By Joyce Rothermel
EDITOR’S NOTE: THE SOA WATCH CONTINUES TO SEEK LEGISLATION TO CLOSE THE SOA/WHINSEC. SUPPORT FOR THE SOAW CAN BE SENT TO 225 E. 26TH STREET, SUITE 7, TUCSON, AZ 85713. FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS, THE ANNUAL SOA WATCH WITNESS HAS BEEN HELD IN NOGALES, AZ. FOR 2019, THE GATHERING HAS RETURNED TO FORT BENNING.
On November 15-17, hundreds of people will gather at the home of the School of the Americas (SOA)/ WHINSEC (Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation – a Department of Defense Institute) in Ft. Benning, Georgia to witness against the institute’s continuing role as a training ground for military personnel from many Latin American countries, and its proposed use as a detention facility for children.
This year’s gathering will mark the 30th anniversary of the Central American University massacre in El Salvador. On Nov. 16, 1989, an elite battalion of the Salvadoran Army, trained at the SOA, entered the grounds of the Jesuit University of Central America, with orders to kill Fr. Father Ignacio Ellacuria, an outspoken critic of the Salvadoran military dictatorship, and leave no witnesses. When it was over, the soldiers had killed six Jesuit priests, a housekeeper and her daughter in cold blood. The Jesuits Massacre was one of the most notorious crimes of El Salvador’s 12-year-civil war, which left over 75,000 people dead.
The current U.S. administration is now enacting deplorable policies that have caused several Central American migrant children to die in detention. Since the administration proposes to lock up more children at Ft. Benning -one of the locations that created the conditions of violence from which they are fleeing – SOA Watch will once again be present at Ft. Benning Nov. 15-17, bridging the past and present, resisting and challenging state violence.
Over the course of years that the SOA Watch has convened thousands at Ft. Benning, Pittsburghers have often traveled to be a part of this annual witness. This year is no different. Organized this year by Casa San Jose, people in the Pittsburgh area are invited to travel together to Columbus, Georgia (location of Ft. Benning) or assist financially to make their journey possible. To find out more about the details of the trip and/or to register for it, contact Jose Ochoa at 412-224-3489 or jose@casasanjose. org Checks can be made payable to Casa San Jose with SOA Watch Trip put on the memo line of the check, and mailed to Casa San Jose, 2116 Broadway Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15216.
Joyce Rothermel is a supporter of the School of the Americas Watch and has often participated in their annual gatherings at Ft. Bennings.
NewPeople Newspaper VOL. 49 No. 8. October, 2019. All rights reserved.