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  1. 1. 2004 Vigil Action Organizing Packet We are grateful to our sisters and brothers throughout Latin America for their inspiration and the invitation to accompany them in their The Organizingeconomic and struggle for Packet is a resource to answer your questions and assist you in organizing and mobilizing for your trip to Washington. The packet is divided into four sections: • INFORMATION ABOUT THE WEEKEND • LOGISTICAL INFORMATION (General info, Maps, Places to Stay) November 19 – 21, 2004 • RESOURCES AND ORGANIZING TIPS • MATERIALS FOR YOUR OUTREACH We want to thank you for all the great work you are doing. Feel free to contact us by phone (202-234-3440) or email (info@soaw.org) with any MASSIVE RALLY AND questions you might have. We look forward to seeing you in November. Keep on Walking NONVIOLENT Forward! In Solidarity, DIRECT ACTION TO SOA Watch
  2. 2. Organizing Packet November 2004 Vigil and Action Index Section I - Information about the weekend • What can I expect at Fort Benning? • Nonviolence guidelines Section II - Logistical Information • Call for Volunteers • Places to Stay • Map of Columbus, GA Section III - Resources, Organizing Tips • History of the SOA Watch Movement • Organizing Timeline • Seven Steps to Local Media Coverage • Sample Press Release • Sample Letter to the Editor • Talking Points to Close the SOA/WHINSEC • Tips for Making Contact with Congress • Sample Letters to Congress • FUNdraising Tips • Song Sheet • Musicians Resource List • Resource Order Form Section IV - Material for your Outreach • November Flier (English) • November Flier (Spanish) • Poster for Video Showing SOA Watch ~ PO Box 4566 ~ Washington DC 20017 ~ phone: (202) 234 3440 ~ info@soaw.org ~ www.soaw.org
  3. 3. November 2004 Vigil and Direct Action to Close the School of Assassins I. What Can We Expect? What will happen at Ft. Benning in November? November marks the anniversary of the assassination of two women and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador in 1989. Nineteen of the twenty-six Salvadoran army officers cited by a UN Truth Commission for this atrocity were trained at the School of the Americas. Each year at this time, thousands gather at the gates of Ft. Benning to memorialize those who have died at the hands of soldiers trained at this school as well as to take action in opposition to this training and the U.S. foreign policy it represents. A more detailed schedule will be available in early fall, but here is a brief look at the weekend’s events: Friday and Saturday: trainings and orientation sessions; women’s, men’s, gender queer caucuses; labor and student caucuses; the Colombia teach-in hosted by the national Mobilization on Colombia; meetings of groups like Veterans for Peace, Witness for Peace, Pax Christi, SOA Watch former prisoners and probationers of conscience, Catholic Worker Communities, and more Saturday: rally at the gate during the day; cultural event/ concert at night Saturday night: Spokes council meeting for affinity groups Sunday: memorial service and solemn funeral procession followed by puppets and festival of resistance What is the scenario for the civil resistance? Early Sunday morning, a memorial service will be held for the Jesuit martyrs and for all of the victims of SOA violence in Latin America. It will be immediately followed by an orderly, solemn procession led by coffin bearers. Each coffin will have the name of one of the martyrs. Thousands of mourners, lined up beforehand several abreast, will follow the coffins. Each person will carry a white wooden cross, a Star of David, flowers or other memorial symbols of their choosing (please bring your own.) The funeral procession will be part of a massive nonviolent direct action of civil resistance. Affinity groups are invited to implement creative nonviolent actions of their own as part of the scenario at the main gate, on the military base or at other places. Each affinity group is encouraged to express their resistance, as they feel called. Some of these actions may be reverent in tone, similar to the traditional funeral procession, while others will have a spirit that is more celebratory. We ask only that actions planned remain within the SOA Watch nonviolent action guidelines (see the guidelines in this packet.) Affinity group representatives at a spokes council meeting on Saturday night will finalize the scenario and coordinate how and when the actions occur. Will this scenario maintain the spirit of reverence and unity as in previous years? We will process into Ft. Benning this year with the same spirit of reverence for those who have gone before us and have inspired so many to deepen their resistance to the violence of the SOA. The funeral procession will provide the same opportunity for people to come together to express their grief and their outrage, and to feel the hope that comes from sharing that experience with so many. Within our movement, many have felt the need to express resistance in new ways, ways that may involve higher levels of risk. We have heard the call for an opportunity to do that as part of the November vigil, in solidarity with sisters and brothers from all over the country and beyond our borders.
  4. 4. The scenario for this year’s vigil allows for this to happen in a way that does not interfere with the traditional funeral procession; but is an extension of it. Though our resistance may take different forms this year, it will all be part of the same unified presence. What are the risks if I cross the line? Anyone crossing the line is technically at risk for arrest, prosecution and imprisonment. We cannot predict with certainty how the police, MP’s and courts will react to the scenario this year. In the past some people thought that first-time crossers were rarely prosecuted. That has changed. You should not cross the line unless you are prepared for the possibility of prosecution. Though we cannot predict what will happen this year, we can tell you our assessments of the risk levels based on ten years of experience with nonviolent direct action at Fort Benning: -- The fence and gates are across the Ft. Benning property line. Anyone who approaches the fence has technically crossed the line onto base property. In the last two years that the fence has been erected, no one was arrested during the funeral procession who did not go around, under, or through the fence. Those who adorned the fence with their memorial symbols or participated in a die-in in front of the gates were not arrested. -- Until 2001, there was no fence or gates at the main entrance and thousands of people crossed the line as part of the funeral procession. Police responses varied from year to year, but in general, all who crossed the line were arrested and either processed at the MP station and released, or simply driven off of the base and released. When processed at the MP station, first-time crossers were given a ban and bar letter prohibiting them from entering the base again under threat of imprisonment and prosecution. Repeat crossers were released and later notified to appear in federal court on trespassing charges. More than 70 people have been prosecuted this way and received sentences ranging from one year of supervised probation to one year in prison and sometimes a fine of up to $5000. -- In the past three years, people who have gone around, under, or through the fence have generally been prosecuted and almost all sentenced to probation or prison, and some received fines. In November 2001, more than 80 people went around or under the fence and were arrested on base property. 43 people were prosecuted, including some first-timers, repeat crossers and people who did not intend to risk arrest at all. Some had entered the base to attend a publicly advertised human rights presentation at the school, others simply made a wrong turn onto the base and were arrested. In November 2002 over 90 people crossed the line and were arrested on the grounds of Ft. Benning. This was the first year that the federal magistrate set a bond of $5,000 for the 86 who were arrested. This group also included first-timers and repeat crossers. It is difficult to predict what will happen this year. Again, everyone entering the Ft. Benning property for any reason, whether or not they have a ban and bar, should be prepared to face arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment. Will legal representation be provided? In previous years, pro-bono legal representation has been provided to those arrested at the November action. Organizing of a legal collective for next November is beginning now. Information will be available in the early fall as to exactly what level of legal support will be provided, both on-site during the event and through any arrests, prosecution and imprisonment that will follow. Is jail solidarity being organized? Jail/Court Solidarity is the name for a variety of tactics we use to take care of each other while we’re in the legal system. Jail/Court Solidarity involves a combination of noncooperation techniques and collective bargaining.
  5. 5. Although jails and courts are designed to make us feel powerless, through solidarity we can gain better control over what happens to us. By making decisions as a group and by acting in unity with each other we commit ourselves to safeguard each other’s well-being. Jail/Court Solidarity has been effectively used in the civil rights, peace, environmental and other movements to protect activists who were arrested. Jail solidarity requires considerable organization, advance planning and outside support. While SOA Watch fully supports jail solidarity as a tactic to be used in conjunction with the November vigil and action, we are not sure if we will have the resources to effectively organize a solidarity action this year. Currently our organizing energy is going into the formation of a legal collective to be available to respond to the needs of anyone arrested at Ft. Benning this year. II. Decision-Making How are decisions made for the November vigil action? Each year, SOA Watch holds a strategy meeting. Activists representing groups from around the country come to Washington, DC to discuss issues that will affect the movement over the coming year. A significant amount of the meeting is devoted to evaluating the November action and strategizing for the following year. The next strategy meeting will be in February 2005. Please contact the SOA Watch office for more information on attending. The SOA Watch staff and the SOA Watch grassroots council meet over the ensuing months to incorporate that input SOME DEFINITIONS into a broad scenario for the vigil action in November. Then the --An affinity group is a self-sufficient vigil is organized by the November Coordinating Team that support system of, ideally, about 5 tp 15 includes a representative from each November Working group. people who have been brought together at Working groups form to make the scenario more specific and to a nonviolence training or have existing ties implement it. Working groups include: puppets/street theater, such as friendship, living in the same area or having similar spiritual or political stage/program, peacekeepers, scenario/direct action, legal, beliefs. These groups often form so that medics, logistics, media and others. These groups are open to people with common values or goals can new members. be of support to each other during nonviolent direct action. Ideally, the group How will on-site or crisis decisions be made will begin meeting well in advance of any action to build trust, clarify common values this November? and come to concensus on a plan of Decisions about how to coordinate the nonviolent direct actions action. Not all members have to take the within the framework of the overall gathering will be made by the same arrest risk; in fact, it is common that affinity group spokes council. Crisis decisions affecting the one or more persons will remain non- gathering as a whole will be made by the coordinating team. arrestable supporters. (See sidebar for more information on affinity groups, spokes --The spokescouncil is a body made up councils and coordinating teams.) of empowered representatives from each affinity group which meets Saturday evening at a location to be announced, to III. Affinity Groups and Consensus review and discuss the Sunday scenario. Decisions of the spokescouncil will be Decision-Making made by concensus. The spokescouncil Are affinity groups only for those risking also empowers a spokesperson to represent the group on the coordinating arrest? team. We encourage everyone to come to Ft. Benning as part of an --The coordinating team meets monthly affinity group. There are roles within an affinity group for those for eight months prior to the vigil and risking arrest and for their support people. The group will agree gathers throughout the vigil weekend to go upon roles in advance. These roles include, but are not limited to: over the tasks that need to be done in media coordinator, medic, vibes-watcher (someone to keep tabs order to carry out each activity. A on the overall mood, morale and well being of the group) and representative from each working group, support people. Each affinity group determines their own roles as well as the SOA Watch staff, are and responsibilities. included in the team. On Saturday night, a representative from the affinity group The role of the support person is crucial. This is someone who spokescouncil is added to the team, and will track those arrested through the entire process. The support this body becomes the emergency person will have all relevant contact information for those arrested decision-making body during the civil resistance and affinity group actions on Sunday.
