The Prophetic Legacy of Oscar Romero

By Theresa Wolfwood

When Oscar Romero was chosen to be Archbishop of El Salvador at the time of a brutal military dictatorship, backed by the USA, in 1977; it was expected that this quiet scholarly man would not create any problems for the military and the oligarchy which the military supported.

After Romero took office his best friend was assassinated for speaking out for justice, Romero started to look carefully at what was happening in his country; he started to speak and act on behalf of the oppressed and particularly those who resisted the cruel dictators.

Before he was gunned down in a church while giving mass, Romero had received more than 400 death threats. That made him even stronger in his convictions and actions. He said:
I do not believe in death without resurrection. If they kill me, I will rise again in the people of El Salvador.

Those were prophetic words. Now thirty-eight years after his death, he is still remembered and honoured in El Salvador and the world. He will soon become a saint of the Roman Catholic faith.

Recently the Victoria Central America Committee honoured Romero in an evening of words and music. The special guest speaker was Remi De Roo, the retired bishop of Victoria who knew Romero well. He recalled that the legacy of Romero to people of all faiths and beliefs was the call to resist injustice and to support the poor and oppressed.

The author of an important book about Romero was also present at the gathering: Matt Eisenbrandt,: Assassination of a Saint, University of California Press, 2017.

A video of this event may be viewed at:

Photos from CASC event at Café Simpatico, March 23, 2018

Cafe Simpatico March 23, 2018

The Prophetic Legacy of Oscar Romero
With special guest speaker
Remi de Roo
Retired bishop of Victoria

Music: Alvaro Moreno and Enrique Rivas
Oscar Romero smiling

Copies of “The Death of a Saint” written by last year’s speaker, Matt Eisenbrandt, will be available.

Book cover: Assasination of a Saint

Doors: 7pm
Music: 7:30pm
Presentation 8pm

Refreshments: Fair Trade coffee

Admission by donation

Presented by the Victoria Central America Support Committee


Cafe Simpatico January 26: Postponed until February

The Victoria Central America Support Committee has decided to postpone our January 26 Cafe Simpatico.

On January 26 and 27, 2018, Victoria will be hosting the Site C Summit ( We encourage everyone to register to attend this important event. Solidarity is both local and global!

Please join us at the February Cafe:
Cafe Simpatico – February 23

The Persistent Struggle for Justice in Guatemala Today — A situational analysis of the social and legal actions to bring down impunity.

Presentation by Wendy Mendez, human rights activist, petitioner in the Military Diary case, co-founder of HIJOS Guatemala (sons and daughters of the disappeared), and popular educator.

1923 Fernwood Road
Doors open at 7 pm/ music at 7:30 pm/ presentation at 8 pm.
Fair trade coffee for sale, refreshments, admission by donations.

Cafe Simpatico: Digging Spanish Earth

New documentary film screening and discussion by filmmaker Tom Shandel
Friday, November 24
1923 Fernwood Road
Doors open at 7 pm  Music 7:30 pm, Presentation at 8 pm 
“In 1937, Dutch filmmaker Joris Ivens, together with Ernest Hemingway, traveled to Spain to make a film supporting the democratic Republican Government against the nationalist/fascist revolt led by Generalissimo Francisco Franco, the events which would open the way to the Second World War.  The Ivens film, titled El Tierra Español, is considered a cinematic masterpiece, the first consciously propaganda documentary, attempting to get America to give food and munitions to the beleaguered partisans fighting for their democratic survival.Digging the Spanish Earth explores the original masterpiece and the consequences still evident in Spain today. 


Presented by the Victoria Central America Support Committee (CASC)
Refreshments served-Fair Trade organic coffee for sale-admission by donation

October 24th: Karuara: People of the River

Mining Justice Action Committee (MJAC),  Central American Support Committee (CASC), and First+Metropolitan United Church present:
Karuara: People of the River (Peru)

Tuesday October 24th at 7 pm-9 pm
First Metropolitan United Church: 932 Balmoral Rd (at Quadra) Room 200 upstairs

Karura book cover


Mari Luz Canaquiri, indigenous Kukama leader from Peru’s Amazon, and president of the Kukama Women’s Federation.
Miguel Araoz, a Peruvian artist and film maker from the Andes mountains.
Stephanie Boyd, Canadian film maker who resides in Peru. See her article in current issue of New Internationalist:

Miguel and Stephanie are supporting Mari Luz and the women’s federation in their struggle to defend the Amazon’s rivers from big oil and other mega development projects.
The speakers will present a book of stories about the origins of the rivers and the “karuara” — river spirits who live underneath the waters and protect the indigenous peoples and their environment.

In solidarity with Indigenous communities around the world they believe that the water source sare sacred. Indigenous communities are guardians of their rivers, lakes and streams in the spirit of conservation and protection.

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Café Simpatico Oct 27

From The Thrift Store to the Tianguis:
Unraveling the Fabric of the U.S.-Mexico Border

with Melissa Guthier

Melissa Gauthier will speak about the international second-hand clothing trade and discuss how gifts of unwanted garments are commodified by charity collectors and commercial recyclers of worn clothing in the Global North and become a resource for developing local livelihoods in the Global South. She will share insights from her research into used clothing markets along the U.S.-Mexico border in an attempt to unravel the moral complexities of this trade characterised by increasing social and economic inequalities both within and between trading states. Melissa is a cultural anthropologist and a member of the Anthropology Department at the University of Victoria.
Used clothes for sale.
1923 Fernwood Road.
Doors open at 7 pm
Music at 7:30 pm
Presentation at 8 pm
Admission by donation

Presented by the Victoria Central America Support Committee
Refreshments served and fair trade organic coffee for sale

Café Simpatico, Friday, September 29

Pension Plans and Social Justice with Kay Gimbel

1923 Fernwood Road: Doors open at 7 pm
7:30 pm: Music with Sharon Hazelwood and Alan O’Dane
8 pm Presentation

Kay will speak about the Canadian Pension Investments and some startling examples of how our money funds injustice globally – from mining to nuclear arms. He will enlighten us about other pension  plans with a more ethical investment strategy. Promises to be a stimulating evening with discussion and action suggestions.

