Here you find information about some of the amazing speakers we have lined up to present at the Convergence at the Border. We are honored and excited to be hosting such amazing activists to share their stories with the convergence participants. Click here for more information about participating musicians.
Click here to see the Schedule of Events for the SOA Watch Convergence at the Border
Ajamu Baraka, Human Rights Activist
Ajamu Baraka is an internationally recognized human rights activist, organizer, geo-political analyst, and the candidate for Vice President on the Green Party ticket. Founding Executive Director of the US Human Rights Network (until 2011) and Coordinator of the US-based “Black Left Unity Network’s” Committee on International Affairs, Baraka has served on the boards of various national and international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International (USA) and the National Center for Human Rights Education. He has served on the boards of the Center for Constitutional Rights; Africa Action; Latin American Caribbean Community Center; Diaspora Afrique; and the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights.
Ana Enamorado, Mesoamerican Migrant Movement
Ana Enamorado’s struggle began after her son Óscar Antonio López Enamorado, a Honduran national, disappeared in Mexico in 2010. The search for the whereabouts of her son has led her to the struggle to defend the human rights of undocumented migrants and refugees who come to Mexico. Ana is a member of the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement
George Paz Martin, peace and justice and climate activist and educator
George Paz Martin is a peace and justice and climate activist and educator, a former National Co-Chair of United for Peace & Justice and currently serves the Liberty Tree Foundation, the Global Climate Convergence, Peace & the Planet International Coalition, World Peace Council, World Social Forum and is the Ambassador of Peace for the Green Party Shadow Cabinet.
Hector Aristizabal, ImaginAction
Hector was born and raised in Medellín, Colombia when it was the most dangerous city in the world. One of his brothers was seduced by the power of crack cocaine and another by the promises of revolutionary armed struggle. Hector’s path was different. He worked his way out of poverty to become a theatre artist and pioneering psychologist with a Masters degree from Antioquia University, then survived civil war, arrest and torture at the hands of the US-supported military. In 1989, violence and death threats forced him to leave his homeland. In exile, Hector struggled to overcome his rage and desire for vengeance and to channel these energies instead into constructive social action.
Hector Barajas, founder of Deported Veterans Support House in Tijuana, Mexico
Barajas is one of the thousands of deported veterans exiled from the US for minor crimes not considered a threat to the US, who were unjustly deported to Mexico and other countries in South and Central America.
Isabel Garcia, Human Rights Coalition
Isabel Garcia is the co-founder and co-chair of the Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, a grassroots organization based in Tucson, Az., that promotes respect for human and civil rights and fights the militarization of the U. S. /Mexico border. Ms. Garcia is bringing local, state, national and international attention to the crisis along the US / Mexico border, particularly the death of thousands of migrants, the militarization of civil enforcement agencies as well and the physical border, and the criminalization of migrants. Ms. Garcia has received dozens of awards, including the National Human Right Award from the Comision Nacional de los Derechos Humanos de Mexico in 2006, making her the first recipient who was neither born nor lived in Mexico, and the 2008 Lannan Cultural Freedom Award for Border Justice/Immigrant Rights.
Maria Guadalupe Guereca Betancourt, Border Patrol Victims Network
Maria Guadalupe Guereca Betancourt is the mother of 15-year-old Sergio Adrián Hernandez Guereca, who was murdered by US Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa on June 6, 2010 in Ciudád Juárez, Chihuahua, MX. Sergio is one of at least six Mexicans killed by Border Patrol on the Mexican side of the border. Guadalupe has valiantly fought for justice for her son holding vigils, delivering a letter to Pope Francis when he visited Juarez, and many other actions. She is part of the Border Patrol Victims Network. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Guadalupe had no constitutional rights to file a civil lawsuit in the US and granted agent Mesa immunity for killing Sergio. Guadalupe and her lawyers have appealed to the US Supreme Court.
María Luisa Rosal, SOA Watch
Born in Guatemala during the worst intensification of the internal armed conflict, she and her family fled into exile to the United States, where they received political asylum. Her father was disappeared by the Guatemalan state on August 12, 1983. Prior to joining the SOA Watch national office as the movement’s Field Organizer, María Luisa has worked on issues regarding torture, enforced disappearances, historical memory, and human rights in Guatemala.
María Luisa holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and a Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratization in Latin Amercia and the Caribbean from the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Under the conviction that without truth, there is no justice, she is enthusiastically committed to contributing to the growth and mobilization of this continental movement!
Marleny Reyes Castillo, Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (
The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) is an Indigenous Lenca organization made up of 200 Lenca communities in the western Honduran states of Intibuca, Lempira, La Paz, and Santa Barbara. COPINH was born in 1993 when the Indigenous and popular movements in the Honduran state of Intibuca came together to stop logging and advance popular struggles. Today, COPINH encompasses 4 states in western Honduras and struggles for the rights of the Lenca people, including environmental, cultural, economic, social, health, education, and Indigenous rights. COPINH defends the Lenca territory and our natural resources as part of our Lenca cosmovision of respect for Mother Earth.
