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Task Force To Hold Public Forums

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ANN ARBORAnn Arbor's Central America Sister City Task Forcé has begun the job of selecting sister cities and continuing the community education efforts begun by the campaign for Proposal A, Ann Arbor's ordinance to establish local inititíatives for peace in Central America. Their first project will be a series of public forums on each Central American country, at which speakers will inform the Task Forcé and general public about conditions in each country and make recommendations about possible sister cities and aid projects. In their meeting on May 15, Task Force members discussed the many major issues they will have to resolve during the next year. Among them are: Defining a process by which sister cities will be selected; formulating a strategy that will involve a broad spectrum of the community in the work of the Task Force; devising ways tomake amends for the human misery caused by U. S. government policy in the región, both through material aid and by changing our government's policies; and continuing to edúcate the community on the realities of Central America which are often cast aside by the federal government's attempt to cast problems in the región as part of the great EastWest duel for world domination. The eleven member Task Forcé (with seven official and four ex-officio members) began the educational process by tapping into one of Ann Arbor's resources: A well travelled community (especially when it comes to Central America). Many people in Ann Arbor have not only traveled but have worked in Central America, and thus can offer direct testimony on conditions, the need for aid, and what áreas might be more suitable for sister city relationships. The Task Force will ask these people and others to come to the forums to make presentations. The Task Force has set a tentative schedule for the forums, subject to availability of speakers and suitable meeting places. Nicaragua will be the subject of the first forum to be held during the week of June 9 through 14. Conditions in El Salvador will be the topic on June 23 at 7:30 PM in the Michigan Union Ballroom. And, Guatemala will be the focus of the third forum during the week of July 7 through 12. Father José Alas, a Jesuit priest who works with peasant communities in Central America, was also in town on May 15. Several members of the Task Force were fortúnate to receive a briefing by him. Originally from El Salvador, from whence he was forced to flee in 1977 after threats from the Salvadoran military, Father Alas now works in Nicaragua with the San Fransiscobased Capp Street Foundation, which organizes self-help health and agricultural programs. Father Alas suggested several comunities as possible sister cities, including the city of Comayagua, Honduras, the site of a U. S. military installation. AntiAmerican tensions have risen in the community due to allegations that prostitution and instances of child molestation have increased due to the présense of U. S. marines. He also mentioned the difficulty of establishing a sister city in El Salvador and Guatemala due to the continuing govemment repression in those countries. The Task Force will meet every Thursday evening at 7:30 for the next few months. Most meetings will be in the 2nd floor conference room in the Ann Arbor Fire Station, 1 1 1 North Fifth Avenue, right across from City Hall, (where there should be plenty of free parking on those evenings). The Task Force will make every effort to announce the exact date, time, and place of each meeting. All meetings are open to the public. Interested persons are invited to come and particípate. The Task Force needs the active involvement of more people than its eleven members if it is to to fulfill the many promises of Proposal A made by the community. For more information, see the CRD.


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