|Solidarity Statements from Across the Americas|
We have received solidarity statements from across the Americas. Here are some excerpts from the statements from
!Together in the struggle for justice!
The Ecumenical Human Rights Commission of Ecuador sends our support to the companeros of the SOA Watch movement who have for almost 2 decades have gathered each November at the doors of Ft. Benning in solidarity with the victims of human rights abuses in Latin America
During their visits to many countries in our continent in efforts to seek the withdrawal of countries from this school, the companeros of this movement have told us "not in our name, no more torture, no more assassination, we will continue this struggle until the SOA closes its doors.
Today, this vigorous voice has an important eco in our continent. Some countries have committed to stop sending their soldiers to train at this school. This achievement gives hope to the struggle to close the SOA.
Ecuador has many reasons to revitalize this struggle. Many teachings of repression and crimes which have give this school such a terrible reputation were carried out by members of public forces of our country who committed grave abuses of hnuman rights. Las month we commemorated the 30 th anniversary of the massacre of sugar workers at AZTRA. This crime, which still goes unpunished, took place under the military rule of those who trained at the School of the Americas.
Finally, we want to underscore the commitment of those north Americans who have been sent to jail for joining in this struggle of non violence for the closure of the SOA. We are in solidarity with all those who we consider to be prisoners of conscious and we want to tell you that you are the voices of the thousands of assassinated, disappeared and tortured of our continent.
Let us unite in strength! Let us close the School of the Americas!
Sister Elsie Monge, President of the Ecumenical Human Rights Commission of Ecuador
Please receive my decisive support for the closing the the School of the Americas. I express this support also in the name of those beloved companeros who are today absent because of their struggle for the democracy and the independence of Bolivia, such as Luis Espina and Marcelo Quiroga Santa Cruz.
Our current government of Bolivia, who along with its people, supports this campaign to close the SOA, was born as a movement of those seeking sovereignty as a result of the painful experience of having U.S. troops in our own territory.
Xavier Albó, SJ
The light of a new fraternal day
Today we turn on a light, thousands of small lights together as thousands of you gather there today at the vigil and the thousands from all corners of the earth join you in awaiting a new day.
The indigenous people of Mezquital are also in vigil as they await their fiesta, as they await a new day of fraternity.
We are united on this shared journey ever since we learned of your movement. You are small flowers who give enormous testimonies of hope from the heart of the empire of darkness.
The people of Oaxaca who have been historically abused are also turning on lights of hope with their peaceful struggle against all the desperation caused by the tyranny of our governor, who with feet of clay, is sustained by illegitimate power.
Today we celebrate this light of hope and this fraternity. We express our hope that the School of Americas be closed and that in its place, schools of fraternity and hope be opened
Father Jose Renteria Perez, Oaxaca, Mexico
Works with political prisioners of the repression of Oaxaca.
MEXICO, General Jose Francisco Gallardo, spent 8 years in jail after denouncing human rights abuses in the Mexican military
A fraternal greeting to all the men and women who struggle for human rights in the world. The School of the Americas has historically been a reference for the violation of human rights committed against the people by the armed forces of the continent. The massacres in many different latitudes have been carried out by military forces trained and capacitated at the School of the Americas. In order for democracy and the respect of human rights to prosper, it is urgent that the School of the Americas not just receive a change of names, but that it be closed forever. This is a social clamor which is being raised as well from Mexico were we call for the immediate closing of this school and of all centers in the United States which train police and military in the same techniques used at the School of the Americas.
From Chile, from KAMARIKUN
Dear brothers and sisters. From Chile we sent an affectionate greeting to those who are gathered today at Ft. Benning, raising your voices for the thousands whose lives were stolen by the graduates of the School of Americas.
It seems like we are each day closer to ending this nightmare. For that reason we are happy to learn that each year there are more and more votes in the US Congress in support of this closing.
These votes have been won thanks to your actions who have brought this awareness to your fellow citizens. It is also a result of the sacrifice of the prisoners of conscience who have opened the eyes and hearts of so many.
We have hope that in 2008 the School of Americas will close and that we will celebrate throughout the world. This is be a result of multiple efforts.
In Chile, we continue to carry out actions to bring awareness to our government of the necessity of withdrawing our military from the School of the Americas.
Receive a strong abrazo from the Chilean organizations who work for solidarity and hope.
We will continue to struggle, until justice triumphs.
ARGENTINA, from Patricio Rice, former torture victim and Executive Director of FEDEFAM, Latin American Federation of Families of the Disappeared
Roy and dearest friends of the School of the Americas Watch,
We are with you in heart and mind as you gather in front of Fort Benning to denounce the human rights crimes that are committed in the name of national security or the so called war on terrorism by military and security personnel trained in military institutions such as the one you are facing.
Only two years ago you joined us in Argentina as we entered for the first time Campo de Mayo, a similar military base in the outskirts of Buenos Aires , where during the time of the Juntas Military Dictatorship (1976 -83) thousands of young men and women were secretly detained, brutally tortured and secretly assasinated many through death flights over the South Atlantic Ocean. We marched together in front of a maternity unit where secretly detained pregnant mothers gave birth to their babies only to see them snatched from them into clandestine adoptions while they were transferred to a death without witnesses and without trace. You will remember how the trees were greening in Spring, the country flowers were blooming in the long grass and the birds were singing yet the "odour of death" still prevailed that Pampa landscape as we brought our music,our Carnaval drums, our songs, our tears and our love to exorcise the evil of such a
Thousands of miles away to the north you have gathered facing an institution that has been responsible for training the perpetrators which the courts here are processing. Justice, truth, memory, reparation and never again are on our joint agenda. We admire and need the efforts of every one of you in this humanitarian struggle which knows no frontiers...
