Legislative Updates & News from Latin America Print

Legislative Action

- Take Action! - Send an E-mail/Fax to your Representative

On June 9, 2006, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that would have cut funding for the SOA/WHINSEC. While the amendment failed by a 15 vote margin, the close vote indicated the power of grassroots lobbying to influence key leaders in one of the most conservative Congresses in recent memory.

Thirty-five Representatives who opposed the amendment lost their seats in the 2006 mid-term elections, heightening the prospect of closing the school with a vote in the 110th Congress. The bill, which will have a new number assigned in late March, is expected to be re-introduced this Spring.

We still have a long way ahead of us and we ask that you continue to support our efforts to close down the SOA/WHINSEC by keeping up the pressure on Congress and urging your Representative to co-sponsor Rep. McGovern?s bill to suspend training at the SOA/WHINSEC.

Click here to send a to your Representative urging her/him to support the bill to investigate the SOA/WHINSEC

Find out more about our Legislative Campaign to shut down the SOA/WHINSEC

- 1000 Grandmothers - Booties for Peace Campaign

Similar to the Fellowship of Reconciliation's "Surplus Food for China" Campaign in the 1950s, a campaign to send baby booties to all members of Congress has begun through the "1,000 Grandmothers" Action. To use the "grandmother stereotype", we are asking anyone and everyone (grandmother or not) to gather baby booties. These booties will represent the children that continue to suffer from the violence being taught at the School of the Americas.

We are asking that the booties are either handmade or gently used, with the intention of carrying the peace and love of the knitter or the wearer. Our goal is to collect 535 pairs and to send each member of Congress a pair of booties to highlight the fact that our nation must protect the children, not destroy their communities. We plan to send the booties to all members of Congress just before their vote on whether to continue funding of the School of the Americas.

Please send your handmade booties to:

Chico Peace and Justice Center
c/o Cathy Webster
526 Broadway Avenue
Chico, CA 95928

Updates & News from Latin America

- Survivor of El Mozote Massacre Passes

Rufina Amaya, human rights activist and survivor of the El Mozote Massacre passed on Tuesday March 6, 2007 due to heart failure. She was a mother, grandmother, friend and hero to many.

In 1981 an SOA-trained Salvadoran army battalion known as the Atlacatl Battalion swept through the region of Morazon in a campaign to root out guerillas and their sympathizers. In a shocking turn of events, nearly one thousand peasants were slaughtered in the village of El Mozote.

As the sole survivor, Rufina's brave testimony of the massacre shed light on the atrocities committed by the Salvadoran military and uncovered the Reagan administration's role in providing training and millions of dollars in military aid to a government with a complete disregard for human rights.

The Atlacatl Battalion continued to commit atrocities in El Salvador, including the murder of six Jesuit priests and two Salvadoran women at the University of Central America on November 16, 1989.

?God saved me because he needed someone to tell the story of what happened.? Rufina Amaya continued to be an outspoken and compelling witness to what may have been the largest massacre in modern Latin American history until the day of her death.

Rufina's legacy will live on in the hearts of the people of Latin America and the world.

- Colombia Announces Probe into San Jose de Apartado Massacre

As reports of the Uribe administration?s ties to right wing paramilitaries continue to make headlines, the Colombian government has announced that it is investigating 69 soldiers accused of participating in the 2005 massacre of eight civilians that led the U.S. government to suspend 70 million dollars in military aid to the South American country.

The eight, including three children, were members of the San Jose de Apartad? Peace Community located in the northwestern region of Colombia. The community belonged to an impoverished jungle settlement that has tried to isolate itself from the ongoing armed conflict by forbidding anyone armed to enter ? rebel, paramilitary, soldiers or police. Despite the ban, over 160 of its roughly 1,500 residents have been killed or ?disappeared? in the last 10 years.

Among those killed was Luis Eduardo Guerra, an internationally recognized peace activist and a co-founder of the Peace Community. In November 2002, Luis travelled from Colombia to Fort Benning, Georgia to speak out against the School of the Americas and to give a first hand testimony about the brutal impact that SOA training and US foreign policy have on the dire situation in Colombia.

"We don't have any faith in this investigation because it has been the Colombian state that has been attacking us and has shown no interest in stopping the attacks or investigating who is responsible," community leader Jesus Emilio Tuberquia said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday. Continue reading about the San Jose de Apartado Massacre

Read the Associated Press article on the investigation

- SOA Watch in Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras & El Salvador

Coinciding with President George W. Bush?s visit to Colombia, Guatemala, Brazil, Uruguay and Mexico to further U.S. foreign policy through economic and military assistance in the region; SOA Watch activists Lisa Sullivan-Rodriguez, Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Carlos Mauricio will be visiting Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

With this visit to Central America, the SOA Watch activists expect to meet with local human rights and social justice activists as part of SOA Watch?s ongoing campaign to strengthen ties between grassroots movements in the U.S. and Latin America which seek to demand a radical shift in the very U.S. foreign policy that the Bush administration seeks to perpetuate.

After a successful trip to Colombia and Panama, Lisa Sullivan of the SOA Watch Latin America Project is currently in Ecuador attending the International Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases in Quito and Manta. The conference organized by the International No Bases Network seeks to build objectives, action plans, and coordination, communication and decision-making strategies for the Network. Its goal is to also express its solidarity with the Ecuadorian people in their struggle against the U.S. Military base in Manta.

