A publication of the Latin America Solidarity Committee Fall 2009
Fort Benning and the SOA Watch, Then and Now
by Peg Morton
I have been a fan of the SOA Watch
movement ever since I began participating
about nine years ago
and I continue to be
inspired by the creative
ways in which the
movement has changed
SOA Watch now
has a permanent office
in Latin America
make regular visits.
I’m not exactly sure what I expected to find
in El Salvador when I visited for the first time
this summer, but I do know that any expectations
I may have had would have fallen utterly short.
I had spent the last few years studying social
movements in Latin America, pouring over books
and films about revolutions, popular movements,
and the current situations in these diverse nations.
I had decided to spend my summer working
somewhere in the continent, and after Mauricio
Funes won the presidency in March, El Salvador
quickly rose to the top of my list of places to
be. My hope was to gain some insight into what
this political victory would mean for the people
of El Salvador, Latin America, and beyond. An
opportunity arose to teach English classes for an
NGO named Centro de Intercambio y Solidaridad
(CIS) in San Salvador, so I decided to jump on it.
I arrived in San Salvador on the morning
of June 11, just 10 days after Funes was
inaugurated as president. You could literally feel
Peg at Close the SOA display in Eugene, May 27
have withdrawn their troops from military
training at the SOA/WHINSEC at Fort Benning.
There are deepening
actions and informative
articles in solidarity
with the struggles in
Latin America. For
example, SOA Watch has
denounced the Honduras
coup and sent an
emergency delegation to
Honduras. They continue
to urge congressional
continued on page 6
LASCera Finds Salvadoran People Ready for Change
by Heather Wolford
the excitement in the air. It was clear from the
very beginning that I was bearing witness to a
very important moment in Salvadoran history,
as the transition from an ARENA-dominated
government began. While ARENA still held a
slight majority in the National Assembly, FMLN
candidates won many important races throughout
the nation, including the presidency. Political
graffiti and posters covered walls throughout the
city, the vast majority of which in support of the
new president. One favorite piece of graffiti,
found on a wall outside the national university,
declared “ARENA=miseria”. The faces of Funes
and the new vice-president, Salvador Sánchez
Cerén, were everywhere, along with their
campaign slogan, “Un cambio seguro”. Women
making pupusas on the street were wearing
FMLN t-shirts, and red flags were flying on the
mountainsides. It seemed that the people of El
Salvador were ready for change.
This was not what I had expected to see in
continued on page 7
*The 18th Annual Smashing Estate Sale raised
almost $700 toward our rent payments to CALC,
and it also helped us connect with our neighbors
here in the Whiteaker neighborhood.
*Published and mailed Summer El Aviso newsletter.
*Informal presentation/potluck on the People’s
Summit of the Americas by UO professor Irmany
*The Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba stopped
in Eugene; we held a potluck dinner and a
discussion of US-Cuba relations, led by members
of the delegation heading south.
*LASC began holding weekly vigils for the
return of democracy to Honduras on the corner of
7th and Pearl.
*LCC intern Jessica and office volunteer
extraordinaire Dorothea organized a bakesale at
the UO Bookstore. Despite 106-degree heat and
several bureaucratic barriers, the sale raised over
Jessica Zuckerman and Dorothea Marcomb
staff the July bakesale (picture taken before
thermometer topped 100 degrees)
Recent LASC Activities
*Began working on this issue of El Aviso—and
now it’s finally done!
*New table banner and a new email listserv both
debuted, both of which will promote “LASC” as
our not so new name.
*Hosted Jose Cervantes, UO grad and first-year
med student at Cuba’s Latin American School of
Medicine (see short piece on page ---).
*Cohosted with CALC a Latino Art Show at 458
Blair Blvd., as part of the Whiteaker Last Friday
*Fall program work began: the “Close the School
of the Americas” subcommittee was reborn, a
push to normalize relations with Cuba and “Free
the Five” started up, and work began in earnest
by a local coalition (including LASC) that is working
to bring attention to resisting “free trade”.
