Sylvester Brown wrote this article about me going to prison and the SOA/WHINSEC. I am copying it to share it on this blog.
Mother hopes message of unity outlasts prison term
By Sylvester Brown Jr.
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Mar. 11 2007
Kirkwood resident, home-schooling mom and former nun Tina Busch-Nema has been
busy these past few days making preparations for her family. I was forwarded an
e-mail Busch-Nema had sent asking family, friends and other caring individuals
to cook meals for her husband and three kids, ages 6, 9 and 10. Perhaps, while
she's away, she asked, someone might help clean the house, tend to her garden
and lawn and drive her youngest child to school.
Busch-Nema, 48, received notice Wednesday that on April 18 she must report to
FMC Carswell, a federal medical and mental health center for female offenders
in Fort Worth, Texas, to begin serving her two-month sentence.
In November, Busch-Nema joined more than 20,000 demonstrators for a protest
vigil outside the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
(formerly known as the School of the Americas), at Fort Benning, Ga. She and 15
other protesters were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing after they
crawled under a chain-link fence and onto the grounds of the U.S. Army base.
The annual protest marks the anniversary of the Nov. 19, 1989, massacre of six
Jesuit priests, a Salvadoran worker and her daughter by mercenaries, some who
allegedly trained at the school.
Some organizations and critics claim the government-funded school has a long
history of supporting anti-communist governments and training mercenaries and
dictators in the techniques of torture, repression and intimidation.
Government officials have acknowledged that some students trained at the school
have been implicated in such crimes but insist the school only serves to
educate military personnel and police forces aligned with cooperating Latin
As far as Busch-Nema is concerned, the school symbolizes the conditions she
experienced in her "other life," as a sister of Notre Dame for 11 years.
Throughout the 1980s she served as a missionary in Central American villages.
In 1988, while preparing for her final vows, Busch-Nema asked to be assigned to
a refugee camp on the border of El Salvador and Honduras. It was there she
heard stories of kidnappings, murders, rapes and machine gun bullets fired from
helicopters into the bodies of adults and children as they fled violence from
civil war in their countries.
"It was the first time I saw so much death, so many starving, dehydrated
children and disease," Busch-Nema told me as I sat in her kitchen Thursday
evening. Yet, she added, among the devastation, there was beauty.
"I fell in love with the people, their culture, their customs. They were plain,
generous people who invited me to their huts and sometimes unselfishly shared
their only chicken for our meal. Every morning the kids would call for me to
come out and play," said Busch-Nema, recalling how she'd dress up like a clown,
perform puppet shows and play soccer with village children.
She closed her eyes when describing the day in 1988, while walking on a
hillside between camps, that she ran into a group of armed mercenaries. She
heard the "clicks" of the automatic weapons they pointed at her. She closed her
eyes, fell to her knees and prayed. After long moments, she opened her eyes.
The soldiers, Busch-Nema said, were gone. But the terror remains.
"At some point, the desire for peace outweighed my fears," Busch-Nema said,
explaining why she took part in last year's protest at Fort Benning.
"With the wars, human rights violations and torture at places like Abu Ghraib,
I fear we've lost our souls," she said, referring to the prison in Iraq known
for abuse of inmates.
Although Busch-Nema left the sisterhood to get married and have children, the
mission she discovered remains, she told me.
"The convent helped me see the world through spiritual eyes. I learned it's not
about me. As a Christian, as a world citizen, I have a responsibility to look
beyond my little spot in this world."
Busch-Nema doesn't regret her actions but admits she's worried about her
children and husband (who she asked that I not name), as she prepares for
"I explained to my kids why I did what I did. I told them how we each must work
to fill the world with humanity."
They had the conversation during a pizza run Wednesday night, Busch-Nema told
me. She chose a certain CD for the short trip. She sang a part of the song for
me — the part she hopes her kids will remember in her absence:
"Wherever you rest your head tonight, remember, we're always one family … let's