The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Hendrik Voss

Mass Mobilization to Shut Down the School of the America; November 20-22, 2009, Fort Benning, Georgia


military coup led by SOA graduates in Honduras has once again exposed
the destabilizing and deadly effects that the School of the Americas
(SOA/ WHINSEC) has on Latin America. Torture survivors and human rights
activists from across the Americas, including Bertha Oliva, the founder
of the Committee of the Family Members of the Disappeared (COFADEH)
from Honduras and human rights defenders from Colombia will travel to
Fort Benning, Georgia to participate in the mobilization.

  • The SOA graduate-led military coup in Honduras and the
    increasing U.S. military involvement in Colombia put a renewed focus on
    the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC) and the policies it

  • Thousands from across the Americas will converge on November
    20-22 at Fort Benning, GA for a vigil and civil disobedience actions to
    speak out against the SOA/ WHINSEC and to demand a change in U.S.
    foreign policy.

  • The vigil will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1989
    SOA graduate-led Jesuit massacre in San Salvador, and the many other
    thousands of victims of SOA/ WHINSEC violence.

The campaign to close the SOA/ WHINSEC is in a crucial phase right now.
Despite promising comments from President Obama during his 2008
election campaign, the SOA/ WHINSEC is still in operation, the U.S. is
poring millions into failing "military solutions" to combat the drug
problems in Mexico and the Pentagon is moving forward with plans to use
seven Colombian military bases in Colombia for offensive U.S. military

"It is up to us to hold those responsible accountable and to push for
to closing of the School of the Americas and a change in US foreign
policy" said Father Roy Bourgeois, the founder of SOA Watch. "Too many
have died and continue to suffer at the hands of graduates of this
notorious institute."

In the fall of 2009, opponents of the SOA/ WHINSEC achieved a victory
when a joint House and Senate conference committee agreed to include
language in the FY 2010 Defense Authorization bill that requires the
Pentagon to release names of the graduates of the SOA/ WHINSEC to the
public. The Pentagon had classified the names after the continued
involvement of SOA/ WHINSEC attendees in human rights abuses became

SOA Watch is an independent organization that seeks to close the US Army School of the Americas, under whatever name it is called, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work.