School of commitment

The 200 people who filed into the Episcopal Church in Sacramento were there to hear a priest talk about the murder of innocent people in Latin America. But on that Friday night, the audience also heard why they should break this country’s laws to help expose those murderous crimes.

Father Roy Bourgeois spoke with the power and conviction of a person willing to go to extremes in an effort to stop injustice. This priest has a unique calling.

He served in Bolivia and saw how a small number of rich and powerful leaders used the military as muscle to keep the people down. Unfortunately, we trained the muscle at the School of the Americas (SOA) in Georgia, where ‘death squad leader’ is a major. The atrocities committed by the graduates upon their return have been well documented. Priests, nuns and civilians have died at their well-trained hands.

Bourgeois founded SOA Watch specifically to shut down the school, but it’s an ongoing struggle. Over 3000 people trespassed onto the school grounds last November and 26 were indicted on federal charges. Many are repeat offenders who will probably go to prison and suffer the fate of Charlie Liteky (see ‘Prisoner of Conscience,’ page 16).

And suffer they will behind bars, as will their friends and family outside the prison walls. Bourgeois says the path to peace is through prison for some because they can put the U.S.'s policy of running the school on trial. Trading in your freedom to expose injustice is an extremely high price to pay. It must be a calling.