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My name is Katherine Henao and for those of you who don’t know me, I’m the Development and Operations Coordinator for the School of the Americas Watch. A couple years ago, I had the opportunity of participating in SOAW’s vigil in Ft. Benning to protest the U.S.’s role in perpetuating direct violence against communities in Latin America.
The violence of U.S. policies is very real to me as an undocumented Colombian. Not only have I seen firsthand the role of U.S. foreign policies in the destruction of entire countries, I have seen how deeply they impact those who make it past the inhumane borders of this country.
If you’re an immigrant like me, you know how hard it is to be the constant scapegoat of the United States – that those of us who come to these borders are blamed for problems caused by the U.S. and the U.S. alone. It might be hard to comprehend how violent U.S. policies in Latin America are, because we are taught to think that war is the only significant cause of devastation. But economic and trade policies have wreaked significant violence and essentially caused forced migration – something the U.S. is not willing to admit.
This year, I will be at the Encuentro on the border of Arizona and Mexico because I feel a sense of responsibility to my family and community. I know this work is important and that’s why I have set aside my personal worries and come out of the shadows in order to represent not only those all across Latin America but also the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States who live in fear every day of their lives.
My dedication to the Movement is stronger than I ever thought possible as now I am fortunate to be able to stand on the other side of the border as a DACA recipient, and share in the same struggle with those inside, fighting for their basic human rights. I dream of the day when there are no borders that get in the way of mediating humanity.
I hope you will join me at this year’s Encuentro! There is so much at stake this year, and we need your help to make it happen. Will you help us make the Border Encuentro a success by making a tax-deductible donation of $5, $10, $50 or more? Until the end of October, all donations (up to $30,000) will be matched by a generous long-term supporter, meaning that if you donate now, your impact will be doubled!!
This year, like every year before, we call out the names of those who have been tortured, detained, disappeared and/or murdered. As their names are called out, the crowd replies “Presente!” (“You are here, you are not forgotten!”). Will you join us from November 10-12 to honor the legacy of those lost? I really hope so.