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Benning hear the message of this martyr one more time. We penetrated this high-security area, we scaled this tall pine near the barracks, and when the last lights went out we said: “Bishop Romero, this one’s for you.” And his voice just boomed toward the barracks. And they heard it. Some of these soldiers were coming out of the barracks looking into the sky. They couldn’t see us under cover of darkness. And they tried to shoot us down. We were charged with criminal trespass, impersonating officers, and would have to go to trial in a federal court and come before this judge known as “Maximum Bob,” who was very pro-military. He gave us the max, we went to prison for eighteen months, to a federal prison in Sandstone, Minnesota. Prison was hard. You were all in the same prison? No, Linda went to Lexington, Kentucky, and Larry went to La Tuna, Texas. Prison can be made into a retreat; it’s hard, but you can purify your heart and get closer to God. You have a lot of time to think. In fact, I was in solitary for a month. You were such a threat that they put you in solitary? No, it was from disobeying an order. But it was a good experience. It was from that experience in the hole in solitary that I came to a real spiritual insight. I was getting discouraged. Nothing seemed to have changed. This was before the Jesuits were killed? Yeah, before. And the training continued and the killing continued and the military aid continued. And I really was brought to my knees and I couldn’t see how effective we were. But thenand this is grace at workit came in the words of Dorothy Day. Dorothy said: “Let us not worry about being effective but rather concentrate on being faithful. Faithful to what we know in our heart to be true.” It really was a turning point in a sensereal insight that comes every now and then. And it stayed with me. But we got out of prison, went back to our same goal trying to stop the military, couldn’t do it. Another massacre, this time six Jesuit priests, a young mother, and her fifteen-year-old daughter. And a congressional task force went to El Salvador and some members of Congress were very angry because they were educated by Jesuits. There’s that connection that’s closer to home. And they learn and report that those responsible for that massacre were trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas. This time I’m out of prison, doing my work once again at the Maryknoll house in Minneapolis. It was time to break camp and head back to find out what this School of the Americas was all about. Got Maryknoll’s blessingagain, would have gone down with or without it. But they were very supportive. Gave me some money. So I rented this little house, right outside of the main gate. Started a School of the Americas Watch. First action was a fasta very serious water-only fast at the THE RESPONSE OF THE PENTAGON? TYPICAL. THEY RECALLED THE MANU-ALS, LIKE A FAULTY GM TRUCK. NO APOLOGIES TO THE VICTIMS, FAMILIES WHO ARE STILL GRIEVING FOR THEIR LOVED ONES WHO HAVE BEEN TORTURED AND KILLED. main gate of Fort Benning. We had ten of us, Vietnam vets, Salvadorans, a Jesuit, two Dominicans, Cathy Kelly, a high school teacher from Chicago. Ten of us fasted, camped out at the main gate of Fort Benning. Tried to call attention to that school. It was hard, very hard. But we ended the fast, got our strength back, and started to do research. Gathered documents about what the school was all about. That school crept into this country in 1984, kicked out of Panama. Training every year about 2,000 soldiers from eighteen countries in Latin America. It was hidden from us. What we had to do was break down this wall of silence. We started to do this, discovering through the Freedom of Information Act all kinds of documentation. You all uncovered that document about the torture? Here’s what happened. We always heard about torture. They always denied this. [Congressman] Joe Kennedy heard about all this and called for a vote in Congress to close the school; 1993, the vote-174 to 256. Respectable, but a big margin. The next year-135 to 217. And just last month-217 to 210. Coming back to Joe Kennedy. He and others came on board to call for the closing. And through the Freedom of Information Act, they knew about these manuals. They were getting ready to call their own press conference to reveal the manuals. The Pentagon, that would have made them look pretty silly, so they called a press conference and acknowledged that at the School of the Americas there were these manuals, that from 1982 to 1991 had advocated the use of torture, assassinations, blackmail, etc. But the response of the Pentagon? Typical. They recalled the manuals, like a faulty GM truck. No apologies to the victims, families who are still grieving for their loved ones who have been tortured and killed. Do you see victory though? Let me tell you, this last vote has breathed new life into the movement. We were dancing. We were watching C-SPAN when the vote was counted: 217 to 210! This started with a few people seven years ago. Now they’re so many people, a lot of church people, working on this issue. Church groups like the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. early on passed a resolution to close the School of the Americas representing 5.8 million Presbyterians. More recently, just a few months ago, the United Church of Christ, 2.5 million U.C.C. members passed a similar resolution. Leadership conferences representing 70,000 nuns passed a strong resolution to shut down the School of the Americas. Major newspapers around the country. Here’s The New York Times calling for the closure of the school for dictators. The Atlanta Constitution: Shut this school down It’s so violent and causing so much oppression. The Boston Globe. The Des Moines Register. Secular newspapers. The Los Angeles Times. The Cleveland Plain Dealer. All with editorials. Clear: “Close the School of the Americas.” And where are the bishops? The spiritual, the moral leaders? Where are all the Catholics, the papers coming from people of faith? Silence. That is shameful. Just as this school is bringing shame upon this country, our silence in the Catholic Church and from our bishops and clergytheir silence is bringing shame upon the church. There are some bishops who have been 20 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 7, 1997