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April Fast 2008
April 23-26, 2008 will be a time of fasting for SOA Watch.; a time to organize fasts in your community to bring attention to SOA/WHINSEC victims and an opportunity for each of us to commit ourselves to closing this place of injustice. Local fasts nationwide will educate the public about the School of the Americas / WHINSEC and the reality of U.S. foreign policy towards Latin America.

To assist you in planning, creating, and executing your April fast or event, the SOA Watch staff has compiled an Organizing Packet, similar to the one used for last year's November Vigil. The April Fast Organizing Packet is a great resource for you and your community as you spread the word about the SOA/WHINSEC and as you plan your own fast or event.

Below, you'll find suggestions for possible fast locations and actions, instructions on how to fast safely, media, legislative, fundraising and outreach tips and resources, and flyers you can reproduce and use in your community.

If you are going to organize a public fast, e-mail Simon Albrecht at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


April Fast Organizing Packet


  • Fast Instructions

  • How To Do a Juice Fast

  • Legislative Actions During Your Fast

  • Sample Letter to Your Member of Congress

  • Calling Your Member of Congress

  • Media Tips for Promoting Your Fast

  • Sample Letter to the Editor

  • Sample Press Release

  • Fast Ways to Fundraise

  • Close the SOA Fast!

    When we fast in front of Federal buildings, we can raise awareness about one of the great evils that our government sustains. We can invite those who witness our fast to thank their local Member of Congress for their support, help educate a new member with a phone call or express their concern that their member supports oppression in Latin America. When we fast in front of local congressional offices- that have always voted against human dignity and to support the school of shame- then we can use our fast to show the media and the public that this representative needs to be held accountable.


    You can participate in this three day fast by organizing a place for you and friends to fast together, by joining one of the fasts that will be taking place nation wide or by fasting individually.

    Click here for a complete list of upcoming fasts and events!




    Vigils, Fasts + Events Across the Country and Latin America + the Caribbean PDF Print E-mail
    During the days of April 23-26, 2008, thousands of SOA Watch activists from across the United States and Latin American took part in the three-day Fast to Close the SOA/ WHINSEC. Public fasts, individual fasts, vigils and events were held in front of Federal buildings, congressional offices and university campuses to raise awareness of the victims of SOA/ WHINSEC sponsored violence and express support for HR 1707.

    Below is a list of fasts, actions, and events that took place April 23-26.



    Fasts & Events in Latin America & the Caribbean

    A message from one of our partners in the struggle for justice, who joined the fast in Oaxaca, Mexico:

    "I am one of the widows of the social movement of 2006. My husband was killed by an assassin's bullet of this evil government which sustains its power by being surrounded by these assassins who are trained precisely in these schools (i.e., SOA) to which we should say: enough!

    For this reason, my children and all my family will join in the fast against the School of the Americas. We do this because we have personally been affected by these assassins. We have the moral commitment to ask our creator God that there be no more people in this world who are affected as many of us have been left in Oaxaca: widows, orphans, parents without children. There has been no justice for us, and impunity has reigned.

    Receive a strong and affectionate embrace. We applaud your actions which help make possible this world which we all desire."

    Argentina
    Contact: Patricia Isasa- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Bolivia
    Contact: Sr. Cathy DeVito- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    On March 24, Campana Bolivia in Cochabamba joined the fasts. Contact- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


    Chile
    Video showing, KAMARIKUN; Contact: Pablo Ruiz- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Contact: Chile Dice Nunca Mas- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Contact: Claudio Escobar Cáceres- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Colombia
    Contact: Carlos Rua- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    El Salvador
    Solidarity with fasts. Contacts: Fredi Benítez- 503 7271 - 0574; Asistente de Medardo González, Coordinador General FMLN This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Guatemala
    Naed Smith joined the fast while on a delegation to Guatemala in honor of Bishop Gerardi.

    Sr. Silvia Pacheco organized a separate fast. Contact: Sr. Silvia Pacheco- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Honduras
    Popol Nah Tun/UNICORAS
    Tocoa, Departamento de Colon
    Contact: Mario Argenal, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Jamaica
    Contact: Fr. Leo Shea

    Mexico
    Mexico City. Contact: General Jose Francisco Gallardo- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Oaxaca. Contact: COMITE 25 NOVIEMBRE, Alma Soto- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


    Nicaragua
    Contact: Michael Barram - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


    Venezuela
    Radio program on the SOA by FUNDALATIN; Contact: Guido Zuleta



    Fasts & Events in Africa

    Ghana
    Conact: Godsway G. Elorm- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


    Fasts & Events in the United States

    United Popular Movement of USA
    Conact: Jorge Montes- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Arizona

