12-08-2019  12:26 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Black Food Professionals See Opportunities to “Scale Up” in School Cafeterias and on Store Shelves

Two Portland women are addressing disparities in the local food scene with Ethiopian and Haitian flavors, ingredients

Portland Fire Chief Sara Boone Climbing Historic Ladders

In 1995, Boone was the first African American woman hired by Portland Fire & Rescue; this year she became its first African American Chief

Christmas Tree Shopping is Harder Than Ever, Thanks to Climate Change and Demographics

For Christmas tree farms to survive, shoppers will need to be more flexible

November Holiday Travel at PDX Brings More Comfort, Convenience and Furry Friends

If you’ve not been to Portland International Airport in a few months, you’re in for some surprises.

NEWS BRIEFS

Conservation Breakthrough for Endangered Butterfly

The Oregon Zoo's breeding success provides new hope in an effort to save Oregon silverspots ...

Meet 80 Local Authors at OHS 52nd Holiday Cheer Book Sale and Signing

This free Oregon Historical Society event will be held this Sunday, December 8 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ...

Need for Blood Doesn’t Stop for Holidays – Donors Needed

Those who come to give through Dec. 18 will receive a Amazon.com Gift Card ...

North Carolina Court Decision Upholds Removal of Confederate Monument

Lawyers argued that the monument was installed at the end of Reconstruction to further the false “Lost Cause” narrative,...

Artist Talk with 13-year-old Local to be Held This Tuesday, Nov. 26

Hobbs Waters will be discussing his solo exhibit “Thirteen” at The Armory in Portland ...

Oregon to change policy after losing parental rights fight

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon officials who attempted to end the parental rights of a couple because of the parents' low IQs have reached an agreement with U.S. officials requiring the state follow federal civil rights laws.The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the Oregon Department of Human...

Commercial ocean crabbing further delayed in Oregon

NEWPORT, Ore. (AP) — State shellfish managers say the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab season will be further delayed until at least Dec. 31 along the entire Oregon coast as testing shows crab are still too low in meat yield in half of the areas along the coast.The World reports the...

Missouri fires football coach Barry Odom after 4 seasons

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri fired football coach Barry Odom on Saturday, ending the four-year stay of a respected former player who took over a program in disarray but could never get the Tigers over the hump in the brutal SEC.The Tigers finished 6-6 and 3-5 in the conference after...

Powell, Missouri snap 5-game skid with win over Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — In a game started by third- and fifth-string quarterbacks, the outcome was decided by one of their backups. It was appropriate enough for Arkansas and Missouri, two teams facing their longest losing streaks in decades.Fayetteville High School graduate Taylor Powell...

OPINION

Will You Answer the Call for Moral Revival?

In embracing and expanding the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Revs. Barber and Theoharis have asked Presidential candidates to consider a debate that focuses exclusively on poverty ...

What I’m Thankful For This Season

Ray Curry gives thanks for a human right that shaped our country throughout the 20th century and that made Thanksgiving possible for so many Americans who, like him, didn’t get here by way of the Mayflower ...

Congressional Black Caucus Members Visit U.S.-Mexico Border: “Mistreatment of Black Immigrants is Another ‘Stain on America’”

Members said they witnessed first-hand the deplorable treatment and plight of Black immigrants ...

Portland, I'm Ready

Last month I had the privilege to stand with hundreds of supporters and announce my intention to run for re-election ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

In Florida, Trump says he's Israel's best pal in White House

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump said Saturday that Israel has never had a better friend in the White House than him because, unlike his predecessors, “I kept my promises."Trump energized an audience that numbered in the hundreds at the Israeli American Council National...

Army football removes motto from spirit flag

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — The United States Military Academy at West Point removed a motto from a spirit flag used by the school's football team because of its connection to hate groups. The letters GFBD, which stand for “God Forgives, Brothers Don’t,” were emblazoned on a...

