Every year, tens of thousands of people from around the country and world gather in Ft. Benning, Georgia, to call for the closure of the School of the Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC). The SOA gained its notoriety in the 1980s, serving as a training ground for armies and paramilitaries of Central and South America. SOA graduates were trained to torture civilian populations, and notorious graduates were responsible for massacres of the indigenous, activists, and religious leaders throughout Latin America.
In fact, many of the training manuals used and propagated by the SOA/WHINSEC were generated and housed at Ft. Huachuca, located 70 miles southeast of Tucson, AZ, in our local border region. Opposition to the SOA/WHINSEC—and specifically to the use of torture—has grown tremendously at the national and international levels during recent decades and years. Nevertheless, the United States continues to demonstrate shameful standards on the use of torture.
This November 16-18, activists, students, and people of faith will again gather at the gates of Fort Benning to witness on behalf of the thousands of martyrs of Latin America and to call for the closure of SOA/WHINSEC. In coordination with this effort, organizers are sponsoring a “Southwest Weekend of Witness” in solidarity with SOA Watch. During this weekend witness, a community of volunteers from Annunciation House—joined by others from our El Paso/Juarez community—will join a demonstration at the main gate of Fort Huachuca to protest our county’s “slipping standards on torture.”
Local community members will depart El Paso on Nov. 16 following a send-off from Annunciation House, join teach-ins in Tucson on Nov. 17, witness through the night at the Federal Building in Tucson, and gather outside Ft. Huachuca on Sunday, Nov. 28. We welcome and encourage any local participation in the send-off and/or vigil. We also welcome any donations, which we will apply to the cost of transportation, accommodations, and food during the vigil weekend. (Because this action is political in nature, donations are not tax-deductible.)
Thank you so much for your support of Annunciation House’s work for peace and justice, supporting the rights of immigrants on the border and in their home countries.