The U. S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) located at Ft. Benning, Georgia, is a combat training school for latin American soldiers. In its 50 year history, the SOA has trained 60,000 Latin American troops in commando tactics, military intelligence, pychological operations, an sniper fire. These soldiers are taught to make war against their own people. They have massacred entire villages of women, children and men.
SOA graduates target grassroots leaders for assasination, torture, rape and intimidation - especially local union leaders, student organizers and religious workers. The school's effective mission is to silence leaders who organize for the rights of working people and the disspossesed.
In l996, the pentagon was force to release training manuals used at the SOA up until 1991. These mannuals advocated interrogation techniques such as torture, execution, blackmail, and arrresting the relatives of those being questioned. Labour organizers were one of the groups singled out in these mannuals.
Columbia, for example, has sent over 10,000 military personel to train at the School of the Americas - more than any other single country. Tragically, the training has worked. Columbian SOA grads have left a trail of blood and suffering in their home country, and union members have been a prime target. In the early 1990's, one Columbian trade unionist was killed every other day, 180 a year. By 1996, the number increased to 253. Of every 10 trade unionists killed in the world in recent years, 4 were from Columbia. SOA grads are trained to help lead the campaign of terror and intimidation against union members.
On Nov. 19 thru Nov 21 there will be and vigil and civil disobedience to mark the commemoration of the 10th anniverary of the assassination of six Jesuit priests and their house keeper and her daugther in El Salvador. Every year the movement to close the SOA grows and this year it is expected that it will be the biggest ever; 10,000 to stand vigil and 5,000 to cross the line in civil disobedience. This will be the largest anti military protest since the Vietnam War.
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