*LASC tabled at Eugene Celebration with CALC
and Campaign to Counter Military Recruitment
*SAT, 9/12: National (and local) Day of Action
to Free the Five; local signature-gathering at the
*Hosted a presentation by Mike Beilstein of
Corvallis, and recently of the Pastors for Peace
Caravan to Cuba
Recent Activities.........................................page 2
Local Action for Honduras.........................page 3
Latin America School of Medicine.............page 3
Immigration Reform for America...............page 4
Lawsuit for the Cuban 5.............................page 5
Upcoming Events.......................................page 7
LASC is looking for volunteers and interns! Call
485-8633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page 2 El Aviso
Local Action for Honduras
Since a military coup brought down the elected
government of Honduras on June 28th, LASC has
held a sign-waving vigil at the Old Federal Building
in Eugene every Monday afternoon. Beyond raising
awareness in the local community and calling
for action by the Obama administration, these
gatherings have also been a time for LASCers to
share the latest about the situation, and to plan new
stratgies for action. As this issue goes to press,
President Zelaya has returned to Honduras, but his
calls for dialogue are still being ignored by the coup
regime. For information on upcoming actions on
Honduras, go to our website at www.efn.org/~ciscap
and click on “Calendar.”
OSU Alum José Cervantes
Reports After First Year at
Cuban Med School
by Jessica Zuckerman
On Thursday, August 27th, LASC held a
potluck in honor of OSU alum José Cervantes who
returned from his first year studying at the Latin
America School of Medicine. The school, which
was established in 1999, is located in Cuba and is
free to those who attend. Over ten thousand students
from twenty-seven countries go to the school. José
described his application and interview process, his
housing, food and studies. He was accompanied to
this event by Juanita Rodriquez, who encouraged
him to apply to the school. She is from Corvallis
and they had met while he was a student at Oregon
Students from LASM are encouraged to go back
to their communities after graduation to work in
low-income communities. Tuition, accommodation
and room and board are provided by the school
and students also receive a small stipend. After
Sixth Annual Benefit
to Close the SOA
2274 Onyx St.,
two years at the school, students are placed in
internships in Cuba using their medical knowledge
and obtaining hands on experience.
About twenty people attended the event and
brought delicious food to share. Many of the
attendees shared their past experiences about Cuba
and asked Jose great questions. Look for more
information from LASC on the Latin America
School of Medicine, and updates on José, in the
El Aviso Page 3
What is the
Campaign to Reform Immigration for America?
by Guadalupe Quinn
The Campaign to Reform Immigration for
America is a united national effort that brings
together individuals and grassroots organizations
with the mission to build support for workable
comprehensive immigration reform.
The campaign connects people from
communities across the country who are ready to
work together towards achieving the 279 votes
needed to win just and humane comprehensive
immigration reform legislation: 218 votes in the
House of Representatives, 60 votes in the Senate
and one signature from the President.
We will be working especially hard with
advocates and leaders from faith communities,
small business owners, unions and labor advocates,
and community-based civil rights, human rights and
Our vision of reform is immigrants and nativeborn
U.S. citizens working shoulder to shoulder
to achieve better wages, working conditions, and
labor protections. Making sure everyone is playing
by the same set of rules so that it is harder for
unscrupulous employers to cheat immigrants and
therefore harder for everyone to be cheated. We
need to build faith in our immigration system so that
people respect the process and so that the process
respects them. That’s our vision for a stronger
Plain and simple, the U.S. immigration system
– as it currently exists and operates – no longer
works. Fixing it presents a daunting challenge,
but action must be taken sooner rather than later.
The time is now to do the right thing and fight for
practical solutions that benefit all of us and are
rooted in the restoration of the rule of law, earned
citizenship, united families, and fair treatment of
Untargeted raids in workplaces and
neighborhoods and rogue enforcement agents at
all levels are terrorizing immigrant workers and
families without making us any safer and without
fixing the real problems with our immigration
system. Families are being divided as our out-ofdate
laws force many American families to remain
separated for years – and in some cases, decades
– because of backlogs and barriers to family
unification in our immigration system.
American-born workers suffer if there is a vast
pool of undocumented workers who are easily
exploited who can be used as a tool by employers in
unfair competition. All of us are stronger if all of us
Finally, our outdated laws are practically
unenforceable, driving too much immigration into
the black market and not enough immigration
through legal and orderly channels for immigrants
who want to work in this country. The result is
hundreds of thousands of immigrants being detained
each year, hundreds of thousands deported, people
forced to take life threatening risks because they
cannot enter legally, people dying in the desert, and
people dying in detention due to awful conditions
and official neglect. We can and must do better.
