Honduran activist touring Minnesota to raise awareness on the environmental crisis and the Central American exodus

Wendy Cruz, an activist for the rights of peasant populations in Honduras, will be visiting six universities in Minnesota from October 7 to 13. This educational tour is organized by COPAL with support of Alianza Americas.

Minneapolis-Chicago, September 7, 2019 – In Honduras, the environmental crisis caused by agribusiness, the extractive industry, and state repression against farmers and peasant workers who fight for the right to land and the protection of natural resources, is causing an exodus of people in search of protection. To raise awareness of this situation, the organization Communities Organizing Latin Power and Action (COPAL) in Minnesota, with the support of Alianza Americas, will promote a tour with Wendy Cruz, a well-known activist for the rights of peasant populations in Honduras.

Wendy Cruz, who currently serves as coordinator of the financial support program for rural women at the organization Vía Campesina, will be visiting six universities in the State of Minnesota to speak with members of the university community and local leaders about how the damage to the environment – caused by economic policies that prioritize the interest of large agroindustrial producers – is pushing the most vulnerable people in Central America to flee their places of origin. She will also address the historical conflict over the access to land in Honduras, and the current crisis of peasant criminalization for those who advocate for their rights, a phenomenon in which the state has favoured and protected the interests of large landowners.

The activist explains the reality that the population is facing in rural Honduras: “67% of the population in the countryside lives in poverty, and 47% in extreme poverty. Only 1.14% of the general budget of the nation is allocated to the development of this sector. Many people who have fought for more than 20 years to legalize their land are the ones leaving the country. We have a state policy that supports agribusiness, but does not support peasants. People in the rural area who advocate for their rights feel frightened by state harassment. Vía Campesina has demanded the approval of a Rural Development Policy with a comprehensive approach, that allows us to access land and protects our natural resources. All these situations and injustices are causing the forced migration of our people.”

This educational tour is possible thanks to the leadership of COPAL, a member organization of Alianza Americas, which seeks to connect migration with climate change, and promote the importance of incorporating Latino migrants into the green economy agenda in the U.S.

“At COPAL we seek to reflect and understand the reasons why people from Central America are fleeing their places of origin. We know there are environmental, political and economic conditions that are forcing them out, so we look for voices from the region that can give their first-hand testimony about these situations. As Latino immigrant leaders we seek to promote the urgent need of a green economy in both the United States and in our places of origin,” says Francisco Segovia, Executive Director of COPAL.

Universities included in the tour:

Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN.

Mankato State University, Mankato, MN.

Macalester College; St. Paul, MN.

Augsburg University, Minneapolis, MN.

St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN.

College of St. Benedict & St. John’s University, Collegeville, MN.

Participation Request

If you are interested in participating in the activities, you can contact Marco Hernández by email to [email protected].

Press Requests

If you need more information or are interested in doing press coverage you can coordinate with Carolina Ortiz by email [email protected].

The mission of COPAL (Communidades Organizando el Poder y la Acción Latina) is “Uniting Latinxs in Minnesota in active grassroots communal democracy that builds racial, gender, social and economic justice across community lines” The central activities of COPAL focus on: (1) carrying out a participation process for leaders of Latinx and the 2020 Census; (2) organization of persons with Temporary Protected Status (TPS); (3) provide citizenship classes; (4) facilitate training for parents of children attending public schools in Minneapolis; (5) break the “green roof” through environmental campaigns. You can learn more about this organization by visiting the following website: www.copalmn.org

Alianza Americas is a network of 50 immigrant-led organizations representing more than 100,000 families across the United States. It is the only US-based organization rooted in Latino and Caribbean immigrant communities that works transnationally to create an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable way of life. Learn more at www.alianzaamericas.org

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