Legislative Update - Prison News - Vigil Dates - and much more! Print

November Vigil

This year's Vigil to Close the SOA will take place November 17-19 at Fort Benning, Georgia! Join us!

  • Newsletters and colorful 4"x6" palm cards advertising the Vigil are available to get the word out in your community. Click here for more information, or contact us in the office at 202-234-3440.

  • It's never too early to book your lodging for the weekend, as many hotels fill up months in advance.

  • Do you know others in your area that are working to close down the School of the Americas? See a listing of SOA Watch local groups. If your group is not listed, please add your contact information.

    Continue to check www.SOAW.org for updates throughout the summer.

  • In this email, you'll find:

    1. Vote to Close the SOA in early June
    2. Update on those in Prison
    3. Colombia Days of Action: May 21-22
    4. U.S.-Andean Free Trade Agreement
    5. Militarization of U.S.-Mexico Border
    6. Police Brutality in Mexico
    7. Petition to Evo Morales from Bolivian Organizers
    8. SOA Watch Hiring Communications Coordinator


    Vote to Close the SOA in Early June

    Last week, we had an unexpected chance at offering an amendment about the SOA/ WHINSEC to the Defense Authorization bill. Even though the Rules Committee didn?t allow our amendment, two very influential Members of Congress ? including the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee ? set the stage for our June vote by speaking on the floor about the importance of allowing debate on the SOA issue!

    This is thanks to your hard work and perseverance! Let?s keep the pressure on as we look towards a vote in early to mid-June.


    Read more about last week?s happenings, send an email to your Member of Congress and find out more about the legislative campaign: www.soaw.org/legislative.


    Prison Update

    There are currently 30 people in jails and prisons around the country who are serving sentences of two to six months for their opposition to the School of the Americas.

    Two of these human rights advocates were released this month after completing their sentences: Fr. Louis Vitale of San Francisco, California and Anika Cunningham of Bowling Green, Ohio. Another of those prisoners of conscience, Chris Gaunt, will complete a six-month sentence and is scheduled for release this week.

    Write to the prisoners! Find prison addresses here. Find out other actions to take in solidarity with those in prison.


    Colombia Days of Action

    Remembering the Victims and Rejoicing with the Peacemakers: Days of Prayer and Action for Colombia -- May 21 & 22, 2006

    This month, join thousands of churches and people of faith throughout the U.S. in responding to the calls from Colombia for an end to the violence.

    On Sunday, May 21, congregations across the country will stand in solidarity with our Colombian brothers and sisters who have endured so much suffering, remembering the victims of Colombia's brutal conflict and praying for a peaceful future in Colombia. Then on MONDAY, MAY 22, we will take collective action to ask that U.S. policy promote peace and justice in Colombia rather than military involvement and violence.

    The strength of the solidarity between people of faith in the U.S. and those in Colombia is incredibly strong ? and needed more than ever! Do not miss the opportunity to stand, side by side, with Colombians to say no to military plans and yes to peace. The tide is turning. Be on the side of peace in Colombia.

    More complete information is available at www.peaceincolombia.org, including resources for prayer, church bulletins, and sermon ideas for May 21. You will also find a list of talking points and advice on contacting your Member of Congress on May 22. Peace is possible. Join us!


    U.S.-Andean Free Trade Agreement

    The Bush administration wants to expand the failed NAFTA model to the entire hemisphere in a 34-nation Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). But much of South America said ?no.? To pressure nations like Brazil, which are targets of U.S. oil, pharmaceutical, logging and other corporate giants, the Bush administration has pushed for agreements with smaller nations in the hemisphere. The administration pressures these countries to agree to agreements opposed by their own populations by threatening to cut off these nations? existing tariff-free access to the U.S. market.

    It remains unclear if Bush will attempt to push a full Andean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) this year, but he is definitely trying to rush a terrible deal with Peru through Congress by summer. If we speak up loudly, we can stop it. Read more information at www.TradeWatch.org.


    Download the ?SOA and Neoliberalism? flyer (pictured at left), an outstanding educational resource for use in your community (PDF). View and download other flyers about the SOA.


    Militarization of U.S.-Mexico Border

    On Monday, May 14, President Bush publicly announced the plan to deploy six thousand National Guard troops on the U.S.-Mexico border to support the already heavily militarized border police against undocumented immigrant workers. The main purpose of the announcement was probably the need to deflect from some of the recent scandals and the low poll numbers with anti-immigrant scapegoating. The militarization of the border and the criminalization of immigrant communities will cause the death of more immigrants as they try to cross ever more arduous areas of the border, seeking jobs and higher wages after having been driven from their homeland by U.S. imposed and SOA enforced ?free trade? policies.

    The deployment of National Guard troops follows the same skewed logic that is used to justify the repression against Latin American opposition to the U.S. ?free? trade agenda by training militaries in counterinsurgency tactics at the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) and the use of the FBI against political activists in the United States - it is the pursuit of military and police ?solutions? to matters that need to be dealt with politically.

    We urge all people to become more educated about the life stories and experiences of recent immigrants and to support human and civil rights!

    Check out The SOA and Immigration.


    Police Brutality in Mexico

    On May 3, hundreds of police violently evicted a group of flower growers from their usual selling posts at the outskirts of the marketplace of the city of San Salvador Atenco, about 20 miles east of Mexico City. Upon the farmers? resistance, the area erupted in confrontation. Scuffles between residents and the police broke out and ended in the all out assault of the town by over 3,000 state and federal police forces the following day.

    Solidarity mobilizations in response to the police violence took place in all parts of Mexico and throughout the world (SOA Watch activists took part in protest actions at Mexican consulates in the United States). Students, labor organizers and others blocked the highways connecting Mexico City to the cities of Puebla, Toluca and Cuernavaca for several hours to denounce the violent action happening in Atenco.

    The Zapatistas have put their current events on hold and organize together with civil society groups throughout Mexico for the release of all the prisoners detained during the police actions.

    Read a full report about what happened in San Salvador Atenco. For updated information visit www.NarcoNews.com.


    Petition from Bolivian Organizers to Evo Morales

    Bolivian organizers, working with social justice advocates in four other South American and several European countries have initiated a petition asking Bolivian President Evo Morales to immediately stop sending soldiers to train at the School of the Americas/WHINSEC. The organizers will present this petition to Morales on June 26, International Torture Day.

    Support their work and sign the petition in English o en español.


    SOA Watch Hiring a Communications Coordinator

    School of the Americas Watch is hiring a Communications Coordinator to be based in Washington, DC. The position is full-time with health benefits, paid vacation and holiday time. Salary is negotiable, and there are opportunities for skills development. It's a great place to work!

    Read more about the job and find out how to apply.

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