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Published: January 16th 2010
I traveled from St. Louis to Fort Benning, Georgia on a bus with members of the Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America and some local catholic school students to protest outside the School of the Americas. This is a school that has trained paramilitary officers from various Latin American countries, many of whom are responsible for the worst human rights violations of the last few decades. Graduates include Manuel Noriega of Panama, Hugo Banzer Bolivia's two time dictator, several of Augusto Pinochet's senior officers, members of El Salvador's death squads, Colombia's paramiltary troops notorious for human rights abuses. The problem continues today in Honduras where a recent military coup took place led by several SOA graduates.
It was amazing to see the turnout in Georgia. I was very surprised by the number of younger and older participants. Kids from high schools all over the country joined the protest. In talking with them I was impressed by their awareness. Many schools had human rights groups. My high school was a little bit different. There were tons of senior citizens at the protest. I saw several WWII veterens there with veterens for peace signs. I had breakfast with an older woman that had come
the last nine years. She told me it used to be mostly old people at the demonstration and regaled me with stories of being arrested outside a nuclear facility.
It was an incredible and uplifting experience. Thousands and thousands of people of all ages willing to stand up and say NO! to the powerful who don't think twice about adding more bodies to the meat grinder. People from all over the country who are tired of the normalized violence and the draining of our nation's coffers toward paranoia and violence. I saw an entire community calling for peace, justice and a move toward an intelligent and compasionate future where the interests of human beings aren't sold down the river for quarterly profits. It was a nice change of pace.
The group SOA Watch has a website with info concerning the School of the Americas.
OK. Stepping down from the soapbox.
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