  6. 6. and will keep their loved ones informed throughout. Also, the support person will be aware of the responsibilities of those arrested and if the process takes longer than expected, will see that those responsibilities are attended to. This person will be aware of any medical needs among those arrested and will advocate with the authorities to see that those needs are met. Why are affinity groups being encouraged at Ft. Benning? A sense of solidarity- There is great diversity in this movement to close the SOA. People from all walks of life gather at the entrance to Ft. Benning each year. The affinity group structure provides a way to participate in a large-scale vigil like this one while maintaining cohesion within a smaller, more focused group. Affinity groups can carry flags or banners to let everyone know that your city, state, school, religious group or other affiliation is represented there. The decision-making process is very empowering- Affinity groups provide the basis for decision-making. Most affinity groups use the consensus process, to ensure that everyone's voice is represented. With thousands of people crossing the line, there is no way to include everyone in a discussion about unexpected events. If the police or MP's surprise us with their response, those in affinity groups will have a small, trusted group to process things with and decide what to do. Through the affinity group structure, there is an opportunity for your voice to be represented to the entire group. Each affinity group will empower a spokesperson to represent them at a meeting with representatives from all of the other affinity groups. This group would be represented in any crisis decisions that affect the vigil as a whole. (See section on decision- making process.) They provide invaluable support- When approached alone, the process of arrest, prosecution and imprisonment can be overwhelming. Affinity groups provide invaluable support through every step of that process. Also, in such a large action, there is no way that the organizers can provide adequate support to those arrested. Only someone from their affinity group can really be aware of all of the needs that should be followed up on. Where can I learn more about affinity groups and consensus process? Local nonviolence training teams can help affinity groups to form and information on affinity groups and consensus will be available at the trainings (See section on nonviolence training.) The Gandhian Wave is an excellent manual designed to aid affinity groups planning actions at Ft. Benning. For information on how to order one, see the resource page of this packet or contact Ed Kinane and Ann Tiffany, who compiled the manual, at (315) 478-4571 or edkinane@a-znet.com IV. Nonviolence Trainings and Logistics/ Orientation It is important that everyone participating in the vigil and action be well prepared. We ask that all participants attend a local nonviolence training session before coming to Ft. Benning (see below.) In addition it is important that everyone attend one of the logistics and orientation sessions in Columbus. Each will be offered at more than one time. One session will be for those crossing the line with the traditional funeral procession, another will be for those planning or wanting to join an affinity group action. These sessions will be offered on Saturday. A detailed schedule is available on our webpage. Contact the SOA Watch office if you are unsure of which session to attend. Do I need to attend a nonviolence training session? Everyone planning to cross the line or engage in any form of nonviolent direct action should attend a nonviolence training session. Everyone attending the vigil is also encouraged to attend a session. The skills learned are useful for everyone participating in any vigil, demonstration or public witness event. However, it is specific to doing nonviolence civil resistance at Ft. Benning; the training sessions will include specific information about this year's scenario because the nonviolence training teams have been oriented to issues
  7. 7. that are particular to this year's action. It is better to begin thinking through and discussing these things now than when you arrive in Columbus. I've been to nonviolence trainings before, why should I go again? Nonviolence training is an ongoing process that, hopefully, continues throughout our lives. We can't go to a few sessions and consider ourselves "trained". Every nonviolence training session is different. Each combination of facilitators and participants produces different discussions, different insights. These sessions are good opportunities to strengthen your local community. Your input into the discussions will be helpful to some less experienced members of the group. You may be refreshed by new perspectives on issues you've been dealing with for a long time. Will there be nonviolence training sessions offered in Columbus? A collective is forming which may be able to offer nonviolence training sessions in Columbus this year. If these trainings occur, they will likely be held earlier in the week. For people arriving Friday or later, we recommend attending a nonviolence training session in your local community before coming to town. Contact our national office with questions. Check out www.SOAW.org for local listings of specific training events. Will the logistics and orientation sessions substitute for nonviolence training? No. The logistics and orientation sessions are large group gatherings that provide important information about the scenario, including possible last minute changes. While they will include a review of the nonviolent action guidelines and the opportunity to ask questions about the scenario, the guidelines and legal issues, it is not a substitute for a nonviolence training.
  8. 8. SOA Watch Nonviolence Guidelines School of the Americas Watch asks all people who attend the vigil and demonstration at Ft. Benning to carry on the tradition of the movement by respecting some basic nonviolence guidelines while at the demonstration. SOA Watch Nonviolence Pledge Every November those risking arrest and those vigiling at Benning recite the SOA Watch Nonviolence Pledge. We do it aloud together -- first, during the mass orientation sessions on Saturday, and then Sunday morning just before many of us enter the base. We ask that you and your affinity group reflect upon and respect these commitments during your SOA Vigil Action: Our goal is to expose and close the School of the Americas/ WHINSEC and to resist the oppressive policies and systems that it represents. We act in solidarity with our Latin American sisters and brothers and all those around the world whose lives are impacted by these policies, as one part of an international struggle for human rights and global justice. As SOA Watch we gather in the diverse traditions of nonviolence, with respect for the right to self- determination of oppressed peoples and communities. Together we envision a day in which a culture of peace with justice and respect for Earth will prevail, where all people will live together free from oppression. This weekend, in our tradition of nonviolence: • we will gather together in a manner that reflects the world we choose to create. • we will promote an alternative to domination systems by acting with love, respect, mutuality, compassion, and acceptance for the interdependence of all life. • we will struggle for a world free from violence and we will use actions, words and symbols consistent with this struggle. • we will not use or instigate violence against any person. • we will act with respect for the people and property of the local community. • we will promote the safety of ourselves and others through our actions and interactions. We commit to recognize and to work dismantle all forms of oppression in our personal relationships, local neighborhoods, globally and with Earth itself. We will return to our communities with renewed energy to close the SOA/ WHINSEC.
  9. 9. A Call for Peacekeepers, Volunteers, Banner-Holders and Sign-Raisers! ____________________________________________ Peacekeepers “Peacekeeping,” as a role at Ft. Benning, has evolved over the past six years from a handful of self-selected individuals to a national recruiting effort which involves months of planning and hundreds of volunteers. So, we welcome you as a Peacekeeper at Ft. Benning. We expect that our peacekeepers not only be committed to nonviolence as a lifestyle, but also to have had nonviolence training. Experience as a peacekeeper is desirable but not required. In addition to experience and training in nonviolence, there are some other attributes peacekeepers agree to share that go beyond those contributed by witnesses who choose to share by their presence alone. If you can be a peacekeeper contact SOA Watch DC: info@soaw.org or 202-234-3440. Peacekeeper Roles* • Act as a communication network. Peacekeepers are aware of the timeframe of the action and the schedule of events in order to provide an important face-to-face communication link between the coordinators and the participants. • Provide emergency communication. Because they stand outside the “procession” and are more visible, they can play an important supportive role for persons who need emergency assistance. They should know whom to contact and how if assistance is needed. • Act as mediators between authorities and demonstrators. It is very important to have peacekeepers as buffers between law enforcement authorities, possible counter-demonstrators, and demonstrators. Peacekeepers are responsible for maintaining the “nonviolent” self-discipline of the action and act as mediators in confrontations between authorities and demonstrators. *adapted from Rocky Flats Action Group nonviolence manual Volunteers and Working Groups To coordinate this event, Working Groups have been developed to focus on specific aspects of the vigil. They are anti oppression/diversity, caucus/outreach, Colombia teach-in, legal support/solidarity, legislative push, media, money collection, peacekeepers, scenario/direct action, stage/program, tabling, training, logistics, volunteers, medics, hospitality, women’s caucus, translation, and street theatre/puppets. If you have previous experience or a particular interest in a particular group, please let us know at SOA Watch DC: info@soaw.org or 202-234-3440. Form your Affinity Group and plan for Direct Action Start building your affinity group together with people who trust and support each other. Talk about your ideas for direct action and bring them to the spokes council meeting in Georgia. Banner-Holders and Sign-Raisers Don’t forget to bring your banners, signs, crosses, stars of David, flowers or other memorial symbols.
