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Protests for #JusticeForBertaCaceres in Congressional offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hendrik Voss   
Tuesday, 19 April 2016 12:41

On Monday, April 18, the final day of SOA Watch's Spring Days of Action, human rights activists disrupted the Congressional offices of three U.S. House Representatives who enthusiastically supported the 2009 military coup in Honduras (Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, from Florida; Dana Rohrabacher, from California) and who continue to fund death squads and human rights abuses (latter two offices and Kay Granger, from Texas). As grassroots activists from across the United States called Congress to register their opposition to the American policy towards the Central American country, and others protested outside of the Congressional office buildings, SOA Watch activists took over the three Congressional offices.

Those in the U.S. government (including Hilary Clinton), who are responsible for the militarized U.S. policy in Honduras, need to be held accountable. Rep. Kay Granger (chair of important committees that fund the Drug War in Latin America) wants to deport Honduran children yet continues to arm the criminal Honduran regime they are fleeing; Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has been one of the most aggressive proponents for the coup regime in Honduras; Representative Dana Rohrbacher not only denied that a coup had even taken place, but sent a letter of support to the coup President of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, a man who had been implicated in corruption and narco-trafficking. Feel free to follow up with their offices. You can get connected via the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

Watch a video clip of the protest inside the Congressional office of Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), a lackey of the arms industry, her office is covered in proof of where her allegiances lie: https://www.facebook.com/Schooloftheamericaswatch/videos/10153851849616130/ (please share the video with your friends on facebook, twitter etc.)

Photos from the protest outside of the Congressional office buildings: https://photobyted.smugmug.com/SOAW/Justice-for-Berta-Cáceres/n-hkvd6M/i-qZ8K5sK/A

Please stay tuned for an update from Honduras from SOA Watch's Latin America Liaison Brigitte Gynther, who currently accompanies COPINH at this difficult time.

If you support the work of SOA Watch, please consider making a donation: http://SOAW.org/donate


Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 April 2016 20:06
 
Join National Call-In Day on Monday April 18, the Last Day of 2016 Spring Days of Action! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Arturo J. Viscarra   
Wednesday, 13 April 2016 23:46

We kick off our 2016 SOA Watch Spring Days of Action on April14! On Monday, April 18 during the finale of our events & actions, we want you to strenghten our protest in DC by participating in our National Call-In Day! As we pressure Congress and protest on Capitol Hill in honor of Honduran indigenous and environmental activist Berta Cáceres, murdered just over one month ago, you will echo and amplify our voices by flooding the phone lines. Your voice does make the difference! Please see details below.

This year's theme for the Spring Days of Action is Solidarity with Communities in Resistance and Sanctuary for Refugees. Increasing militarization and violence in Central America and Mexico is leading to an increase of asylum-seekers looking for refuge in the U.S. While some try to scapegoat them for all of our problems, we must stand up and demand accountability from the U.S. government and respect for the people of the region, whether they are in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, or in the U.S. We recognized and answered this call in the 1980s, and it is time for us to do so once again.

Last Updated on Thursday, 14 April 2016 12:55
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Solidarity & Sanctuary: The 2016 Spring Days of Action PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hendrik Voss   
Friday, 18 March 2016 02:12
Keep up the pressure on the powers that be! Join us from April 14-18 in Washington, DC for School of the Americas Watch’s Spring Days of Action (SDOA)! We will continue the tradition of combining direct action, art, workshops, and lobbying to confront U.S. imperialism and xenophobia in the Belly of the Beast!

Click here to Register & Join us in DC April 14th - 18th, 2016

This year there will be actions in the streets and a ruckus in the halls of Congress to demand that the U.S. cease it's funding of the Drug War in Mexico and Central America, including the "Southern Border Plan" that is being utilized to further militarize the region while terrorizing vulnerable refugees in Mexico. We will also demand sanctuary for Latin American refugees in the U.S. and an end to the militarization of our own police force in the U.S.

A key to social change is grassroots power, so we'll be having a welcome party, congressional visits, demonstrations, art-building, border vigil planning, and more! (see below and click on the registration form)

Schedule of Events

Thursday, April 14 - Opening Celebration & Art Build (5 PM - 9 PM, 1211 Delafield Pl. NW, Washington, DC)

Friday, April 15 - Lobby Training: Talking Points & Role Play (This workshop will be repeated Sunday morning, you only need to attend 1 of them if lobbying - 9 AM - 11:30 PM, Jubilee USA offices, 212 East Capitol St. NE, Washington, DC 20003)

As the Brazilian Congress kicks off an illegitimate impeachment process that threatens Democracy, let's stand together with the Brazilian people as they take the streets against the coup! (5:30pm to 7:30pm in front of the Brazilian Embassy 3006 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20008)

Friday, April 15 - Funk the War Tax Dance Party (8 PM - 1 AM, 1809 Monroe Street NW, Washington, DC)

