SOA Watch Strategy Meeting & Lobby Days Print
On February 18-21, 2007, human rights activists from around the country joined SOA Watch in Washington, D.C. for our annual Strategy Meeting and Lobby Days.

Strategy Meeting

On Sunday, February 18, activists representing diverse groups from around the country gathered at the Main Hall Art Gallery on the Trinity College Campus for a day of reflection, discussion, and strategizing around the campaign to close the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) and changing oppressive U.S. foreign policy.

The Strategy Meeting began with a reportback from Lisa Sullivan (of the SOA Watch Latin America Office), Fr Roy Bourgeois (SOA Watch) and Linda Panetta (SOA Watch North East) on the recent SOA Watch delegation to Colombia and Panama followed by Legislative updates and information about the upcoming April Fast.

Those in attendance also took part in regional focus groups and break-out sessions where they discussed specific issues such as military training in Latin America, trade, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (?the torture law?), the legislative campaign to shut down the SOA/WHINSEC, and anti-racism tactics within social movements in the U.S.

Lobby Days ? February 19-20

The national SOA Watch Lobby Day is part of an effort to lobby Congress in support of legislation that would suspend training and investigate the former U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).

On June 9, 2006, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that would have cut funding for the SOA/WHINSEC. While the amendment failed by a 15 vote margin, the close vote indicated the power of grassroots lobbying to influence key leaders in one of the most conservative Congresses in recent memory. Thirty-four Representatives who opposed the amendment lost their seats in the mid-term elections, heightening the prospect of closing the school with a vote in the 110th Congress.

On February 19-20, constituents from hundreds of congressional districts from around the country attended the SOA Watch lobby training and Lobby Days.

On Monday, February 19 the SOA Watch Legislative Working Group hosted a lobby training to prepare supporters for their congressional visits with talking points, legislative history of the bill to suspend operations at the SOA/WHINSEC and a complete list of Representatives for their respective districts.

In the early morning of Tuesday, February 20 before making their congressional visits, SOA Watch activists gathered at the Capitol South Metro Station in Washington, D.C. to raise their voices against a U.S. foreign policy which advocates military solutions to social and economic problems. Those who couldn?t make it to D.C. took part in the National Call-In Day by calling their local district offices and asking that their Representatives support the upcoming bill to shut down and investigate the SOA/WHINSEC.

Congressional visits continued throughout the day on Tuesday and Wednesday and so far we have confirmed over 20 co-sponsors on the bill to cut funding for the SOA/WHINSEC!