Mission & History of the Latin American Solidarity Committee
LASC is a Western New York community-based group committed to promoting human rights and social and economic justice in Latin America. LASC began in Western New York in the 1980s as part of the Pledge of Resistance, with members committed to non-violent civil disobedience if the United States invaded Nicaragua. Members had a shared concern about human rights abuses in Central America and our government's support of repressive regimes. When the open warfare phase of those conflicts shifted to traditional oppression, the organization broadened its scope to include activities in solidarity with peace and social justice movements all over Latin America. It joined the Western New York Peace Center and became a task group of that organization.
Coffeehouses and Yearly Events
Coffeehouses are held on the 4th Monday of most months, usually at Canisius College's Science Hall. The public is cordially invited. Speakers are persons who have recently visited the country or, in some cases, human rights workers from the countries themselves. Yearly events present national speakers and raise funds for humanitarian aid. Recent and upcoming speakers and topics topics include:
• Fr. Roy Bourgeois on SOA and Latin American Social Justice
• Ecological destruction and related damage to indigenous societies
• Honduran Elections and intimidation by the controlling elite
• U.S. policy of returning Central American children fleeing for their lives
• Asylum seekers from Mexico and U,S, immigration
• Women leaders in Latin America and a progressive agenda
Meetings with legislators and with editorial boards
and campaigns to influence legislators and media
LASC frequently meets with our U.S. and NYS Senators and Representatives to give them background which will help them to understand countries in Latin America and vote for more enlightened policy towards them as well as towards immigrants and farmworkers here. Recent meeting were with U.S. Representative Brian Higgins and with Marc Panepinto just before he was elected State Senator. LASC also meets from time to time with the editorial board of the Buffalo News and other local papers to argue for editorial policies that give space and enlightened coverage to social justice movements in Latin America.
LASC co-ordinates petitions, letter writing campaigns and call-ins to legislators on specific issues such as military aid to Columbia and funding of the School of the Americas, where so many Latin American military human rights abusers have been trained. It also encourages letter to the editor campaigns.
Collecting and distributing local, national and international humanitarian aid
LASC works with Pastors for Peace caravans to send aid to Central America and the Caribbean. It contributes funds that it raises through the Annual Latin America Event and private contributions to local social justice activists, disaster relief in Central America and international organizations like the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras.