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What is the SOA

What is the SOA

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Published by Zsuzsa Róna

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Published by: Zsuzsa Róna on Mar 29, 2013
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History
 The School of the Americas (SOA) is a combattraining school for Latin American soldiers, locatedat Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2001 renamed theWestern Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC).It was initially established in Panama in 1946 however it was expelled from Panama in1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty(article iv) and reinforced under the
 
v).Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was
the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” The SOA have left a trail of blood
and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned. For this reason theSchool of the Americas has been his
torically dubbed the “School of Assassins”.
 Since 1946, the SOA has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers incounterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare,military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates areeducators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured,
raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at
the School of Assassins.
 
 On January 17, 2001 the School of the Americas was replaced by the WesternHemisphere Institute for SecurityCooperation. This was the result of aDepartment of Defense proposal includedin the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal 2001. The measure passed whenthe House of Representatives defeated a bi-partisan amendment to closethe school and conduct a congressional investigation by a narrow ten votemargin. The amendment was sponsored by Representatives Moakley (D-MA), Scarborough (R-FL), Campbell (R-CA) and McGovern (D-MA) . Thefollowing is a summary comparison of the "new" school with the School of the Americas.In a media interview last year, Georgia Senator and SOA supporter, the latePaul Coverdell, characterized the DOD proposal as "cosmetic" changes thatwould ensure that the SOA could continue its mission and operation. Criticsof the SOA concur. The new military training school is the continuation of the SOA under a new name. It is a new name, but the same shame.The approach taken by the DOD is not grounded in any critical assessmentof the training, procedures, performance, or results (consequences) of thetraining program it copies. Further, it ignores congressional concern andpublic outc
ry over the SOA’s past and present link to human rights
atrocities.
COMPARISON OF THE SOA AND THE NEW SCHOOL
 
 AUTHORITY:
 
 
School of the Americas:"
The Secretary of the Army may operate the military education and trainingfacility known as the United States Army School of the Americas."
U.S Code: Title 10, Section 4415 
 
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation:
Secretary of Defense authorized to "operate an education and trainingfacility..."Secretary of a department of the military designated as the executive agentto run school
U.S. Code: Title 10, Section 2166.
 
Concerns and Comparison of Authority:
Currently the Secretary of the Army, who is under the direction of the Secretary of Defense, operates theSOA. With the new proposal, the Secretary of the Army, or anotherdepartment of the military, will still operate the school as an agent of theSecretary of Defense. The proposal offers no substantive change to the
 
SOA.
PURPOSE and MISSION:
 
School of the Americas:
provide "military education and training to military personnel of Central andSouth American countries and Caribbean countries."
US Code: Title 10,Section 4415 
provide "military education and training to the nations of Latin America","promote democratic values and respect for human rights; and foster

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