As this issue of Presente went to print, our hearts were heavy. The assassination of our dear friend and comrade Berta Cáceres, and the increased repression against social movement groups, have left us shocked and saddened. SOA Watch Latin America liaison Brigitte Gynther traveled to Honduras the morning after she learned about the assassination and has been coordinating SOA Watch’s response together with our partner groups on the ground. If you do not already receive Urgent Action emails from us, please click here to sign up now.
The recent decision by the U.S. judge in North Carolina to extradite one of the perpetrators of the 1989 massacre at the University of San Salvador gives us hope that justice will prevail in the end. It will take all of us to create change! Please join us as we mobilize to the U.S./Mexico border from October 7-10, 2016!
Other articles in this issue cover a protest by SOA Watch in Chile against US bases in Latin America, the FBI surveillance of SOA Watch, updates from Colombia and Mexico, news about the first Border Patrol agent to receive training at WHINSEC, background information about Direct Action, the Youth Encuentro in Guatemala, and more. Download this issue of Presente here.
As the “War on Drugs” continues to wreck heavoc throughout the Americas; the Obama administration and the hawkish US Congress doubel down on Pentagon-driven “military solutions.”
At the same time, we are witnessing a moment where social movements are rising from Ferguson to Ayotzinapa in response to the repression that is so often executed by state agents and that targets marginalized communities all across the Americas.
The Spring issue of ¡Presente! takes a look at various grassroots responses that work towards building a culture of justice and peace in the face of such violence.
Included are articles that focus on the disappearance of the 43 students in Guerrero, the struggle for truth and justice by H.I.J.O.S. in Guatemala, local mobilizing against large-scale development projects in Panama, a look-back at the 2014 SOA Watch November Vigil as well as an update about the trials against line-crossers Eve Tetaz and Nashua Chantal. Furthermore included is important information about SOA Watch's upcoming Spring Days of Action, where our movement will converge under the motto "Growing Stronger Together: Resisting the Drug War Across the Americas" (April 22-25) in Washington, DC. Features artwork was contributed by the Beehive Collective and Gran Om .
- articles on the root
causes of migration by unaccompanied Central American minors, and on police
militarization in the U.S./abroad
- a report on SOA Watch’s recent "Youth Encuentro" in
Venezuela that brough 33 young Latin American leaders together
- important information about our upcoming 25th November Vigil at Fort Benning in Georgia
It also features artwork by the Washington, DC-based artist MasPaz.
If you want a high resolution version of ¡Presente! (suitable for printing) click here.
Spring 2014( 1 items ) The Spring 2014 issue of "Presente!" was union-printed on February 3. This issue focuses on recent developments in Latin America and within the SOA Watch movement. It features articles from SOA Watch supporters, allies, and partners, in addition to messages from Maria Luisa Rosal and Katherine Henao, our two new staff collective members. Topics include:
-The "election" of Juan Orlando Hernández amid evidence of fraud in Honduras
-A message of hope and call for support ahead of the 2014 SOA Watch Youth Encuentro, to take place in Venezuela this summer
-News from around the region on the involvement of SOA/WHINSEC grads in human rights abuses
The Fall 2013 issue of "Presente" was union-printed and delivered on August 26th. This issue introduces the theme of the 2013 November Vigil, "Justice, Not Impunity". It features articles written by SOA Watch supporters, allies, and partners, on subjects like:
-Golpe de Estado en Chile: September 11, 2013 marks the 40th year gone by since the coup that ousted Chilean democratic president Salvador Allende, and installed military dictator Agosto Pinochet.
-Movement Voices: Four perspectives on the uses of direct action/civil disobedience at the SOA Watch Vigil at Fort Benning
-SOA Watch response to the militarization of the US-Mexico border and a call for humane immigration reform that leads to liberation for all, not profits for Defense Department cronies
-Update on the mission for the 2014 SOA Watch Youth Encuentro of the Americas
The Fall 2012 issue of "Presente" features several articles, as well as a call for organizers to mobilize and educate their community in time for the November 2012 SOA Watch Vigil. The articles included in this issue are:
-Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa's announcement of Ecuador's withdrawal from the SOA/WHINSEC
-The use of drones by US Army-SOUTHCOM
- A call-out to youth in the anti-militarization struggle in the Americas
-Grassroots lobbying tips
-An article on the DEA's role in heightening the violence in already crisis-stricken Honduras
SOA Watch is grateful to all the ¡Presente! distributors and to everyone who made this issue possible. The bilingual and union printed Fall 2011 issue contains information about SOA Watch's executive order campaign and mobilizing information for the 2011 November vigil, "letters from prison" written by SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience, an update from Honduras and an article about the impact of U.S. military training and money for the drug war in Mexico. The article focuses on the rise of a movement that opposes the appalling loss of life in the Mexican government’s offensive against drugtrafficking. More than 50,000 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderón launched this U.S. supported offensive in 2006.
