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April 22-25: Flood DC with Justice! PDF Print E-mail
Growing Stronger Together - Resisting the 'Drug War' Across the Americas.

Social change needs grassroots power. Photos and report back from the 2015 Spring Days of Action in Wshington, DC

Wednesday, April 22 (#EarthDay)

On Wednesday morning,SOA Watch activists, including several former Prisoners of Conscience, joined the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance at two actions at the Environmental Protection Agency and at the Pentagon. We called out the Pentagon's role in the destruction of Mother Earth. Eight of the activists were arrested by Pentagon police, when they demanded a meeting with Pentagon officials and refused to leave without it. Click here for photos from the march and the arrests.

Since the SOA graduate-led military coup in 2009, Honduras has become the most dangerous country in the world for environmental and land activists. Indigenous environmental campaigners are particularly at risk because they are up against powerful political and economic interests who have grown used to exploiting their land with impunity.

Wednesday, April 22, 6pm-8pm
Corruption, Crime and Community Organizing in the US and Mexico, by Simón Sedillo, an independent journalist and a documentary film maker.

Simón Sedillo presented new material from various struggles for dignity and self determination taking place in Mexico today. Sedillo presented an insightful breakdown on the supposed "war on drugs", with updates from Michoacán and Guerrero as well as a broader analysis of the the effects of the U.S. military political economy on Mexico and the Mexican people. The story in the news today is about Mexican crime and corruption, but what about the role of crime and corruption in the USA? Sedillo's presentation included community based video productions. Click here for photos from the presentation.

Following the talk, we came together at Haydee's for a karaoke party, to join into the rich tradition of music and resistance, and to build community.



Thursday, April 23
On Thursday morning, SOA Watch Legislative and Advocacy Coordinator, Arturo Viscarra, and activante Jenne Ristau, led a lobby training to inform the movement about our grassroots lobby efforts. As SOA Watch activists listened and participated, so too did SOA Watch Latin America Liaison Brigitte Gynther, who provided insight to the destructive impact the ill-named Aliiance for Prosperity will have on Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador if passed through Congress. John Lindsay-Poland provided the participants with up to date research on US military aid.

The day before, as US-supported Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez spoke in Washington, DC about supposedly promoting peace and prosperity in Honduras - the most violent country in the world, especially after the 2099 SOA-led coup - SOA Watch kicked off the Spring Days of Action by accompanying Honduran Human Rights activist Berta Cáceres from COPINH in speaking truth to power before Congress. 

12pm - 4:30pm Lobbying. Grassroots activists from across the country visted their Representatives.

In the evening, we came together for a social gathering.



Friday, April 24
We spoke truth to power on Capitol Hill. After an intense day of grassroots lobbying, SOA Watch activists decided to take lobbying on Capitol Hill a step further and protest inside Sen. Marco Rubio's office, to call him out on not taking a stand in opposition to the failed "Drug War".

As the activists entered Senator Rubio's office, they immediately unfurled a banner reading "The War on Drugs is a War on Us" in English and Spanish. Rubio, who is an outspoken critic of the normalization of US relations with Cuba, and actively seeks to continue tired Cold War policies of the past, has failed to take a stand on the issue of the Drug War, funded by Plan Mexico, a 2 billion dollar Congressional initiative that has caused immense suffering in Mexico at a high human cost in the name of security and the Drug War. In addition to Plan Mexico, recent news reports that the US has recently sold over $1 billion in weaponry to the Mexican military and police.

Also on Friday morning, four human activists staged a sit-in at the embassy of El Salvador, with the intention of getting arrested to call attention to the situation of a group of Salvadoran women currently serving extreme prison sentences in El Salvador for having had miscarriages. Protesters included Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of Latin America solidarity organization School of the Americas Watch; Ed Kinane, of Syracuse, NY, retired educator and nonviolent peace activist; John Honeck, a counselor and activist from Hamlin, NY; and Paki Wieland, of Northampton, MA, longtime peace and justice activist and member of Grandmothers for Peace. The group delivered a letter to the embassy to express their solidarity and to seek the release of the 17 women. Julienne Oldfield of Syracuse, NY, and Palma Ryan of Cliff Island, ME, also participated in the sit-in. The four spent the night in general lock up, and the following day in the holding cells of the district court. They were released on Saturday afternoon, and will have to return to DC for a court date in May 2015. For the media release and photos, click here.


