Wednesday, October 12, 2016



'Encuentro at the Border' under way in Nogales
• Nogales International
• Updated 1 hr ago

A group that for 25 years protested a Department of Defense facility in Georgia that provides military training to Latin American governments made its debut in Nogales on Saturday morning with a protest march kicking off a weekend of activities.

Hundreds of people walked down Grand Avenue from the Quality Hotel Americana to the international boundary, waving banners and chanting slogans as part of SOA Watch's first "Encuentro at the Border." And while SOA Watch has focused its efforts on closing a military training facility, participants in Saturday's march represented a broad range of progressive political causes, including demilitarizing the border, fair wages, Black Lives Matter and compassion for refugees.

A schedule of events includes concerts, workshops, a march and interfaith ceremony at the border fence.

The goals of the event, SOA Watch says on its website, are to "highlight U.S. intervention in Latin America as one of the root causes of migration," and "stage protests, cultural events, and nonviolent direct action against racism, xenophobia and U.S. militarization at home and abroad."

The activities are scheduled on both sides of Ambos Nogales, as well as Tucson. The four-day rally kicked off Friday with a protest outside an immigration detention center in Eloy.

SOA Watch, founded by Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois, first began protesting the U.S. Army School of the Americas in Columbus, Ga., now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, in 1990. Founded in 1946, by the 1960s the SOA had become a "counterinsurgency" training center for Latin American dictatorships friendly to the United States, with a number of its graduates accused of human rights violations.

The school was rebranded the WHISC in 2001 as part of an effort to bring more transparency and human rights accountability to its operations. Even so, SOA Watch has continued to call for the institute to be closed, saying the changes "are almost entirely cosmetic."

However, according to the Columbus, Ga.-based Ledger-Enquirer, the number of people participating in the annual protest there had dwindled from more than 20,000 to fewer than 2,000.


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