GUATEMALAN AND ECUADORIAN HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS DEMAND CLOSURE OF THE SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS
March 5, 2009: Human rights advocate Emiliana Aguilar Reinoso will share about her work through the UN Truth Commission and the Office of Peace and Reconciliation forensic team exhuming clandestine graves from the 36 year civil war in Guatemala. She will be joined by Marco Mejia, a community organizer from Ecuador. A prisoner of conscience who spent six months in federal prison for "crossing the line" at the School of the Americas (SOA) will share her experiences, along with local community activists who traveled to the annual vigil in November 2008 at Ft. Benning, GA to demand closure of the SOA.
The U.S. Army's SOA/WHINSEC is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, GA. Originally founded in Panama in 1946, the school was relocated shortly thereafter to the U.S. Over 60,000 troops have been trained at the school since it opened, focusing on counter-insurgency techniques, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics, all of which is paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC have been involved in every major human rights violation in Latin America. Victims have included educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders and leaders working for the rights of the poor.
The SOA Watch is an independent grassroots organization that seeks to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas and change U.S. foreign policy in Latin America through creative non-violent means. SOA Watch began in 1990 outside the main gates of Ft. Benning, GA with a small group of individuals to commemorate the massacre of six Jesuit priests on November 16th, 1989 in El Salvador by graduates of the SOA. Today, over 20,000 come together in a ritualistic act of non-violence each November at the gates of Ft. Benning to join arms rooted in solidarity with our sisters and brothers to the South.
Thursday March 5th, 2009 from 7-9pm at Augustana Lutheran Church 2710 NE 14th Ave