Challenging U.S. intervention in Latin America, la lucha continua

News
Pentagon Pulls Out All The StopsSOA Funding Approved byNarrowest Vote Yet
Movement to counter U.S.funding of repression through the SOA/WHINSEC & the ILEA continues

On June 22 the U.S. House ofRepresentatives voted to approve foreign operations appropriations for 2008,including funds for the International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEAs) and theSchool of the Americas/WHINSEC. Although this years budget appropriations willresult in another year of operation for these two training institutions, thisvote was just one mile-marker in a growing campaign to stop the U.S.'s work ofundermining democracy and sovereignty in El Salvador and the Americas. And weare clearly making important headway. You can help ensure that CISPES's campaign to close the ILEA continues bysupporting our ongoing work!

The vote to cut funding from the School of the Americas came closer than ever to winning. Only after the Pentagon convinced a pro-military Democrat to argue strongly in support of the SOA was the Bush Administration able to stop the amendment from going throughthe final vote was 203 in favor of cutting SOA/WHINSEC funding and 214 against. Click here to see how your Rep voted and check out the webpage of SOA Watch for more analysis about the vote.

The final version of the appropriations bill includes $15 million for the functioning of the ILEAs, including the "ILEA-South" in El Salvador. Congress approved spending taxpayers money on a second year of operation for the ILEA-South despite opposition in the U.S. and El Salvador, and despite the fact that most Representatives know nothing about what the U.S. actually teaches at the ILEA. The State Department has refused to release important information about what takes places behind the closed doors of the ILEA, going so far as to claim that they do not have syllabi for their classes to share with CISPES or other human rights organizations. Yet by continuing to fund and run the academy, the U.S. government shows its de facto support for the repression carried out by the Salvadoran national police. For more info check out a full report on the CISPES visit to the ILEA, a fact sheet on recent human right abuses in El Salvador, and an article by CISPES about the ILEA published on Upsidedownworld.org.

Despite the disappointing vote, the grassroots work to slow the machine of U.S. intervention by shutting down the ILEA has had some great successes this year. CISPES is building coalitions at the national and local level that will increase our impact both around the ILEA and around other elements of U.S. militarism and intervention in the Americas. The work to focus on funding in Congress has also led to an effective grassroots congressional pressure campaign. Our committees have built a number of positive relationships with Representatives who have expressed a commitment to continued strategizing around the ILEA. Finally, and most importantly, hundreds of people have taken the issue of the ILEA and repression to the streets. Activists have gone out with petitions, postcards, letters to Salvadoran officials, canvasses, and posters to get the word out about repression and militarization. Last week CISPES sent 6 organizers to the U.S. Social Forum to participate in this historic gathering and to raise awareness about U.S. support for increasing repression in El Salvador, making the links between international solidarity and community organizing in the U.S.

Continued funding of both the ILEA and the SOA by a Democratic-led Congresselected by a population demanding an end to waris worrisome and disappointing. However, the grassroots movement to re-orient U.S. foreign policy continues to grow, and with increased education and mobilization we WILL eventually stop training programs aimed at teaching repression in the Americas.

The next steps in our campaign will be key discussions at the CISPES 12th National Convention in Boston, MA from July 27-29. (For details about the pre-Convention public event on July 27 please call Boston CISPES at 617-576-1709). Convention delegates will debate and adopt strategy and program to counter Bushs interventionism, protest the continuing repression in El Salvador, and support the FMLN and the social movement in campaigns of resistance, especially leading up to the 2009 Salvadoran elections.

So stay tunedLa Lucha Sigue!

And please take a moment right now to renew your support for this vital work by making a secure online donation. Your contribution will help build continued resistance in El Salvador and the United States.

Krista Hanson, CISPES program director

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