Monday, May 11, 2009

SOAW lobbies Sánchez Cerén to withdraw ES from the School of the Americas

School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) activists visted El Salvador this week to ask President-elect Mauricio Funes' new government to withdraw military officers from the School of the Americas/WHINSEC, reports IPS. Lisa Sullivan, Latin America Coordinator for SOAW, expressed hope that when Mauricio Funes takes office on June 1, there is a possibility that his government will stop sending troops to the School of the Americas.
There are currently 37 Salvadoran military officers studying at the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA, but El Salvador has a long, ugly history with the military academy. The IPS article included frightening links between the School of the Americas/WHINSEC and the gristly murders during the Salvadoran Civil War:
  • 19 of the 26 Salvadoran soldiers and officers involved in the murders of the Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and the housekeeper's teenage daughter at the University of Central Americain 1989 were SOA alumni.
  • Three of the five Salvadoran troops who raped and killed three U.S. nuns and a Catholic layworker in 1980 were SOA alumni.
  • Two of the three Salvadoran troops implicated in the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980 were SOA alumni.
  • 48 of the 69 Salvadoran military officers "cited by the U.N. Truth Commission for human rights violations had been trained at the SOA."
Other famous Salvadoran alumni of the SOA include Domingo Monterrosa (pictured at right), commander of the Atlcatl Battallion that murdered over a thousand women, men, and children in the infamous El Mozote Massacre, and Roberto D'Aubuisson, founder of the ARENA party and suspected founder of many of the paramilitary death squads in El Salvador.

Mary Anne Peronne, another SOAW activist, stated that when the SOAW representatives met with Vice President-elect Salvador Sánchez Ceréen, "he admitted that he was unfamiliar with WHINSEC, but that he would take the information provided by the activists very seriously."

To learn more about the SOA, visit the School of the America's Watch website.

*Photo of SOAW Vigil from

- Sara Skinner, US Grassroots Coordinator

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