    Phoenix
    Contact: Jessica Tartaro of Phoenix SOA Watch - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Tucson
    Contact: Ken Kennon- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    California

    Chico
    Contact: Sue Hilderbrand- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    San Francisco
    Archbishop Riordan High School Contact: John Ahlbach, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    Colorado

    Denver
    Contact: Sr. Regina Juno- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Contact: Erin D. Benson- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Georgia

    Columbus
    Father Roy Bourgeois fasted at the gates of Fort Benning on April 24. Contact Roy- (706) 682-5369

    Illinois

    Springfield
    Diane was released from jail, after serving 45 days, on March 11, 2008 for crossing the line. She organized a fast in Springfield. Contact: Diane Lopez Hughes- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Chicago
    High School students held a prayer service to close the SOA.

    Woodstock
    Le Anne (30 days)
    McHenry County Jail
    LeAnne Clausen
    2200 N. Seminary Avenue
    Woodstock, IL 60098

    Gus (30 days)
    McHenry County Jail
    Augustine Roddy
    2200 N. Seminary Avenue
    Woodstock, IL 60098


    Indiana

    Indianapolis
    Contact: Valerie Fillenwarth - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Oldenburg
    Contact: Marge Wissman of The Sisters of St. Francis - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Notre Dame University
    Contact: Bridget Mullins, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Contact: Sr. Angeline Walczyk- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Iowa

    Grinell
    Contact: Christine Gaunt, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Kansas

    Wichita
    Michelle (30 days)
    Carna A. Yipe
    Sedgwick County Jail
    141 W. Elm St.
    Wichita, KS 67203


    Kentucky

    Lexington
    High school students organized a prayer service.

    Louisville
    Contact: Attics- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Massachusetts

    Boston
    Contact: Phoebe Knopf- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Minnesota
    Sandstone
    Ozone (90 days)
    Ozone Bhaguan #92123-020
    FCI Sandstone
    Federal Correctional Institution
    P.O. Box 1000
    Sandstone, MN 55072


    Nebraska

    Omaha
    Contact: Meghan Mahannah- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    New York
    Buffalo
    Contact: Alice Gerard - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    New York
    Contact: Don of SOAW NY - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Stephen (60 days)
    Stephen P. Schweitzer #93647-020
    MCC New York
    METROPOLITAN CORRECTIONAL CENTER
    150 PARK ROW
    New York, NY 10007

    Contact: Janice Gallagher, Fellowship of Reconciliation: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


    Ohio

    Cincinnati
    Mary Beth Summer - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Lisbon
    Ed (90 days)
    Edwin R. Lewinson #92126-020
    FCI Elkton
    Federal Correctional Institution
    P.O. Box 10
    Lisbon, Ohio 44432

    Oklahoma

    Contact: Marilyn Costello, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Pennsylvania

    Bethlehem/Allentown
    Contact: Tim Chadwick of Americas Solidarity Group - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Philadelphia
    At St. Joseph's University students fasted the week of March 18, as there are finals during April 23 - 26. Contact: Willa Master - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Scranton
    Art (30 days)
    Arthur K. Landis
    Lackawanna County Prison
    1371 North Washington Avenue
    Scranton, PA.18509

    Susquehanna
    Contact: Anne Ryan - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


    South Carolina

    Charleston
    Contact: Anna of Charleston Peace - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


    Tennessee

    Nashville
    Contact: Dan Werle- This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    Texas

    Anthony
    Chris (60 days)
    Chris Lieberman #93645-020
    FCI La Tuna
    Federal Correctional Institution
    P.O. Box 3000
    Anthony, TX 88021


    Virginia

    Arlington
    SOA Watch activists holding a film fest.


    Washington

    Seattle
    Joan (30 days)
    Joan C. Anderson #93649-020
    FDC SeaTac
    Federal Detention Center
    P.O. Box 13900
    Seattle, WA 98198

    University of Washington. Contact: Carl Herman, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


    Washington, DC

    A vigil to close the SOA was held in front of the Capitol South metro station on April 24 at 8 am.

    West Virginia

    Bruceton Mills
    Tiel (90 days)
    Teri L. Rainelli #93552-020
    SFF Hazelton
    P.O. Box 2000
    Bruceton Mills, WV 26525


    Wisconsin

    Contact: Joyce Ellwanger - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


     
    Sample Letter to Your Representative PDF Print E-mail


    The Honorable ____________________________________
    United States House of Representatives
    Washington, DC 20515

    Dear Representative _______________________________,
    I am writing to urge you to support human rights in Latin America by supporting legislative efforts to close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the United States Army School of the Americas (SOA). The graduates of this institution have a long history of human rights violations. From the atrocities in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980's, to recent violations in Colombia, SOA/WHINSEC graduates consistently appear in reports on human rights abuses in Latin America. SOA/WHINSEC training has resulted in civilian massacres, assassinations, disappearances, death threats and has led to both attempted and successful coups of democratically elected governments in the hemisphere. Recently, it was uncovered that WHINSEC has trained known human rights abusers, despite the congressionally mandated vetting of potential students. In addition, countries such as Uruguay and Argentina have made public announcements in recent months that they will no longer send students to the SOA/WHINSEC citing the school as sending a negative human rights message to Latin America.