Kay worked for BC Ferries and was the BC Ferries Union representative on the Public Service Pension Plan Advisory Committee for five years, Kay is active in the Mining Justice Action
Committee and gave a talk to Café Simpatico last year on his experiences as a delegate of Rights Action; to Honduras in 2016. Recently retired Kay will soon receive his first Canada
Pension Plan cheque.

Refreshments served (if you’d like to donate goodies please coordinate with Susan: )
Our own fair trade, organic Nicaraguan coffee beans for sale: freshly roasted: still $13/ 454 g./ 1 pound

Presented by Victoria Central America Support committee: Admission by donation: Information 250 595 7519

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Cuba in Transformation: New Openings, New Challenges

Cafe Simpatico
Friday, April 28, 8pm
1923 Fernwood Road.

Event Poster: Cuba in Transofrmation

Our speaker, Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at UVic. Since 2000, she has conducted ethnographic research in Cuba about youth, popular culture, music, media, and infrastructure.

Many things have happened since December 17, 2014, the day that Barak Obama and Raul Castro announced the beginning of the process of normalizing the relationship between Cuba and the United States. This talk will discuss the current and near future changes occurring in Cuba due to this opening, with a specific focus on economic, political, and cultural implications.

Admission by donation

Refreshments available


Blood of Extraction Canadian Imperialism in Latin America

Todd Gordon and Jeffery R. Webber.   2016. Fernwood Publishing. Halifax and Winnipeg, Canada

ISBN: 9781552668306

Author Jeff Webber Review and photo of author, Jeffrey Webber, by Theresa Wolfwood

“In recent years, the Canadian state has lent its support to a repressive post-coup regime in Honduras; had provided military and ideological backing for a repressive regime in Colombia, one which boasts the hemisphere’s worst human rights record; has aggressively interfered in the domestic affairs of left-of-centre Latin American governments such as that of Higo Chavez in Venezuela and Rafael Correa in Ecuador; it has supported ecological destruction and the dislocation of vulnerable populations in the region through its support Canadian natural resource companies…”  from the introduction

At a time when many Canadians are becoming aware of the role of Canadian registered mining companies (75% of all mining companies in the world are Canada-based) Gordon and Webber have provided an important documentation of how Canada operates as an imperial power globally, nowhere more egregiously than in Latin America. Canadian mining companies devastate the social and physical environment of many communities from Mexico to Peru, destroying the social fabric of people who were not consulted about mines, accrue no benefits and hose human rights are tragically disregarded. As Gordon and Webber illustrate, Canadian government foreign policy developed lock step with corporate expansion. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the changes in Canadian development aid. Canadian aid used to be directed to the poorest of the poor. CIDA had a record of assisting vulnerable populations throughout the world.  Now, as the authors write, things are different; they quote a Harper government official, “Our government is strengthening its development assistance in the Americas because this is our neighbourhood, where we have significant interests.”  Grants to faith-based groups that worked with communities, the Mennonites, Catholics and ecumenical organizations, that criticized Canadian mining projects were cut.

Corporate Social Responsibility, a nice phrase which this reviewer considers an oxymoron, really is a cover-up for aid projects that partner with corporations; they may appear benign by helping train and prepare for resource exploitation; in reality this aid masks the human rights abuses, community intimidation and the provision of brutal private security forces that are an inseparable part of Canadian mining companies’ operations and profiteering.

The authors provide chapters of context, history and details about Canadian involvement in Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and an overview of Central America.

In just one example, in Honduras, after the overthrow of democratically elected President José Manuel Zelaya who had attempted some reforms, including a new constitution, education benefits, raising the minimum wage and, in mining, he planned to implement stricter environmental regulations. Maybe the red flag was his intent to ban open-pit mining.  Canada rushed in after the coup, even as poverty and violence increased; Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, mainly of journalists, activists, reformers, including most recently, the assassination of activist Berta Cáceres. Yet Canada actively refused to support a return to democracy in Honduras, as the new government welcomed openly foreign investment.  The Canadian governments continued in Honduras as throughout Latin America to support the profitable expansion of Canadian capital.

Gordon and Webber put it this way, “Canadian capital continues to tread heavily over the lives of ordinary Latin Americans, the mass of evidence we have accumulated in this makes a mockery of mining and maquila executives who plead not guilty…We have likewise exposed the hypocrisy of Canada’s claims of genuine commitment to democracy in contemporary Latin America…”

Altogether the analysis and documentation expresses clearly that Canada is capable and guilty of as crass greed and ruthlessness as any imperial power, including the one to south of us. We may be tiny but we can play with the big boys.  It is obvious our politicians prefer to identify with the interests of Canadian capitalism rather than its citizens.  It may appear on the surface that repression and power say equate with stability but as we know and as the authors emphasize, there is another force in Latin America, Canada and the world.  As the authors express it, “Out of cracks of this international system of domination, powerful and creative forms of self-organization and resistance have emerged against the odds. They represent the greatest threat to the reproduction of capitalist imperialism, and the greatest to humanity, social justice, and ecological sustainability.”

We might well ask ourselves and our politicians to answer the question posed in the famous song, “Which side are you on?”


Theresa Wolfwood is Victoria activist and writer. More of her book reviews may be read on   Her poetry collection, “Love and Resistance” is available at Ivy’s bookshop.