Yes friends, the people that brought you - well, not really "you" unless you happen to live in a number of Latin American countries - torture, "disappearance" and murder are still going strong. And no, I'm not talking about Vice President Dick Cheney and his masters (and mistresses) of torture. I'm speaking of the infamous School of the Americas (SOA). Now, if that doesn't sound familiar, try Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) - same old tricks, just new packaging; isn't "WHINSEC" a great euphemism?
For decades, students (principally soldiers from "friendly" Latin American governments) who graduated from SOA have terrorized, kidnapped, tortured and murdered countless innocent civilians in a variety of countries in Latin America; students from 22 Latin American nations have attended SOA since its inception. There is significant documentation on human rights abuses by SOA graduates.
As I write this post, as many as 20,000 people have gathered in Columbus, Georgia (home of SOA) for rallies, teach-ins and a funeral procession. This annual event (started in 1990 on the first anniversary of the brutal killings of six Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter in El Salvador) brings together individuals and groups dedicated to human rights, nonviolence and peace, and an end to militarism and unjust U.S. foreign policy. You can read about what is happening at this year's event at National Catholic Reporter's SOA Blog.
If you couldn't make it to Columbus, you CAN get involved without leaving town. School of the Americas (SOA) Watch is a nonviolent, grass roots movement standing in solidarity with the people of Latin American to not only close SOA/WHINSEC, but create a humane U.S. foreign policy. SOA Watch engages in "creative protest and resistance, legislative and media work" to reach these goals. Check out their website and while you are there, consider signing the petition to President-elect Obama to Close SOA/WHINSEC. You can also download a petition form for people to sign at your church or other group.
With a new administration moving in to The White House we have a huge opportunity to move towards a just foreign policy, and closing the School of the Americas is a key component. Change IS coming; be part of it!
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