SOA Watch: Close the School of the Americas

October 2011: March on the U.S. Southern Command PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ray Del Papa, SOA Watch South Florida / SOUTHCOM Watch   

Report Back from the Southern Command Actions

With an urban flood warning, ten plus inches of rain and 25-30 mile per hour winds, dozens of supporters gathered in South Florida to protest the Southern Command. The weather for the weekend of October 8 & 9 was far less than ideal; near tropical storm conditions dominated most of our events and actions. However, with something near a miracle, the skies repeatedly cleared up just enough for us to achieve our outdoor goals—a CIW joint-action at a Publix in North Miami and our march on the Southern Command.

Saturday, we arrived at the Publix in North Miami to the sounds of thunder and winds driving a heavy downpour. A decision was made not to march if it continued to lightning. After a 15 minute wait, the skies cleared and the storm stopped long enough for our 45 minute demonstration in support of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers campaign for Fair Food. Later the CIW joined us in the safe, dry, and comfortable space provided by Saint Thomas University for our forum on U.S. Militarization and Resistance in the Americas.

Sunday October 9, the morning weather was still rainy and overcast, but the prediction called for improving conditions as the day wore on. As activists began to gather at the American Postal Worker Union hall in Doral, Florida intermittent rain continued to fall. However, just as the previous day, the rain subsided and then ended. At 1:15 it was dry enough and the banners came out, the puppets were assembled, and we began to form up for the march. Approximately 75 people then began a ¾ mile march to the gates of the U.S. Southern Command. Our demands—No 4th Fleet; No bases in Latin America; Close the SOA/Whinsec; and Close the Southern Command rang out loud and clear!

The march route, up NW 97 Ave., took us by one of Doral’s few residential neighborhoods and along one of the city’s major north-south arteries. For the first time, many of the locals realized for the first time that peace makers from around the country, and beyond her borders, do not want the Southern Command in their neighborhood or anywhere else. The fact that the U.S. military picked South Florida (the belly of the Latin right wing beast in the U.S.) and Doral (the home of many Latin Americans who grabbed what they could and deserted their countries in the face of changes to benefit the peoples of their former homes) as a hospitable sanctuary for Southcom was no coincidence. This was the fourth year in a row that the SOA Watch South Florida/Southcom Watch has marched to the Southern Command. However, as the City of Doral threw up one obstacle to our permit after another, they made it quite clear that they did not want us. They had no idea how persistent peace makers are! We were, and we will be back!

With Christopher Columbus in the lead and the massage of, “519 years of militarization, 519 years of resistance”, the group reached the main gate of Southcom. As a very dark cloud hung over SouthCom—literally, not only symbolically—we began our rally. That dark cloud could not have been a better prop for this new 409 million dollar faculty. The rally featured: the list of our demands, a puppet show, speeches, chants, and a very powerful solidarity massage from one of the members of the CIW.We ended our rally with the SOA Watch banner—“Close The SOA”—posted in front of SouthCom’s main gate.

Many thanks go out to those who braved the inclement weather, and came out to support freedom and justice for the peoples of Latin America and Caribbean and to all those who helped make these events possible: puppet makers, banner painters, people who opened their homes, and to Art Kane who got us space at Saint Thomas University. We extend a very special thanks to APWU president Carol Sutton, who saved the day when we were denied JC Bermudez Park as our starting point.

- Ray Del Papa & Linda Belgrave

New! Read "The U.S. Southern Command and the 4th Fleet" article in CounterPunch!

On October 8-9, 2011 we travelled to Florida and converged on the new headquarters of the U.S. Southern Command outside of Miami.Shut Down the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM)

Click here to pledge your support for the mobilization and to receive updates.

For over 200 years the United States, with its military, has been interfering in the internal affairs of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. We want that to end! So on Invasion Day (Columbus) Weekend, SOA Watch South Florida / SouthCom Watch held a series of events centering around the U.S Southern Command in Doral Florida, just to the west of Miami, Florida.

We invited groups and organizations to co-sponsor and participate in this regional event. This weekend of education, entertainment, and protest, with groups from all over the country, grew out of last April's conference on Latin America that was held in Washington DC.

