Thank you so much for your contribution to Witness for Peace (WFP). My name is Eunice Escobar, and I’m very excited to be rejoining the WFP Board of Directors as its new Chair during this crucial time for the U.S., Latin America, and the world. Now, at a moment when political rhetoric in the U.S. often disparages our Latin American neighbors, with talk of building walls instead of bridges, the need for solidarity is acute. Your support is vital to our work challenging U.S. involvement in the region in this era.
My country, Colombia, has suffered one of the longest armed conflicts in modern history, deepened by U.S. military and “counternarcotics” aid. The peace accord, signed Nov. 12, is perhaps the closest Colombia has ever been to ending the war between the government and the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC, yet the killing of brave human rights defenders has escalated since. Cuba and the U.S. have made bilateral changes in diplomatic relations of a seismic nature not seen for over half a century, but the U.S. embargo persists. The U.S.-backed, post-coup regime in Honduras, has been in the international spotlight after high profile assassinations of land rights defenders, including renowned Indigenous environmental leader Berta Cáceres. And in Mexico, two years after 43 students were forcibly disappeared, our partner organizations continue to decry killings, disappearances and the impunity that mark the U.S.-led Drug War there. Facing these contexts, it’s as essential to continue our work now as it was during the Contra War 30 years ago when WFP was founded.
It’s within this panorama, as a daughter of the region, that I’ve been asked to lead the Board, which is the most diverse it’s ever been. Its new members bring a variety of important perspectives and experiences to WFP’s direction. With its different intersectionalities, the new Board will bring greater strength to WFP’s mission and vision.
WFP is uniquely poised to make significant impacts toward changing oppressive policy and systems. Prophetic leaders like the martyred Berta Cáceres have seen that we have to make immediate, concerted changes to the systems of militarism, neoliberal economics, and harmful extractive industry that make life so difficult for our Latin American sisters and brothers. Healthy land and water are life. Unfortunately, U.S. government and corporate policies often antagonize the struggles of people like Berta to protect those things so as to ensure a truly sustainable future for us, and—more importantly—for the youth and those to come. They will depend even more on the rights and resources that we’re working in solidarity with our Latin American partners to defend, and need us to step up and be there with them in those struggles. When we stand in solidarity with Latin America’s courageous rights defenders, we stand with these future generations.
In peace, solidarity, and hope,
Eunice Escobar Mina,
Incoming Chair, Board of Directors