“My name is Maria Luisa…I am here today to honor and remember those who are taken.”
I captured this interview with Maria Luisa Rosal today, the closing day of the School of Americas Watch vigil; Maria is on staff with SOA and helped to coordinate this vigil. Her father is “disappeared.”
More news from Maria Luisa
SOA News Alert: Human Rights Activists Demand the Extradition of SOA Graduate who killed Famous Singer Victor Jara from the United States to Chile
On this, the final day of the School of Americas Watch Vigil at Fort Benning, we hear from a Chilean survivor who was tortured under the Pinochet dictatorship. Her message: “Don’t attack the people.”
More about our schedule today (from SOA Vigil):
On the final day of the vigil weekend we gather at 9:00 am once again at the gates of the School of the Americas to remember the martyrs and those who have been killed by soldiers trained at this site.
The ceremony begins with an indigenous blessing, a group commitment to the guidelines of nonviolence, then statements of solidarity from some prominent Latin American activists. The funeral procession will then begin to remember and honor the victims of this institution. As the names of victims are sung out to the crowd, we respond “Presente!”
As “Converge on Fort Benning” continues, we hear from Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of School of Americas Watch: “…we cannot be silent.”
About Father Roy (from SOA Vigil)
Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient, a Roman Catholic priest and founder of SOA Watch, Father Roy Bourgeois has dedicated his life to the cause of human rights. While working with the poor in Bolivia for five years, where he was imprisoned, he witnessed and experienced first hand the brutal dictatorship of SOA grad General Hugo Banzer.
It was in 1980 that Fr. Roy became more involved in issues surrounding US policy in El Salvador after four US churchwomen–two of them his friends–were raped and killed by Salvadoran soldiers. As a result, Roy became an outspoken critic of US foreign policy in Latin America, and in 1990, founded the School of Americas Watch. He has since spent over four years in US federal prisons for nonviolent protests against the training of Latin American soldiers at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
Watching everyone come into town for the SOA vigil is one of the best parts of the weekend. You see folks from all over pull up in busses and cars, they spill out in lobbies and restaurants, and everyone is greeted like an old friend.
We begin immediately to build a new space. A space that is not dependent on power or privilege but rather a space that thrives on creative open relationship. A radical idea that community exists in each of us (like breath) and we are able even in a crowd of thousands to say we, in this moment, are one.
It is always a joy to me each year to watch this space open over the days of the weekend. To watch as all the elements of organizing come together and the key ingredient of the people arrive and gently like a bloom another world rises before our eyes.
I think of Francis and how he did this everyday. He held open space for a radical loving community and watched as a different world bloomed before his eyes. A world built on the foundations of trust, love and complete equity. We carry on, grateful for our inheritance from this particular peacemaker.
We are here, working to build that world and I will do my best through this blog to have the world bloom for you, too! Many blessings and much gratitude for the support of the FSPA community!
p.s. I’ve learned that the FSPA sponsored bus has left La Crosse, Wis., and is headed for Georgia.
This picture was captured this morning as the Franciscan Sisters blessed the students before they boarded the bus!
FSPA bless the students departing for the SOA Vigil.