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Monday
Oct 23rd
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SOA Watch !PRESENTE! in Honduras through Romeo, Brigitte and each of us! PDF Print E-mail
While much of Latin America has made significant strides in recent years towards guaranteeing citizen’s rights and securing their natural resources, one nation is racing the opposite direction: Honduras. Since the 2009 coup orchestrated by SOA graduates, Honduras has plunged itself into an apparent nostalgia for the 1980’s. Extrajudicial killings, repression, and impunity are once again the order of the day, and everything from land to minerals to entire cities are now fair game for the corporate auction block.

Within days of the coup, SOA Watch responded to requests from partners in Honduras to come and bear witness to the atrocities in order to more effectively galvanize solidarity. After numerous visits and delegations, SOAW placed an activante in Honduras with PROAH, a vital program that accompanies human rights activists in Honduras.

Now, SOAW is even more !Presente! in Honduras. Two SOAW activantes, Brigitte Gynther and Romeo Ramirez are immersed in the difficult realities of that country in order to share the Stories of Honduras with all of us . Above all, they will share ways in which we can all be PRESENTE in Honduras, by taking simple actions that can make enormous differences.

In this article we share the story of Chavelo, a young Honduran whose live has been - figuratively and literally - shattered by the repression in Honduras. But first, the story of Brigitte and Romeo themselves is worth sharing.

Romeo came to the US as a migrant farm worker at age 15, where he became a leader in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a Florida farmworker organization that is dramatically transforming the way tomato pickers are treated and paid. Many of you may have met Romeo as he traveled the country speaking about the CIW’s campaigns. Romeo is a laureate of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for his work, including an undercover investigation of a modern-day slavery operation involving 700 workers in Florida’s fields that was successfully prosecuted by the US Department of Justice.

Brigitte grew up in Connecticut and after graduating from Notre Dame worked for eight years with Interfaith Action of Southwest Florida, engaging faith communities in the CIW’s Campaign for Fair Food. She is the recipient of the 2009 Cardinal Bernardin Award.

Brigitte and Romeo have come to Honduras “because of the people of Honduras who continue speaking out for justice in the face of intense repression and threats.” We invite you to join them from afar in being !PRESENTE! in Honduras: Read the story of Chavelo below, watch a video of Chavelo and read Wilmers story at SOAW.org/honduras. Above all, take action so that we may not have to add any other PRESENTE from Honduras to our litany at gates of Fort Benning this fall.

Freedom for Honduran Political Prisoner Jose Isabel Morales

“In February 2013, we had the opportunity to travel with Father Melo, who spoke at the SOA Watch Vigil this November, to the Penitentiary where Jose ‘Chavelo’ Isabel Morales is being held prisoner. He is a campesino from the Aguan region of Honduras, where over 80 campesinos have been murdered and many more repressed and criminalized in a “war on peasants” that has intensified since the 2009 SOA-graduate led coup.

As a result of Honduras’ dysfunctional legal system in which powerful interests can matter more than facts, Chavelo is in prison without any credible evidence that he committed a crime. In July, after being held for almost 4 years without a sentence – a violation of Honduran law -- Chavelo was sentenced to 20 more years during a hearing that neither he nor his lawyers were informed of.

Chavelo shared with us how hard it is to be away from his family and to know that his children are going hungry because he is not there to provide for them. Watch a video of Chavelo: SOAW.org/honduras. He lost sight in one eye and had to sleep with the guards due to death threats and attempts on his life. His 1 ½ year old daughter and his father both died while he was being held without a sentence and he was not able to attend the funerals. Now, Chavelo’s only hope for freedom and returning to his family is that the Honduran Supreme Court take up his case.

On February 25, 2013, Honduran social movements embarked on a 10-day march calling for Chavelo´s freedom. You can help by signing a petition for Chavelo’s freedom that will be delivered to the Supreme Court: SOAW.org/honduras

We have also had the opportunity to spend time with some of the Indigenous Mosquitia victims of high-caliber artillery fire from US State Department helicopters in a counternarcotics operation involving US DEA agents that went extremely wrong. Visit SOAW.org to read more about their stories and the US refusal to investigate or even help with the medical bills of defenseless Honduran villagers who were traveling along a river when they suddenly found themselves fired upon from above.”

Brigitte and Romeo will be regularly sharing stories from Honduras and ways you can support the Honduran people’s struggle for justice and self-determination. Visit SOAW.org/honduras to stay updated!
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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.

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.

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