Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales opened an anti-imperialist military training center this week, describing it as a socialist and anti-colonial counterpoint to the United States' political and military influence on Latin America.
"If the empire teaches domination of the world from its military schools, we will learn from this school to free ourselves from imperial oppression," Morales said at the school's inauguration ceremony on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
"We want to build anti-colonial and anti-capitalist thinking with this school that binds the armed forces to social movements and counteracts the influence of the School of the Americas."
—Evo MoralesBased in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, the Juan Jose Torres Anti-Imperialist Commando School will initially enroll 100 students, BBC reports.
Morales is the country's first Indigenous president and a socialist who has often spoken out against American imperialism.
The new school is intended to be an anti-School of the Americas (SOA), the infamous military training ground located in Fort Benning, Georgia. Human rights watchdog School of the Americas Watch describes the bloody legacy of the U.S. Department of Defense project, which is also known as the "School of Assassins":
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Since 1946, the SOA has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency 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 are educators, 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.
Indeed, as Bolivian Defense Minister Reymi Ferreira told the state-run media outlet ABI: "The School of Anti-Imperialism is a school that seeks to preserve life, unlike the School of the Americas, which brainwashed military officers into believing that the enemy was our people. It became lawful, proper and normal to kill people."
"We want to build anti-colonial and anti-capitalist thinking with this school that binds the armed forces to social movements," Morales told the crowd, "and counteracts the influence of the School of the Americas that always saw the Indigenous as internal enemies."