Terror base on the homefront

The United States must shut down the old School of the Americas.

The School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001, remains a breeding ground for torture and inhumane practices. The use of training manuals to train personnel to use torture, and the record of its graduates, who seep into headlines as human rights violators, highlight the corruption of the institution.

The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation trains Latin American soldiers at the U.S. Army’s Fort Benning, Ga. The majority of its students come from Chile and Colombia. Early this year in Colombia, the massacre involving community members in Uraba was commanded by a graduate of the School of the Americas. The school is directly involved with sabotaging democracies in Latin America. Waldo Albarracin was kidnapped and tortured by a former student of the WHISC. The 2002 coup against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez was led by SAO graduates. There are numerous documented examples of the torture work of SAO and WHISC graduates taking place in Honduras, Venezuela, Mexico, El Salvador and Bolivia.

There is a contradiction in the relationship between the desire of the United States to spread democracy abroad. Actively “promoting” democracy in Iraq, and its foreign policies and actions are anything but democratic. The SOA played a significant role in suppressing the resistance of the indigenous uprising in Chiapas. six thousand soldiers have trained to prevent and stop insurgency from prevailing all over Latin America. These actions, along with the use of torture are suppressing the will of the Latin American people. The notorious Omar Torrijis was trained at the school and lead a coup against the democratically elected president of Panama. After taking office, he became a brutal dictator who suppressed all forms of resistance.

From a school that takes pride in its “meticulous screening process,” these atrocities should be expected. The institution fails to serve any positive purpose as far as bringing stability and democracy to Latin America. The United States must shut down the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.