The following report was compiled using information from the forthcoming Rights Action report on the 15th Battalion by Annie Bird. For Right's Actions Executive Summary and full report, see below.
The Honduran Army's 15th Infantry Battalion has been widely accused of leading operations that have resulted in human rights abuses, which include the notorious attack against campesino protestors in a land dispute in August 2010 that resulted in the murder of a seventeen year-old boy, as well as the death of five security guards. Raynel Funes Ponce, who graduated from the Basic Infantry Officials program at the SOA in 1984, was said to be commander of the 15th Battalion in a 2011 newspaper article. In 2012 it was revealed on the Honduras armed forces website that Ponce had assumed command of the Special Forces 1st Battalion. A squad representing the 1st Battalion, led by Josue Sierra, who took a Cadet Arms orientation at the SOA in 2011, murdered 15 year-old Ebed Yanes with a bullet in the back of his head. Sierra was the first to fire of the squad. Funes Ponce ordered a cover-up of the murder.
Nashua Chantal appeared in a Columbus courthouse on January 9 for
his arraignment on charges of federal trespass, stemming from his nonviolent actions at Fort Benning on November 18, 2012. After entering a plea
of not guilty, prosecutor Capitan West and Judge Stephen Hyles scheduled
a trial date for March 13. Nashua is doing
well and ready to put the SOA on trial! Please keep him in your thoughts as he faces 6 months in federal prison for his actions. Check here for more information on SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience.
Delegations to El Salvador, Paraguay, Chile and the border
Feliz Año Nuevo from the South! We send saludos y felicidades and hopes that we may continue to work together South and North to resist the culture of violence and militarization, and create a new culture of peace.
Peace becomes a greater possibility when we connect with others working for justice in different corners of our globe. Last year, SOA Watch delegations brought important victories to the SOA Watch movement, with two more country withdrawals from the SOA. Delegations also formed new friendships, laid groundwork for further victories, sparked creative ideas that help peace-making efforts of both sides of the border.
This year we invite you to participate in SOA Watch's efforts of citizen diplomacy by joining one of our 2013 delegations. We will be traveling to El Salvador to honor Monsenor Romero's martrydom and ask the government to withdraw from the SOA. We will go to Paraguay to observe presidential elections and visit areas of land conflict that were used to justify last year's "express coup". We will stand at the southern border of the US in solidarity with immigrants and those affected by border violence and militarization. We will journey to Chile for the 40th anniversary of Pinochet's coup and express solidarity with students and Mapuche peoples struggling to shape a just society.
Join us! Together, North and South, we can make a difference!
If you are interested in any of these delegations, please contact Lisa Sullivan for more information.
Four Chilean SOA Graduates Charged with 1973 Murder of Victor Jara
On Friday, December 27, Chilean Judge Miguel Vásquez charged two Chilean officials, Pedro Barrientos and Hugo Sanchez, in the 1973, murder of Chilean folk singer Victor Jara; six others were charged as accomplices. Four of the eight took courses at the School of the Americas. Pedro Barrientos, the second-in-command of the National Stadium which was turned into a open-air prison following the September 11th US-sponsored coup, and Raúl Jofré took the same Officers' Orientation course in 1968; Edwin Dimter Bianchi took a Combat Arms Orientation course in 1970; and Jorge Smith Gumucio took a Combat Arms Orientation course in 1972. SOA graduate Pedro Barrientos currently lives in Deltona, a city southwest of Daytona Beach in Florida.
Victor Jara was one of the Pinochet regime's first victims. SOA graduates filled the ranks of the Chilean dictatorship's military and the feared intelligence unit, the DINA.
Victor Jara was a symbol of justice and progress in the Americas, and his voice encouraged millions to continue moving towards a just and fair society. Though his life was cut short by the brutal US-sponsored dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, his legacy lives on through the changes happening throughout Latin America.
From SOA Watch, we wish you a justice-filled and happy New Year and we look forward to continuing the struggle together!
In solidarity, SOA Watch
Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 January 2013 00:20
SOA Watch's Year-End Fundraising Drive
2012 has been a year of victories for SOA Watch! Ecuador and Nicaragua have joined Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay in pulling their troops out of the SOA - but we need your support to continue our work in the new year. Join your compañeros and give generously to SOA Watch today: http://SOAW.org/donate