[Last] weekend, Green Party members from Georgia and far beyond will again gather with nearly 25,000 justice-loving individuals of all persuasions for an annual vigil at the gates of Ft. Benning. Led by School of the Americas Watch (http://www.soaw.org), the yearly ritual has become a centerpiece of the mass movement to close a terrorist training camp operated on Georgia soil that has led countries throughout the Americas to withdraw their students from its program.
“Regardless of which corporate Party wins the election, it seems US foreign policy continues to serve investment interests over those of the American people,” said Denice Traina, former Co-Chair of the Georgia Green Party, a physical therapist from Augusta who has traveled with her kids to the annual vigil 13 of the last 14 years.
The recent ouster of Manuel Zelaya as the legitimately elected leader of Honduras has been tied to the leadership of graduates of the Georgia terrorist training camp. The military backed regime has suspended civil liberties, authorizing arrests without warrants in blatant violation of the Central American government’s constitution.
“U.S. fingerprints are all over President Zelaya’s ouster, despite the Obama Administration’s attempt to maintain plausible deniability for the coup,” said Michael Canney, a Florida Green who recently represented the U.S. Green Party in annual meeting of the Federation of Green Parties of the Americas in Santiago, Chile.
“Throughout the Americas, there is growing concern that the Obama Administration is continuing the discredited policies of the Bush Administration,” added Canney, citing as examples the escalating military presence in Colombia and the military buildup represented by the US Fourth Fleet, recommissioned in 2008 to patrol the Caribbean, Central and South American coasts.
Noting that the Fourth Fleet’s flagship will be a new nuclear aircraft carrier, which will be based at a $500 million docking facility, soon to be built at the Mayport naval base in Jacksonville, Florida, Canney said. “Obama’s failure to break with the ‘gunboat diplomacy’ of the last century is viewed with alarm by folks across this hemisphere. They feel betrayed and disappointed, and they aren’t buying the ‘war on drugs’ and the ‘war on terrorism’ as pretexts for US military expansion in the region.”
Prior to the coup, the Zelaya administration was planning to convert a major Honduran military air base into a civilian airport, with funding from ALBA, a banking and trade alliance for Latin America and the Caribbean initiated by Venezuela and Cuba in 2004 as an alternative to the FTAA. Current members of the alliance include Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador. Honduras joined ALBA in October 2008. The Soto Cano air base (aka Palmerola) was built up by the US in the 1980’s as part of the contra war against Nicaragua, and is home to “Joint Task Force Bravo”.
The Obama administration has declined to name the change of leadership in the sovereign nation of Honduras as the “coup-d’etat” the world recognizes it as. When all other countries recalled their ambassadors, the U.S. Government maintained its embassy and the recognition of the illegitimate coup leaders as speaking for the people of Honduras.
“Once you are aware, you just can’t ignore the truth,” said Traina, whose service in the Peace Corps took her to Paraguay where she met her husband and the father of her two sons. “One is compelled to be vigilant about the injustices perpetrated in our names and with our tax dollars. Closing this school is no longer enough. We must spread the truth to others so these crimes are never conducted in our country’s name again.”
Georgia Green Party
Since this is posted after the demonstration at Fort Benning, please note that there are some updates about the overall event at School of The Americas Watch website: here.
Thousands attended the event. Four veteran human rights defenders crossed the line Sunday morning and were arrested: Nancy Gwin of Syracuse, NY; Ken Hayes of Austin, TX; Fr. Louis Vitale of Oakland, CA and Michael Walli of Washington, DC. Their court appearance–where it is said they will “put the School of the Americas on trial”–is January 25, 2010.