School of Americas undermines U.S. agenda

To convince the country and the world of Saddam Hussein’s evilness, President George W. Bush has continually pointed out the atrocities Hussein has committed against his own people. However, within the borders of the United States, there is an organization that promotes similar activity in Latin America and South America.

The School of the Americas, now headquartered at Fort Benning, Ga., and called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, was founded in 1946 to teach counter-insurgency, infantry tactics and commando operations to Latin American soldiers and military personnel. The school also – according to a former instructor at the school, Edward Robarge – works to ensure students leave with a complete understanding of U.S. policy regarding human rights. If that is the case, then U.S. policy regarding human rights is perhaps not what we’ve been led to believe.

Columbia is the nation receiving the most military aid from the United States and is the country with the most School of the Americas graduates. Columbia also has the worst human rights record in the Western Hemisphere. In other countries, there are fewer School of the Americas graduates, but the overall situation is the same. Far from propagating democracy and instilling U.S. human rights policy in Latin America, the school has added efficiency to the Latin American system of malevolent dictatorship. School of the Americas graduates assist in oppression, corruption and violence.

Bush has protested Hussein’s human-rights transgressions time and again. Hussein gassed his own people, jailed political dissidents and committed numerous atrocities against his own countrymen and the people of Kuwait. This is not in doubt. The United States should not be so righteous, however, because a breeding ground for the same human-rights abuses exists within our own borders.

This weekend, thousands of nonviolent protesters will converge on Fort Benning to protest the school’s existence. The Bush administration should sit up and take notice of the inconsistency in which the United States is now caught and dismantle the school, a tool of violence and an impediment to true democracy in Latin America.