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Apr 27th
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M.E.Ch.A. and SOA Watch PDF Print E-mail
Written by Stephania Shanks   

Watch How We Build

The National Movimiento Estudiantil Chican@ de Aztlan (M.E.Ch.A.), a national student movement that promotes higher education, culture, and history endorsed the SOA Watch campaign.

M.E.Ch.A. was founded on the principles of self-determination, justice, and liberation for our people; therefore making a commitment to organize our communities around the closing of the School of the Americas and changing oppressive foreign policy was an easy decision. During the 2010 National MEChA conference in Seattle, WA, Oregon State University along with The Evergreen State College and community defense organizer, Simón Sedillo, proposed the endorsement of the SOA Watch. On May 31st the national body voted unanimously to contribute to and participate within the SOA Watch movement.

Although summer break was fast approaching, many Mechistas began to plan and fundraise to attend the 2010 November Vigil. By October, twelve chapters were hosting fundraising events and workshops on topics such as U.S. foreign policy and using student and public radio
artwork by Favianna Rodriguez
to educate the community about the SOA Watch. During this work, one point became very clear in the months leading up to the November Vigil- we do not wish to participate in a passive movement. With this energy, Mechistas came from all over the nation to Columbus, GA with the goal to build community and educate and share our vision for nuestro movimiento. On Saturday during the Vigil weekend, Mechistas from the University of Wisconsin-Madison articulated the ideology and concerns of many of the young folks of color and students in attendance. Coming to Columbus for many is a fun, exciting time to meet with friends, attend workshops, and continue building community. For many others, especially young people of color, Columbus is a new battleground in which we fight for our history, the lives and well-being of our companeros and family, and a place where we can actively stand against a corrupt, racist, and increasingly belligerent government.

This past Vigil seemed to buzz with more energy than ever felt before with more students, young workers, and people of color gathering together at the gates of Ft. Benning. So many people within the SOA Watch movement and in our global community hold a strong desire for something beyond empty words and promises like “peace” and “justice” that the U.S. government hides behind. We hope to use this desire to continue to build the SOA Watch family. We are closer than ever to shutting down the School of the Americas and with the renewed sense of exuberance, purpose, and drive this collective goal is within our grasp.

Based in Richmond, CA,  Stephania is a youth organizer and prisoner’s rights educator. As an activist trained and educated at the Evergreen State College, she first developed a passion for popular education and criminology while working and co-learning with incarcerated youth in Centralia, WA. She has her degree in Political Economy with a focus on the Prison-Industrial Complex and is currently an intern at HEPPAC (HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County) serving marginalized communities in the Bay area by helping increase participation in preventative care.

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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.


I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery


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