  10. 10. Places to Stay When calling, ask for the SOA Watch Group Rate. This will allow you access to rooms already reserved in our name, many at a discount. Columbus, GA Baymont Inn & Suites 706-323-4344 Best Western 706-568-3300 Comfort Suites 706-322-6666 Days Inn – Victory Dr. 706-689-6181 Days Inn – Exit 6 706-561-4400 Extended Stay America 706-653-0131 Econo Lodge 706-682-3803 Hampton Inn 706-576-5303 Holiday Inn North 706-324-0231 Heritage Inn 706-322-2522 Howard Johnson Inn 706-322-6641 La Quinta Inn 706-568-1740 Mariott 706-323-2323 Motel 6 706-687-7214 Sheraton Inn 706-327-6868 Super 8 Hotel 706-322-6580 Wingate Hotel, Exit 10 706-225-1000 Country Inn and Suites 706-660-1880 Phenix City, AL Colonial Inn 334-298-9361 Days Inn 334-298-1005 Holiday Inn Express 334-298-9321 Ramada Inn 334-448-2030 Howard Johnson 334-298-8000 Pine Mountain, GA Callaway Gardens Resort 800-225-5292 Davis Inn 706-663-2522 Huckelberry Inn 706-663-9343 Camping Lake Pines Campground 706-563-5909 (recording) 706-561-9675 (person) Pine Mtn. Campground 706-663-4329 Roosevelt State Park 800-864-7275
  11. 11. Map of Columbus, Georgia Victory Drive M Traveling to Columbus, GA by car: Take I-185 South to Exit 1B, Victory Drive/Rt. 27 North. This is the last exit before the military base! Be careful: Last year, 15 people on their way to the vigil missed the exit, were identified by military police as SOA opponents and were then arrested, harassed and incarcerated for up to two days. They were charged with trespass, a charge carrying a penalty of up to six months in federal prison. Their charges were not dropped until four days before their trial date in January of 2004. Turn left at the third light onto Ft. Benning Road. The main gates and vigil site are on this road less than a mile ahead. Parking is very limited.
  12. 12. A brief history of the SOA Watch Movement On Nov. 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter were massacred in El Salvador. A US Congressional Task Force reported that most of the killers were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Ft. Benning, GA. Since then, evidence of atrocious human rights abuses that have been committed against the people of Latin America, have come back to point to those trained at the SOA. SOA Watch began in a tiny apartment outside the main gate of Ft. Benning by Fr. Roy Bourgeois in 1990. The vigils and activities quickly grew, drawing upon the knowledge and experience of many in the U.S. who had worked with people in Latin America in the 1970’s and 80’s. Today, SOA Watch is a large, grassroots movement rooted in solidarity with the people most affected by the SOA- poor and oppressed. The main goal of SOA Watch is to close the SOA, but also to challenge U.S. foreign policy in Latin America by educating the public, lobbying Congress and participating in creative, nonviolent resistance. In response to the success of constituent pressure on Congress, the Pentagon launched a public relations campaign to give the SOA a new image. Their most brazen act was to simply rename the school to “The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC)” which took effect in Jan. 2001. You can change the name, but you can’t take away the shame! Despite cosmetic changes that have occurred throughout the last decade clearly in direct response to grassroots exposure, people of conscience all over the world continue to call for an end to this institution that is connected to so much bloodshed and suffering. There is much work to be done and we invite you to join the SOA Watch movement:  SOA Watch is rooted in non-violence and civil disobedience. Over the years… o Thousands of people have participated in other acts of civil disobedience at the SOA or at the Pentagon. Almost 300 people have been tried, resulting in 193 prison sentences ranging from 3 – 24 months and 51 probation sentences ranging from 6 – 12 months. Most defendants have also received fines ranging from $500- $3,000. o Activists have fasted and lobbied- 10 activists in 1990 participated in a 35-day water-only fast at the main gate of Fort Benning; 11 activists held a 40-day juice- only fast on the Capitol steps in 1994; 17 held a 31-day juice-only fast at the main gate in 2001.  SOA Watch includes many active, hardworking SOA Watch groups in the U.S. and beyond it’s borders.  SOA Watch is strengthened by many faith communities, student groups, national and local labor unions and organizations, Veterans for Peace chapters around the country. We are grateful to our sisters and brothers of Latin America for their inspiration and invitation to accompany them in their struggle for peace and justice. We also acknowledge the hard work and many sacrifices made by the following organizations, groups, and individuals in the SOA Watch Movement.
  13. 13. SOA and SOA Watch Timeline Early 1800s onvward: Numerous US land grabs and interventions in Latin America & the Caribbean 1946: SOA predecessor opens in Panama 1970s: Somoza’s Nicaraguan National Guard trains at the SOA 1980s: Civil War of El Salvador. Salvadoran military—including the Atlacatl Battalion—train at the SOA 1983: Fr. Roy Bourgeois, impersonating an officer, enters Ft. Benning, climbs tree next to the Salvadoran barracks, and after dark loudly plays the tape of Archbishop Oscar Romero’s last homily. Gets 18 months in prison. 1984: Booted out of Panama, the SOA “School of Coups” moves to Ft. Benning, GA. 1989: On Nov. 16 the Atlacatl Battalion perpetrates the Jesuit massacre at University of Central America in San Salvador. 1990: Roy moves into tiny apartment across the street from Ft. Benning’s main entrance and founds SOA Watch. Roy, Kathy Kelly, and eight others do a 35-day water-only fast at Benning’s main gate. 1993: Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) introduces anti-SOA bill—we lose by 87 votes. 1994: On Jan. 1, in response to NAFTA, the Zapatistas rise up in Mexico; the number of Mexican soldiers sent to the SOA increases sharply. Roy and ten others do a 40-day juice-only fast on the steps of the Capitol in DC. Joe Kennedy introduces second bill to close SOA—we lose by 42 votes. 1995: Beginning of strategy to do direct actions at Ft. Benning’s main entrance every November on or just after November 16. On November 16 some of the “SOA 13” simulate Jesuit massacre at the gate; octogenarian Judge J. Robert Elliott gives each a sentence ranging from two to six months in federal prison for “trespass.” 1996: Carol Richardson opens SOA Watch office in DC to do legislative work. Pentagon forced to release SOA training manuals; numerous passages encourage torture, extortion, and “neutralizing” and in general are permeated with contempt for law and democracy. 1997: Six hundred briefly detained for “crossing the line.” Orbis Books publishes Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer’s School of Assassins (revised edition 2001). 1998: Over 2,000 cross the line—with 8,000 supporters present; one of the largest civil disobedience actions in the US since the Viet Nam War. There are no prosecutions. 1999: Over 4,000 cross the line—with 6,000 present. The following year 10 of these go to prison for three months each. 2000: Several thousand cross the line—with thousands of supporters present. 26 “recidivists” are prosecuted; one gets probation; 25 get prison—most for six months. SOA Watchers take part in A16, the anti-World Bank mobilization; many spend five nights in the DC jail doing jail solidarity. “Gandhian Wave” civil disobedience actions begin” periodically as SOA Watchers do direct actions at the SOA or at the main gate apart from the annual November vigil action. In December the SOA “closes,” i.e. takes a holiday break. 2001: In January the SOA re-opens under a new alias: the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Within months, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduces HR 1810 calling for a close to WHISC. 2002: In a historic ruling, Judge Faircloth acknowledges the right to assemble as endowed by the First Amendments, and grants SOA Watch protestors the right to continue gathering at the gates of Fort Benning each November. 43 faced trial in July 2002 for civil resistance at the gates of Fort Benning. 2003: Representative Jim McGovern and 49 other Representatives introduce HR1258 and vow to bring it to a vote in this congressional session. 27 people are sentenced to 12 months probation to 6 months of jail time for their civil disobedience at the gates of Ft. Benning. 2004: Activists around the country prepare to travel to Ft. Benning to protest the SOA, November 19th –21st. *special thanks to Ed Kinane who compiled most of this information
  14. 14. Before You Come. . . AND After you Leave. . . As you prepare to join us for the November 19th-21st vigil to Close the SOA, we know that there is a lot to do. Below is an outline of some of the many things to keep in mind as you are organizing in solidarity with the people of Latin America to Close the SOA! The contents of the outline are very general; tailor the information for your area and group. To Do in the Summer and September • Promote the trip – Advertise the November Vigil and invite others to join you. • Transportation – It’s never too early to start thinking about how you will be getting to Columbus, Georgia. Many bus and van rental companies become booked several months in advance. Call to reserve the vehicle that is right for your group. Consider organizing a bus from your area and post the information on www.soaw.org • Sponsor a local Nonviolence Training – Schedule a training between June and early November to prepare your group for Direct Action. If you or someone from your group would like to learn how to offer a SOAW nonviolence training, please attend one of the regional Train the Trainers events in July, August or September (visit www.soaw.org for more details). If you would like to be connected with a local trainer or invite a national trainer to your area please contact Eric M. LeCompte at elecompte@soaw.org or (202) 234-3440. • Sponsor a Close the SOA! Event – Show an SOA video (See the Resource List) or invite an SOAW Prisoner of Conscience (POC) (visit www.soaw.org to see if a POC is in your area) or someone who has attended the vigil before to speak on the SOA and the November Vigil. • Where will I stay? – Make arrangements for housing while your group will be in Columbus, Georgia. Check www.soaw.org for some housing suggestions or the Hotel and Camping List. To Do in October • Set-up a local Congressional Visit – You should try and set up a meeting with your member in the House to let them know you want them to sponsor HR 1258 to close the SOA/WHISC or thank them for their support on HR 1258. Set up the meeting for either before you leave or for after you return. If they are already a co-sponsor invite her/him to speak at the vigil. Call as soon as you can. See enclosed legislative materials. • Letters to Congress – Organize your group to send letters on your opposition to the SOA/WHISC to your congressperson. Let your congressperson know that you and others are travelling to Ft. Benning to Close the SOA! and you want your representative to sponsor HR1258 to Close the SOA! Check http://www.soaw.org/ and click on “Take Action” for more legislative actions and resources and note enclosed resources. Contact the SOAW office for a lobby packet with even more info! • Presentation to local religious congregation, community organization and/or union or labor council – Let people know that you are going to the vigil action in Georgia and why you are going. Invite the group to contact Congress about the SOA. To Do in November • The media wants to know – Contact the editor of your Local/Metro news page the first week in November. Introduce yourself and tell her/him about what you are going to do. Ask her/him what information they need to cover the story. Call the Nation/News editor to see if they are sending a reporter, if not ask that they use the wire story for the Nation/News section. Note packet media pieces. • Press Release – Because this is a local news story, send a press advisory (see enclosed materials) a week before you leave. Call and make sure the news outlet received the press release and ask them which reporter will cover the story. Call these media contacts when you are in Columbus to give them updates. Follow-up with her/him when you return home. Post the release on your local Independent Media website (To look for the site nearest to you check www.indymedia.com). To Do After the November Vigil • Follow-up – Be sure to contact your congressperson to keep them informed on these issues. Contact your local news outlets with the outcome of the weekend.
