and Closure of U.S. Army’s School of the Americas
Residents of Long Island will join thousands from across the nation at Fort Benning, Georgia on the weekend of November 15 to 18, to demand a dramatic shift in U.S. foreign policy and the closure of the controversial U.S. Army’s School of the Americas (SOA).
Bill McNulty, a committed member of SOA Watch for the past 15 years, said: "Despite a shocking human rights record, this school continues to operate with US taxpayer money. Closing the SOA would send a strong human rights message to Latin America and the world.”
The SOA, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Despite this admission and hundreds of documented human rights abuses connected to soldiers trained at the school, no independent investigation into the facility has ever taken place. New research confirms that the school continues to support known human rights abusers. Despite investigation by the United Nations for ordering the shooting of 16 indigenous peasants in El Salvador, Col. Francisco del Cid Diaz returned to SOA/ WHINSEC in 2003.
Support for the SOA/ WHINSEC continues to erode. The governments of Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela and Bolivia have ceased all training at the school.
Last November, 22,000 people gathered at the gates of Ft. Benning to call for the closure of the school, the largest demonstration yet in a 16-year history of opposition to the school.
For the past 16 years, an Ecumenical Service of Remembrance took place in churches of various denominations across Long Island. It is a night for remembrance of the six Jesuit Priests, their co-workers, four American churchwomen and Archbishop Romero, who were assassinated by graduates of the SOA. This year, on Friday, November 9, at 7:30PM, at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal R.C. Church, Straight Path in Wyandanch, people of all faiths will gather to remember… and to bless this year’s travelers to Fort Benning, Georgia on the weekend of November 15-18. They will give witness, through peaceful protest, to their prayers for an end to SOA…supported by our tax dollars…where training in torture and assassination has been taking place for since its forerunner was founded in 1946.