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Migrant workers in Costa Rica: WILPF/limpal provides a forum.

As part of its ongoing effort to assist migrants, WILPF-Costa Rica sponsored a meeting in September 2008 to provide a safe space for migrant women to discuss their concerns. The meeting, which drew individual migrants as well as researchers in anthropology and sociology, offered a great opportunity for the women to exchange experiences, to strengthen their capacity to deal with difficulties surrounding their legal status and to confront discrimination.

Speakers from WILPF and academic institutes sparked enthusiastic response from the 38 participants, mostly Nicaraguans and Colombians. All joined in discussions, theater work and painting. Grupo Mandinga's lively samba and salsa rhythms set the mood for dancing. A highlight was a video reflecting research on the indigenous groups migrating between Panama and Costa Rica. The documentary depicted migrants' lives on the coffee-picking plantations, calling attention to the degree of exploitation they suffer and the need to expand solidarity work.

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Presentations and discussions touched on the difficulties faced by migrants trying to legalize their status due to the high cost of legal services and the requirement for certain documents from their country of origin, which are often difficult to obtain.

Lacking legal status makes them vulnerable to workplace exploitation, and so far the labor unions have failed to show solidarity by responding to migrants' needs. Connecting with International Labor Organisation resources is seen as a window of hope. Participants, who included representatives of migrant women's organizations, agreed on the importance of following up in the areas of legalization of migratory status and strengthening their organizations to confront discrimination in the workplace. WILPF-Costa Rica is most willing to continue its support.

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Our WILPF Section hosted, along with the Friends Peace Center, the Latin American Conference Against the Use of Depleted Uranium. This event in early March 2009 drew media attention and helped spread the word about remediation and prevention efforts around the world and at the United Nations. For more on this international effort with a presence in 24 countries, see www.reachingcriticalwill.org.

Adilia Caravaca, Costa Rica
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Author:Caravaca, Adilia
Publication:International Peace Update
Date:Jun 1, 2009
Words:341
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