School of the Americas Watch – Border Convergence – October 7-10, 2016
SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS WATCH US/MEXICO BORDER CONVERGENCE – OCTOBER 7-10
Reporter: Jay Jenkins
In trying to put together an article on the SOAW, I realized the 4 days I attended contain so much information (CLICK HERE) and so much work done that I’m thinking I might just add some thoughts and observations as follows:
- Friday 10/7 – At the Eloy Detention center there were over 800 people from all over the U.S. In addition I met with Rev. Tina Squire (who’s spoken to our congregation), members of the Prescott Valley UU Church and many others. In the evening a vigil was held and as we held up lights in support of the detainees inside, many of them responded by turning their cell lights on and off. Heartwarming and heart wrenching at the same time.
- Saturday 10 – 8 – We met outside a hotel in Nogales, Arizona for a march to the border, led by Veterans For Peace. Nearly 1000 people participated in the march and about half of us entered the Mexico side of the border while others stayed on the U.S. side. This was a real show of solidarity with our brothers and sisters to the south. Many of the people who walked to the US/Mexico border had come from places like Chicago, the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota, California and points in between. There was lots of ukulele and guitar music along the way and many college youths were there in support. After crossing into Mexico, we met at the border wall and listened to speeches by religious and lay people from many congregations, as well as those who just came to express their support for migrants and in opposition to the current U.S. policy on immigration.There was a talk by Carlos Garcia, Puente leader. We were well treated and assisted by local, state and national police from Mexico, several of whom I talked to. In the afternoon I attended a workshop at the primary school in Nogales, Sonora.
- Sunday 10-9 Spent most of the day in Nogales, Sonora at the wall and watched and listened to music and speeches and was particularly moved when we were asked to face the wall and reach out to hold hands with our brothers and sisters on the U.S. side. In the evening there was another vigil at the wall commemorating the killing of Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, the 15 year old boy shot to death by a Border Patrol agent for throwing a rock across the wall.
- On Monday 10-10 I returned to Nogales and met with a few of the remaining participants. I then sang and played the ukulele to “Amazing Grace” in English and Spanish as my personal memorial to Jose Rodriguez.
- For all four days of the watch and convergence I drove to and from Bisbee for the events, as I’d been advised against taking a hotel room on either side of the border in Nogales. But, it was all very much worthwhile.
- Finally, a note on the School of the Americas. It is and was a training school for Latin American soldiers and mercenaries, funded by the U.S. and was originally at Ft. Benning, Georgia but has been relocated to Mexico and renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The name may have changed but they are still training people from Mexico and South America to engage in warfare against their own people.