Maudí Tzy, Alliance to Break the Silence and End Impunity
Through her work as a psychologist and a member of the Community Studies and Psycho-social Action Team (ECAP), Maudí has played a crucial role in integrating healing practices into movements for social and environmental justice in Guatemala.
Most recently, Maudí has been working in a multidisciplinary team to support the women survivors of Sepur Zarco in their landmark case against former military personnel for sexual violence and slavery committed during Guatemala’s internal armed conflict. In February of this year, this case made history by successfully trying sexual slavery as a crime against humanity —a first in the Americas for a case carried out in a national court.
Michael McPherson, Veterans for Peace
Veterans For Peace is a global organization of Military Veterans and allies whose collective efforts are to build a culture of peace by using our experiences and lifting our voices. We inform the public of the true causes of war and the enormous costs of wars, with an obligation to heal the wounds of wars. Our network is comprised of over 140 chapters worldwide whose work includes: educating the public, advocating for a dismantling of the war economy, providing services that assist veterans and victims of war, and most significantly, working to end all wars.
Nestora Salgado, Indigenous Community Defender
Nestora Salgado is a mother of three who was arrested without a warrant, and thrown into a high-security prison on kidnapping charges after returning to Mexico from the US to take up the fight against Guerrero’s narcos. Salgado, a naturalized US citizen and indigenous community police leader, grew up in the small indigenous village of Olinalá in the state of Guerrero, Mexico. She moved to the United States in 1991 at the age of 20. Two and a half years after she was incarcerated, Salgado was freed from Tepepan Women’s Social Rehabilitation Center in Mexico City, mid-March 2016.
Father Roy Bourgeois, SOA Watch Founder
Born in Lutcher, Louisiana, Fr. Roy served as a Naval Officer for two years before entering the seminary of the Maryknoll Missionary Order. Ordained a Catholic priest in 1972, Roy went on to work with the poor of Bolivia for five years before being arrested and forced to leave the country, then under the repressive rule of dictator and SOA grad General Hugo Banzer.
In 1980 Fr. Roy became involved in issues surrounding US policy in El Salvador after four US churchwomen–two of them friends of his–were raped and killed by Salvadoran soldiers. Roy became an outspoken critic of US foreign policy in Latin America. Since then, he has spent over four years in US federal prisons for nonviolent protests against the training of Latin American soldiers at Ft. Benning, Georgia. In 1990, Roy founded School of the Americas Watch.
Shannon Rivers, member of the Akimel O’otham (River People)
Shannon Rivers is a member of the Akimel O’otham (River People). born and raised on the Gila River Indian Community located in the southern state of Arizona of the United States. For the past ten years Mr. Rivers has been a delegate and participant at the United Nation Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues held at the United Nation (UN) headquarters in New York City, USA and in 2008 Shannon was selected as a Co-chair for the Global Indigenous Peoples Caucus, holding the seat for two consecutive years. Shannon has conducted and hosted lectures on the United Nation Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) at the State Capital of Arizona and for Arizona State University (ASU) and numerous local colleges in Arizona and California. He has participated in political and social justice actions in Central and South America. Shannon, was instrumental in assisting the implementation of the United Nation Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Additionally, Shannon played a crucial role in assisting two local Arizona Indigenous nations in adopting the UNDRIP into their constitutions (Gila River Indian and Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community). Currently, Mr. Rivers is a Native American Traditional/Cultural Advisor to the Indigenous inmate populations at the County, State and Federal Prison(s) in Arizona and holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Northern Arizona University (NAU), and is a Masters candidate at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).
Shena Gutierrez, Border Patrol Victims Network
Shena Gutierrez has dedicated her life to advocating for social change and laying the foundation to shift America’s conversation about law enforcement, in particular holding Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the largest law-enforcement agency in the nation, accountable. On March 30, 2011, Shena’s husband, José Gutierrez, was brutally beaten by CBP agents near a port of entry in Southern Arizona. Since this tragedy, which her husband survived, Shena has become a spokesperson for border communities and victims of border patrol abuse, leading several delegations of border residents to meet with federal policy makers. As a result of Shena’s and other CBP abuse victims’ relentless efforts, President Obama has allocated funds for CBP to equip agents with body-worn cameras, a step toward meaningful oversight and accountability. As a mother and wife, Shena inspires and educates border communities about their rights. She often shares her struggle with community members, family organizations, and legal professionals. Shena believes that sharing her family’s story might open up more eyes, more hearts, and create more awareness. Through these conversations, she gains more strength and seeks to help other victims gain more strength.
Mariela Nájera Romero and Uriel Gamaliel Guzmán, Las Patronas
Las Patronas (English: The Bosses) are a group of volunteer women of La Patrona community, in the town of Guadalupe (La Patrona) in the municipality of Amatlán de los Reyes, Veracruz, which since 1995 have provided food and assistance to migrants on their way through Veracruz. Their work toward the defense of the rights of migrants has earned them several awards, such as the National Human Rights Award in 2013.
