“The Arc of the Moral Universe is Long, but it Bends Towards Justice” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.*
Guatemalan SOA Graduate Sentenced to 90 Years for Role in 1980 “Spanish Embassy Massacre” and Subsequent Murders
This Martin Luther King Day, we were reminded of the words made famous by Dr. King when a Guatemalan court sentenced SOA graduate Pedro García Arredondo to 90 years in prison for his role in the January 31, 1980 siege and deliberate burning of the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala City. The court not only found García Arredondo guilty for ordering his soldiers to take actions that resulted in the deaths of 37 people at the Spanish Embassy, but he was also found guilty for the murders of two students at a mass funeral for the victims of the embassy attack.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu called the verdict “a historic event” during her interview with Democracy Now! this morning (http://www.democracynow.org/2015/1/20/prosecuting_guatemalas_dirty_war_rigoberta_menchu). Ms. Menchu’s father, Don Vicente Menchu, was one of the 37 people that were killed almost 35 years ago. The trial itself lasted over 16 years, and it is obvious that the long march towards justice in Guatemala continues. Trials against other infamous SOA grads, including Efrain Rios Montt, continue to move slowly forward, but today we celebrate this historic victory!
More information on the verdict, including a reference to the role of the School of the Americas in the monstrous crimes committed in Guatemala can be found in this Common Dreams article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/01/20/rigoberta-menchu-guatemalan-court-ruling-crimes-against-humanity-historic-event
Enrique Peña Nieto NOT Welcome, Plan Mexico Push Back
Hundreds of protestors from from Pensylvania, New York, Mexico, Nevada, California, DC, and other places gathered in front of the White House on Tuesday, January 6th, during Mexican President Peña Nieto’s meeting with President Obama.
According to an AP article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-seeks-help-of-mexicos-pena-nieto-on-cuba-immigration/2015/01/06/e21a651c-957e-11e4-8385-866293322c2f_story.html), the protesters, which included SOA Watch and #USTired2 activists, could even be heard in the Oval Office during their meeting! Yet neither President mentioned their government’s responsibility for the intolerable violence in Mexico’s Drug War.
As the crowd grew, the police spontaneously decreed our removal from Pensylvania Avenue, pushing many protestors, but the determinged crowd rallied in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House. Check out Ayotzinapa 43, protest, & lobbying videos by AJ+: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aXd8JlI_W4&list=PLZd3QRtSy5LNwgKb9F76zWQPakd4jbWug&index=1
In over 20 cities, similar protests occurred to express outrage for the 43 missing students of Ayotzinapa and the continued US investment in Plan Mexico (aka Merida Initiative) under the auspice of the failed “War on Drugs”. The protest became much larger as it richoeted the cyber hallways and echoed on the media. Univision, MSNBC, Fox News, and many other news sites.
Survivors & Directly Affected Family Members’ Stories Echo Systemic Violence
Those directly impacted by the War on Drugs in Mexico shared the reality of US-funded military and police violence that has dramatically increased since Plan Mexico (also known as the Merida Initiative) began in 2008. Nansi Cisneros from L.A. spoke of her brother, Javier Cisneros who has been forcefully disappeared by the Mexican police, and Jose Luis Avila from Washington State, spoke of his unlawfully jailed U.S. citizen wife, Nestora Salgado. Others directly impacted by the violence prayed in a Danza and addressed the crowd. The Huffington Post picked up Nestora & Javi’s stories, read the article here: http://huff.to/1Irgvsl
Call or Tweet Your Representatives and Ask Them to: Help #FreeNestora Salgado, Find http://www.twitter.com/JusticeForJavi Cisneros, & End Funding for Plan Mexico
A recent study shows that Members of Congress respond more to social media than emails (http://connectivity.cqrollcall.com/just-a-handful-of-social-media-comments-can-grab-attention-of-congress-study-shows/), but in-person lobby visits still matter of course. Three days of lobbying ended Wednesday, January 7. The SOA Watch Legislative Team coordinated the visits to the offices of almost 20 Members of Congress to tell them that the failed War on Drugs must end, beginning with an end to funding for Plan Mexico. The cases of Javier Cisneros and Nestora Salgado were highlighted during the meetings as two examples of the real targets of the War on Drugs. Many congressional offices were unaware of the degree that both U.S. and Mexican citizens are suffering due to the human rights violations committed by the Mexican police and military. SOA Watch thanks the Cisneros and Salgado families for their courage and leadership in the fight for not only their loved ones, but for just U.S. policies towards Mexico.
Last week SOA Watch joined the #FreeNestora campaign, but you don’t have to use Twitter to let your voices be heard, as you can also call your Senators and Represenatives. Please let the Congress know that you oppose the US-backed violence in Mexico! – http://soaw.org/component/content/article/17-legislative-action/4278-freenestora-a-stopplanmexico
Self-Defense Patrols in Mexico Targeted As Threat
Autodefensas L.A. spoke to the urgent demand that “solo el pueblo puede salvar el pueblo”, only the people can save the people – a sentiment SOA Watch echoes in our solidarity with those demanding sovereignty for Latin American countries. They spoke of the right of communities to rule with their own autodefense patrols, currently criminalized by the Mexican government. The struggle of Doctor Mireles, an auto defense patrol political prisoner, was also well represented at the demonstration. Nestora Salgado is also a political prisoner for her activism with an auto-defense patrol, hers being a legally recognized indigenous community police force.
The Unwelcoming Comittee Says Goodbye To EPN
As Pena Nieto left the luncheon with Obama, protesters echoed chants of anger and frustration around the country. Click here for some great photos by SOA Watch of the action: http://bit.ly/1Io3OhW
La Lucha Sigue,
*The quotation is most likely originally from the writings of Theodore Parker, a prominent 19th Century Unitarian Minister and abolitionist, but made famous by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
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