On June 20th, a Honduran court finally presented the written verdict in the case against U.S. trained former military intelligence officer Roberto David Castillo for the murder of Berta Cáceres, sentencing him to 22 years and 6 months in prison. Laura Zúniga Cáceres, Berta’s youngest daughter explained, “This is an important advance but the masterminds of the crime are still enjoying impunity thanks to their political and economic power. As victims of this crime, we, her family, members of Copinh and the Lenca people will continue demanding justice from the Honduran state.” Read more…
Against the Wall
Virtual Book Release Event & Author Talk with Former Border Patrol Intelligence Officer & Whistleblower, Jenn Budd.
The White House put out a statement last week in which Vice President Harris announced “more than $1.9 billion in new private sector commitments to create economic opportunity in northern Central America” as part of the so-called U.S. Strategy to Address the Root Causes of Migration. As we have shared before, this strategy promotes corporate interests at the expense of the majorities and replicates the same type of policies that have contributed to migration in the first place. A quick look at just a few of the corporate “commitments” announced by VP Harris this week illustrates this. Read more…
Infrastructure For the Youth, For the Future. No More Walls
Sasabe is a small rural border town in Sonora, Mexico only a short distance from the border. Since the implementation of Title 42 (Covid hysteria) in March 2020, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has been dropping hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers at the doorsteps of the citizens of Sasabe every week. Even though the town had nothing in place to help support these vulnerable people, they helped as much as they could with very limited resources. The town reached out to Dora Rodriguez (Salvavision) and Gail Kocourek (Tucson Samaritans) and asked for their help. Dora was already involved with providing aid to Nogales, Sonora. Read more…
SOA Watch is seeking an Organizational Coordinator with a vision to grow and advance our movement as well as the skills to ensure the smooth functioning of our organization on a day-to-day basis. This entails coordinating with the various structures of our grassroots organization, bottom-lining fundraising, and coordinating operations processes, all of which will enable SOA Watch to more effectively oppose U.S militarization and intervention in the Americas. The SOAW staff collective operates on a horizontal structure and the ideal candidate would have experience with horizontal and/or consensus decision-making processes.
As part of the Unearthing the Real Root Causes of Mass Migration from Central America Delegation organized by solidarity organizations this spring, U.S. Congresspeople Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Cori Bush (MO-01), and Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) visited the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH). OFRANEH and the three members of the U.S. Congressional Black Caucus made connections about the impacts of the war on drugs, militarization, and state violence in Black communities in Honduras and in U.S. cities alike. Additionally, a delegation from the Miskitu people, who were victims of the May 2012 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) killings in Ahuas, joined OFRANEH in addressing the delegation. Read more…
Members of the U.S. Congress – Representatives Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Cori Bush (MO-01), Jesús “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), and Jamaal Bowman (NY-16) – as well as representation from the office of Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), joined U.S.-based solidarity organizations, including Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective, SOA Watch, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, and the Institute for Policy Studies – Global Economy Program, for a fact-finding mission to Central America last week.
Upon return, the Congressional representatives issued a joint statement, saying: “We traveled to Central America to investigate the root causes of migration from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, and the U.S.’ role in those causes. What we found is a resilient region where corporate interests, international development institutions, and the U.S. government have played a profoundly destabilizing role.
WEBINAR: Elections, Victims of State Crimes, and Peace in ColombiaWEBINAR: Elections, Victims of State Crimes, and Peace in Colombia
Join Dr. Hilal and SOA Watch Staff Collective to discuss how the official narrative of the War on Terror has justified the creation of a sprawling apparatus of state violence rooted in Islamophobia. Dr. Hilal will unpack the taxonomy of the War on Terror that she outlines in her book—militarism and warfare, draconian immigration policy, surveillance, federal terrorism prosecutions, and detention and torture. Dr. Hilal and SOA Watch will also discuss the experience and resilience of Muslim communities fighting for dignity and justice, including the ongoing struggle to Close Guantanamo Bay Prison.
