VCHR endorses Teach Central America Week October 2-6, 2023:
Statement and Outreach

The Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR), a coalition of 19 organizations that advocates for Palestinian human rights, enthusiastically endorses the Teach Central America Week from October 2–6, 2023 to support teaching about Central America during Latinx Heritage Month.

The countries of Central America—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Belize—have a long history of involvement with the United States, and their rich civilizations have contributed to world culture—especially in the field of human and civil rights. We are aware that the U.S. government has played a destructive role in these countries by supporting repressive governments that have harmed their populations. In recent years, we have seen people from these countries come to the United States as refugees seeking asylum, and they have been harshly treated. We believe that students in this country would benefit by understanding their histories and cultures so that they can act as responsible citizens in times of global need. We are grateful to you for initiating this process.

We support the Teach Central America Week initiative for another reason: We believe your project will shed light on facets of immigration history that are not well known in this country. We are dismayed by the criminalization of immigrants in recent years, when in fact immigrants have contributed greatly to their host countries. For example, Palestinians have immigrated to and settled in Central America since the 19th Century. For over one hundred years, Palestinians have played a major role in the economic, cultural, and political life of Central American countries—including Nayib Bukele, President of El Salvador, whose paternal grandparents hailed from Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Mazen Khuffash, Nicaragua’s first ambassador to Palestine, and Salvador Nasralla, a journalist and former candidate for President of Honduras. When U.S. students learn more about the intermingling of peoples and cultures in other parts of the world, their worldview will surely be enriched.

VCHR supports and defends universal human rights, free speech (including the right to boycott), and academic freedom. We protest oppression, discrimination, and violations of international law wherever they occur, including on our borders. We know that education is essential to bringing cultures and people together in a spirit of civility and truth, and as such, VCHR enthusiastically supports the Teach Central America Week initiative.