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May 20th
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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