2theadvocate.com: News - Protests target Pentagon-run school 12/22/05: "Protests target Pentagon-run school
More than 15,000 SOA Watch protesters gathered outside the main gate of Fort Benning, Ga., for the 16th consecutive year, demanding the closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the School of the Americas, on the weekend of Nov. 18. More than 40 people were arrested for crossing over the line, many more than last year.
SOA Watch, founded by Catholic priest the Rev. Roy Bourgeois of Lutcher in 1990, has grown from a handful of protesters to thousands each year from all over the country ? also from Central America and Latin America. Run by the Pentagon, the SOA is a military training school for Central and Latin American soldiers and police. Courses taught are counterinsurgency, psychological operations, setting up roadblocks and landmines, intimidation and torture. Who are the victims? Labor organizers, priests and nuns, student activists and anyone working for just wages, decent housing, cleaner working conditions and other basic needs.
Protecting U.S. interests in Latin America translates into creating a favorable business climate for U.S. corporations, meaning rock-bottom wages, low environmental standards and weak or nonexistent unions. For example, girls work long hours for short pay in tedious sweatshops. Official reports indicate that the cost of maintaining the school costs the U.S. taxpayers about $18.4 million annually.
With so many U.S. families struggling for resources for education etc., it's a crime to use our taxes on (as the Latinos aptly name it) this School of the Assassins! Thousands have been 'disappeared,' murdered, including priests and nuns, who opted on the side of the POOR! Indigenous peoples' entire villages have been torched!
'Disturbing the Peace' is a recent book describing Rev. Roy's saga and struggle to close the SOA. From personal experience in parts of Latin America he speaks powerfully about why the SOA must be shut down ? again. Congress has a bill pending concerning this issue. More information can be obtained by going online at http://www.soaw.org.
Gertrude K. 'Trudi' Meyers