We have an amazing lineup of musicians performing from the stage at the Vigil this year! Check out some of the highlights below.
Charlie King has been at the heart of American folk music for half a century. His political musical influences are the folk music revival of the 1960’s, and the protest songs of the Civil Rights and Vietnam War era and folk music legends like Pete Seeger, Holly Near, Ronnie Gilbert, John McCutcheon, Arlo Guthrie, Peggy Seeger, Chad Mitchell and Judy Small have sung his songs. He is a long -time member of the SOA Watch Musician’s Collective and will lend his voice to the movement for the 16th consecutive year this November. King has released a dozen solo albums since 1976 and three albums with the touring ensemble Bright Morning Star as well as numerous compilation albums with other artists.
Colleen combines music and activism, recognizing the “guitarra armada” or armed guitar concept of Latin American troubadours like Mercedes Sosa and Silvio Rodriguez who know that the guitar and voice are mightier than the gun. She performs original alternative acoustic music in a mix of poetry and rhythm. She lives in Central New York and, as a long time member of the movement and the musicians collective, she has toured the country to educate about the infamous SOA. When she is not strumming her guitar or composing, she’s teaching Spanish or growing vegetables.
In the spirit of Emma Goldman’s famous attribution, “If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution,” emma’s revolution brings their uprising of truth, hope and a dash of healthy irreverence to concerts and peace & justice, environmental, LGBT & women’s rights, immigration & human rights and labor events around the world. Based in the Washington DC area, emma’s revolution has performed at more than a thousand events throughout the U.S. and abroad.
Border-crossing revolutionary, theologian, Francisco Herrera spreads his message of world peace and workers and immigrant rights through his heartfelt songs. Born in Calexico, California, border town with Mexicali, Baja California Norte, capital city of this Northwest most state of Mexico, raised between diverse cultural heritages of Mexico and the US including a large Chinese population, Francisco developed an eclectic taste for music, thus developing a wide variety of styles, which include faith based music as well as folk, rock, Latin American styles in Spanish and English, with a sprinkle of indigenous language song; not simply straddling the fence between cultures and influences but bringing them together to touch the heart and explore human desires for togetherness, simplicity and the common good.
Gabino Palomares is a reknowned composer of music from Mexico, author of a song performed by many of Mexico’s artists, including Amparo Ochoa, La Maldicion de Malinche. He walks his paths sharing his ballads, telling stories, and playing music. His songs have been sung by artists from other countries and translated into several languages. Palomares is no longer a local folk tune, he has become a Latin American hymn.
La Muna (Natalia Serna)
Natalia Serna released her album Corazón del Norte after spending two years on the U.S./Mexico Border, volunteering with the KINO Border Initiative, learning the stories of migrants, and carrying her cuatro guitar everywhere she went.
Her songs are beautiful as the stories are powerful.
Olmeca is an artist/activist/educator hailing from Los Angeles, California. A son of immigrants, he is one of the few artists who broke ground as an artist and advocate for human rights, whose music combines social commentary with energy, charisma and intelligence. He has toured Canada, Latin America and Europe and helped generate a new trend of Latin music in the United States. As an advocate for immigrant and worker’s rights, he contributed to the “Not One More Deportation” and “Fast for Fair Food” campaigns. He is also an active supporter of the Zapatista movement and helped building bridges between organizations from the US and indigenous communities in Mexico.
Pablo Peregrina is a bicultural singer/songwriter,who was born on the borderlands of Nogales, Sonora Mexico. Pablo composes and performs songs that reflect the social, spiritual and economic times in his local and global community. He is known as “the voice of the voiceless.” His first CD, “Traveling Soles,” is a border related compilation that brings awareness to of the plight of migrant struggles and deaths in the Sonoran desert of Arizona. Pablo’s high energy, soulful and resonant performances embody the voices of migrants as he sings about their struggle while crossing the Arizona desert.
We are a collective of artists that celebrate, examine and advocate for life through music and poetry. Our art can take you on a journey from the Boogie Down to Berlin, from the border to the bodega. Our style emphasizes lyricism, rhythm and authenticity. We hail from the Bronx and have been rocking the mic since 2005.
Silvia Brandon Pérez
Silvia is a bilingual poet and cantoautora, a full-time activist born in Cuba and now living and hell-raising in the Bay Area, California. She is also a member of the SOA Watch Bilingual Space Collective.
Ted Warmbrand from Tucson, Arizona, sings topical and folkloric songs in a variety of languages at venues such as community sing-alongs, protests, including the School of the Americas protest, and concerts. He is also a member of the Peoples Music Network and the Childrens Music Network. Ted has sung with Pete Seeger, Charlie King, and among other well-known folk singers as well as sings his own songs such as “Who’s The Criminal Now?” about border issues and migration.