Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to the Encuentro?

By Plane

There are two main international airports in the region – Phoenix and Tucson. Depending on where you are flying from, one may be considerably more affordable than the other. TIP: if you are flying in with a group, you may want to rent a vehicle from the airport. If you book in advance, you may even be able to lock in great rates!

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Tucson International Airport (TUS)

By Car

  • From further up in the U.S., take I-19 South from Tucson which is off Exit 260 along I-10 going through Tucson between Phoenix and El Paso.
  • If you plan on driving your vehicle into Mexico, be aware that you must have auto insurance that is valid in Mexico.
  • Rental cars from the US must have documentation granting authorization to the driver on the rental agreement to bring them across the border into Mexico; otherwise, you may be suspected of stealing the car.
  • Driving around the city is a real hassle. Expect bumper-to-bumper traffic inside the city, and moderately congested traffic along Highway 15 south. You may want to consider parking your car once in Nogales and getting around on foot. Most people simply park their cars in Nogales Arizona, and walk across the border into Mexico.
  • If you are walking across the border from the United States into Mexico, do not forget your passport, US Passport Card, and/or your alien registration card (commonly called the “green card”). You are required to have such documentation to cross into the US side of the border. A driver’s license is acceptable documentation for US Border police – only if it is issued from a US state that participates in the Enhanced Drivers License program (at the time of writing this entry only drivers licenses issued from: Michigan, Vermont, Washington state, and New York are acceptable). Lack of such items will prolong your ability to cross the border, as you’ll be subjected to questioning demanding proof of US citizenship or legal residence status.
  • Please be aware that there are Border Patrol checkpoints along all North-South roads from the border.

By Train

Amtrak Sunset Limited – passenger train service between Los Angeles and New Orleans. Stops include Pomona, CA; Ontario, CA; Palm Springs, CA; Yuma, AZ; Maricopa, AZ; Tucson, AZ; Benson, AZ; Lordsburg, NM; Deming, NM; El Paso, TX; Alpine, TX; Sanderson, TX; Del Rio, TX; San Antonio, TX; Houston, TX; Beaumont, TX; Lake Charles, LA; Lafayette, LA; New Iberia, LA; and Schriever, LA.

Texas Eagle – passenger train service between Los Angeles and Chicago. Stops include Springfield, IL; St. Louis, MO; Little Rock, AR; Texarkana, TX; Dallas, TX; Ft. Worth, TX; Austin, TX; San Antonio, TX; El Paso, TX; Tucson, AZ; Maricopa, AZ; and Los Angeles, CA.

For a complete list of stops, you can view the train route guide HERE.

By Bus

Greyhound bus lines offer trips to Tucson and Nogales.

I want to get involved with the Encuentro. How do I do this?

Volunteer!

This convergence is made possible with the help of volunteers. Many hands are needed and throughout the course of the weekend, over 100 volunteers will contribute a few hours of their time to make this year’s Encuentro possible. Please consider joining alongside dozens of other amazing folks!

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact María Luisa at marialuisa@soaw.org.

Join the Border Encuentro Coordinating Team!

The Encuentro Coordinating Team is essentially one of the core organizing groups that bring the Encuentro to life year after year. Made up of several working groups composed of individuals who dedicate their time to work on a specific area of the Encuentro organizing throughout the year, specifically in the months prior to the weekend of November 16-18, The Encuentro Coordinating Team is a group of dynamic and dedicated individuals coming together for a collective cause. As a grassroots movement, the power is in the people involved! Consider getting involved with one or more of the following working groups and let your voice be heard:

Bilingual Space Collective
This ongoing working group seeks to work from a framework of language justice. As a hemispheric movement, we are working to center bilingual spaces in our work – everything from having a bilingual (or multilingual!) staff, to creating Spanish and English language media across the Americas. We welcome new folks who are Spanish<>English interpreters and translators to get involved!

Contact: Adrián Bernal, adrian_bernal_2001@yahoo.com

Research & Conference Working Group
The Research & Conference Working Group will help to structure the workshop and tabling space at the Convergence. Aside from coordinating workshop spaces, this group also takes part in plenary planning, envisioning goals and themes for the Encuentro – which include a focus on making the conference space inclusive and accessible, as well as an interactive space for people to connect on militarization issues and beyond – as well as take the lead on research and analysis that shape and guide our work.

Contact: Beth Harris, beth55harris@gmail.com

Legal Collective Working Group
The Legal Collective is a group of activists, lawyers, law students and paralegals who offer legal trainings and support during the November vigils and subsequent trials. The legal collective sets up and staffs a legal office and hotline during the vigil weekend, and follows up on any vigil attendees arrested during that time.

