Guest Commentary by Lita PezantPeople across Latin America (and many in North America) are mourning the loss of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who died last Tuesday, March 2, at the age of 58, after struggling with cancer over the last two years, and leading his nation for fourteen years. World leaders, including President Obama, sent their condolences, some even going straight to Caracas, Venezuela to mourn directly. People gathered in nations throughout South America, Central America, and the Caribbean; some mourners gathering at Venezuelan embassies, some in communities across the U.S.A, to pay their respects, hold vigils, and bring tributes to remember Hugo Chávez: a President of and for the People. Hugo Chávez was both loved and despised for helping to uplift the people of his nation. Elected four times with overwhelming majorities, the official U.S. government (home of the infamous ‘selected not elected’ Bush presidency) constantly questioned his presidential legitimacy and worked to overthrow him. Chávez’ response was to declare his own manhood and independence by daring to speak to world leaders that were not on the approved ‘guest list’: Castro (Cuba), Khadafi (Libya), Ahmadinejad (Iran), and Bolivia’s first native indigenous President Evo Morales. Upon his first election, Hugo Chávez inherited the reigns of a nation where 3% of the people owned 77% of the wealth — sound familiar? Chávez was a great president and a hardworking leader who changed the landscape of Venezuela, first insisting that oil corporations (who were reaping 87% profits from Venezuelan oil) return 30% to the government; and then he nationalized the resource. Compare that to Nigeria, where the U.S. has ‘good’ relations’ yet Shell Oil destroys the land with impunity, and protesting leaders are assassinated for questioning why the indigenous native tribes are receiving no benefits from the oil extracted from their lands. Tired of the World Bank ‘switcheroo’ that keeps Third World nations poor, Chávez worked with other Latin American presidents of Argentina and Brazil to develop the Bank of the South, so these countries could independently set their own financial standards and establish their own credit markets. Finding that he and other Latin leaders were also fed up with the imbalanced scope of U.S. Free Trade Agreements, Chávez joined Castro and Morales to form the People’s Trade Treaty for their respective nations. Chávez provided free public education to hundreds of thousands of children who had never had access to classrooms before his presidency. The U.S. has ‘good’ relations with Jamaica, but children still have to pay to go to school there. Before Chávez, millions of Indigenous and Black Venezuelans were never issued birth certificates or identification papers, effectively preventing them from full access to the rights of citizenship— that sound familiar too? Through it all, Chávez, a devout Christian, reached his hand out in friendship to those who would help him improve his nation and the quality of life for its people, and in turn he extended his hand in generosity to those in need across the globe. Chávez, along with Castro, offered food, supplies, fuel, and water purifiers to those devastated during the early aftermath of hurricane Katrina, only to be rebuffed by the Bush administration – and we all know how quickly they came to the rescue. The generosity of Chávez and the Venezuelan people is also demonstrated in the provision of free heating oil to thousands of poor people in the United States through the Venezuelan oil company Citgo. Gosh come to think of it, Hugo Chávez probably helped more needy folks in the U.S. than the ‘Do Nothing’ 112th and 113th Congress combined. I for one was a little disappointed that a positive relationship that did not occur between President Chávez and our beloved President Obama. One might think that President Obama could have sought common ground with Chávez on at least a few things. Both were (and are) vilified, called out of name, and have had their rightful citizenship and birthright questioned without any basis in fact. Both were descendants of mixed ‘race’ parentage, and faced obstructionists who despised them for merely being the wrong color to be strong, independent, and ready for the reins of power. Both challenged conventional stereotypes to succeed. Both were elected on an emotional wave of the promise of Hope, seeking to rebuild their nations following economic disaster and massive financial and government corruption. Obama promised to end both wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) his predecessor started; and Chávez promised that he would never order troops to fire upon civilians as his predecessor did. Both held steadfast to those promises. Pointedly, each also established