Dear Friends of Via International:  

For decades Via International and our sister organization, Los Niños de Baja California, have been dedicated to the work of sustainable community development. As part of this work, we have also worked to protect, preserve and celebrate Chicano Park and Friendship Park, two historic venues of great cultural significance in the San Diego/Tijuana borderlands. 

With healthy, sustainable communities at the center of our concern, and from our distinct vantage on the US-Mexico border, we add our voice to the voices of all who are crying out for justice in the United States. And so we recognize and declare:

Communities of every kind - local, institutional, national - are collective human creations. We build communities with our hands, with our minds, with our hearts. We are the products of our communities and our communities are the products of ourselves. In this sense we are all responsible, collectively, for the communities in which we live. 

Communities that propagate injustice cannot endure, and must be transformed. Communities can be a source of liberation and empowerment, but they can also be a source of injustice and oppression. The events of recent weeks have brought to painful public awareness a simple fact: for far too long the community called the United States of America has not delivered justice to its black citizens and residents. If this national community is to endure, its institutions - especially its criminal justice and law enforcement institutions - must be fundamentally transformed.

Enduring change emerges from within communities themselves. Our experience teaches us that sustainable community development and enduring social change emerge from within communities themselves. This is what we see happening in the protests now sweeping the nation, demanding justice for George Floyd and other African-Americans who have suffered abuse, even death, at the hands of law enforcement. We applaud and celebrate the Black Lives Matter movement and embrace its call for “sustainable transformation in our communities.”  Inspired by this movement, we renew our solidarity with all who are organizing and working for peace and social justice in communities across our lands.  

The peoples of the US-Mexico borderlands share much in common with Black Americans. The US-Mexico border was created by a mid-19th century war of occupation fueled by the same white nationalist ideology that sustained the institutionalized evils of chattel slavery, segregation and Jim Crow. As do black Americans, residents of the U.S. borderlands still live with this legacy and suffer the consequences of this ideology, most notably in their relations with border authorities notoriously lacking in accountability and transparency.We join with other borderlands organizations to demand that all law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Border Patrol, be held to the highest possible standards of public service and accountability.

We are continually inspired by what communities can accomplish for themselves.  We will continue to listen and learn from communities most affected by injustice. We will continue to look to the leadership of the Black Lives Matter movement, and to leaders from within movements for justice in our queridas comunidades fronterizas. Following their lead, and working together, we look forward to co-creating a new era of greater peace and expanded justice. 

George Floyd, presente!

Black Lives Matter, adelante!

Pueblos Fronterizos, adelante!

Via International