2017 Summary of Events

Friday, November 10

Welcome

SOA Watch’s field Organizer, Maria Luisa Rosal, began the event by highlighting the importance of having the SOA Watch Encuentro happening at the Border, and reminded the crowd of how border militarization has expanded into all of Latin America, through US intervention. Then a more detailed analysis of the current political climate of central america was outlined by Brigitte Gynther, SOA Watch’s Latin America Liaison. She highlighted the 2009 coup in Honduras, and how that has affected community organizing; specially in respect to the lack of justice for the late Berta Cáceres. Gaspar Sánchez from COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), then spoke as to some of the organizing happening in Honduras. He specified that there needed to be not only justice for Berta, but there needed to be reform in Honduras. The first step for that reform to be possible, was to stop US financed intervention in Honduras, which is why Gaspar expressed the vitality of being at the SOA Watch Border Encuentro. The crowd then was given a rundown of the day’s events, as well as what to do when confronted by police during any of the weekend’s.

The workshops were separated in two time blocks with 3 workshops each. The first time block included “Justice for Berta Cáceres” by COPHIN; “2017 Trans-Gay Migrant Caravan: The Struggle Continues” by Colectivo Diversidad Sin Fronteras; and “Migrant’s Journeys from Central America to Washington, DC” by American Friends Service Committee. All of these workshops touched on the way that migration is linked with U.S. influence in Latin America, like through the Merida Initiative, which provides funding to Mexico to implement harsher immigration laws for Central and South American migrants.

The second set of workshops focused on the criminalization of black and brown bodies and how to combat systems of oppression. The sessions were as follows: “The Criminalization of Migration: Prosecution of “Illegal” Entries and Re-entries” by Coalición de Derechos Humanos, End Streamline Coalition, Mijente, Puente Arizona; “From Palestine to Mexico, All the Walls Have Got to Go: BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and Border Militarization” by Palestinian BDS National Committee, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Friends of Sabeel North America; and “Black Liberation, Reparations and the Fight Against US Imperialism” by Witness for Peace – South West.

End Operation Streamline Rally

In the afternoon there was a rally in front of the Federal Courthouse in downtown Tucson to protest Operation Streamline; the criminal proceeding that illegally charges migrants en masse, that happens there daily.

The first of four speakers was Norlan Flores, an organizer with the Southside Worker Center who went through Operation Streamline and shared his experiences of being processed along with more than 70 others in a courtroom where “your only option of defense is to admit guilt”, which is in fact “not a defense at all”.  His powerful words were followed by Nellie Jo David, a member of the Tohono O’odham nation, who spoke of the militarization of O’odham land, and the forces that drive migrants to their deaths.  Jessica Rodríguez,  an organizer and DACA recipient, deplored the crowd to show up, not just when laws are challenged, and not just for dreamers, but also for their parents, and family.  She spoke of a compañero that had been detained at a Motel 6 in town because the staff had called la migra, how he should have been standing in the crowd with us. The final speaker of the afternoon was Leilani Clark, a local organizer that broke down for the crowd just why programs like Operation Streamline exist;  simply to funnel money to the deportation machine.

The large crowd circled the block chanting and singing before the speakers told their important truths and the rally concluded with a reading of the names of the 147 people who have died in the desert this year alone, asserting “presente” for each one.

End All Detention: Eloy Movilization

Hundreds of people gathered for a vigil outside of Eloy Detention Center, an immigration prison that currently detains close to 1,600 migrant and asylum-seeking brothers and sisters. It was an evening to commemorate the souls who have died while crossing the Sonoran Desert, and show our solidarity for the souls who are continuously criminalized and imprisoned for mobilizing—a mobilization that is forced upon them by the detrimental effects of U.S. imperialism and U.S.-inflicted violence in their home countries.

