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VOLUME 91, NO. 21 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES SINCE 1954 Editors: Louis Dubose, Michael King Assistant Editor: Mimi Bardagjy Associate Editor: Nate Blakeslee Managing Publisher: Charlotte McCann Office Manager: Ayelet Hines Production: Harrison Saunders Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Development Director: Susan Morris Special Projects: Jere Locke, Nancy Williams Intern: Chloe Puett Contributing Writers: Barbara Belejack, Robert Bryce, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Julie Hollar, Paul Jennings, Steven G. Kellman, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, John Ross. Staff Photographer: Alan Pogue Contributing Photographers: Jana Birchum, Vic Hinterlang, Patricia Moore, Jack Rehm. Contributing Artists: Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Valerie Fowler, Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Ben Sargent, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Bob Eckhardt, Sissy Farenthold, John K. Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Ronnie Dugger, Liz Faulk, D’Ann Johnson Geoffrey Rips, Gilberto Ocafias. The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040righted, 1999, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January profit corporation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone: E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. American foreign policy when he was a naval officer in Vietnam, is known for one of the more innovative acts of civil disobedience of the decade. To protest the U.S. School of the Americas’ training of foreign soldiers who went on to commit acts of terrorism in their own countries, in November 1990 Bourgeois and two collaborators purchased three uniforms and slipped onto the Georgia base. He told the audience at Incarnate Word that the three men were acting in memory of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero. I couldn’t believe that 425 Salvadoran soldiers were arriving at Fort Benning to begin training there. The three of us bought army uniforms and dressed as high-ranking army officers. We also had a boom box that contained the [taped] sermon of Oscar Romero, the sermon he gave in the cathedral the day before he was assassinated. When he made the special plea to the men in the military, saying: “Stop the killing. Lay down your arms. Obey a higher law the law of God that says thou shalt not kill.” We went onto Fort Benning with those words in that boom box. We got saluted. We were scared. We climbed a tall pine tree and waited until after ten when the lights went out. Then we said, “Bishop Romero, this is for you, brother.” His voice boomed into the barracks, in one of those sacred moments of the struggle. They came out with their guns, threatening to shoot us down. We came down. They handcuffed us. Took us to the county jail. And then to trial, with Judge Robert Elliot, whom we have come to know quite well over the years. [Bourgeois has served three prison terms for protests at Fort Benning.] Since 1990, the School of the Americas Watch has uncovered substantial proof of the S.O.A.’s role in state terror in several Latin American countries. Most compelling, Bourgeois told the San Antonio audience, is evidence released by the United Nations Truth Commission on El Salvador. “Seventy-three of the soldiers cited [in the report]” Bourgeois said, “graduated from this school”: In the case of Archbishop Romero, of the three responsible, two of them were graduates of the school. In the murder of the [American Maryknoll] churchwomen, of the five responsible, three were graduates. In the murder of the six Jesuits and the two women, of the twenty-six responsible, nineteen were graduates. At El Mozote, where 900 civilians including over 100 children in this remote area of El Salvador were killed by the military, of the twelve [officers], ten were trained at this school. How can people not respond to so much suffering and death? The S.O.A. campaign started by Bourgeois is more than a quixotic effort. In 1993, Congressman Joseph Kennedy introduced a bill to close the school. It lost in the House by a 175-256 vote. This past July, a House measure to cut the school’s funding passed 230-197. “Congressmen [Charlie] Gonzalez and [Ciro] Rodriguez voted to cut it off,” Bourgeois said of the local congressional delegation. “[Henry] Bonilla and [Lamar] Smith voted to keep it open. We’ve got to work on them.” The funding was later reinstated by a one-vote margin in the Senate. “We are not discouraged by losing the vote by one,” Bourgeois said. “It brought new life into this movement. We’re getting there. Every November we go to the main gate of Fort Benning to call for the closing of this school, to keep the memory alive of so many of our sisters and brothers in Latin America, to speak for them.” This year’s protest is scheduled for November 20-21. For more information, see the S.O.A. Watch Website at . Or call Tom West, at L.D. 4 4 THE TEXAS OBSERVER NOVEMBER 12, 1999