“When Roberto David Castillo graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, the Honduran cadet was confident he’d leave behind a legacy…
Castillo is certain to be remembered: [in 2021], the Honduran high court found him guilty as the joint perpetrator in the 2016 assassination of the indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, then one of Latin America’s most prominent environmental defenders…
‘He used his military skills to order her murder – and not just to kill her, but to persecute her,’ said Brigitte Gynther, a human rights advocate who worked with Cáceres.”
The above is a short excerpt from an exposé in The Guardian about how the U.S.-financed West Point education received by Roberto David Castillo empowered and benefited him. U.S. military training bestows prestige and power on its recipients when they return to their home militaries.
Today, we celebrate with the Peoples of Honduras as they welcome President Xiomara Castro into office and officially put an end to the twelve year rule of a narco regime that has plundered their country. The historic election of President Castro, which saw the highest voter turnout in the country’s history, is testament to the steadfast organizing of grassroots social movements who came together in resistance to the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup. President Castro’s LIBRE party (Libertad y Refundación) was born out of the National Front of Popular Resistance, which brought together a diverse array of Hondurans – from Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, Campesino, LGBTQ, and Labor movements – to strategize and mobilize their resistance efforts. In spite of the violent political repression they faced, the willpower of the People to transform their conditions made possible this historic Inauguration Day. We honor this victory for the social movements of Honduras and recognize that without a unified majority in Congress, President Castro faces many challenges in her pursuit to transform a system of governance that has long been devastated by the stronghold of the economic elite, stubborn political corruption, and intervening U.S. interests.
Through chapter reviews, guiding questions, and open discussions, we seek to sharpen our tools/expand our knowledge of border militarization while applying lessons into our own lives and community work. We invite you to bring your thoughts, questions, and experiences, as we dive into the Dismantling Borders Book Club inaugural book selection.
To view the reading/meeting schedule click here.
Join us on January 11, 2022, for a virtual rally to mark 20 years since the Guantánamo Bay Prison was opened as part of the so-called global “War on Terror.”
The urgency to close Guantánamo could not be greater than it is at this moment. Despite the prison’s catastrophic legacy of injustice, torture, and Islamophobia, successive administrations have failed to close it. President Biden, despite saying he wants to close the prison, has made little progress toward achieving this goal. After 20 years, we must push through the impasse on Guantánamo and de-normalize its existence. We can no longer tolerate the U.S. government’s use of indefinite detention without charge or trial and its failure to meaningfully address the grave harm it has caused.
This rally is a call for all of us to disrupt and confront the status quo that has kept Guantánamo open and to imagine and chart a path toward finally ending and abolishing the prison and all that it represents.
Register for our Community Coffee & Tea this Sunday, December 12th at 7pm ET / 6pm CT / 5pm MT / 4pm PT
Historic turnout in Honduran elections to oust US-backed regime
November 29, 2021- Euphoria reigned in the streets of Honduras on the night of Sunday, November 28, 2021, as it appeared that massive turnout of voters propelled the opposition candidate, Xiomara Castro, to the presidency.
12 years after the National Party took power in the 2009 military coup, Hondurans resoundingly rejected them at the ballot box. Historic turnout appeared to overcome the ruling party’s vote buying and attempts to cling to power. With 51.45% of the vote counted as of Monday morning, Xiomara Castro led the ruling party candidate by nearly 20 points, with 53.61% of the vote.
