By JOYCE ROTHERMEL
Again this year, the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) is gathering at the U.S.-Mexico border. They will converge in Nogales, Arizona for the 3rd SOA Watch Border Encuentro, November 16-18, to dismantle border imperialism and to struggle and create power to the people. Several people from the Pittsburgh area will again be participating. Casa San Jose is raising money to send immigrant families, youth, DACA folks, and allies. Donations for them can be sent to Casa San Jose at 2116 Broadway Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15216 and will go for transportation, lodging, and food.
The demands for the events at the Border Encuentro include:
- An end to US economic, military and political intervention in Latin America, and the closure of SOA (School of the Americas)/WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.)
- Demilitarization and divestment of borders.
- An end to the racist systems of oppression that criminalize and kill migrants, refugees and communities of color.
- Respect, dignity, justice and the right to self-determination of communities.
This past year marks yet another in the history of U.S. state violence in Latin America and domestically against Latino/a communities. SOA Watch has continued its track record of confronting the violence in Latin America sponsored by the United States and in addition to the name change of the School of the Americas, SOA Watch has succeeded in:
- Forcing Congress to release the torture and disappearance manuals, used in Latin America and the Middle East, created in Ft. Wachuka and Ft. Benning, that exposed the brutality of these programs that not only taught graduates how to execute abuses but also how to deal with the victim’s family and larger public pressure responding to the abuses. • Uplifting the root causes of migration and underscoring U.S. policies that lead to devastation within Latin American countries, but also violent policies domestically such as family separation.
- The formation of a radical grassroots movement accompanied by a strong base of solidarity activists and a shifting political consciousness that incorporates an understanding of the role of U.S. state violence. • Organizing 28 years of direct actions at Fort Benning and at the U.S. – Mexico border with annual attendance that has galvanized tens of thousands to action.
- Introducing the Berta Caceres Act in Congress in 2016 & 2017 commemorating and calling for accountability for Berta, a Honduran environmental rights activist murdered by the Honduran government and facilitated by an SOA graduate.
To learn more about this year’s Border Encuentro, to register, endorse and support its efforts, go to www.soaw.org
Joyce Rothermel is a past participant at the first SOA Watch Border Encuentro in 2016 and an active member of the Anti-War Committee of the Thomas Merton Center.
(TMC newspaper VOL. 48 No. 9 November 2018. All rights reserved)