8pm CONCERT at Don Juan's at 1660 Lamont St NW, Washington, DC
Art and music are the backbone of the Resistance, and have always been a vital pat of the SOA Watch movement. As part of our Spring Days of Action, we had a concert featuring Elena of Elena y los Fulanos, Fenomedon, Alumbra DC, Luci Murphy, Kumara, Juan, Xavier, Cesar. Come Rock against militarization and the failed Drug War! For photos from the concert, please click here.


Saturday, April 25
9:00 am - 4:30 pm Forum and Strategy Session. University of DC David A. Clarke School of Law, 4340 Connecticut Ave. NW.
Growing Stronger Together: Resisting the "Drug War" Across the Americas

We held a strategy session for grassroots organizers who are pushing back against militarization. Participants learned from and strategized together with Berta Cáceres, the general co-ordinator of Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas Populares - COPINH (Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organisations) from Honduras, Simón Sedillo, a community rights defense organizer and film maker, who has spent the last 8 years documenting, producing and teaching community based video documentation in Mexico, and many other new and old grassroots organizers like yourself. Following the morning session, part of the group drove up to Baltimore, to join the protests against the police killing of Freddie Gray, a 25-year old black man who died of severe injuries to his spine in police custody. Break out groups engaged in a brainstorm and visioning process to plan for our next steps as a movement.

Click here for photos from the strategy session.

Growing The movement's continued commitment to justice has only made our roots deeper and our reach towards the sun lengthen. More recently, SOA Watch's partnership with groups protesting the U.S. funding and militarizing of the Drug War in Mexico, have made seedlings whispering in the wind take root and cultivate in our shared communities. This April we continue in this same tradition of growing by challenging the Drug War in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and in the U.S.

Stronger Change occurs over time, sprouting from the seeds planted by those who have come before us. Now, it is our job to continue to grow the movement, push for greater change, and continue building an alternative to war and empire, state violence and impunity, Mass incarceration, the root causes of migration, the criminalization of dissent - the greatest social struggles we are currently resisting in the hemisphere are linked by the disastrous "Drug War".

Together We are many communities in resistance, in Mexico, the U.S. and throughout the Americas, working for self-determination, justice, and an end to the violence of the Drug War. We are taking our message to Washington, DC not as individuals, but as a collective, echoing the millions of voices speaking truth to power and telling our own histories and herstories so that the powers that be cannot claim ignorance of the truth, and make a decision whether or not they will be part of the change for a better, more peaceful world.

Confronting The War on Drugs

The "Drug War" is militarizing, incarcerating, and killing communities in Latin America and in the U.S., especially traditionally oppressed peoples. Let's join join together to tell Congress the War on Drugs must end.

The enforced disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico proved once again that the disastrous results of U.S. military aid and training in Latin America are ongoing. Similarly, in Ferguson and other U.S. cities have reminded us that police militarization and the treatment of black and brown people as internal enemies are also major problems in the U.S., while putting into context what militarization looks like on the ground for so many in Latin America and beyond.

Local Organizing

Last Updated on Monday, 27 April 2015 14:48
 

We are looking forward to the Spring Days of Action, that are taking place in Washington, DC in the end of April! Click here to register now, so we know that we can count you in. In the lead-up to SOA Watch's DC mobilization, parents of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa are coming to the US:

Stand in Solidarity with the Parents of the Disappeared Ayotzinapa Students from Mexico
Caravana 43

In September 2014, dozens of students from Ayotzinapa's teachers' college in the Mexican state of Guerrero were attacked by police. #Ayotzi43DCSix people were killed. The police then forcibly disappeared 43 students, who have been missing ever  since. The Ayotzinapa 43 have become a symbol of the over 100,000 murdered and 25,000 disappeared in the last 8 years of the US/Mexican Drug War.