People from all over the Americas know the role the U.S. Southern Command has played in the U.S. intervention, militarism, and economic domination of the region. We travelled to Southcom to show the U.S. government and the military that people in the United States will no longer tolerate a boot to the neck foreign policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean. From Free Trade agreements to immigration, U.S. policy has had a devastating effect on the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean. This must end!

The weekend of October 8-9, Invasion Day (Columbus Day), we gathered in South Florida to demand an end to repressive U.S. polices!

Our demands included:
an end to U.S. militarization of Latin America & the Caribbean (close all U.S. bases and deactivate the 4th fleet),
stop the criminalization of immigrants and people of color,
close the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC),
and abolish the economic embargo of Cuba.

"They... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for glass beads and hawk's bells. They willingly traded everything they owned... They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane... They would make fine servants... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want." (From Howard Zinn's, People's History Of The United States; a log entry by Christopher Columbus, on his first encounter with the native peoples of this hemisphere.)

Protest at the U.S. Southern Command

U.S. Southern Command SOUTHCOM
From one conquistador to another,
519 years of repression of the peoples of the Americas

Niña, Pinta, Santa Maria, &
the U.S. Southern Command

519 Years of Militarization
519 Years of Resistance

Invasion Day (Columbus Day) Weekend
October 8-9, 2011

The U.S. Southern Command, located outside of Miami, Florida, is the brains behind the U.S. military domination of Latin America and the Caribbean. We would like to close it. Reclaim the sacred land for the peoples of the Americas. Bring an offering from your part of the Americas to inaugurate a new spirit of peace and justice and end U.S. military, economic and political intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Close the SOA/WHINSEC, de-activate the 4th Fleet.

Click here for a report back from the November 2009 protest at SOUTHCOM

Co-sponsoring organizations:

SOA Watch South Florida / SouthCom Watch, Pax Christi Saint Maurice, 8th Day Center for Justice, Action LA Network, Alachua County Green Party, Alliance for Global Justice, Bend-Condega Friendship Project, Black Unity movement, CEIG Communities Engaged in Global Justice, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Colectivo Morazán, Colombia Action Network, Colombia Vive, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Fellowship of Reconciliation Chicago Chapter, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Guatemala Human Rights Commission, Haiti Action Committee, Hilton Head for Peace, Interconnect Newsletter, Jeannine Coallier Catholic Worker, La Voz de los de Abajo, Latin America Solidarity Coalition, Louisville chapter NLG, National Immigrant Solidarity Network, National Lawyers Guild, New Hampshire Veterans for Peace, Nicaragua Center for Community Action, Nicaragua-US Friendship Office, October2011 Movement, Office of the Americas, Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, Peace and Freedom Party, Peace NO War Network, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Progressive Democrats of America, Progressive Democrats of America - Miami Chapter, Red River Veterans for Peace - Chapter 154, Portland Central America Solidarity Committee (PCASC), Red River Veterans For Peace; Chapter 154, SOA Watch, SOA Watch Boulder, SOA Watch West, South Florida Food Not Bombs, St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America, Topanga Peace Alliance, MLK Coalition for Jobs, Justice and Peace, U.S. Peace Council, U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities, United Church of Christ, United for Peace and Justice, United National Anti-War Committee (UNAC), Veterans For Peace, Veterans For Peace - Chapter 32 Miami

Click here to pledge your support for the mobilization and to receive updates.

Besides the March on the U.S. Southern Command (SouthCom), grassroots resistance actions are also being coordinated Washington, DC and in Nevada in early October. Click here to read the Joint Solidarity Statement by the October2011 Movement, the National Catholic Worker Gathering and SOA Watch South Florida/ SouthCom Watch

U.S. Southern Command
The Invasion Day (Columbus Day) Weekend Events in Miami, Florida will be a precursor to the 2011 November Vigil and civil disobedience at the gates of Ft. Benning, Georgia, demanding the closure of the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC) and an end to U.S. militarization. Visit for more information and to get involved.

Contact the Organizers

Linda Belgrave
cell 305-801-0245,

Ray Del Papa
cell 754-423-0051

March on the U.S. Southern Command SOUTHCOM

Contact us

SOA Watch
733 Euclid Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

phone: 202-234-3440

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