The Manta military base is the largest U.S. base in South America and was initially created to monitor narco-trafficking in the Pacific coast and in the nearby Amazon basin, but has since become a major operations center for U.S. intelligence-gathering and coordinating counterinsurgency efforts against the leftist guerrillas in neighboring Colombia.

Ecuador?s current administration under president Rafael Correa has denounced the base and announced that Ecuador will not renew the treaty for the base which expires in 2009.

"Ecuador is a sovereign nation; we do not need any foreign troops in our country," said Ecuador?s foreign minister, Maria Fernanda Espinosa.

Read more about the No Bases Conference

Read more about the SOA Watch Latin America Project

Anti-Oppression Resources

Shutting Down the School of the Americas and Combating Oppression

In our work to close the SOA/WHINSEC and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy, SOA Watch recognizes the SOA/WHINSEC as part of a racist tradition and system of violence and domination. The purpose of the SOA/WHINSEC is to help maintain U.S. hegemony throughout the Western Hemisphere. It is also a tool used to maintain white supremacy over the non-white populations of this hemisphere. Working for justice for the people of the Americas in a principled way means that we acknowledge and address racism and other forms of oppression as a driving force behind the violence and domination perpetuated by current U.S. foreign policy.

Because we are socialized in a society that is based on domination in which prejudice is often accepted as the norm,mechanisms that perpetuate oppression invariably enter communities dedicated to working for social justice. These mechanisms divide our movements and weaken our collective power. We have to educate each other about the ways in which white supremacy, patriarchy, classism, heterosexism and all other systems of oppression play out within our own movement and actively work against it. Our movement should embody the social norms and behaviors that we desire to see among the general population of the hemisphere. We must challenge supremacist practices which marginalize, exclude or de-humanize others.

To read articles on race, class, gender,abelism,antisemitism, and ageism and how they affect each of us, visit the Anti-Oppression Resources Section on the SOA Watch website. The Resources Section also contains anti-oppression exercises, a listing of groups that offer anti-oppression training and a small sampling of audio clips on the issues. Until we are clearly committed to anti-oppression, all forms of oppression will continue to prevent us from being as effective as we could be in creating the better world that we know is possible.

Events & Campaigns

- February/March ? Book Tour ? ?Loyal to the Sky: Notes from an Activist? by Marisa Handler

In Loyal to the Sky: Notes from an Activist, activist and journalist Marisa Handler takes us on a fascinating journey- from her childhood home in apartheid South Africa to Israel, India, Nepal, Ecuador, Peru, and all over the United States- to offer a rare and revealing glimpse inside the global justice movement. Tracing her own evolution as an activist, Loyal to the Sky explores current sociopolitical issues from apartheid and racism to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, corporate globalization, the crimes of the School of the Americas, and the wars of the Bush administration.

Read more about "Loyal to the Sky" and Marissa's tour schedule

- Friday March 16, 2007 ? Washington, D.C. - Christian Peace Witness for Iraq

Join thousands of Christian lay people and clergy to voice your support for creating real security and peace in Iraq. Worship together, vigil together.

Find out more about this event

- Saturday March 17, 2007- Washington, D.C. ? March on the Pentagon

On March 17, 2007, the 4th anniversary of the start of the criminal invasion of Iraq, tens of thousands of people from around the country will descend on the Pentagon in a mass demonstration to demand: U.S. Out of Iraq Now! 2007 is the 40th anniversary of the historic 1967 anti-war march to the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. The message of the 1967 march was "From Protest to Resistance," and marked a turning point in the development of a countrywide mass movement.

Bring banners and signs that call for the closure of the School of the Americas and an end to U.S. military intervention. March together with other SOA Watch activists as part of the Latin America Solidarity contingent, gather at 23rd and Constitution NW between noon and 1pm on March 17.

Contact the This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you would like to volunteer to hand out the new SOA Watch broadsheet to fellow activists during the rally.

Find out more about this event

- March 18-25, 2007 ? "Defund the War, Rebuild the Gulf Coast" ? Veterans for Peace Caravan

In solidarity with the people of the Gulf Coast and understanding that every bomb dropped in Iraq explodes over the U.S. Gulf Coast, Veterans For Peace and partner organizations will return to the area devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to aid in reconstruction efforts. The caravan will take activists throughout the Southeast where they will hold rallies outside U.S. military bases in the area, including a stop at the gates Ft. Benning in Columbus, GA. The project will raise money and volunteers to aid in rebuilding homes for survivors of the hurricanes. In addition, we will raise awareness of the continued plight of the gulf coast survivors and the persistent commitment to an illegal, immoral war fought at staggering costs, both financially and in human casualties.

Continue Reading about this amazing campaign

- April 13-15, 2007 ? Chicago, IL ? Latin American Solidarity Conference: ?Alternatives to Empire?

US grassroots solidarity activists will be joined by activists and organizers from Latin America and the Caribbean to plan, evaluate and celebrate the growing US Latin America solidarity movement.

Find out more about the LASC 4

The 4th Annual LASC Conference will also take place the same weekend as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) are organizing a huge protest targeting the McDonalds Corporation.

Read more about the CIW action against the McDonalds Corporation

Read more about the connection between the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and SOA Watch

SOA Watch is Hiring an Development & Operations Coordinator

School of the Americas Watch is hiring an Development & Operations 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.

Bilingual candidates, people of color and women are encouraged to apply. Required

Click here to read a detailed job description

Click here to read about Internship & Volunteer Opportunities at SOA Watch