of violence against the social and physical environment, economically devastating to BC taxpayers and violates Treaty 8 with First Nations of the Peace River area.

If we need more electricity, experts say that more power can be produced by adding turbines to existing dams as well as through renewable forms such as solar and wind power. Taxpayers would not have to pay more than $10 billion (and inevitable overruns) for the largest infrastructure project in BC history.

Building the dam will flood a unique and precious valley and create a reservoir more than 100 km long (the distance from Vancouver to Chilliwack) and would cover many farms and homes.

This land, if saved could, according to agriculturists, sustainably produce enough food for one million people. What is left of the Peace Valley would be lost if this dam is built; this is the last major fertile valley in the province. Already some farmers have received threatening letters of eviction and farmers and First Nations, united in their opposition to this dam, have been served SLAPP suits by BC Hydro.

Many more jobs could be created permanently in this region by developing farm land and creating sources of truly renewable energy, rather than the boom of short term construction work.

Please contact your local MLA to call for an end to this violent project; write to P.M. Trudeau and call for cancellation of federal government permits.

If you are interested in supporting this act of solidarity see:

Yours for the CASC planning committee, Terry Wolfwood


ACTION ALERT for Guatemalan workers: PLEASE RESPOND

In the spring of 2012, as a result of labour violations, a group of 27 workers at the Ternium factory where steel materials are manufactured in Villa Nueva decided to unionize as Ternium International Guatemala Worker’s Union organized under the acronym SITRATERNIUM (affiliated with, FESTRAS, Trade Union Federation of Food, Agro-industry and Related Industry Workers of Guatemala & also has special support from STECSA, Coca Cola Worker’s Union, Guatemala.)

This attempt to unionize was met with repressive measures by the employer and these workers were fired. The union workers have continued to fight for their rights under the Guatemalan labour code; they have been successful in the courts. Even the Guatemalan Minister of Labour, Carlos Contreras Solórzano, has denounced the illegal firing of employees and the company’s repressive reaction to unionizing efforts.
Ternium operates three plants in Guatemala—Villa Nueva, Terminal-Zone 9, and Mazatenago. The company has operations in Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica as well as locations internationally http://www.terniumcentroamerica/about/default). Ternium is part of an international company, Techint, based in Luxembourg; originally based in Italy. The company has operations in Mexico, Central America and South America.

Ternium has not only violated the Guatemalan labour code, it has violated their employees’ rights to free association, free speech and their right to unionize. Furthermore, Ternium has has shown a lack of adherence to Guatemalan and international labour standards.
Therefore, we are calling for an international campaign to pressure the corporation, support the workers, and motivate Ternium to abide by the law and recognize the rights of its workers to be represented by the union.
There have been grave violations of labour rights, poor treatment, discrimination, and privacy abuses. There has been non-payment of promised wages. There has been a lack of compliance with regards to occupational health and safety. At its roots the labour violations are a response to the workers deciding unionize. The company is violating the group’s right to unionize, to free association and to collective bargaining.
After court appearances, firing of employees, ignored court orders, more firing and further harassment, in July, 2012, there was a re-instatement of some fired employees but the company failed to accept mediation and continued to threaten & harass union activists even though SITRATERNIUM is a legal union. The case is currently being appealed because the company asked the court to dismiss the workers’ petition. SITRATERNIUM will pursue the reinstatement of all workers and pressure Ternium to adhere to Guatemala’s labour code.

The Jorge Enrique Torres Association in Guatemala in conjunction with FESTRAS and STECSA supports the rights of the Ternium workers to unionize.
The Jorge Enrique Torres Association was formed to advance the work started by Jorge Enrique Torres. Enrique, as he was known, was a very well known Guatemala labour lawyer. Enrique obtained his law degree from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala and practiced in Guatemala representing various unions and the marginalized. In 1978, he and his wife survived an assassination attempt that was due to their work with the Guatemalan labour  movement. Enrique and his family left Guatemala soon after recovering from the injuries sustained in the assassination attempt.    

Enrique became a citizen of Canada, and continued his work of building international support for unions in Guatemala, especially the Coca Cola workers’ union, STECSA. In 1997, after the United Nations-brokered peace agreement between the government and the guerilla armies was reached, he returned to Guatemala to practice labour law after an 18 year absence. On February 8, 2012, he died as a result of injuries sustained in an assault. At that time he was deeply involved in negotiating on behalf of the Coca Cola workers.
Enrique fundamentally understood that a respectful negotiation between workers and employers ensures a healthy and balanced economy driven by a healthy middle-class. As a result he had many friends throughout Guatemalan society – in government, business and particularly, of course, in the union movement. Ultimately, Enrique was a negotiator. He knew that compromise was the solution and he was widely respected for that. When he died he and his legal team represented 40 different unions in Guatemala. His team in conjunction with the Jorge Enrique Torres Association continues this work through building on the international network established by Enrique.

Guatemalan workers face a very challenging situation in a system that all too often functions on the basis of intimidation and murder. Unions struggle to achieve their rights within this context. Canadian and other international unions have the capacity to share their networks and connections with their Guatemalan counterparts to help them achieve fair agreements. In some instances Guatemala labour unions need the support of international allies to pressure corporations and the Guatemala government to ensure these collective agreements.
The Jorge Enrique Torres Association builds partnerships between the international labour movement and Guatemala unions with the aim of creating a strong, unified labour movement in Guatemala. The mission of the Jorge Enrique Torres Association is to advance the Guatemalan labour movement, in part, by building these international partnerships.

The Jorge Enrique Torres Assoc. asks you to send the letter below (feel free to personalize) and to ask your friends and co-workers to lend their support to the Ternium workers as well.
Sample letter:
Mr. Paolo Rocca, Chairman, Techint Compañía, Técnica Internacional S.A.C.I. (at all 3 Emails);;;

Dear Sir, I am writing to express grave concerns about the systematic violations of Guatemalan workers’ rights at Ternium’s Villa Nueva plant in Guatemala City.
We demand that your company:
1.Follow the Guatemalan Labour Code;
2.Follow international labour practices;
3.Reinstate all of the 27 workers who were fired this past spring, with back pay; and
4. Stop interfering with the unionization of the Ternium Villa Nueva Plant and ensure that the union workers face no reprisals for their participation in the union.
These Guatemalan workers have our support and we will continue to monitor this situation until their labour rights are respected.

We thank you for your immediate attention to this matter. Please send a copy to