I wanted to share with you all a letter from Padre Alberto to the folks who crossed the line at the School of the Americas Vigil. Padre Alberto is a Colombian priest who is in the U.S. because he has received death threats for his work on human rights in Colombia. He is a good friend of mine and a man I have worked with for the past five years (since I began my work with the Ethics Commission and the FSPA community).
I am also including a video that shows one of the arrests that happened of a journalist at the Vigil. Padre Alberto’s letter and the video hold a good contrast, each I think informing us what solidarity and transformation means in our time. Peace! Liz
To all the Prisoners of Conscience at the gates of the School of the Americas
Greetings and all my admiration and recognition for your prophetic action.
Your free decision to go to jail questions the lack of freedom of those that have been repressed through the mechanisms and procedures taught at the School of the Americas: social leaders, peasants, indigenous peoples, African descendant communities, professors, politicians, journalists, defenders of Human Rights… The dignity of your walk to prison contrasts with the way many prisoners had their dignity taken from them, in clandestine centers of torture, through disappearance and death.
The way in which you confronted the law – with your heads held high – contrasts with the humiliation caused by “the law” to all those immigrants that have sought to escape the poverty generated by the economic policies that benefit from militarization and state violence.
Thank you, because your imprisonment helps denounce the injustice behind so many imprisonments.
The scene last Saturday was shocking: police, patrols, weapons, handcuffs, the alert and vigilant look put on those participating in the vigil, the barking repetition from the loudspeakers of laws and articles contrasted with the slow joyful, and dignified walk of the “disobedient” towards the line prohibited by the law. We all knew what was going to happen, the consequences and motivations moving each person. Then, crossing the line, arrests, prayers, vigils, and solidarity as the supreme affirmation of ethics and morals, in the face of the immorality of many laws.
How many people there have there been who were detained, tortured, disappeared by military who crossed that line to study, and then crossed back to their countries to apply what they had learned?
Thank you, because you have been and you are, from prison, the conscience of the people of the United States.
A loud applause for you, who from the moment when you crossed that line and were imprisoned, denounce that jails are a business that repress the cry for justice and announce that SOLIDARITY IS THE DIGNIFICATION OF THE MEMORY OF OUR VICTIMS.
In your detention, the words of Jesus of Nazareth gain new strength: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the cause of justice…” Blessed are you who are pursued, insulted and slandered, because this was how the prophets before you were persecuted.
A big hug,
Father Alberto Franco, CSsR.
Ecumenical Commission for Justice and Peace of Colombia
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, condemning the detention of media during the vigil and is calling for an independent investigation: