ImageCourage to Resist. July 26, 2007

Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo was recently released from a military brig for refusing to return to Iraq. Now Agustin, his wife Helga and his two daughters are speaking out and organizing to support other war resisters.

From Portland to Bellingham near the Canadian border, the Aguayo’s shared their story of pain, frustration, hope and determination and pledged to continue fighting for justice for Agustin and all military resisters.

“When we first started this is was just about us, but it’s so much bigger than that” said Helga Aguayo. “We need to continue fighting for all the soldiers.”

Kicking off the tour the Aguayo family led a march organized by the PDX Peace Coalition to a recruiting center in downtown Portland. In Salem, Agustin spoke to a group of Latino youth about the realities of military service and met with organizers of PCUN, a Latino community group, discussing the connections between immigration issues and military recruiting.

As the tour made its way up the coast of Washington, people gathered in classrooms, churches, bookstores, community centers, and coffeehouses to hear about the Aguayo’s personal struggle for justice and the transformation of not just a soldier, but of a family. “At first I wanted to quietly leave the military with a conscientious objector discharge and go on with my life but now I think that was selfish… Resistance in the military to this war is growing everyday and we need to show the soldiers that resist that we will be there for them.”

The tour, organized by Courage to Resist, included events and presentations in Portland, Woodburn, Salem, Tacoma, Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Bellingham, Olympia and Seattle. At many events the Aguayo’s were joined by members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. These events would not have been possible without the incredible commitment in support of GI resisters demonstrated by our friends at the PDX Peace Coalition, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Troops Home Now Coalition, Whatcom Peace and Justice Center, Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, AFSC, South Sound Peace & Justice Center, and many more.

Report and photos by Courage to Resist organizer Lori Hurlebaus.