The union-printed, bilingual Spring 2011 issue of ¡Presente! is covering the following issues:
In this issue:
-Updates from SOA
Watch including Introduction to the POC's who crossed the line in
2010. Reflections from the 2010 Vigil and the Rally at the Stewart
Detention Center, and announcing new campaign “Bridges Not Bases”.
-M.E.Ch.A and SOAW: Article by Stephania Shanks on the national
student movements endorsement of SOA Watch campaign and reflections
-Interview with Rina Bertaccini, President of the
Movement for Peace, Sovereignty and solidarity between Peoples speaks
about the growing militarism and its impacts throughout.
American News from the Americas: SOA Graduate in charge of Honduran
military, LASA calls for the closing of the SOA; After the Quake in
Haiti, Georgetown University “Distinguished Scholar” Uribe, Costa
Rica's opposition to U.S. Navy Deployment Successful.
The union-printed, bilingual Fall 2010 issue of ¡Presente! is covering the following issues:
- Direct Action in Colombia
- News from the Americas
- The SOA Watch Encuentro
- November Vigil Information
This issue also includes a full color 22" x 11" poster by Scot LeFavor , who is among the many artists whose work has been featured in ¡Presente! The cover photos were taken by Father Roy Bourgeois (the group photo from the SOA Watch Encuentro in Venezuela), Tom Bottolene (the photo of the military base protest in Colombia) and by Linda Panetta (the photo of the people in the procession at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia).
Read articles an about the continued terror in the lives of Argentina Dirty War survivors, a report about the anti-immigrant program "Secure Communities" and lots of updates about the campaign to shut down the School of the Americas.
The SOA graduate led military coup in Honduras, the continuing repression against the Honduran pro-democracy resistance and the expansion of U.S. military bases in Latin America are grim examples of the ongoing threats of a U.S. foreign policy that is relying on the military to exert control over the people and the resources in the Americas. Join the people who are struggling for justice in Honduras, Colombia and throughout the Americas as we organize to push back.
The military coup in Honduras, the continued training of soldiers at the School of the Americas and the ongoing militarization of Latin America leads SOA Watch activists to question where the change is that Barack Obama had promised. The Spring 2010 issue includes two commentaries that offer views on the subject.
The issue also addresses the reality of U.S./Latin American relations today. The front page of the Spring issue issue will feature an article on the recently approved U.S. access to seven new military bases in Colombia. This agreement signed by both U.S. and Colombian officials in late 2009 has been the source of much controversy, and there is fear that such a move toward greater militarization in South America could be cause for greater destabilization in the region.
This issue of Presente also features an article recapping the 2009 November Vigil at the gates of Fort Benning. This extraordinary event gathered thousands of individuals including many labor organizers, victims of torture, students, human rights activists, and vowed religious for three days and two nights of sacred remembrance, energetic protest, educational workshops, and transformative song and dance! The Spring 2010 issue also features a report back from the January 25th trial of the SOA 4. Nancy Gwin, Ken Hayes, Michael Walli, and Fr. Louis Vitale were arrested for bringing the call for justice and accountability onto FortBenning the morning of November 22, 2009. Nancy, Ken and Louie were sentenced to six months in federal prison. They used the January 25 trial as an opportunity to speak truth to power in the courtroom. Michael refused to return to Columbus for the trial and the judge issued an arrest warrant againt him. There will be no better place to read all about it then in the Spring issue of Presente!
Other very important pieces include information about the SOA Watch Partnership America Latina “Encuentro” in Venezuela, and the SOA Watch Spring Event in D.C. in April. Additionally you will find a legislative update from SOA Watch Legislative Director, Pam Bowman, and a two page, full-color comic depicting the history of the SOA created by artists Dan Archer and Nikil Saval. All of this and more can be found in the Spring issue!
The cover of the ¡Presente! Fall '09 Issue shows 19-year-old Isis Obed Murillo Mencias, who was shot and killed by the SOA grad-led Honduran army during the July 5, 2009 pro-democracy march at the Toncontín airport. One of Isis' sisters, Rebecca Murillo, is holding his picture. Sandra Cuffe took the photo the day after Isis' murder, when the family was heading home to the city of Guayape to bury him.
