Founder of School of the Americas Watch will speak at Syracuse University April 1
Founder of School of the Americas Watch will speak at Syracuse University April 1March 15, 2007Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Father Roy Bourgeois M.M., founder of the School of the Americas (SOA) Watch and advocacy leader for the closure of the SOA, will speak at Syracuse University’s Hendricks Chapel on Sunday, April 1, at 7 p.m. The lecture is part of several public appearances that Bourgeois will make in Central New York.
The event — sponsored by Hendricks Chapel and the Program on Latin America and the Caribbean (PLACA) in the Moynihan Institute for Global Affairs in the Maxwell School — is free and open to the public. Free parking is available in Irving Garage. For more information, contact Dan Sage at (315) 468-2293.
In addition to the Hendricks event, Bourgeois will speak in a session hosted by PLACA on Monday, April 2, from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. in Room 155 of Eggers Hall. The session is open to the public; those attending must R.S.V.P. to Jill Stackhouse at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bourgeois’ trip to Central New York comes on the heels of an 18-day tour of Central American capitals. Having made a number of trips during the past year to meet with political leaders in seven South American countries, he will have new information to share regarding political change and the possibilities of a reduction of U.S. military influence in Latin America.
Bourgeois will also speak at St. Andrew’s Church in Syracuse on Saturday, March 31, at 6 p.m.; May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society on Sunday, April 1, at 10:30 a.m.; and Cornell University on Monday, April 2, at 7 p.m. Call Sage for more information on those events.
A native of Louisiana, Bourgeois received a bachelor’s degree in geology from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He served in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War, and after concluding his military service entered the seminary of the Maryknoll Missionary Order. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1972 and worked with the poor in Bolivia before being arrested and forced to leave the country.
In 1980, Bourgeois became involved in the issues surrounding U.S. policy in El Salvador after four U.S. churchwomen were raped and killed by Salvadoran soldiers. Bourgeois became an outspoken critic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and has since spent more than four years in U.S. federal prisons for nonviolent protests against the training of Latin American soldiers at Ft. Benning, Ga.
In 1990, Bourgeois founded the SOA Watch, an office that conducts research on the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or WHINSEC). WHINSEC trains soldiers from Latin America in combat skills; SOA Watch works to inform the public of the implications of this training on the people of Latin America.
Bourgeois has helped produce several documentary films, including “Gods of Metal” (1983) and “School of the Assassins” (1995), both of which were nominated for Academy Awards. He was the recipient of the 1997 Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award. Since 1999, Bourgeois has traveled extensively, giving talks at churches, universities and to other groups around the country.