Honduras Presente!: Report from the Close Down the School of Assassins (SOA) 2009
November 21 and 22, 2009: For the 19th year, anti-war, social justice, solidarity and human rights activists gathered at the gates of the School of Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Fort Benning, Georgia to demand that this military training School of Assassins be shut down once and for all. This year Honduras was strongly represented, because the military officials in command of the coup d’etat of June 28, 2009 were trained at the SOA and the Honduras military has long history of training at the SOA.
The significance of the coup in Honduras as a set back for human rights in Latin America was highlighted by several speakers and a key note speaker during the weekend was Berta Oliva, the founder and director of the Committee for the Families of the Disappeared and Detained In Honduras (COFADEH). Berta spoke at the rally on Saturday and the vigil for the fallen and disappeared on Sunday. She also was the speaker at a standing room only workshop Saturday evening
Berta spoke of the history of human rights violations by the U.S. trained Honduran military going back to the 1980’s and even before, including the case of her husband Tomas Nativi who was disappeared in 1981. She spoke of the disappeared, detained and murdered Honduras since the coup d’etat this year and the situation of a human rights crisis in which the coup government elections on November 29th would take place. She emphasized the concerns of COFADEH that the human rights violations by the government will increase during and after the elections. She called for continued solidarity and action from activists in the United States in support of the Honduran people and the resistance.
In the closing vigil on Sunday, the names of the dead and disappeared in Honduras were joined with the names of hundreds of people from all over Latin America. !Honduras Presente! Close the SOA!