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SOA Watch

Report-Back From The SOA Watch Border Encuentro

At the heart of this year’s School of the Americas Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Arizona/Sonora from November 16-18 was increasing awareness of the militarization and expansion of the US-Mexico border throughout Latin America and inside the United States, as well as the criminalization of immigrants, asylum seekers, refugees and people of color. Now in our third year, the Border Encuentro was a space to call for active solidarity at a time when all eyes are on the borderlands, and during a moment in which we see the unquestionable connections between the historic legacy of violence of the US in Latin America, the violent state responses to mass migration...

SOA Watch Spring Days of Action

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!

US Court Protects ‘School Of The Assassins’ Graduates

By Staff of Tele Sur - Since the Cold War the school has provided counterinsurgency training to a number of Latin American dictators and death squad members. A U.S. court has sided with the Pentagon that it does not have to publicly release the names of attendees from the training school, formerly known as the School of the Americas, on Friday. The infamous military school was a training ground for dictators, death squad members, and torturers, fueling human rights abuses and coups across Latin America, earning it the moniker “the School of the Assassins.”

18 US Trained Military Arrested In Guatemala

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.

The U.S. School That Trains Dictators And Death Squads

By Staff of Empire Files - On November 22, thousands gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, GA at the 25th annual protest of the School of the Americas to memorialize the tens of thousands of people who lost their lives at the hands of the U.S. Empire’s brutally repressive juntas it used to rule Latin America by force. The dictators and death squad leaders, who committed acts of genocide, were trained within the gates of Fort Benning, at the School of the Americas – otherwise known as the “School Of Assassins.”

Empire Files: U.S. School Trains Dictators And Death Squads

By Staff of The Real News - For the last 25 years, people from all over the U.S. have converged at the gates of the Fort Benning U.S. Army base in Georgia. They come with thousands of crosses inscribed with different names, many of them children and elderly, each memorializing a death at the hands of right-wing governments in Latin America in the second half of the 20th century. It was an era of fascistic political repression, where it didn't matter if you were an unarmed university student or a peasant with a rifle. Anyone who questioned those in power was butchered. Largely hidden from the American public, several high-profile incidents in El Salvador in 1980 turned a spotlight on unparalleled political violence.

Report From The Frontline Of Resistance In America

By David Stocker for Counterpunch. I went to Columbus to attend the annual School of the Americas (SOA) protest and to meet the remarkable and controversial Roy Bourgeois, former Catholic priest and founder of the SOA Watch. As a catholic priest Bourgeois, was an outspoken critic of US policy in Latin America. Subsequent to the murder of four American church women by SOA trained assassins, Bourgeois founded SOA Watch and has maintained a 26 year tradition of civil disobedience and protest including documentation of atrocities in Latin America linked to SOA training programs. Later he took a controversial stand on ordination of women in the Catholic Church and was canonically dismissed. The School of the Americas was started in Panama in the 1950’s and became the CIA training ground for “counterinsurgency”, moving to Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. The CIA manual for counterinsurgency developed and taught at Ft Benning advises totalitarian regimes and military dictators how to silence opposition to corporate and military take over of public land and natural resources. Assassination and disappearance of labor leaders, teachers, journalists, community activists, and human rights defenders is strategically outlined and often followed up with CIA support and tactical weapons to SOA graduates.

‘School of Assassins’: Protests Demand Closure of Training Camp

By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams - Thousands of activists and dozens of peace groups converged this weekend in Georgia to call for the closure of the School of Americas (SOA or WHINSEC), a controversial training facility for Latin American soldiers, and the nearby Stewart Immigrant Detention Center. Hundreds protested outside SOA's gates in Fort Benning, calling it the "School of Assassins," while others marched through the town of Lumpkin to hold a vigil outside of Stewart's facilities. A handful of protesters were arrested and later released after they crossed onto the grounds of the detention center, where organizers say approximately 1,800 migrants are being held in inhumane conditions as officials prepare to deport them en masse.

SOA Watch Spring Action: Growing Stronger Together

School of the Americas Watch is mobilizing this April for our Spring Days of Action (SDOA). Our 2015 SDOA theme is "Growing Stronger Together - Resisting the 'Drug War' Across the Americas". Will you help us take the message to Washington, DC? Join us for actions in the streets and halls of Congress to hasten the end of the Drug War and its accompanying destruction. Part of social change is grassroots power, and we'll be having a welcome party, congressional visits, critical mass bike ride, concert, movement strategy session, and more!

