Fr. Roy Bourgeois and SOA Watch Field Organizer Nico Udu-gama Arrested Following Protest at the U.S.-Mexico Border
Written by Hendrik Voss
Sunday, 19 February 2012 21:08
On Sunday, February 19, activists from School of the Americas Watch, Project Puente and other organizations around the border region held a vigil to call attention to the role of the US government in the militarization of Mexico and the failed War on Drugs. The vigil took place on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border at the Sunland Park-Anapra Fence. Father Roy Bourgeois and Nico Udu-gama joined the vigil on both sides of the border, and were arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol following the vigil when they left the vigil site.
Father Roy Bourgeois and Nico Udu-gama were charged with crossing the border through an unapproved entry point and were taken to the Santa Teresa Border Patrol Station in New Mexico. After several hours in custody and background checks, the Border Patrol decided to dismiss the charges and to release Father Roy and Nico in the afternoon.
The protest was the culmination of a week-long delegation of 10 people, headed by SOA Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois, from across the United States, which has met with people on both sides of the border in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez.
Over 60,000 people have been killed in the violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon deployed some 50,000 troops and federal police five years ago to confront the drug cartels. Much of this militarization has been bankrolled by the US government’s Merida Initiative, which has poured over $1.5 billion into this “war on drugs,” especially in the form of US military equipment and training. The result of this militarization has failed to curtail the flow of drug, but has caused the loss of thousands of innocent Mexican lives. The death toll in Ciudad Juarez alone is nearing 10,000.
"There is but one law for all: the law of humanity and justice" - Jimmy Carter
Those words adorn the wall inside the courtroom of Judge Stephen Hyles at the Columbus courthouse. And there they remain, strong words that ring hollow in face of injustice, merely adornments. For her act of peacefully crossing the line at Fort Benning, Georgia - a misdemeanor offense - a 6-month sentence was imposed on Theresa Cusimano. Those who train men with guns at the SOA/WHINSEC, those who created those torture manuals, have never had to defend their actions, yet Theresa is being sentenced to six months in prison for nonviolently calling attention to the US military's role in the violence carried out against her sisters and brothers in the Americas.
The SOA Watch movement continues its struggle to close the SOA/WHINSEC and end US militarization. Theresa follows in a long line of peacemakers who have put their bodies on the line to call attention to the continued injustices. Indeed, Theresa served a 2-month sentence in 2009 for her peaceful actions at the SOA/WHINSEC at the 2008 November Vigil.
The National Office of the SOA Watch movement is looking for inspired, interesting and innovative interns starting now!! If you want to help organize the April mobilization as well as fuel the movement to close the SOA/WHINSEC and end oppressive US foreign policy, read on!
After serving more than 20 years in French and American prisons, Panama's ex-military leader and School of the Americas graduate Manuel Noriega will be extradited to Panama to serve three 20-year sentences for crimes committed during his 1983 to 1989 rule.
In February 2012, the SOA Watch movement will take the US
Government to court over its refusal to disclose the names of graduates and
instructors at the SOA/WHINSEC.Following the 2001 name change from the "School of the
Americas" to "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security
Cooperation", independent grassroots investigations found that the "new" school continued to train known
human rights abusers, and that WHINSEC instructors were implicated or investigated in
their countries for human rights abuses and other crimes.In response, the US Government broke its
nearly 60-year tradition of releasing the names, and instead, opted to hide the
names from public scrutiny.