  15. 15. • De-brief – Meet with your local group and evaluate how the trip went, commit to next steps and begin to implement those steps. Use the momentum of your November Vigil trip to promote the next SOA Watch event, the Spring Lobby Days to Close the SOA!
  16. 16. 7 Steps to Local Media Coverage As your group organizes car caravans, buses, and plane rides to travel to Fort Benning this November, think and plan ahead about how to educate people in your community about the School of the Americas, why you are going to Fort Benning, and why they should get involved. One useful tool is the media. Media coverage of the annual vigil in Ft. Benning, GA, as well as local and national media coverage at trials of those charged for “crossing the line” or other acts of civil disobedience to close the SOA/ WHISC is growing. Organizing media work around such events are a popular way of using the print, radio, and television outlets to get the word out. In order to do this for the 2004 November Vigil, we need to first assess where we are and then strengthen local media work. Seven steps for your group to consider: 1) Assess where you are now. What has been your track record of local print and broadcast coverage? Do you need to learn or brush up on media skills? Who has been your spokesperson/s so far? Have new people become involved who could take on that role? Is everyone prepared to make a statement about why s/he is participating in this movement? Who are sympathetic editors and reporters? Which print and broadcast editors and reporters need some education? 2) Find a local “hook.” What is it about your group that is connected to the local community? If you are involved in a local group/organization it is important to mention your involvement in that group. An example would be: A Rosa House Peace Community/ Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation’s press release in 1998 identified the members as educators (in schools and community-based) who carried signs that urged "Teach Peace" and "Close this School," and they were quoted as linking violence in schools with US government violence. 3) Use independent and alternative media. The IndyMedia movement web sites at www.indymedia.org give all of us the opportunity to post stories and photos, in our own words. Go to the web site nearest you and fill in the blanks! Are there alternative newspapers and/or radio programs in your area? Does your information appear in religious, labor and community newsletters? This requires some research on your part to search for those local media outlets that would be most likely to cover your story.
  17. 17. 4) Tie in with national media. List the SOA Watch national office phone number (202-234 3440) underneath a local phone number at the top of your press releases, and cite www.soaw.org/newsroom as a source for more information. 5) Varied and simultaneous submissions: All of your media work doesn’t need to be a major press release or statement. Submit regular, brief announcements of organizing meetings, bus or van trip availability, educational resources (speakers bureau or videos). Send to city desk, community news and religion editors. Remember weekly bulletins of houses of worship, union publications and community newsletters. 6) Some go, some stay. It is important to develop a comprehensive list of everyone from your area who is traveling to Fort Benning with their names, ages, occupations, religious affiliations to attach to your press release. People who can’t go to Fort Benning should organize a support event and have media spokespeople available (and be pro-active, making press calls) throughout the week to increase your chances of local coverage of the national action 7) Call home! Don’t lose the story after the trip and actions. As you set out for home, your local media outlets are getting the story from our media team over the network feeds and wire services. Plan to call them with news of your local group and increase your chances for a longer, more accurate story. You can arrange for this before you leave, or (even better!) your stay-at-home media support team can set up interviews. Your Fort Benning media team checks in to find out which local outlets are interested and what they have covered so far. Be prepared with cell phones and/or pre-paid calling cards. Planning Your Media Work The schedule for your work will depend on local plans and progress, but a suggested timeline is: • Late September and early October: announce local participation in the national action; how to contact your local SOA Watch group; road shows, speakers, videos. • Late October and early November: keep your organizing newsworthy by hosting a speaker, creating a mock cemetery, puppet parade or other visual event. Announce additional local/regional organizational endorsements and growing travel plans. Seek out a related feature story on nonviolence training, puppet or banner making. Plan your local media support actions for the Spring Mobilization and Lobby Days. • Early to mid November: build the momentum by releasing numbers of citizens traveling to Washington, DC, some key or influential people in your local delegation, and the comprehensive list. Finalize plans for getting the news back home. And do it!
  18. 18. [School of the Americas Watch, or your group’s name] [www.soaw.org/newsroom, or your group’s website] [Date], 2004 for immediate release Local Contact: [Name and Phone Number] SOA Watch Contact: Eric LeCompte, 202.234.3440 [Your Town] Group to Travel to Georgia for National Demonstration to Close the School of the Americas [YOUR TOWN and State] - Residents of the [your town] community will join thousands from around the nation to call for the closure of the School of the Americas (SOA) at Ft. Benning, GA. The SOA, renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. The November 19 - 21 event commemorates the anniversary of the brutal 1989 assassination of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter in El Salvador. A UN Truth Commission report cited 26 officers responsible for the massacre. Nineteen of the officers cited were SOA graduates. The US State Department and Human Rights Watch continue to document atrocities committed by SOA graduates. “The SOA trains known human rights abusers on US soil,” said [local person], a member of the group traveling to Georgia. [Person’s name] and [number of others traveling] others will be leaving for Ft. Benning on [date of departure]. [More info about local group]. Last November, an estimated 10,000 people gathered at Ft. Benning to call for the closure of the notorious school. The SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in commando tactics, military intelligence, psychological operations and other counter-insurgency warfare. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. In 2000 Congress authorized the WHISC to replace the SOA. The renaming was widely viewed as the Pentagon’s attempt to diffuse public criticism and to disassociate the school from its dubious reputation at a time when SOA opponents were poised to win a senate vote on legislation that would have dismantled the school. “The first step toward justice and true accountability is to close the school,” said [ ]. “Then a truth commission will need to be installed to explore the full scope of SOA atrocities, and following that we’ll need to talk about reparations for the thousands of victims in Latin America.” The campaign to close the school continues to grow since the renaming. A broad movement of human rights groups, people of faith, students, veterans and others maintain that the underlying purpose of the school remains the same: to control the economic and political systems of Latin America by aiding and influencing Latin American militaries. New legislation to close the school (HR1258) was introduced in the House of Representatives. SOA Watch works to stand in solidarity with people of Latin America, to change oppressive US foreign policy, and to close the SOA/WHISC. [or your group’s mission sentence]
  19. 19. Sample Letter to the Editor Dear Editor: This weekend, November 19-21, I will join thousands in Columbus, Georgia to expose a glaring double standard in the "war on terrorism"—the School of the Americas (renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation). Graduates of this institution continue to be implicated in acts of terrorism—civilian-targeted killings—throughout Latin America. The SOA/WHINSEC, known popularly as the School of Assassins, has trained 60,000 Latin American soldiers in combat skills and psychological warfare. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocate torture, false imprisonment, extortion and execution. SOA graduates are cited for some of the most horrific atrocities in Latin America, including the El Mozote massacre of 900 civilians in El Salvador, the assassination of six Jesuits and their co-workers in San Salvador, terror campaigns against civilians and indigenous people in Guatemala, and recent massacres in Colombia. In response to public pressure, Congress authorized the WHINSEC to replace the SOA in December of 2000. The renaming was widely viewed as an attempt to diffuse public criticism and to disassociate the school from its dubious reputation at a time when SOA opponents were poised to win a Senate vote on legislation that would have dismantled the school. Even SOA supporters have characterized the reforms as “basically cosmetic.” The renaming maneuver has failed to fool the public. A growing movement of human rights groups, religious clergy and laypeople, students, veterans, unionists and many others will converge in Georgia this weekend, including a contingent from [your town]. We will demand that this terrorist training camp on US soil be shut down. The path to lasting peace and security can only be found if we implement foreign policy that reflects our ideals of justice and democracy. To learn more about the SOA/WHINSEC and efforts to close it, visit www.soaw.org or call 202-234-3440. Sincerely, [your name, address and contact info]
