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Dec 16th
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The SOA and Violence Against Women PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sara Koopman   

Ruta Pacifica de MujeresThe line of women walking towards the border stretched on and on before me. Most wore black, for mourning, with orange scarves and ribbons, for resistance. In front a group of indigenous women, carrying their ‘bastones de mando’ (ceremonial staffs of authority), led the march. When they reached the bridge between Colombia and Ecuador they lifted these bastones and formed another bridge, a human bridge of sisterhood, through which they welcomed the Ecuadoran women that had come to join us under the slogan “militarism = violence”.  Over 5,000 women came together for the international day against violence against women, November 25, 2008, to protest the many forms of violence that militarism inflicts on women, and to highlight the seriousness of these along both sides of the border. To do so they peacefully shut down the largest crossing between these two countries for over an hour.

The violence near the border has been particularly bad lately (from several ‘rearmed’ paramilitary groups, both of the guerilla groups, and various official armed forces), and thousands have been forced to flee over the border into Ecuador. This displacement is tied to and aggravates other violence, such as forced prostitution (both physically and economically), rape, hunger, and forced recruitment.
  
The Ruta Pacifica de Mujeres (Women’s Peaceful Way) and the Organizacion Femenina Popular (Grassroots Women’s Organization) organized this act of sisterhood to be with the women in the region. The Ruta’s ongoing slogan Ruta Pacifica de Mujeres logohas been that women’s bodies are not spoils of war. Instead the women of the Ruta use their own bodies to interrupt this dynamic by putting their bodies in the way, in acts of peaceful resistance. The Ruta is a pacifist feminist organization that creates new languages and social practices that not only oppose militarism, but also walk them down new ‘ways’ to peace. They use symbol and ritual to exorcise fear, cleanse, restore, disarm the armed, and weave threads of connection.
  
Another Ruta slogan is ‘Las Mujeres PazHaremos’, which is a play on words that means both ‘we as women will pass’, and ‘we as women will make peace’. By passing through war zones, the Ruta lays down new ways to peace. Women came from all across Colombia to participate, some traveling on buses for up to four days straight. These buses kept meeting up along the way to form a caravan of eventually over 50 buses. Some 3,000 local women gathered to meet them – many of whom had never been part of a political action before.
  
The women of the Ruta break the twisted ties of militarism’s violence by crossing them with threads of connection. Let us weave with them.
 
Published in the Spring 2008 issue

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Download the Spring 2016 issue of Presente

The Spring issue contains mobilizing information for the SOA Watch Border Convergence, which is taking place from October 7-10, 2016 at the US/Mexico border in Nogales, and also focuses on recent developments in Latin America and within the SOA Watch movement.

Click here to download a PDF version of the Spring 2016 issue.

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.

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