Just Good Company
A Cyberjournal of Religion and Culture
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We pass on Father Joseph Mulligan's Christmas/New Year's letter from Nicaragua. Joe Mulligan is a Detroit Province Jesuit and a longtime missionary in Central America. He has been on a personal crusade -- to find out what really happened to Father James Carney, the American priest who disappeared in Honduras in 1983 after entering that country as a chaplain to a group of Honduran insurgents. It is a long, meaty, newsy note that ends with an account of the demonstration against the School of the Americas (newly named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation -- WHISC) in November 2003 at the Ft. Benning Gate. Father Mulligan's account speaks for itself.

The Fight For Bread And Justice
Goes On In Central America

Joseph E. Mulligan, SJ

Date: Thu, 08 Jan 2004
From: Joe Mulligan mull@ibw.com.ni
Colegio Centro America
Apdo 2419
Managua, Nicaragua

Dear Friends,

I hope 2003 has been a good year for you, even in the midst of so many world problems and injustices. I think that difficult years can be "good" if we struggle together with the challenges and if we grow in compassion and commitment through that struggle, and keep smiling, seeing the good side of things, and celebrating life. And struggle keeps hope alive.

I have continued to enjoy my work with the Christian Base Communities, Jesuit Volunteers, people with disabilities, students from the U.S., etc.



I would like to begin with two items of "good news." Eva Maria, a Nicaraguan woman who was totally blind because of cornea damage, had a cornea transplant in Miami in 2001. Eva recovered most of her sight in the operated (right) eye but after a few months suffered an infection which resulted in retinal detachment. She returned to Managua without sight.

In 2003 Eva returned to Miami, and the same doctor did a cornea transplant on the other eye. Thanks to God, medical science, and the generosity of doctors like those who were involved in these operations, Eva recovered most of her vision in the left eye. In early October she returned to Managua, is using glasses, and is seeing quite well. In fact, she has the joy of seeing her children!

In late September I visited Eva in Miami and was able to thank the doctors and their assistants. I am also very grateful to my province (the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus) for a very generous donation to help with Eva's hospital costs and also to many friends and relatives who contributed to this "good news" for Eva.


I happened to be in Miami for part of a very interesting and significant civil trial in federal court. The relatives of Winston Cabello, a Chilean who had been jailed in the Sept. 11, 1973 military coup and executed shortly thereafter, were suing Col. Armando Fernandez Larios for his responsibility in the killing. Now living in the U.S., he had been an officer in Pinochet's army in 1973. The suit was brought by the Center for Justice and Accountability of San Francisco, Ca.

I had the joy of getting to know the Cabello family and the CJA attorneys. Testimony by various witnesses was very moving, and I felt good that the truth was being told in a U.S. court and that one of those responsible for the murder was being confronted by the Cabello family.

The jury found Col. Larios liable for torture, crimes against humanity, and extra-judicial killing and ordered him to pay $4 million in damages to the family. Whether they ever get any of that is beside the point: their quest was for justice, and they achieved that to a significant degree.

For more information about this and other similar cases, please consult www.cja.org


My visit in the U.S. continued on a happy note as I joined in the festivities at a wedding in the family and beheld the truly "awesome" wonders of the Grand Canyon. I was very moved, spiritually and emotionally, by this marvel of nature. There is so much beauty and goodness in the U.S. -- yes, along with environmental destruction, violence, and injustices which we must combat.


There has been a significant new development in the case of Father James Carney, the American priest who disappeared in Honduras in 1983 after entering that country as a chaplain to a group of Honduran insurgents.

INSIDE DELTA FORCE -- The Story of America's Elite Counterterrorist Unit, by Eric L. Haney, was published by Delacorte Press in 2002. According to the book, Haney was a member of the U.S. Army's Delta Force and fought in Honduras in 1983 against the revolutionary column which David Arturo Baez Cruz, Fr. Jim Carney, and others were in.

Haney is interviewed sometimes on US network TV (e.g., Fox News) as an expert on terrorism.

He says he shot "the guerrilla commander," and when he turned the body over he recognized him as a former sergeant in the US Special Forces, to whom he gives the fictitious name "Capitan Enrique Eduardo Saenz Herrera." Haney says they had been in training together.

