MCC photo/Mennonite Brethren Church in Choco

Ramon Casildo Mosquera Murillo inspects a 3-month-old cacao graft. Before the arrival of a cacao planting project supported by MCC through Foods Resource Bank, Murillo had coca crops. Although the national police fumigated his illicit crops, Murillo persisted in planting because he believed there was no alternative that would guarantee a future for him and his family. After Murillo participated in a workshop where he was shown the benefits of having cacao crops, he accepted the challenge of planting cacao.

Aerial spraying in Colombia

May 12, 2015

For years U.S. drug policy in Colombia has relied heavily on aerial fumigations to eradicate coca, the base ingredient for cocaine. The World Health Organization recently determined that glyphosate, a chemical herbicide used in spraying, causes cancer in humans.

Civil society organizations in the U.S. and Colombia have long called for an end to this inhumane and environmentally damaging program.Not only does it damage ecosystems and destroy food crops, but the chemicals are routinely sprayed on people’s houses, livestock and water sources.

Take action during the Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia on May 17 and 18. Ask your representatives to refocus counter-drug tactics like spraying, and to instead prioritize alternative policies with input from small farmers.

As we wait in hope that a full peace accord will be signed by the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, we know that Tomorrow’s Peace Starts Today!

Policy updates

Criminal justice: On April 21, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) introduced the REDEEM Act, which aims to reduce recidivism among juvenile offenders and limit juvenile incarceration overall. The bill was introduced in the Senate in March.

Immigration: On April 17, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held a hearing on the DAPA and expanded DACA initiatives.  There has been no ruling yet; subsequent appeals could take several months. In a separate case, a federal judge in California made a preliminary ruling that children and their mothers cannot be held in unlicensed family detention centers.

Iran: On May 7, the Senate approved a bill 98-1 giving Congress the authority to review a nuclear agreement with Iran. It moves to the House next. Separately, 151 House members have signed a letter in support of an agreement with Iran--a key number because it is enough to sustain a veto if Congress "disapproves" the agreement. Take action here.

Upcoming events

June 30-July 5: Join us at the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City, Mo. Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach will be leading workshops for youth on advocacy and the Middle East. Delegates will consider resolutions on Palestine and Israel and Endless War.

July 21-26: Mennonite World Conference is coming to Harrisburg, Pa. Among the many workshops offered will be one on travel to the Middle East, co-led by Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach.

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Resources by the Mennonite Palestine Israel Network on the proposed Mennonite Church USA resolution

Charting a new course: Overcoming the stalemate in Gaza: Report issued by MCC and 45 other humanitarian agencies on Gaza.

Staff updates

On March 20, Tammy Alexander spoke about Mennonite pastor Max Villatoro on a congressional briefing panel. The briefing was titled, “Executive Actions on Immigration: Why Prosecutorial Discretion Matters.”