School of the Americas
November 16-18TH, 2006
In 2003 there were 10 representative OLAA members who attended the School of the Americas protest in Georgia , and this past year in November 2004 that number grew to 23 members. Learn more. Take action.
OLAA's role in SOA Watch
OLAA feels a personal responsibility to ensure the greater community is educated on U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and institutions, such as the School of the Americas , which deeply affect the everyday experience of Latinos across the world. Because the trip was such a success, OLAA will be making the School of the Americas Awakening an annual event. We work with Boston College 's Campus Ministry to send students to the SOA watch.
OLAA members participate on the protest
How Do Members Participate in the Trip?
OLAA members interested in taking part in the watch attend our general meetings every other Sunday. Preparation begins at the end of September. Members attend meetings provided by the Campus Ministry where they learn more about SOA. They also take part in fundraising events to finance the weekend trip.
From the Campus Ministry Website:
The group leaves Friday, November 18, 2005 and returns Sunday, November 20 th . The group is bused to Logan where it takes a direct flight to Atlanta , followed by a three-hour bus ride to Columbus , GA. Activities are held at the Ignatian Family Teach-In tent on Friday night and Saturday morning. The activities then shift to the gates for a day of celebration and education. Saturday night, BC returns to the tent for a celebration of the mass with all 3,000 attendees. Sunday marks a very solemn and unified celebration in the form of a symbolic funeral procession up to the gates, as over and over again the 10,000 people gathered call out "Presente!" to let all know those who have lost their lives live on in the spirit of those who continue to work to stop the violence.
Find out more at /offices/campus-ministry/justice/ift/
SOA dolls illustrate deep emotions
What is the SOA?
The School of Americas (SOA), is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning , Georgia . Over its 59 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando ad psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics.
What's Wrong With Training
Latin American soldiers?
These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, "disappeared," massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins .
Initially established in Panama in 1946, SOA was kicked out in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the "biggest base for destabilization in Latin America ." The SOA, frequently dubbed the " School of Assassins ," has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned.
"SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works to stand in solidarity with the people of Latin America, to close the SOA/WHINSEC, and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy that the SOA represents. We are grateful to our sisters and brothers throughout Latin America for their inspiration and the invitation to join them in their struggle for economic and social justice."
Signs, flags, pictures, and crosses to
represent all those who have died.
About SOA Watch
SOA Watch is an independent organization that seeks to close the US Army School of the Americas , under whatever name it is called, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work. Visit www.soaw.org
Significance of the date
On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter were massacred in El Salvador . A U.S. Congressional Task Force reported that those responsible were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Ft. Benning , Georgia .
SOA Watch Beginnings
In 1990, SOA Watch began in a tiny apartment outside the main gate of Fort Benning . While starting with a small group, SOA Watch quickly drew upon the knowledge and experience of many in the U.S. who had worked with the people of Latin America in the 1970s and 80s.
Today, the SOA Watch movement is a large, diverse, grassroots movement rooted in solidarity with the people of Latin America . The goal of SOA Watch is to close the SOA and to change U.S. foreign policy in Latin America by educating the public, lobbying Congress and participating in creative, nonviolent resistance.
The Pentagon has responded to the growing movement and Congress' near closure of the SOA with a PR campaign to give the SOA a new image. In an attempt to disassociate the school with its horrific past, the SOA was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in January of 2001. Despite the change of name, the school's threat to peace and justice in Latin America remains the same.
Information taken from the SOA Watch website