In 1946 The School of the Americas (currently known as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security and Cooperation began training Latin American soldiers in “counterinsurgency operations” out of Fort Benning Georgia. Upon returning to their home countries, many of these soldiers used the training the received at SOA to support or lead brutal military dicatorships in Latin America and commit numerous human rights violations including mass killing, torture, disappearances, and union busting. By the year 2000, ten Latin American dictators had attended the School of the Americas at some point including those from Argentina, Boliva, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, and Peru.
On Saturday, November 21st from Noon to 1:15 at City Hall the Peace & Justice Center will join with Northeast Sisters of Mercy and Pax Christi Burlington to remember the more than 200,000 victims of School of the Americas graduates.
Our vigil to close the U.S. Army School of the Americas where tactics of terror and death squads have been part of the curriculum, demands Congress finally shut down the School of Assassins as it is known throughout Latin America.
While the school remains open, the stain on the soul of this country continues to spread and deepen. Nothing can undo the cruelty and murders of the past, we must struggle for a renewed sense of human decency and repentance in our nation and close the School of the Americas.