This past weekend was the second SOA Watch Border Encuentro that was held in Tucson and Eloy, AZ, and Nogales, a city that is split by the US-Mexico border. SOA Watch is an organization that has advocated since 1990 for the closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the US Army School of Americas. The annual SOA Watch protests were held at Ft. Benning in Georgia until 2016 when the protest was moved to the border town of Nogales.
The demands of the protest from the SOA Watch website are
- An end to US economic, military and political intervention in Latin America
- Demilitarization and divestment of the borders
- An end to the racist systems of oppression that criminalize and kill migrants, refugees, and communities of color
- Respect, dignity, justice and the right to self-determination of communities
- An end to Plan Mérida and the Alliance for Prosperity
The weekend started with several protest groups from all over the United States and Latin America meeting up for workshops and training at the Tucson YWCA then a march and rally at the Federal Court building. The rally there was to bring attention to Operation Streamline, a program that takes a zero-tolerance approach to illegal immigration, where up to 70 people can be charged at the same time. The first offense is a misdemeanor and re-entry is a felony.
After the rally protesters drove to Eloy, AZ where the Eloy Detention Center is located and where many undocumented immigrants who have been tried through Operation Streamline are held. As the group gathered the prisoners could be heard banging on the windows. A stage was set up in an open area across the street from the detention center where a vigil was held. After the speakers and music finished protesters passed out glow sticks and candles to rally closer to the detention center.
The next day protesters marched from the Hotel Americana to the border wall that splits the city of Nogales where the group split at the Nogales/Morley Gate. There were stages on both sides of the wall where rallies were held on Saturday and Sunday, and breakout workshops and sessions on Saturday on both sides of the border.
I will have a highlight video up in the next few days, but it will be on Patreon before it is posted here.
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