The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Hendrik Voss, SOA Watch, 202-234-3440

Close the SOA/WHINSEC Included in the Platform of the Democratic Party

At the two-day Platform Committee meeting, that took place in Orlando, Florida last weekend, it was agreed to include the closing of the School of the Americas, now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, as one of its planks into the Democratic Party's policy platform.

The amendment to call for the closure of the notorious US military training school, which reads "Our support of democracies and civilian governments in the Western Hemisphere includes our belief that their military and police forces should never be involved in the political process, and therefore we will reinstate the 2000 Congressional mandate to close the School of the Americas now known as WHINSEC" was introduced by Marcos Rubenstein, a member of the platform committee, who was elected by the Sanders delegates.

The "Close the School of Americas" plank was accepted by both the Sanders and the Clinton campaigns and is now in manager's mark. That means that only grammatical changes are now allowed. This is the first time that the draft of the Democratic Party's policy platform includes the call for the closure of the School of the Americas/ WHINSEC.

The draft policy platform, which still needs to be ratified at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later this month, is supposed to be the policy on which the presidential candidate runs, and around which Democrats rally. While the platform is nonbinding, grassroots activists, who have been concerned about the hawkish stands of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton towards Latin America, will push the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign to adhere to the platform's call for the closing of the School of the Americas/ Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

Hillary Clinton has been dogged on the campaign trail with questions about her role as Secretary of State in the 2009 military coup in Honduras, which was carried out by graduates of the School of the Americas. The State Department under Hillary Clinton legitimized the 2009 coup, which has led to increased militarization, and unleashed violence and human rights abuses. Thousands of Hondurans are fleeing their country, as political violence by the government and death squads is ongoing. Hundreds have been murdered, including indigenous environmentalist and social justice activist Berta Caceres, who was shot in her house in the Honduran community of La Esperanza on March 3, 2016.

School of the Americas Watch, the activist organization that is working against US militarization throughout the Americas, is mobilizing for a Convergence at the US/Mexico border from October 7-10, 2016 in the lead-up to the elections: The convergence will demand a fundamental shift in US foreign policy, shine a light on how US militarization in Latin America is a principal root causes of migration, and call attention to the devastating impact of US security and immigration policy on refugees.

"In order to create real change, we can't rely on politicians to make it happen for us. We have to organize to build broad-based grassroots power, and hold those who are making decisions that affect our lives accountable." said Hendrik Voss of School of the Americas Watch.

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.