SOAW Reflections by Chapter 51

October 26, 2016

by Ed Kinane, Chapter 51

Several of us from Central New York  joined the School of the Americas Watch October 7-9 annual weekend which for the first time was held at the Nogales, Mexico/Nogales, Arizona border. We participated in marches and bi-lingual rallies on both sides of the towering barrier separating the two Nogales.

The weekend provided a broad window on grassroots work being done in that  region on border and refugee issues. Focusing on the Mexican side of the “fence,” we took take part in a rally with U.S. vets deported to Mexico and with undocumented parents who were deported and
separated from their children, who, born in the U.S., were U.S.citizens. After the rally we joined the Veterans for Peace procession through downtown Nogales, Mexico.

To learn more about the weekend – and its dramatic resistance action –see

In bi-lingual workshops we heard about the hands-on work of Las Patronas, Mexican women who for the last 22 years have been tossing packets of food to undocumented migrants as they reach out from northbound trains speeding by.  Also impressive were the Samaritans. Los Samaritanos go out into the desert providing medical care and placing food and gallons of water
along trails used by refugees heading north on foot through that lethal wilderness.

On October 9 we attended “Migrant Sunday” at Tucson’s Southside Presbyterian Church.
Its moving tri-lingual woman-led liturgy culminated with a procession of the whole congregation out to a shrine in the court yard. Each of us, chanting, bore a rock with the name of a refugee whose body had been found in the desert during the past year and placed that rock
under the shrine. With the accumulated rocks of earlier years, that pile was disturbingly high.