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Oct 17th
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When You Build It, They Will Come PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vivien Sansour   
An amazing grassroots organizing effort brought the vigil to close the SOA to life in Los Angeles in 2008.

When I was growing up in Palestine every week one or two people I knew would get arrested. One week it was my friend Adel’s turn. He was thrown into the back of a military jeep and taken away. For three months no one knew where he was not even his own family. When Adel was finally released we learned how he spent his months in prison in a metal box which the soldiers beat on to stop him from sleeping, how his genitals were pierced, and of the cold and hot showers he was forced to take. I remember his story as well as I remember how I came to this country ten years ago and like many Latin Americans; Indigenous Latin American dancers at the Los Angeles vigilI came carrying my stories and my determination to survive. But in the struggle to make a living in a country that denied my heritage, I came to deny my grief.

However, this year at Ft. Benning, Georgia, something in me was awakened. All of my memories of Adel, of Palestine, and of my childhood were brought up in me as I joined the masses of people who came to the SOA Watch vigil to remember, to grieve, and to come back to life. The first day in front of the gates of WHINSEC, I was invited to join a circle of people gathered to spread the ashes of a man named Don who had spent his life working with the people of Colombia and Palestine. He wanted his ashes spread in those two countries and on the grounds of the base. I found myself joining the circle and my hands covered with the gray of his ashes. It was then that I realized I was in a community where it was safe to share my grief. This is why when the idea of bringing the SOA Watch vigil to Los Angeles came about I immediately became involved. I knew that many people, especially Latinos who could never make it to Georgia, were longing for such an experience.

It was a wonder how a handful of SOA Watch activists came together and started working. This was not an official conference, nor was it held in any high level organizational office. We met at the Program For Torture Victims. There was no money and no available location. But in a matter of few days whoever knew musicians and speakers called them, someone found and Puppetista activist in front of the image of Rufina Amayareserved the park, someone else got a person to donate $1500, another volunteered to write a press release, yet another found the puppeteers, and the youth, especially the young girls of a small catholic school, The Sacred Heart School, dedicated their days making puppets and learning about the history of the School of the Americas. Like most beautiful things in life, it was the small efforts of ordinary people that brought this vigil to Los Angeles Historic Park on January 12th, 2008. Over a thousand people showed up and in that moment it became clear that the movement that started 18 years ago is growing uncontrollably. It is spreading outside of the narrow street of Ft. Benning and into the streets of other American cities: Inviting all of us to be Presente! Abriendo las Memorias, Healing the Wounds.

Published in the Spring 2008 issue

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Museum of Modern art
written by dorkey, July 29, 2008
This impulse to take stock is one reason why the Museum of Modern Art in New York City is opening a retrospective this week devoted to Jeff Wall, a Canadian artist who started making staged pictures around the same time as Sherman. It was a wonder how a handful of SOA Watch activists came together and started working.


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Museum of Modern art
written by dorkey, July 29, 2008
This impulse to take stock is one reason why the Museum of Modern Art in New York City is opening a retrospective this week devoted to Jeff Wall, a Canadian artist who started making staged pictures around the same time as Sherman. It was a wonder how a handful of SOA Watch activists came together and started working.


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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.

Read more...
 
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