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Report Back from SOA Watch Delegation to Haiti PDF Print E-mail
Written by Becca Polk   
Thursday, 13 October 2011 16:14

ONE WORLD by Daniel Tillias

This is a call of unity and solidarity to the people all over the earth. It reminds us how the misery of a country like Haiti should bring pain in heart of people in Japan as joyfullness of France should rejoice the soul of Brazil.

There is only one world
Never it has been two
This is why as Haiti is mine
It is also everyone’s

The same sun shining in Africa
Light the flower of Alaska
The morning star in Hinche
Bright the morning in China

In Havana as in Lascahobas
Children laugh and smile the same
When parents remember to take time
Sharing wonderful and magic moments

The world is not huge
The world is small
There is no alien soil
We all belong to the same globe

All harm in the pacific ocean
Will bring pain in the Miragoane lake
But all trees planted in Savane desole
Will send life to the four corners of the world

From October 1-7, 2011, SOA WATCH led a human rights delegation to Haiti with a focus on gaining firsthand knowledge of the effects of a 7-year military occupation by 13,000 troops and police of MINUSTAH (UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti), while also looking at concrete expressions of U.S. foreign policy towards Haiti. In addition, the delegation of 17 activists from around the U.S. visited numerous positive initiatives organized and carried out by Haitians that promote the dignity and sovereignty of their nation.

MINUSTAH is now in its seventh year, having replaced a U.S. military force that had occupied Haiti in the wake of the illegal coup d’etat that ousted the democratically elected government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 2004. Classified U.S. State Department cables, recently made public by Wikileaks, have revealed that the U.S. government places a strong strategic importance on MINUSTAH’s ongoing presence in Haiti, and in particular its inclusion of troops from several Latin American governments – in part because the Mission represents a regional initiative that excludes Venezuela, yet involves several left-leaning Latin American countries.

“We began our trip with the knowledge that MINUSTAH is controlled by the U.S. government and serves the U.S. government’s interests,” Dan Beeton of the Center for Economic and Policy Research said. “Since being here, we’ve heard numerous complaints about a wide array of abuses by MINUSTAH troops. We’ve also heard and seen little evidence of MINUSTAH’s positive contributions during Haiti’s greatest hour of need, and that makes us doubt the rationale for a continued MINUSTAH presence.”

For more infromation on MINUSTAH see: Haitians to the U.N.: Please Leave and 10 Reasons Why the UN Occupation of Haiti Must End

“School of the Americas Watch has opposed military intervention for decades, and we are seeing connections between that and what international forces have done in Latin America,” Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of School of the Americas Watch said. “We see the issue of militarization clearly: you cannot bring democracy through the barrel of a gun.”

See Standing Against Militarism and Violence: From Haiti to Fort Benning by Father Roy Bourgeois

it's an occupation force that doesn't help the people,

they terrorize the people in the poor neighborhoods,

they say they are here to help the people of Haiti who are here in misery,

and their sole objective is to support the multinationals

and support the bourgeois in Haiti.”

—Representative from the Grassroots Coalition Against MINUSTAH

More reports from delegates:

Report from Haiti by Bill Quigley a law professor and human rights lawyer at Loyola University New Orleans and with the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Haiti-Ayiti by Lisa Sullivan, SOA Watch Latin American Coordinator

Reflections Following a Delegation: How MINUSTAH Hurts Haiti by Becca Polk, published in "This Week in Haiti", the English section of HAITI LIBERTE newsweekly.

Violence Against Women in Haiti by Ken Jones

More pictures and reflections can be found here!

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 December 2011 21:30
Victory! Court Dismisses Charges Against the SOA Watch "White House 15" PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 13 September 2011 14:49

SOAW 15 Trial

The SOA Watch movement claimed a victory yesterday, September 12, 2011, in its long struggle to close the SOA/WHINSEC and change the culture of militarization.

On April 10, 27 human rights activists lay down on the sidewalk in front of the White House, demanding that President Obama close the SOA/WHINSEC by executive order.  The SOA has left a long and bloody trail through the Americas, as graduates of the school have terrorized, massacred, disappeared and tortured thousands of people, as they protect big corporations and failed economic models.  Over many years of grassroots education, direct action and lobbying in Congress, the SOA Watch movement has demanded a shift from oppressive US foreign policy to respect for self-determination and dignity.