Voting site reopened in Georgia after grassroots fight

HAZLEHURST, Ga. (AP) — When local election officials shut down a polling site in a predominantly black area of a rural Georgia county, displaced voters couldn’t look to the federal government to intervene as it once did in areas with a history of racial disenfranchisement.So residents...

ENTERTAINMENT

Bloomberg: His news reporters need to accept restrictions

NEW YORK (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg says employees at his news organization need to accept restrictions with their paycheck, including the ban on investigating their boss.Bloomberg, billionaire founder of Bloomberg News, was asked in a CBS News interview about...

Billy Joel, Kardashians Diplo descend on Miami for Art Basel

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. (AP) — As gallerists and collectors descend on Miami's most prestigious art fair by day, the Hollywood crowd knows it's all about the exclusive after parties. Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder and Pharrell were in town while DJ Khaled and rappers Travis Scott and Gucci Mane held...

Belafonte recalls Horne’s activism as Solange is honored

NEW YORK (AP) — Lena Horne was a fierce advocate for civil rights in her later years, but that part of her legacy is often pushed behind her glamorous image. Her good friend Harry Belafonte hopes that a new award in her honor will push that aspect of her life front and center.“She had...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

'Simplicity is genius': Joshua boxes smart to reclaim titles

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) — Anthony Joshua jumped up and down in the ring with his massive entourage,...

New Amazon lease for NY space renews debate over failed deal

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon has signed a lease for a new office space in Manhattan that will house more than...

Protests subside, but economic aftershocks rattle Haitians

Port-au-Prince (AP) — The flaming barricades are mostly gone, protesters have largely dissipated and...

Pro-government protesters denounce Hong Kong 'rioters'

HONG KONG (AP) — Only after finding safety in numbers, joining hundreds of other pro-government protesters...

Iran says new budget bucks US oil embargo, uses Russian loan

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's president said on Sunday his country will depend less on oil revenue next year,...

Nobel laureate: Face up to climate change, no escaping Earth

STOCKHOLM (AP) — An astronomer who shares this year's Nobel physics prize for discovering a planet outside...

McMenamins
Valeria Fern

PHOENIX, Arizona—Araceli Rodriguez had prepared herself for her son's death ever since he joined the federal police in Mexico City. But what she didn't plan for was her son's disappearance on Nov. 16th 2009.

"I demanded an investigation," said Araceli, 49. The answer that came a year and six months later brought her to her knees: "Your son is dead you are never going to find his body because they disintegrated it.'" Members of organized crime were identified as the killers.

Araceli arrived in Phoenix, Arizona last week as part of the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity denouncing the war on drugs that has cost a death toll depending on the source from 50,000 to 80,000 lives and the disappearance of over 10,000 Mexicans.

This is the third caravan lead by poet Javier Sicilia, since his 24-year-old son Juan Francisco was killed on March 2011 with six of his friends.

But this is the first time he takes a journey across the border to ask the government to stop sponsoring a failed war on drugs that he believes is being waged with "Mexican blood, and Mexican pain."

"We come here to say that [the U.S.] has a tremendous responsibility on this," said Sicilia. "The war on drugs is wrong. Drugs are not a national security issue, they are a public health issue."

Sicilia gave a speech in downtown Phoenix to hundreds of people, underscoring that the so-called "war on drugs" strategy was born under Richard Nixon's administration four decades ago. But the poet also recognized that it was president Felipe Calderón who declared a war on drugs, and that corruption in Mexico is one of the biggest challenges for those who want to change the system. He also added that Mexicans have all the right to demand the U.S. government do something about the violence that rages on south of the border.

"Here [in the US] are the addicts, and in order to protect those 23 million addicts we have a war. Here are the weapons that are legally arming the Mexican military through the Merida Plan and illegally through the... sale of weapons of mass murder and assault to organized crime," he said.

Through legislation known as the Merida Initiative, the U.S. sends annually nearly $500 million to support the Mexican military in the drug war.

