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    • Gran Vigilia de Noviembre
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Home  Take Action  Vigil at Fort Benning 2012
Vigil at Fort Benning
Remembering the Victms of SOA Violence and Celebrating the Resistance
From November 16-18, 2012, thousands of human rights activists, torture survivors, anti-war veterans, students, families, union workers, nuns, artists, and others converged at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, to call for an end to U.S. militarization of the Americas, and for the closure of the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC)!

Mobile Broadcast News live streamed the events this weekend.

Links to additional vigil footage and photos will be posted soon.

Watch the footage from Saturday's rally at the gates:

SOA Watch Met with the White House

After protests and nonviolent direct actions, thousands of petitions, and letters from religious leaders and Members of Congress, the White House finally sat down with an SOA Watch delegation to discuss the School of the Americas / Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Click here to read the report back from the White House meeting.

Why We Mobilize /  Workshops / Speakers and Musicians /  Direct Action /  Travel Information / Hotels and Campgrounds / Endorsing Organizations / Rideboard

(leer en español)


Schedule of Events

Saturday, Nov 17:

  • Morning Plenary is from 9-10:30am at Ballroom C, Columbus Convention Center.
  • Peace Walk to the main gate of Fort Benning. Gathering time is 9am at the Columbus Convention Center with walking to start at 9:30am until 11:30am.
  • Rally at the Gates of Fort Benning with speakers and musicians from across the Americas from 11am-4pm.
  • Workshops and caucuses continue in the evening at the Convention Center (801 Front Avenue, Columbus, GA 31901).
  • Concert with Son del Centro, Taína Asili, Jarochicanos, Rebel Díaz and Son Altepee from 8pm - 11:30pm.

    Sunday, Nov 18:

  • Veterans' march to the gates, 8am.
    Veterans for Peace and friends will gather at 8:00am the Columbus Inn (3170 Victory Drive) to march together to the gates of Ft. Benning, Georgia. Join the march!
  • Mass Die-In at the Gates and Solemn Funeral Procession with the names of the victims from 9am - 2pm
  • The Vigil isn't done after the funeral procession! Join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, fighting for fair food and workers' dignity, for the picket at Publix at 3pm (5408 Summerville Rd, Phenix City, Alabama)

  • 520 Years of Oppression... 520 Years of Resistance!

    As we converge each year at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, we are creating a strong community and a powerful force that will close the SOA, end U.S. militarization  in the Americas and dismantle the broader system of oppression of which the SOA is a part. Our movement unites vast sectors of society, including union workers, immigrants, people of faith, anarchists, pacifists, students, torture survivors, and many others. We recognize the existence of the School of the Americas as an example of the pervasive culture of militarization. We stand together with many justice movements in our joint struggle for social change.

    We stand with the prison abolitionists, as so many of our own prisoners of conscience have come to understand the criminal injustice system through harsh prison sentences. We stand with immigrants fighting deportation, many of whom have fled the repression in their own countries. For 520 years, the indigenous peoples of the Americas have resisted the many manifestations of economic and military violence perpetrated against their communities.

    The SOA, repressive police forces, coups and economic slavery are the continuations of those policies – in Latin America and right here at home. This year, as we demand money for human needs and not for military repression, we converge at Fort Benning in the largest demonstration following the November elections. We know that not politicians but only continuous and consistent grassroots organizing will bring about the change we need in the world.

    Join the SOA Watch movement at the gates of Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, this November 16-18, as we continue to speak truth to power and demand a real change in US foreign policy!

    More than once, the SOA Watch movement has put the Pentagon on the defensive, from changing the SOA's name to pressuring Costa Rica to continue training police... and we will not stop! The movement has educated thousands about the reality of US foreign policy in Latin America and we continue to mobilize, speak out and put our bodies on the line. Justice will be ours.

    (leer en español)

    Why mobilize?

     The School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2001, has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers and police, producing some of the region's most renowned death squad leaders, assassins, torturers and human rights abusers. The Pentagon changed the name in 2001 in a public relations move, to which the late Rep. Joe Moakley referred as "pouring perfume over a toxic waste dump." After the name change, SOA Watch researchers published a report showing that human rights abusers were among the attendees and instructors of the new school; in effect, it was a NEW NAME, SAME SHAME. (Read the report here)

    Since that report, the US Government has refused to release the names of instructors and graduates (read about the 2012 SOA Watch lawsuit). However, SOA graduates continue to conduct anti-democratic operations and human rights abuses across the hemisphere:

    - Venezuela: In April 2002, SOA-trained Generals Vásquez and Ramirez Póveda led an attempted coup against the government.
    - Honduras: Four of the 6 military chiefs implicated in the June 28, 2009, coup were trained at the SOA. Since then, over 460 politically-motivated killings have occurred, including 19 journalists; LGBT groups and campesino land-rights movements have been particularly targeted. Of the coup, SOA-trained Honduran Army Attorney Col. Herberth Inestroza stated in an interview with The Miami Herald that “[it] would be difficult for us, with our training, to have a relationship with a leftist government. That's impossible.''
    - Colombia: Over 10,000 troops have been trained in Colombia, involved in the region's worst human rights situation. Read a report by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and US Office on Colombia linking extrajudicial executions to brigades led by SOA grads.
    - Mexico: Both sides of the "Drug War" played out in Mexico find SOA graduates: 18 top ranking military officials involved in human rights abuses studied at the school.
    - In Guatemala, El Salvador, and Peru, SOA grads have been appointed to high-level positions within those governments, threatening democratic institutions.

     You can read more about SOA graduates in our Grads in the News and Notorious Grads sections.

    Across the region, the United States has been covering up for coups, setting up military bases and militarizing the region... with tax dollars that could be used to strengthen social services right here at home.

    Click the button at right to read more reasons why thousands of people mobilize each year to the gates of Fort Benning.

    Thousands of human rights activists, teachers, torture survivors, people of faith,  mobilize each year to descend on Fort Benning for a weekend of conferences, concerts and direct action! Join us November 16-18 at Fort Benning!

    Mobilize Your Community!

    Start spreading the word now in your community about the SOA Watch Vigil in November.

    At your school, community organization, church or collective, show a screening of the new SOA Watch video, "Somos Una America". You can order a copy for $20. Follow up the video screening with a discussion and debrief using this study packet.

    Download and distribute (or order for $3) SOA Watch's map of intervention, which shows the different US interventions in Latin America under Republican and Democratic administrations.

    Become a distributor of the SOA Watch newsletter, Presente! which is a great resource to initiate conversation, or leave at your local library or coffee shop! Or order November Vigil palmcards for only $6 for 100 cards.

     With your local community support group, set up a meeting with your local representative, urging them to sign onto HR3368, the bill to suspend and investigate the SOA. Contact Alison Snow ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , 202-234-3440) for more information.

    Write a letter to the editor of your local paper to let them know about the upcoming mobilization. Try connecting your letter to the editor to any recent article in your paper about Latin America. Click here for more tips and a sample letter.

    Start working with your local unions, parishes, and community organizations to organize buses from your community to Fort Benning. Click here for tips on raising funds to cover the cost of the trip to Fort Benning. Start planning now!

    Check back for a list of places to stay in and around Columbus, and for the SOA Watch rideboard, where you can share information about rides to and from Columbus.

    Working Groups

    The November vigil is coordinated by dozens of volunteers and working groups from around the country.  We encourage you to join one of the several November working groups, and make the 2012 Vigil a success! Contact information and descriptions of groups.

    (leer en español)

    Spread the Word about the November Vigil!!

    Tell Congress to Close the SOA/WHINSEC
     Click here to send a message

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