Guadalupe Quinn is a local immigration rights
activist. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Page 4 El Aviso
Lawsuit Goes After
Another Failure of Justice
in Cuban 5 Trial
by Dennis Gilbert
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, acting
on behalf of the National Committee to Free the
Cuban Five, filed a lawsuit on Sept. 9, 2009 in U.S.
District Court for the District of Columbia against
the Broadcasting Board of Directors (BBG) because
it has “unlawfully failed to disclose specific U.S.
government-paid contracts with journalists” who
published materials that were negative to Cuba and
prejudicial to the case of the Cuban Five.
The legal complaint states: “The public is
entitled to know to what extent the U.S. government
covertly paid journalists who wrote stories related to
the case [of the Cuban 5] ... that were likely to reach
and influence both the jury pool and the seated jury
while the U.S. simultaneously carried out these
The National Committee to Free the Cuban
Five, under the Freedom of Information Act,
submitted a request on Jan. 23, 2009 to the BBG
seeking public disclosure of the BBG’s funding of
journalists including specifically identified contracts
between the BBG and these journalists. The
government is unlawfully refusing to produce these
BACKGROUND TO THE LAWSUIT
Beginning soon after the arrest of the Cuban
Five on September 12, 1998, and continuing
through the trial, the Miami media played a major
role in creating a hostile atmosphere in the city,
through newspaper, television and radio.
It has since emerged that many of the journalists
in Miami who claimed to be independent reporters
were being paid by the United States government,
through the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB)
and the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG),
which oversee U.S.-sponsored Radio and TV
Martí. The BBG is prohibited by law from funding
domestic propaganda and attempting to influence
U.S. opinion, yet has apparently been funding
journalists who place stories in domestic media
outlets. Furthermore, if the U.S. government was, as
it appears, funding journalists who wrote incendiary
and false stories about the Cuban Five which were
likely to influence and taint both the jury pool and
the seated jury while simultaneously prosecuting the
Five, it would raise serious issues of government
misconduct and deprivation of the right to a fair
ABOUT PARTNERSHIP FOR CIVIL JUSTICE
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund is a
public interest legal organization in Washington,
D.C. that handles constitutional law, civil rights,
women’s rights, economic justice matters and
Freedom of Information Act cases (JusticeOnline.
org). Founded by Carl Messineo and Mara
Verheyden-Hilliard, the PCJF has litigated landmark
First Amendment Rights cases against federal and
local law enforcement agencies. PCJ’s litigation
was also the first to expose the use of the FBI’s
Joint Terrorism Task Force against political activists
in the U.S. and also revealed that the District of
Columbia police maintained a domestic spying
operation in which officers were sent on long-term
infiltration assignments posing as members of
protest groups to report on political activities, even
in the absence of allegations of criminal activity.
PCJF has pursued government openness through
FOIA filings and litigation, including a campaign in
defense of free speech rights, and efforts to disclose
information on imprisonment and torture carried out
under the Bush administration.
ABOUT THE NATIONAL COMMITTEE TO
FREE THE CUBAN FIVE
The National Committee to Free the Cuban
Five was formed in June 2001, soon after the
unjust convictions of the Five. It has organized
hundreds of forums, speaking engagements, and
public actions in support of the Cuban Five. The
Committee is a grassroots organization involved in
research, documentation and dissemination of the
Five’s case through printed publications, internet
outreach, video and communications to the national
and international media. It maintains the most
extensive website at www.freethefive.org
LOCAL EFFORT TO FREE THE FIVE
If you want to support the efforts to Free the
Five in Eugene-Springfield, contact organizer
Dennis Gilbert at 556-8676, or firstname.lastname@example.org
El Aviso Page 5
(SOAW continued from page 1)
representatives to sign the resolution sponsored
by Bella Hunt of Massachusetts that condemns
the coup and demands the unconditional return of
The spring-summer issue of their newsletter
¡Presente! includes an excellent article on the
militarization of Mexico, one applauding the recent
victory of the FMLN in El Salvador and another,
which challenges the SOA Watch and the peace
movement in general for our continuing racism
My personal story:
I have participated in the many faceted efforts of
the SOA Watch since 2000:
-In 2000, there was a coordinated two-week
long fast and action. Several of us in Oregon were
able to maintain the fast and a presence at the
Federal Building daily for the entire time.