    Despite efforts to silence opposition to the Ft. Benning-based training school through a name change and cosmetic changes, it is still a combat training school that provides dangerous skills and weaponry to countries with serious current human rights problems. The proliferation of skills like counter-insurgency and psychological warfare in countries like Colombia, where impunity is offered to paramilitaries, only perpetuates the cycles of violence. Keeping the school open under any name sends a powerful anti-human rights message. Establishing reasonable living conditions for the people of Latin America and strengthening civil institutions will do more to stabilize the region than training militaries. Closing the SOA/WHINSEC, whatever its name, would demonstrate that the United States has made a clean break from the tragic history of the school and its graduates.

    As your constituent, I urge you to co-sponsor legislation introduced by Rep. McGovern and work for its passage in Congress. I also urge you to support any amendments to appropriations bills that would cut funding for this notorious institution. Please contact Cindy Buhl in Representative McGovern's office to include yourself in this legislation.

    Please send me a letter with your position on this issue. Thank you for your time and commitment to this important matter.


    Sincerely,



     
    Calling Your Member of Congress PDF Print E-mail
    PHONE CALL CAMPAIGN TO CONGRESS

    Organizing a phone call campaign to Congress is an easy action item that you can coordinate as part of your solidarity fast this month. Below are some tips and resources for your phone calls.

    TIPS FOR MAKING EFFECTIVE PHONE CALLS

    --When calling the DC office of your legislator, ask to speak with the legislative aide responsible for foreign affairs. Give your name and tell him or her that you are a constituent. When calling the district office of your legislator, ask for the constituent services representative.

    --Be specific about what you want the member to do.

    --Ask what the member's position is on the issue. If the staff person is uncertain, ask the staffer what he/she would recommend to her/his boss.

    --Thank them for their time

    GETTING IN CONTACT

    Representatives in the House have at least two offices, and sometimes more, where they conduct their business of supporting their constituents. To contact the district office of your representative, located in your community, you can check your local phone book for the listing or check the Representative's website for their contact information. The websites for all House Representatives are located at www.house.gov. These websites also provide the contact information for their DC office, where the legislative staff works. You can contact them directly, or contact
    the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121. Ask to be connected to your Member of Congress, and when you are, ask to speak with the legislative aide that deals with foreign affairs.

    SAMPLE PHONE MESSAGE

    "Hi, my name is ______, I live in ______, and I am a constituent of Congressman/woman ______. I am calling because I would like to bring to your attention an important opportunity to sponsor legislation that supports human rights in Latin America. Rep. Jim McGovern has introduced legislation that would suspend and investigate the School of the Americas, which now uses the acronym WHINSEC.

    The School of the Americas is a combat training school in Ft. Benning, GA that has trained more than 64,000 Latin American soldiers and officers. New information indicates that WHINSEC has allowed known human rights abusers to instruct and receive training at the school. Argentina and Uruguay are two more countries that have made public announcements they will no longer send students to the school, citing the negative image and history of this institution. The concerns that Congress raised with regards to the SOA were never adequately addressed, and it needs to be closed so that an investigation can occur.

    As your constituent, I urge the Congressman/woman to contact Rep. McGovern's office to become a cosponsor of this bill. This would be one very concrete step to support human rights and promote peace and justice for the people of Latin America. As an elected official in Washington D.C., I hope you will represent me and support this bill and/or any other legislative item that would investigate or cut funding for the school."
     
    April Fast Media Tips PDF Print E-mail
    As you organize to fast this April, as part of a group or by yourself, think and plan ahead about how to educate people in your community about the School of the Americas, why you are fasting, and why they should get involved. One useful tool for getting the word out and working to frame the issue is the media.

    Media coverage significantly magnifies the voice of those working for the closure of the SOA and a more just world. And it's up to all of us to generate media coverage of the SOA and ours efforts to close it down. Taking a little time to work with your local media can profoundly impact the number of people in your area who know about the SOA and the number of people who get involved in the work to close it down!

