SOA Watch Opens Latin America Office & Other Updates Print

SOA Watch Update
October 17, 2006

  • Updates & News from Latin America
  • Five SOA Watch Prisoners Released
  • Stand for Justice this November 17-19

  • SOA Watch Opens Latin American Office

    We are proud to announce that thanks to your support and contributions SOA Watch opened a Latin America office in August of this year. In an effort to strengthen our cooperation with human rights organizations in Latin America, it is important that the movement to close the School of the Americas has a physical presence in Latin America. As the first country to take the step of withdrawing its troops from the SOA/WHINSEC, Venezuela seemed an appropriate location for such an initiative.

    After returning from yet another hopeful trip, this time to Ecuador, Peru and Chile, veteran SOA Watch activist Lisa Sullivan has opened up the Latin America office in Barquisimeto, Venezuela.

    The immediate goals of the SOA Watch Latin America office are to connect the grassroots movements of the U.S. and Latin America, to organize visits of SOA Watch delegations to countries in Latin America, and to contribute information and logistical support to other human rights groups in the region who have been in the forefront of taking a stand against the SOA/WHINSEC, military intervention and human rights violations.

    Lisa has been busy following up on the recent visits to Chile, Ecuador and Peru. In Chile, several members of Congress have offered to introduce a bill to demand that President Michelle Bachelet withdraw Chilean troops from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC). In Peru, as well as in Chile and Ecuador, a coalition of several human rights groups have organized simultaneous vigils and demonstrations to coincide with the Vigil at Ft. Benning with the assistance of the Latin America office and the faith-based Colombian human rights group ?Cristianos por la Paz con Justicia y Dignidad.?

    We need your support to maintain this vital office in Latin America! Make a donation today!

    Lisa Sullivan Reports on Trip to Chile, Ecuador and Peru

    Lisa Sullivan of ?SOA Watch Latin America? has written a compelling article on her recent trip to Latin America. Together with torture survivor Carlos Mauricio, photographer and activist Linda Panetta and SOA Watch founder Roy Bourgeois, Lisa met with local human rights groups and government authorities as part of SOA Watch?s ongoing campaign to close the SOA/WHINSEC and to resist the U.S.-supported militarization of Latin America.

    ?On previous trips to Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia we received the good news from leaders that they would withdraw their troops from the SOA, some immediately and some gradually. This time our travels brought us to Ecuador, Peru and Chile. While we were aware that the character of these governments made it unlikely that we would again find such instant agreement, we knew that it was important to frame the question directly to government leaders, bring the issue of the SOA to public debate, and engage local human rights activists in demanding their country?s withdrawal from this institution....?

    Read this compelling update from Lisa.


    Five SOA Watch Prisoners Released

    On Friday, October 6, Ken Crowley, Jane Hosking, John LaForge, Sr. Mary Dennis, and Edward "Naed" Smith were released after serving six-month sentences for their nonviolent opposition to the School of the Americas/WHINSEC. We join with the communities, families, supporters and SOA Watch activists around the world in celebrating their releases as well as their courage and commitment to denouncing human rights abuse and oppression in Latin America.

    Of the 37 SOA Watch human rights activists from around the United States that were arrested in November 2005, Jonathan Robert remains in prison and Charles Carney and Jaime Walters are completing sentences of 12 months probation.

    All of those who make the deliberate decision to put their bodies and freedom on the line to call attention to the School of the Americas are committing nothing more and nothing less than an act of love in solidarity with the thousands of victims of torture, murder, rape and systematic violence that the SOA has perpetuated in Latin America.

    This year human rights activists will again take their message onto the base of Fort Benning. The Direct Action Working Group is working with people all over the country who have committed to "crossing the line" this November 18-20. If you're interested in finding out more about civil disobedience to close the SOA, contact Eric LeCompte at elecompte(at)soaw.org for more info!

    Learn more about the prisoners of conscience and how you can help.


    Stand for Justice this November 17-19

    Repressive militaries are not the answer to the problems of our day and age. Speak out to close the SOA and change U.S. foreign policy!

    Where will you be on the weekend of November 17-19? Will you be standing with tens of thousands of brothers and sisters, helping to create a new world free of violence and oppression? Will you be raising your voice in protest, in hope and in liberation? Will you be standing Vigil in front of the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia? WE HOPE SO!

    We are only a little over a month away from this year?s gathering!

    On NOVEMBER 17-19, speakers, musicians and activists from around the world will gather at the gates of Ft. Benning in solidarity with all those who demand that justice be done and that peace reign in Latin America. We need your presence and support, we need your voice to join in with thousands of other voices and make our message heard, loud and clear: THE SOA/WHINSEC MUST BE SHUT DOWN!

    Activities surrounding the weekend Vigil will begin on Thursday November 16 with a non-violence training, prisoners of conscience gathering and a benefit concert in Atlanta featuring the Chestnut Brothers, Jose Saavedra, Holly Near, and many more!

    - Check Out the Full Schedule for the Vigil Weekend.

    - Ride Board: We are happy to announce that our Ride Board is up and working! This is a great tool for communities to come together and coordinate their travel to Ft. Benning. Find a Ride! Post a Ride!

    - Hotels, Motels & Camping - Contact the Columbus Visitor?s Bureau at 1-800-999-1613 for the latest info on hotel availability.

    - Travel Tips

    - Download or Order the November Organizing Packet

    - Make a Donation to Support the Vigil.

    - Find out More about what you can expect at Fort Benning this November.

    - Visit our Website for more Information on the Vigil.