SOA Grads Continue To Make Headlines Throughout The Americas

In just the first two months of 2015, we have been horrified, though not surprised, to learn of the continued repression by SOA/WHINSEC graduates against their own people. As the US continues to secure economic and political interests by utilizing military solutions to social and political problems, SOA/WHINSEC graduates continue to make headlines in countries like Honduras, Guatemala, Peru and Chile, underscoring the importance of continuing the struggle to close the SOA/WHINSEC. While some graduates have yet to be held accountable due to the high levels of impunity in their country or in the US, they are all directly responsible for committing grave human rights violations, which include murder, torture and genocide. As we continue to highlight these atrocities, we invite you to join us in Washington, DC for our Spring Days of Action this April 22-25, Growing Stronger Together: Resisting the "War on Drugs" across the America.

SOA Watch Marks 25th Year Of Speaking Out

This November marks the 25th year that SOA Watch -- a human rights group founded by Roy Bourgeois -- has organized demonstrations outside Fort Benning, Ga., home of the U.S. Army's controversial School of the Americas, known since 2001 as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The annual events began on Nov. 16, 1990, on the first anniversary of the murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador -- murders carried out by SOA-trained officers. This year, as in so many years past, the government tried to disrupt the Nov. 21-23 protest, which features the leader of an association of families of the disappeared in Colombia, along with a Jesuit priest who's received death threats for his human rights work in Honduras.

Victory: First Amendment Triumph Over Fort Benning

Thanks to a letter signed by our friends and human rights defenders throughout Latin America, including Nobel Peace Prize recipient Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, as well as 75 organizational letters of support, a Congressional letter of support signed by 12 Representatives and a petition with 7,000 signatures, we have collectively secured not only our historical and sacred space of convergence to remember the martyrs, but have successfully defended and protected our First Amendment rights!

Georgia Right To Peace Walk Calls Attention To Killer Drones

After 8 days and 120 miles, the Georgia Right to Peace Walk, sponsored and organized by the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition (GPJC), came to an exciting end. The walk, which began at the gates of Ft. Benning, aimed to call attention and raise awareness about the research, development, testing and use of the new generation of killer drones by the US, as well as call for the closing of the SOA/WHINSEC. It was on the first day of the Walk that we dignified the memory of Bishop Gerardi of Guatemala, who was murdered by SOA grad Col. Byron Lima Estrada on April 26, 1998. Gerardi spearheaded the ad-hoc truth commission report, Guatemala: ¡Nunca Más!, which systematized for the first time - through the testimonies of the survivors - the gross human rights violations that were committed during the 36-year internal armed conflict. 16 years after Gerardi's assassination, we continue to call for memory, truth, and justice in Guatemala, as the political situation worsens and the State apparatus continues to criminalize and terrorize communities in resistance to neoliberal economic policies and extractive industries that threaten their very existence.

SOA Watch Walks From Ft. Benning To Atlanta To Protest Drones & Immigrant Persecution

SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois, Field Organizer Maria Luisa Rosal, our newest Council member Kevin Moran, and long-time SOA Watch activist Irene Rojas DeCambias are currently walking 120 miles from Fort Benning, Georgia to Atlanta, Georgia, to call attention to the SOA, drone warfare, and the persecution of immigrants. Follow their walk on twitter, read daily updates on facebook and on SOAW.org (or join them on the walk). The Right to Peace Walk concludes on Saturday, May 3 at Georgia Tech, where millions of Pentagon dollars fund research into further development of killer drones to be used in wars, often undeclared, with civilian populations too many times the victims. The Walk began April 26 at Ft. Benning, site of the School of the Americas where for decades Latin American troops have been trained in counter-insurgency and population control methods that have been used aginst peasants, indigenous people, union members, students, faith and community leaders seeking equity and justice. The base is also now a testing site for killer drones.

How School Of The Americas Watch’s Perseverance Is Paying Off

It is possible that successful closure of the school is on its way, rooted in a number of strategies the SOA Watch has been pursuing. In addition to the annual vigil in Georgia, it has also staged a spring demonstration in Washington, D.C., aimed at bolstering its lobbying of Congress, urging it to end the funding for the school. This past April, SOA Watch organized a national phone-in that flooded Congressional offices with calls and staged demonstrations in the city, including a die-in near the Capitol. As a result of an SOA Watch lawsuit, a federal judge ordered the Pentagon to release the names of SOA graduates — this after a long struggle that included Congress adding an amendment to a defense authorization bill that demanded the Department of Defense to release the names. SOA Watch has built powerful relationships with activists throughout Latin America, including in Honduras, where it had a delegation of observers on the ground during the recent election there. Most significantly perhaps, SOA Watch has systematically lobbied Latin American governments to refuse to send their troops to the SOA. In 2012, Ecuador and Nicaragua joined Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Venezuela in deciding to stop sending their personnel there.
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