Saturday, April 16 - Workshop: Pressure Biden to Close the SOA & Scrap the "Alliance for Prosperity" (9:45 AM - 11:15 AM, Shaw Neighborhood Library, WTD Meeting Room - 1630 7th St NW, Washington, DC 20001)

Saturday, April 16 - Workshop: Nonviolent Direct Action (12:30 PM - 3:30 PM, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, MLK Room A-3, 901 G St NW, Washington, DC 20001)

Saturday, April 16 - Peace, Life, & Justice Caravan from Latin America and U.S. Youth present "Creative & Courageous Resistance to Militarism & State Violence" (5 PM - 8 PM, Bolivarian Hall, 2445 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington DC)

Sunday, April 17 - Lobby Training: Talking Points & Role Play [repeat of Friday's workshop] (10 AM - 12:30 PM, La Casa, 3166 Mt. Pleasant St. NW, Washington, DC)

Sunday, April 17 - 2016 Border Convergence Planning & Discussion on Root Causes of Migration (2 PM - 5 PM, La Casa, 3166 Mt. Pleasant St. NW, Washington, DC)

Sunday, April 17 - Art Build Part II - Drum, banner, & sign-making in Mt. Pleasant for next day's action! (5 PM - 7pm, La Casa, 3166 Mt. Pleasant St. NW, Washington, DC)

Sunday, April 17 - SOAW Social/Dinner at Haydee's (5 PM - ?, Haydee's Restaurant, 3102 Mt. Pleasant St. NW, Washington, DC)

Monday, April 18 - Morning Coffee Meetup on the Hill (8 AM -10 AM, Longworth House Cafeteria 24 Hour Vending)

Monday, April 18 - Flyering at Columbus Circle near Union Station (8am - 9am)

Monday, April 18 -
Immigration Rally at the Supreme Court, 9am - 12pm

Monday, April 18 - Protest in Honor of Berta Cáceres in front of the Cannon House Office Building at 12:30pm (Independence Ave & First Street SE)

A few cheap(er) places to stay in DC

Mobilize your community

Rest in Struggle, Berta Cáceres and Nelson García

We have been devastated by the assassination of last year’s Spring Days of Action featured speaker, Berta Cáceres, on March 3, 2016. Berta was a long-time social movement leader, co-founder of COPINH (Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), an anti-imperialist deeply involved in the struggle to stop the displacement of Lenca communities by mega-projects in Honduras. Unfortunately we just received the awful news that another member of COPINH, Nelson García, was assassinated at his mother-in-law's home yesterday. We are awaiting further details, but suffice to say that the situation in Honduras is dire and we must continue working in solidarity with these brave activists.

Last year in DC, Berta called on U.S. social movements to join together and demand an end to U.S. imperialism as well as the accompanying structural adjustment programs and destructive "development projects" imposed upon the global South by international banks. Let her words remind us of the importance of every voice in the resistance:

"Let us wake up! Let us wake up, humankind! We’re out of time. We must shake our conscience free of the rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy that will only assure our own self-destruction. The Gualcarque River has called upon us, as have other gravely threatened rivers. We must answer their call. Our Mother Earth, militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic rights are systematically violated, demands that we take action. Let us build societies that are able to coexist in a dignified way, in a way that protects life. Let us come together and remain hopeful as we defend and care for the blood of this Earth and of its spirits.". - Berta Cáceres

The freezing of part of U.S. military aid to Mexico in 2015 after the Ayotzinapa disappearances was a restult of public protests, lobby efforts, and media work, which showed us that grassroots power can make a difference. We must continue pushing forward for many reasons. Solidarity with the people of Honduras, and honoring the example of struggle that Berta left us are two of them.

Questions? Suggestions? Ideas? Please contact Arturo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (202) 234-3440.

Together We Will Demand

  • ¡Justicia para Berta! Justice for Berta! Berta was assassinated to strike fear among her organization (COPINH), the Lenca, and the entirety of the Hoduran Resistance. We stand in the memory of Berta and oppose mega-projects that seek to own the rivers and trees!
  • The defunding of Plan Frontera Sur or the Southern Border Plan which is further militarizing Mexico and fostering death, disappearances, and other human rights abuses of Central American refugees.
  • Free the refugees from Immigrant Prison! Mesoamerican "immigrants" are asylum-seekers & refugees of the Drug War and its accompanying state violence. We will demand TPS for all Refugees already in the U.S. and their release from private detention centers NOW!
  • End militarization of the police in the US! Pass the "Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act"! Our communities in the US are also not battlefields! The Pentagon must stop sending "free" military weapons to police forces.
  • Tell Biden & Obama to close the School of the Americas! It’s been too long. The time to act is now! We also do not want the "Alliance for Prosperity" or Biden Plan in Central America, new name, same destructive policies.


