SOA Watch, better known for its efforts to close the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA, is organizing a solidarity delegation to go to Chile in March. The delegation will learn about the efforts of high school and college students in that country who are challenging the Pinochet-era privatization policies in education. In a national plebiscite of a million voters, 80% supported the students' demands for free public education.
The delegation will also be supporting the Mapuche indigenous people's ongoing struggle to recover their ancestral lands. They currently have access to only 5% of these lands. Many have been imprisoned and mistreated. Currently there are 18 Mapuche political prisoners and 44 on conditional release.
Both the student and Mapuche protests have been brutally suppressed by Chilean security forces. During the seventeen-year Pinochet dictatorship, 3000 people were killed or disappeared by SOA graduates.
The Chilean branch of SOA WATCH will host a delegation from March 15-23, 2012 in solidarity with the students and the Mapuche people. The trip to Chile will also focus on the rich history of Chilean culture, particularly poet Pablo Neruda and singer/songwriter Victor Jara. Participants will visit Santiago and Valparaiso, led by SOA WATCH Communications Coordinator for Latin America, Pablo Ruiz, a former political prisoner and survivor of torture under the Pinochet regime.
The cost for this solidarity trip is $1,200. For more information, please contact Lisa Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org