Messianic protest against the School of the Americas

In Kyle Lambelet’s view, SOA Watch demonstrates the virtues of a messianic politics.

When I signed up to protest with the SOA Watch  in 2005, I had only a vague idea what the School of the Americas was. I had started teaching at a bilingual Jesuit high school on Chicago’s near southwest side, and a few weeks into the job a colleague asked me if I would be willing to be the second chaperone on a trip he was planning to the annual vigil at Fort Benning. Feeling up for an adventure, I agreed to come along. That November, the two of us and a dozen or so Latinx teenagers piled into a passenger van and made the 12-hour trek to Columbus, Georgia.

As it turns out, Kyle B. T. Lambelet participated in that same 2005 vigil. For him, it was the first of many. ¡Presente! Non­violent Politics and the Resurrection of the Dead reflects both Lambelet’s theology and his commitments as a participant-observer in the SOA Watch movement.

The origins of the SOA extend back to the immediate post–World War II years, when the United States Army founded a military training institute in the Panama Canal Zone. Throughout the Cold War the SOA instructed Latin American cadets in a variety of advanced counterinsurgency techniques, ranging from covert jungle warfare to blackmail, assassination, and torture. Military personnel trained at the SOA went on to participate in the oppression and murder of civilians back home in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, and other countries. Among the hundreds of thousands killed in the 1980s alone were the now-sainted archbishop of San Salvador Óscar Romero and six Jesuit priests.