As members of the Illinois chapter of the SOA Watch and the broader SOAW organizing collective, we have spent decades dedicated to the movement for truth and justice. We are excited to share two current SOAW Fall 2019 Priorities: a Bi-National General Assembly Strategy meeting in September and the SOAW November 15-17th Ft. Benning, GA commemorative gathering. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Central American University (UCA) massacre — one of the many atrocities that occurred in Central America as the United States funded civil wars, trained military at the SOA/WHINSEC, and ensured that right-wing governments remain in power regardless of their human rights violations.
We understand that the conditions people are fleeing in Central America are a result of the training, support, and funding that the United States has funneled into state violence for decades. Over the last few days, news broke that Fort Benning — home of the School of the Americas / WHINSEC — is now being considered as a detention center facility for children. Simultaneously, the US has deployed troops and border patrol agents to Guatemala in order to “halt migration”, justifying it as “humanitarian aid”. The architects of death would like us to believe that what happens in the borderlands is distinct from the training provided at SOA/WHINSEC, but we know that US-supported state violence is at the root of forced displacement and the reason people are dying at the border right now.
We know that we must be as fierce, strategic, and effective as possible to hold the US accountable for the decades of intervention that have devastated communities throughout the Americas, resulting in torture, forced disappearance, mass displacement, assassination, and forced migration. This is why in September representatives from different constituencies from both north and south of the US/Mexico border will gather for an in-person meeting to evaluate the context, share experiences of resistance, and develop a plan to help guide our movement in the coming months and years — making certain we always center truth and justice with the guarantee that the atrocities of the past will not be repeated.
As the Trump administration enacts deplorable policies that have caused 6 Central American migrant children to die in detention while also proposing locking up more children at Ft. Benning — one of the locations that created the conditions of violence from which they flee — we will once again be present at SOA/WHINSEC! Given that it’s the 30th anniversary of the Central American University (UCA) massacre, we will gather at the gates of the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, GA from November 15-17 bridging the past and present. Together, we recommit ourselves to never forgetting the violence that our communities have been subjected to, not only in word, but in action.
Make no mistake, we will not rest until we dismantle the wall and all the racist, xenophobic, classist, dehumanizing policies that prop it up. We also want to be clear that our work to dismantle border imperialism is ongoing and we still need to respond, we still need to resist — no more deaths from SOA to the Borderlands!! To the implementation of increasingly xenophobic and racist practices, we say “BASTA – NO MAS! ENOUGH – NO MORE!”
Thank you for being a part of the SOA Watch movement! Our work is only possible with your support, and we hope that you will continue to organize with us, take action with us, and make certain that we can keep the movement to end all forms of US-supported violence strong and dynamic.
Chris, Kathleen, and Liz
Chris Inserra: Stage and Program Working Group since 1997 & served on original SOAW Advisory Board
Kathleen DeSautels: Served 6 months as Prisoner of Conscience 2002-2003 & is part of the Peacemaking Collective
Liz Deligio: Served 3 months as Prisoner of Conscience in 2004, served on SOAW Council & is part of the Peacemaking Collective