School of Assassins, USA
SOA Watch and Chasqui BartolinaSisa
Father Roy Bourgeois founded SOA
Watch to inform the American public about " the School of Assassins" and to close it down. But, he cannot do it alone. He
needs the support of all Americans who abhor the training of terrorists and murderers in this country. Support SOA Watch and
Father Roy Bourgeois at:
PO Box 3330
Columbus, GA 31903
Video: School of Assassins
A film by Robert Richter. Human rights abuses by graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA)
are chillingly documented at the beginning of the campaign to close the school. stream video, 18 min total
Play in RealPlayer
School of the Americas:
School of Assassins, USA
of the Americas
World War II was the "good war". After that conflict, most Americans believed that US intentions in the
world were noble -- the US was the punisher of aggression and a warrior for freedom. This image was for generations of Americans
the measure by which they judged their country in world affairs. The war in Vietnam ended the illusion that America was always
on the "right side". Today, America's image as a defender of democracy and justice has been further eroded by the School of
the Americas (SOA), which trains Latin American and Caribbean military officers and soldiers to subvert democracy and kill
hope in their own countries.
Founded by the United States in 1946, the SOA was initially located in Panama, but in
1984 it was kicked out under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty and moved to the army base at Fort Benning, Georgia. Then-President
of Panama Jorge Illueca called it "the biggest base for de-stabilization in Latin America," and a major Panamanian newspaper
dubbed it " The School of Assassins."
Today, SOA instructors and students are recruited from the cream of the Latin
American military establishment. The School trains 700-2,000 soldiers a year, and since its inception in 1946, more than 60,000
military personnel have graduated from the SOA.
If the SOA concentrated its training on protecting country borders
from foreign aggression or safeguarding citizens from invasion by outside enemies, it would be considered an exemplary institution,
worth the cost of American tax dollars and US prestige. But, the SOA has very different goals. Its curriculum includes courses
in psychological warfare, counterinsurgency, interrogation techniques, and infantry and commando tactics. Presented with the
most sophisticated and up-to-date techniques by the US Army's best instructors, these courses teach military officers and
soldiers of Third World countries to subvert the truth, to muzzle union leaders, activist clergy, and journalists, and to
make war on their own people. It prepares them to subdue the voices of dissent and to make protesters submit. It instructs
them in techniques of marginalizing the poor, the hungry, and the dispossessed. It tells them how to stamp out freedom and
terrorize their own citizens. It trains them to destroy the hope of democracy.
The School of the Americas (SOA) has
been given other names -- "School for Dictators", "School of Assassins", and "Nursery of Death Squads". And, countries with
the worst human rights records send the most soldiers to the School.
Countries / Graduates (since 1946)
Bolivia / 4,049
Brazil / 355
Chile / 2,405
Colombia / 8,679
Costa Rica / 2,376
Ecuador / 2,356
El Salvador / 6,776
Guatemala / 1,676
Honduras / 3,691
Nicaragua / 4,693
Paraguay / 1,084
Peru / 3,997
Uruguay / 931
Venezuela / 3,250
When they return to their home
countries, graduates of the SOA hold a rather unique and peculiar view of their countrymen. They look upon priests, social
workers, journalists, and liberal intellectuals, not as assets to their societies, but as dangerous subversives, working to
undermine the system that keeps these soldiers, army officers, and their sponsors in power.
Graduates of the SOA have
been among the most repressive tyrants in Latin America, and their actions have been some of the most cruel and violent. In
El Salvador, in 1989, a Salvadoran army patrol executed six Jesuit priests as they lay face-down on the ground at Central
America University. According to the United Nation's Truth Commission Report on El Salvador in 1993, 19 of the 27 officers
who took part in the executions were trained at the SOA.
In 1990, in El Salvador, populist Archbishop Oscar Romero
was assassinated. Three-quarters of the Salvadoran officers implicated in the killing were trained at the SOA. Roberto D'Aubuison,
the late leader of El Salvador's Death Squad, was implicated in the plot to assassinate Archbishop Romero. He also participated
in numerous murders, including a massacre in the village of El Mazote, where more than 900 men, women, and children were killed.
He graduated from SOA as well.
The U.N. Truth Commission's statistics reveal the extent of the School's murderous role
in El Salvador .
