A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Padre Alberto’

Moving forward: after the SOA vigil

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:

Memory as resistance…the call to close the School of the Americas

“It is time to take the funeral out of the funeral parlor…” Hector Aristozabol, Puppetista

Dear All – This past week I went again to Georgia to join in witnessing with thousands of others the call to close the School of the Americas and the transformation of oppressive U.S. policy.

I was especially honored to see one of our partners there, Padre Alberto from Colombia who I work with on the Ethics Commission. From the stage, he spoke of the deep need for the continued joining of hands between the north and the south to build a new future and transform a very painful history.

This year there was a slight change in the traditional funeral procession that usually occurs within the area permitted by the police. This year a group of folks and the Puppetistas (an artist group that joins us and makes puppets and pageantry for the weekend) left the permitted space.

This group walked through the police barricades, past lines of officers and marched into the street taking our witness as Hector had said…out of the funeral parlor. This was not to damage or change the traditional witness, but to raise up the idea of memory as resistance.

Our grief is not private for if we make it private we make it individual denying the necessary whole to which our grief flows from. Our grief is public because the story of what created all the loss and tragedy in Latin America belongs to all of us as one human family, as one nation of participative democracy, and as one faithful spirit led community.

Our ritual then of reading the names of all those killed and calling out Presente! cannot stay in the “funeral parlor” or permitted area but needs to flow out beyond the arbitrary borders enforced by authorities for grief, for recognition, and for healing. It was a powerful act and I was proud to be part of stretching the boundaries.

I think of Advent coming up and the ritual remembrance we do as a community of the journey of Mary and Joseph. We are not just remembering this beautiful piece of our tradition. We are recommitting ourselves to the inherent resistance within its lines. Mary and Joseph broke the norms of the day, resisted local authorities and had the courage and vision to accept Holy Mystery with no guarantees or promises.

Can we? Can we flow out of boundaries, out of fear, and uncertainties toward that which is unknown and waiting to be born if we can but say yes? I would love to hear all your stories this Advent season of how memory has served to teach, inspire and raise up new paths forward in your lives…Much Peace Liz

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