Video: Annual Vigil SOA Watch
Vigil – Sunday, November 21st 2021
TIME: 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM PST | 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM CST | 2:30 PM – 4:00 PM EST
Join the SOA Watch Musicians Collective to honor the memory of victims of state violence. Through song, Presentes, and collective sharing, we will honor the memory of victims of state violence and fortify our collective resistance for justice and peace in the world. Register here…
November 6th Conference Speakers
We are pleased to announce the speakers for the 2021 SOA Watch Virtual Conference “Flowers of Resistance” on Saturday, November 6th. Don’t forget to register for the conference here. The virtual events are free, bilingual (Spanish and English, interpretation will be provided), and all are welcome to attend. You will receive an email confirmation with all the conference Zoom links after registration…
Invitation to Sunday 10/10 Vigil 6pm PT / 9pm ET
Take Action: Ask your Representative to co-sponsor an amendment to prohibit U.S. military training and equipping of the Salvadoran, Guatemalan, and Honduran military and police forces
Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) has introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prohibit the U.S. from providing capacity building military aid — including military training and equipment — to El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
On, Monday, September 13th, Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez are facing trial for charges related to the anti-fraud, pro-democracy protests in 2017. If convicted, they face 15-30 years in prison. Edwin and Raul already were imprisoned for 19 months in a maximum security prison in terrible conditions. The U.S.-backed Honduran state has targeted Edwin and Raul in criminal proceedings full of serious irregularities, including the fact that their trial will be held in a court that legally does not have the authority to hear it. Take action today! Ask your Congresspeople to contact the U.S. Embassy about Edwin and Raul’s case by clicking here!
Today also marks 48 years since the 1973 coup d’etat against Chilean President Salvador Allende. The U.S. supported coup ushered in a dark era of military dictatorship in Chile, the effects of which still are visible in Chile today.
Today, we remember those who have been killed, disappeared, tortured, imprisoned, and had their lives destroyed in Chile, in Afghanistan, in the United States, and around the world. We also recommit ourselves to acting in solidarity with those most affected by state violence who are organizing for liberation and self-determination.
“SOA Watch salutes Berta’s organization COPINH and Berta’s children, Bertha, Olivia, Laura, and Salvador Zuniga Cáceres, who have worked tirelessly since Berta’s assassination to demand justice and truth. And we pledge to continue working in solidarity with them until ALL those responsible for ordering and paying for Berta’s murder are brought to justice…”
SOA Watch and Justice for Muslims Collective invite you to register:
From Colombia to Palestine, US Empire is a Crime
Thursday, June 17, 2021 at 4:00 PM Eastern / 1:00 PM Pacific
Register here: bit.ly/DismantleUSEmpire
Statement By U.S.-Based Organizations Calling For A Cut-Off Of Security Aid To Colombia And An End To Repression Of Protests In Colombia
We reject state violence against the Colombian population, as well as the actions of paramilitary groups and mercenaries, which the world has learned about through videos and denunciations. We denounce the training, assistance and weapons that the Colombian Security Forces have received from the government of the United States which, which HAS only reinforced the continuous violations of human rights.
We call on the government of President Iván Duque to stop police and military violence and to adopt political, economic and social measures that respond to the needs of its people in an immediate and consensual manner with democratic social and political forces.
On March 20 & 21, 2021, in celebration of World Water Day and the communities that put their lives on the lives to defend water in the face of militarization and threats, Mutual Aid Media, COPINH, OFRANEH, and SOA Watch hosted a Mini Film Festival. It included the world premiere of the documentary La Lucha Sigue (The Struggle Continues) about the struggles of the Lenca and Garifuna peoples in Honduras. Each of the three films was followed by discussion panels with some of the visionary women leaders featured in each film. A large group discussion closed out the festival.
This week, SOA Watch, the Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective, the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice in Honduras (MADJ) and 60 other U.S. and Honduran organizations are sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen urging the U.S. to oppose financing for the Jilamito Hydroelectric Project in Honduras.
For years, members of local communities, organized in MADJ, have maintained an encampment defending the Jilamito River from this project. They have faced death threats, violence, and criminalization. The local mayor and other local leaders face criminal charges for defending the river. One month after they were indicted, Carlos Hernandez, the mayor’s defense lawyer, was murdered. Read More…
On March 3rd, five years after the assassination of visionary Indigenous rights leader Berta Caceres in Honduras, Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) and 44 cosponsors reintroduced the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (H.R.1574). The bill would suspend all U.S. aid to the Honduran military and police forces until human rights violations cease and those responsible are brought to justice.
