Immediately after the protest in Miami against the FTAA, many of us headed to the annual demonstration organized by School of the Americas Watch at the main gate of Fort Benning on the weekend of Nov. 21-23, 2003.
The U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), located in Fort Benning, Georgia, is a military training institution focused on training officers from Latin American countries. Since its creation in 1946, some 60,000 Latin American military officers have graduated from the school.
The mission of the SOA, known as the School of Assassins, is to train soldiers to protect the interests of multinational corporations, and maintain the economic status quo for the few rich and powerful in the U.S. and their cohorts in Latin America. Religions leaders union organizers, and indigenous communities have been the targets and victims of SOA violence.
In 2000, pressure on Congress to stop funding the SOA increased to the point where the Pentagon decided to rename the school the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, abbreviated as WHISC or WHINSEC.
10,000 Protest in Fort Benning, Georgia Against School of Americas, What Many Critics Call the “School of Assassins”
by Democracy Now!
Some ten thousand people descended on the School of the Americas (now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) headquarters in Fort Benning, Georgia this weekend to protest the U.S. military program that trains Latin American soldiers in combat, counterinsurgency and counter-narcotics. Frequently dubbed the “School of the Assassins” critics say the school’s graduates are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America.
Between 35 and 45 people were arrested for trespassing after crossing onto fort property. The Army blared patriotic songs such as “The Army Song” and “God Bless the U.S.A.” from loudspeakers 50 yards away from where protesters were speaking to the large crowd. Organizers at School of the Americas Watch are planning to sue, accusing the Army of a “psychological operation.”
We hear speeches from Adriana Bartow who lost 6 members of her family in 1981 when Guatemalan security forces raided her house. Jennifer Harbury, whose husband Guatemalan rebel leader, Efrain Bamaca Velazquez was murdered by troops trained at the School of the Americas. Carlos Mauricio who successfully sued two former Salvadoran generals for human rights abuses in a Florida court. And Roy Bourgeois a Catholic priest, who started SOA Watch and the campaign against the School of the Americas.”
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Photos originally published on Atlanta Indymedia and FTAA IMC.
Unfortunately, the sequencing has been lost, as well as the titles, captions and audio recordings.