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Feb 19th
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You can jail the resisters, but you can't jail the resistance! The SOA Watch Prisoners of Conscience PDF Print E-mail

While those who train coup-plotters and assassins continue to be free and the SOA/WHINSEC remains open, human rights activists are repeatedly imprisoned for calling attention to the injustice. But when the US “justice” system jails our resisters, it only strengthens our resistance when we connect our struggles with those of the poor, working class, immigrant and communities of color also targeted by an oppressive drug war and exploitative prison system.

For their courageous acts of nonviolent resistance during last November’s Vigil, David Omondi, Nancy Smith, Chris Spicer and Father Louis Vitale were sentenced to six months in prison. David and Father Louie completed their sentences in May. Nancy and Chris were released in July 2011. If you’re considering joining those risking arrest at a future SOA Watch protest, there are former prisoners of conscience available to assist in your discernment process. Together we will close the SOA and put an end to US militarization!

Reflections from Prison Letters:

NancySmith.jpgNancy: “The population of Danbury FCI [Federal Correctional Institution] is about 65% Latina, another 25% African-American. I read recently that the nature of our criminal justice system is no longer primarily concerned with the prevention and punishment of crime but ‘rather with the management and control of the dispossessed.’ I certainly agree with that and can see it here so clearly. We must fix our immigration laws; they have caused terrible heartbreak for so many. Drug laws and sentencing requirements also need immediate revision. Danbury and Ocilla and Oklahoma are filled with women convicted as ‘conspirators’ and often they have 7-, 10-, 18-year sentences, more than the drug dealer who has gotten a lighter sentence for turning in others.”


Omundi.jpgDavid: “Top Range is completely locked down. It is uncanny how much this is like a slave ship. Obviously, the brutality drastically pales in comparison, but all the parallels are pretty eerie: long halls with lower and upper decks where prisoners simply peer or sleep, two-by-two; dark, confined spaces behind steel, stone and glass, unexposed to the outside elements for days, weeks and months at a time; randomly shipped out to various locations with little or no prior notification; herded through any available amenities like cattle before being locked down for another one to three days; their captors taking pride in efficiency while being inattentive to their actual physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. The prison industrial complex for real. I guess I am in the belly of the beast.”



ChrisSpicer.jpgChris: “When I look around at the men here serving their sentences and then deported, I am struck again and again by the discrepancy where the government labels these men criminals for trespassing yet has its military, my military, myself, entering foreign countries against which no declaration of war was imposed.

As a citizen of this country I know my duty under international law to resist extrajudicial killing. My conscience speaks. I may be imprisoned but my soul is free. Worship the true God with me, friend; resolute our object of solidarity shall never be LOCKED DOWN.”



fatherlouis.jpgFather Louis: “The School of the Americas is an icon of our intrusion into developing countries and the source of horrific massacres. Thousands gather annually to mourn the victims and to call for an end to our war machine that continues to grow into more bases, nuclear weapons manufacturing facilities, even into space war.

Are we ready to declare peace and act in its presence? Let’s call - with all our energy - for nonviolent solutions now, transforming many peoples’ lives and our world. Our work is cut out for us as we must be vigilant and active with nonviolent resistance.”



See http://www.soaw.org/about-us/pocs for more of their stories.

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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.


Walk the street with us into history. Get off the sidewalk.

- Dolores Huerta


Book Tip

Disturbing the Peace book cover



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On the Line

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