|Reflections on Colombia|
Between December 5-10, 2013, I traveled to Bogotá on behalf of the SOA Watch movement to join the Comisión Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz (CIJP) in celebrating and remembering 25 years of working in defense of human rights in Colombia and their accompaniment of afro-Colombian, campesino and indigenous communities throughout the country. CIJP has been instrumental in exposing human rights violations by the State and paramilitary forces in the country, and has also presented prominent cases before the Inter-American System of Human Rights.
During my stay, I was able to meet with Father Alberto Franco, Executive Secretary of the CIJP; Danilo Rueda, National Coordinator; and Abilio Peña, a member of CIJP. They have all been guest speakers at the November Vigil at the gates of Fort Benning. Also, I was humbled and truly honored to meet with some of the youth leaders and community leaders that CIJP accompany in their search for memory, truth, and justice. Most of the communities that converged in Bogotá to share in celebrating and remembering the CIJP’s 25th anniversary were from the Chocó, one of the most impacted regions of the country, where there are entire communities that are victims of displacement, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detentions, extrajudicial killings and political persecution. More recently, in Curvaradó (of the Chocó region), a military base – the Batallón de Selva No. 54 – was installed without the prior consent of the community.
CIJP and SOA Watch have been strong allies since SOA Watch joined the Ethics Commission in 2006. Through its members, the Ethics Commission – formed in 2003 – has the ethical and moral responsibility to accompany victims in their construction of truth, justice and integral reparation. Through visits to the communities and by listening to testimonies of survivors, the Ethics Commission is asked to bear witness, to unmask, and to expose the atrocities committed by the State and paramilitary forces, with the hope that the most ravaged and most impacted communities might one day reconstruct their collective consciousness and historical memory, and thus their social fabric. Over the course of five days, I witnessed the resilience, the tenacity, and the humanity with which the CIJP carries out its work. It was truly amazing, and an experience I will not forget.
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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.
Interview 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.
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.
For more info about ¡Presente!, go to About US.
I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
A challenging new documentary has quickly become one of the
widest-reaching films to encapsulate the history of the SOA Watch
An in-depth look at the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, focusing on an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed in 2002.