a form of universal health care during their respective first terms. Actually Chávez did his a bit quicker by trading with Castro for the provision of excellent Cuban medical and healthcare services — something many Black Americans have wanted access to for a long time — another example of ‘Free Trade’ not working for us. Unfortunately, U.S. foreign policy is rife with inconsistency and hypocrisy, designed to confuse, perplex, and control the citizenry. It is a pity how the ‘old ways’ of the ‘Cold War’ creep insidiously into the new millennium. Our government allows companies to do Billions in business with Communist China and Communist Vietnam, but continuously restricts, contains, and despises Cuba, home also, like Venezuela, to many of our brethren who are descendants of the African Diaspora and Transatlantic Slave Trade. U.S. backed corporations and their neo-con front men persistently grade the landscape for the continuing rape and pillage of the natural resources of Africa and Latin America, with complete disregard for their populations. Our community needs independent and focused Black voices to reshape a U.S. foreign policy to at least partly reflect the beliefs, hearts, and minds of most Black Americans. The Bush-Cheney industrial war complex has cost American taxpayers upwards of $800 Billion for the Iraq War, and close to $620 Billion so far for the War in Afghanistan. Congress won’t even begin an appropriations bill that would award a tenth of those amounts to put our people to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. Our community needs to take a page out of Chávez’ book, reclaim our man-and-woman- hood, and lay the groundwork for a new economic landscape that actually makes a return to our communities. Let us hope that ‘renewed and improved’ relationships with Venezuela is not just foreplay for renewed conjugal relations between U.S. neo-con corporate interests (‘Economic Hit Men’) and the Venezuelan elite, where only the poor and struggling workers are actually screwed. . . sound familiar? Rest in peace, Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (WSSN 3/7/13)
Monthly Archives: May 2013
Community Action Partnership Hosts 2013 Gala to Honor Those Who Have Improved Communities Through Service
SAN BERNARDINO, CA– The Board of Directors of Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County (CAPSBC) will host their 2013 Gala Fundraiser and Awards Banquet this Friday, May 17, 2013 at 6 p.m. at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. The theme of this year’s gala is “Helping Families, Improving Communities” reflecting CAPSBC’s mission of is working with communities by advocating for, supporting, and empowering low-income residents to achieve self-sufficiency.
CAPSBC joinsover 1,100 Community Action Agencies nationwide in celebrating May as National Community Action Month by highlighting accomplishments and successes of the Community Action Network through a series of activities designed to benefit the community and encourage citizens to learn more about Community Action programs and services. Patricia Nickols serves as the Executive Director of CAPSBC.
CAPSBC Board Chairman Dr. Joshua Beckley stated, “We are proud to present the 2013 Community Action Legacy Awards to an outstanding group of individuals and agencies who have generously served others, thereby improving our communities. Their great humanitarian and charitable acts are exemplary, and we are honored to have this opportunity to publicly recognize and thank them.” The Community Action Legacy Awardees for 2013 are Dr. Harold L. Cebrun, Sr. : Honorable Mayor Patrick J. Morris Jamie Varner and Cynthia Robinson.
The keynote speaker for the gala will be educator Erin Gruwell, the inspiration for the movie, “Freedom Writers.” After the banquet there will dancing until midnight featuring an outstanding line-up of musical talent, including bass guitar player Nathan “Nate” Watts, who led Stevie Wonder’s band for 12 years; Sheldon Reynolds, former lead guitarist and vocalist for the legendary Earth, Wind and Fire; drummer Stanley Randolph; musician and songwriter Charles Kelly; as well as many local singers and musicians in what will be an evening of great sounds for dancing, listening and fun.
The Venny H. Newman Humanitarian Award will go to Dr. Harold L. Cebrun, Sr., Superintendent of Rialto Unified School District for his over 30 years of service in public education, and his dedication to serving students, parents, teachers and the community. The Community Partner Award goes to Kaiser Permanente’s Fontana and Ontario Medical Centers for demonstrating commitment to improving the health of the community by providing over $80,000 to assist CAPSBC’s distribution of fresh produce, and startup funding for the San Bernardino Food Policy Council.