5 years ago, I froze when I awoke to a message that Berta Cáceres had been murdered. I immediately called her close COPINH colleague, hoping it wouldn’t be true. But it was. Just the evening before, Berta had messaged asking when I was coming; I couldn’t believe she was no longer alive. I dropped everything and headed to La Esperanza, Honduras. The situation had been intensifying for Berta and COPINH since the fall, when DESA began its second attempt at constructing the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project and COPINH, with Berta’s leadership, again organized to stop the project and defend the sacred Gualcarque River.
SOA Watch mourns the death of Sister Dianna Ortiz, OSU, who passed away on February 19th. We give thanks for her life and remarkable witness for peace and justice, to end torture, and to hold the U.S. government accountable. Her spirit, strength, compassion, and courage touched many lives.
In November 1989, while serving as a Catholic nun in Guatemala, she was abducted and brutally tortured by the U.S.-backed and trained Guatemalan military, under the supervision of a person from the U.S. referred to as ‘Alejandro.’ Her subsequent quest for the truth about the role of the U.S. government in human rights abuses in Guatemala — including a five week fast in front of the White House — led to the declassification of documents that helped exposed the role of the U.S. in the genocide in Guatemala.
On February 18th, OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras) launched SUNLA (Garifuna Committee for the Search and Investigation of the Disappeared from Triunfo de La Cruz), an independent and interdisciplinary investigative body made up of international participants who will search for the truth regarding the forced disappearance of Sneider, president of the Triunfo de la Cruz community board, and community members Suami, Milton, and Gerardo. Prior to the July 18th 2020 abduction, the young Garifuna men, particularly Sneider in his role as president of the community, were socially and politically active in the ongoing struggle to keep Afro-Indigenous culture and communal lands from being lost to forced displacement by Honduran officials seeking to make way for tourism and foreign investment on the Caribbean north coast.
On February 23rd, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon introduced the Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act in the U.S. Senate. The bill would:
- Suspend U.S. assistance to the Honduran military and police, including U.S. military/police training and equipment, until the Honduran military and police cease committing human rights violations and those responsible for human rights violations are brought to justice.
- Prohibit exports of U.S. munitions, including semiautomatic firearms, tear gas, tasers, and more, to the Honduran military and police.
- Direct President Biden to sanction and stop supporting Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, who has been named as a co-conspirator by U.S. federal prosecutors in drug trafficking cases (yet is considered a U.S. ally and is still in power due to U.S. backing).
- Support the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Office in Honduras and the creation of a United Nations anti-corruption mission in Honduras with the ability to prosecute corruption cases against high-ranking government officials (a long-time demand of Honduran civil society).
We can’t just close Guantanamo Bay prison, we also have to abolish the injustice that allowed it to exist
“I believe it is time for the detention facility at Guantanamo to close its doors,”Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrote in his written responses to Congress during his recent confirmation hearing.
As a longtime advocate of closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, these are welcome words. But we can’t just close Guantanamo, we need to abolish it.
Abolishing Guantanamo means more than just closing the physical prison or transferring the 40 prisoners still detained. It will entail deconstructing the entire ‘war on terror’ paradigm, which treats terrorism as an exceptional form of violence that necessitates extraordinary interventions.
On Friday January 29th and Saturday January 30th, for the second time, the human rights defender María Eugenia Mosquera was threatened by Whatsapp while she was in Buenaventura with representatives from Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) Peace Presence, Fellowship of Reconciliation Austria, and Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective. She received Whatsapp messages to her personal cellphone from the number +57 317-694-3450 between 1:40 PM and 7:16 PM on Friday and another message on 12:33 PM Saturday.
