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May 22nd
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Police Infiltration at the November Vigil PDF Print E-mail
Written by Rebel Diaz   
Over the weekend, thousands of people once again converged on the gates of The School of The Americas, the U.S military training school that has historically trained Latin American  military leaders in torture tactics and social control.  The yearly 3 day gathering, which is organized by The SOA Watch consists of  educational workshops,  Resistance Concerts and is culminated by a peaceful vigil. It is attended by different human rights activists from all over the world, ranging from students, to Jesuit groups, nuns, reverends, churches, Son Jarocho groups, Hip Hop Collectives, farm workers, MECHA students and more.

This past weekend Rebel Diaz was invited to perform during the Saturday concerts of the event. We were blessed to be able to share the stage with our father Mario Venegas, whom under the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, was a political prisoner for 4 yrs. While incarcerated in various concentration camps he was tortured by School of The America trained Chilean military.

It was a powerful experience to hear our father name his torturers while standing in front of the gates of the SOA.

Later that night folks gathered at The Columbus Convention Center to participate in the workshops and attend the concert. The workshops varied from a screening of Harvest of Empire, the new doc on Juan Gonzalez book, to The Stop the Killer Coke campaign, to workshops on Chile, Venezuela, The Coalition of Immokalee workers and more.

While we were in between workshops we encountered an interesting yet intense situation. One of our comrades identified some undercover police officers or FBI agents whom he had filmed and identified about two years ago. We were familiar with the footage and it was indeed them! While we gathered up to figure out our next move, it became apparent that they had recognized that their cover was blown. They then proceeded to split up as did we. We identified three of them from previous years, and it was evident that there was about 3 more.

My bro G1 and myself went over to the Killer Coke booth and then we realized we were surrounded! If there's anything that upsets police it's the idea of not being in control of a situation. As they aggressively approached us in an attempt to intimidate us, I loudly asked my brother if he smelled something? To which the tallest agent stepped right up to my face and menacingly asked me What the Fuck did you say? His response verified our suspicion. We have experience dealing with overly aggressive police from living  in The South Bronx and constantly dealing with The Stop and Frisk plague, so we did not allow ourselves to be provoked or intimidated.

We politely yet assertively asked them to take a step back and respect the personal space while loudly letting everyone around us know that we were being infiltrated by undercover agent provocateurs. Instantly cameras were on them, to which the embarrassed yet unafraid officers admitted they were cops. They refused to leave stating that they had a right to be there. However,  they were followed by cameras and the Son Jarocho groups surrounded them playing music and resisting their presence. Eventually they all were corralled into the Killer Coke in Colombia workshops, to.which they eventually left.

Now while this may be viewed as a Peoples Victory, we have to understand the severity of what we are dealing with. It is not a secret that the FBI and Cointelpro has historically infiltrated political movements in an attempt to disrupt them and eventually destroy them. Those eight officers were there to take.intelligence, to gather information, to disrupt, and provoke. If they did not have bad intentions why were they armed? Why were they undercover and not in uniform? They invaded a safe space full if elders and nuns and made it unsafe. What if we weren't trained in what to do when physically  provoked by the police? If I was 21, I for sure would be in jail now. There has been a recent history of The SOA being infiltrated in recent years. However this year we had the example of what happened in Chicago our hometown, in which we had the case of The NATO kids who were framed and entrapped by undercovers and now face serious terrorism charges. The fact that they are infiltrating a super peaceful and religious movement like The SOA Watch, proves to us that for sure theyre also infiltrating in other fronts.

The following morning at The Sunday vigil, we were once again tailed, this time by new undercovers, who were making it a point to photograph Rebel Diaz. We approached and asked them if they wanted a close up? With an evil smirk one responded ".. of course we want pictures of you guys, you're famous musicians from New York." Letting us know that they had done their research. It's time we do our research too.

What we are dealing with is a present in which The NDAA Act and The Patriot Act are criminalizing any type of dissent or view that questions Imperialism and Capitalism. We are clear that a peaceful movement that exposes the bloody hands of the US all over Latin America , is being attacked directly by intelligence agencies, who don't want their dirty laundry aired. Who don't want the world to know about the assassination of Monsenor Oscar Romero in El Salvador, that don't want the world to know the powerful Mexican drug cartel The Zetas were trained at The SOA, as paramilitaries to squash peasant uprisings, they don't want you to know they trained torturers who disappeared and killed thousands in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, Paraguay etc. They want to silence us and we refuse to be silenced. We refuse to be scared, however we must all be focused and aware. A couple of elders, were critical of our loud and assertive response to the officers, however we feel that we can't allow intimidation tactics to silence us. We must call out and expose these infiltrators, so that they can't finish their work. We can't allow them to destroy and incarcerate another movement.

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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.

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- Benjamin Franklin


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