Join thousands at SOA Watch’s 25th anniversary Vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, where we will remember the martyrs and denounce continued SOA violence against our brothers and sisters in Latin America. For all the key info see this.
One of the most powerful allies of imperialism is division. Division deters communities from working together and confuses our understanding of the past, present and future. Let us recognize – as people from many parts of the world, of many faiths, ethnicities, colors, belief systems, sexualities, gender identities, classes and abilities – that our presents and futures are intertwined, and so too must be our resistance. As a collective of communities we can make a conscious effort to overcome divisions by uniting to denounce the impunity that safeguards Empire.
This year, we are strengthening our commitment to collective power by ensuring we create a space where activists from around the world can unite their forces to shut down Stewart Detention Center and demand the closure of the School of the Americas. Organizing together has enriched our movement, and reflects the strength and beauty of the cultures and ideals that continue to be violently repressed by U.S.-led militarization.
We mobilize to make transparent the long-standing war on communities of color around the world. Let us gather this weekend in memory of the Mike Browns of Ferguson, Jennifer Laudes of the Philippines, the Rosan Millers of New York, the Topacio Reynosos of Guatemala, the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, and the thousands upon thousands of migrants who have died en route to the north, or at the U.S.-Mexico border from the harsh conditions purposefully implemented by federal and local government agents!
We mobilize in the spirit of activists fighting police repression in the U.S. who are unveiling the racialized system of State violence. The militarized response to the protests in Ferguson by local police using equipment distributed by the Pentagon, such as tanks and military-grade fire arms, is bringing to light the historical and sustained attacks against activists and entire communities supported by a war economy.
We also mobilize to denounce the systematic practice of putting people in cages, stripping them of their dignity. This is why we will converge at the gates of Stewart Detention Center, an institution that benefits Empire through the disproportionate incarceration of migrants and rushed deportations without adequate access to legal resources. Similarly, programs like Secure Communities as well as the militarization at the U.S.-Mexico border reinforces a system of power that favors white people and ethnically white migrants. The Obama administration has deported more migrants than any other president over the past half century- some 400,000 migrants per year since he took office. We join together this weekend as communities in resistance to the violence generated by Empire that disproportionately affects communities of color.
The targeting of popular resistance movements in the U.S. mimics equally long-standing foreign policies that propagate and perpetuate genocides, delegitimizes free thinkers while defending corporate interests abroad at any cost. Those who took part in the School of the Americas Watch Youth Encuentro are but a few of the many agents of change – past and present – defying corporations and State-sponsored terror.
Various workshops this year focus on the Colombian peace process and the militarization of the conflict backed by the U.S. The continued training of police and military forces from Latin America by the School of the Americas, the CIA, the FBI, the armed forces or the DEA reflects the U.S. government’s move to equate development aid with military and security aid. Even in the face of abject subjugation in the name of the “War on Drugs”, the fight against “terrorism”, or organized crime, communities across the Americas continue to organize and defend their livelihoods with dignity. Through workshops this weekend, we will learn from each other and build a collective analysis about the many facets of Empire!
May we as a movement rejoice in our shared victories and hold reverence for those whose lives have been taken. More recently, the disappearance of 43 students and the murder of 6 others by soldiers and federal police in Ayotzinapa have drawn attention to the impunity that exists in a militarized State. Their disappearance also makes visible the approximately 32,000 disappearances that have taken place in Mexico over the last few years. Let us stand in solidarity with the families by demanding justice and the appearance – ALIVE – of their loved ones.
We come from many movements and we are many peoples that have been gathering at the gates of Fort Benning, uniting forces to demand a radical shift in U.S. foreign policy and the immediate and definite closure of the School of the Americas. The name has changed but our commitment to creating a culture of peace, truth and justice has not. Let us remember that although SOA/WHINSEC continues to operate with impunity, our movement is as powerful as ever. We are determined. We will prevail. COMMUNITIES IN RESISTANCE, PRESENTES!