This past Saturday, Fr. Roy Bourgeois and I accompanied President Manuel Zelaya back to his native Honduras, almost two years after a military coup led by SOA graduates removed him from his country at gunpoint. The short flight we took with him, from Managua to Tegucigalpa, was a journey packed with laughter, tears, songs, nerves, hugs, and decades of history.
Years from now when participants on the SOA Watch delegation to Honduras look back on this visit, I´ll wager to bet that the ten of us will most remember one vivid moment: standing on a dusty road bordered by fields of African palm on a steaming hot tropical afternoon. Given all we experienced those nine days in travels from coast to coast - jails, strikes, marches, land occupations, conversations with persecuted fishermen, farmers, teachers, journalists, union leaders, human rights workers, and more - this tiny memory bite sounds uneventful. But on that road in the lower Aguan valley we personally experienced - for perhaps thirty minutes - what many Hondurans face daily: the power of fear, the weight of decision.
We came from ten different cities to stand in solidarity with the people of Honduras who had been resisting the June 2009 coup that toppled President Manuel Zelaya. Two of us had been in Honduras in May 2009, just weeks before a referendum that would consult voters on whether to hold a constitutional assembly. The mood of the country then was electric. Honduras's hour of hope seemed imminent and change just around the corner.
Change did arrive that June 28th. Only not in the anticipated form but in one that was all too familiar - at the barrel of a gun and on the orders of School of the Americas graduates. President Manuel Zelaya was picked up from the presidential palace in his pajamas and deposited on the runway of San Jose, Costa Rica. What followed was familiar script:a swell of resistance brutally repressed, media voices of truth silenced, and an "election" conveniently held to whitewash a coup (never mind that there were few electors and no observers). End of the story, according to the State Department, time to move on.
Statement of SOA Watch Delegation to US Embassy in Honduras
May 6, 2011
Today, SOA Watch activists participating in a human rights observation delegation to Honduras, held a demonstration outside the US embassy in the capital, Tegucigalpa. SOA Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois and Latin America coordinator Lisa Sullivan were among the activists calling an end to US-funded military and police repression of social movements in Honduras, and demanding the closure of the three US military bases in that country.
SOA Watch Latin America just produced and released this amazing 30 minute documentary about the Days of Action to Close the SOA and Resist Militarization, which took place from April 4-11, 2011 in Washington, DC. Watch the documentary and share it with your family and friends!
From April 4-11, 2011 hundreds of activists from the U.S. and Latin America gathered in Washington, DC, for a week of actions to demand Obama's administration to shut down the School of Assassins and put an end to militarization of the Americas. The Days of Action included a 7-day liquids-only fast in front of the White House, a protest against the signature of a Colombia-U.S. free trade agreement, the Latin America Solidarity Coalition conference, a protest in front of the Pentagon organized by the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, and the "Let Justice Bloom" march on Sunday, April 10th, led by the revolutionary puppets made by the Puppetistas and allies of the SOAW movement throughout the week.
"The week-long fast was a perfect way for me to participate in the Spiritual Practice of Lent and at the same time join in this powerful non-violent social movement to end the increasing militarism going on in the world."