In Honor of the Victims ~ ¡No Más! No More!
Today we gather on the ancient lands of the Cherokee and Muscogee Creek peoples. We uplift all of their descendants and the communities that live and resist here. While a white supremacist state exists on stolen land, there will never be justice! May our witness honor them all. Together, We Cry!
Today we gather in memory of the predawn raid on the campus of the Universidad Centroamericana in El Salvador. Soldiers and their guns, Generals and their commands, politicians with their international backing assassinated Elba and Celina Ramos, Ignacio Ellacuria, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin Baro, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Juan Ramón Moreno, and Amando Lopez. In the thin light before the sun awakens the powerful celebrated the deaths of those who loved the people of El Salvador. They could not imagine thirty years later their names would still be spoken, their stories still remembered and told, and that their resistance would still be thriving. They could not comprehend the power of the love of the people. Love does not stop at borders. Love does not forget. Love does not disappear with death. Love says, Recordamos – We remember. Love demands justice, Ya Basta! Love tears down border walls saying Bienvenido – Welcome. Together, We Cry!
Today we gather in spirit with all of those whose lives according to white supremacy are expendable in the pursuit of domination and exploitation. We stand together today to denounce one small piece of this puzzle: the School of the Americas renamed WHINSEC. Today at Ft. Benning, not only are military and police from Latin America being trained so are Department of Homeland Security agents from Border Patrol and ICE. These agents enforce US policies that are making people leave their home and then criminalizing, dehumanizing, and murdering them when they migrate. Today we gather in Georgia united to our struggles in Nogales and in solidarity with every community confronting the violence and oppression of Border Imperialism. Border Imperialism is rooted in US white supremacist history. Border Imperialism is rooted in the vision of SOA/WHINSEC. We see these deep ties as ICE has announced that Ft. Benning will be the new location of ‘urban warfare’ training facilities. This urban war is on migrants and immigrants and other vulnerable communities in the United States. Border Patrol and ICE join in the long SOA legacy of violence renamed security and oppression renamed democracy. This moment calls for an international peace and racial justice movement in solidarity with peoples’ struggles for justice, freedom, and dignity. We are here to fight. We are here to create. Together, We cry!
Just days ago in Bolivia, at least six SOA-WHINSEC graduates, led by General Williams Kaliman Romero, facilitated a coup against the will of the Bolivian people that democratically elected President Evo Morales. We condemn this imperialist assault on Bolivia’s people. We denounce the burning of the Wiphala, a symbol of indigenous unity, strength, and resistance. We stand with the indigenous and campesina communities and support their autonomy, right to organize, and to decide the fate of their territories outside the grasp of the United States. As long as the Wiphala is flown, the fire of the resistance will continue to light Abya Yala. Together, we cry!
The US trains and provides assistance to the security forces in Haiti, Ecuador, and Chile, which are responsible for the brutal repression against demonstrators. After Colombia, Chile sends the second highest number of security forces to be trained at the SOA-WHINSEC. SOA Watch stands in solidarity with demonstrators throughout the region who are challenging the US-exported neoliberal economic model and its institutions, such as the IMF, which only lead to inequality, privatization and injustice. It is at moments like these, when the economic model is in crisis, that the US agenda of training and financing security forces throughout the continent is made clear: impose right-wing economic policies that benefit corporations and the elite and result in privatization and cuts to public spending, which harm the overwhelming majority of the people. These policies are enforced by US-backed regimes and US-trained and financed security forces, who do not think twice about firing live bullets at their own populations — those who are simply demanding the right to determine their own economic models and live with dignity. We place our bodies in the streets in solidarity and Together, We cry!
Colombia has long been the number one client of the SOA, sending over 10,000 troops. Nearly 8 million Colombians have been internally displaced due to the violence. Each day that passes without fulfilling the Peace Accords brings with it a cost in the lives of the poorest sectors of the country that will never be recovered. In this climate of uncertainty that surrounds the implementation of the Peace Accords, we add our voices to those of the people of Colombia. We demand the cessation of assassinations of our campesino brothers and sisters; of Indigenous, afro-descendant, union and student leaders; of ex-insurgents who have handed in their weapons in favor of peace. We denounce those who support transnational capitalist interests that reject the Peace Accords. We condemn the US government that cultivates violence and displacement, all the while refusing to support the grassroots work that seeks to end over 50 years of war. We join today in the promise of a Colombia with peace and justice. Together, We Cry!
In Mexico, the Merida Initiative has guaranteed the expansion of US military and police training, weapons, and operations south of its political border and has perpetuated violence and state-sponsored terror south of the Rio Grande. Since 2006 more than 220,000 people have been killed and more than 30,000 have been disappeared, including the 43 students of Ayotzinapa. The Southern Border Plan and Operation Faithful Patriot use Mexico as an extension of the United States’ attempts to control Mesoamerica – where thousands of migrants and refugees have been disappeared, journalists have been murdered, human rights activists have been assassinated, women have been victims of an ongoing femicide, members of the LGBTQ community are murdered each month and where indigenous communities continue to resist their extermination. Together, We Cry!