  20. 20. TALKING POINTS TO CLOSE THE SOA/ WHISC Asks: Representatives: Co-sponsor HR 1258, sponsored by Jim McGovern (MA). Senators: Introduce a Senate companion bill. • WHISC is the same as SOA Despite attempts to distant itself from its notorious history, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation has virtually the same vision, mission, curriculum, and oversight practices as the “closed” School of the Americas. The name change was an effort to silence opposition to the school without accepting accountability for wrong-doing. Reforms will never work because how can you reform such an undemocratic institution that refuses to acknowledge its past or ever learn from it? • Abuses continue—the problems are not a thing of the past The rampant encouragement of militarism adds only more deadly skills and weapons into already volatile situations. Check the SOAW website often for the growing list of news stories. Here are just a few recent ones: --An October 22, 2003 article in The Brownsville Herald (TX) reported that the notorious Gulf Drug Cartel has hired 31 ex-Mexican soldiers to be part of it’s hired assassin force, The Zetas. According to the Mexican secretary of defense, at least 1/3 of these deserters were trained at the SOA as part of the elite Special Air Mobile Force Group. Their highly specialized and dangerous weapons, training, and intelligence capabilities are now being used to increase the availability of the drugs and terrorize the region. The Mexican attorney general’s office implicates them in dozens of shootouts, kidnappings and executions of police officers. --In June 2002, Colombian police arrested SOA grad John Fredy Jiménez for the murder of Archbishop Isaías Duarte in March of that same year. --In April 2002, two SOA graduates, Army Commander in Chief Efrain Vasquez and General Ramirez Poveda, helped lead a failed coup in Venezuela. Additionally, Otto Reich, who sat on the renamed school’s Board of Visitors, met with the generals in the months preceding the coup. During the coup Reich advised business leader Pedro Carmona, who seized the presidency. --In June 2001, SOA graduate and former head of Guatemala’s notorious D-2 Intelligence Unit, Col. Byron Lima Estrada, along with his army captian son, former presidential bodyguard and a priest were convicted of the bludgeoning death of Bishop Gerardi. Human Rights Watch heralded this as, “the first time a Guatemalan court ruled that army officers cannot get away with murder.” Still, prosecuting human rights violators is a difficult process in which lawyers, judges and witnesses are constantly under threat of violence and death. Two days prior to his murder, Gerardi released a report on wartime human rights abuses that concluded the army was responsible for majority of the war’s 200,000 dead. --According to Human Rights Watch, Colombian SOA graduates Army Captain Juan Carlos Fernández López and Colonel Víctor Matamoros were indicted "for collaboration with and the formation of illegal paramilitary groups in 1997" and also between May and September of 1999 for "connection with a series of paramilitary massacres in and around La Gabarra, Norte de Santander." More than 145 people were killed by the paramilitaries. "In May 2002, the Human Rights Unit prosecutor in charge of the case was fired, leaving the fate of the case in question." The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed grief over the firing of key prosecutors, saying that it puts into question "the independence and autonomy of prosecutors working on investigations related to human rights violations, particularly when paramilitary groups and state agents are implicated." • SOA grads have been found to be major players in investigated human rights abuses; it’s not just a few bad apples. Over 2/3 of Salvadoran officers cited by the United Nations Truth Commission Report for human rights abuses; Over 50% of the Colombian officers cited in a definitive human rights report on Colombia; 40% of the cabinet members under three brutal Guatemalan dictatorships were all SOA graduates. The claim of “a few bad apples” cannot be made honestly since it is not substantiated by evidence. There is no tracking of graduates after they leave. In fact, there are no evaluative measures taken to determine the results of training of foreign security forces by the United States. The inability to gauge what alumni do with their skills after being trained, or the overall effect on the human rights situation in the host country makes it impossible to measure the “success” of training programs. The second part of the current legislation to close the school calls for a full investigation to assess education and training programs in Latin America. • Closing the SOA/WHISC is still necessary.
  21. 21. It spends millions of US taxpayer dollars and has trained some of the hemisphere’s worst human rights abusers. Teaching “democracy through the barrel of a gun” approach continues to bring suffering to the people of Latin America. THEY SAY/WE SAY: (Comments You Might Hear And Ways You Can Respond) THEY SAY: The students are screened, or “vetted” to ensure they have no history of human rights violations. WE SAY: Even though the Leahy Amendment requiring screening of applicants applies to WHISC, both pre and post screening of applicants remains woefully inadequate. Amnesty International’s 2002 report, Unmatched Power, Unmet Principles, details all of the loopholes and gaps that exist in the screening processes. The background screening of applicants nominated for training is inconsistent and variable. The standards for assessing the eligibility of nations that receive training are uneven and often contradictory. The host governments use equally irregular processes of tracking and punishing human rights violations. Another dangerous factor is impunity (or a freedom from persecution in exchange for conditions met, like information) that perpetuates the conditions in which paramilitaries thrive, as in Colombia. THEY SAY: The SOA changed its name and its focus. It has reformed. WE SAY: Past "reforms" have involved only a re-packaging of the same courses, this is more of the same. SOA supporter Georgia Senator Coverdell characterized the changes as "basically cosmetic". Furthermore, the SOA has never admitted to its legacy of torture and oppression nor taken responsibility for the actions of its notorious graduates. How is reform possible when they deny they have ever done anything wrong? Keeping the school open under any name sends a powerful anti-human rights message. THEY SAY: The focus of the "new" SOA is respect for human rights and democratic values. WE SAY: Despite efforts to spin itself as a school for democracy, the SOA remains primarily a military combat school. The majority of courses taught at SOA/WHISC are standard military fare including Cadet Leadership Development - Infantry, Intelligence Officer, and Engineer [Counterinsurgency] Operations. WE ALSO SAY: There is no evidence to support the claim that this type of training has any positive impact on the human rights conditions or the democratization of nations. The paramount purposes of the SOA/WHISC is as it always was—to protect the political and economic relationships of the United States. THEY SAY: We must train other militaries to be more professional. Or the countries of Latin America would be worse off if we weren’t training them. WE ALSO SAY: The realities of the host countries create situations where atrocities will only continue. For instance, Colombia, with over 10,000 troops trained at the SOA, is the school’s largest customer. In 2004, Colombia will send an estimated 337 students to WHISC (out of 811 total), while having the worst human rights record in the Western Hemisphere. According to the State Department’s Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Colombia in the year 2003, “The Government's human rights record remained poor… Impunity remained at the core of the country's human rights problems…evidence suggested there were tacit arrangements between local military officers and paramilitary groups. ” THEY SAY: The SOA/ WHISC is key to the war against drugs. Counter-narcotics training is the “new SOA” mission. WE SAY: The drug-scare tactic is just a smoke screen to allow the School to keep functioning as it always has. WE ALSO SAY: Current US drug policy is a failure, both here and abroad. Strengthening the military forces in Lain America does nothing to decrease drug use, drug-related crimes, or change the economic conditions that leave poor farmers few choices to survive other than growing illicit crops. What it does do is provide the kind of combat and counter-insurgency training that has had such devastating human rights consequences in the past. THEY SAY: Counterinsurgency, as taught at the SOA, is still valid military doctrine, necessary to fight armed insurgents who "terrorized the region." WE SAY: The 1999 Guatemalan Truth Commission Report concluded that 93% of human rights abuses during that country’s civil war were committed by military forces or state-connected civil patrols or death squads, not by armed insurgents. The report also concluded that US counterinsurgency training had "a significant bearing on human rights violations", and that the SOA was one location where such training took place.
