|SOA Watch Staff|
Fr. Roy Bourgeois - SOA Watch Founder
Born in Lutcher, Louisiana, Fr. Roy served as a Naval Officer for two years before entering the seminary of the Maryknoll Missionary Order. Ordained a Catholic priest in 1972, Roy went on to work with the poor of Bolivia for five years before being arrested and forced to leave the country, then under the repressive rule of dictator and SOA grad General Hugo Banzer.
Hendrik Voss - National Organizer
Born in Germany, Hendrik started his political activism as part of the antifascist movement against the resurgence of nationalism and racist violence following the reunification of Germany in 1990. In order to avoid the military draft in his home country, he moved to the United States and started to work in the DC office of SOA Watch in 1999. Hendrik and his partner, Gail Taylor, spent seven months living in Guatemala and working with Puente de Paz, a mental health and human rights group that works with survivors of political and domestic violence. Puente de Paz works to empower women in indigenous communities as they reweave the social fabric torn apart during Guatemala's 36-year internal armed conflict.
Lisa Sullivan has lived in Latin America since 1977. She worked for 21 years as a Maryknoll lay missioner in Venezuela and Bolivia, raising her three children in the barrios of Barquisimeto, Venezuela. She is the founder of the grassroots leadership group, Centro de Formación Rutilio Grande.
Pablo Ruiz Espinoza - Latin America Coordinator
Pablo is a Chilean human rights activist and journalist who lives in Santiago, Chile. During the 1990´s he worked in Chile with the Committee Against Impunity, seeking to bring to trial military who had committed human rights abuses during the dictatorship of General Pinochet. In 1999 he joined the Kamarikun Human Rights Committee and in 2002 became a member of the Human Rights Education Team of the Chilean branch of Amnesty International.
Arturo J. Viscarra - Advocacy Coordinator
Arturo was born in El Salvador, but was forced to leave with his family due to the civil war. His family lived in Guatemala and Colombia before permanently resettling in the U.S. He studied International Relations at the University of Delaware before obtaining a Master's in International Relations and a Juris Doctor from Boston University. He has practiced immigration law since 2007, which has allowed him to better understand the root causes that make Central Americans emigrate to the U.S. - principally the disastrous US-sponsored military and economic policies. The SOA graduate-led Honduran coup of 2009 outraged and inspired Arturo to transform from an observer into an activist.
Brigitte Gynther - Activante
SOA Watch activante Brigitte Gynther has spent the past year in Honduras, first as a human rights accompanier with PROAH and subsequently as coordinator of SOA Watch's Stories of Honduras project. She has accompanied human rights organizations, social movements, and others standing up for justice in post-coup Honduras, where social movements, journalists, members of the LGBTQ community, and members of the new LIBRE political party formed out of the resistance movement to the 2009 SOA-graduate led coup face targeted repression, assassinations, death threats, and surveillance. SOA graduates and US-funded militarization continue to wreak havoc on Honduras, which has become the most violent country in the world. Invite Brigitte to your community to share about the human rights situation in Honduras in the lead-up to Honduras' November elections. She is available during the month of October. Brigitte is a 2004 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the 2009 recipient of the Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Katherine Henao - Development and Operations Coordinator
Joining our Washington, D.C. office from Los Angeles is Katherine Henao. With over seven years experience in the non-profit sector, she has demonstrated her commitment to the Latino community through her social justice work. Katherine is a Colombian immigrant with deep ties to the Movement. She graduated from the Political Science Master's program at California State University with an emphasis on Latin American and human rights. She is excited to work with you as the D & O Coordinator in the future!
Luis Roberto Zamora Bolaños - Coordinator, Latin American Legal Initiative
Roberto, a Costa Rican lawyer focusing on human rights, is currently waging the legal struggle to end his country's involvement with SOA/WHINSEC. Luis Roberto has brought a lawsuit against the Costa Rican government, challenging the decision of President Arias to authorize military training of Costa Rican civilian police at the School of the Americas (WHINSEC); the case is pending at the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court. He began the case when he was still a law student, building on the long tradition of student activism within the Movement.
Owen Silverman Andrews - Legislative Organizer
Sam Williams - Activante
Sam was born and raised in Washington, D.C. She moved to Ohio to attend Oberlin College, where she majored in Latin American Studies and Spanish with a focus on border issues. She recently lived in Arizona where she provided legal support for an organization that works with detained migrants. In this role, Sam focused on unaccompanied minors detained in Phoenix. She then returned to Washington to work at the Latin American Youth Center as a mural arts instructor. She has been an activante in SOAW's Santiago, Chile office since August and is an integral member of the SOAW Youth Collective.
Our movement's newest hire works out of the Washington, DC office as our Field Organizer. Born in Guatemala during the worst intensification of the internal armed conflict, she and her family fled into exile to the United States, where they received political asylum. Her father was disappeared by the Guatemalan state on August 12, 1983.
Prior to joining the movement, María Luisa has worked on issues ranging from HIV prevention programs and positive youth development programs among Latino youth, to broader issues like torture, enforced and involuntary disappearances, historical memory, and human rights in Guatemala. María Luisa holds a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and a Master's Degree in Human Rights and Democratization in Latin Amercia and the Caribbean from the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Under the conviction that without truth, there is no justice, she is enthusiastically committed to contributing to the growth and mobilization of this continental movement!
Irene Rómulo - Activante
Yadira Diaz - Activante
SOA Watch’s newest activante Yadira Diaz was raised in a predominately farming community in Watsonville, CA. She is currently completing her B.A. degree in Latin American/Latinos Studies and Politics from the University of California Santa Cruz. Her focus is on human rights in the U.S and Latin America by advocating for transnational networks of solidarity.
In 2008, Yadira joined her first ten-day, food-clothing distribution caravan to Raramuri communities in Chihuahua, Mexico with The Raramuri Project. A few years later, she traveled to Chiapas, Mexico where she worked with Mayan women promoting urban gardening by using organic methods with the organization Yach’ll Antzetic. She has also visited numerous countries such as, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Costa Rica. Yadira joins the DC office assisting with our legislative lobbying efforts to promote better foreign policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean.
Cristina Rivero - Activante
Cristina works from Barquisimeto, Venezuela as the Latin American organizer for the upcoming SOA WATCH Encuentro of Youth Leaders from the Americas. Age 23 and a student of literature and lover of art and books, Cristina says: Since I can remember I have been part of meetings and gatherings of women and youth in my community. I believe in the lucha, and that another world is possible. I am excited to help facilitate this historic gathering that will allow other youth leaders in my continent to interchange opinions, and experiences, to help move that "other world" forward.
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