Tucson, AZ – Hundreds of activists from across the country convened in southern Arizona for this year’s School of the Americas Watch: Converge on the U.S./Mexico Border. The event was held on Oct. 7-8 to bring attention to U.S. wars and intervention in Latin America, the continued militarization of the Mexico border, the pressing refugee crisis, and the criminalization and incarceration of undocumented migrants.
Throughout the weekend-long mobilization, vigils, protests and workshops were held by various faith based, immigrant rights, indigenous, student, environmental and social justice organizations.
The opening event took place Oct. 7 at the Eloy Immigrant Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona. Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) runs many detention centers as private, for-profit businesses that are notorious for human rights violations. Due to inhumane conditions, these facilities are seeing many bold hunger strikes as poor people behind bars continue to fight for their dignity.
On Oct. 8, activists marched to meet each other at the border wall, kicking off on the U.S. side from the Hotel Americana in Nogales, Arizona and on the Mexico side from Plaza Ochoa in Nogales, Sonora. Speakers and musicians from across the Americas demanded the end to the destructive U.S. economic, military and political interventions in Latin America. People echoed the need to build bridges of solidarity between all oppressed peoples and their struggles for justice and self-determination.
School of the Americas Watch workshops included: Empire prisons: How the U.S. is spreading mass incarceration in Mexico; From Palestine to the U.S./Mexico border: Border militarization practices; Borderland Identity: Expectations and Realities. For those unable to attend the border protest, several workshops were held in the city of Tucson that addressed topics like gender, racism and international solidarity.
“I’m really glad this is being held in the Arizona/Mexico border because our immigrant and indigenous communities have suffered firsthand the effects of the militarization of the border and oppressive laws like SB1070. This event will bring national attention to the humanitarian crisis taking place at the border”, said Eduardo C. Tolentino, a Tucson immigrant rights activist.
The border convergence concluded Oct. 10 with a community celebration of Indigenous People’s Day, including music, dancers and speakers.