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Home About Us Prisoners of Conscience 2012 Nashua Chantal's Sentencing Statement
Nashua Chantal's Sentencing Statement PDF Print E-mail

Delivered on March 13, 2013 to Magistrate Judge Stephen Hyles. Nashua was sentenced to 6 months in prison.

Your Honor,

My profession is a craftsman and woodworker, upholsterer, cabinetmaker, sheet metal worker, ceramics and draftsman.

Since about three years ago, a lot of immigrants lived around my hometown of Americus.  One husband and wife asked me to help them with their little "La Mexicana" store. And we started together turning this little store into a community store, a community that started helping to fix up slum-lord trailers, making sure their electricity and plumbing were working right. This relationship grew into sharing meals together to bringing other Americans involved with their lives. Slowly a tutoring program started for kids whose parents didn't know English so they couldn't help them. So on Thursday nights, along with the Americus Mennonite Fellowship church, we set out to help the kids with their homework. Then as well, the mothers wanted to learn English on the same night, and then it turned into two days a week.

Going back in time, when arriving in Americus, Georgia, in 2001 after the twin towers fell, I was searching for a Christian community to live in. There were two to pick from: Jubilee Partners and Koinonia partners. I prayed about it and chose Koinonia. This place has great history about Clarence Jordan. Millard Fuller was in and out visiting Koinonia (2001). Here I got involved with Habitat for Humanity, and met thousands of people coming to visit Koinonia.

Some of the volunteers were peace activists at that time. Before coming to Koinonia, I was known as the Waving Clown at Uncle Bill's Flea Market where I would stand along the side of the highway and wave to people passing by. Right before labor day the twin towers fell as I was watching it on TV. I didn't know why anyone would do such a thing.

That day of sadness, I felt empty inside. No one was driving into our flea market. So I took an American flag, put a short wave radio on my chest, and started to walk along the highway to wave at cars passing by. I would wave with sadness and met every eye that passed by. Traffic was going 10 to 20 miles an hour. Slowly cars started to pull into the flea market in great numbers only to find a safe place to be. That year, I estimated I waved to 1.3 millions cars on weekends, and was known to be out there whether it was raining, hot weather, lightning or snowing. There were many great people that stopped to talk. Back to 2001.

Back at Koinonia, my peace activist friends said would I like to go to the SOA protest. But they also thought I could go as the sad clown. Koinonia had this banner which the letters spoke: Study War No More, and so I took it to the SOA protest. I knew nothing of this protest at the time. As the next year came for the protest, I dressed up again and took the banner as well. Year after year, slowly I started to learn more about the SOA.

One summer, I remember, there was this large youth group that came to Koinonia. I had the opportunity to do a workshop about social justice. The youth group was about 75 high schoolers.

I remember, I split the group in half so that each half was looking at each other. The next step, one half was the townspeople, the other half was the SOA soldiers. The townspeople had to plea for their lives, asking the solider not to burn down their houses or rape and murder them. The soldiers just stood there with their arms up, pretending to have guns and machetes.  Now the soldiers had to take the place of the townspeople and the townspeople had to be the soldiers for 10 minutes.

Next, the town changed to peaceful times, but the damage was done.  Both sides experienced what SOA soldiers had done. (Reconciliation time)

The townspeople that survived had to find reconciliation with the soldiers. The soldiers were asking for forgiveness for the murders and rapes they had committed because some lived in this town.

Once again, the roles switched, the youth group had to play the soldiers. The feelings of the soldiers and the townspeople were tense and needed something to set them free.

All 75 youth joined hands and slowly they were turning like a clock spring. Round and round, they tightened the spring. When finished, they were so rounded into a tight spring that they were pressing into each other.

My friend Allen was a guitar player. I told the youth group to slowly unwind when they heard the song "Study War No More". As the youth group picked up speed, their spring was unwinding with fellowship.

That night the youth group stayed up til 4 o'clock in the morning talking about their roles as SOA soldiers and townspeople.

Time went on that that time period and a lot of people started caring for our Black neighbors in a home repair program called "Heart to Heart". Lots of groups helped out when they came to Koinonia.

One night, I was thinking about Peace and how to bring humor to Peace. A thought came to me: wearing a peace nose for life! So that's what I did for 2 ½ years, I wore a red nose for peace at Koinonia without taking it off. As the 2 ½ years went on, everywhere I went I had this peace nose on. I wanted to share peace, so I ordered hundreds of noses in six different colors, then I started getting into the thousands. People from many parts of the country came to Koinonia to talk peace and get a Peace Nose along with a picture wearing it.

The SOA protest was coming  up in 2004 that year. I crossed the line at Fort Benning, climbing over the front gate. I wasn't planning to do civil disobedience, but as the music went on and the stories of murder, rapes, taken land that was theirs for generations, I had to do something. My friends at Koinonia didn't know what I was thinking or did I share the thoughts with them. Without thinking about any other reasoning, I climbed the fence. This changed my whole life ahead of me.