Years after the SOA graduate-led military coup in Honduras and its consolidation in the fraudulent elections, Honduras continues its policies of terror and violence against its citizens. Militarization as a state policy has made Honduras the country with the highest levels of violence in the world. They suppress peasant groups that are protecting their land, as seen in the cases of the Bajo Aguán and Zacate Grande. We do not forget that one of the intellectual authors of the chaos in Honduras is the Pentagon, as SOA graduates are at the helm in all branches of the Honduran security forces. Human rights workers, indigenous and campesino communities, environmentalists, lawyers, journalists, LGBTQ community members, student activists, and social movement leaders are targeted for criminalization, attacks, and murder. Those who speak out face repression yet they continue struggling to defend their land and rights while the United States continues financing and supporting the repressive regime to protect the interest of multinational mining and manufacturing firms. Guided by the self determination of the Honduran people. Together, We Cry!
In Guatemala and El Salvador, the social fabric was ripped apart by US-backed violence during decades of armed conflict. These wounds continue to shape the lives of communities throughout Central America today, as people are left with few options and are forced to flee. The US is shamefully aiding the re-militarization of Central America through the “Alliance for Prosperity.” Social movements on the ground in Guatemala and in El Salvador have not forgotten and through historical memory they lead the fight for a dignified life in every sense that requires the recovery of the memory of our disappeared, the refusal to be a militarized people, the defense of our lands, and the continuing work of resistance. Alongside those who are impacted by the failed past and present policies that employ military solutions for social problems, and Together, We Cry!
Decades after the U.S. Invasion of Panama and Operation Just Cause, more than 500 families continue to demand justice for the disappeared, yet U.S. Southern Command troops maintain a presence, training Panamanian police to combat “narcotrafficking and organized crime”. It is one of the few countries without an army, yet spends more on security than any other country in the region. Over the past decade, security forces have committed Human Rights violations of civilians, squashing protests and leaving more than a dozen dead and hundreds injured. SOA began in Panama, together with the people of Panama we demand an end to U.S. intervention and Together, We Cry!
In the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, the War on Terror has resulted in the deaths of at least 2 million people since 2001. The War on Terror destabilizes countries, props up puppet regimes or monarchies that are friendly towards American empire. Today, we uplift the victims of the War on Terror, living and dead, who are mainly Muslims, and have been destroyed to further American hegemony. We uplift the 1 million lives lost in Iraq and the 300,000 Iraqi refugees. We uplift the 220,000 killed in Afghanistan, and the 80,000 people killed in Pakistan. We uplift the victims of US drones in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Syria. We uplift the hundreds and thousands killed in Syria. We uplift the people of Palestine, who have been the victims of Zionism and US imperialism in the Middle East. We uplift all whose lives have been destroyed, the refugees fleeing wars and dying in the process; the youth working to take care of their families; and, the women who are resisting to keep their communities alive. We uplift the resistance and struggles of the people in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia to self-determination, a life of dignity, and an end to US wars. Together We Cry!
In Lumpkin, Eloy and so many towns across the U.S., for-profit migrant prison rips families apart and conceals loved ones behind walls made to break their dignity. Segregating those branded as unwanted behind bars is an all too common practice in the United States, where 2.4 million people are held in corporate, State and Federally-funded prisons. Migrants are displaced due to the economic and political agenda of the United States. As long as the criminalization and warehousing of entire communities continues, Together, We Cry!
In Ferguson, Baltimore, Cleveland and countless other cities across the United States the Pentagon is pumping 5 billion dollars into the streets in the form of tanks, military-grade equipment and drones. In the face of this assault on our communities, we lift up the work of fearless organizers and activists courageous enough to stand up against the racist brutality we see in police departments, in prisons, in schools, at borders and in our communities. It is time to stand together against the racism, capitalism, materialism and militarism that is tearing apart our families and destroying our communities. It is time to build, while we resist. No longer is it enough to videotape and circulate the violence being waged against us. No longer is it not enough to trend on social media. We must become visionary. We must become neighbors again. It is our time to come from behind our blinds and our doors and turn to one another. Our communities are not war zones. Together We Cry!
For all the labor organizers, students, religious leaders, artists, educators, journalists, and farmers; for countless other communities in resistance, and those who, with dignity, fight to protect their lives, their land; for all those who are creating new forms of resistance to protect their communities, and for those who organize to transform the horrendous reality they see with their own eyes Together, We Cry!
Commissioning of Funeral Procession Leaders
By participating in this memorial funeral procession, you honor the lives of those who have and continue to suffer because of the School of Assassins and all other acts of terror. You go as emissaries of peace to confront violence with nonviolence. Will you commit yourself to be nonviolent in your spirit and action today as you join this solemn funeral procession? And in the months to come, will you continue to work to close the School and encourage others to do likewise?
Response: I will be nonviolent in my spirit and action today. By presence, work, and action, I will honor those in the borderlands, in Latin America and the Caribbean who have suffered, as well as others who have suffered from global terrorism, and those who continue to put themselves at risk for justice. I will continue the work in the months to come until the School of Assassins is closed and the structures of oppression in which it is based are dismantled.
May love and courage go with us as we do the work of building community and transforming injustice. May memory and wisdom root us we face the radical violence of a failing empire. May humility and gratitude guide us as we join in solidarity with people all over the world fighting for their lives. May joy and beauty nourish us as we vision past failed structures and institutions to another world. May awe and imagination teach us how to listen for the voices of our ancestors who know the way back home. Together we cry.