Until the Encuentro!

Dismantle Border Imperialism: End White Supremacy – Crowdfunding Campaign

Support the crowdfunding campaign!

In order to increase SOA Watch’s capacity by the end of the year, we are seeking to raise $40,000. These funds will go to pay for our organizer salaries, staff time spent on the Border Encuentro, space for the action, and SOA Watch’s fall political education tours. To do this, we are increasing our capacity by:
  • Employing all of our organizers full-time until the Border Encuentro, and increasing their days post-Encuentro
  • Supporting all staff in making this year’s Border Encuentro the biggest direct action yet
  • Costs related to Border Encuentro such as space reservations
  • Organizing two fall political education tours to engage a new set of solidarity activists.
The breakdown of the costs are as follows:
  • $15,000 for organizer’s full-time salaries plus health insurance
  • $5,000 to cover additional staff time organizing the Encuentro
  • $15,000 to cover Encuentro costs
  • $5,000 to cover the costs of the political education tours
Each year our community has come through to support SOA Watch and we are grateful to everyone who has donated in the past. This year marks yet another in the history of U.S. state violence in Latin America and domestically against Latinx communities, so we hope you will give urgently and generously to sustain our movement and to continue the fight against border imperialism and white supremacy. We know this is possible because when we fight, we win.

Uprooting State Violence: Our Track Record of Success

SOA Watch has continued its track record of confronting the violence in Latin America sponsored by the United States and in addition to the name change of the School of the Americas, SOA Watch has succeeded in:
  • Forcing Congress to release the torture and disappearance manuals, used in Latin America and the Middle East, created in Ft. Wachuka and Ft. Benning, that exposed the brutality of these programs that not only taught graduates how to execute abuses but also how to deal with the victim’s family and larger public pressure responding to the abuses
  • Uplifting the root causes of migration and underscoring U.S. policies that have to lead to devastation within Latin American countries, but also violent policies domestically such as family separation
  • The formation of a radical grassroots movement accompanied by a strong base of solidarity activists and a shifting political consciousness that incorporates an understanding of the role of U.S. state violence
  • Organizing 28 years of direct actions at Fort Benning and at the U.S. – Mexico border with annual attendance that have galvanized tens of thousands to action
  • Introducing the Berta Caceres act in Congress in 2016 & 2017 commemorating and calling for accountability for Berta, a Honduran environmental rights activist by the Honduran government and facilitated by an SOA graduate

The Organizers

SOAW is fortunate to have two incredible women of color, specifically Latinx organizers leading the fight against border imperialism! But in order to make this year’s Encuentro a success and tie up loose ends for the end of the year, we need to increase their hours to full-time as they are both working part-time, though often exceeding these hours because of the many rapid responses needed from SOA Watch. Most of our SOA Watch family know our amazing organizers, but for those who don’t, their bios are below!

​Devora González – Field Organizer

Dévora González is a mother to a wonderful little human named Tlecuiani. She is a Salvadoran-Guatemalan, descendant of Pipil and Mayan peoples, woman and mother that was born and raised in Los Angeles to migrant parents that found refuge in the city. Being raised in a Central American community, the political and historical knowledge she gathered stemmed from oral history and narratives of migration from her family, friends, and community. The gaps in her understanding led her to California State University, Northridge where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Central American Studies and Psychology and felt empowered to create positive change in her community. Aware of the anti-migrant sentiment, structural border conditions that fueled deaths at the desert, and feeling a strong connection to the communities forced to migrate to the United States, she relocated to Tucson, Arizona in 2012. Since, she has been part of the Missing Migrant Crisis Hotline that was a project of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths, has helped with abuse documentation for the report Deprivation, Not Deterrence by the Guatemala Acupuncture and Medical Aid Project (GUAMAP), and has been active in migrant rights work, resistance, and resilience of Border Communities in the face of militarization.

Maria Luisa Rosal – Field Organizer

María Luisa has been an organizer with the SOA Watch staff collective since 2013. She earned her BA in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University and earned her Master’s in Human Rights and Democratization in Latin America and the Caribbean from the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A political refugee in the US, Maria Luisa, and her family fled Guatemala during the height of the armed conflict after the 1983 disappearance of her father.

SOA Watch Border Encuentro 2018

Time is flying and in less than 2 months we will converge at the US/Mexico border in ambos Nogales for our 3rd SOA Watch Border Encuentro this November 16-18: Dismantle Border Imperialism! Struggle, Create, Power to the People!

As we continue planning for this year's 3rd Encuentro, we want to share important updates with you, including our promotional video created by Olmeca, the weekend schedule of events and ways to support our largest annual gathering. We are excited to share our demands for this year, and invite you to join us in generating the biggest possible impact alongside other coalition groups and allies by endorsing this year's Encuentro.

Register for the Encuentro!

