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Home Category Table Colombian and U.S. Activists Stand Together
Colombian and U.S. Activists Stand Together PDF Print E-mail
Written by by Margaret Knapke   
Thursday, 14 October 2010 14:37

It’s a great joy to be in Colombia speaking with Colombians, with one voice, against U.S. domination and militarization. Our delegation has been deeply moved by the strength and spirit of so many Colombians struggling for a just peace in Colombia.
—Father Roy Bourgeois,

SOA Watch Action Delegation in Bogota and Melgar, Colombia, 1–7 August 2010
“A warm greeting from the heart that crosses borders,” Carolina said in welcome. Representing the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes, she was the first of 20 Colombian human-rights defenders to share testimony with ten U.S. activists from SOA Watch when they arrived in Colombia. Following Carolina, Colombian journalist Hollman Morris declared, “You have to know, very clearly, that your work in solidarity with Colombia has saved hundreds of lives.”

Father Roy Bourgeois, Maryknoll Ministry, founder of SOA Watch, brings Uncle Sam to life and welcomes visitors to "his house," the U.S. Embassy, on August 6, 2010, with the sign: “Colombia is my country.”
Photo by Tom Bottolene

For the past 20 years, SOA Watch has worked to close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) – formerly called the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) – where Latin American soldiers and police train in counterinsurgency tactics. Originally located in Panama, the SOA relocated to Ft. Benning, Georgia, in 1984. SOA Watch began in an office just outside of Ft. Benning in 1990, and now has its national office in Washington, D.C.

Of the 65,000 Latin Americans trained by SOA/WHINSEC since 1946, approximately 12,000 have been Colombian, including nearly all the current army commanders.

The SOA Watch delegation was in Colombia the first week of August to hear from human-rights defenders like Carolina and Hollman Morris – and to join with some of them in demonstrating against the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement. Of particular concern to both Colombian and U.S. activists: the leasing of seven Colombian military bases to the United States for 10 years.

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