Tag Archives: SOA-Watch

SOA Watch Update: Costa Rica Says Goodbye

From the SOA Watch website:

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias vowed on Wednesday to stop sending police to train at a U.S. facility criticized for a history of producing soldiers who went on to violate human rights.

Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, made the promise after talks with Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a U.S. activist priest who has campaigned since 1990 for the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School for the Americas, at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Though U.S. defense officials closed the original school, a Latin American military training facility, in 2000 and reopened it a year later under the new name and with a new curriculum, critics say the change was purely cosmetic.

For those who don’t know about the School of the Americas, here is a brief intro:

The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American security personnel in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. SOA graduates are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Among the SOA’s nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians. (See Grads in the News).

You can take action today to help shut the place down. At the least take your new awareness and be sure to share with others as the opportunity arises.