*** Please note, April 7th D.C. event has been updated*****

From now until April 28, 2015, parents of the 43 disappeared students are traveling in three caravans throughout the US, covering over 40 cities from the US/Mexico border along the Pacific, central and Atlantic region states. The Caravana43 is calling for justice and accountability, and will shed light on the connection between US foreign policy, and the violence in Mexico. Caravana43The US government is funding and training the repressive Mexican military and police, and enforcing oppressive economic policies. The results are disastrous. The Caravana43 will build bonds between the people of Mexico and the United States on the issue of systemic violence by the police against its people.

Read more...
 
SOA/WHINSEC Grads in the News PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 16 March 2015 00:00

SOA GRADS CONTINUE TO MAKE HEADLINES THROUGHOUT THE AMERICAS

In just the first two months of 2015, we have been horrified, though not surprised, to learn of the continued repression by SOA/WHINSEC graduates against their own people. As the US continues to secure economic and political interests by utilizing military solutions to social and political problems, SOA/WHINSEC graduates continue to make headlines in countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Peru and Chile, underscoring the importance of continuing the struggle to close the SOA/WHINSEC. While some graduates have yet to be held accountable due to the high levels of impunity in their country or in the US, they are all directly responsible for committing grave human rights violations, which include murder, torture and genocide.

Last Updated on Monday, 16 March 2015 21:12
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Eve and Nashua Stand Trial in Columbus, Georgia and Celebrate Victory for SOA Watch! PDF Print E-mail
Written by María Luisa Rosal   
Saturday, 31 January 2015 20:45

Eve and Nashua Stand Trial in Columbus, Georgia and Celebrate Victory for SOA Watch!

On Thursday morning, Eve Tetaz and Nashua Chantal stood trial before US District Judge Stephen Hyles in Columbus, Georgia. The prosecution called for Eve, an 83 year-old retired public school teacher and longtime peace activist, and Nashua, a 62 year-old longtime SOA Watch activist, to be incarcerated for the six-month maximum for illegal entry onto Ft. Benning on November 23, 2014. Ft. Benning is home of the School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001 (SOA/WHINSEC).

During their sentencing by judge Stephen Hyles, the courtroom, as well as the JAG attorneys were surprised when Nashua was sentenced to a 5 year probation, and Eve was sentenced to a $5,000 fine. Neither of them was sentenced to prison, something that judge Hyles has been notorious for imposing on nonviolent activists since beginning his tenure in 2010. Represented by Anna Lellelid and Bill Quigley, of the SOA Watch Legal Collective, Eve and Nashua were accompanied by Fr. Roy, Coleman Smith of the Pupetistas, SOA Watch Council Member Ken Hayes, Irene Rodriguez of the SOA Watch Communications Collective, Anton Flores of Georgia Detention Watch/AlternCommunity, members of Nashua's community in Americus, and SOA Watch Field Organizer Maria Luisa Rosal.

During the press conference before entering the courtroom, Anna Lellelid stated, "Eve is planning to plea not guilty. Nashua crossed over a fence, and he was protesting the violations of human rights committed by graduates of the School of the Americas, and he will be peading guilty, and hoping to serve community service with Habitat for Humanity in his community and continue to serve the people that he loves." Bill Quigley stated, "We hope we are going to be walking out with both of these people today."

During their trial, both Eve and Nashua addressed the court and spoke truth to power, highlighting the horrors of the School of the Americas:

Nashua stated, "I did cross the fence to protest the human rights violations in Latin America. I am totally supportive of the work of School of the Americas Watch, particularly the work to release the names of the gradautes. If they are proud of the school, they should be proud of their graduates." After pleading guilty and requesting community service instead of prison, Nashua also said, "I have made my point. I have stood up for human rights."

Similarly, Eve put the SOA on trial, as well as a US culture of militarism when she affirmed, "torture is not a political tool. My own President asks 'is this who we are?'. All of us would like to say no, but if the School of the Americas is kept open, then I am afraid the answer is yes. This is who we are."

