SOAWatch Action Delegation
1-7 August 2010
Bogota and Melgar Colombia
It's a great joy to be in Colombia speaking with Colombians, with one voice, against U.S. domination and militarization. Our delegation has been deeply moved by the strength and spirit of so many Colombians struggling for a just peace in Colombia. -- Father Roy Bourgeois
Three acts of nonviolent civil resistance
A group of eight human rights advocates from School of the Americas Watch, based in Washington DC, were in Colombia to protest a recent military agreement between the US and Colombia. Besides being given access to seven military bases, a cause of grave concern in the region, US soldiers would also be able to operate with complete impunity.
While the actions were extensively covered by Latin and South American media, the group knew North American media would only notice the actions if there were arrests, and possibly deportation.
On Tuesday, August 3, the activists trespassed at the Tolemaida Army Base in Melgar, Colombia and refused to leave the property. At the main gate the group held a large yellow, red and blue banner, printed in Spanish and English, that read: "Fuera los militares Norteamericanos de Colombia - US military out of Colombia". Colombian authorities first responded by trying to negotiate with the group to leave the property. Failing that, trucks were parked to block the sign. A tanker truck to "spray" the protesters followed. Several dozen Colombian soldiers with M16s arrived. And finally a dozen or so police officers from Melgar. The group stood their ground on military property, while the authorities attempted to intimidate but avoided arresting them.
The following day, at the same military base, the group was joined by over 80 Colombians who traveled from Bogota to stand in solidarity with the North American protesters. The SOAW group was able to stand in the road leading into the base for several hours, while authorities diverted traffic around them. The army's final response was to block the groups' advance up the entry road, towards the gate, with a line of soldiers. While most Colombian supporters stayed on the legal side of a human barricade of soldiers, several walked back and forth, standing with the banner holders. They told the SOAW group that if it wasn't for their presence, they would have been "swept-up" by police or soldiers upon their arrival.
On Friday, August 6, after being denied a meeting with anyone at the US Embassy in Bogota a day earlier, the group again took to the streets. This time in front of the embassy where they were joined by Uncle 'Tio' Sam, holding a sign reading "Colombia is My Country". The response by Metro and National Police officers was the same: attempt to block the sign with motorcycles, cars and officers. They avoided making any arrests, even when Uncle Sam hopped on one of their bikes.
View a Slideshow from each Action
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Tuesday, 3 AUG
Tolemaida Army Base
Melgar, Colombia
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Wednesday, 4 AUG
Tolemaida Army Base
Melgar, Colombia
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Friday, 6 AUG
United States Embassy
Bogota, Colombia

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These are visual representations of the events. They are not meant to be complete, but rather a glimpse of the moment.
158 images. © 2010 tBottolene/ All rights reserved.
Meet the people and groups we met. Reports/images posted soon.
Meet the Delegation
(left to right) Ed Kinane, NY, Roy Bourgeois, GA, Moira Kenny, TX, Wayne Wittman, MN, Rebecca Kanner, MI, Joe Mulligan, MI, Ann Tiffany, NY and Margaret Knapke, OH. Download their bio sheet (.pdf) - click here »
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