  22. 22. WE ALSO SAY: As the lines between counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism and counterinsurgency missions continue to blur, the greater risk is that local forces that receive U.S. military assistance will become involved in human rights abuses. As political dissent, popular uprising, drug trafficking, and many other issues all continue to be lumped together as “terrorism,” violence will only continue and it is civilians who pay the price. Revised April 04
  23. 23. Tips for Making Contact With Your Members of Congress √ Scheduling a meeting with your Member of Congress (or their staff)  Call Web sites to find more info: http://congress.org/ (info about various elected officials) the office http://www.house.gov/ (click on “Member offices”) http://www.senate.gov/ (click on “List Senators Alphabetically”) where you http://thomas.loc.gov/ (links to all kinds of info about Congress, including bills) would like to To download materials and resources to help with your meetings: meet: This http://www.soaw.org/ (Click on “TAKE ACTION” Then “LEGISLATIVE ACTION”) contact information can be found at any of the web sites listed to the right. It can also usually be found in your local phone book. When you call, ask for the name of the scheduler and the foreign policy aide and tell them you would like to schedule a meeting.  Send your request in writing: For a meeting with the Member of Congress, the office will usually ask you to send a request in writing. Be very specific about what you want (a personal meeting) and what you would like to meet about (closing the SOA/WHISC!) Include any information the office requires, and make sure that there is correct contact information listed for at least one person in your group. Send the request to both the scheduler and the foreign policy aide.  Follow up on your request- be persistent: Call the office if no one has contacted you within a week. If it seems like it will be difficult to get a meeting with your Member of Congress at this time, you could ask to meet with the foreign policy aide. √ Get ready for the meeting with your Member of Congress (or their staff)  Prepare for the meeting: You do not need to be an expert, but you should be familiar with the basics of the issue you will be discussing. Familiarize yourself with the talking points to close the SOA. However, if you don’t know something, it is perfectly ok to say, “I don’t know, but I can look into.” It helps to become familiar with the Member’s latest position or actions on the issue. Call the SOAW office for notes on any previous meetings. Bring educational materials to leave and any other information that may be helpful to convey your message.  Draft an agenda and assign speaking parts: It should include introductions, issues, specific requests (in order or priority), summarizing points, thank yous and closing, and follow-up action steps. Establish a note taker for the group and pay close attention to any commitments made. It is a great idea to role-play or practice your meeting before you go, especially your specific ask for a commitment, for example,
  24. 24. “Can we count on your co-sponsorship (or vote or proactive leadership—depending on their current level of support)?”  Be polite, courteous, and on time: Showing up early is polite and it will give you a chance to think about the presentation of your talking points. Remain courteous throughout the meeting; even if you disagree on an issue, this may help make the Member more willing to reconsider her/his position or react favorably to future requests. Be a good listener. Remember to dress appropriately, and keep your agenda to the time allotted.  Be personable: Each participant in your group should introduce themselves. Talk briefly about your involvement in the community and any relevant group you belong to. Make sure to mention any leadership role you may have and thereby how many people you represent. Thank them if you know of positive actions they have taken or simply thank them for meeting with you. Establish a personal connection with the Representative, Senator, or aide in the meeting. Ask them to share their goals and what they care about. Share your own views and concerns.  State the purpose of your visit clearly: Remember to stick to the topic and talking points. Know what to say and make your requests clear. However, in addition to specific requests, don’t be afraid to ask the Member what else they could do on your issue. If you feel they are trying to steer you off track by talking about too many other issues, politely return to your main idea, “While this too is an important issue, I would really like to spend more time talking about closing the SOA/WHISC.”)  Follow up: Make sure you know the name of the aide to follow-up with. Ask for their card so that you can spell their name correctly and have their email address. Write the Member/aide a thank you note to express your appreciation and briefly restate the issues discussed and the way you would like to see them respond to the issue (i.e. co-sponsoring a bill to close the SOA/ WHISC). Thank the Member and offer yourselves as a resource in the future; always keep them up to date on the issue. Provide, or say when you will, any information that was requested during your meeting or will help emphasis your key points. √ Getting in touch with Congress Taking the Next Steps Congressional Switchboard 202-224-3121 [Your Representative] [Your Senator]  Get others involved: Part of following up Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20510 is also reporting back to your community and getting in touch with others who have organized similar meetings with Members of Congress. Strategize with others near you about which talking points work, and organize campaigns together. Call for a district or state-wide call-in day to demonstrate the support in the community: For example, on the first Friday of every month, call the local office you visited and urge others to do the same. Or on the first Tuesday of every month, call the DC office with the same talking points. Diversify your tactics and get more people involved each time, but stick to the same message: Close the SOA/WHISC!  Get in touch with SOA Watch: Another way to continue your work is to get in touch with SOA Watch. The office has even more materials and tips to help you take the next steps in lobbying. Ask for a lobby packet, and specifically ask for any hand-outs that might help you respond to specific questions raised by your Members of Congress.  Come to Washington, DC: Members of Congress and their staff are particularly impressed when people make the trip to DC personally. The SOAW office would also be more than happy to work with you on congressional visits any time throughout the year. Just call ahead to the SOA Watch office and your Members of Congress to arrange meetings.
  25. 25. Follow-up in the district: If your initial meeting was in Washington, DC, then follow-up with a meeting or action in the Congressional district. This also gives an opportunity for more people to get involved then just those who were able to travel all the way to DC.
  26. 26. SAMPLE LETTER TO CLOSE THE SOA/WHISC (To Representatives) This is just an example of the kind of letter you could write. It’s a great idea to personalize the letter, to be specific to your reasons to close the school and appeal to the issues that are important to your members of congress. The most important part of the letter is to clearly state what it is you want the member to do and why. Make sure you mention the bill number (when you have one). It is also a good idea to emphasize if you are a constituent and to mention larger groups you are a part of and/or directly represent (i.e. church, parish, professional association, alumni group, labor union, etc). Consult the SOA Watch website, www.soaw.org, for talking points, recent news stories and legislative updates. Call 202-234-3440 if you have questions or can’t access the web. For a more effective response from your member of congress, follow-up with a phone call to the office and speak directly with the staffer who handles foreign policy issues. [Street Address] [Town, State Zip code] [Date] The Honorable [full name] United States House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 Dear Representative [last name]: I am writing to urge you to support human rights in Latin America. Please co-sponsor HR 1258, a bill to close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), formerly the United States Army School of the Americas (SOA). The graduates of this institution have a long history of human rights violations. From the atrocities in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980's to recent violations in Colombia, SOA/WHISC graduates consistently appear in reports on human rights abuses in Latin America. SOA/WHISC training has resulted in civilian massacres, assassinations, disappearances, death threats and has led to both attempted and successful coups of democratically elected governments in the hemisphere. Despite efforts to silence opposition to the Ft. Benning-based training school through a name change and cosmetic changes, it is still a combat training school that provides dangerous skills and weaponry to countries with serious and current human rights problems. The proliferation of skills like counter-insurgency and psychological warfare in countries like Colombia, where impunity is offered to paramilitaries, only perpetuates the cycles of violence. Keeping the school open under any name sends a powerful anti-human rights message. Establishing reasonable living conditions for the people of Latin America and strengthening civil institutions will do more to stabilize the region than training militaries. Closing the SOA/WHISC, whatever its name, would demonstrate that the United States has made a clean break from the tragic history of the SOA/WHISC and its graduates. As your constituent, I urge you to co-sponsor HR 1258 and work for its passage in Congress. Currently, there are over 120 bi-partisan co-sponsors of the bill. Please contact Cindy Buhl in Representative McGovern’s office to include yourself in this legislation. Thank you for your time and commitment to this important matter. Sincerely,
  27. 27. [Your full name]
  28. 28. SAMPLE LETTER TO CLOSE THE SOA/WHISC (To Senators) This is just an example of the kind of letter you could write. It’s a great idea to personalize the letter, to be specific to your reasons to close the school and appeal to the issues that are important to your members of congress. The most important part of the letter is to clearly state what it is you want the member to do and why. Make sure you mention the bill number (when you have one). It is also a good idea to emphasize if you are a constituent and to mention larger groups you are a part of and/or directly represent (i.e. church, parish, professional association, alumni group, labor union, etc). Consult the SOA Watch website, www.soaw.org, for talking points, recent news stories and legislative updates. Call 202-234-3440 if you have questions or can’t access the web. For a more effective response from your member of congress, follow-up with a phone call to the office and speak directly with the staffer who handles foreign policy issues. [Street Address] [Town, State Zip code] [Date] The Honorable [full name] United States Senate Washington, DC 20510 Dear Senator [last name]: I am writing to urge you to support human rights in Latin America. The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), formerly the United States Army School of the Americas (SOA), should be closed. The graduates of this institution have a long history of human rights violations. From the atrocities in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980's to recent violations in Colombia, SOA/WHISC graduates consistently appear in reports on human rights abuses in Latin America. SOA/WHISC training has resulted in civilian massacres, assassinations, disappearances, death threats and has led to both attempted and successful coups of democratically elected governments in the hemisphere. Despite efforts to silence opposition to the Ft. Benning-based training school through a name change and cosmetic changes, it is still a combat training school that provides dangerous skills and weaponry to countries with serious and current human rights problems. The proliferation of skills like counter-insurgency and psychological warfare in countries like Colombia, where impunity is offered to paramilitaries, only perpetuates the cycles of violence. Keeping the school open under any name sends a powerful anti-human rights message. Establishing reasonable living conditions for the people of Latin America and strengthening civil institutions will do more to stabilize the region than training militaries. Closing the SOA/WHISC, whatever its name, would demonstrate that the United States has made a clean break from the tragic history of the SOA/WHISC and its graduates. As your constituent, I urge you sponsor companion legislation to HR 1258 to close the SOA/WHISC and establish a congressional task force to fully investigate the school’s past. Please write to me with your position on this issue so I can share it with many others who are also concerned about human rights. Thank you for your time and commitment to this important matter. Sincerely, [Your full name]