Thursday's trial was a victory for the SOA Watch movement. Through their actions, Eve and Nashua continued to denounce the SOA, and in doing so, were still able to walk out of a courtroom that has historically seen harsh prison sentences handed down to others within the movement that have crossed the line in the past. To date, over 300 people have collectively served over 100 years of prison sentences for their nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to call attention to the SOA/WHINSEC. SOA Watch maintains that those responsible for the SOA torture manuals and for the training of repressive foreign militaries, are the ones who should stand trial and be held accountable. Nashua and Eve are to be commended for speaking truth to power. They continue the long tradition of nonviolent civil disobedience.

Our work to close the SOA and to change oppressive US foreign policy towards Latin America continues. In the face of more violence against our brothers and sisters in Latin America - the 43 disappeared students in Ayotzinapa, the continued violence and repression in Honduras, the impunity in Guatemala - we continue to organize and to come up with creative forms of resistance.

La lucha sigue, the struggle continues.



Last Updated on Saturday, 31 January 2015 21:01
 
#FreeNestora & #StopPlanMexico PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jenne Ristau   
Friday, 16 January 2015 02:52

Help Us Follow Up On Last Week's Actions And Congressional Visits

Demand release of U.S. citizen and political prisoner, Nestora Salgado, and an end to the US government's deadly "Plan Mexico"

Pressure mounted outside the White House and in Congress last week to end U.S. funding of the disastrous Drug War in Mexico. While the Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, met with President Obama, hundreds gathered outside the White House to demand justice for the over 25,000 forcefully disappeared and 100,000 killed due to the collusion of police, military, and cartels since the U.S. and Mexico escalated the militarization of the country in 2006. Mexican/Chican@ activists, and allies including Arturo, SOA Watch's Advocacy Coordinator and #USTired2 DC coordinator, are featured in the AJ+ video at left "The Fight for Mexican Human Rights Goes to Congress". Help us amplify the voices of milliones of Mexicans who have had enough after after the 43 forced disappearances in Ayotzinapa by calling and/or tweeting your Members of Congress.

Senators told us-

“Ask constituents to tweet and call us”

For three days, SOA Watch helped set up meetings between human rights advocates and congressional offices, where we demanded an end to Plan Mexico - the $3 billion funding project that trains and arms Mexican troops and other "Drug War" aid and training that is wasting taxpayer money on cartel-infiltrated Mexican security forces..

#StopPlanMexico Many directly affected community members traveled from afar to participate in the protest and meetings, including Jose Luis Avila, whose wife, Nestora Salgado, is a political prisoner in Mexico due to her organizing with indigenous community police forces in Guerrero state. The lobby visits were very successful, as many congressional offices were unaware that U.S. military spending in Mexico results in serious human rights abuses and agreed the status quo is intolerable.

#FreeNestora We will continue to demand the release of political prisoner, indigenous leader and dual U.S.-Mexican citizen, Nestora Salgado; whose release was ordered by a Mexican federal judge but has been unlawfully imprisoned under solitary confinement(!!!) for 16 months in a maximum security prison in El Rincon, Nayarit. Nestora has been targeted for denouncing public officials who collude with known drug-trafficers and mining companies to force indigenous communities off of their land.

Tweet now. Call now (number and call script below).

Type in your zipcode here to get the number and twitter handle of your representative: http://bit.ly/14rgjfr *

Sample Tweets: #FreeNestora #StopPlan Mexico #USTired2

.[@InsertYourSenator] Not just a "few bad apples". End US military & police aid to Mexico #FreeNestora #StopPlanMexico

.[@InsertYourSenator] Do more 4 Nestora Salgado- US Citizen, indigenous leader & political prisoner in #Mexico #USTired2 #FreeNestora

.[@InsertYourSenator]Haga más para Nestora Salgado- US Citizen, lider indigena y presa política en #Mexico #USTired2 #FreeNestoraYa

Call - (202) 224-3121 and ask to be connected to your Senator's office. We have even provided a script for grassroots lobbyists (that means you) below:

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