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Feb 20th
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STOP: The Road for the SOA Ends Here PDF Print E-mail
Risking arrest and imprisonment, several compañeros engaged in civil disobedience by blocking Victory Drive at Fort Benning, Georgia during the 2010 November Vigil. Despite the uncertainty of the situation, the presence of heavily equipped officers and—as discovered later—several officers working undercover, the compañeros made a powerful stand to demand the closure of the School of Americas.

On November 20th, a small group of people engaged in non-violent action by blocking the entry way to Fort Benning, home of the School of the Americas. Directly below are letters from a couple of the participants expressing their views about their actions as well as the overall movement. 


                                                                                                                     From: Regina Rust  Hometown:



                                          What do I take with me from 36 hours in the Muskogee County Jail, after
                                            being arrested for an act of resistance to the School of Americas? I take
                                        with me energy, to move forward, or maybe truer still, energy to stand still.

Annemarie Barrett

I have wrestled for a while with the call to civil disobedience. I have had
to confront great fears related to risking arrest.  I have had to redefine
many deep seeded understandings of what it means to follow rules and do the
right thing.  Yet, I have also struggled deeply with my consent to
injustice.  The suffering caused by the policies, positions and power that I
hold as a U.S. citizen overwhelms me.  I cannot sit forever in my fears and
also live with inaction.  Traveling to the vigil this year, I was called to
confront those fears.  When I felt most vulnerable and alone, I turned to my
community of friends and fellow activists for support.  I found strength in
that community.  I realized that I was not acting alone, but acting with the
solidarity of those closest to me.  And so I decided to raise my voice to
affect that "political climate" in a different way.

Betsy Lamb
 The goal of all our SOA Watch actions, as I see it, is to get the School of
Assassins closed, and to do so in such a way that as many people as possible
know of all the appalling acts for which its training has been responsible.
I want the world to know that many in our country are scandalized by
the existence of the SOA, and strongly condemn this school and any other
training institution that provokes horrendous human rights violations
in any part of the world.  I want the body politic of the USA to close
this School and terminate any related activities wherever they may be.

Like many others over the years, I have crossed the line onto
Fort Benning property to pray there for the School's closure and spent time in
prison for this action.  Since 9/11, I have watched Fort Benning add annually
to the fortifications surrounding the property it claims as its own, at a
cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  They still cannot keep us out;
more people continue the traditional line-crossing year after year and
I thank them for it.  However, the School remains open for business
and continues to provide the seminal base for further atrocities.

So, this year, I decided to join others in taking actionin a newdirection--
to the city streets, where a new audience would witness our persistence
and perhaps even spend a few moments having to think about why we
were there.  Our action was respectful, safe and completely nonviolent.
We attained our goal of blocking all four lanes of Victory Drive.

Ken Crowley

By bringing our acts of body politics to the streets of Columbus we created
publicity which alerted the Columbus citizens, at a personal level higher
than previously reached, to the existence and corruption of the SOA and
showed them that people in this movement are still willing to make personal
sacrifices to bring about change. Unfortunately we had not adequately
prepared them for the event; next year perhaps legal groups, not coordinated
by the movement, could undertake city-wide leafleting to create a more
educated citizenry. When/if actions occur a small group of citizens could
potentially become quiet supporters. This year, as we learned from our
jailers, sometimes "Those who are not against us [in spirit] are with us."

As we know, those in positions of (un)civil authority were also watching and
our actions made clear to them that we know the power of the rulers comes
from the obedience of the governed and that we are willing to pay the price
of disobedience. This is our best hope of effecting change. The basic
strength of all nonviolent direct action is the acceptance of consequences;
the basic weakness of all power structures is the inability to confront
nonviolent disobedience.

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Featured Article
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.

SOA Violence
Image SOA Grads Responsible For UCA Massacre Face Extradition, Military Officers Arrested in El Salvador The 1989 massacre of 16-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos, and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador, that galvanized opposition to the U.S. relationship with Central American death squads and that sparked the movement to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas, is making headlines again.
International Human Rights Encuentro in Bajo Aguán, Honduras

fathermila.jpgInterview with Father Fausto Mila in Honduras

SOA Watch participated in the International Human Rights Encuentro in Honduras in February 2012. Laura Jung spoke with Father Fausto Milla, a religious leader in the Honduran movement who has been persecuted by the State of Honduras.  

Local Organizing
For 25 Years the SOA Watch Movement has been on a Journey A journey to live into the radical hope that marked the lives of  14-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba, and Jesuit priest dissidents Ignacio Ellacuría, S.J., Ignacio Martín-Baró, S.J., Segundo Montes, S.J., Juan Ramón Moreno, S.J., Joaquín López y López, S.J., Amando López, SJ.
Direct Action
Moving the 2016 November Vigil to the Border? The 2015 Vigil is still going to take place at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, but there are discussions within the SOA Watch movement to move the 2016 vigil to the militarized U.S./Mexico border. What do you think?
Image Latin American Resistance & U.S. Solidarity Latin America has a 500 year history of resistance to the violence of colonialism, militarization, and elite domination. It is a legacy to treasure and honor.
SOA Watch in Latin America
SOA Watch Chile Declassified List with Names of WHINSEC Graduates

By Pablo Ruiz, Equipo Latinoamericano of SOA Watch
SOAW Chile achieved an important victory; to declassify the names of over 760 Chilean soldiers who took courses at the School of the Americas/WHINSEC during the past decade.

Image Looking Back to Move Ahead I was asked to write a piece about people of color organizing to attend the 2009 SOA Watch vigil and about our plans for 2010. I believe everything happens for a reason.
Ron Teska Ron Teska, a stone carver and organizer from Wind Ridge, Pennsylvania worked on this piece of art throughout the November Vigil weekend in Georgia.


Now is the moment to build barriers, to build walls and to fight against intolerance, against racism, sexism and globalisation, to fight vigorously against that. And to re-unite people.

- Augusto Boal


Book Tip

Cover of Leslie Gill's book



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