This issue also includes a 22" x 11" poster by César Maxit , who is among the many artists whose work has been featured in ¡Presente!
The Summer 2009 issue deals with the roots of the drug war currently raging in Mexico. Ana Esther Ceceña, a key organizer in the international Anti-Militarization networks, wrote an insightful article for ¡Presente!. The cover design was created by Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes, two artist-activists who work to foster a resurgence in the screen-printing medium for social change. Instead of focusing on the violence of the SOA and the drug war, their image portrays a woman from Atenco and a Zapatista, representing Mexico's powerful social movements. The grassroots struggles in Mexico that are proposing real alternatives to the racist system of violence and neoliberal domination are largely muted in the current Mexico coverage in the mainstream media. At the same time, the Mexican military is using the cover of the drug war to repress indigenous movements in southern Mexico ...
Also in this issue, SOA Watch council member Andy Kafel reports back from election observations in El Salvador and discusses the significant electoral victory of the FMLN when their candidate, Mauricio Funes, won the presidency on March 15, 2009. Adam Kufeld took amazing photos during the FMLN election campaign, that accompany Andy's article. We share information about the six SOA Watch prisoners of conscience who were sentenced earlier this year to prison and house arrest for their nonviolent direct actions to close the SOA/WHINSEC. And SOA Watch Legislative Coordinator Pam Bowman compiles detailed information about the upcoming congressional vote to de-fund the School of the Americas -- exciting especially because the last bill (in 2007) lost by a margin of only six votes. This time around, we'll need all hands on deck and together we'll have to rededicate our efforts to win the vote.
SOA Watch-DC organizer Vera Leone conducted an interview with Black Freedom movement activist Ruby Sales, who founded and directs the Spirit House Project, currently based in Columbus, Georgia. In their frank conversation, Ruby Sales and Vera Leone talk about police execution of Black men in the United States as a means of social control, the similarities to death squads in Latin America and about the history of state violence against oppressed peoples in general. Ruby Sales also raises the lack of recognition of the connections between repression inside the United States and in Latin America on the part of white people in the Latin America Solidarity movement.
The Winter/Spring 2009 issue of Presente contains a lead story about H.I.J.O.S.
(Hijos e Hijas por la Identidad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio /
Sons and Daughters for Identity and Justice against Forgetting and
Silence), an organization of children whose parents "disappeared" in
Guatemala. Furthermore, you will find a report-back from the prisoner
of conscience delegation to Chile, important information about the
February 2009 events to close the SOA in Washington, D.C. and much more.
The Fall 2008 issue includes an insightful article by Adriana
Bartow-Portillo about how to develop respectful and supportive
collaborative relationships with survivors of human rights abuses in
the movement to shut down the SOA. Adriana, a survivor of the war in
Guatemala , talks in-depth about her experiences and provides helpful
advise for allies in SOA Watch about how to relate to survivors.
Masculinity and Militarism takes a closer look at the connection between gender roles, socialization and the systems of violence and domination as they are being promoted by military institutions like the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC).
The cover photos were taken Ashleigh Nushawg (left) and by Linda Panetta (right). Eric J. Garcia drew the editorial cartoon on page two, Ricardo Levins-Morales contributed the "Tendremos Justicia - We will have Justice" graphic for the November Vigil section on page four, N.ree.K created the "binded-by-the-lies" illustration for the news blurb about the protest actions at the national political party conventions, and Emily Wilson painted the amazing poster in the centerfold of this issue.
The Summer 2008 issue includes articles by Pablo Ruiz and Lisa Sullivan about the Latin America Project
Delegations to Nicaragua and Ecuador, where SOA Watch activists were
able to connect with human rights groups and to dialogue with the
Presidents Daniel Ortega and Rafael Correa. Our Legislative and
Research Coordinator Pam Bowman takes a closer look at the State
Department Human Rights Reports and Simón Sedillo discusses in his
article "Standing with Those Who Fight for Themselves" international
solidarity work and social struggles in the Americas.
ILC.iNK provided an extraordinary map of U.S. interventions in Latin America as a pull-out poster. The map lists the different Republican and Democrat administrations
that were in charge at the time of the interventions, which makes it a
great educational tool and a reminder for this election year; To create
a real change in U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America, it takes
more than a change in the White House but the kind of hard and
persistent grassroots organizing that has brought all those victories
that we are seeing throughout Latin America.
SOA Watch activists will join thousands of social justice activists in the streets of Denver and St. Paul in August/September during the Party Conventions to build grassroots resistance. From November 21-23, the annual November vigil at the gates of Fort Benning will follow the presidential election by two weeks. It will be an opportunity for the progressive movement to set an agenda against oppressive U.S. policy, whatever the result of that election is.