We asked ourselves: What if this immigration prison behind us were to close and re-open as a free university for folks? For that moment, we were vocal about our hope that we will be last generations to see that repulsive building. As the sun set, these words traveled with the wind: let’s be Eloy’s sunset. Let’s be the people who will witness the shutting down of these prisons. Their disappearance. “Las paredes de Eloy vamos a tumbar, para que las familias se puedan abrazar,” The Peace-Poets free-styled as the sky went dark. By then, all we could see were the candles lighting our path closer toward Eloy’s gates. “¡No están solos!” We screamed. Our brothers and sisters could hear us through the cement and glass that’s caged them for weeks, months, years. In the distance, we saw their messages. They covered and uncovered the light in their cells, signaling they could hear us. They could see us. No están solos.

Tear Down the Walls, Buld Up the People Concert

The Tear Down the Walls, Build Up the People concert at Solar Culture, co-sponsored by SOA Watch and Coalicion de Derechos Humanos featured performances by Teré Fowler-Chapman, Top Nax, Shining Soul, Santa Pachita, Lando Chill, Carlos Arzate, Rattle Ry, Ciphurphace & DJ Grapla, DJ Humble Lianess, and b-boy dancers.

The night started out with DJ Humble Lianess’ ambient instrumental hip hop accompanied by an interpretive dancer. In the next set, spoken word poet Teré called out white passivity and the cooptation of black culture with several readings from their new book of poems, “Bread &”. Top Nax’s boom bap style hip-hop got heads bobbing while b-boys and b-girls break danced in a circle in the middle of the crowd. The night of music, poetry, and dancing came to a stop when the MC Leilani Clark called Jessica Rodriguez, a local community organizer, to the stage with an urgent call to action. The compañero from the Southside Worker Center who was detained at a Motel 6 earlier in the day is eligible to be released first thing in the morning, but $1,100 are needed to cover his bond. Jessica highlighted the importance that the compañero be released on Saturday morning, as after the holiday weekend ICE will likely take him into detention. By the end of the evening, concert-goers had donated enough that they are only a couple hundred dollars short of the full amount.

Saturday, November 11

Binational March

We must unify our struggles. We, the peoples of the world, must be united to defend ourselves from the infamous walls which are separating us from our families, from our crops. Walls are segregating us from our own land and expelling us from our territories.

It’s the Avenida Álvaro Obregón on Saturday November 11th 2017. The flow of cars that divide businesses from popular neighborhoods in Nogales, Sonora, has been displaced by hundreds of voices that raise against the US intervention in Latin America and that is reflected in the US strategy to expand its southern border to the south of the continent. They are the members of the International Caravan for the Unity of the Peoples and against the Walls of Infamy, organized by the People’s Human rights Observatory. In 11 days and through 9 states of Mexico, the Caravan has collected the testimonies of the victims of state violence, and in which Mexican security agents trained by the United States carry a lot of responsibility. Today the people who lead the way and the Caravan’s journey has been accompanied by Jamal Juma, coordinator of Stop the Wall Palestine, and Pedro Charbel, from the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The Palestinian delegation makes its way through Nogales to share with the Border Encuentro experiences about other walls in the world

We are here to bring our struggles together: the Palestinian people, the Mexican people, the indigenous, against segregations and apartheid systems.

The People’s Human Rights Observatory is an initiative of grassroots and popular organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean that seeks to monitor, document, disseminate, promote and demand the exercise of Peoples’ Human Rights, Democracy and Social Justice from a perspective of construction and deepening of resistance, rebellion, memory and popular power. In this way, the Observatory seeks to acknowledge human rights as achievements of the struggles of peoples and not as gifts of political power, both local and international. This is an effort of more than 100 organizations and whose representations fall on indigenous leaders, Nobel prizes of peace, feminist groups, agrarian movements, academy and journalists of the Americas. In June 2017, SOA Watch joined the Advisory Council of the Observatory as a part of the active solidarity commitment with Latin American movements that fight against the militarization that promotes violence. Thus, along with the Alliance for Global Justice, the movement initiated by Father Roy Bourgeois becomes the Observatory’s representation in the United States.

