ACTION ALERT: Vigilers Gather to Protest US ‘School for Assassins’

November 18th, 2005 - by admin

School of the Americas Watch – 2005-11-18 08:08:49

Journey for Justice & Vigil Information.
Update from Fort Benning, Georgia

(November 15, 2005) — This week, Salvadoran torture survivor and human rights activist Carlos Mauricio is making his way across the country as part of an inspiring Journey for Justice.

Joined by other survivors and activists, Carlos left San Francisco on November 5 after a powerful send-off event with Dolores Huerta. Since then the Caravan has held events in Los Angeles, Tucson, Phoenix, El Paso, Austin and more, speaking to crowds about the School of the Americas, about Carlos’ story and about impunity and justice.

Excitement for the Vigil and the movement for accountability is growing as the Journey for Justice makes its way to the Nov 18-20 Vigil to Close the SOA. Read more about the tour.

The San Antonio Express-News ran a story yesterday about the Caravan, “Victim of Torture Cites Army School.” It begins, “The Army School of the Americas may have changed its name and added human rights course work, but to Carlos Mauricio it’s the same place he blames for the men who blindfolded him, hung him by his hands and beat him until his ribs cracked.”

Will you join the Journey for Justice in traveling to Fort Benning for this weekend’s Vigil to Close the SOA? This Saturday and Sunday, will you stand for justice with Carlos and with others most affected by racist institutions like the SOA/ WHINSEC?

It’s not too late to make plans to attend the vigil! Find a ride with others in your community by visiting our ride board. If you have space in your vehicle, please post that information as well.

Activists from United Students against Sweatshops and Colombian Unionists are planning to stop on Friday at noon in Atlanta at the Coca-Cola Headquarters on their way to the SOA protest. They will be holding a press conference and a rally to demand accountability from Coca-Cola for the killing of unionists in Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. Please join them if you are driving through Atlanta around that time.

School of the Americas Watch — 202-234-3440

Other Important Links:

• Schedule of events
• Hotel info
• Travel info

• Help support the vigil, even if you can’t attend.

Don’t forget to bring crosses, Stars of David and other commemorative symbols with you to the Vigil to remember those who have died at the hands of SOA graduates.

Legal Observers Needed this Weekend
The SOA Watch Legal Collective and the National Lawyers Guild will be training all people interested in being Legal Observers at the Vigil this year.

Legal observers are the eyes and ears of vigils and mass mobilizations working to counter the criminalization of dissent by recording and documenting violations of civil and human rights. Throughout the weekend of the SOA vigil, we will document any arrests of bad behavior by police or other state actors.
No legal experience is necessary to be a legal observer, but the ability to act as an objective observer is important.

If you would like to be a Legal Observer, please click here for more info and plan to attend the Legal Observer Training on Friday, November 18 at 8 pm in the Days Inn on Victory Drive.

• Contact Sara Denny at sharvey3982(at) or Dan Gregor at with questions.

SOA Grad and Former Pinochet Operative Heading Chilean Forces in Haiti

In late October, the Chilean Government admitted that Gen. Eduardo Aldunate, second in command of its military forces in Haiti, was linked to the disbanded National Intelligence Central (CNI), oppressive military forces that operated under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990).

SOA Watch records show that “Herman Eduardo Aldunate” is an SOA graduate. To date, there are at least 10 other former high-ranking officials under Pinochet who attended or taught at the SOA. Among them are the former heads of the CNI and DINA secret police, the officers who tortured and murdered a U.N. official, those who participated in the assault on the residence of president Salvador Allende, and who operated the Villa Grimaldi, Tres Alamos and Cuatro Alamos concentration camps for political prisoners. Read more about this case.

Creative Scenario Actions for Sunday, November 20
Last year, several local SOA Watch groups from around the country enacted small memorial scenes during Sunday’s symbolic funeral procession. Some set up an altar to remember those killed, some performed a flag washing and others created other small street-theater scenes. These all take place within the permit area and are non-arrestable situations.

This year we again invite your group to create a memorial scene during the funeral procession on Sunday, November 20. This can be a unique way to add your voice and perspective to the gathering. If you’re interested in being a part of this, please plan on attending the Saturday night planning meeting from 8-9:30pm in the Convention Center’s Room 201.

PO Box 4566. Washington, District of Columbia 20017, United States

Boulderite to Protest US Army Teaching of Torture

(November 14, 2005) — Joanne Cowan, Quaker and local peace activist, will travel next weekend to Fort Benning, GA,† to protest the United States military teaching of torture at† the School of the Americas.

In 2001, the School of the Americas was renamed Western Hemisphere for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC). An anticipated 15,000 people, including at least 45 Coloradoans, will gather at the 15th annual demonstration remembering those killed and tortured in Latin America by graduates of the SOA.

Cowan and approximately 35 other plan to engage in civil disobedience by “crossing the line” onto base property. She expects to be charged with criminal trespass, which will likely lead to a trial in January,† 3 – 6 months’ imprisonment and fines up to $5000.

She states, “This is a decision coming from my heart; I feel it’s my moral imperative.† I’m called to stand against the institutionalized teaching and exporting of torture throughout the Western Hemisphere that SOA conducts. In addition, with the revelations of Abu Ghraib, the existence of secret US torture facilities in Eastern Europe, and the VP’s request that the CIA be allowed to ëlegallyí conduct torture, the immoral practices of our government have become mainstream knowledge. I decided I have to lend my presence in opposition to these activities.

The continued existence of the SOA embodies our government’s acceptance of horrible, deadly torture.î

Cowan has received the encouragement and support of the Boulder Meeting of Friends (Quakers).

‘I Will Become a Prisoner of Conscience’
Joanne Cowan

On November 20, I will be standing in solidarity with over 15,000 individuals outside Fort Benning, Georgia (location of the School of the Americas/renamed in 2001 Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) who have gathered to witness their opposition to the continued existence of a facility that is recognized worldwide as the United States’ institution for teaching, promoting and exporting torture.

Graduates of this school, also dubbed ìThe School of the Assassins,î are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in the Americas.

In addition to joining the solemn memorial procession that remembers and honors thousands of murdered men, women and children, I have chosen this year to join approximately 35 other individuals in acts of civil disobedience by ìcrossing the lineî onto base property, for which we will be arrested and charged with criminal trespass.

I will become a ìPrisoner of Conscienceî and contribute to the count of over 181 individuals (Priests, nuns, Quakers and others morally led) who have previously crossed and have served cumulatively eighty-one years in prison for this action.

Peaceful, nonviolent direct action in opposition to the School has been organized by SOA watch for the last 15 years with civil rÈsistance training, legal support and access to information and multiple resources of assistance.

You can learn more about the SOA and the SOA watch at . There is currently legislation pending in Congress, (HR 1217) which I encourage you to support by writing, phoning or emailing Representative Udall and thanking him for being one of 122 co-sponsors to this legislation and asking him to act further for the billís passage. (The IMYM talk by Jane Orion Smith, General Secretary of Canadian Friends Service Committee that so powerfully moved me is available from or maybe also at

I am deeply grateful to the individuals on the clearness committee that gathered to assist me during my decision process and to the Meeting for its concern and support, particularly with the Traveling Minute, the Continuing Committee, and the individuals who have expressed themselves with love and contributions.

I feel honored to be a member of the Boulder Meeting and uplifted by the Light being extended to me. Thank you all.