On June 21, Long Island SOA Watch activists Mara Bard and her husband, Enzo Bard, joined leaders of 20 social movements from the U.S., Canada, and Latin America at a conference where they will share strategies to resist the increase in U.S. military intervention in the region, as well as strategies to close the infamous School of the Americas, which continues to train Latin American military.
The Encuentro of the Americas, which was convened by SOA Watch, is taking place in Sanare, Venezuela, and will continue until June 25. Among the delegates are educators, lawyers, priests, nuns, and human rights activists. SOA Watch founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois explains, “We have a lot of hope in this gathering, in coming together to work for peace, for the closing of the military bases and of the School of the Americas, things that do nothing positive for our people…. The poor need hospitals, food, medicine, and this is what the United States should share with our brother-sister countries.”
Mara and Enzo were exiled from Argentina in the late 1970s. Enzo, an SOAW board member and treasurer of the Freeport Community Worklink Center, was part of Argentina’s La Plata student movement, which was often targeted by the country’s military in the “dirty war.” He says, “Being originally from Latin America, expressing solidarity with the South is natural for me.”
Mara’s hope is that “Encuentro will teach us how to help the resistance in Latin America to the oppressive U.S. foreign policy and increase the understanding between people.” She has already been doing this work for years as co-coordinator of Long Island SOA Watch, taking part in the annual SOA protest at Fort Benning (since the movement began in the early 1990s), and reaching out to local communities, inspiring and coordinating them to work toward shutting down the SOA and improving U.S. relations with Latin America.
We are proud to be represented by Mara and Enzo at this incredible conference and look forward to hearing about their trip.