Wednesday, November 15
Wanted: 1000 Grandmas This Weekend to Stop American Terrorism Abroad
The most violent men will weep
When 1000 women hold them strong
And pray their souls to keep.
—Holly Near, “A Thousand Grandmothers”
One Northern California peace activist is asking 999 other grandmothers to join her this weekend (17-19 November) to sing Near’s song and help her close the State Department’s “School of the Assassins.”
On February 21-22, 2005, eight members of the San Jose de Apartado Peace Community in
Promoted to Brigadier General in 2004, Fandinzo is a 1976 graduate of the U.S. State Department’s notorious School of the Americas at
"[US policy in Latin America is designed to] maintain the Iberoamerican countries in a condition of direct dependence upon the international political decisions most beneficial to the United States, both at the hemisphere and world levels. Thus they preach to us of democracy while everywhere they support dictatorships," explained US-backed El Salavadoran President Jose Napoleon Duarte in a 1969 speech.
Before the Reagan-Bush White House began listening more closely and ousted him for a more repressive-minded president,
But a link between SOA and the “war on terrorism” also recently emerged. In 2004, Miles Schulman, a Canadian physician who has monitored torture among refugees internationally for peace organizations, reported in the Toronto Globe and Mail that torture techniques identified by the International Red Cross at Abu Ghraib and US prisons in Afghanistan resembled those depicted in declassified SOA torture manuals.
[Related article: Dana Priest, "
Grannies Coming with Attitude
Colombians in the peace community murdered in Urabá included Luis Eduardo Guerra, community founder; his common-law wife and their 11-year old son; another couple and their two children, age 1 and 6. In conjunction with the murders, Fandinzo’s troops forced all but five of the 100 families residing in the peace community to leave their homes and land.
“Today we are here in San José de Apartadó; tomorrow the majority of people here could be displaced because of a massacre," Guerra said in an interview 37 days before his brutal death.
In November 2002, Guerra traveled to
The cosmetic change worked; resistance subsided. Moreover,
But if one veteran peace advocacy and activist organization has its way, the State Department after this weekend will have to make more substantive changes—like shutting down SOA/WHINSEC.
In 1990, Maryknoll priest Father Roy Bourgeois began holding small peace vigils each November in an apartment near
Father Bourgeois’s small vigil eventually evolved into the School of the Americas Watch, an organization headquartered in
In 2005, SOWA had 19,000 participants around the world to gather outside the
Among those attending the first time will be a group of grandmothers organized by Cathy Webster, 61, a peace activist and grandmother from
“One of our young peace activists sang Holly Near's song, ‘A Thousand Grandmothers’. I was so inspired by this song, and by the arrest that same month of another local grandmother, Dorothy Parker, at School of the Americas, that an idea came to me: What if 1,000 grandmothers across America and the world were to take this song as their rallying cry, and march onto the grounds of the School of the Americas in November.”
“Onto the grounds” is code for civil disobedience—criminal trespass on federal property—an offense since 9/11 occasioning several months in federal prison, even for first-time offenders.
Webster says she received “hundreds” of responses from women around the
“This school is responsible for training militaries that then use the techniques they learned against their civilian populations,” says Nancy Jakubiak, a
According to SOA Watch, “simultaneous demonstrations will take place in
For those unable to show up at any of these locations, the National Catholic Reporter is offering net surfers live online coverage and testimonials from veteran vigil participants at
SOAW Contact Info:
Phone: (202) 234 3440
Fax: (202) 636-4505
Postscript: Two SOA Alums Prominent in 32nd US-backed Haitian Coup d’etat (1991)
As Haiti’s first elected president in 137 years, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, known among poor Haitians (85% of the populace) for whom he served as the “rebel-priest,” won the presidential palace in Port-o-Prince in 1991 after promising voters he would improve their lives if given the opportunity; they believed him, and Aristide defeated former World Bank employee Marc Bazin, the US-backed candidate who received only 15% of the vote. Ignoring strong
That’s the view of Haitian election history embraced by Latin American historians, sociologists and journalists. Their American counterparts, however, make the comical allegation that the Bush Sr. White House had to remove Aristide from office for human rights violations—a claim tantamount to Hitler arguing he lost World War II because of his “kindler, gentler” disposition.
Moreover, Heinz Dieterich a German journalist working for the Spanish-speaking online investigative news publication Rebelion.org, implicated the U.S. State Department, AFL-CIO and National Endowment for Democracy (NED)—supported by Republicans and Democrats alike—for unsuccessfully conspiring to destabilize Aristide’s election campaign.
But Dieterich claims the
Faced with the defeat of Bazin and the "danger" of popular democracy,
His right-hand man was Col. Michel-Joseph Francois, also trained at
In the first two weeks of the coup, more than a thousand people lost their lives in a state terrorist campaign that systematically destroyed popular and democratic organizations that had supported Aristide. When the terror ended, Cedras and Francois had assassinated more than four thousand Haitians.
SOA Watch, however, determined that Cedras and Francois are graduates of
"In the eyes of most people throughout the world, my home country is perceived as a place of repressive regimes, coupes d’etat, poverty and despair. Indeed, Haiti has suffered through colonization by Spain and France, US occupation, dictatorship supported by the wealthy, and periods of cruel repression" -- Marie M. B. Racine, Ph. D., a Haitian woman herself, lives in Washington, DC where she is an an active member of the solidarity community for the peoples of the Caribbean and Central America.
Haitian soldiers and officers have also trained at many other
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