ROCHESTER — More than 30 people gathered in front of the Federal Building on March 24 to mark the 30th anniversary of the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador.
Local activists from several organizations also took part in the vigil to call for the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation/School of the Americas (WHINSEC/SOA), which is based at Fort Benning, Georgia. They claim the school’s graduates have gone on to murder and torture people who work to stop human-rights violations, including Archbishop Romero, according to a press release from vigil organizer John Honeck, a member of Pax Christi Rochester.
Honeck said that the local vigil also called on Congress to withdraw funding for the school and end the militarization of Latin America.
"U.S. militarism still has its teeth sunk in Latin America," stated Honeck, who served three months in Allendwood Federal Prison camp for participating in civil disobedience actions against the School of the Americas in 1997, 1998 and 1999. "We can honor Archbishop Romero’s call for us to be ‘a voice for the voiceless.’"
Gail Mott with the Rochester Committee on Latin America (ROCLA) said that those who participated in the vigil also took turns reading quotations from the archbishop. Several members from ROCLA, Pax Christi Rochester and Amnesty International also attended.