Thousands Demonstrate Against the "School of the Assassins"
November 21, 2007
On November 18, over 20,000 people demonstrated at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, to demand the closing of the U.S. Army Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly known as the "School of the Americas" (SOA). Demonstrators also demanded the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq. Other banners and slogans at the rally spoke out against other fronts of the U.S. war program.
The "school" has been further rebuffed by the fact that, since 2005, five Latin American countries: Bolivia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela have formally announced removal of their military and police attendees from the SOA/WHINSEC.
The SOA/WHINSEC is used by the U.S. government as a training ground for foreign military officers. Labeled by many as the "School of the Assassins," the school has produced thousands of officers subsequently linked with assassinations, "death squads," drug-trafficking, and human rights abuses in Latin America. Tens of thousands of military and police officials have trained at the school. Many of its graduating officers have become some of the most notorious leaders of death-squads and have been implicated in numerous war crimes, human rights abuses, and drug-trafficking. The school's official training manuals openly condone torture, blackmail, and assassination. A 1996 report by a U.S. government oversight board admitted that the school's "instruction materials.... condone practices such as executions of guerrillas, extortion, physical abuse, coercion and false imprisonment."
U.S. imperialism uses the school to further its program of economic and military domination of other countries. During the last fifty years, U.S. imperialism has waged hundreds of counter-revolutionary wars and military interventions - in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, etc. In addition to its own troops, it has used foreign officers to help prop up the most reactionary and fascist regimes in the region. The legacy of such intervention has been to leave behind a huge trail of blood throughout the region.
The Fort Benning "School," and others like it, must be shut down and the U.S. must end its notorious practice of training foreign military criminals and assassins. The struggle to close the SOA-WHISEC is part of a broad current of opposition to the aggressive foreign policy of the U.S. government.