Capitan Enrique Eduardo Saenz Herrera is a pseudonym for David Arturo Baez Cruz, the Nicaraguan/American who was with US Special Forces, then returned to Nicaragua, and then went into Honduras with the revolutionary group. (He was not the commander of the whole column, but may have been in charge of a smaller group.) Juan Tamayo of the Miami Herald has reported: "when he turned over the body of the rebel with the radio after the battle, Haney recognized him: It was David Arturo BE1ez, a former U.S. Army Green Beret and, even more shockingly, Haney's roommate during tryouts for Delta Force four years earlier....

"He confirmed that `Saenz' was `Baez' after The Herald identified Baez independently" In a radio talk show in Georgia in Nov., 2002, Haney stated that Fr. Carney was killed, adding: "there was some talk, and I believe I had heard some evidence, that he did not die an easy death.... What I heard was that from the condition of his body, he was brutalized prior to his death, that the marks that were on his body had to have been inflicted while he was still alive." Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) has made an inquiry to the CIA about this matter. If you live in Michigan, please thank Sen. Levin for doing this and urge him to insist on a response from the CIA and to probe further. I would like to ask friends in other states to ask their U.S. senators and representative to look into this new development in the Carney case.

For more information about Fr. Carney and the investigation, please see the website of the Carney Latin America Solidarity Archive of the University of Detroit Mercy at http://liberalarts.udmercy.edu/~ clasa


Last but not least, I would like to tell you about my participation in the protest against the School of the Americas in November and our upcoming trial. Please see Appendix below, which consists of my report and the statement of 7 of us.

I will be traveling to Georgia on Jan. 20. We will have meetings in Columbus with our attorneys and others of the School of the Americas Watch staff and among ourselves in preparation for the start of the trials on Jan. 26.09

I'm estimating that I will probably get a 3 to 6 month sentence, which I don't think will be too difficult -- lots of time for reading, writing, prayer, conversation, etc!

I will probably close out my email address on Jan. 26. If I am sentenced to prison, I will probably go right in.

For more information about the trial and sentencing, and about where the prisoners are being held, please see the SOA Watch website at www.soaw.org or send an email to SOAW at info@soaw.org Let us hope and pray that 2004 will be a year of greater justice and peace for the U.S. and for the whole world. And let us keep enjoying and celebrating life and love!

Peace, Joe


My article on Iraq, "The War's Economic Motives are Obvious," was first published in the Miami Herald on April 4, 2003, and then posted at http://www.commondreams. org/views03/0404-05.htm

Another article on Iraq, "A Mean Streak in U.S. Foreign Policy," was published in The Witness online magazine at http://thewitness.org/agw/ mulligan070803.html

Yet another, "Liberating Iraq: From Cyrus I to George II," was also published in The Witness online magazine at http://thewitness.org/agw/ mulligan121703.html

And my article, "Season's Greetings, George," was published on December 31, 2003 by CommonDreams.org at http://commondreams.org/ views03/1231-10.htm

Plus one more on Iraq, hot off the internet: "Soldiers Do Have a Choice," at http://www.commondreams. org/views04/0108-14.htm


TO: Friends and Media

FROM: Father Joseph E. Mulligan, SJ mull@ibw.com.ni

DATE: Nov. 25, 2003

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Please see School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) website: http://www.soaw.org/ or contact SOAW at info@soaw.org or at (202) 234-3440


About 10,000 people of all ages and all walks of life took part in the protest against the U.S. Army'sSchool of the Americas (SOA, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation -- WHISC) during the weekend of Nov. 21-23.

SOA-WHISC has given military training to thousands of soldiers from Latin America, many of whom have gone on to become notorious torturers, assassins, and other human-rights violators.


Shortly after the start of the solemn procession on Sunday, Nov. 23, during which people responded "presente" to the names of thousands of victims of repression, those who had decided to cross onto the base to present their message swung into action. Gary Ashbeck (of Jonah House in Baltimore), Father Ben Jimenez, SJ (of Cleveland, Ohio), and Brother Mike O'Grady, SJ, (of Cincinnati) climbed over the main gate of Ft. Benning and were arrested by the military on base property.

Others entered the base after walking up a side street, accompanied by a "Follow Me" banner and many supporters, and straddling a 3-foot-high wall. Among those arrested were 3 Roman Catholic priests: Father Bernard Survil, a Catholic priest of the Greensburg, Pa., diocese who worked for many years in Nicaragua and Guatemala; Father Joseph E. Mulligan, SJ, of the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus, who works with Christian base communities in Nicaragua, with Jesuit Volunteers International, with the handicapped, and on human-rights issues; Father Jerry Zawada, OFM, of Wisconsin, who worked in the Philippines and who has been active in recent years in solidarity with the people of Iraq and Latin America. A retired Presbyterian pastor and theologian was also arrested in the same group, as well as a man who had worked on a farm cooperative in Nicaragua from 1989-1990, and a retired history professor who is blind (he was later released without charges).

