Hold It All


Category: Latin America

Share the Wealth with Natalie Long–Abogados Descalzados: or, How Latin America Taught Me to Be a People’s Lawyer 

From the period of September 2009-January 2012, I was a law student, a law school drop-out, and a pupil of revolutionary Latin America. I eventually finished my law degree and became a licensed attorney…but only after spending time learning at the feet of communities in Mexico and Guatemala, where people taught me what it means to struggle (and to be a lawyer accompanying those in struggle).

It gives me joy to share the stories of the people who welcomed me into their homes and the lessons they taught me. Please join us for an evening of storytelling, reflection, and fellowship.

Join us
Sunday 26 March
Potluck dinner begins at 6:00 p.m.
Natalie begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Marty and Jerry King
830 DeMun Avenue, 3rd Floor
Clayton, MO 63105


US Subversion of Free Elections

In early November 1989, the Bush Administration brought the US candidate Violeta Chamorro to Washington for some publicity. President Bush promised “to lift the trade embargo and assist in Nicaragua’s reconstruction” if Chamorro won the election, the White House announced.

It took no great genius to perceive that the US would continue to torture Nicaragua, with elite support across the spectrum, until it restored US clients to power. This renewed display of the traditional fear and contempt for democracy among US elites, which reached new peaks in the 1980s, could hardly be understood in respectable circles here, however. There was much discussion over proposals to send aid to the opposition or to involve the CIA in covert operations. In comparison with the actual and virtually unchallenged US actions designed to subvert free elections in Nicaragua, these questions are trivialities.

–Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy


photo by Mev Puleo


From Cheryl Sullivan in Santiago, Chile

la tumba de Víctor Jara
que alma más apasionada
que letra más bella

The tomb of Víctor Jara
What a passionate soul
What a beautiful letter


The Real Crime of Cuba

The following comes from a 1990 discussion among U.S. and Canadian activists with Noam Chomsky. It may provide food for thought given the current focus on Cuba after the death of Fidel Castro.


Look, the real crime of Cuba was never the repression, which, whatever you think about it, doesn’t even come close to the kind of repression we have traditionally supported, and in fact implemented in nearby countries: not even close. The real crime of Cuba was the successes, in terms of things like health care and feeding people, and the general threat of a “demonstration effect” that follows from that–that is, the threat that people in other countries might try to do the same things. That’s what they call a rotten apple that might spoil the barrel, or a virus that might infect the region–and then our whole imperial system begins to fall apart. I mean, for thirty years, Cuba has been doing things which are simply intolerable–such as sending tens of thousands of doctors to support suffering people around the Third World, or developing biotechnology in a poor country with no options, or having healths services roughly at the level of the advanced countries and way out of line with the rest of Latin America. These things are not tolerable to American power–they’d be intolerable anywhere in the Third World and they’re multiply intolerable in a country which is expected to be a U.S. colony. That’s Cuba’s real crime.

Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, edited by Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel.

It Was Love at First Haiku

Maria told me to contact you
When you were fresh back from El Salvador

And perhaps needing another shoulder to lean on
After re-entering this meshugah militarized greed culture

There we sat at a table
At Café Ventana

And soon you spread before me
Your final project from the previous semester

You stayed up all night to do it
It had to be that way

Had to cut through the sleepiness
To pour out all that had accumulated—

On each page a water color by you
And a special photo

And a haiku on one page in Spanish
And on the facing page your translation into English Read the rest of this entry »

Culled from a Journal: Summer in Salvador

A friend lived in El Salvador for several weeks one summer. Recently, she went to Art Hill and reread through the journal she kept those months,  culled the following lines, and told me I could share them if I want…


“I am here because I want to learn how to not belong to myself”

“I fear unsatisfactory answers”


“Today was a lot harder than I thought”

“Was my ego really so big that I thought I would be good at this?”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, Salvadorans”


“The people at the gate were screaming for water and God.”


“Yo tengo fe que todo cambiara”

“Will I ever pass this way again?”


“How did I get on this high horse?”


“Remembering even assholes can be good people”


“Am I supposed to love my washer and dryer more because Salvadorans don’t have them??”


Hector said: “Thank you for sharing your heart. Thanks for walking. When you stand at the bottom of the volcano, everything looks different. Don’t forget to stand at the bottom, with the people, and keep us in your heart. Don’t forget to share. Share everything you have.”


“Not at peace. There is no peace for me.”

No Time for Literary Criticism

You are the voice of people with adhesive tape across their mouths
This is no time for literary criticism.
Nor for attacking the gorillas with surrealistic poems.
And what use are metaphors if slavery is not a metaphor,
If death in the river of the Dead is not a metaphor,
If the Squadron of Death is not?

–Ernesto Cardenal, from his Epistle to Monsignor Casaldáliga

Scan 43

Dom Pedro Casaldáliga

photo by Mev

Summer Reading, 2009

I recently found this in an old file…



Annping Chin, The Authentic Confucius: A Life of Thought and Politics
David Hinton, Selected Poems of Wang Wei
D.C. Lau, trans. Mencius
Andrew Plaks, trans., Chung Yung
Ivan Morris, Madly Singing in the Mountains: An Appreciation and Anthology of Arthur Waley
Stephen Ruppenthal, The Path of Direct Awakening
Simon Winchester, The Man Who Loved China
Mao Zedong, Little Red Book


Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins
Noam Chomsky, What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World–Interviews with David Barsamian
Donaldo Macedo, ed., Chomsky on Mis-Education
Peter Mitchell and John Schoeffel, eds., Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky
Assaf Khoury, ed. Inside Lebanon: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky Read the rest of this entry »

Chomsky on Central America, 1985

Noam Chomsky, Turning the Tide: U.S. Intervention in Central America& the Struggle for Peace, South End Press, 1985

The real victims of “America’s agony” are millions of suffering and tormented people throughout much of the Third World.  Our highly refined ideological  institutions protect us from seeing their plight and our role in maintaining it, except sporadically.  If we had the honesty and moral courage, we would not let a day pass without hearing the cries of the victims. We would turn on the radio in the morning and listen to the voices  of the people who escaped the massacres in Quiché province  and the Guazapa mountains, and the daily press would carry front-page pictures of children dying of malnutrition and disease in the countries where order reigns and crops and beef are exported to the American market, with an explanation of why this is so.  We would listen to the extensive and detailed record of terror and torture in our dependencies compiled by Amnesty International, Americas Watch, Survival International, and other human rights organizations.  But we successfully insulate ourselves from this grim reality.  By so doing, we sink to a level of moral depravity that has few counterparts in the modern world….

This 1985 analysis was quite important for me; in fact, it precipitated an intellectual conversion, as it provided a coherent view of the political world in light of my experiences with Sanctuary, Witness for Peace, and the Pledge of Resistance. Read the rest of this entry »

A Proposal from Marilyn

Marilyn Vazquez
Dr. Chmiel
Western Culture
16 September 2016
Empathy Practicum

After considering what suffering concerns me most, I decided to center my Empathy Practicum on the struggles of the undocumented Hispanic and Latino population in the surrounding areas. I attended meetings for many clubs and organizations but the Latino Student Alliance (LSA) spoke to me personally because I am also undocumented. My practicum will focus on two key issues the undocumented population face: education and healthcare.
Read the rest of this entry »