Connecting the Dots: SOA Watch activists join Bolivian and U.S. partners in the struggle against impunity
Written by Liz Albanese
Thursday, 09 September 2010 14:24
Just last week SOA Watch founder, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, and SOA Watch Partnership America Latina (PAL) Director, Lisa Sullivan arrived in La Paz, Bolivia upon invitation to accompany four men who have been struggling against impunity and injustice in Bolivia and in the U.S. since Black October in 2003. For a full report back from Lisa and more photos, click here.
THE U.S. AIR FORCE AND
THE COLOMBIAN BASE AT PALANQUERO
As members of the SOA
Watch delegation to Colombia, we are deeply concerned about the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement signed on October 30, 2009, by which Colombia permits the U.S. to use seven
Colombian military bases. We are in Colombia in order to express our solidarity
with Colombians and other Latin Americans in protesting and denouncing this
agreement, and we commit ourselves to continue this struggle in the U.S.
In an article entitled
“Yankees Welcome,” the Colombian magazine Semana (October 31, 2009) analyzed the agreement, noting with concern a separate U.S.
Air Force document which reveals the strategic interests of the Pentagon in
upgrading the Colombian base at Palanquero, one of the seven bases included in
the agreement. (This article in Semana can be found athttp://www.semana.com/noticias-nacion/yankees-welcome/130763.aspx )
After the U.S. embassy refused to let the SOA Watch delegation enter the building, the group held a vigil and street theater outside the main gates of the U.S. embassy in Bogotá on Friday, August 6. When they first arrived, metro police
tried to move them out, but they stood their ground, and the police quickly relented. Soon after, the chief of police informed Father Roy that they
have orders not to arrest the group. It is unclear whether these orders come from the embassy or another source.
This past week the delegation has blocked the entrance to the Tolemaida militray base together with Colombian human rights activists (click here for more information), build relationships with Colombians who are working for justice and met with progressive Colombian senators, including Senator Piedad Cordoba--who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 for her successful mediation between the Colombian government and the FARC guerillas.
Last Updated on Monday, 09 August 2010 16:38
SOA Watch in Colombia
Written by Hendrik Voss
Tuesday, 03 August 2010 21:36
SOA Watch at the Tolemaida Military Base Nine U.S. human rights activists are holding a vigil at the Tolemaida military base in Colombia with a 12 foot banner that reads "U.S. Military out of Colombia."
The SOA Watch delegation is leaving the area and traveling to Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia.
Tomorrow, the group will go to the U.S. embassy in Bogotá. Amplify the
voices for justice and peace in Colombia by contacting ambassador
Brownfield now. Call the U.S. embassy in Colombia at 011-571-315-0811
and send an email by clicking the link.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010:
*UPDATE 3:30pm*: Two busloads of 65 activists from Justicia y Paz, the Movement of Victims of State Crimes, the Mothers of Soacha (who are seeking justice for their children who were killed as part of the "false positive" scandal), SINALTRAINAL, and others have arrived to join the 9-member SOA Watch delegation, who have proceeded to block the entrance to the base. Activists are holding banners denouncing US intervention in Colombia as well as Iraq. Roy Bourgeois said of the action: "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." National and international press reporting on the protest: Latin American Herald Tibune, El Espectador (Colombia), La Jornada (Mexico), TeleSUR (Venezuela), Common Dreams (United States).
*UPDATE 2:45pm*: The SOA Watch delegation is gathering across the street from the base. The two busloads of activists coming from Bogota will arrive in approximately 30 minutes. Activist Fr. Joe Mulligan reported that soldiers are forming a "human chain" at the entrance to the base.
The SOA Watch delegation has returned to the Tolemaida military base. The groups who will be with us are Justicia y Paz, the Movement of Victims of State Crimes, the Mothers of Soacha (who are seeking justice for their children who were killed as part of the "false positive" scandal), SINALTRAINAL, and others.
The Tolemaida military base is one of seven Colombian bases to which the U.S. military has been granted access for 10 years under the U.S.-Colombia Defense Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in October 2009. The agreement has been met with opposition by Colombian and international human rights groups. It caused tensions in the region after a U.S. Air Force document became public that revealed that the United States military is planning to use the seven Colombian bases for "full spectrum operations throughout South America" against threats not only from drug trade and guerrilla movements, but also from "anti-U.S. governments" in the region.
Father Roy Bourgeois, SOA Watch founder and Purple Heart recipient, is leading this delegation of SOA Watch activists. Most of them have served federal prison terms for nonviolently calling for closure of the School of the Americas (SOA), now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). By confronting this current escalation of U.S. policy, the U.S. activists at Tolemaida are expressing solidarity with courageous Colombians working for peace and justice. Members of the delegation come from all over the United States, are equally male and female, and represent a wide variety of life and faith experiences.
How to reserve tables, workshop and ad space for the November Vigil
Written by Hendrik Voss
The November Vigil to Close the SOA is approaching fast. In a little more than three months, thousands of human rights activists, torture survivors, students, veterans, union workers, and religious communities will converge on Fort Benning, Georgia.