Today, January 18th, marks 6 months since the forced disappearance of Albert Sneider Centeno Thomas, Milton Joel Martínez Ávila, Suami Mejía Garcia, and Gerardo Misael Trochez Cálix from the Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz on Honduras’ northern coast.
The young Garifuna men were forcibly kidnapped by armed men identified as agents of Honduras’ Investigative Police Agency (DPI) and never seen or heard from again. The Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz, part of the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), has been demanding the Honduran government comply with an Inter-American Court of Human Rights sentence to clearly demarcate their land and ensure their right to it. Albert Sneider Centano (pictured above on right), President of the Triunfo de la Cruz community and one of the forcibly disappeared men, was a vocal leader in these efforts. Six months after the forced disappearances of Albert Sneider Centano and the other Garifuna young people, the U.S.-funded and backed Honduran government has given no real answers.
As the attention of the country focuses on the white supremacist violence that terrorized the U.S. Capitol, we must acknowledge that white supremacy and U.S. policy inflict terror on communities across the globe every single day. The work to dismantle white supremacy and U.S. empire is urgent and ongoing.
The below organizations sign on to this public statement to express our deep concern for the life and wellbeing of human rights defender María Eugenia Mosquera, after a series threats made against her person.
On the afternoon of January 7th, she received a series of threatening WhatsApp messages, sent between 12:04 pm and 3:52 pm to her cell phone from the number +57 3042014754. The person identified himself as part of “The group that is in the area”, also writing “we are the guys who are going to look for you, keep going around and you will see”, “do not get caught, you went and talked, that is unforgivable.” They finally told her that, “you have three guys watching you.”
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“The SOA Watch staff collective is spread across continents, working with allies and compas throughout the Americas on everything from reports documenting the impacts of US trained, funded and supported state officials; to organizing virtual spaces for popular education and movement building webinars, workshops, and book clubs; to support for urgent actions and solidarity with communities and allies most affected by US led and backed state violence…”
At the end of this incredibly difficult year, we want to take a moment to thank you for being part of the SOA Watch community. Together, we continue to confront a global health crisis amplified by long-standing impacts of labor exploitation, capitalism, patriarchy, racism, and state violence on marginalized communities. Our work to dismantle US Empire and end state violence is only possible with you and because of you.
On December 10, 2020, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned two former Haitian government officials for their roles in planning a brutal massacre while they were high-ranking government officials in a government receiving significant U.S. aid and support. One of the officials, Joseph Pierre Richard Duplan, the Departamental Delegate for President Moïse’s regime, is accused of being the ‘intellectual architect’ of the November 2018 La Saline (Lasalin) massacre, in which at least 71 people in the Lasalin neighborhood of Port-au-Prince were killed, women and girls were raped, and over 400 homes were destroyed. The neighborhood was targeted as it was known for its opposition to the U.S.-backed Moïse regime.
Today, on International Migrants Day, December 18, 2020, we are reflecting on the pain, suffering, death, and disappearances that have been so pronounced this year. Collectively facing a global pandemic, communities worldwide have continued to resist state-sponsored violence, the practice of placing profit over people, and the root causes of migration that have brought many into the borders of a violent United States. Their protests have reminded us that the status quo of unabated violence cannot and will not continue to be the norm.
We are also reminded of how difficult the struggle to leave home, to leave family, to embark on a journey without the certainty of survival, without the guarantee of return, or without the guarantee of a life without fear or persecution, requires bravery and resilience. We uplift those who have taken great risks to work for a better life for their families.
Rooted in Resistance Virtual Vigil
Vigilia Virtual Enraizades en Resistencia
On Wednesday, October 7th we presented our report, From the Beginning to the End: The United States in the Colombian Armed Conflict, to Colombia’s Truth Commission. We will be sharing more about the report with you soon! Meanwhile, read the report in Spanish here, and check out the following recordings of the presentation: