agustin aguayo: home and still resisting

A few days ago, war resister Agustin Aguayo landed in Sacramento, California, to a joyous, emotional greeting from his wife, Helga Aguayo, and hundreds of well-wishers and supporters.

Aguayo had been held in prison in Germany by the U.S. Army for the last nine months. He was convicted of desertion for refusing to redeploy to Iraq last year and for publicly speaking out against the war.

Only a few hours after landing, Aguayo made his first appearance in a multi-city speaking tour of California. From Courage to Resist:
"Before I left for Iraq I searched deep within me, I concluded that if I go over there I can't take a life. I ultimately say I'll go, but I'm definitely a conscientious objector. I'm not willing to cross that line, no matter what I can't take a life." Two years later, after his application for discharge was a conscientious objector was denied by the Pentagon, Army Spc. Agustin Aguayo went AWOL in order to resist redeploying to Iraq.

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Since then, Agustin has shared his story of resistance at community gatherings in Sacramento, Carmel, and San Francisco. Highlights of Agustin's first week as an anti-war activist also included presentations to day labors, farm workers, and their families in Stockton, and high school and college students in Watsonville.

At the Mexican Community Center in Stockton, Agustin joined community members in brainstorming about ways to counter the influence of military recruiters among immigrant communities in California's Central Valley.

In Carmel, Agustin was joined by fellow Iraq War resisters Camilo Mejia and Pablo Paredes at the local Unitarian Church. Students from nearby Hartnell Community College raised hundreds of dollars for these resisters with a bake sale for peace.

In San Francisco, with the help of Veterans for Peace and CodePink, a hundred supporters packed a large meeting room in the Veterans War Memorial Building to hear these courageous resisters.

Earlier in the day, these war resisters were joined by Iraq veteran Sean O'Neill at a large Mother's Day ceremony and press conference to declare the San Francisco Unitarian Church a peace church. Agustin was joined by California State Assemblyman Mark Leno in urging the congregation to support war resisters.

The resisters also introduced screenings of the documentary film "The Short Life of José Antonio Gutiérrez" at a theater in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District. Marine Lance Cpl. Gutiérrez was a Guatemalan immigrant, a "Green Card" soldier, and was the first US casualty of the Iraq War.

Also at Courage to Resist, read about the US Army's ban of MySpace and other blogs by servicepeople, and other attempts to control the bad news coming out of Iraq.

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