|Mexican Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity 2012|
Friday, August 31, the Mexico
Caravan for Peace and Justice with Dignity stopped at the gates
of Fort Benning, Georgia to highlight the connection between
SOA/WHINSEC and the thousands murdered during the past 6 years
in the so-called “War on Drugs” in Mexico. Family members of the
victims and their allies staged a die-in at the entrance to the base,
leaving photographs of their loved ones, signs and crosses on the main
Read the report back from SOA Watch organizer Nico Udu-gama
View pictures from the Caravan's Flickr account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caravan4peace/sets/72157631360811530/
DC pictures from Ted Majdosz - http://photobyted.smugmug.com/SOAW/Caravan-for-Peace-in-DC/25307897_88FDqh#!i=2079852315&k=5wNQmS3
View more pictures from the protest. (Columbus Ledger-Enquirer)
by José Gil Olmos, Proceso Magazine
Caravan for Peace Protests in Front of School of the Americas
ATLANTA, Ga. - The cries for justice echoed through the entrance of the
famous School of the Americas at Fort Benning. Never before had there
been a peaceful Mexican demonstration at the door of this
anti-insurgency military training center.
“According to the Defense Secretary, 33 percent of deserters in the Mexican army were trained at the School of the Americas. It is they who butcher, decapitate, disappear people. That is the reality of this school, a reality that combines with crime to shame nations, to shame people, to destroy them.”The poet called on the Mexican Armed Forces and the governments of other countries to withdraw their students from the school because, he said, “they are going to create more crime in the country, if they desert and have no ethics they will become a part of it, like the Zetas of the country’s criminal forces.”
Sicilia said that in Mexico at least thirteen commanders involved in the country’s violence graduated from this school, among them General José Rubén Rivas, author of 1994’s Chiapas Plan and main advocate for the militarization of the southern state.
After reminding the demonstrators that although the government believed that the EZLN (the Zapatista Army of National Liberation) and other indigenous groups would Balkanize the country, it was the criminals who actually did it and one example of this, he said, is the hiring by the Juárez cartel of thirty-one soldiers who then became Zetas [the violent Mexican criminal syndicate].
According to Sicilia, this school is the shame of military ethics because it is the face of legalized criminals, the opposite of what armies across the world have been.
Before arriving at Fort Benning, the Caravan for Peace was greeted by a group of members of the Trinity Presbyterian Church, whom they asked for help in stopping the drug war.
In his speech, the leader of the Caravan recalled the recent massacres in the country, like that in Colorado, and made it clear that he did not come to try to impose an agenda, but only to ask that the U.S. take responsibility for supporting the Mexican government in the drug war.
“This is the United States’ responsibility, we come to ask them for help, we must stop this war, because all it’s doing is killing and destroying, creating gains for the most perverse figures, the leaders of violence, and benefiting the mafias,” he stated in front of the white Presbyterian pastors who offered breakfast to the Caravan.One of the pastors acknowledged that the U.S. has managed to avoid the violence in Mexico.
“In this country we haven’t had the courage to face the truth. We have funded the destruction of Mexico and the deaths of many here. For many years we have kept up a drug war that was a failure from the start,” he said.
He also said that each time a criminal leader dies, a few dozen arise because they do business and there are many poor people who are looking for ways to make money: “We are creating our own destruction, and Mexico’s.”
Also see: http://lacaadvocacy.wordpress.com/2012/09/03/the-peace-caravan-visits-the-school-of-the-americas-georgia
Role of the SOA in the Drug War
Perpetrators of the violence on both sides of this declared "war" have strong links to the US School of the Americas/WHINSEC, a U.S. taxpayer-funded military training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. Ciudad Juarez Police Chief, Julian Leyzaola Perez, a graduate of the SOA, has been accused by human rights groups of participating "directly in the torture of individuals who were arbitrarily detained, transported to military bases, and subjected to beatings, electric shocks, death threats, and asphyxiation to obtain false confessions" (UNHCR report). At least 18 high-level Mexican officers involved in the ongoing civilian-targeted warfare campaign in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca were trained at the School of the Americas. On the side of the drug cartels, the Mexican Secretary of Defense reported that at least 1/3 of the Zetas drug cartel received US training (Brownsville Herald).
In July 2011, Jesús Enrique Rejón Águilar, known as "Zeta 7" was arrested and claimed that the Zetas purchased weapons from the US government, and that Mexican troops trained at Fort Benning were recruited to the ranks of the Zetas drug cartel (read more). The gun smuggling circuit between the US government agencies and drug forces was later revealed as an official operation called "Fast and the Furious".
A Response from Below
Also in July 2011, following the March 2011 death of Juan Francisco Sicilia (son of Mexican poet, Javier Sicilia), the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity led "Peace Caravans" to the North and South of Mexico, meeting with victims of the US-backed War on Drugs, and leading a 200,000 person march into Mexico City.
This summer, the "Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity", led by victims of Mexico's US-backed drug war, began traveling through the United States on August 12, meeting with civil society and will end in Washington, DC, on September 10.
SOA Watch is excited to support this important initiative, and we enthusiastically echo the call to mobilize from our partners at Global Exchange!The stated goals of the Peace Caravan are "to promote dialogue with American civil society and its government regarding the following themes: the need to stop gun trafficking; the need to debate alternatives to drug prohibition; the need for better tools to combat money laundering; and the need to promote bilateral cooperation in human rights and human security in two priority areas: promotion of civil society and safety, as well as protection and safety for migrants."
CHECK OUT THE CARAVAN'S WEBSITE! http://www.caravanforpeace.org/caravan/
Read the invitation to join the Peace Caravan here. Check out the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity's website, and visit http://www.globalexchange.org/mexico/caravan for more information on the tour.
Use the Sample Press Release to send to your local media, announcing your community's support for the Peace Caravan.
Read about the February 2012 SOA Watch delegation to the US/Mexico border.
Watch the interview on Democracy Now! with Javier Sicilia.
Order November Vigil postcards, postcards to send to Congress members urging them to cosponsor HR3368 (the bill to suspend and investigate the SOA; contact 202-234-3440 to get a batch of the Congressional postcards) and Presente newsletter to distribute to activists along the Caravan route!
SOA Watch encourages all demilitarization activists to join the Caravan along the remaining stops. The Peace Caravan is a great way to connect with our compañerxs from the South, and spread the word about US training of Mexican and other Latin American officials at the SOA/WHINSEC. Our struggles are combined!
No more militarization! End the Drug War! Close the SOA!
Find out about the upcoming November Vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, from November 16-18, 2012.
For more information, or to let us know what actions you will do in support of the caravan in your communities, please contact Nico at
or 202-234-3440 or Ted Lewis at Global Exchange at
5525 Illinois Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20011
Join the cohousing community of Sunrise Mountain Farm
Madeleine Breen of the Dominican Sisters of Peace