Thursday, May 31, 2007

Nifonged in Nicaragua: New Letter From Eric Volz

The Friends of Eric Volz website has posted a new letter from Eric Volz to supporters. The letter reads:

Brothers and Sisters,

I have just received and finished reading all the letters of support off the web site from April 14-23, the process to get the letters to me always keeps me weeks behind.

WOW!!! The response has been amazing and it seems that the awareness around my struggle has grown tremendously. I'm almost completely isolated from the day-to-day work of those working for my freedom, so the letters, apart from being extremely uplifting, are also very informative. Your messages give me a sense of where this story is in the public sphere. The letters cover a variety of subjects and there are many good questions. I am providing my responses in a series of letters to the most common themes.

The letters are so full of life and wisdom. Often times I get one that just drives so true that I have to stop reading, put the letter down, close my eyes and become overwhelmed as my heart races with energy and excitement. No matter how small the note or brief the message, they all relieve the tightness of my surroundings and the length of days. I can't wait to meet all of you, my new friends, someday. You are a huge inspiration!! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I thought I might start by writing a bit about who you are - since you are now part of the story. Who is writing? Who are all these people that care so much? I get letters from all walks of life. A lot of parents, college students, many Latinos, Nicaraguans and Nicaraguan-Americans, Mexican-Americans, travelers and foreigners who have spent time in Nicaragua, soldiers in Iraq, people from a wide variety of religions, of course my family & friends, and even others in prisons.

The letters are sent from all over the world; all 50 states, China, Tibet, Egypt, Australia, Germany, Venezuela, all over Latin America and the Caribbean, and many from Nicaragua. The letters have become one of the most amazing parts of this journey for me.

EP Magazine was brainstorming a fun campaign called, "Citizens of the Planet". We were thinking about inserting some sort of paper passport cover that would sport the official seal of "Planet Earth". Readers could wrap their normal passport in the "Citizen of the Planet" sleeve and present it proudly when they traveled to express their global perspective. The gesture was simple; there are those that feel patriotic about the planet as a whole, not just their own nation - kind of a "One Love" spin-off, ya know. Anyway, it never happened, partly due to the expense, but the campaign seemed to favor the more affluent class who can afford to travel, excluding those who cannot. Maybe we can figure out a way to make it work in the future, right?!

Despite the variety of people and places, there is a common trait revealed in the letters, that is, most of those who are touched and/or affected by this are those who care deeply about the value of cultural diversity and international cooperation. This has been the presiding issue of my work and focus; it is the very thing that brought me to Nicaragua.

There are many people of great character and integrity here. Several have diligently supported me and spoken of my innocence. I'm forever grateful to these people. I still have a lot of love for Nicaragua and it sucks that once I get outta here I won't be able to come back from a long time; if ever.

On the flip side, I have also received letters generalizing negatively about North Americans. Although support for me has emerged from all over the world, the concentration is most visible from the US. The United States is a nation of complexity and great diversity. Its population is not made up of all 'gringos' either, as some have stated. Recently, Latinos have become the predominate minority, prime-time TV shows and advertisements are being produced in Spanish, and one of the largest populations of Nicaraguans outside this country is in Miami.

From where I stand, I see this as a classic example of cross-cultural misunderstanding as people stereotype and oversimplify the elements at play. This misunderstanding has also been fueled by press coverage (both English & Spanish) flirting with controversial headlines and tones.

The other common trait in many of the letters is that what stirs you about Doris' murder, my captivity and what connects all of you with each other is a passion for justice. It is not only justice with regard to the rule of law, but the very essence of justice and that is a sense of "just-ness". You are a community of like-minded people that want to see things made right because you care about things that matter.

It is important to me that people keep in mind that I'm not the first, nor will I unfortunately be the last, to fall victim to this kind of injustice. Nor is the story of my journey any more or less important than anyone else's. Sometimes it even feels strange allocating resources toward my defense when so many others are in need of the same. I can only tell my story because it is simple the best source of data I have. My hope is that truth and understanding can be achieved by sharing the details.

I will recycle a quote from one of my support letters to drive this point home; "Eric, I will say that while I know this case is a personal one for you, it brings to light the importance of understanding that these sorts of things happen to many people all over the world, and while your case serves as a spotlight to bring this sort of situation to our attention, we should not forget that many have been unjustly accused and jailed; their lives spent hopelessly caged for no real reason."

She is right. This struggle is not just for me, it is the fight for those wrongly accused around the world. And although I'm suffering and every part of me aches for freedom, I feel blessed to be a part of this "spotlight" story. This is where I have found much peace and strength.

We must always stay clear, stay strong, and hold to what is real and true. No matter how long we are in chains, I believe it is only a fraction of the time we have been promised to spend with the King.

Please continue to write! Your messages give me hope!!!

With love,
Eric V.

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