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LI call for closure of School of Americas

Long Island Residents to Join Thousands in Georgia Calling for Closure of Controversial Training Facility for Latin Americans

Rally to Demand “Zero Tolerance for Torture” 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).

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.

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.

One Response

  1. I remain amazed that well-intentioned people continue to be duped by this dishonest movement. Despite trying for almost 20 years, SOAW has not found one single person who used what he learned at the school to commit a crime–not even one! Look at the database on the SOAW site, look at all the courses taken and see if you can find one you object to. Then, since the school was closed by Congress and Pres. Clinton at the end of 2000, come see the institute that replaced it. You don’t have to take anyone’s word for what goes on here–look for yourself. It is beyond absurd to put your time and resources into an issue about which you know nothing, especially when you can know so easily. I am the public affairs officer at the institute; that’s why I don’t even suggest you take my word for it–but you sure shouldn’t take counsel from those who refuse to look at it either.

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