The cover image of this issue was created by Simón P. Sedillo. It portraits Tonantzin , a mother goddess and lunar deity from Aztec mythology, also known as the “Mother of the Corn.” The photo on the right was taken by James Rodríguez at the Grand Indigenous and Peasant March in April ‘08 in Guatemala.
Spring 2008( 1 items ) We have a lot of work ahead of us. The SOA/WHINSEC is still in operation, training Latin American soldiers and police to protect U.S. and elite economic interests by targeting their own people.
But where would we be if we gave up hope? If you were at the 2007 Vigil you noticed that the energy there was stronger than ever. Hundreds of people gathered in solidarity vigils throughout the Americas, like that in Santiago, Chile, with Pablo Ruiz, one of the leaders of SOA Watch Latinoamericana, and in Arizona in front of Fort Huachuca, the U.S. Army’s Intelligence Center that developed the torture manuals later used at the SOA. In January, a new chapter of SOA Watch in Los Angeles brought together hundreds of supporters for their kick-off vigil . These successes shine a hopeful light for all of us. We can change U.S. policy and the course of history – if you act in your community! Get together with your neighbors and share one of the films about the SOA. Come to the strategy meeting and stay for the lobby days. Join the grassroots fasts in April. Build grassroots power and hold Congress accountable in the 2008 elections !
Peruse this issue of ¡Presente! for inspiration: Lesley Gill, Hector Aristizábal and others share insight and incisive articles. César Maxit pulled together powerful elements of what we’re up against in the cover image. Terri Lloyd highlights the struggles of women against militarization in her art. Anabel Torres and Alberto Villalba provided translations, and Christy Pardew edited this issue.
We are as strong as our connections and our willingness to challenge one another to step up our resistance. Engage in nonviolent direct action! Become an activist distributor and call out ¡Presente! in your community. Together, we will win!
The Fall 2007 issue marked the first time that the print-run of ¡Presente! exceeded 100,000 copies! The increase was made possible by hundereds of grassroots activists throughout the U.S., Canada and beyond, who paid for the printing of extra copies and ordered ¡Presente! in bulk for outreach work in their communities. A testament to the grassroots organizing power of our movement.
The print was delayed one day because just as the electronic files arrived at the printer, Vera in the SOA Watch office in DC received a call from John Lindsay-Poland. John, who works with the FOR Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean alerted us to the fact that instructors and students of the School of the Americas had just been arrested in Colombia for their involvement in the Colombian drug mafia. We stopped the printer from creating the print plates and included the breaking news into the newspaper. The arrests illustrate that the SOA rethoric about their role against drugs and for democracy is just that, only rethoric, especially given that the arrested SOA instructors were teaching "democratic sustainment" at the school...
The content of the fall issue focusses on the upcoming November vigil and the nonviolent direct action at the gates of Fort Benning, on the heels of a narrowly defeated Congressional vote to defund the SOA. An article by Guadalupe Chavez and Tiel Rainelli of SOA Watch Los Angeles addresses the connection between Gangs, SOA violence in Latin America and the racist system of violence and domination. Liz Deligio and Charity Ryerson who attended the Ethic Commission meeting of SOA Watch's partner organization Justicia y Paz wrote a report back , Vera Leone wrote about her experience in federal prison as a prisoner of conscience after being sentenced for "crossing the line" at Fort Benning. Other news included the announcement by Costa Rica's president Oscar Arias that his country would sever its ties with the School of the Americas, short reports about Repression in El Salvador, Oaxaca Solidarity, Ecuadorians aginst U.S. Base in Manta, Justice for the Jena 6, and Ant-War Protests at Fort Benning, Georgia
The Spanish language section included information about the November vigil, an article about special security considerations for people without U.S. citizenship, and an article about the campaign to close the SOA by Pablo Ruiz, who is part of the Latin America Project of SOA Watch.
The cover photo of the women with the recuerda/remember candel signs was taken by Andi Gelsthorpe .
A feature article in this issue addresses the chilling impact that SOA training and U.S. military aid has on the situation in Colombia. Colombia currently sends the highest number of students to the SOA/WHINSEC and has the worst human rights records in the hemisphere. SOA graduates and instructors are consistently linked to paramilitary death squads and the worst human rights abuses. The article talks also about the invitation that the Colombian human rights group Justicia y Paz issued to SOA Watch to join its Ethics Commission. SOA Watch gratefully accepted.
