By Katherine Henao for School of Americas Watch. 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.
School of Americas
By Staff of SOA Watch. SOA Watch's 2017 Spring Days of Action are now through May 12, 2017! During the next month, we want you king you to contact your Representative and/or take part in actions in honor of Berta Caceres and in support of Central American asylum-seekers. Between April 11-21, and May 8-12, Members of Congress will be having "in district" work weeks. Our two lobby asks are for your Representative are to co-sponsor HR 1299, the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act AND to oppose Trump's supplemental budget request for more detention, deportation, fear, and his wall of hate that damages border communities and does nothing for "security". As we said at the Encuentro, we need to #BuildBridgesNotWalls!
By Linda Cooper and James Hodge for NCR - In a daring and historic move just one week before a new president takes office, Guatemalan authorities arrested 18 former high-ranking military men Jan. 6 for massacres and forced disappearances during the bloodiest years of the dirty war that particularly targeted indigenous populations. Most of the arrests resulted from an investigation that exhumed the remains of 558 people -- 90 of them children -- buried in clandestine mass graves on a military base in Cobán, formerly known as Military Zone 21. DNA testing identified victims who were killed or disappeared by the military in the 1980s.
Twenty five years ago this week, six Jesuit scholars at the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in El Salvador opened the doors of their residence to members of a government death squad, who had been armed and trained by the United States. The soldiers marched the priests to the back garden. They were ordered to lie face down. They were shot and killed like dogs along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter. Father Ignacio Ellacuría Bescoetxea, one of the six Jesuits executed that night, had been a vocal advocate for a negotiated political settlement to the war that had devastated the small Central American country over the course of the decade. On November 16, 1989, Ellacuría would become one of the more than 75,000 killed in the brutal violence carried out by the military dictatorship. The ruling junta was the beneficiary of billions in military aid from the United States government, which they received for their efforts to suppress a populist rebellion by the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). Nine years earlier, Archbishop of San Salvador Oscar Romero had been gunned down at the altar by a death squad member while he was in the middle of celebrating Mass. Before his assassination, Romero had sent a letter to President Jimmy Carter pleading with him to stop sending military aid to the Salvadoran military junta.
In 2006, a team of geographers from the University of Kansas carried out a series of mapping projects of communal lands in southern Mexico's Northern Sierra Mountains. Coordinated by Peter Herlihy and Geoffrey B. Demarest, a US lieutenant colonel, the objective was to achieve strategic military and geopolitical goals of particular interest for the United States. The objective was to incorporate indigenous territories into the transnational corporate model of private property, either by force or through agreements. Demarest's essential argument is that peace cannot exist without private property. "The Bowman Expeditions are taking places with the counterinsurgency logic of the United States, and we reported them in 2009. These expeditions were part of research regarding the geographic information that indigenous communities in the Sierra Juarez possess. The researchers hid the fact that they were being financed by the Pentagon. And we believe that this research was a type of pilot project to practice how they would undertake research in other parts of the world in relation to indigenous towns and their communal lands," said Aldo Gonzales Rojas in an interview with Truthout. A director for the Secretary of Indigenous Affairs in the state of Oaxaca, Rojas ensures that indigenous laws are being instituted and applied correctly in the state.
This article is from our associated project, CreativeResistance.org Today, myself, along with fellow SOA Watch Activists Dominique Diaddigo-Cash, Gail Taylor and Nico Udu-gama appeared before the Washington, DC Superior Court for our arraignment hearing. We had been arrested and detained for six hours after having put up a beautiful mural with other friends and activists – about a dozen of us total – to commemorate just some of our sisters and brothers from across Latin America who have been murdered at the hands of SOA graduates. The pressure created by supporters like you made a huge difference! This is truly empowering news! Over 1,200 supporters from across the United States and Canada signed a petition asking US District Attorney Ron Machen to drop the charges, which carried a maximum penalty of 180 days in prison and a $1,000 fine. We are especially grateful to our attorney Mark Goldstone – criminal defense and constitutional lawyer – for having represented us. Today, all of the charges against us were dropped! We challenged the system and won! We felt supported by each and every one of you, as you never left our side. This is what solidarity looks like! This is what our movement is all about! You all continue to inspire us, and it is encouraging to see just how big the impact of solidarity can be when we continue to stand together and build a culture of peace and justice.
Seven weeks from now 30 young leaders from Central, South, and North America will gather in the foothills of Venezuela's Andes mountains. The Encuentro, or youth summit titled Rooted in Resistance, Sowing Sovereignty, will bring together young leaders from over 20 countries who are actively creating "another world" that is possible! These young leaders, ages 20 to 33, will exchange strategies on local initiatives to resist militarization and repressive neoliberal policies, while upholding sovereignty and affirming the rights of all people. They will remind each other - and all of us - that the collective struggle for dignity will require us to work together as equals to create an alternative world for and by the people. A world in which people are placed over profit, a world where the SOA/WHINSEC shuts its doors forever, a world in which nations honor one another's sovereignty and join the struggle as equals for the dignity of all peoples.
DC activists helped kick off SOA Watch’s poster campaign to remember the martyrs and expose the killers. On Wednesday, May 14, a group of about a dozen activists came together to paste up a giant mural on the streets of the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. Though the activists were peaceful in their actions, DC police decided that political art was unacceptable in the district. After the artwork was completed, four of the activists were handcuffed, arrested and held for 6 hours before being charged with “defacing public or private property.” The charge carries a maximum penalty of 6 months in prison and a $1,000 fine. SOA Watch activists Dominique Diaddigo-Cash, Gail Taylor, Maria Luisa Rosal and Nico Udu-gama will be arraigned in US Superior Court on June 5, 2014. The best way to stand in solidarity with the targeted activists, and to push back against the criminalization of dissent, is to keep up the resistance: SOAW.org/poster Demand that the US Attorney’s Office drop the charges against our people! SOAW.org/action Visit SOAW.org/action to send a message to US District Attorney Ron Machen to say that art is not a crime. Our message is too powerful to be locked behind bars. Let’s take this negative energy and transform it, and decorate our cities with powerful art to create a culture of justice, dignity, and peace. Visit SOAW.org/poster to download the posters today and send a picture to email@example.com when you put it up in your town!
"The 2013 November Vigil energized the movement. The weekend gathering was vibrant and featured creativity in many different facets. Many participated for the first time in the annual vigil. On Sunday, November 24, thousands walked in a solemn funeral procession and commemorated those who have been killed by SOA/ WHINSEC graduates and U.S. militarization. The procession transitioned into an upbeat celebration of life and resistance, after Oscar Romero's last sermon was blasted through the stage speaker system, and a banner with our message, and thousands of soap bubbles crossed over the barb-wired fence."
On the 40th Anniversary of the U.S.-supported military coup in Chile, SOA Watch is calling for the extradition of Pedro Barrientos, a graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, who currently lives in Florida in the United States. Among the dictatorship's first victims was Victor Jara. He was killed on September 16, 1973. Victor Jara was an admired Chilean folksinger and one of the founders of a new genre of Latin American song. His body was dumped in the street and found with 44 bullets and signs of torture. SOA Watch supports the extradition of Pedro Barrientos, who currently lives in Deltona, Florida to stand trial for the torture and killing of Jara.