Sicilia's call for peace in Mexico has galvanized many who have lost their loved ones in the war on drugs, and they decided to join his caravan to the U.S. They are here not only to lay blame on their neighbor to the north but also to plead for solidarity with the American citizenry.

When Araceli first heard about Sicilia, she had no doubt that she would join his caravan. She knew he understood her pains and would give an outlet to her grief and indignation.

"We had to go as mothers and tell them to look or else they wouldn't have done anything," she said.

Luis Angel León Rodriguez, her 23 year-old-son, and 6 other officers plus one civilian disappeared when they were on their way to Ciudad Hidalgo in the state of Michoacán to join federal police. When she heard about her son's disappearance she asked for the federal police to start an investigation, Araceli said, but it took almost a week for them to start doing something.

Over a year later, on Feb. 13th, she was told that her son and those he had traveled with had been kidnapped and executed by the drug cartel. Their remains, she was told, were set on fire and burned to ashes.

"I told them that was their official version, but I wasn't going to stop looking for him," she said.

Araceli demanded to meet face to face with the men involved in her son's killing.

"I asked to know at least were I could find a part of him, a finger, a hand, anything," she said. "Please tell me where you killed him?"

During her journey in the caravan, Araceli met Margarita López Perez, another mother who shares the same disbelief in the Mexican authorities role in investigating her daughter's disappearance.

"So many of us are with the same pain, but a different story," said Margarita, whose 19-year-old daughter disappeared on April 13th, 2011. An armed group in Tlacolula de Matamoros in Oxaca state took Yahaira Guadalupe Bahera López from her home. Her daughter had moved to the town with her husband, a member in the military special forces, but was originally from Michoacán.

"I investigated everything, because they did not do anything," Margarita said. The military and authorities told her that her daughter might have left with another man, and that she needed to wait for her to come back, she recalled.

She hired paid informants with the police to find out about her daughter's whereabouts and even went looking for her in places where young women were being trafficked for sex.

Margarita lost friendships, her personal wealth as the owner of a construction company, and in a way, her reputation -- at times, people would imply that her daughter might have been involved with the cartels.

For her, the accusations are one way in which the government's responsibility is swept under the rug.

"They stigmatize all of us, by suggesting that we have something to do with organized crime," said Margarita.

Eventually, through the help of Sicilia, Margarita reached someone in Mexico City who launched an investigation. As soon as she went to the media to share her story, they found her daughter's beheaded body.

Both Margarita and Araceli said they've received phone-calls with threats against their lives for continuing to ask questions about their son's and daughter's deaths.

"I've been told to keep my mouth shut," said Araceli. "But I'm more afraid of staying silent than speaking out."

The caravan that would end its journey in Washington D.C. on Sep. 12th, was hosted by at least 16 human rights organizations in Arizona, among them The Black Alliance for Just Immigration, PUENTE, and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ).

"What's not talked about in the media is the millions of dollars via private 'direct commercial sales' [of weapons] to the Mexican government sponsored by the State Department of the U.S.," said Nick de la Fuente, an activist from the Arizona Worker Rights Center. The private commercial sales are one of many ways in which the Mexican army can purchase weapons in the U.S.

"Politicians in the U.S. are very quick to point out the corruption in the Mexican government," said de la Fuente. "Subsequently, they provide them with as [much] arms as they want," said de la Fuente.

Sicilia knows that his quest to bring awareness and find empathy in the U.S. is challenging, especially in a state like Arizona that passed an a bill like SB 1070 that criminalizes undocumented immigrants.

He recently read this in one of his speeches during the caravan's tour, paraphrasing pastor Martin Niemöller:

"One day they humiliated Colombians/ and I said nothing / because I was not Colombian / Then they tore Mexicans apart / and I said nothing / because I was not Mexican. / One day they came to get the African-Americans / but I said nothing / because I was not African-American. / Then they messed with the immigrants/ and I said nothing / because I was not an immigrant. / And then one day when they came for me / there was no one left either to protest, to stop war or death, or to save democracy."

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