Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Close the SOA, School of America's School for Torture and Dachau/Guantanamo Bay

The Sorrow and The Pity. How have we sunk so low? What are we doing to our very young soldiers just out of high school forced to become the Bush Regime and Bilderberg's Gestapo. Support our troops and Impeach the entire Nazi Bush Regime!

Sister Lil Mattingly, a Louisville native and Roman Catholic nun, says she has no regrets about taking part in a protest at a military school last year, even though it landed her in federal prison for six months.

Sister Lil Mattingly plans to return to the annual protest next month at the military school, though she doesn't plan to trespass again....

Why do you want to close the SOA?

SOA/ WHINSEC graduates have included some of the worst and most notorious human rights abusers in Latin American history, and for much of the world, the school, under any name, is synonymous with torture and impunity. SOA graduates have led military coups and are responsible for massacres of hundreds of people. Among the SOA's more than 60,000 alumni 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 Banzar Suarez of Bolivia. SOA graduates were responsible for the Uraba massacre in Colombia, the El Mozote massacre of 900 civilians in El Salvador, the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the massacre of 14-year-old Celina Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador and hundreds of other human rights abuses. Closing the school would send a strong human rights message to Latin America and the world. Isn't it unfair to blame the SOA for the actions of a few" badapples??

You can find criminals of every ilk who graduated from Harvard, Yale, or Princeton, but no one advocates closing those institutions because of the crimes of some of their graduates.
If Harvard, Yale, or Princeton taught their students combat skills that to be used against non-combatant civilians, we would justifiably call for their closure. The few "bad apples" argument is not very convincing, given the weight of the evidence about the involvement of SOA graduates in human rights abuses -- two of three officers cited in the assassination of Archbishop Romero; three of five officers cited in the rape and murder of four U.S. churchwomen; ten of twelve cited for the El Mozote massacre of 900 civilians; over 100 of 246 cited for atrocities in Colombia.

Furthermore, the full scope of atrocities committed by SOA graduates will likely never be known because members of Latin American militaries are generally above the law. It is rare that crimes by members of these militaries are investigated and rarer still when the names of those suspected are released.

But hasn't the SOA has made an important contribution to democratization of the region?
No. The SOA was founded as a combat school focused on counterinsurgency techniques. Rather than contributing to the development of democracy in the region, the SOA actually taught methods that undermined and destroyed democratic values. Media Outreach

Important Media Work that You can do

Media coverage significantly magnifies our voice. And it’s up to all of us to generate media coverage of the SOA and efforts to close it down. Taking a little time to carry out a handful of media-related tasks can profoundly impact the number of people in your area who know about the SOA and the number of people who get involved in the work to CLOSE IT DOWN.

Dear Editor:

[Intro sentence connecting your letter to a recent article, if applicable]. This weekend (or next weekend or next month, whatever is applicable), November 18-20, I will join thousands in Columbus, Georgia to call for the closure of the controversial School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/ WHINSEC). Graduates of this U.S.-taxpayer-financed institution, a combat training school for Latin American security personnel, continue to be implicated in civilian-targeted killings throughout Latin America.

The SOA/ WHINSEC, known popularly as the “School of Assassins,” has trained more than 60,000 Latin American security personnel. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocate torture, false imprisonment, extortion and execution.
SOA graduates are cited for some of the most horrific atrocities in Latin America, including the El Mozote massacre of 900 civilians in El Salvador, the assassination of six Jesuits and their co-workers in San Salvador, terror campaigns against civilians and indigenous people in Guatemala, and recent massacres in Colombia.

This school is out of line with the values of everyday Americans, and closing it for good would send a strong human rights record to Latin America and the world.

A growing movement of human rights groups, religious clergy and laypeople, students, veterans, unionists and many others will converge in Georgia this weekend, including a contingent from [your town]. We will demand that this training camp be shut down. The path to lasting peace and security can only be found if we implement foreign policy that reflects our ideals of justice and democracy.

To learn more about the SOA/WHINSEC and efforts to close it, visit or call 202-234-3440.



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