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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience Court Statements Lil Mattingly's Statement
Lil Mattingly's Statement PDF Print E-mail
Statement of Lil Mattingly, MM, at trial in Columbus, Georgia, Jan.25, 2005

Your honor Judge Faircloth, court clerks, marshalls, friends, family...
Good morning and blessings of peace.

I am grateful for this opportunity to speak, to express what is very deep in my heart. I join a long line of others who have stood here before you, whose experiences and reasons for being accused of breaking a Federal law are similar to my own. I value their words which speak to my heart as they cry out for justice, and for an awakening of our U.S. sense of moral outrage in response to a degraded U.S. foreign policy.

I believe that I followed my conscience and my sense of moral outrage by prayerfully and peacefully protesting the school known as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Ft. Benning. I crossed the line because of what the school teaches, what many of its students have done, and what it represents in the madness of military rationale that ?might makes right?.

How have I come to know U.S. foreign policy as degraded? Permit me to share with you and the Court some of my own personal experience. I grew up in Louisville, KY, in a working-class family in the 40s-50s, in what I now know to have been a sheltered environment, unaware of the extremes of Militarism used for economic and political advantage.

Even when I joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1960, what was important in the U.S. was that Russia be defeated and that we win all the wars out there for our good and noble people. What I recall as my first awakening that something wasn?t right with our own Government was in Nursing School in 1970 I joined most of my class on the streets to protest the war in Vietnam.

Soon after Nursing School, I went to my first mission in Bolivia and was delayed because of a bloody take-over that was happening in Bolivia in August of 1971. When we were allowed in, I learned that the leader of the military coup was General Hugo Banzer Suarez. He ruled the country; his military chased, grabbed, shot, killed, imprisoned and tortured thousands during his 7 years of dictatorship. Not only was he responsible for those horrible physical atrocities, but he also received so-called LOANS from U.S. banks in the millions, which grew into the billions of dollars that have now enslaved the Bolivian people by an unpayable DEBT.

Judge Faircloth, if you have ever been to the SOA/WHINSEC that we are presently protesting, you may have seen General Hugo Banzer Suarez' picture there in its HALL OF FAME! Can you imagine what an insult that is to the beautiful people of Bolivia who suffered terribly under his tyrannical regime?

I was privileged to live for 20 years in Bolivia and to learn from the people there who are oppressed politically, militarily, and economically; but still the people are committed to peaceful protests. Too often, and just recently, 84 Indigenous people were shot down by the military and killed for protesting. Bolivia has sent many officers/soldiers to the SOA/WHINSEC, and presently have U.S. military advisors-trainers there now.

In 1980 in El Salvador, protests were also being repressed, and two of my Maryknoll Sisters who were helping refugees, were raped and killed along with another Sister and Lay Missioner. Hundreds of thousands died with them in those years when our U.S. policies funded and trained militaries in Central America to fight what they called "Communism". I ask the Court to note that of the military officials and soldiers cited for abuses of human rights in reports time after time, many, if not most, are graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC and they continue to operate with impunity in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia...

The level of deliberate brutality in massacres which we know about where the graduates have practiced the skills learned at this school defies imagination.

In 1987 I lived in Nicaragua. I had gone to accompany our Sisters and the people during the U.S.-trained, financed, and illegal "Contra War". At that time, the Sandinista Government was trying to implement much-needed social reforms as the Dictator Anastasio Somoza, put in power by the U.S., had stolen most everything in the country and left the people starving, landless, uneducated, and terrorized. I myself came to know many persons, Marisol Rodriguez is one, who had lost loved ones, ambushed, executed, beheaded by the Contras. One of my own Sisters was kidnapped.

Can you see, your Honor, how this process of awakening impacted my soul?

The story is long. After being in Nicaragua, I worked for my Community in Mission Education in the Midwest, USA, but grew increasingly frustrated by the Reagan Doctrines and growing suppression of the truth about realities in Central America and beyond. Lies and media control were becoming commonplace as U.S. foreign policy became more aggressive and imperialistic.

Part of my frustration when visiting and speaking in schools, parishes, and with groups, was in realizing how misled many of our people were about U.S. foreign policy. That frustration continues today, but even more so, as more persons are deprived of the truth.

Not only do most U.S. persons become frightened and very easily convinced through misinformation of our "need" to go to war, as in the case of Iraq, but the majority erroneously believe that the U.S. is #1 in helping other countries. Statistics tell us otherwise, that we are one of the last in the order of industrialized nations in giving foreign aid. These are only two indications of how our people are misinformed.

These are only a few of the reasons why I have come to know U.S. foreign policy as degraded.

I could talk about Iraq, my experience there in December, 2002, and how I have become convinced that every U.S. citizen needs to be aware of how greed for oil and power have taken us to terrible extremes leading to the widespread death and destruction we have caused there.

And for those of us who know how the SOA/WHINSEC was responsible for the training of militaries to assassinate persons struggling for human rights in Latin America, we are seeing recently how these same strategies are in the planning to be used against the people of IRAQ! This outrageous plan has just been written about in NEWSWEEK. The article describes the Pentagon as increasingly desperate watching Iraq unravel. Now some believe that DEATH SQUADS, as used in El Salvador, will destroy the resistance. This is the so-called "Salvador Option", which means killing the civilians who will not turn in the insurgents!

What is our country becoming?!

Can you see, Judge Faircloth, why we continue to peacefully protest, and put our bodies on the line to bring attention to these injustices? I have tried to follow my convictions, to follow a HIGHER LAW. I am inspired by a long line of non-violent resisters. Before taking the action in November, I spent years writing and calling members of Congress to vote to close the SOA/WHINSEC... marching, praying, and fasting so others would know what WHINSEC is and does, until I realized that very few were listening, and that I needed to do something more. I thank all who have supported me.

Your Honor, we can only bring about PEACE through LOVE and JUSTICE in our world. This is what befits our good and noble people. Thank you.


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