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Home About Us Equipo Sur South-North Encuentro Juan Diego Castro - 2010 Encuentro Local Updates
Juan Diego Castro - 2010 Encuentro Local Updates PDF Print E-mail

2010 Encuentro Local Updates

LONDON, ONTARIO, CANADA

By JUAN DIEGO CASTRO
SOA Watch Activists


Dear companeros of the 'Encuentro of the Americas 2010';

My name is Juan Diego Castro Leon, I come in representation of the Southwestern Ontario SOAW Delegation, based at Kings University College, in London Ontario, Canada. Our delegation has been a part of the SOAW demonstrations in Forth Benning, Georgia since 2003.

About Kings University College:

Kings University College is a liberal arts College at the University of Western Ontario. Seven years ago a 4th year student, named Pascal Murphy, and Dr. Bernie Hammond a sociology professor, created an academic program called 'Social Justice and Peace Studies'. The program strives to engage university students to critically analyze issues of structural injustice, locally and globally, and calls for social action to transform the world in the interests of equity and the pursuit of peace.

In its seven years of existence this inter-disciplinary program, which draws from a variety of disciplines such as sociology, politics, economics, history, social work, religious studies, and others, has grown to become the academic program with the highest student registration turn out of any other program.

The program has made it one of its priorities to endorse the SOAW movement and part of its academic component encourages students to understand the connections between the militarization and exploitation of Latin America - and the rest of the global south - and way in which the capitalist system works.

What we have done:

  • With the support of the Social Justice and Peace Studies Program, the Centre for Social Concern, and most importantly through the efforts of students, we have managed to bring speakers from many countries of Latin America whose stories have broaden our knowledge of US interventionism in their countries, and how North American multinationals are affecting their livelihood.

  • We also constantly engage in letter writing campaigns calling on our government and many Latin American governments to stop human rights abuses, and calling for the protection of labor and human rights advocates.

  • Throughout the year different student groups have made public presentations to the student body on contemporary topics like the Iraq War, Agro Fuels, Exploitation, militarization on campus, fair trade products, etc.

  • We have also made monetary donations to various communities and non for profit organizations that work towards peace and sustainable development.

  • Many of our students have gone on international delegations to war torn countries (mainly countries where the US had played a role in the conflict), to learn about the effects of war on the population.

  • We have supported various US military conscious objectors, who have had to leave their country to seek refuge in Canada.

Our Impact:

We have been most effective in three areas; awareness campaigns; funding; lobbing Members of Parliament (Congressmen/women).

Our work can be better described as international SOLIDARITY work.

About Me:

I was born in Colombia but I have been living in Canada for the past ten years. I have recently finished my honours double major in Political Science and Social Justice and Peace Studies. I have been extensively involved in activism for the past 4 years, and since I came to reason I have been strongly oppossed to US interventionism and militarisim in Latin America.

My time in Canada has allowed me to critically learn about Colombia from an "outsiders" perspective, and it has let me seen a different face of the country I was born in. Given the opportunity I was given to live in Canada, I truly believe that I have the duty to my fellow Colombians to work towards conflict resolution and spread the reality of the victims of the conflict.

I have been working for the past two years in promoting a peaceful resolution to the Colombian conflict through a group called 'Coalition for Peaceful Solutions'. We endorse an end to the Colombian conflict through open dialogue, and political inclusiveness. We believe that warmongering ideology has no place in a conflict which has claimed hundreds of thousands of victims for the past 60 years.

I also founded a student organization at my university called 'Students United in Representation of Latin America' (SUR LA). We are a student organization composed of Latin American and non Latin American students alike, who believe in Latin American self determination and vision of a more equitable world. Our organization stands on three pillars; advocacy, education, and social justice. Some of SUR LAs accomplishments, related to the SOAW effort, were to organize in collaboration with the Centre for Social Concern at Kings College, a talk with Patricio Vejar from SOAW Chile, as well as to bring Norman Filkenstein to campus, in association with other two other student organizations, and lead the Killer Coke Campaign on campus. I have also organized various talks with various key speakers for the Centre for Social Concern at Kings College.

I was in Honduras in 2009 when the coup took place.


 

Contact us

SOA Watch
733 Euclid Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

phone: 202-234-3440
email: info@soaw.org