In total, about 45 protesters were arrested. Those arrested were first processed by the Military Police, then handed over to U.S. marshalls, and finally incarcerated as federal prisoners in the Muscogee County Jail in Columbus, Ga. They were in a newly-painted section of the jail which some described as quite tolerable.

On the afternoon of Monday, Nov. 24, a bond hearing was held before a federal judge. Defendants were assisted by attorneys who volunteer their services with the School of the Americas Watch. All but 3 of the defendants were released after $1000. was deposited on behalf of each one, agreeing to appear in federal court in Columbus, Ga., on Jan. 26, 2004.

Charged with criminal trespassing, all face a maximum sentence of 6 months in prison plus a possible fine.

Gary Ashbeck, Father Ben Jimenez, SJ, and Brother Mike OB4Grady, SJ, opted to refuse release on bond and thus to remain in jail until trial. In a separate case, Karl Meyer of Nashville, Tenn., was arrested on Nov. 23 when he refused to submit to an electronic wand search as he entered the area which had been cordoned off for the demonstration, 3 blocks from the gate of Ft. Benning. All those entering this area were required to be searched by local police.

Karl had been arrested last year for the same conscientious action in defense of civil and constitutional rights. His trial on those charges is set for early 2004.

On the current charge, he was released on bond until trial.


This year the U.S. government ratcheted up its hostility toward the peaceful demonstrators in various ways:

1) During the day of Saturday, Nov. 22, Ft. Benning, site of SOA-WHISC, blared loud music at the protesters near the stage outside the gate of the fort, making it impossible for most to hear the speakers. Thus the Army is now turning its Psychological Operations tactics, such as this one which was used to drive the Panamanian strongman Gen. Noriega out of his political asylum in the Vatican Embassy, against U.S. citizens exercising their democratic rights at home.

After the base was inundated with complaints from around the country, the commandant said they would respect the religious services and solemn procession in honor of the thousands of victims on Sunday by not playing the loud music. He kept his word.

2) The Military Police of Ft. Benning used excessive force against a peaceful demonstrator after she had been arrested for non-violently walking onto the base. Kathy Kelly, founder of Voices in the Wilderness (a group which has worked for years in solidarity with the people of Iraq against the harmful UN sanctions and against the U.S. invasion), was being woman-handled in a rough way by a female MP, who called Kathy by an obscene name beginning with "b" and shouted at the detainee to spread her legs further apart for the search.

Kathy respectfully asked why the lady was using such an aggressive tone, was told to shut up, and then said she could not cooperate with this kind of abusive treatment. Kathy did NOT go limp or make any move at this moment, but immediately five MPs were all over her and dropped her to the floor.

At this point I entered the building in handcuffs to be processed, noticing the soldiers squatting and kneeling, but I did not see Kathy and could not see what the soldiers were doing. I heard some muffled groans and cries. Then I saw Kathy, hog-tied, being carried away by the troops.

Later she returned to our area, walking on her own and smiling, and described what had happened.

3) A minor incident revealed the aggressive and potentially violent attitude of a U.S. marshall who was accompanying us in the bus on our way from the base to the Muscogee County Jail. After we had waited for about 15 minutes for the bus to start and then were on the road for about 5 minutes, some of the shackled passengers politely asked him if the air conditioning could be turned down a bit. He said his only concern was to get us to the jail.

Someone asked again, and the young marshall said it felt fine to him. Could the marshall adjust the direction of the air outlets on the ceiling so that the cold air would not be coming right at us (we were without our outer shirts and jackets)? He said he would have to get up to do that and chose not to, counseling us that there was one way we could have avoided all this.

When the marshall was asked by a prisoner if he himself could stand up to adjust the vent, the marshall responded: "not unless you want to be laying on the floor."

(It should be noted that in general the MPs, marshalls, sheriffB4s deputies, and jail guards treated us with respect and some with courtesy.)

4) At our bond hearing on Monday, Nov. 24, the federal judge increased by 100% the cash amount which each defendant would have to pay to walk out and be free until trial: from last year's$500. to $1000.

