by Aleita Hass-Holcombe, Corvallis United Church of Christ, Corvallis, OR
School of the America’s Watch (SOAW) is a grassroots, nonprofit founded in 1983, when the US-fueled war in El Salvador was raging. Each November, SOAW gathers at Ft. Benning, Georgia, to raise awareness that human rights atrocities in Central and South America are still happening. Those responsible for these atrocities can often be traced back to individuals trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISEC), formerly called the US Army School of the Americas (SOA).
In November of 2013, 1400 people converged at the gates of Ft. Benning. Sunday, November 24, was a commemoration of those who have died as a result of the far-reaching effects of SOA training. During that November weekend, SOAW held many workshops that focused on our culture of military violence.
A few issues that we as people of peace and justice need to watch are listed below:
- Columbia’s impunity for those who kill union organizers and community leaders seeking justice for the poor
- Escalating militarization of the US-Mexico border
- Criminalization and persecution of migrants, deportations, and “for profit” prisons
- “Free Trade” doctrine and how it is used to justify militarization and to advance corporate interests at the expense of workers, farming communities, the environment, and national sovereignty
- Elections in Honduras
Let’s watch together for a day in which a culture of peace with justice and respect for Earth will prevail, where all people will live together free from oppression.