The Honorable Mayor Patrick J. Morris of the City of San Bernardino will receive the Legislative Advocate Award for his distinguished record of public service, professionalism, leadership, and his demonstrated passion and commitment to improving the lives of city residents by fighting crime, supporting youth programs, encouraging economic revitalization, and improving transportations systems, while guiding the city through very difficult times.
The Volunteer Award will go to Jamie Varner, Vice President of the Wells Fargo Inland Empire Volunteer Chapter, who has supported the CAPSBC Food Bank by organizing food drives and working with Wells Fargo employees to pack food. The award has been re-introduced as the Dorothy L. Grant ‘Helping People Changing Lives’ Volunteer Award in honor and memory of the longtime CAPSBC Board Member and advocate for the poor, who recently passed on April 13, 2013.
The Spirit of Hope Achievement Award goes to Cynthia Robinson, a CAPSBC Asset Development Program graduate, who achieved her asset development goal of purchasing her first home through very difficult personal circumstances – the death of her husband, loss of her mother, and her acceptance of guardianship for a 4 year old cousin. Cynthia is a role model for others in achieving success through adversity with the spirit of hope and dignity.
‘Covered California’ Awards 37 Million in Grants to Educate and Enroll Californians into Health Insurance Programs Offered by Obama Care – the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
LOS ANGELES, CA — California was the first state to create a health benefit exchange following the passage of the federal health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obama Care). ‘Covered California’ (www.CoveredCA.com) is an independent part of state government charged with creating a new health ins
urance marketplace in which individuals and small businesses can get access to health insurance; and to make the market work for California consumers. It operates under the leadership of a five-member board appointed by the Governor and Legislature.
‘Covered California’ has announced $37 million in grants to 48 lead organizations to conduct outreach and education programs on how, starting in 2014, Californians c
an access affordable health care coverage under the federal. The lead organizations will be supported by 226 subcontracting entities. “We are excited to build on our partnerships with organizations that have trusted relationships in diverse communities throughout the state,” said Peter V. Lee, Executive Director of Covered California.
His organization is seeking to strengthen their efforts to make certain Californians are aware of and enrolled in the new health insurance options this fall for coverage beg
inning Jan. 1, 2014. The efforts will inform the public about the new benefits, educate them about available programs, and motivate consumers and small businesses to obtain health insurance. Outreach activities are expected to reach nearly 9 million individuals and over 200,000 small businesses in 58 counties, primarily focused on connecting with 5.3 million Californians needing individual insurance, including almost 3 million of whom may be eligible for premium financial assistance.
Covered California is deve
loping educational partnerships that anchor outreach and education programs in actual targeted communities where likely enrollees live, work, pray, shop, and play; and are therefore both economically and ethnically targeted: The state’s large Latino community is the focus of 37 outreach and education grants; with the next highest number of those in need of potential subsidies being Caucasians (24 grants); followed by Black and African Americans (32 grants); the Middle-Eastern community (11 grants). 20 grants outreach to Asian-Pacific Islander communities with targeted sub-contracts: Vietnamese (19); Chinese (18); Filipinos (18); Koreans (16); Hmong (11); Laotians (9); Japanese (8); and Cambodians (8). All
grant specifics are available online at www.hbex.ca.gov.
“We see an outpouring of interest from groups across the state who want to be part of increasing the number of Californians with health insurance, improve the quality of health care, reduce health care coverage costs and ensure California’s diverse population has fair and equal access to quality health coverage,” added Lee.
t did not receive a grant are encouraged to become part of Covered California’s Community Outreach Network by applying to become Assister Enrollment Entities under the Covered California Assisters Program; and will be trained, certified, and in many cases paid by Covered California to provide in-person enrollment assistance. Covered California’s board allocated $43 million of its federal funding to organizations that can reach all eligible Californians: $34 million for community outreach; $3 million for business outreach with the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP); and $6 million to support successful outreach and education strategies in 2014.
Covered California will help individuals compare and choose a health plan that works best for their health needs and budget. Federal financial subsidies will be available to help lower costs for people on a sliding scale. Small businesses will be able to purchase competitively priced health plans and offer their employees the ability to choose from an array of plans, and will be eligible for federal tax credits.