|October 2011: March on the U.S. Southern Command|
|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!
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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!
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.
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 www.SOAW.org for more information and to get involved.
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