Justice Action Bulletin: SOA Watch at the border; ROTC protests

Editor's note: Welcome to NCR's Justice Action Bulletin, where every Tuesday we bring you the latest news on active nonviolence in the service of peace and justice. Do you have news you would like to share? Contact Maria Benevento at mbenevento@ncronline.org.


Nogales, Mexico, and Nogales, Arizona — The School of the Americas Watch hosted its second annual Border Encuentro in both Nogales, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona — collectively known as Ambos Nogales — and in Tucson, Arizona, Nov. 10-12.

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SOA Watch works to close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the School of the Americas, which trains members of Latin American militaries. Graduates of the school have committed war crimes, including the murder of six Jesuits and two women in El Salvador Nov. 16, 1989. The SOA Watch annual gathering, held outside of the school in Fort Benning, Georgia, until last year, takes place near the anniversary of the Jesuits' death.

According to its website, the organization decided to move its gathering to the border "in order to respond to the present-day call to solidarity with Latin America." The event aims to draw attention to the militarization of the border, state-sponsored violence against immigrant communities within the U.S. and U.S. intervention in Latin America.

The Encuentro schedule included speakers, panels and workshops; a vigil outside of Elon Detention Center; and a binational, veteran-led march to the border wall.


Tuscon, Arizona — A peace vigil in honor of Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada, a peace activist who died July 25, took place at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where Zawada often protested, Nov. 13.

The protest focused on the use of drones launched from the base that kill civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, and the use of radioactive ammunition by the A-10 warplanes that train out of the base.

The vigil was followed by a celebration of Zawada's life at St. Mark's Presbyterian Church.


United States — Peace activists are planning protests at nine of the 17 Jesuit universities that host ROTC programs on their campuses. The actions are scheduled for Nov. 16, the anniversary of the murder of six Jesuits and two women in El Salvador by U.S.-trained soldiers.

According to a press release from national event organizers Bob Graf and Janice Sevre-Duszynska, one of the murdered Jesuits, Fr. Ignacio Ellacuría, said of Georgetown University's ROTC program in an interview a few years before his death, "Tell the Jesuits of Georgetown that they are committing mortal sin because they are supporting the forces of death which are killing our people."

The release also accuses ROTC of teaching "killing without conscience" and says that Jesuit universities should follow their founder, St. Ignatius of Loyola, in resisting the temptations of "riches, honor and pride" offered by ROTC.

Protests are scheduled at Marquette University in Milwaukee; Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore; Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; Fordham University in New York; College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts; Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska; Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles; Santa Clara University in California; and the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.


Des Moines, Iowa — The Des Moines Catholic Worker and Des Moines Veterans for Peace will host their first annual Feast of the Holy Innocents Faith and Resistance Retreat and Witness Dec. 27-28 of this year.

In honor of the Dec. 26 feast, which commemorates the children whom Herod ordered to be killed in an effort to destroy the infant Jesus, retreat participants will listen to a talk, "Matt 2:16, Innocents killed, then & now, there & here" Dec. 27. They will then participate in a witness and direct action at the entrance of the Iowa National Guard's drone command center Dec. 28.

[Maria Benevento is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Her email address is mbenevento@ncronline.org.]


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