Click here to view this video on Vimeo

Our demands:

  • An end to US economic, military and political intervention in Latin America, and the closure of SOA/WHINSEC
  • An end to Plan Merida and the Alliance for Prosperity
  • Demilitarization and divestment of borders
  • An end to the racist systems of oppression that criminalize and kill migrants, refugees and communities of color
  • Respect, dignity, justice and the right to self-determination of communities

In order to turn our demands into concrete actions, we are happy to announce a pre-Encuentro Training Day to Stop US Weapons to Mexico! Plan Merida and the Alliance for Prosperity are both US policies that seek to further militarize Mexico and the northern region of Central America respectively, to purportedly confront the so-called Drug War, and contain mass displacement from the region, but instead have led to more human rights violations. The legal and illegal US gun trade is devastating migrants in Mexico who are fleeing US-supported drug wars in Central America and Mexican communities, who are experiencing more gun homicides this year than ever. SOA Watch has partnered with the Stop US Arms to Mexico project of Global Exchange to build a movement to end the US-Mexico Merida Initiative and weapons trade.

Join us on Thursday, November 15 for a day of skill-building and to meet other amazing activists from Mexico and the United States, to stop the deadly gun trade from the United States to Mexico. This training will build our understanding of human rights and arms, and our capacity for media, advocacy, research, cross-border activism, and more. The all-day training will take place in Nogales, Arizona, at the Hotel Americana from 9am to 6pm. There is no fee to participate, but you must pre-register to join. We will continue to build momentum by exposing Milkor USA, a weapons producer in Tucson, Arizona. Milkor USA exports grenade launchers to the Mexican Army special forces.

Weekend Schedule of Events

(all events, except for the Milkor USA action & vigil at Eloy Detention Center will be in Nogales, Arizona/Sonora)
  • Thursday, November 15

  • Friday, November 16

    • 7:00am [AZ]: Encuentro registration - Hotel Americana, 639 N Grand Ave. Nogales, Arizona
    • 8:00am [AZ]: Art build & Nonviolent Direct Action Training - Hotel Americana
    • 8:00am [SON]: Art Build - Escuela Primaria Abelardo L Rodriguez, Fenochio 23, Fundo Legal, Nogales, Sonora
    • 1:00pm [AZ]: Caravan from Nogales, Arizona to Milkor USA rally & vigil at Eloy Detention Center - Hotel Americana
    • 2:30pm [AZ]: Rally at Milkor USA - 3735 Romero Rd., Tucson, Arizona
    • 5:30pm [AZ]: Vigil at Eloy Detention Center - 1705 E. Hanna Rd., Eloy, Arizona
  • Saturday, November 17

    • 7:00am [AZ]: Encuentro registration and Tabling - Hotel Americana
    • 7:00am [SON]: Tabling - Escuela Primaria Abelardo L Rodriguez
    • 7:30am [AZ]: Veterans For Peace-led march to US/Mexico Border Wall - Hotel Americana
    • 8:30am [BORDER]: Encuentro Welcome Forum
      • [AZ]: International St. & N. Dunbar Dr. in Nogales, Arizona
      • [SON]: Calle Internacional & Calle Ninos Heroes in Nogales, Sonora
    • 12:00pm [AZ]: Workshops & Panels - Hotel Americana
    • 12:00pm [SON]: Workshops & Panels - Escuela Primaria Abelardo L Rodriguez
    • 7:30pm [BORDER]: Evening Concert
      • [AZ]: International St. & N. Dunbar Dr. in Nogales, Arizona
      • [SON]: Calle Internacional & Calle Ninos Heroes in Nogales, Sonora
    • 10:30pm [BORDER]: Overnight Vigil in Solidarity with the Refugee Caravan
      • [AZ]: International St. & N. Dunbar Dr. in Nogales, Arizona
      • [SON]: Calle Internacional & Calle Ninos Heroes in Nogales, Sonora
  • Sunday, November 18

    • 8:00am Blessing
    • 9:00am Speakers & Musicians
    • 10:40am No Mas, No More Litany
    • 11:00am Presentes
    • 12:00pm Puppetistas! followed by Funeral Procession
    • 4:00pm Encuentro Closing
*All events on Sunday will be at the US/Mexico Border Wall in Ambos Nogales
  • [AZ]: International St. & N. Dunbar Dr. in Nogales, Arizona
  • [SON]: Calle Internacional & Calle Ninos Heroes in Nogales, Sonora

Encuentro Packing List

  • Form of identification (US Passport, Driver's License, LPR Card, Work Permit, etc)
  • Comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothing - Check the weather forecast and pack accordingly
  • Sun protection
  • Water bottle - Remember you are coming to the Sonora Desert. Stay hydrated. Water is life.
  • For any and all legal questions, please contact the Legal Collective at southernarizona@nlg.org
  • For any other questions, please contact SOA Watch at 202-234-3440

Get Involved!

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Join the Border Encuentro Organizing 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:
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
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
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
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: Karol, mediacomm@soaw.org
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
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

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