WBEZ | Jason Glaser http://www.wbez.org/tags/jason-glaser Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Global Activism: La Isla Foundation and protestors under threat for exposing Chronic Kidney Disease in Nicaragua sugar cane workers http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-la-isla-foundation-and-protestors-under-threat-exposing <p><p><a href="http://laislafoundation.org/about-us/#staff" target="_blank">Jason Glaser</a> runs <a href="http://laislafoundation.org/" target="_blank">La Isla Foundation</a>, founded in 2008 by a Nicaraguan ex-sugarcane worker, an American documentary filmmaker, and a Nicaraguan legal investigator. The group addresses an epidemic of Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) affecting agricultural communities across Central America, particularly in Western Nicaragua. This disease, first recorded about 30 years ago, has steadily increased in both prevalence and mortality rates.The epicenter of both the epidemic and sugar production is Chichigalpa, Nicaragua. There, sugarcane workers are dying at an alarming rate from CKDu. In the past decade, CKDu caused the deaths 75% of deaths of men aged 35-55 in Chichigalpa.</p><p>A new report documents the high occurrence of kidney disease among sugarcane workers. The report also concludes that inaction&nbsp;by both the Nicaraguan government and the largest cane company in Nicaragua set the stage for a peaceful protest turned riot.<iframe frameborder="0" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F88468864" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>The disease is characterized by a gradual decrease of kidney function, eventually resulting in renal failure. Due to limited medical and financial resources in Nicaragua, CKDu is a terminal illness. Death from chronic kidney failure is often slow and extremely painful. Impoverished families are left to pick up the pieces, often sending their young sons out into the sugar cane fields.</p><p>During the course of the Foundation&#39;s work, some Nicaraguan government officials and sugar cane industry supporters implied Glaser was a drug trafficker as well as a CIA operative. Also, La Isla Foundation has received numerous threats. Glaser says that while the treatment of the Foundation and its employees has been as he calls it, &quot;reprehensible&quot;, members of the affected community have also been victims of severe reprisals.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/15Burial_0.JPG" style="float: right; width: 303px; height: 201px;" title="Family buries another sugar cane worker lost to Chronic Kidney Disease a.k.a. CKDu. The CKDu epidemic is devastating worker communities in Chichigalpa and throughout Central America. (photo credit: Jason Glaser)" /></div><p>On March 18, 2013, protestors and bystanders attempting to call attention to the epidemic, including children as young as 6 years old were <a href="http://laislafoundation.org/epidemic/anatomy-riot-page/">trampled, beaten, and targeted</a> for arrest. Ten sugar cane workers were fired for participating in academic research investigating the cause of the disease. Others have been fired for speaking to the media, or attempting to independently unionize, according to Glaser.</p><p><em><strong>Update: The company rehired the 10 workers from the causality study. Glaser and others give credit to this story.</strong></em><span style="display: none;"> </span><span id="cke_bm_192E" style="display: none;"> </span></p><p>Glaser gives his account of a tragic example:</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">In February of this year I lost a friend, Lino Mayorga to complications with his CKDu treatment. His son, Jimmy, is already sick at 24, having worked the sugarcane fields like his father. Lino was a pillar of his community: the founder of his neighborhood, a little league coach, and a liaison between the community and the mayor&rsquo;s office in Chichigalpa. I often wondered what he could have accomplished and given the world had he been born in a different time and place. Despite having given over thirty years of his life to the cane fields, working 8-12 hour days, seven days a week he died in absolute pain and poverty.</p><p style="margin-left:1.0in;">Lino had also been a Sandinista guerilla commando. As a young man, he risked his life fighting the brutality of the Somoza dictatorship so his country could chart a more equitable future. On the night he died, 34 years later, with the Sandinistas again in power, his long time partner, Maria, told me the following, &ldquo;<em>Somoza&rsquo;s National Guard was horrific, they would pull our neighbors from their homes, beat them, shoot them like dogs in the street. We got smart though, we learned to hide and then we learned to fight back so we could have a better life. But this disease, this company (the Pellas Group), the inaction of our government, these things are all worse than the National Guard, worse than Somoza. If this company did not hold food stipends over our heads, did not hold these jobs that are killing us over our heads this entire city would stand up for itself. However, as it stands now, we are nothing but slaves.&rsquo; </em> I was stunned by those words.</p></p> Thu, 18 Apr 2013 13:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/global-activism/global-activism-la-isla-foundation-and-protestors-under-threat-exposing Worldview 5.17.12 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/worldview-51712-99234 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/The%20cost%20Jason%20Glaser.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Jason Glaser, co-founder and president of the La Isla Foundation, titled this photo 'The Cost.' (Photo by Jason Glaser)" /></div><p>Thursday on <em>Worldview</em>:</p><p>We examine Saudi Arabia&#39;s efforts to stem the tide of change sweeping the Middle East.&nbsp; The country hopes to form a coalition with its five Persian Gulf neighbors. Joseph Kechichian of the Middle East Institute weighs in.</p><p>And, <em>Worldview</em> film contributor Milos Stehlik talks with Lebanese director Nadine Labaki about her film <em>Where Do We Go Now?</em> It tells the story of a rural unnamed village inhabited by both Muslims and Christians who co-exist with an uneasy peace. The film opens in Chicago on May 18.</p><p>On <em>Global Activism</em>, independent filmmaker Jason Glaser tells us why he put filmmaking on hold and started the La Isla Foundation. The organization is dedicated to stopping the epidemic of kidney disease in Chichigalpa, Nicaragua.</p></p> Thu, 17 May 2012 09:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/worldview-51712-99234