Now I had to go to prison, again. The thoughts of prison are loneliness, boredom, isolation, fear, and unknown-ness that challenges your human-ness to the fullest. The guards treat you like children, constantly telling you to put your hands to the wall and pat your body parts. It's a psychological warfare, and torture was the game.

I'm sure I could add many great adventures to my life at Koinonia, but it was time to leave the community to do immigration support work in Americus, Georgia.

There was so much to do. Giving rides to hospitals for mothers, visiting Mexican people that got stopped for driving without a license. Then helping them to get their car out of towing yard. Fines were $25-$35 a day; if the car sat too long, this could add up quick. We had to get there soon. Towing these cars was an easy money game for small town gains. Driving to Atlanta twice a week so that Latino parents could get their kids registered with immigration officials. There was many many ways to help families and the Americus Mennonite Fellowship church is involved deeply and emotionally with Love, Peace and Joy.

Jimmy Carter loves Latino people in his town called Plains, Georgia. Last year was our 2nd annual Latino fesitival with soccer games, ice-cream making, pottery-making for the kids, great Mexican food, inflatable play houses, fire trucks, friendly park rangers and Latino dancing til 10pm. We all worked very hard to make this a fun community event.

As time was getting hear 2012, I knew a lot about the School of the Americas now called WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). I've read a lot about the SOA manuals that included military intelligence, counter-insurgency techniques, sniper training, psychological warfare and interrogation tactics.

With all this great sadnesss started to unfold as I continued to read stories of whole villages of people, men women and children. Many SOA grads formed Battalions that went over and above how they were trained at the SOA, slaughtering whole communities with torture, rape and murders of men, women and children.

Some deeds were so horrible, it makes some people on death row look ready for parole.

These are some of the horrible parts of stories that the battalions did:

-       Guatemala, Rios Montt. After Montt finished his coursework at the SOA, he seized power in Guatemala and then ripped its social fabric to shreds. During the 14 months of Rios Montts rule, an estimated 70,000 unarmed civilians were internally displaced according to Amesty International. In the summer of 1982, he launched "Operation Sofia" which destroyed 600 Mayan villages. [The following excerpt was taken from an article written by Nick Alexandrov on Counterpunch.org] Another human rights report, compiled by the Guatemalan Archdiocese's Human Rights Office, gives a sense of what this "more favorable business climate" was like.  One testimony recalls "burned corpses, women impaled and buried as if they were animals ready for the spit, all doubled up, and children massacred and carved up with machetes."  A second described how soldiers tied up a family inside a house, and then torched it; a two-year-old was among those burned to death.  Yet another tells how a pregnant woman "in her eighth month" came face-to-face with counterinsurgency forces: "they cut her belly, and they took out the little one, and they tossed it around like a ball."  And in 1980, after shooting a woman lame, a group of soldiers "left their packs and dragged her like a dog to the riverbank.  They raped and killed her."

-       Eight Chilean officers were charged with killing singer Victor Jara; four of them were SOA graduates. On September 16, 1973, when the prison was evacuated and the prisoners then transferred to the larger open air National Stadium in the capital, Victor Jara and former prison service director Littre Quiroga were detained there and taken to the basement and killed. The bodies of both men and three other victims were later found dumped near a railroad track outside a cemetery, one of the victimas was unidentified. According to the autopsy report, Mr Jara was badly beaten and was shot 44 times. I ask myself why! One more story, Your Honor, then I'll come to my point.

-       Rev. Daniel Santiago, a Catholic priest who lived in El Salvador during some of its bloodiest years. A woman, Santiago wrote, arrived home to find her mother, sister and three children sitting at the kitchen table. They had all been decapitated. Each victim's hand rested atop its own head as if stroking it - except for the infant's hand, which had to be nailed to the skull to keep it in place. Before departing, the soldiers placed a bowl filled with blood in the center of the table. If we imagine this scene's brutality, repeated countless times, we may begin to comprehend the implication of US military training in Latin America.

You Honor, there are hundreds of witnesses that can give a first hand account of hundreds of human rights violations, but no official does anything about it. Where's the justice?

Your Honor, I'm just a craftsman that has made mistakes also in my younger life.  I'm not anyway at all great in status in society, but I do what is right for people.

I'm asking that the School of the Americas be closed down.

In March 1992, then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney received an investigative report about improper material in Spanish-language Intelligence Training Manuals, classified "Secret". The report said that five of the seven manuals "contained language and statements in violation of legal regulatory of policy publications and recommend that they be recalled."

Your Honor, I'm asking for our great free country of Christian founded people and our Government to recall all trained graduates. Recalled to never own a weapon ever again and make restitution to whatever place they did harm for the rest of their life. Help us close the School of the Americas, Your Honor.

God Help the World, no exceptions.


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