-Other activists and I from Eugene have formed
delegations to Fort Benning each year and returned
to give educational programs. This annual massive
and imaginative temporary community of action is
an important and inspiring experience.
-I have lobbied many times when in
Washington, D.C., and participated locally in the
legislative campaign to close the school.
An important component of the SOA Watch
campaign is civil disobedient actions to close the
school, by illegally and nonviolently crossing the
line onto the property of Fort Benning. As of now,
294 people have served 97 years in prison and 53
years of house arrest and probation.
-My first act of civil disobedience at Fort
Benning was in 2000, I believe, when our affinity
group brought and buried dolls representing
slaughtered Latin American people. I brought
a handmade family of dolls that represented the
family of Jesus Teku, who at the age of 11 lost all
but one of his family in a massacre in Guatemala.
That year, and in the two previous years, over
one thousand people crossed the line. We were
detained, fingerprinted, given “ban and bar”
letters, and released. After 9/11, the Fort Benning
converges continued, thanks to successful court
actions. Fewer people have crossed the line each
year since then, all going to trial and most ending
up in prison. In 2003, I joined the group crossing
the line, went to trial, and served in federal prison
work camp for three months in 2004. That action
was for me a time of deepening involvement and
development of friendships with people who
continue to inspire me, both in the SOA Watch
movement and inmates in the prison where I served.
The prison term was an education for me in our
system of injustice. Following that experience, I
was invited to speak at many events around Oregon,
indicating the effectiveness of this kind of civil
Invitation for Involvement:
-The movement is seeking a huge Convergence
at Fort Benning this year from November 20 – 22.
If you are interested in joining our delegation,
contact Scott Miksch at LASC, 485-8633, or
-Look for local actions to coordinate with the
November Fort Benning Convergence.
-Tom Rawson, beloved folk-singer, is again
joining us for a fundraising concert on Saturday
October 17 at 7:00pm at the Eugene Friends
Meeting House, 2274 Onyx. Do come!
-Donate to help our delegation to Fort Benning.
Make checks out to LASC and note for SOA Watch.
-Write or call Senators Merkley and Wyden,
urging their support to close the school and contact
Representative Peter DeFazio to thank him for his
co-sponsorship of the current bill to close the school
- HR2567 - The Latin America Training Review Act.
-Read ¡Presente!, the publication put out by
the SOA Watch. Copies are available in the LASC
office, at events and at the SOA Watch website -
-Join us on the corner of 7 th and Pearl each
Monday from 4:30 – 5:30 for a vigil to demand a
return to democracy in Honduras.
-Consider participating in an SOA Watch
delegation to Chile, October 9 – 18 and to
Colombia, November 28 – December 6.
Page 6 El Aviso
(Ready for Change, continued from page 1)
a nation where death squads operated well after
the signing of Peace Accords in January of 1992.
While I did not have a context against which to
judge the current political atmosphere, I found it to
be surprisingly open. According to the Salvadorans
with whom I spoke, the society has undergone many
drastic changes in this respect over the last 5 years
or so. Generally speaking, people are no longer
living in fear - at least not of the government. It is
now gangs and the horrendous economic situation
(which has only gotten worse since the end of the
war) that has people worried. They are not afraid
of being scooped up by men in a jeep with tinted
windows and never being heard from again; they
are afraid of being shot on a bus, and of not being
able to feed their families. Crime and poverty are
certainly not new concerns in El Salvador, or any of
Latin America for that matter, but they have taken
on new appearances over the years.
What most impressed me about the people
of El Salvador is that, after all they and those
who came before them have experienced, they
continue to be cautiously optimistic, and simply
some of the kindest, most gracious people I have
ever encountered. One of the highlights of this
experience was hearing the testimony of a man
named Don Pablo, who was from the community
of Cinquera. He lost 4 of his 5 children in the war,
and told of atrocities that are simply beyond belief.