Report by:

Father Joseph E. Mulligan, SJ mull@ibw.com.ni

The following is the statement of 7 of the defendants:



November 22, 2003

There are many and varied reasons for opposing the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC, fomerly the School of the Americas -- SOA). We are here today to repudiate the U.S. Army'spractice in the past of using torture manuals in the training of Latin American soldiers. We are here today to reject the School of the AmericasB4 record of training dictators, torturers, and other human-rights violators. Some of its graduates participated in the brutal assassination of the six Jesuit priests and the two women in San Salvador in 1989. These martyrs are present with us here in Columbus, Ga., this weekend as we revere and honor in our Mass and procession a very significant relic of them -- some of the blood which they shed for the people of El Salvador, which was collected from the garden where they had been slain.

In another case, Father James Carney, who had been in basic training at Ft. Benning before serving in Europe during World War II in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, disappeared in Honduras in 1983; some of the Honduran troops alleged to have been involved in his torture and disappearance were products of the SOA. But we are not concerned only about past atrocities. And our concern goes beyond the question of whether a few human-rights units are included in the institute'scurriculum. Indeed, when Father Joseph Mulligan visited the SOA in 1990, some instructors told him that some mention was being made of the notion of human rights but that the trainees did not take it seriously, throwing in the teachers' faces the facts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and other U.S. atrocities. One of our main reasons for demanding that the U.S. government close SOA-WHISC has to do with the recruitment of Latin American troops into the military strategies and operations of the U.S. government. SOA-WHISC is a symbol and instrument of this, as its very name indicates. Other countries of the hemisphere have been pressured into sending token forces (about two hundred from each of several nations) to cooperate in a military occupation which the Bush administration has defined as necessary for U.S. security. Do the people of Latin America need to participate in this kind of "security cooperation"?

Troops from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic have joined U.S. soldiers in Iraq, which we find very sad and ironic. It is especially ironic in the case of Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic, since those countries were occupied by the U.S. military in the early 20th century. Another reason for closing SOA-WHISC has to do with the nature and purpose of the Latin American military forces. They do not exist primarily to defend one nation against another, but rather to protect an unjust and inequitable distribution of resources within each country against movements of social and political change. By training and equipping the armed forces of Latin America, the U.S. military is strengthening the hand of the privileged elites in their efforts to repress unions, farmers, students, and others struggling for justice. The most needed priority for Latin America is not further militarization.

As Christians we hope and struggle for a world of justice and peace: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.... Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God" (Matthew 5). Of course, this year the demonstration against SOA-WHISC is an occasion to express opposition to the invasion and the current occupation of Iraq as well as the growing militarism of the U.S.

We grieve for the U.S. soldiers who have been killed in Iraq, and our hearts go out to their loved ones. We are also profoundly saddened by the far greater number of Iraqi deaths resulting from the U.S. invasion and military occupation. And we are deeply concerned about the troops from Latin American countries and from other nations who are in Iraq.

We support these troops, but we want to do more than pray for them and send condolences to their families when they die. And so we say: bring them home, save their lives.

They are seen by many as foreign invaders in Iraq, and they seem to be killing more and more innocent civilians in their pursuit of the guerrilla combatants.

To the U.S. and Latin American soldiers in training at Ft. Bennett, Ft. Bragg, and other military installations, we say: please reflect seriously on the reasons which have been given for the war in Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction? Ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda terrorists?

Or does it have more to do with oil and other natural resources in the Middle East, and lucrative construction contracts for well-connected U.S. corporations, and privatizing the Iraqi economy for American companies?

Do you want to risk your life, and risk leaving your family without you, and kill Iraqi militants and civilians for such purposes of the Bush administration? If not, please consider applying for conscientious objector status.

Vernon Baker, who received the Medal of Honor for his bravery as a 2nd Lt. in World War II, has said: "Before we fight a war, we have to ask ourselves a basic question: Is the cause worth a precious soldier'slife? Each of our soldiers has loved ones, and if you can't answer the question 'yes,' then don't fight the war" (Chicago Tribune, Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2003).

Let us all follow our conscience, being faithful to the truth as we see it. As Jesus said: "if you live according to my teaching, you are truly my disciples; then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" (John 8:31-31).

Gary Ashbeck
Father Benjamin Jimenez, SJ
Kathy Kelly
Father Joseph E. Mulligan, SJ
Brother Mike O'Grady, SJ
Father Bernard Survil
Father Jerry Zawada, OFM

Joe Mulligan is a Detroit Province Jesuit and a longtime missionary in Central America. He has been on a personal crusade -- to find out what really happened to Father James Carney, the American priest who disappeared in Honduras in 1983 after entering that country as a chaplain to a group of Honduran insurgents.