Romero assassination 3 officers cited --- 2 were SOA graduates
Murder of US nuns 5 officers cited
--- 3 were SOA graduates
Union leader murders 3 officers cited --- 3 were SOA graduates
El Junquillo massacre 3 officers
cited --- 2 were SOA graduates
El Mazote massacre 12 officers cited --- 10 were SOA graduates
Dutch journalist murders
1 officer cited --- he was an SOA graduate
Las Hojas massacre 6 officers cited --- 3 were SOA graduates
massacre 7 officers cited --- 6 were SOA graduates
Jesuit massacre 26 officers cited --- 19 were SOA graduates
other Latin American countries, graduates of the SOA have been equally prominent enemies of human rights. Former dictators
Omar Torrijos of Panama, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, all overthrew constitutionally
elected governments in their countries. Leopoldo Galtieri, the former head of the Argentina junta defeated in the Falklands
War, was responsible for thousands of "disappeared" citizens who supported freedom and democracy in Argentina, and paid the
ultimate price with their lives. He was an SOA graduate.
In Honduras, General Humberto Ragalado Hernandez, was trained
at the SOA at the same time that he was linked to Columbian drug cartels, and the highest ranking officers in the Honduran
Death Squad were trained at SOA as well.
In Peru, the most senior officers convicted of the February 1994 murder of
nine university students and a professor, were graduates of the SOA. In Columbia, a 1992 human rights tribunal cited 246 officers
for crimes against the people of Columbia. 105 of the officers were trained at the SOA. In Panama, ex-dictator Manuel Noriega,
formerly on the CIA payroll, graduated from the SOA. He is now in a US prison, convicted of trafficking in drugs.
Guatemala, a country of 10 million, the indigenous Mayan population of 6 million have endured the greatest suffering in Latin
America. During more than 30 years of civil war, tens-of-thousands have been slaughtered, with the total killed estimated
to exceed 200,000. Most of the ranking generals involved in the numerous coups and acts of terror and murder during this period
were trained at the SOA.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, in Guatemala, thousands of political activists and opponents
of government policies were assassinated. General Manuel Antonio Callejas y Callejas, Chief of Army Intelligence at the time,
was cited by the UN as the individual responsible for most of those murders. He graduated from the SOA. One of the most vicious
tyrants in recent Guatemalan history is Jose Efrain Rios Montt. General, dictator, and a former president from 1982-83, Rios
Montt was proud of his political philosophy of "beans for the obedient; bullets for the rest". He was also a graduate of the
The impact of SOA graduates on Latin American freedom has been devastating. Armed with sophisticated training,
modern weapons, and up-to-date techniques of control and surveillance, graduates of the SOA have terrorized their own countrymen
for a generation.
In the name of its citizens and using American taxpayer dollars, the United States, the most-democratic
of countries, has for decades been training some of the most anti-democratic leaders in the world. Administrations that have
decried terrorism abroad, have encouraged terrorists right here at home -- at the SOA.
Our country, for generations,
a beacon of liberty and democracy to the world, should play no part in subverting democracy and killing hope in other countries.
Americans who condemn world terror should condemn just as strongly America's training of Third World terrorists. It is time
for all of us to demand that the School of the Americas be closed.
What you can do
Call, fax, or write the
President, and your Senators and Representative. Ask them to end funding for the SOA and stop training terrorists and murderers
Ask them to support House of Representatives Bill -- HR 2652 -- introduced by Representative Joseph Kennedy
(D-MA). This bill would close the School of the Americas and establish in its place an Academy for Democracy and Civil-Military
Relations, to identify the proper role of the military in a democratic society and bring about civilian control over military
matters in Latin America.
Father Roy Bourgeois founded SOA Watch to inform the American public about " the School
of Assassins" and to close it down. But, he cannot do it alone. He needs the support of all Americans who abhor the training
of terrorists and murderers in this country. Support SOA Watch and Father Roy Bourgeois at:
PO Box 3330
Columbus, GA 31903
Foreign Policy and Pentagon
School of the Americas
Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the SOA Watch
Fr. Roy Bourgeois speaks about the work of the SOA (School of Americas) Watch at St. Francis Church in Portland, OR, USA
on May 6, 2006.