I asked him if he had hope that the new government
would, or really could, work to improve the
situation of the people in his country. He told me
that many people have very high hopes for the new
government, but they also are very realistic about
what a new president can accomplish within a
system that has been so corrupted for so long. They
do not put all their faith in one man, and they know
that they must all work together for the common
good. I think that to a large degree it is this sense
of community that has allowed the Salvadoran
people to persevere through times that are, for us,
It remains to be seen what lies ahead for this
amazingly beautiful country. With a history
characterized by strife and political unrest, there
are many forces working against the movement
for lasting change that would work in favor of the
people El Salvador. It seems quite likely, however,
that this time the force of the people may prevail.
WED-FRI, Oct. 7-9: UO Street Faire, tabling to
reach out to the UO community. 10am-4pm, EMU
amphitheater, 13th and University, Eugene. Contact
the office to staff the table for an hour or two.
MON, October 12: LASC “New Interest Meeting”:
These “Intro to LASC” meetings are set up
for people who want to learn more about the organization
and how to get involved in local Latin
American solidarity work. The meetings are very
informal and there will be plenty of opportunities to
get answers to any questions you might have. 7pm,
Suite One of the EMU, UO Campus
TUE, October 13: Subcommittee meeting for
LASC’s “Close the SOA!” campaign, 6:30pm at
World Cafe (441 Blair). Discuss delegation to Ft.
Benning and plan local events. All are welcome to
join the campaign at this open meeting.
SAT, Oct. 17: Singer/storyteller Tom Rawson
returns to Eugene for our annual “Close the SOA”
Benefit Concert. 7pm at the Eugene Friends Meeting
House, 2274 Onyx Street, Eugene. Opening
act: In Accord
late October: Winter El Aviso production begins
(publication date in early December)
SAT, Oct. 24: Cornucopia, CALC’s annual multicultural
celebration--live music, silent auction, and
all the ice cream you can eat! 6:30-10pm, Eugene
Hilton, downtown Eugene.
November 20-22: National gathering at Ft Benning
in Georgia to close the SOA
SAT, November 21: Local action and teach-in focusing
on so-called Free Trade and its negative effects
on people here and in Latin America. Presentation
and discussion from 1-4pm in the Fir Room of the
EMU, UO campus. Music, socializing that evening.
SUN, November 22: Local vigil to close the SOA-location
and time TBA
SAT, December 5: Regional gathering in Portland
around so-called Free Trade, and commemorating
the victory of grassroots actions against theWorld
Trade Organization in Seattle ten years ago.
El Aviso Page 7
Support the Latin America Solidarity Committee
Keep LASC strong. Become a LASC member or renew your membership.
____ Yes, I want to become a LASC member, or renew my LASC membership. Enclosed is my contribution of
$____________ ($10/year regular, $5, student/low income).
____ I want to become a sustaining member of LASC (sustaining members make a quarterly donation, and receive
a quarterly update and return envelop as a reminder). Enclosed is my first contribution of $200, $150, $100,
$50, or other $____________.
____ I would like to contribution to CISCAP by volunteering my time—please contact me soon.
City__________________________State________ Zip_________ Phone____________
Make checks payable to LASC. Mail to LASC, 458 Blair Blvd, Eugene, 97402.
For tax deduction, make checks out to LASC/CISPES Ed Fund.
Tel: (541) 485-8633, E-mail: email@example.com, Web: www.efn.org/~ciscap
Latin America Solidarity Committee
458 Blair Blvd.
Eugene, OR 97402
Address Service Requested
Printed on recycled paper.
To all of the great volunteers putting in time at the office--so much of what LASC
does is done behind the scenes by you! Thanks Greg, Dorothea, and Ronan, and
others who have helped out from time to time during the summer.
To our outstanding summer intern Jessica--thanks for all the time and energy you
put into your work at LASC!
To individual LASCers who made a significant contribution to our
publiceducational events over the past few months. And especially Bryan for
hiswork on Honduras, Dennis for his work on the Free the Cuban Five campaign,
and Peg for her tireless work on closing the SOA.
And last but not least, to the Spring ‘09 El Aviso production team: Jessica
(editing); Malin (ad sales), Ronan (layout) and Herb at PeaceRoseGraphics
U.S. Postage Paid
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