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 June 2012 21:28
Call the White House and Tell Obama to Close the SOA PDF Print E-mail

On Tuesday, August 16th, sixty-nine members of congress officially requested that President Barack Obama sign an executive order shutting down the SOA/WHINSEC. Join the chorus by calling President Obama and telling him that you support the closure of this dangerous and unaccountable institution. Here is a short sample call script to help you get your message across.Call the White House - Tell President Obama to Close the SOA

The script will cover some of the major points, but as always, we encourage you to craft your own message.

A Possible Call to Obama Could Look Like This:

"I am calling to inform President Obama about the letter signed by 69 members of congress asking him to close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas). The existence of WHINSEC is part of a massive failure in U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America. It is a symbol of oppression and U.S. domination for most Latin Americans and should be shut down without delay.

I urge you to seriously consider the request by the members of congress to shut down the school, thus saving the United States $180 million over the next decade. Closing the school would also send the message to the people of Latin America and your own citizens that you value the sovereignty and human rights of all of the peoples of the Americas.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to me and consider my appeal. I hope you make the right decision."

You can reach Pres. Obama's office at: (202) 456-1111

The Comment line is open between 9 AM and 5 PM ET.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 August 2011 16:11
Update: Nine Former Salvadoran Soldiers Arrested In Connection with 1989 Massacre of Elba and Celina Ramos and Six Jesuit Priests; Orlando Montano Arrested in US PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Nash   
Wednesday, 10 August 2011 20:40

On Monday, August 8th, 9 former soldiers turned themselves in after learning about a recent indictment issued in a Spanish court for their roles in the 1989 massacre of 6 Jesuit priests as well as Elba Ramos and her 14-year-old daughter, Celina. They are currently awaiting a decision by the Supreme Court of El Salvador on whether to extradite them. The indictment was issued under Spain's universal jurisdiction law, which holds that the gravest of crimes can be tried anywhere.

Update: On Tuesday, August 23, Inocente Orlando Montano, a former colonel in the Salvadoran Army, was arrested in Massachussetts.  Montano was named in a 1993 UN Commission as participating in the planning of the murders at the University of Central America. He is a graduate of the School of the Americas, and has been residing in the United States since leaving El Salvador.

Apart from the gruesome and cruel nature of the massacre, it is notable for the large number of SOA graduates who were involved in its planning, execution, and cover-up. A total of 20 soldiers and government officials were targetted by the indictment, and as of now nine are still at large (one of the participants died after the indictment was issued).

This is a landmark moment in the search for justice for the victims of this massacre. Although more than 20 years have passed since the tragic murder of these 8 innocents, the indictment and arrest show that there are still people who will fight for the memory and dignity of the victims of SOA graduate violence and militarization in Latin America.

Although Spain and El Salvador do have an extradition treaty, Salvadoran officials have expressed doubt that the soldiers will be extradited. This is a chilling reminder that, although there are many people fighting for transparency, accountability, and justice throughout the world, powerful forces still make impunity for unspeakable crimes an unfortunate fact in much of the world, particularly for those trained and supported by the United States.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 August 2011 21:36
2nd Anniversary of the Military Coup in Honduras PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 30 June 2011 16:08

June 28, 2011 marked the two-year anniversary of the coup d’état in Honduras that illegally removed democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya from office and unfolded a repressive regime that systematically attacks and represses it’s Honduran citizens. June 28th also marked the birth of one of the most important social and political movements of contemporary history of Honduras and Latin America. Here is a video of a protest outside the U.S. military base in Honduras on June 28. The police and military started hitting people with their batons and firing teargas after youths attempted to spray paint exterior walls. One policeman pulls out his gun for no reason.

On July 1, 2011 a human rights delegation visited the community of Rigores, Tocoa, Cortes to learn about the violent and illegal eviction which had occurred there on June 26. While the group was hearing testimonies about last weeks' attack, a group of approximately 50 security forces moved into the community with their guns drawn. Click here to read more and for an action alert.

The SOA Watch movement has been asked by organizations working valiantly at the ground for justice in Honduras to connect members of our movement with two accompaniment programs organized and led by these groups. Click here for more information and get involved.

Here are some photos from the action/ street theater that took place in Washington DC on the 2 year anniversary of the coup.

Click here to read a letter by Jimena Paz of Tegucigalpa, Honduras who has worked since June 2010 as an "activante" with the SOA Watch Latin America office in Venezuela, and was one of the organizers of the 2010 SOA Watch South-North Encuentro. The SOA Watch “Activantia” program invites young people from around the Americas to work together to resist militarization and promote a culture of peace.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 August 2011 16:09
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