Rain and puddles did not deter a small crowd Saturday who turned out to support four local activists who attended the 18th annual demonstration to close the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Ga.
"Well now we know who all the die-hards are," said Scott Miksch, coordinator of Committee in Solidarity with the Central American People, which sponsored the rally. The event at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza in downtown Eugene consisted of songs about shutting down the school, speeches from local and international activists and a ceremony involving "cantores," the Spanish word for singers. In the anti-SOA movement, cantores sing out the names of those who died at the hands of soldiers trained at the School of the Americas.
The Eugene, Ore. event was a local representation of the 20,000-strong vigil and protest Nov. 16-18 in Fort Benning, Miksch said.
According to SOA Watch's website, the School of the Americas trains Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, which they routinely use against their own people. It was founded in Panama in 1946 and then moved to the United States in 1984. Though the name was changed from the School of the Americas to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, it is still commonly referred to as the "School of the Assassins."
"It's just another one of the mechanisms that the U.S. uses to gain support for their economic policies that may or may not reflect the majority of the populace; they have vested interests," said Justin Wiour, a University student who attended the rally.
Community member Gwen Jaspers said she felt very strongly about shutting down the School of the Americas.
"I'm appalled at the U.S.' actions in Latin America. They're using taxpayers' money and most people don't even know about it," she said.
CISCAP's next meeting will be in the back office of the World Cafe at 461 Blair Blvd., on Monday, Nov. 26 at 7:00 p.m. The following meeting on Dec. 3, will be an informal report from the four activists who attended the rally, complete with a presentation including pictures and stories about the Fort Benning events and workshops. It will also be at 7:00 p.m. in the back office of the World Cafe. CISCAP can be contacted at 485-8633.
© 2007 Oregon Daily Emerald via U-WIRE