Eju-mi Paraguay pe! Please come to Paraguay!
Oñondive, Jajapota! Thirty years ago the people of Paraguay showed me the meaning of that phrase which in Guarani means “Together, We will do it”. I had come to Paraguay
to work as a nurse in response to a request by local schoolteachers to
help get a rural health clinic started. “Together, We will do it!” In
spite of material poverty, the hospitality and generosity of my
neighbors was rich. And in the face of repression and violence suffered
by friends under the brutal regime of General Stroessner, the dignity
and resistance around me was impressive. It wasn’t until after I had
lived there over a year that my Paraguayan father whispered to me about
the torture to which he had been subjected.
I returned to
Paraguay many summers in succession to continue with the clinic and to
teach health or nursing classes. The repression that had led to the
death and disappearance of thousands of Paraguayans at the hands of the
repressive military regime continued. To my chagrin, many of those
responsible for torture and assassinations had been trained in my own
country, at the School of the Americas. I became active with the SOA Watch movement and joined their Legislative Working Group to rally support for a bill to close the SOA in Congress.
Today I write you today to share an invitation from my Paraguayan friends: Eju-mi Paraguay pe! Please come to Paraguay! Paraguay
is in great need of international solidarity at this moment!
Organizations in Paraguay with whom SOA Watch partners have specifically
asked SOAW for solidarity at this time. Please consider joining us on
an SOA Watch Delegation to Paraguay from April 16-24th.
On April 21st
elections will take place that will either legitimize or question a
regime that toppled President Fernando Lugo last June. A bloody
confrontation between landless peasants and police forces was used by
Paraguay's right wing congress as a pretext to remove Lugo, an ex-bishop
inspired by liberation theology. Lugo ran on a platform of agrarian
reform and justice and accountability for past human rights violations
and his 2008 victory ended the 61-year rule of Stroessner’s Colorado
The “express coup” was condemned throughout the region,
and Paraguay was removed from UNASUR and Mercosur by fellow Latin
The SOA Watch Delegation to Paraguay
will focus on observing the presidential elections, as well as on
issues of violations of human rights, criminalization of social protest
and the struggle for land rights leading to the militarization of the
north. For those wanting to experience one of the most stunningly
beautiful spots on the planet, we invite you to participate in the 2-day
extension of the delegation to Yguazu Falls. Please consider joining
us! For more information, contact Lisa Sullivan, or call Mary Anne Perrone at 734-996-9390, or download the application here.
For those who cannot travel as far as Paraguay, we hope that you can join us in Washington for the SOAW April Days of Action. Or consider going an another SOAW delegations to the US/Mexico border in May and to Chile in September.
Next month other SOA Watch activists will be visiting Costa Rica and
El Salvador to ask that they withdraw their troops from the SOA, as
have done 6 other nations. Keep tuned for how you can help with these
efforts. Whether it be by congress, the courts, or attrition, we will
close this school! As my Paraguayan teachers told me: Oñondive,
Jajapota! Together, We Will Do It! And each of us is helping to make
Please consider joining us in my beloved Paraguay, bajo el cielo Guarani, and if you can't make it, please know that we bring the strength of your support and solidarity.
SOA WATCH Council.