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Home News Press Releases Veterans to Begin "Bishops Fast"
Veterans to Begin "Bishops Fast" PDF Print E-mail
Columbus, GA. On March 24, 2002, the 22nd anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, several veterans will begin a daily morning to evening fast and vigil at the main entrance to Ft. Benning, Georgia, home of the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation). The group of veterans includes Medal of Honor recipient Charlie Liteky and SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois, among others. The fast will be broken after 32 days on the 4th anniversary of the assassination of Guatemalan Bishop Juan Gerardi.

President Bush is scheduled to visit El Salvador, also on the 24th, to discuss the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Critics of the SOA contend that the underlying purpose of the school is to secure a "free trade" agenda in Latin America by terrorizing popular movements into submission. Many see Bush's visit on the 24th as an act of disrespect to the legacy of Romero.

Archbishop Romero was gunned down in El Salvador while saying mass on March 24, 1980 by assassins trained at the SOA. Just prior to being assassinated, Romero stated, "My hope is that my blood will be like a seed of liberty and a sign that our hopes will soon become a reality." This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the signing of the Peace Accords in El Salvador. Following the Accords, the United Nations released a comprehensive report detailing the violence during the country?s civil war. The report cites two-thirds of those responsible for the worst atrocities during the conflict, which took tens of thousands of lives, were committed by soldiers trained at the SOA.

Bishop Gerardi was bludgeoned to death two days after he released a comprehensive human rights report on the Guatemalan civil war, called "Guatemala: Never Again." The report severely criticized the D-2, a notorious Guatemalan military intelligence agency headed by SOA-trained Col..Byron Disrael Lima Estrada in the mid-80's. It cited the D-2 for playing a "central role in the conduct of military operations, in massacres, in extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances and torture." Lima Estrada, who took Military Police training at the SOA, was arrested for the murder of Bishop Gerardi.

Both bishops serve as inspiration to people trying to lead lives based on truth, justice and concern for the oppressed. This fast is meant to be a sacrificial prayer for all who use violence as a means of control.

SOA Watch, founded in 1990, is a national, grassroots, faith and conscience-based group committed to nonviolence. We have offices in Columbus, GA, Washington, DC and chapters in communities and on campuses around the country. Our goal is to expose and close SOA/WHISC.


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