Quotable: CUSLAR alumni and collaborators share at 50th anniversary celebration

CUSLAR collaborators and alumni shared congratulations, memories and encouragement at the organization’s 50th anniversary celebration on September 25.

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CUSLAR Turns 50 discussion panel. Photo: Scott Nolasco.

“CUSLAR affected my husband Jan and me very deeply, and it helped us to realize that we get things done by organizing. We could have just had a march, but we said, no, we need an organization. We need to figure out strategies, and figure out the key points where our activism can make a difference.CUSLAR helped us to develop a vocabulary to describe things that may have sounded inflammatory but in fact reflected reality — the challenge is still to become better world citizens, invest less in military and work for social justice at home. We thank you for being members of CUSLAR throughout these amazing 50 years!”  – Cornelia Butler Flora, Founding CUSLAR member

“How excellent that CUSLAR exists — it shows that the U.S. government and policies are one thing, but that the desires of the American people are something different altogether. For me as a Dominican, it is a great pleasure to meet men and women like you, who in difficult moments for us, dared to raise your voices for justice. Now we find continuity in the young people present who are part of CUSLAR today, who continue the struggle for a better world.” – Fidel Santana Mejía, Professor of Sociology, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo. President, Frente Amplio

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Photo: Scott Nolasco

“Congratulations to CUSLAR and its leadership over so many years! That a student volunteer organization mobilized around sensitive ideological issues should survive for so long merits an historical footnote, as well as a hearty applause. No doubt many of those who drifted in and out of CUSLAR meetings and events over this fifty-year period have made their mark on U.S.-Latin American relations and social scientific activism as well.  CUSLAR was born in the heady days of the mid sixties, following another U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic. Those of us involved back when were largely green graduate students with only vague, often incoherent ideas about our future thesis topics, jobs and how we would relate to Latin American and Caribbean development issues. CUSLAR and kindred organizations sustain an ethical responsibility among university students today and tomorrow.  Let’s continue the work! La revolución no se da de un día para otro.” – Scott S. Robinson, First CUSLAR student coordinator, 1965. Tlayacapan, Morelos, Mexico

“We still expect that CUSLAR will be an instrument in helping people to understand what the U.S. can do in order to allow Latin American countries to have their own say in what they need to do and how they need to do it. The only thing we in Latin America want is the privilege of having our own determination.CUSLAR has been able to send students to Latin America who returned transformed with a commitment to the transformation of society. Nothing radicalizes you more than reality. If you look at the world with open eyes, an open mind and an open heart, you cannot be indifferent to the suffering of millions of people. CUSLAR is a beacon of light, not only in Ithaca, but around Latin America. May that continue for many, many years to come.” – Joel Gajardo, CUSLAR Coordinator, 1974-1978

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Photo: Scott Nolasco

“The ’80s was a very active time for CUSLAR. Our meetings included dinner, updates and usually making posters or banners for some upcoming event. They were all-night affairs on Monday nights. We participated in human rights delegations to Guatemala and El Salvador. We also worked with faith groups to provide sanctuary for people fleeing human rights violations in El Salvador. We read a lot, we wrote a lot, we organized a lot, we went to Washington a lot, and we had a lot of fun. We danced a lot. I think that’s a really important piece of the CUSLAR spirit.” -Mary Jo Dudley, Director of the Cornell Farmworker program. CUSLAR Coordinator, 1981-1987

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