March on Washington: Bringing Justice Home

A great convergence happened in the streets of Washington DC the weekend of April 20. A special part of the convergence, for me, was the Colombia Mobilization—an urgent call for solidarity and non-violent direct action to end US military aid to Colombia, stop the aerial spraying, and close the School of the Americas (SOA).

The civil war raging in Colombia is the oldest and most merciless war in the Americas. Colombia is a land under siege where people are afraid to speak the truth of the atrocities because "en boca cerrada no entra tiro (a bullet cannot enter a closed mouth)." Syracuse friends who've been to Colombia mention this fearful silence.

What is the US government's response? As the war continues to claim thousands of civilian victims (30,000 killed each year, 3 million displaced), US policy is focused on spending billions of dollars to help the Colombian government fight a counterinsurgency civil war (with no end in sight) to protect US and multinational corporate interests.

How can we respond? The Mobilization's response to the war is "Nunca Mas! no mas, no more (we must stop the dirty wars)." From Friday to Sunday there were rallies, workshops, visits to Congress, and a spirit-raising concert. On Monday morning, April 23, over 2,000 people began a non-violent procession in the streets of DC to carry our demands to Congress. All along the way our path was barricaded—by police on motorcycles, horseback, in squad cars, and on foot in riot gear. We kept on walking, winding our way to a small park across from the congressional offices, at which time we were completely surrounded by police. There it was announced that despite assurances from officials that we would be allowed to march to Upper Senate Park (where we had a permit to rally) without risk of arrest, we would all now be arrested. After quite a while, Mobilization negotiators successfully secured our release from this area and we were able to continue to the rally site.

On Monday afternoon, we left Washington. We came home with new resolve and with a new friend to help us in our local struggle against war. Created by DC-area Catholic Worker puppetistas, the name emblazoned across her brow is "Justicia." She's large, she's golden. She's a sun puppet—a compañera. Muchas gracias, Justicia!

Cathy Cardell