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Action Alert: U.S. Embassies Deny Visas to SOA Watch Vigil Speakers

Action Alert: U.S. Embassies Deny Visas to SOA Watch Vigil Speakers

[Source Upside Down World] Written by SOAW

The two speakers named by the SOA Watch’s Latin American partners to represent them at the SOA Watch vigil (Nov. 19-21, 2010) have been denied entrance to the United States. Both Gerardo Brenes – a Costa Rican graduate of the SOA and activist with the Quaker Peace Center in San Jose, and Alejandro Ramirez – a university student and activist with the Youth Resistance movement in Honduras, had their visa applications rejected by the U.S. embassies in their countries last week.

Gerardo and Alejandro were among participants from 17 Latin American countries at the recent SOAW South-North Encuentro. They were tapped to bring the Encuentro’s major concerns about the SOA and U.S. militarization in Latin America to the gates of Ft. Benning.

Gerardo is a former Costa Rica police officer and would have been the first graduate of the SOA to speak out against the school in front of his Alma Mater. His experience of the absolute disregard for human rights in his SOA training led him to become a leading activist in pressuring his government to withdraw from the school (Click here to watch a video interview with Gerardo). Gerardo has also been a public voice in speaking out against 46 U.S. warships and thousands of marines that are scheduled to be sent to this Central American “country of peace”.

Alejandro became an active member of the Honduran Youth Resistance Movement after his country suffered a coup at the hands of two SOA graduates last year. Over 50 people – journalists, teachers, students and union leaders, have lost their lives for opposing the coup regime and its illegal successor . Alejandro is a history student at the National Autonomous University of Honduras and works with COFADEH (Committee of Family Members of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras) in their violence prevention program.

TAKE ACTION

1. Send a message to the U.S. State Department in Washington, San Jose and Tegucigalpa urging them to grant visitor visas to Gerardo Brenes and Alejandro Ramirez so that they can speak at the November Vigil (19-21, 2010) at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia:

1. Call the State Department
a. re Gerardo Brenes of Costa Rica:
Call Jennifer Van Trump of the Costa Rica Desk of the State Department at (202) 647-3519. Sample script below.

b. re Alejandro Ramirez of Honduras:
Call Gabriela Zambrano of the Honduras Desk of the State Department at (202) 647-3482. Sample script below.

2. Send an email to Consul General

a. re Gerardo Brenes of Costa Rica:
Write Consul General Paul Birdsall at the U.S. Embassy in San Jose, at consularsanjose@state.gov This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and copy Jennifer Van Trump of the Costa Rica Desk of the State Department at vantrumpjr@state.gov This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Sample script below.

b. re Alejandro Ramirez of Honduras:
Write Consul General William Douglas of the U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras at usahonduras@state.gov This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and copy Gabriela Zambrano of the Honduras Desk of the State Department at zambranomg@state.gov This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Sample script below.

(Sample email below)

SAMPLE PHONE CALL regarding Gerardo Brenes:

Hello, my name is ______________. I am very troubled to learn that the U.S. Consulate in San Jose, Costa Rica denied a travel visa to Mr. Gerardo Brenes who was invited by the School of the Americas Watch to speak about human rights issues in Costa Rica at the annual vigil in Columbus Georgia from November 19-21, 2010. Will you call Consul General Paul Birdsall in San Jose today and ask him to immediately authorize a travel visa to Mr. Brenes so he can travel to the U.S. on to participate in this event? Thank you.

SAMPLE PHONE CALL regarding Alejandro Ramirez:
Hello, my name is ______________. I am very troubled to learn that the U.S. Consulate in Tegucigalpa, Honduras denied a travel visa to Mr. Alejandro Ramirez who was invited by the School of the Americas Watch to speak about human rights issues in Honduras at the annual vigil in Columbus Georgia from November 19-21, 2010. Will you call Consul General William Douglas in Tegucigalpa today and ask him to immediately authorize a travel visa to Mr. Ramirez so he can travel to the U.S. on to participate in this event? Thank you.

SAMPLE EMAIL regarding Gerardo Brenes

Dear Mr. Birdsall,

Last week the U.S. Consulate in San Jose denied a travel visa to Mr. Gerardo Brenes. Mr. Brenes was invited by School of the Americas Watch to speak about human rights in Costa Rica at the annual vigil in Columbus, Georgia, from November 19-21, 2010.

I understand that Mr. Brenes presented an invitation from the School of the Americas Watch during his interview, as well as sufficient evidence that he had strong ties that would bring him back to his country.

I am deeply concerned about this visa denial, and I ask you to immediately authorize a travel visa to Mr. Brenes so that he can travel to the United States to participate in the SOAW vigil from November 19-21, 2010.

Respectfully,
[Your name and address]

SAMPLE EMAIL regarding Alejandro Ramirez

Dear Mr. Douglas,

Last week the U.S. Consulate in Tegucigalpa denied a travel visa to Mr. Alejandro Ramirez. Mr. Ramirez was invited by School of the Americas Watch to speak about human rights in Honduras at the annual vigil in Columbus, Georgia, from November 19-21, 2010.

I understand that Mr. Ramirez presented an invitation from the School of the Americas Watch during his interview, as well as sufficient evidence that he had strong ties that would bring him back to his country.

I am deeply concerned about this visa denial, and I ask you to immediately authorize a travel visa to Mr. Ramirez so that he can travel to the United States to participate in the SOA Watch vigil from November 19-21, 2010.

Respectfully,
[Your name and address]