An Open Letter to President-elect Obama
One day, when we still lived in Tijuana, Mexico, and my son was only 13 years old, a Marine recruiter told him that if my son enlisted someday he could become an agent in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). My son had grown up in Tijuana and seen how drugs destroy the lives of innocent children and he wanted to become a policeman.
The recruiter who exploited my son’s idealism promised that he would spend one year in the Marines and then transfer to the DEA despite the fact that he was not a U.S. citizen. We learned too late that none of this was true, but we accepted that in fact he would have to spend eight years in the Marines. Then September 11 changed the history of the world. We were proud that our beloved son would be part of the armed forces that would protect us from terrorism.
Unfortunately, President Bush began to tell a series of lies about WMD and the connection between 9/11 and Iraq. My son was deployed to the Kuwaiti border in February of 2003 and although I opposed the war because I believe violence is never the proper response to international conflict I thought the government of my adopted country would follow the lead of the Congress and the United Nations.
But unfortunately Mr. Bush led us into war with false reasons, a war against an innocent people that even today no one understands. The carnage began on March 20, 2003, and seven days later on March 27 my son died and my life changed forever. The Marine official handed me an official Pentagon document that said he had been shot in the head by enemy fire, but the reality as I later learned from an embedded TV reporter who was present was that my son had stepped on a U.S. cluster bomb. As of today, I have never received a response to my inquiries to the government about the facts of my son’s death.
Since 2003 I have dedicated my life to telling my story, denouncing the lies of the Bush administration, and advocating for peace. I traveled to Iraq in December of 2003 to see with my own eyes where my son had died at the hands of our own incompetent government, and while there I learned that thousands of Iraqi children die every day from a lack of medicine. One year later, I returned with $650,000.00 in donated medical aid for the Iraqi people. I have also devoted myself to speaking out against military recruiters who lie to our young people in order to meet their quotas.
And so, because I know that you opposed the war in Iraq, I have taken the audacious step of writing to you directly.
Today, our schools are in great financial trouble. In minority and working-class communities, school districts lack the necessary resources, many schools have closed, many teachers have lost their jobs. But the military recruiters have become better funded and so they visit the schools whenever they like, hunting for young people who only want to get an education. And so I must ask: ‘What is our priority — education or the militarization of our youth?
Mr. President-elect, I ask, no I implore, you to put an end to military recruitment in our public schools. Let us put the billions of dollars used to fund recruitment and JROTC back into the educational mission of our schools. Let the American Dream be realized not with false promises and weapons training but rather with books, decent classrooms, well paid teachers, and a pedagogy of hope.
Si se puede Sr. Obama! Yes we can.
Fernando Suárez del Solar
Founder & Director
Guerrero Azteca Peace Project
PO Box 300221, Escondido, CA 92030-0221
Traduccion: Jorge Mariscal