International Human Rights Day

Before I begin my reflection on International Human Rights Day, I like to take a moment of silence and remember all of the courageous individuals who risked and gave their lives for various human rights issues..

On a day like this, we as a collective should reflect and think about all the bridges that we have made in fighting for various human rights issues. It is the work that we do as a collective that will make us move forward to upholding all of our human rights. Many of us have various issues that we are passionate about and the more people we have being interested in different human rights issues, the better our movement. 

On this human rights day, I want to reflect on the issue of housing as a human right. Housing along with health care and education are fundamental rights for our social justice movement to move forward. We can advocate for education rights, health care rights and immigration rights, but without housing; where would a 1st grader go to eat. Where would someone who is recovering from a cold go to and bed rest. Where would undocumented people go if they don’t have a place to live. And we also see the opposite in homelessness. We see a 1st grader sleeping in a shelter or the streets with their family. We see people who are sick and covering themselves with cardboard in the cold streets of our city. We see undocumented people sleeping on the streets because they don’t have the proper documents to rent a place.

While the housing crisis hit hard couple of years ago, the poor and working class have always found themselves under a housing crisis. It is only a crisis when it affects the rich people. It will continue to be a housing crisis until all the homeless people are housed. It is such a tragedy that in the United States of America, there is over 5 million people homeless, sleeping on the cold, and dying on our streets.

We can’t have a social justice movement or better yet, a revolution when people are homeless and lack the basic human rights. Some people in the U.S. and the world feel that housing is a privilege and not a right. Some feel that homeless people are lazy and drug addicts. We cannot continue to stereotype and stigmatized marginalize populations. We can’t continue to tackle the issue of homelessness by criminalizing it and making it illegal to sit,lay or sleep in the sidewalk as several cities in the U.S. have passed anti pandhandling and loitering laws. We can’t continue to blame the homeless for not working when there is no work available. And when they do have a job, people continue to ignore them. Homeless does not mean jobless and jobless does not mean homeless.

The folks who don’t uphold the principles of human rights will continue to find their avenues to deny people’s human rights. In the U.S., people will continue to blame undocumented people for their State’s deficit, saying that they have to cut back on Social Services, Education and Health Care because their State’s don’t have the funds to provide for “everyone.” And what we are seeing in reality, is the economic model of this country not being made for the people who continue to have their basic human rights violated.

We will see the United States ask China to release Liu Xiaobo (I also believe he must be release and be able to receive his nobel peace prize) but then we will see the U.S. trying to pressure Sweden to have Julian Assange in U.S. custody.

The U.S. received their Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last month where member countries of the United Nations raised concerns over various human right violations such as; Arizona’s SB 1070, racial profiling in immigration enforcement, the excessive use of force by law-enforcement officials against people of color, inhumane detention conditions in federal immigration centers, and its refusal to recognized health care as a human right.

The U.S. should focus more on addressing their own human rights violations before they start threatening other countries to deal with theirs.

On another note, today is also the day that Pinochet passed away in Chile. Interesting how a dictator who violated Chileans’ human rights for 17 long years came to find his death on December 10th. There is not a better song that brings closure to Pino-SHIT than by showing you, one of Chile’s famous bands, Sol y Lluvia’s famous song–Adios, General, Adios Carnal.
“El que no salta es Pino-Shit, El que no salta es Pino-Shit.” Enjoy this great song.

And finally, let us continue building bridges within our causes as we move forward to make this world a place where everyone has the basic human needs and people’s rights are respected.

2 Responses to “International Human Rights Day”

  1. Alfredo Mathew Says:

    Gerardo… thank you for continuing to put the spotlight on the plight of the homeless. I still remember what you said, that homelessness is not just those without shelter, but it is all of us who have ever felt displaced in this world. To be without a home, is to be without the most basic human rights, a place you feel safe. You cannot learn, you cannot love, you cannot trust if you are without a home. Keep sharing brother and reminding us to see with our hearts!

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Alfredo, gracias hermano. Thank you for talking about the University for the People in your blog. Imagine if we created a "university", let’s say, the "University of Humanity" where we had that same philosophy; that it doesn’t matter where you live in this world, every individual would have all of their human rights respected. Let us continue moving forward to make this world a better place. Caminando, preguntando, juntos vamos avanzando.

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