Witness on
Plan Colombia
images and stories
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SOA 2002
November Vigil Images

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SOA 2001
November Vigil Images

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SOA 2000
November Vigil Images
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Twin Cities Vigil
November 24

Stand In Solidarity With
Those At Fort Benning
Sunday • November 24, 2013 • 1 PM
Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge
As thousands gather at the front gates of Fort Benning to honor and commemorate the six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter, who were massacred in El Salvador on November 16, 1989, you can stand with them in spirit as a litany of names of those killed or disappeared by graduates of the School of the Americas is read.

Meet on the St. Paul side of the bridge.

Please bring signs or crosses and a short poem or prayer, if you'd like.

SOAW November Vigil
November 23-24

Justice Not Impunity!
Take a Stand!

From November 23-24, 2013, thousands will gather at the gates of Fort Benning to stand up for justice, to shut down the School of the Americas and to end the oppressive U.S. foreign policy that the school represents. We invite you to join us this November as we remember, in solemnity, the victims, and as we grow stronger than ever before in our resistance.

Complete Vigil info from SOAW - click here >>

HEY Minnesota - Get On the Bus!

This year the bus to the SOA is being sponsored by Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 and Women Against Military Maddness.

We still have seats available on the bus, and it's a great way to travel.

We will leave Friday morning, Nov. 22, getting to Columbus Saturday AM, and then leave Columbus on Sunday afternoon and arrive back in the Cities Monday Nov. 25 in the late afternoon.

We have a block of hotel rooms reserved for Saturday night.

For more information, or to register, please contact the WAMM office at 612 827 5364 or send an email.
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SOAWatch 20th Annual Vigil
November 20-21, 2010

Thousands Strong, We Say: Close the SOA!

Images from 2010
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plus Minnesota group photo

SOAWatch Colombian Action Delegation
1-7 August 2010

Eight Human Rights Activists, including Minnesota VFPer Wayne Wittman, commit three acts of nonviolent civil resistance in Colombia.

SOAWatch founder, Father Roy Bourgeois and seven others traveled to Colombia on August 1st to stand in solidarity with Colombians to protest a lease agreement to place US soldiers at seven bases.

Images and more information - click here

What is WHISC?

The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American soldiers in combat,  counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. Graduates of the SOA are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians.

On January 17, 2001 the SOA was replaced by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC).

The result of a Department of Defense proposal included in the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal 2001, the name-change measure passed when the House of Representatives defeated a bipartisan amendment to close the SOA and conduct a congressional investigation by a narrow ten vote margin. (See Talking Points)

In a media interview, Georgia Senator and SOA supporter, the late Paul Coverdell, characterized the DoD proposal as "cosmetic" changes that would ensure that the SOA could continue its mission and operation. Critics of the SOA concur. The new military training school is the continuation of the SOA under a new name. It is a new name, but the same shame.

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Rita Steinhagen, CSJ
1928 - 2006

Minnesota's First Prisoner of Conscience
photo © CircleVision.org

Our dear Rita completed her marvelous journey with us shortly before 1 pm November 21, 2006.

She spent her life in service to many and we were blessed.

In the photo at the right, Father Roy places an image of Rita on the gates of Fort Benning at this year's vigil. He was aware Rita was in the process of dying.

As the vigil progressed, the fence would become covered with crosses, stars of David and other remembrances honoring the victims of the graduates of the School of the Americas.

In 1998, at the age of 70, Rita served six months in Federal Prison for the nonviolent act of walking onto the Columbus Georgia military base in November 1997. It was the second time she had crossed the line. She attended the yearly vigil several more times after her release from prison, where the picture of Rita was taken

Additional images of Rita - click here.

Mary Swenson
Voice for the Voiceless

Bill, Roy and Mary at the Resource Center of the Americas in Minneapolis in 2000.

Our dear friend and compañera Mary Swenson passed away on March 31, 2005.

A very dedicated activist in the campaign to close the SOA, Mary co-coordinated media for the hunger fast begun on Labor Day in 1990 at the front gates of Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia...
More, including images of Mary - click here.
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Why a Minnesota SOAW Chapter?

Minnesota is home to one of the largest groups of supporters to Close the SOA and the need to effectively communicate locally is important as the movement continues to grow.

The School of the Americas Watch has evolved into more than the Vigil in Georgia and lobby days in Washington. This growth has spurred the formation of local SOAW chapters to effectively communicate and coordinate our efforts, both locally and nationally.

In Minnesota we will...
• Prepare individuals with nonviolent training and guides to affinity group actions for the November Vigil.
• Stage local nonviolent actions to educate the general public about WHISC.
• Organize Minnesotans for the Gandhian Waves at Fort Benning which will occur throughout the year.
• Offer support for Minnesota's Prisoners of Conscience and all those serving time due to an act of conscience.
• In conjunction with Minnesota Veterans for Peace, schedule busses to Fort Benning in November.
• Offer speakers as resources for classrooms, churches and gatherings.
• Attend national meetings and trainings with SOAW.

We plan to collect and maintain an email / phone list of Minnesota-Midwest supporters. These lists will be used exclusively for information regarding the SOA and will not be used for any other purpose.

MnSOAW is a Minnesota based independent organization seeking to close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation through all nonviolent means.
We are affiliated with and will follow the lead of SOA Watch in Washington DC.

The General on the SOA
a one minute clip...

Ya need FREE QuickTime to view the video!
While this video is several years old, we have always enjoyed Major General Lemoyne's comments about the School of the Americas. The general was the base commander of Fort Benning when this interview was recorded.
View this one
minute clip!
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SOAW 2001
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SOAW 2002
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SOAW 2003
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SOAW 2004
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SOAW 2005
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SOAW 2006
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SOAW 2007
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SOAW 2008
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SOAW 2009
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What is

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Why a
Chapter of

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Talking Points
to close

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your MN Rep
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Want more

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