November 21, 2010– Over 5,000 people converged on Ft Benning in Columbus, GA to once again call for the closing of the School of the Americas. The School of the Americas (SOA), renamed the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation”in 2001, is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. To learn more about the School of the Americas click here.
FLIC´s delegation included members from FIAC, SWER, Palm Beach County Coalition for Immigrant Rights, Seed305. Additionally, many other Florida community organizations like the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Yaya participated in the array of discussion groups, teach-ins, film screenings, street theatre and puppet performances that connected the dots between militarization, displacement and migration in Latin America.
On the final day, an emotional and somber vigil was held in memory of people killed by individuals trained at the school. The vigil stretched into the night as the names of the victims were called out. The names of the dead were etched on wooden crosses; their ages and countries of origin were woven into the chain link fence alongside the building. Scores of flags, flowers, and photographs were left by family and friends.
One of the delegates from PBCCIR, Camilo Yepes said “The experience of the mobilization brought to light the deliberate inhumanities in which people have to leave their homes”.
Led by the School of the Americas Watch, this mass mobilization happens every year and brings together members from a variety of immigrant rights, people of faith, Latin American solidarity, anti-war, environmental justice and veteran organizations. Delegate written experiences and photographs will be compiled into a zine to be distributed in the coming weeks.
– Jonathan Luna.