Annunciation House presented its 2008 VOICE OF THE VOICELESS AWARD to Roy Bourgeois on May 17th.
Awarded the Purple Heart as an officer in the U.S. Navy, Roy Bourgeois was ordained a Maryknoll priest in 1972. Sent to Bolivia to work with the poosr, he was arrested by security forces and forced to leave Bolivia. His experience in Bolivia led him to understand the use of military forces to suppress efforts by the poor in Latin America to organize, unionize, monitor human rights and work for greater participation in government. He became aware that soldiers trained at the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, Georgia, returned to their countries and committed human rights violations. He became an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, founding the School of the Americas Watch to monitor the conduct returning Latin American soldiers trained at the School of the Americas. Father Roy has spent over four years in U. S. federal prisons for nonviolent protests against the School of the Americas. The violence that soldiers trained at the School of the Americas used on their own people, especially during the 1980s and early 1990s, was a force that led to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of refugees from El Salvador and Guatemala, many of whom made their way into the U.S. In todays climate of severe hostility toward immigrants, the prominence of enforcement-only immigration policies, and an increasingly militarized border, we hold Father Roy Bourgeois as a powerful example of the tradition of witness, hospitality and justice to which the guests of our houses have called us.