Final Day of SOA Watch Border Encuentro at US-Mexico Border

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.

If you like my work you can support me on Patreon and I can cover more stories like this. https://www.patreon.com/DanielShular

A memorial for 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez who was killed by a U.S. border patrol agent in 2012 located near the Border Encuentro in Nogales, Sonora on November 12, 2017.

A banner hung on the US-Mexico border wall near the stage for the SOA Watch Border Encuentro that says We Want Justice to Repair Our Dreams in Spanish in Nogales, Sonora on November 12, 2017.

Wooden crosses set along the US-Mexico border wall for people who have died trying to cross through the Sonora Desert from Mexico into the United States. Nogales, Sonora, November 12, 2017.

Wooden crosses set along gates in the street during the SOA Watch Border Encuentro for people who have died trying to cross through the Sonora Desert from Mexico into the United States. Nogales, Sonora, November 12, 2017.

A protester on the United States side of the border wall records the Border Encuentro stage on the Mexico side on November 12, 2017.

Two members on HIJOS Guatemala address the crowd on the final day of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Sonora on November 12, 2017.

An artist screenprints the image that was wheat-pasted for the backdrop of the stage on tshirts and posters for protesters on both sides of the US-Mexico border wall in Nogales, Sonora on November 12, 2017.

A protester performs a smudging ceremony for people standing on both sides of the border wall on the last day of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Sonora on November 12, 2017

A protester performs a smudging ceremony for people standing on both sides of the border wall on the last day of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Sonora on November 12, 2017

Protesters attending the final day of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro on the United States side raise wooden crosses as the names of people who have died trying to cross the border out of Mexico and into the United States are read. Nogales, Arizona, November 12, 2017.

A puppet representing Uncle Sam is walked through the crowd during a puppet show about the border is put on before the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Arizona on November 12, 2017.

A protester dressed as a border patrol agent during a puppet show about the border put on before the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Arizona on November 12, 2017.

A protester dressed as a border patrol agent during a puppet show about the border put on before the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Arizona on November 12, 2017.

The Uncle Sam puppet falls down during a puppet show about the border put on before the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Arizona on November 12, 2017.

Protesters dressed as butterflies and holding butterflies up on poles run around the border wall in a puppet show about the border put on before the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Arizona on November 12, 2017.

A Quetzalcoatl puppet is carried through the crowd during a puppet show about the border put on before the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Arizona on November 12, 2017.

Protesters spray each other’s hands with spray paint to leave handprints on the US-Mexico border wall during the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, AZ on November 12, 2017.

Protesters spray each other’s hands with spray paint to leave handprints on the US-Mexico border wall during the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, AZ on November 12, 2017.

Protesters spray each other’s hands with spray paint to leave handprints on the US-Mexico border wall during the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, AZ on November 12, 2017.

Protesters spray each other’s hands with spray paint to leave handprints on the US-Mexico border wall during the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, AZ on November 12, 2017.

A puppet passes through the crowd of protesters during the puppet show about the border put on before the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Arizona on November 12, 2017.

A protester holds up a wooden cross during the closing of the SOA Watch Border Encuentro in Nogales, Arizona on November 12, 2017.

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