Rally at the US/Mexico Border

The wall that divides Ambos Nogales may separate geographies, but not the words or intentions of those who accompany the second day of the Border Encuentro. On both sides of the border, local people and visitors gather to shake hands and enjoy the absence of Border Patrol agents who usually patrol the Border Wall to harass families divided by the US immigration system and who meet occasionally to chat or have lunch together. On the stage we can listen to the the rebellious voices of the Tohono O’odham Leadership of Mexico; Shannon Rivers, Akimel O’odham; Caravana contra los Muros; Veterans for Peace; Veterans for Peace – National Deported Veterans Advocacy Project; Nakai Flotte, Diversidad sin Fronteras; Carlos García, Puente Arizona; Stop the Wall Palestine; John Gibler; Isabel García, Coalición de Derechos Humanos; SOA Watch; and Ramah Kudaimi, from the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights. The artistic performances are in charge of the SOA Watch Musician Collective, Cihuatl-Ce, The Peace Poets, Paul Baker Hernández, Charlie King, Francisco Herrera, Rebel Díaz, Jarochicanxs y Lengualerta.

At this moment we must reactivate an internationalist and anti-militarist movement. One that is truly in solidarity with the people’s struggles for freedom, justice and dignity, and not diluted by superficial struggles that are based on ambiguous concepts of justice not rooted in the people’s liberation vision. This is the only way for our collective struggles for liberation prevail

#WorldwithoutWalls International Caravan Oaxaca -Sonora

[EN] In occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (Nov 29), we share with you this video on the inspiring moments of solidarity between the peoples we all have built during the International Caravan against the Walls of Infamy and the Border Encuentro.[ES] En ocasión del Día Internacional de Solidaridad con el Pueblo Palestino (29 de noviembre), compartimos este video sobre los momentos inspiradores de solidaridad entre los pueblos que todos hemos construido durante la Caravana Internacional contra los Muros de la Infamia y el Encuentro Fronterizo.

Posted by StopTheWall.org on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Forums and Workshops

Click here to check descriptions and videos of Saturday’s forums.

Sunday, November 12

Welcome & Blessing / Speakers and Musicians

The sun of the desert witnessed the recharged spirits during the last day of activities of the Border Encuentro. More than 3 thousand 500 people, during different moments of the weekend, gathered to recognize the different resistances that have been planted in the Americas.

To close the last day of activities, colleagues of the Border Patrol Victims Network denounce the death strategies in which the wall is not only the stage, but where Border Patrol agents are the executioners. And just as it is on the border that US agents personify state violence, Edith López Ovalle of HIJXS Guatemala and Mexico does not let us forget that it has been state security forces, trained by the US, who have been the executioners of the whole continent. Gaspar Sánchez, from COPINH, joins the accusations and demands justice for Berta Cáceres, the Honduran activist who was murdered in 2016 and in which assassination participated two graduates of the School of the Americas.

Litany

In the effort to plan strategies for the future, we must take a look to the past that reminds us about our ancestors and everyone to whom we dedicate the struggle for a better world. It is in this space where we honor the Tohono O’odham and the indigenous peoples of the world; where we remember the victims of the Prevention Through Deterrence Strategy; where we sympathize with those who pass through Operation Streamline; where we denounce the Border Patrol brutality; where we think of those who have to cross borders and walls to save their lives; where we recognize mother earth; where we bring to memory of the victims of the War on Drugs in Mexico and the continent; where we reject the Merida Initiative, the Southern Border Plan and the Alliance for Prosperity; where we repudiate violence against LGBTQ communities; where we think of Honduras and the victims of the coup d’état in 2009; where we demand a solution to the Peace Process in Colombia; where we recognize historical memory as another tool to defend dignity and access justice; where we raise our voices to say Black Lives Matter; where we seek to fight against Prison Imperialism; where we do not forget the War on Terror and its consequences reflected in Islamophobia and the criminalization of people of color; where we refuse to live in a world where White Supremacy exists; where we demand justice for Puerto Rico; where we recognize ourselves as part of a family of hundreds of millions of people.

Closing

Finally, it is Father Roy Bourgeois who tells us about the work that remains to be done, who invites people to challenge their privileges and to look for new ways to grow the struggle for justice in the Americas. Who started the SOA Watch movement in 1989 is now in charge of inviting us to reflect on the issues addressed in the Border Encuentro 2017.