The article Shutting Down the SOA and Challenging Oppression explores the connection between the evils of U.S. foreign policy and how SOA Watch is susceptible to the same systems of oppression that dominate our society. When these systems take root in social movements like SOA Watch, they weaken our collective power and divide us. Conversations around these issues have taken part in may parts of the movement and this article was inluded in ¡Presente! to encourage more discussions and action.
¡Presente! advertised the new Spanish language web site SOAWLatina.org , which was created by Pablo Ruiz and features information about the Latin America Project and about the campaign to close the School of the Americas.
The collage of images of SOA Watch activists in front of the Capitol was created by Ted Stein.
The Spring 2007 issue puts a spotlight on the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where violent SOA methods of population contol are being used to brutally repress social discontent in the population. The People's Popular Assembly of Oaxaca (APPO) had organized a series of direct actions after Oaxaca's Governor Ulises Ruiz sent over 1,000 state police to break up a teachers' protest using tear gas and clubs.
The article Blacked Out made it an issue that the SOA refused to comply with Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIA) to release the names of the soldiers who receive training at the institution. The sudden refusal came after SOA Watch was able to proove with previous released graduate lists that the school continues to train known human rights abusers despite their claims that they installed a stellar vetting process. [Editors note: in a great victory for our movement, grassroots pressure was able to move the U.S. Congress to include report language in the FY 2008 Defense Appropriations bill that directs the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) to release the full name, rank, country of origin, and dates attended for each student in FY 2005 and 2006. For every year after that, WHINSEC has 60 days to release the names to the public at the close of that fiscal year. The Congressional directive to WHINSEC to release the names of its graduates is a victory and a steppingstone in SOA Watch’s legislative campaign to close this notorious school.]
In countless hours of work, César Maxit created a bilingual broadsheet with basic information about the SOA/WHINSEC, the movement to close the School of the Americas, a listing of notorious SOA graduates and SOA targets, the basics about grassroots lobbying and nonviolent direct action, and a list of books and videos about the issue. The broadsheet was included as a pull-out into the newspaper. Several tenthousand additional copies have been distributed by local organizers around the country.
The Fall 2006 issue features and interview with Patricia Isasa , who was 16 years old in 1976 when she was kidnapped by Argentine police and soldiers. She was tortured and held prisoner without trial for two and a half years. One of Patricia's torturers was Domingo Marcelini. He is a graduate of the SOA.
The photo of the procession at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia on the cover of the Fall 2006 issue was taken by Linda Panetta.
The Summer 2006 issue takes a closer look at the growing power of social movements in Latin America and the popular rejection of the School of the Americas. Just before this issue was released, SOA Watch activists had met with Evo Morales in Bolivia and with the defense ministers of Uruguay and Argentina. They received a strong backing for the movement to close the SOA and Uruguay and Argentina publically denounced the school and said that they stop sending their soldiers to be trained at the institution.
The cover illustration of the SOA octopus whose tentacles into Latin America are being cut off by people power resistance, was created by Haik Hoisington.
The Spring 2006 issue of ¡Presente! provides an in-depth analysis and the facts about the rising U.S. militarization in Latin America . This article was adapted from "The Bush Effect" by Frida Berrigan and Jonathan Wingo of the World Policy Institute. The World Policy Institute, drawing largely on the work of the Center for International Policy, has compiled a list of what is known about the United States' "military footprint" in the region.
In another featured article, Aaron Shuman, Carlos Mauricio, and Nancy Keilerfrom report back from the Journey for Justice, a caravan led by Salvadoran torture survivor Carlos Mauricio from the Bay Area to the protests at Fort Benning, Georgia. The report back gives practial tips on how to effectively organize such a speaking tour.
One of the opening articles of the Fall 2005 issue deals with "Operation Dargon ," an assassination plan tagetting Colombian Congressman Alexander Lopez Maya, former President of the Sintraemcali labor union, Luis Hernandez, President of Sintraemcali, and Berenice Celeyta Alayón, 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Human Rights Award Laureate.
Colombian authorities claim the case is being investigated, however it is very worrisome that after 3 years of the discovery of Operation Dragon case, the alleged responsible for plotting the assassination scheme, Lt. Col. Julian Villate Leal (Col. Villate) is still untouched. Col. Villate is a former student of the infamous School of the Americas, an employee for the Colombia operations of the US based Drummond Coal Company, and was also employed by the US Embassy in Colombia from December 2004 to July 2005, even after his home was raided by the Fiscalia (Aug 25 2004) and all the info on Operation Dragon was discovered.