Una Sola América in Education, Action and Hope for a Continent of Peace Print

Report on simultaneous actions in Latin America to the SOAW Vigil

Besides the symbolic importance of our union in Una Sola América during the days of solidarity with the Fort Benning Vigil (November 19-21) the simultaneous actions in Latin America had a positive impact on the communities where they took place. There were, among others, actions of vigil and memory, educational actions, actions of occupation of public spaces, delivery of letters to authorities, in fourteen countries in Latin America: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, and Venezuela.


Examples of actions of vigil and memory were carried out in Colombia and Venezuela. In Colombia, the Comisión Intereclesial Justicia y Paz (JyP) organized a series of events, starting with the delivery of a letter at the U.S. embassy by U.S. citizens living in Colombia. “There actions were more than anything actions of dignity and memory; not massive but very deep actions, like that of the first four people that decided to watch the SOA and encourage other to join them until they became thousands,” commented Abilio Peña from JyP. At the embassy, “activists left crosses that were automatically taken out by the guards”. Then “we walked to the Defense Department building, where we read, one by one, the names of the hundreds of victims at the hands of the SOA graduates, while we put crosses with their names in front of the building watched by soldiers and police that could not hide their nerves”. The journey ended with an ecumenical action, lighting candles in the name of the victims and screening a documentary on Honduras. Moreover, our compañeros and compañeras were in touch by Skype with the Fort Benning Vigil.


In Venezuela, meanwhile, a vigil in solidarity with the women who were and are victims of militarization was carried out in the context of the First Regional Encuentro of Young Women in Lara, where students, mothers, artists and activists from different organizations of the West-Center region participated. The deep feeling of collective memory was truly moving. Each tear we poured gave us more strength to continue our struggle. Following the symbolism of the Encuentro of the Americas (Sanare, Venezuela, June 2010), the Venezuelan Vigil happened around a military helmet that we filled with seeds, and each handful of life was poured into the helmet with a message of solidarity with our compañeras. Many women decided to contribute seeds three or four times.


Among the educational actions there is the example of Argentina, where the national chapter of the Continental No Bases Campaign organized a workshop with focus on the SOA and NATO. The event was carried out on November 19th in Buenos Aires, with participants from 17 organizations and people that attended on their own. Rina Bertaccini, MOPASSOL president and organizer of the workshop, wrote: “It was a highly participatory activity with people of all ages, with many creative contributions to the continuity of the No Bases Campaign in our country”. Other countries where panel discussions or workshops were carried out are Dominican Republic and Honduras. In the first one, a documentary on the SOA history was screened. In the latter, the Socialist Student Front (FES) and COFADEH organized a panel discussion with focus on closing the SOA and ending U.S. military intervention.


Among the actions of occupation of the public space, besides the already mentioned Colombia, there was Ecuador and Chile. In Ecuador, our brothers and sisters from the No Bases Coalition commented on the photo exhibit and discussion organized at a public park: “Through this action we reached people who didn’t know anything about these topics. This action was the pretext to meet again with the victims of the Manta Forward Operating Location. Fisherman whose ships were sunk and women whose husbands were killed came to participate. We were interviewed a number of times, bringing the discussion to the mass media. We’re retaking the struggle for justice on the Manta crimes that were never investigated. This exercise of memory was truly enriching.”
In Chile, activists for Human Rights demonstrated in the streets of Santiago, finishing this action with the delivery of a letter at the Palacio de la Moneda, demanding no more Chilean troops be sent to the SOA. Pablo Ruiz, from the action organizing team, commented: “We had quite a lot of presence in the radios and written media. Journalists asked our Defense Department head about our protest at the very moment where he was welcoming the U.S. Secretary of Defense, who found out about our action against the SOA.”

Besides Chile and Colombia, an interesting example of actions based on letters to authorities was that of a group of U.S. students from ten universities who were on an exchange program in Mexico. They wrote and delivered a letter to the U.S. ambassador in that country. The letter said, among other things: “Today we ask you to close the School of Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC) and put an end to United States militarization of the Americas. We are embarrassed that our country continues to train foreign soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics at the SOA/WHINSEC. Furthermore, as the new generation of academics and conscious citizens we find ourselves unable to defend our country’s actions. It is our dream to represent a United States of America that upholds the values of democracy and freedom, values our fore parents fought so hard for. In delivering this letter to you today, we join thousands of individuals who are gathered outside the SOA/WHINSEC at Fort Benning, and our siblings who are taking action this weekend in 14 countries across the Americas. Together we resist the growing United States militarization of our hemisphere.”

Thus, the South and North united as Una Sola América in the struggle against the SOA, against foreign military intervention in Latin America and for a continent of peace. It is hugely rewarding to see that solidarity with the SOAW Vigil serves as a “pretext” to educate and take action with different communities in many countries, in the context of the urgent struggle that we must carry out against all forms of foreign military intervention in Latin America. To violence, war and military occupation, we oppose a thousand creative ways to promote education and peace and to occupy the public spaces that belongs to us. We clearly showed this last November 19-21.


More links:

Pictures of simultaneous actions in various Latin Americancountries:
http://encuentronortesur.wordpress.com/2010/11/25/fotos-de-la-protesta-contra-la-escuela-de-las-americas/

Actions in Colombia
Pictures of the November 19 protest in front of the U.S. embassy and Defense Department in Bogotá:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jypcolombia/
Radio Contagio coverago of actions in Colombia (Spanish): http://www.contagioradio.com/otra-mirada/escuela-de-las-americas-cierre-ya

Acciones en Chile
El ministro defendió a la Escuela de las Américas: http://www.emol.com/noticias/nacional/detalle/detallenoticias.asp?idnoticia=448445
Diputado Tucapel Jiménez, cuyo padre fue asesinado por un graduado de la SOA/WHINSEC, defendió las acciones simultáneas en Chile:
http://www.elmostrador.cl/noticias/pais/2010/11/22/tucapel-jimenez-ppd-lamenta-declaraciones-de-ravinet-sobre-escuela-de-las-americas/
Nota sobre la entrega de carta del viernes en el Palacio de La Moneda:
http://www.elciudadano.cl/2010/11/19/entregan-carta-a-pinera-para-suspender-envio-de-militares-a-escuela-de-las-americas/
Fotos de marcha el sábado 20 de noviembre: http://www.flickr.com/photos/observadores-chile

Acciones en Perú
Link al artículo publicado en AlertaPerú a propósito de la Vigilia en Fort Benning:http://encuentronortesur.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/peru-piden-cerrar-escuela-de-la-muerte/

Algunas noticias en español y portugués sobre la Vigilia frente a la Escuela de las Américas y las acciones simultáneas en América Latina
México: “Exigirán cierre de la Escuela de las Américas”
http://www.publimetro.com.mx/noticias/exigiran-cierre-de-escuela-de-las-americas/njks!0q1VfQi@VcwOPN7cGq5u6w/
Minga Informativa de los Movimientos Sociales: “Todo el Continente en Lucha por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas”
http://movimientos.org/show_text.php3?key=18535
Defensores en Línea, Honduras: “Todos y todas por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas”
http://www.defensoresenlinea.com/cms/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1017:todos-y-todas-por-el-cierre-de-la-escuela-de-las-americas&Itemid=150
Aporrea, Venezuela: “Comienza hoy Semana de Acción por el Cierre de la Escuela de las Américas”
http://aporrea.org/tiburon/n169659.html
Adital, Brasil: “Começa hoje (16) semana de ação pelo fechamento da Escola das Américas”
http://www.adital.com.br/site/noticia.asp?lang=PT&cod=52387
Video about actions in Colombia: http://vimeo.com/17158231