Twenty months ago, masked soldiers armed with automatic weapons burst into the bedroom of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, ordering him to board a plane, or die. The plane refueled at the US airbase of Palmerola, then flew on to Costa Rica where it dumped the elected president on the runway, in his pajamas. The soldiers were operating under the command of two SOA graduates: Generals Vázquez Velázquez and Prince Suazo.
Honduras is certainly not the only example of how soldiers trained at the SOA have obliterated the sovereignty, dignity and very lives of people throughout Latin America. But, it is the most recent egregious example. Today – twenty months after the coup and ensuing illegal “elections” – Honduras continues to bleed. Over 4,000 grave violations of human rights have been registered since the coup, including 64 political assassinations since the U.S. approved “election” of Porfirio Lobo.
But Honduras also continues to resist. And, in the resistance movement, comprised of teachers, farmers, trade unionists, feminists, journalists, gay rights activists, indigenous communities, and progressive religious groups, I find some of my greatest inspiration today.
I invite you to join me on a delegation to Honduras, from April 30 to May 9, so that we can bring our message of solidarity directly to the Honduras Resistance. We will do so in the spirit of Father James “Guadalupe” Carney, a St. Louis Jesuit priest whose commitment to the poor campesinos of that country led him to make decisions that ultimately led to his disappearance in 1983, under orders of another SOA graduate, General Gustavo Alvarez Martínez.
We will meet with Resistance leaders, human rights activists, journalists, workers and campesino organizations struggling to return democracy to their nation, and will visit places that marked the extraordinary life of Fr. Guadalupe, and led him to choose a path of radical commitment to the poor. In addition, we will visit the U.S. military base at Palmerola which played a role in the 2009 coup and is receiving more US funds, troops and drones.
This is a special benefit delegation. Proceeds will go to the SOA Watch “Activantia” program that invites young people from around the Americas to work together to resist militarization and promote a culture of peace.
One of these SOA Watch activantes, Jimena Paz, has organized this delegation to share with others the reality of her country: the pain of repression, the hope of the resistance.
In order to facilitate quality sharing, this delegation will be limited to a small size. If you are interested, I invite you to fill out an application, and return it by March 15 to Lisa Sullivan at LSullivan@soaw.org. Click here to download the application form. Lisa is also available to answer any questions you may have about the delegation.
Solidarity takes on many important forms: letters, emails, marches, lobbying, But there is no more powerful way to express your solidarity than to deliver the message in person. And no more transformative way for yourself. After my previous visits to Honduras, I returned with an even greater commitment to the people of Latin America, and with a deeper reserve of inspiration. Join me in bringing your solidarity directly to the Honduran resistance and in doing so, fortify your hope for the cause of peace and justice in our Americas.
Before flying to Honduras on April 30, I will travel to Washington, DC for a week long fast to close the SOA during the SOA Watch Days of Action from April 4-10, 2011. On Sunday, April 10, I will engage in a nonviolent direct action at the White House. I believe that we must up the ante, push the envelope, and risk arrest in order to call attention to the continued training of repressive troops at the School of the Americas and the accelerating U.S. militarization of the Americas. Please consider joining me in the fast and the nonviolent direct action in Washington, DC. Contact our field organizer Nico in the SOA Watch office in DC at 202-234-3440 or Nico@soaw.org for more information about the fast and the action.
Thank you for all that you do to work for a world of peace and justice.
Father Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
SOA Watch founder
Read the invitation from Jimena Paz