  29. 29. Fundraising Ideas Let’s face it. Most activists like ourselves can’t just shell out money for plane tickets and hotel reservations from our pockets! Making a trip out of town is a commitment that has a significant financial aspect. We are thankful for the sacrifices and energy you put into getting yourselves, and others, to Washington to strengthen our movement. Therefore, raising funds for your trip is most likely an important part of your organizing endeavors. It can seem daunting at times, but fundraising is beneficial in many ways…and it’s not just about the end total! Raising funds as an individual or group is a great outreach opportunity. View it as a way to get your family, friends, and community to share in your experience. Many times, circumstances do not allow for folks to get to out of town events, even if it means a great deal to them. In this case, it is a great way to contribute oneself to the movement and participate in this work! Following are some fundraising tips put out by Witness for Peace. Where to Start? • Begin with a goal in mind. How much do you want to raise? 50 percent? 100 percent? Knowing what you are personally able to put into the event will help determine how much others will need to help you. • Know the reasons why you are raising funds. Before asking anyone for anything, first answer the question: Why are we making this trip? Make a list of the three or four most compelling reasons for going to the School of the Americas Watch mobilization. These reasons should also include why people will want to help your cause, which helps to you to…
  30. 30. • Develop a “rap”. This will help you communicate clearly and concisely the reasons why it is important for others to support your trip. Does your uncle have a special place in his heart for children? Talk about the scarring realities children face every day in the war-torn country of Colombia, a situation which only exacerbated by US funding and SOA training. Is your next-door neighbor part of a labor union? Talk about how SOA grads are known as “the ultimate union busters.” Is your great-grandma a raging anti- capitalist street activist? Talk about the way the SOA trains the military-muscle to enforce damaging free-trade agreements and corporate agendas. • Identify who to ask. Make a list, dividing it up into two columns: individuals in one column and places of worship and other organizations in another column. Then set priorities. Start fund raising with the strongest possibilities. What’s Next? • Write to close family, friends, professors, and co-workers about your trip and ask them to make a contribution. Try to tailor your letter according to the audience you are targeting. You may have two or three different versions of your letter that you send out. Also, it is helpful to suggest a dollar amount—perhaps each contribution could cover the expense of one meal during your trip, or one night at the motel/campground, or one fill-up of gas for your vehicle. However, let people know that any amount they can afford to give will be helpful. • Ask a place of worship to make a special appeal a couple of months before the trip to cover part of the traveling cost. Usually an announcement can be made before or after a religious service. It is helpful for someone from your group to be present when this appeal is made. It can be beneficial to speak to the group about what it is that you are doing, why you are doing it, and how they are able to be part of the larger struggle for justice. Also, try different community organizations that would be sympathetic to the cause. • Hold a yard sale. Get family and friends to donate unneeded furniture, appliances, books, albums, and other items to go towards the cost of the trip. Make sure to publicize the purpose of the sale! Reduce, reuse, recycle!!
  31. 31. • Host a dinner party, potluck, or anything with food! Identify different groups to invite for a gathering around food and conversation. Ask guests to in advance to bring a contribution if possible. Show one of the informative videos available from the SOA Watch office, or have speakers, a slide show, or presentation from someone in your group. For videos available from SOA Watch, consult the included resource list, visit our webpage at www.soaw.org or call 202-234-3440. Other fundraising resources: An on-line treasure trove of fundraising how-to's is found at www.chardonpress.com. Highly recommended: Chardon Press is the publisher of "The Grassroots Fundraising Journal" and books by Kim Klein, including: "Fundraising for Social Change" (now in an updated Fourth Edition) and "Fundraising for the Long Haul." They also offer a catalog of fundraising and organizational development resources. Contact them at the web address above, call toll free (888) 596-8160 or write: Chardon Press 3781 Broadway Oakland CA 94611 Best of Luck with your Fundraising!
  32. 32. SOAW National Musicians’ Resource List The SOAW movement has been fueled by numerous gifted and generous musicians throughout the United States. Throughout the past few years more song has been integrated into all the national SOAW gatherings and nonviolence trainings as a rich source of challenge and inspiration to us all. In Pete Seeger’s words, “The SOAW is the singingest movement since the Civil Rights movement”. The following musicians are wonderful resources for local and regional events, trainings, and actions. Please contact them directly as to their availability and expenses. Though these individuals have donated their time and energies at national gatherings, we ask that you remember many of their livelihoods stem from their performances. Travel expenses and reasonable fees can be negotiated. Most musicians also have recordings available. In supporting their music, you support the SOAW movement. With general questions, please contact the SOAW Musicians’ Coordinator: Chris Inserra 773-271-8566 chrisandcraig@illinoisalumni.org Minna Bromberg vniviv@compuserve.com 1220 W. Farwell #3 Robin Henry Chicago, IL 60626 2001 Riverside Ave. 773-262-9031 Minneapolis, MN 55454 minna@minnabromberg.com 612-338-4299 www.minnabromberg.com robko2@juno.com Shawn Enfinger Francisco Herrara 4746 Bridgedale Rd. 848 York St. Pensicola, FL 32505 San Francisco, CA 94110 850-456-7017 (h) 415-647-8619 www.shadowyze.com (w) 415-643-9362 miranomas@yahoo.com Anne Feeney 7206 Michigan Charlie King & Karen Brandow Pittsburgh, PA 15218 PO Box 6207 412-241-7664 Hamden, CT 06517 800-749-0558 203-483-6393 unionmaid@earthlink.net vaguelyrem@aol.com Jon Fromer Steve Jacobs 28 Morning Sun 913 Rangeline Mill Valley, CA 94941 Columbia, MO 65201 415-383-2593 573-443-0096 mjfromer@worldpassage.net Llajtasuyo Kim and Reggie Harris c/o Rod Pedia RD 2 Box 147 A 2702 Manor Glenlake Middleburgh, NY 12122 Suwanee, GA 30024 303-814-1500 770-831-5771 kimandreggie.com rpadilla@gsu.edu
  33. 33. Magpie Terry Leonino & Greg Artzner P.O. Box 5467 Takoma Park, MD 20913 Jolie Christine Rickman 301-270-2563 23 Virginia Place gtmagpie@earthlink.net Brooklyn NY 11216 www.magpiemusic.com 718-788-3925 jolie@rootmedia.org Amy Martin singitdown@aol.com P.O. Box 9394 Missoula, MT 59807 Kate Stephens 406-549-7413 399 W. Oxzow Rd. amycmartin@hotmail.com Shelburne Falls, MA 0137 413-625-6967 Dave Martin songline50@aol.com 117 W. Willow Apt. 2 Lombard, IL 60148 Mike Stout 630-268-8639 Human Union Band davemartin777@attbi.com 107 E. 8th Ave. Homestead, PA 15120 Mario Posas with Rios y Puentes 412-461-5650 3112 S. 24th Street steel.printers@verizon.net Arlington, VA 2220 703-685-1300 Voices c/o Chris Inserra Luke Quaranta Common Ground: 1421 W. Ardmore West African Dance and Drum Chicago, IL 60660 lquarant@warren-wilson.edu 773-271-8566 chrisandcraig@illinoisalumni.org Tao Rodriguez-Seeger 914-388-2151 Walkabout Chorus wyzoo@thesloop.com c/o Tolopko 40 Adler Place David Rovics Bronx, NY 10475 617-747-4460 attn: Debbie Schwartz drovics@aol.com 203-894-1494 www.davidrovics.com John Wright-Rios Sing It Down: 17WRIGHT@cua.edu Colleen Kattau 16 James Cortland, NY 13045 607-842-6801 ckattau@ithaca.edu
  34. 34. SOA Watch Songsheet SPIRIT OF THE MARTYRS (lyrics by Jeff Winder/music unknown) The cries of the poor rise up to the heavens/The blood of the martyrs spills into the earth Nourishes the seeds of our hope for freedom/Wakes in us the power that is ours by birth. Spirit of the martyrs come and live within us/Let us be your voices as you show us the way Kindle in our spirits a love for justice/Guide us through this night into the light of the day. Spirit of resistance come and rise among us/Hearts on fire, bodies working as one Give birth to the struggle for our liberation/Ain't no stopping 'til our freedom is won. The spirit's gonna rise up in my people/Wake us from our sleeping for the time is at hand It's gonna take us to the depths of our true power/Make our voices heard all over this land. There's love that can move mountains running in my spirit Joy like a fountain running through my bones Peace like a river gonna wash my fears away Power that's within is gonna carry me home BRIGHT MORNIN’ STAR ARISIN’ (Bright Morning Star) Bright mornin’ star arisin’, bright mornin’ star arisin’, Bright mornin’ star arisin’, day’s a breakin’ in my soul. Close the SOA, close the SOA, Close the SOA, day’s a breakin’ in my soul. BY THE RIVERS OF BABYLON/ON THE ROAD TO THE SOA (B. Dowe & T. McNaughton/adapted) 1. On the road to the SOA, there we sat down and there we wept, when we remembered the bloodshed. There the wicked! Carry us away captivity, require of us a song How can we sing a freedom song in a strange land? So let the words of our mouths, and the meditations of our hearts Be acceptable in thy sight over all. 2. Within those prison walls, there we sat down… 3. In the park by the White House… 4. On the road to the Pentagon… CLOSE DOWN THE SOA (Sing It Down) 1. Close down the SOA 2. Close down the SOA We don’t need it anyway Or we will civilly disobey North and south the people say You will have some hell to pay Close down the SOA Close down the SOA
  35. 35. EVIL OF THE SOA (melody of Battle of Jericho/adapted) We all shook the evil of the SOA, the SOA, the SOA We all shook the evil of the SOA –and the walls came a tumbling down. 1. You can talk about training soldiers You can talk about human rights But we all know the truth about the SOA And the walls will come a tumblin’ down. 2. Many spirits walk before us Their witness makes the sound Of a heartbeat fueled by fire And the walls come a tumblin’ down. 3. We gathered at Ft. Benning Twelve thousand people strong ‘Cause the truth will not be silenced, As we lift our voices in song. 4. Well, I’ve heard God’s voice on the mountaintop In the desert and by the sea Crying, “Rise up against those SOA walls And you too shall be free!” GUANTANAMERA (Jose Marti & Jose Fernandez) 1. Yo soy un hombre sincero, de donde crece la palma (2x) Y antes de morirme quiero echar mis versos de alma Refrain: Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera (2x) 2. Mi verso es de un verde claro y de un carmin encendido (2x) Mi verso es un ciervo herido que busca en el monte amparo 3. Con los pobres de la tierra quiero yo mi suerte echar (2x) El arroyo de la sierra me complace mas que el mar HUMBLE YOURSELF (unknown) You’ve got to humble yourself in the eyes of the mountains, you’ve got to bend down low. You’ve got to humble yourself in the eyes of the mountains, you’ve got to know what they know. We can lift each other up higher and higher, we can lift each other up. (replace “mountains” with rivers, forests, etc. for additional verses) ISE OLUWA (Yoruba song, Northern Africa) ISE OLUWA, KOLE BAJE-OH (2x) KOLE BAJE-OH, KOLE BAJE-OH (2x) JUST ANOTHER LINK IN THE CHAIN (union song/adapted) Just another link in the chain, in the chain We’re just another link in the chain, in the chain People getting stronger, voices raised louder And that makes us links in the chain. 1. Willing to go ahead when other people are afraid Remembered for the questions that we raise. Some dead, some in prison, for the things that we believe And that makes us links in the chain. 2. Who organized the people, hundreds, thousands strong When the army tried to stand in their way It was the rebel voices raised against the wind And that makes us links in the chain.
