Presente: Reflection on SOA Vigil 2015

Benedicta Quispe Martinez, 43 years old
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Cesar Flores Balboa, 1 year old
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Lorenza Janampa de la Cruz, 50 years old
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The names came in what felt like a somewhat endless stream.  Presente, meaning present in English, was said after each name.  These people were indeed not separate from us as we participated in a form of sacrament.

Miguel Flores Balboa, 6 years old
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Alejandro Pares de la Cruz, 14 years old
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Edgar Pulido Baldeon, 38 years old
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I remember the youngest names hitting the hardest during our short vigil. Ages 6-15 were not uncommon at all. A considerable piece of the argument from the School of the Americas is that “no school should be held accountable for the actions of its graduates,” and, I guess, if we're being completely honest, I can't hold them directly accountable for these murders in the same way I might the person who put ammunition into a gun and then shot a child in the head. But I can certainly hold them accountable for being the school that taught them how to target people who the government claimed to be dissident. How to hold total control. How to decimate the very communities they were once a part of without a shred of wariness.

Cornelio Quispe Baldeon, 35 years old
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Nirio Baldeon Ramirez, 3 years old
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Eugenia de la Cruz, 59 years old
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Some short excerpts from the CI (Counter-intelligence) manual taught to members of the School of the Americas.  These have since been redacted from the manual, but this is little recompense for somebody who has been murdered or had a family member's life taken.

"The CI agent could cause the arrest of the employee's parents, imprison the employee or give him a beating as part of the placement plan of said employee in the guerrilla organization."

"I am going to mention some of the mechanical methods to test, which could be used under certain extenuating circumstances. Sodiopentathol compound, which is an anesthetic drug, it could be used intravenously injected and would have the result of a 'truth serum'...Another method that can be used is hypnotism."

"Another function of CI agents is recommending CI targets for neutralizing. The CI targets can include personalities, installations, organizations, documents and materials. A CI target is someone or something that could be included in the above categories and could be hostile or not."

Julia Baldeon Garcia, 80 years old
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Filomeno Chuchon Teccsi, 32 years old
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Lourdes Mendoza Baleon, 12 years old
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The School of the Americas has since changed its name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, WHINSEC for short. A much more official sounding name and an attempt to rebrand as a boring government agency that should be ignored because its some sort of official something that the average citizen shouldn't care about. This rebranding has unfortunately been successful for the most part. Numbers for the SOA Watch in front of Ft. Benning have been in steady decline since 2011. It leaves me wondering though if this makes us as blind-sided by our governments atrocities as, say, Ignacio Ellacuria, Seguno Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno, Amado Lopez, Elba Ramos, and Celia Marisela on the day they were murdered by the Salvadoran Military for being suspected subversives. Or if this leaves us as unsuspecting as Robert Espinoza, Hugo Sanchez, Juan Figueroa, Heraclides Meza, Felipe Chipana, Luis Enrique Pereda, Armando Condor, Bertila Torres, Dora Fierro, or Marcelino Cardenas on the day that their university in Lima, La Cantuta, underwent a forced entry from the Grupo Colina death squad, overseen by an SOA graduate, and were never seen again. 

We need to be more vigilant than ever in opening the eyes of our local communities to the sorts of atrocities that the Unites States government is willing to condone for the sake of our military industrial complex. 

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