Thursday, April 9, 2009

NAFTA's Impact on Food Security and Migration in Oaxaca: A Lecture

Baldemar Mendoza Jimenez, an agro-ecologist from Oaxaca, Mexico, will speak April 13 at 7pm, in Room 175 of the UO Law School, 15th and Agate, Eugene.

Mr. Mendoza weaves connections to demonstrate how globalization, the neoliberal economic model and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have contributed significantly to the increase in migration and poverty in Oaxaca, Mexico. 


Baldemar Mendoza JimĂ©nez works for the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) by supporting indigenous communities to practice organic and traditional agriculture.  He has participated in UNOSJO’s informational campaign regarding the contamination of native corn by genetically modified corn.  Mr. Mendoza promotes sustainable agriculture using the farmer to farmer 

method to attain food sovereignty. 


"NAFTA took away price guarantees for corn and other products,” said Mendoza.  “Farmers could not make ends meet and looked for alternatives that would generate income.  They abandoned their lands, they left to work in maquilas and they emigrated to the United States.  Migration has brought the abandonment of the countryside, family disintegration and a decomposition of the tightly-woven community.  Community practices that were an integral part to indigenous Oaxacan communities have been lost.”   


Mr. Mendoza will be hosted by Witness for Peace Northwest, with complete Spanish to English interpretation provided by Witness for Peace Mexico Team member Ann Thiesen.  Witness for Peace is a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. WFP’s mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices which contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean.  


For more information visit  


Atheist Group forms on UO Camps

Originally organized by a small group of students early this year, AHA! has grown into an organization of over sixty members in less than a week of campaigning. Currently under review to become an officially-recognized ASUO student organization, AHA! was created in order to support the growing number of atheists and nonreligious students on the University of Oregon campus.

"We formed AHA! with many goals in mind, but most importantly, we want to serve as a support system for campus atheists, agnostics, and religious skeptics. We want people to know that atheism isn't something to hide--we want to make it something that people are proud of, something that isn't shunned," says Lucy Gubbins, one of the founders of the group. 

According to a 2006 University of Minnesota study, atheists are the least trusted minority group in the United States. A 2007 Gallup poll recorded that only 45% of those surveyed would vote for a qualified atheist political candidate; this score was lower than that of an otherwise qualified homosexual candidate, and a full 10% lower than the scores women, blacks, Jews, or Mormons received. No minority scored lower than atheists.

Despite the societal stigma attached to atheism, 25% of Americans between the age of 18 and 29 identify with no religion, doubling since 1986, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The University of Oregon does not currently recognize any student organization geared toward nonreligious students.

"Being the first group of its kind, we expected that it would be difficult to organize around something that people commonly misunderstand," another founding member, Jeff Kline, says, "but these are just the kind of challenges that we look forward to and that we find necessary in order for atheists to get the recognition they deserve."

The group's first meeting will focus on orienting new members to the organization's vision and future goals, and garnering input and ideas. AHA! is also hoping to begin organizing a week-long celebration for the National Day of Reason, in early May.