Abby Jensen, Southern Arizona Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, arizonaabby@gmail.com

Media & Communications Working Group
The media & communications working group is in the process of becoming an ongoing working group. Our mission is to spread the word far and wide about the work of SOA Watch via mainstream and alternative media, and to empower more folks in this grassroots movement to do the same. This work can include pitching reporters and news outlets to cover the issue, writing and placing opinion pieces and letters to the editor, arranging interviews, answering phone calls, editing and coaching local groups, photography, live streaming and filming, as well as spreading the word through social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. All experience levels welcome!

Contact: Luis Eduardo García, eduardo@soaw.org

Puppetistas
Street theater, extravagant political puppets made from the debris of a culture gone mad, channeling your political convictions and creativity into an expression of life affirming resistance, visionary community living and building, feeling integrated into and valued by the SOA Watch community, all this and more is waiting for you simply by joining the Puppetistas!

As in prior years at the vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, a creative, sometimes crazy, certainly zany cast of characters will gather this November in Nogales from around the country, organize themselves as the inspired Puppetistas and create the puppets and pageantry that has become an integral expression of the SOA Watch resistance movement.

You too could be amongst them, building puppets from discarded cardboard, planning, painting, plotting, cooking and eating together, learning to walk on stilts, or how to turn a bucket into a drum to beat the messages of social justice and hope. All are welcome, all are valued. Come for a week, a day, 2 hours, or see us on the days of the rally and find the role for you.

Contact: Coleman Smith, newsouthnetwork@gmail.com

Stage & Program Working Group
Beginning in the early spring of each year, the stage and program working group works to contact speakers, musicians and performers for the Convergence. We help create the program and coordinate music, musicians and speakers.

Contact: Olmeca, olmecah@yahoo.com & Becca Bretz, bretzrebecca@yahoo.com

Donate!

As SOA Watch, we seek to connect common struggles, uplift the voices of those most directly impacted by state violence and to challenge the violent, dehumanizing mainstream discourse against migrants and refugees. We also seek to demand an end to racist and xenophobic policies that place profit before people and exile thousands of migrants throughout the Hemisphere, particularly in Mexico, Central America, and the border region; and lastly, to build and support thriving networks of engaged activists and communities.

With your support, we will continue our historic fight to close the SOA/WHINSEC as we continue highlighting the human rights crises created by militarized borders, and build a collective understanding of the systems of oppression so that we may resist and create a world of dignity and respect.

CLICK HERE TO MAKE A DONATION! 

How do I get connected to SOA Watch locally?

As a grassroots movement, there are communities organizing around the work of SOA Watch, as well as local social justice struggles across the Americas. Below is a list of (mostly) US-based communities organizing to attend the Convergence this November. If you are interested in attending this year’s , Encuentro, and would like more information about connecting to the work of SOA Watch locally, please reach out! We look forward to hearing from you and meeting you!

Atlanta, Georgia
Contact: Adrián Bernal, adrian_bernal_2001@yahoo.com

Boston, Massachusetts
Contact: Mike Tork, im4peacenow@yahoo.com

Chicago, Illinois 
SOA Watch Illinois
Contact: Becca Bretz, bretz.rebecca@yahoo.com
Contact: Chris Inserra, cminserra@sbcglobal.net

Cleveland, Ohio
Inter-Religious Task Force on Central America
Contact: Chrissy Stonebraker-Martínez, Chrissy@IRTFcleveland.org 

Denver, Colorado
Denver Justice and Peace Committee
Contact: Rebeca Zúniga, djpc@denjustpeace.org

Immokalee, Florida
Contact: Pedro-Jesús Romero Menéndez

Ithaca/Cortland/Syracuse, New York
Contact: Beth Harris, beth55harris@gmail.com

Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact: Olmeca, olmecah@yahoo.com

Los Angeles, California
SOA Watch Los Angeles – SOA Watch-L.A. is a local chapter of the national SOA Watch movement to shut down the SOA/WHINSEC and to change oppressive US foreign policy
Contact: Sandra Sunshine Williams, sandrasdelmundo@gmail.com

Nashville, Tennessee
Contact: Elizabeth López, elilisaliz@gmail.com

New Orleans, Louisiana
SOA Watch New Orleans
Contact: María Luisa Rosal, marialuisa@soaw.org

New York City
Contact: Phil Josselyn, philjosselyn@gmail.com

Oakland/San Fransisco, California
SOA Watch East Bay
Contact: Chris Lopez, chrislopez2012@gmail.com

Seattle, Washington
SOA Watch Puget Sound
Contact: Kate Speltz, katespeltz@yahoo.com

Tucson, Arizona
SOA Watch – 225 E 26th St, Suite 7, Tucson AZ 85713 / 202-234-3440
Contact: Eduardo García, eduardo@soaw.org, 202-469-1696
Contact: Dévora González, devora@soaw.org