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Encuentro of the Americas:

Resisting Militarization and Promoting a Culture of Peace

In the shadow of Venezuela´s emerald green Andes mountains, activists from 19 countries of the Americas gathered in June to share experiences and strategies in resisting militarization and promoting a culture of peace.

Among them were those who had witnessed the disappearance of their family members at the hands of the SOA as well as an SOA graduate now committed to the closing of the school. They were joined by those who had gone to jail in the U.S. to protest the SOA, and those who had been jailed and tortured in Latin America by SOA graduates. The group, spanning 50 years of age and thousands of miles of distance, was united in their commitment to work together bring peace to "Una Sola America".

SOA Watch activists from Toronto to Florida, and California to Maine shared their multiple efforts to bring the doors of the SOA to a close. Their partners from the South brought awareness of U.S. militarization in their countries, such as 7 military bases occupied by the U.S. in Colombia, an SOA-engineered repressive regime in Honduras, U.S. troops and ships headed to Costa Rica, the military occupation of Haiti and the militarization of the U.S.-Mexico border, among other concerns. The Southern partners expressed their gratitude for the efforts of their northern partners in trying to close the SOA, but encouraged them to broaden their focus to these new expressions of the SOA that pose even greater threats to their people.

On the final evening of the gathering, in the cool mountain air, participants gathered around a map of "America" from Alaska to Patagonia, with no borders delineated. At the center was a clay pot containing a mixture of the soil brought from 19 lands. One by one the participants passed some of the mixed soil to one another to take back with them, saying, "Somos una Sola America" (We are one America). Hours earlier, ten agreements had been reached, such as the organization of simultaneous actions throughout the Americas in coordination with the November vigil. However, it was clear that even more than written agreements, it was the connections and the vision of being Una Sola America that would truly move peace forward in the continent. As one participant said on the last evening, "this Encuentro has not ended. It has just begun."

Agreements from the First “Encuentro of the Americas: Resisting Militarization and Promoting a Culture of Peace”. click here

See World Press for more information in spanish


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