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Published on Mar 28, 2015
The School of the Americas World War II was the "good war". After that conflict, most Americans believed that US intentions in the world were noble -- the US was the punisher of aggression and a warrior for freedom. This image was for generations of Americans the measure by which they judged their country in world affairs. The war in Vietnam ended the illusion that America was always on the "right side". Today, America's image as a defender of democracy and justice has been further eroded by the School of the Americas (SOA), which trains Latin American and Caribbean military officers and soldiers to subvert democracy and kill hope in their own countries.
Founded by the United States in 1946, the SOA was initially located in Panama, but in 1984 it was kicked out under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty and moved to the army base at Fort Benning, Georgia. Then-President of Panama Jorge Illueca called it "the biggest base for de-stabilization in Latin America," and a major Panamanian newspaper dubbed it " The School of Assassins."
Today, SOA instructors and students are recruited from the cream of the Latin American military establishment. The School trains 700-2,000 soldiers a year, and since its inception in 1946, more than 60,000 military personnel have graduated from the SOA.
If the SOA concentrated its training on protecting country borders from foreign aggression or safeguarding citizens from invasion by outside enemies, it would be considered an exemplary institution, worth the cost of American tax dollars and US prestige. But, the SOA has very different goals. Its curriculum includes courses in psychological warfare, counterinsurgency, interrogation techniques, and infantry and commando tactics. Presented with the most sophisticated and up-to-date techniques by the US Army's best instructors, these courses teach military officers and soldiers of Third World countries to subvert the truth, to muzzle union leaders, activist clergy, and journalists, and to make war on their own people. It prepares them to subdue the voices of dissent and to make protesters submit. It instructs them in techniques of marginalizing the poor, the hungry, and the dispossessed. It tells them how to stamp out freedom and terrorize their own citizens. It trains them to destroy the hope of democracy.
The School of the Americas (SOA) has been given other names -- "School for Dictators", "School of Assassins", and "Nursery of Death Squads". And, countries with the worst human rights records send the most soldiers to the School.