    Seven steps for your group to consider:

    1) Assess where you are now. What has been your track record of local print and broadcast coverage? Do you need to learn or brush up on media skills? Are you prepared to make a statement about why you are participating in this movement? Who are sympathetic editors and reporters? Which print and broadcast editors and reporters need some education?

    2) Find a local "hook." If you are involved in a local group/organization that will be taking part in the Fast it is important to mention your involvement in that group. An example would be: A Rosa House Peace Community/ Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation's press release in 1998 identified the members as educators (in schools and community-based) who carried signs that urged "Teach Peace" and "Close this School," and they were quoted as linking violence in schools with US government violence.

    3) Use independent and alternative media. IndyMedia web sites at www.indymedia.org give all of us the opportunity to post stories and photos in our own words. Go to the website nearest you and fill in the blanks! Are there alternative newspapers and/or radio programs in your area? Does your information appear in religious, labor and community newsletters? This requires some research on your part to search for those local media outlets that would be most likely to cover your story.

    4) Tie in with local media. List the SOA Watch national office phone number (202-234 3440) underneath a local phone number at the top of your press releases, and cite www.soaw.org as a source for more information.

    5) Varied and simultaneous submissions. All of your media work doesn't need to be a major press release or statement. Submit regular, brief announcements of organizing meetings, educational resources (speakers' bureau or videos). Send to city desk, community news and religion editors. Remember weekly bulletins of houses of worship, union publications and community newsletters.

    6) Some participate, some don't. It is important to develop a comprehensive list of everyone from your community who is participating in the fast, with their names, ages, occupations and religious affiliations to attach to your press release. People who can't take part in the fast but want to be a part of the local actions can support you or your group by acting as a spokesperson, making pitch calls, and posting you local event on the internet throughout the week to increase your chances of local coverage.

    7) Don't lose the story after the actions. As you end your fast, it can be helpful to send a final press release to your local media contacts describing and evaluating the action (number of participants, public reaction to the fast, announce future events). Keeping the story alive can increase your chances for a longer, more accurate story and in building a relationship with your local media.

    Planning Your Media Work

    The schedule for your work will depend on local plans and progress, but a suggested timeline is:

  • February: assess media work to date, where you have had coverage and where you need further outreach. Develop a comprehensive list of media outlets and be sure to note copy deadlines.

  • Late February: announce local participation in the national action (the SOAW website will feature a listing of all the local events taking place around the country); and provide information on how to contact your local SOA Watch group; speakers, videos.

  • March: Announce additional local/regional organizational endorsements and plans around the national SOA Watch Fast. Seek out a related feature story on fasting, nonviolent civil disobedience, and other public actions. Plan your local media support actions for the April Fast.

  • Late March and early April: build the momentum by releasing numbers of people participating in the fast around the country and in your community, mention key or influential people in your local group. Finalize plans for getting the news out. And do it!





  •  
    Spring Fast Sample Press Release PDF Print E-mail
    for immediate release
    [today's date], 2008

    Contact: [Local name, cell phone, email]
    SOA Watch, 202-234-3440,
    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "
    This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

    [Your town] Residents to Join Thousands in Public Fasts to Denounce Controversial Training Facility for Latin Americans

    Nationwide Coordinated Actions to Close the SOA/WHINSEC

    [Your Town] On April 23-25 residents of the [your town] community will join thousands from across the nation for a three day fast to demand a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy and the closure of the controversial U.S. Army's School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC).

    Public fasts will be held in front of Federal buildings, congressional offices and public spaces such as university campuses and major cross streets to raise awareness about the SOA/WHINSEC and demand that Congress vote to close the controversial military training school.

    The SOA/WHINSEC, a military training facility for Latin American soldiers located in Ft. Benning, Georgia, made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Despite this admission and hundreds of documented human rights abuses in connected to soldiers trained at the school, no independent investigation into the facility has ever taken place. New research confirms that the school continues to support known human rights abusers.

    The SOA/WHINSEC narrowly averted closure last year when a bill to cut funding to the school lost in Congress by a margin of 6 votes. On November 16-18 of 2007, thousands gathered at the gates of Ft. Benning to call for the closure of the school, the largest demonstration yet in a 18-year history of opposition to the school.

    [Your group's name] and [number of others fasting] others will hold a public fast on [date] at [location] from [start time] to [end time]. [Sentence about your local group].
    [insert quote here connecting struggle to close the SOA with a local struggle in your community, respected member of your community.] OR [One or two closing sentences about your group: how many years you've been active, how big you are, who is in it, etc].

    School of the Americas Watch Regional Office, [address], [phone], [website], [email]
     
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    Contact us

    SOA Watch
    5525 Illinois Ave. NW
    Washington, DC 20011

    phone: 202-234-3440
    email: info@soaw.org