During the second term of George W. Bush and the first year of Obama’s presidency, the State Department regularly disclosed which units in the Colombian military were approved to receive U.S. assistance. Although not published by the State Department, the disclosure permitted a minimal level of transparency about how taxpayer dollars were being used in a controversial war. It also facilitated minimal oversight for compliance with the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. assistance to any foreign military unit for which there is credible evidence that members have committed a gross human rights abuse.
White House, Washington, D.C. - On Sunday, April 10, 27 human rights activists were arrested in front of the White House when they staged a die-in on the White House sidewalk to call attention to thousands of Latin Americans who were murdered by graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas. Kevin Moran, a Presbyterian Peace Fellowship National Committee member from Atlanta, Georgia, was among those arrested, as was Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch. The die-in followed a march of hundreds of human rights activists to the White House. The march included torture survivors, union workers, educators and students from across the Americas. Marchers carried banners, flags and large puppets, including a 14-foot tall Mother of the Disappeared with them to the White House.
Photos of the march, the nonviolent direct action and the arrests will be available on the SOA Watch webpage www.SOAW.org soon.
With 5.2 million internally-displaced persons officially registered by Colombian human rights group CODHES, Colombia is now host to the largest internal-displacement crisis in the world. This means that 1 in 11 Colombians have been violently forced to flee from their homes and are living as refugees in their own country, while another half million people have been forced to live in desperate conditions outside its borders.