Protest Against the "School of the Assassins"
November 11, 2003
On November 21-23, thousands of people from cities all across the U.S. will demonstrate in Fort Benning, Georgia to demand the closing of the notorious "School of the Americas (SOA)" - a military training institution which has been renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation".
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation-SOA is a typical neocolonial institution and one of the means through which the U.S. trains a caste of Latin American military officers and integrates them into the Pentagon's command structure.
Over the last 50 years, nearly 60,000 military and police officials have trained at the school which has become know as "the School of Assassins" because many of its graduating officers have become some of the most notorious leaders of death-squads and have been implicated in numerous war crimes, human rights abuses, and drug-trafficking. A 1996 report by a U.S. government oversight board admitted that SOA "instruction materials.... condone practices such as executions of guerrillas, extortion, physical abuse, coercion and false imprisonment." According to these and other course manuals, anyone in Latin America who engages in strikes, circulates anti-government petitions or makes accusations of police brutality is to be viewed as a "guerrilla" and targeted as a "subversive."
The November demonstration in Fort Benning marks the 13th protest in as many years. This year, as in the past, protestors will not only demand that the school be closed, but will also call for an end to the U.S.'s phony "war on terrorism" and insist that the Pentagon stop carrying out its own terrorism throughout Latin America.
Opposition to Plan Colombia
Demonstrators at Fort Benning will denounce "Plan Colombia," a counter-insurgency program drawn up by the Pentagon with the goal of crushing the popular movements in Colombia and strengthen the direct U.S. military presence throughout the Andes region. Under "Plan Colombia," the U.S. has dispatched thousands of military "advisers" and mercenaries to Colombia, equipped the Colombian army with billions in munitions and established new U.S. bases in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
The SOA protest will also demand an end to U.S. pressure and aggression against Cuba, and an end to U.S. interference in Venezuela, where the Pentagon and U.S. State Department are actively organizing against the elected, constitutional government.
These on-going annual protests against the SOA have not only exposed this ultra-militarist institution but also become an important school of struggle against U.S. military intervention throughout Latin America.
Today this movement faces serious challenges as the U.S. is escalating counter-insurgency operations in Colombia and throughout the continent. It is the duty of the American people to oppose U.S. imperialism's militarism and intervention in Latin American in all its forms.