Receive this abrazo from the FEDEFAM representatives
from Bolivia, Mexico, Venezuela Chile, Uruguay,
Patricio Rice (Chile) , Judith Galarza (Mexico y Venezuela), Marta Vasquez (Madres Plaza de Mayo), Gimena Gomez (Uruguay) Lorena Pizzarro (Chile)
Adela Antokoletz (Argentina) Ruth Llanos (Bolivia) Mariano Gonzalez (Paraguay)
VENEZUELA, Guido Zuleta, Director of FUNDALATIN, Human Rights Organization which has worked for 25 years with political exiles from the Southern Cone
In the Iberamerican Summit which recently took place in Chile, the new model of solidarity and integration among the nations of Latin America made itself felt, as an alternative to the market model of neo liberalism which leads to exclusion.
One expression of these initiatives of an emerging ethic of solidarity is the the movement to close the School of the Americas, led by solidarity groups and faith communities throughout the Americas. This center was a training ground for the National Security Doctrine promoted for many years by the United States leading to much destruction in our continent.
Today, many countries, including Venezuela, have stopped sending their troops to the School of the Americas. In these moment in which we are witnessing the creation of a new social, economic and cultural model of integration, the movement to close the School of the Americas represents a sign of renewed hope and a sign of the emerging Reign of God.
COLOMBIA, Eder Sanchez, Putumayo Leader of ANUC, The Colombian National Union of Peasants
In the name of the National Association of Peasants of Colombia, ANUC, receive our fraternal greeting.
I want to thank you for your work and which is an expression of solidarity for our efforts to overcome the situation of militarization imposed upon our region of Putumayo. Our country of Colombia and our region of Putumayo is one of the most affected by the actions of the School of the Americas. This has led to many massacres, displacements and selective murders of the leaders of community organizations. These occurances are directly related to the training of our military in the School of the Americas.
We therefore have repeated time and time again that the only thing which will stop this situation is the closing of this school. We want no more torture, no more threats, no more death. We want to live in peace.
For this reason, from Putumayo Colombia we raise our voices of solidarity in the name of of our children’s future, in demanding the total and immediate closing of the School of Americas
EDER JAIR SANCHEZ
Vicepresidente Anuc Nacional
URUGUAY, Ana Juanche, President SERPAJ (Service for Peace and Justice in Latin America)
The Service for Peace and Justice in Latin America (SERPAJ) would like to make its presence felt by this letter. Today we accompany you in this vigil to close the School of the Americas.
In the face of increasing militarization in our continent, it is necessary that civil society commit itself to oppose with tenacity the violation of human rights among our peoples. Security and national defense must be state policies that are cemented by full respect for human rights structured by the self determination and sovereignty of each nation.
We reject any strategy which imposes upon us the interests of other nations and damages the most basic international rights and standards. For this reason, we celebrate the decision of our current government of Uruguay to stop sending our soldiers and officers to the School of the Americas.
We hope that the dialogue that this decision has generated in the continent will lead other leaders to join Uruguay, Argentina, Costa Rica, Bolivia and Venezuela in this important and sovereign decision.
We celebrate and salute the actions of our brothers and sisters in the SOA Watch movement for your persistent work and dedication to dialogue and to sensitizing others about this very important struggle.
Peace and best wishes,
Coordinadora Latinoamericana del Servicio Paz y Justicia
I join the voices in demanding the closing of the School of Americas. Here in El Salvador, we have examples of the SOA’s hand, such as the Atlacatl battalion which trained there and in 1981 assassinated over one hundred children under the age of 12. As Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador said, our poor countries do not need more military or more arms. We need just trade, education and health.
Felipe Vargas Ortiz
Universidad de El Salvador
PANAMA, Julio Yao, President of SERPAJ-Panama
In the name of all Panamanian compatriots, of a country that loves peace, we send our warmest greetings to the noble nation of the United States to tell you that we support the cause to eradicate structures of aggression, terror and violence, such as is represented by the School of the Americas. This school is an obstacle for deep friendship between our peoples and the development of harmonious relationships based on peace and international justices. Down with the School of the Americas!!
Julio Yao, President of the Service for Peace and Justice in Latin America (Serpaj-Panamá), and President of the National Coordinator and Defense of Land and Water
PERU, Guillermo Burneo, anti militarization activist in Peru
The School of the Americas is a symbol of crime and it must close now!
From a distance, here in Peru, we make ourselves present in gathering to close the School of the Americas.
For our people it is very painful to remember the criminal acts committed by the military of Peru who were trained in its classrooms.
The definitive closing of this school of assassins is an imperative that both the peoples of America, along with the peoples of Peru and Latin America, are demanding. It is an act of solidarity and brotherhood between our peoples.
At the same time, we cannot remain indifferent to the pain of that other latitudes are suffering in the face of so much death and destruction.
We ask that this gathering may also help to awaken a consciousness so that the U.S. intervention in Afganistan and Iraq may cease, once and for all.
The defense of freedom and democracy should not be synonymous with death and pain.
My North American friends, we have faith that the day will come when we will gather to celebrate the final closing of this school of assassins. But even better, that we will gather to sing together for life, for the human being for the North American, Peruvian, Argentina, Spanish, Chinese, Nigerian, Iraqui, Afghan, etc.
In solidarity, Guillermo Burneo
PO Box 4566
Washington, DC 20017