Last Updated on Thursday, 14 April 2016 15:12
 
Berta Cáceres, ¡Presente! PDF Print E-mail
Written by Brigitte   
Wednesday, 09 March 2016 20:29
When Berta Cáceres Flores was assassinated in a political murder on March 2, she was in the midst of an intense struggle in defense of the Gualcarque River, a sacred river for the Lenca people. She and the Lenca people of Rio Blanco had already blocked the Agua Zarca Dam from being built on the Gualcarque River one time, in 2013-2014 and now DESA was making a second attempt. During the 2013 struggle against the Agua Zarca Dam, Indigenous leader Tomas Garcia was murdered by the Honduran military, other Lenca leaders were attacked, Berta received numerous death threats, and the military detained Berta on trumped up charges. Soon a second set of charges followed, and Berta was ordered to jail. She went underground, and after months international outcry, the charges were eventually dismissed. However, DESA, the company trying to build the dam, appealed and requested the charges against Berta and two other COPINH leaders be reinstated.

In approximately August of 2015, DESA began attempting a second time to build the Agua Zarca Dam, this time accessing the Gualcarque River from the opposite side of the river in San Francisco de Ojuera. Berta and many Lenca people again mobilized to defend the Gualcarque River and their ancestral territory.  As they organized to stop the dam, the situation again began to intensify.

On November 4, 2015, when Berta was not home, an unknown man took a laptop with significant COPINH information from her home.

On the night of November 6, 2015, three shots were fired towards Berta as she driving to Rio Blanco.

On November 24, 2015, Tomas Gomez, another COPINH leader, received a phone call from a man known to be a supporter of the dam company, who informed Tomas that they were going to fix things with Berta Cáceres for better or for worse, "a buenas o a malas."

On November 30, 2015, Berta Cáceres and other COPINH leaders were traveling to request a meeting with the Mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera, who had authorized the dam, when the Honduran police detained their vehicles. While they were detained, machinery dug huge holes across the public roads to prevent COPINH from passing. After Berta and the rest of the COPINH members finally reached San Francisco de Ojuera, municipal employees began to throw rocks at them and threaten them, including a threat that Berta was the one "who had to be killed." One of the armed men came close to Berta and almost cut her chest with a machete. All of this occurred as the Honduran police and military watched and did nothing, despite Berta requesting their protection. Finally, Berta called the Minister of Security, Julian Pacheco, and requested he relay orders for the police present to provide protection. Still, the police and military did not respond and the harassment continued.

Then in late December 2015, the Honduran police detained two men for illegal possession of weapons. Berta was informed that one of them is reported to have explained he was contracted by DESA because "the COPINH people were f**ing things up a lot." This man was previously involved in a violent attack on a COPINH member who opposed the dam, and his police files indicate he was involved in a murder. Residents of Rio Blanco report that he had previously stated he was going to kill COPINH members, including Berta and Francisco Javier Sanchez, President of the Indigenous Council of Rio Blanco.  Berta received information that Jorge Avila - the head of security of DESA and former police official - moved money around to secure the release of those detained for illegal possession of weapons despite the murder in police file. Shortly after his release, this man was identified by Rio Blanco residents working with DESA's security team without a uniform. In February 2016, Berta wrote a communique publicly denouncing the money provided for this man's release and stated that there were known paramilitary guards working for DESA who made threats against COPINH members.

Early in February 2016, shots were fired in the vicinity of Berta's home shortly before she arrived.

On February 16, Berta and other COPINH leaders were pursued by armed men as they left Rio Blanco, after visiting with the Lenca people in resistance to the Agua Zarca Dam on the Rio Gualcarque. The armed men pursued Berta's vehicle on the isolated road for at least 20 minutes until Berta reached a town and stopped.

Then on February 20, 2016, as Berta and COPINH members traveled to San Francisco de Ojuera to protest the dam, employees of DESA and the Mayor's office threatened, detained, and harassed them as well as vandalized the vehicles and buses as the police and military looked on. COPINH members report that the Vice Mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera threatened Berta, telling her she would never come back there and that she could be killed.

On February 25, as the police and military evicted about 50 COPINH families from their homes in Jarcia, Guinse, Intibuca, a member of the DGIC harassed Berta and told her the security forces would not respond if something happened to her.

On February 26, at 1:45pm, a new, double-cabin truck with polarized windows drove up the road leading to the COPINH office, stopping before reaching the office. A tall man with a military-style haircut got out and went outside the COPIN office and asked for Berta, while another man stayed in the running vehicle. When informed she was not there, he wanted to know where she was and her phone number. When asked to identify himself, he refused and left.

