People’s Forum urges NM lawmakers to call for ceasefire in Gaza

Two legislative measures calling for a ceasefire are stuck in committees. So people held their own hearing in the Rotunda.

By: - February 9, 2024 5:29 pm

From left, Iman Abdur Rauf Campos-Marquetti, with Minara Muslim Community Center of Albuquerque, Daniel Dupre, with the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Santa Fe, and Ryan Tate, with African American Spiritual Church, in Albuquerque, pray togather during a rally demanding for a ceasefire in Gaza. Around 200 people attended the rally in the Rotunda of the State Capitol Friday, February 9, 2024. The rally is organized by Jewish Voices for Peace, Southwest Coalition for Palestine, Santa Feans for Justice in Palestine and more. (Photo by Eddie Moore / Albuquerque Journal)

Twin measures introduced in the New Mexico Legislature that urge the state’s congressional delegation to call for a ceasefire in Gaza have sat untouched by the powerful lawmakers responsible for giving them a hearing.

In response, a coalition of 19 organizations and five lawmakers from across the state held a two-and-a-half-hour “People’s Forum” at the state capitol to hear testimony that they said would be given in an official hearing.

On the House side, representatives Eleanor Chávez (D-Albuquerque), Patricia Roybal Caballero, Angelica Rubio (D-Las Cruces), Susan Herrera (D-Embudo) and Miguel P. García (D-Albuquerque) are sponsoring House Memorial 8.

House Memorial 8 was sent to the House Judiciary Committee on Jan. 22 and has not budged. That panel is headed by Rep. Christine Chandler (D-Los Alamos).

Chavez said the memorial is “still sitting in the House.” So, she and the organizers decided to hold a people’s hearing in the Rotunda on Friday.

“This is the people’s forum,” said Samia Assed, with the Southwest Coalition for Palestine. “The voting power is with us.”

Dr. Fatima van Hattum flies the Palestinian flag while Samia van Hattum, Samia Assed and Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Albuquerque) speak in the Rotunda inside the New Mexico State Capitol. (Photo by Austin Fisher / Source NM)

The event came as the U.S. Congress was expected to vote on an emergency funding bill that includes aid to humanitarian relief in Gaza, and billions more in military aid to Israel.

Chavez encouraged the crowd to contact U.S. Sens. Ben Ray Luján and Martin Heinrich to support an amendment to remove the funding for Israel. Yesterday, Luján and Heinrich voted to continue debate on the emergency spending bill in the Senate. They each have said that any version of this bill passed by Congress must include humanitarian aid for Gaza.

Rubio expressed issues with the Congressional spending bill. She said she is horrified that the U.S. government is funding a genocide in Gaza, and militarization along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We have the money, we just choose not to invest it in our own communities,” Rubio said.

In the Senate, Sens. Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque) and Pete Campos (D-Las Vegas) are carrying Senate Memorial 6.

Lopez said the measure has not gotten a hearing. It was referred to the Senate Rules Committee on Jan. 25, and has sat there since. The committee is headed by Sen. Katy Duhigg (D-Albuquerque).

Source New Mexico left messages with both Duhigg and Chandler about why the bills are not receiving a date on their committee’s calendar. We will update if they respond.

“They should be hearing us, because that’s what we elect them for,” Lopez said. “May our voice be heard in the halls of Congress, and in the White House and all those appointees to the federal government: we need a ceasefire now.”

As Roybal Caballero expressed disbelief at the lack of an official call from her fellow lawmakers for a ceasefire in Gaza, she looked up from the Rotunda at the upper floors of the New Mexico Legislature.

“Those of you that are not moved by these atrocities, perhaps it’s time to visit your faith, your pastor, your guide, whoever that might be,” Roybal Caballero said. “Something has got to move you. Something has got to move this Roundhouse, something has got to move the White House. Something has got to move Congress, something has got to move the Senate.”

Mara Taub, from Santa Fe, sits with her sign and around 200 people during a rally demanding for a ceasefire in Gaza, being held in the Rotunda of the State Capitol Friday, February 9, 2024. The rally is organized by Jewish Voices for Peace, Southwest Coalition for Palestine, Santa Feans for Justice in Palestine and more. (Photo by Eddie Moore / Albuquerque Journal)

Roybal Caballero encouraged the crowd to contact their state lawmakers. 

“What are we afraid of?” Roybal Caballero asked. “I want us to understand how important it is for us — especially those of us in decision making bodies such as this Roundhouse — to be courageous and take a vote on the House floor on the House memorial.”

Assed addressed lawmakers who haven’t called for a ceasefire: “you’re going to have to reckon with your conscience, your morality.”

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.

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