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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience Court Statements Sr. Dorothy Pagosa
Sr. Dorothy Pagosa PDF Print E-mail
Your honor. in 1986, I went to El Salvador on an accompaniement. This was to join other North Americans in accompanying refugees back to their village. It was hoped death squads and military would not shoot North Americans and the refugees would be safe. When we got there it was canceled. They were no longer shooting. They were bombing. So the Salvadorans accompanied us on a journey into the lives of the most impoverished. Someone asked and I gave them my promise that when I got back to the United States I would try to change U.S. policy that supplied the weapons and backing that were killing the most impoverished of their land. I have tried to fulfill that promise. I heard about the School of the Americas and was further ashamed.

I have written letters. I have visited Congresspeople. I have protested. I have done civil disobedience. Yet our policies continue to harm the lives of the most impoverished in Central and Latin America. I have no money of my own to influence. All I have left to give is me.

On the way to the Army barracks where we were processed on November 17, one of my co-defendants asked the U.S. Marshall ?Is that the School of the Americas?? His response was ?yes it is.? It seems, your honor, that not many people are fooled by the name change. Amnesty International has called for suspension of all activities at WHISC until a thorough investigation can be done of past atrocities and accountability be set. The first report to the Board of Visitors was done only this past December 13. Although WHISC apparently ?passed,? there was concern about the lack of source material for its curriculum. How can one tell in what context a class is being taught without access to sources? Their accountability from what I understand is to the Pentagon which is certainly not an independent source.

So here we are. As a Franciscan, I must judge policies and institutions on how they affect the most impoverished in our world. In this respect our policies and institutions have failed. I have heard of the atrocities. I have not once heard ?my life is so much better now that WHISC has trained our soldiers and police and the U.S. has been involved.? As a Franciscan, I am called to be a penitent. I take responsibility for the part I have played as a citizen of this country in the sins of my country. It is your decision, your honor, on what penance I should pay.


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