Friday, February 17, 2012

Activists plan action at Mexico border fence at El Paso this weekend

 Border Fence at Anapra, near El Paso, TX--site of Sunday's action  (file photo)
Activists from the School of the Americas Watch, Project Puente and other organizations around the border region will hold a vigil Sunday, February 19 to call attention to the role of the US government in the militarization of Mexico and the failed War on Drugs.

The vigil at the Sunland Park-Anapra Fence beginning at 10 AM also hopes to call attention to the unjust US immigration policies that criminalize those fleeing the violence.

This activity culminates a week-long delegation of 10 people, headed by SOA Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois, from across the United States, which has met with people on both sides of the border in El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. Over 60,000 people have been killed in the violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon deployed some 50,000 troops and federal police five years ago to confront the drug cartels. Much of this militarization has been bankrolled by the US government’s Merida Initiative, which has poured over $1.5 billion into this “war on drugs,” especially in the form of US military equipment and training. The result of this militarization has failed to curtail the flow of drug, but has caused the loss of thousands of innocent Mexican lives. The death toll in Ciudad Juarez alone is nearing 10,000.

Perpetrators of the violence on both sides of this declared "war" have strong links to the US School of the Americas/WHINSEC, a U.S. taxpayer-funded military training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. Ciudad Juarez Police Chief, Julian Leyzaola Perez, a graduate of the SOA, has been accused by human rights groups of participating "directly in the torture of individuals who were arbitrarily detained, transported to military bases, and subjected to beatings, electric shocks, death threats, and asphyxiation to obtain false confessions" (UNHCR report). On the side of the drug cartels, a third of the original members of the drug cartel known as the “Zetas” are deserted members of the Mexican military who have graduated from the SOA/WHINSEC.

SOA graduates across Latin America have been implicated in serious human rights abuses, from torture, disappearance, drug trafficking and murder. In 2009, SOA graduates overthrew the government in Honduras, while in Colombia, 10,000 troops have been trained to fight the “War on Drugs”. In October 2011, Time Magazine published the article “Is It Time to Shutter the Americas' 'Coup Academy'?”

This past week, people in Mexico convened for a National Forum Against Militarization in Mexico. SOA Watch stands in solidarity with them and draws inspiration from citizens of Mexico who have been rising up to resist this militarization.

Source: School of Americas Watch

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