Despite all of this, and many additional threats, Berta and COPINH continued forward in the struggle to defend the Gualcarque River and all Lenca territory. Berta repeatedly denounced the concession of the Gualcarque River by the Honduran government to DESA in violation of the Lenca people's right to free, prior, and informed consultation. She also spoke against the violence, militarization, hitmen, and repression that DESA and the Honduran state were using to impose the dam. Berta denounced the Dutch Bank FMO and the Finnish Bank Finnfund, majority owned by the Dutch and Finnish governments respectively, for financing DESA for the Agua Zarca Dam project despite having been informed of the human rights violations around the dam. Berta was in the process of planning a trip to Holland and Finland in which she and Rio Blanco Lenca leaders would protest the financing of the dam and request Dutch and Finnish government leaders take action to stop the funding.

On March 2, 2016, DESA's head of security was spotted in a vehicle with about 16-20 people, at the turn off from Honduras' main highway to La Esperanza, where Berta lives.  The men were speaking about Berta.  The vehicle headed toward La Esperanza.

That night, two men forced their way into Berta's home and Berta was assassinated.

Berta was a voice not only for the self-determination of the Lenca people but for all Hondurans. She was a very outspoken leader against the 2009 military coup and the resulting repressive regimes. She led COPINH in supporting numerous Lenca communities struggling against displacement, dams, privatization of their resources, and megaprojects imposed on their territory against their will. She was a national leader in the struggle against the ultra-neoliberal plan being imposed on Honduras, which entails the privatization and exploitation of almost everything possible, and the brutal repression against those who resist. Berta spoke out against the US backed Alliance for Prosperity plan being put in place in Central America, clearly explaining that its militarization and economic privatization and exploitation projects will only bring more destruction and death to Honduras. She was a leader in the Platform of Popular and Social Movements of Honduras, pushing for national articulation of the social movements. She loudly criticized the current regime for its repression of Honduran society, and refused to be silent. No matter how many death threats she received, no matter how many times she was followed, pursued, or threatened, Berta would not be silenced.

And she must not be silenced today. Berta's voice and struggle must continue to be heard. I can hear her right now, asking us to go to Rio Blanco to accompany the Lenca people as they are criminalized and repressed for resisting the dam. I can hear her asking us to organize to pressure FMO and Finnfund to cut their funding to the dam and to demand that the Honduran military and US-backed TIGRES leave Lenca territory. And I can hear her loudly and clearly telling US Congresspeople, just as she did in meetings barely a year ago, to stop supporting the Honduran regime, to cut all Honduran military funding, to end the Alliance for Prosperity. I can hear her voice denouncing international banks and multinational corporations who together with the current Honduran regime and the support of the US plunder the Honduran territory and its people. I can hear her calling for an end to the criminalization of COPINH and for respect for the self-determination of the Lenca people.

More than anything, I can clearly hear Berta saying that the female spirits of the Lenca people live in the Gualcarque River.

Last Updated on Monday, 14 March 2016 17:51
 
Indigenous Activist Berta Cáceres Assassinated in Honduras PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hendrik Voss   
Thursday, 03 March 2016 12:26
Human Rights Organizations Demand an Investigation of the Circumstances Surrounding the Assassination of Berta Cáceres, the General Coordinator of COPINH

At approximately midnight last night, the General Coordinator of COPINH, Berta Caceres was assassinated in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca. At least two individuals broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying for the evening in the Residencial La Líbano, shot and killed her. COPINH is urgently responding to this tragic situation.

Berta Cáceres is one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras. She spent her life fighting in defense of indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources.

Cáceres, a Lenca woman, grew up during the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980s. Her mother, a midwife and social activist, took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people.

Cáceres grew up to become a student activist and in 1993, she cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.

Berta Cáceres and COPINH have been accompanying various land struggles throughout western Honduras. In the last few weeks, violence and repression towards Berta Cáceres, COPINH, and the communities they support, had escalated. In Rio Blanco on February 20, 2016, Berta Cáceres, COPINH, and the community of Rio Blanco faced threats and repression as they carried out a peaceful action to protect the River Gualcarque against the construction of a hydroelectric dam by the internationally-financed Honduran company DESA. As a result of COPINH's work supporting the Rio Blanco struggle, Berta Cáceres had received countless threats against her life and was granted precautionary measures by the InterAmerican Commission for Human Rights. On February 25, 2016, another Lenca community supported by COPINH in Guise, Intibuca was violently evicted and destroyed.

Since the 2009 military coup, that was carried out by graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive megaprojects that would displace indigenous communities. Almost 30 percent of the country's land was earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations. To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatizing rivers, land, and uprooting communities. Repression of social movements and targeted assassinations are rampant. Honduras has the world's highest murder rate. Honduran human rights organizations report there have been over 10,000 human rights violations by state security forces and impunity is the norm - most murders go unpunished. The Associated Press has repeatedly exposed ties between the Honduran police and death squads, while U.S. military training and aid for the Honduran security forces continues.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 03 March 2016 12:44
 
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