  36. 36. KEEP ON KEEPING ON (Chris Inserra) Refrain: You’ve got to keep on keeping on, you’ve got to keep on keeping on. 1. North and south the people say, we’re gonna close the SOA. We’re gonna keep on keeping on. 2. You can change the name but not the shame, we’re not gonna play you’re game We’re gonna keep on keeping on. NEVER TURNING BACK (Pat Humphries) 1. We’re gonna keep on walking forward, keep on walking forward, Keep on walking forward, never turning back, never turning back 2. We’re gonna keep on singing loudly… 3. We’re gonna close the SOA… 4. We’re gonna tear down walls of hatred… 5. We’re gonna open prison doors… NO BASTA REZAR (Central American) Refrain: No, no, no basta rezar. Hacen falta muchas cosas para conseguir la paz (2x) 1. Y rezan de buena fe, y rezan de corazon. y tambien reza el piloto cuando monta en el avion. Para ir a bombardear a los niPos de el Salvador. Para ir a bombardear a los niPos de el Quiche. 2. En el mundo no habra paz mientras haya explotacion. del pueblo por el pueblo y exista desigualdad. del pueblo por el pueblo y exista desigualdad. 3. Cuando el pueblo se levante y que todo haga cambiar. Ustedes diran conmigo no bastaba con rezar. Ustedes diran conmigo no bastaba con rezar. NOW IS THE TIME TO RISE UP (unknown) Now is the time to rise up; people, people never give up. It’s time to reclaim history; freedom never, never came for free Now is the time to rise up; people, people never give up. It’s time to reshape history; freedom never, never came for me. OH MARY DON’T YOU WEEP (spiritual/adapted) Refrain: Oh, Mary don’t you weep, don’t you moan (2x) Pharaoh’s army got drownded, oh Mary don’t you weep. 1. One of these days in the middle of the night, People gonna rise up and set things right, Pharaoh’s army… 2. One of these days you’ll hear the sound Of the SOA walls a falling down, Pharaoh’s army… 3. Sisters and brothers, we call out your names, The rising blood of you pain, Pharaoh’s army… 4. Students from across the land, Raise their voices and take a stand, Pharaoh’s army… PUT IT IN THE GROUND (Wobblies) Put it in the ground, spread it all around. Dig it with a hoe, it’ll make your flowers grow. RICH MAN’S HOUSE (Human Rights’ Choir)
  37. 37. Refrain: Going down to the rich man’s house, take back what he stole from me Take back my dignity, take back my humanity (2x) 1. Going over the SOA, take back what they stole from me… 2. Going over to the World Bank… 3. Going over to the IMF… RISE UP (unknown) Rise up keep the spirit alive; come together got to fight to survive Rise up it won’t be long; come together keep our movement strong. SIPH’ AMANDLA NKOSI (South African Freedom Song) Refrain: Siph’ amandla Nkosi, wokungesabi Siph’ amandla Nkosi, siyawadinga. 1. God give us power, to rip down prisons. God give us power, to lift the people. 2. God give us courage to withstand hatred. God give us courage not to be bitter. 3. God give us power and make us fearless. God give us power because we need it. SIYAHAMBA (South African Freedom Song) Si-ya-hamb’ e-ku-kha-nyen’ kwen-khos’ si-ya-hamb’ e-ku-kha-nyen’ kwen-khos. (2x) Si-ya-hamba, hamba, si-ya-hamba, hamba Si-ya-hamb’ e-ku-kha-nyen’ kwen-khos. (2x) 1. We are marching in the light of God (4x) We are marching, we are marching, we are marching in the light of God (2x) 2. Caminamos en la luz de Dios… 3. We are marching to say never again… 4. Hoy queremos decir nunca mas… SOON AND VERY SOON (traditional/adapted) Refrain: Soon and very soon, we are gonna change this world (3x) Together, forever we’re gonna change this world. 1. Close the SOA, we are gonna change this world… 2. Saying NO! to torture… 3. Nunca mas, no more… 4. Crossing the line… STEP BY STEP (traditional) Step by step the longest march, can be won, can be won. Many stones can form an arch, singly none, singly none. And by union what we will, can be accomplished still. Drops of water turn the mill, singly none, singly none. WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED (traditional/adapted) We shall not, we shall not be moved (2x) Just like a tree that’s standing by the water, we shall not be moved. 1. Close the SOA… 3. Never again no more… 2. The struggle will go forward… 4. The truth cannot be silenced… No, no, no nos moveran (2x) Como un arbol firme junto al rio, no nos moveran. 1. Cierra el SOA, no nos moveran… 3. Nunca mas, basta… 2. Luchamos con el pueblo… 4. Basta a la mentira…
  38. 38. TIME IS RUNNING OUT (same melody as We Shall Not Be Moved) Refrain: Time, time, time is running out (2x) You know corruption’s in the land, why don’t the people take a stand? Time is running out. 1. Go tell the IMF time is running out… 2. Go tell the World Bank… 3. We’re here at the SOA ‘cause time is running out… WHAT SHALL WE DO WITH THE SCHOOL OF TORTURE (to the tune of What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor/traditional) Haul it away and up we rise (3x)…a new day is dawning. WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? (Florence Reese) Refrain: Which side are you on? Which side are you on? 1. My daddy was a miner, he’s now in the air and sun And I’ll stick with the union ‘til every battle’s won. 2. The say in Harlan County, there are no neutrals there You’re either with the union, or a thug for J. H. Blair. 3. O workers can you stand it? O tell me how you can? Will you be a crummy scab or lend us all a hand? 4. Don’t scab for the bosses, don’t listen to their lies Us poor folks haven’t got a chance, unless we organize. NO MAS, NO MORE (John McCutcheon/adapted) No mas, no more shout the hills of El Salvador Echo the voices of the world, we cry out: No mas, no more. No mas, no more we must stop the dirty war CompaCeros, compaeeras, we cry out: No mas, no more. AIN’T AFRAID OF YOUR JAIL (unknown/adapted) 1. Ain’t afraid of your jail ‘cause I want my freedom I want my freedom, I want my freedom Ain’t afraid of your jail ‘cause I want my freedom I want my freedom now! 2. Ain’t afraid of your hose… 5. Ain’t afraid of your laws… 3. Ain’t afraid of your dogs… 6. Ain’t afraid of your money… 4. Ain’t afraid of your guns… 7. Ain’t afraid of your hate… JACOB’S LADDER (traditional/adapted) 1. We are climbing Jacob’s Ladder (3x) Brothers, sisters, all (alternate: “Sisters, brothers, all” etc.) 2. Every rung goes higher, higher… 6. Spirits of the martyrs move us forward… 3. We are dancing Sarah’s circle… 7. Todos unidos en paz (3x) 4. Every round a generation… Hermanos, hermanas, todos 5. We are marching for peace and justice…