Posts Tagged ‘School of the Americas’

Blood on our Hands: SOA Watch

April 8, 2013

The  School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) is a activism organization that seeks to close the renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known the US Army School of the Americas, through nonviolent resistance. The US military center is responsible for training those responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent  civilians, including Monseñor Romero and six Jesuit priests in El Salvador. The SOA WATCH participated in a delegation to El Salvador in March, 2013. Delegate Lisa Sullivan reflects on their journey:

If ever there were a more compelling tale to provoke a stampede to shut the doors of the School of the Americas, it would be the tale of tiny El Salvador. As 25 of us discovered on a recent SOA Watch delegation there, even former  supporters admit: the time has come.

SHARE's Katy Strader and Sarah Hall with Father Roy, founder of SOA Watch.

SHARE’s Katy Strader and Sarah Hall with Father Roy, founder of SOA Watch.

The legacy of that school is etched in blood on the hearts and minds of Salvadorans, and on the walls, parks and pastures of their cities and towns. A wall in central San Salvador with 35,000 names engraved, most of them murdered by orders by  SOA graduates.  A makeshift cross under the shade of a conacaste tree where four bodies of US churchwomen were dumped. A garden where rose bushes grow on the spots where six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter were murdered by the SOA- formed Atlacatl Battalion.  A closet with the possessions left behind by Monseñor Romero, assassinated on orders of an SOA graduate. There are no shoes: Romero was buried in the only pair he owned.

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Court Orders Government to Investigate El Mozote Massacre

December 14, 2012

The Salvadoran military systematically assassinated over 800 men, women, and children in the massacre

On Monday, December 10th, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a long awaited ruling on the El Mozote massacre case. The Court condemned the government as responsible for the massacre, for this violation of life. As part of the ruling, the Court ordered the Salvadoran government to investigate those responsible for the El Mozote massacre, citing that the 1993 amnesty law does not cover war crimes that occurred during the civil war.

Throughout the war, the government repeatedly committed acts of extreme cruelty and violence, and the El Mozote massacre was undoubtedly one of the most brutal. On December 11th, 1981, Salvadoran armed forces entered El Mozote and the surrounding villages. They then rounded up, separated, and systematically killed nearly 1,000 men, women, and children. Only one survived. Over half of the victims were children. The massacre is just one war atrocity among many for which the Salvadoran government is responsible as the state implemented its policy of terror against its people; it remains burned into the collective Salvadoran memory as the most horrific violation against human life.

Up until recently, national Salvadoran courts refused to investigate the killings, using the 1993 amnesty law to avoid responsibility for the long list of human rights they so cruelly violated in December 1981. Because of this impunity, human rights organizations like Tutela Legal took the case to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and then to the Inter-American Court in 2011. However, Monday’s ruling is encouraging in the fight for truth, justice, and reparations for the crimes committed. Among other things, the Inter-American Court ordered the Salvadoran government to enact the following remedial measures:

i) continue compiling a Register of Victims and Relatives of Victims of the massacre  
ii) perform investigations of the events,  
iii) ensure that the Amnesty Law does not represent an obstacle to investigations,  
iv) investigate the conduct of officials who obstructed the investigation

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Nicaragua Withdraws Troops from SOA

September 14, 2012

The massacre at El Mozote is one of the many atrocities committed by SOA graduates.

In a historic decision earlier this month, Nicaraguan President Ortega announced that Nicaragua will be withdrawing its troops completely from the School of the Americas (SOA) now known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. The Nicaraguan Government has been slowly withdrawing troops over the past decade, sending only five last year.  

In regard to the School of the Americas, President Ortega said: “The SOA is an ethical and moral anathema. All of the countries of Latin America have been victims of its graduates. The SOA is a symbol of death, a symbol of terror. We have been gradually reducing our numbers of troops at the SOA, sending only five last year and none this year. We have now entered a new phase and we will NOT continue to send troops to the SOA. This is the least that we can do. We have been its victims.” 

Over 64,000 soldiers have been trained the School of the Americas (SOA) since it’s founding in 1946.  SOA graduates have used their counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, to devastate the lives of thousands of Central Americans.

SOA graduates are responsible for the assassinations of Monseñor Romero, the six Jesuit Priests, the Four U.S. church women, the El Mozote Massacre, and tens of thousands of other ruthless murders of innocent people.

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El Mozote Massacre Case Heard at Inter-American Human Rights Court

April 23, 2012

Memorial for the victims of the El Mozote Massacre.

This morning, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, the Inter-American Human Rights Court opened its public hearing on the El Mozote massacre – one of the largest, most brutal massacres in Latin America. In December of 1981, members of the Salvadoran armed forces entered El Mozote and the surrounding villages rounding up, separating, and systematically killing men, women, and children. Through investigations, exhumations, and testimonies, Tutela Legal, the San Salvador Archdiocese’s human rights office and SHARE partner has identified 819 individuals killed in the massacre – over half under the age of twelve. Many of the soldiers responsible trained at the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia in the U.S.

While the Inter-American Human Rights Commission has ruled on several cases of grave human rights abuses in El Salvador during the war, very few cases have been passed on to the Court, whose decisions are legally binding and viewed very seriously by Latin American governments. This will be the first time the court will give a ruling on the General Amnesty Law passed in March 1993, just five days after the U.N. Truth Commission released its report, From Madness to Hope, on human rights abuses during the war. The amnesty law provided complete blanket amnesty for everyone

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Civil Society Demands Justice on the 30th Anniversary of the Mozote Massacre

December 14, 2011

The Monsenor Romero Coalition and the signatory organizations and persons call on the national and international community to remember that December 10th we celebrate the 63rd Anniversary of the Universal Declaraion of Human Rights and that on the 11, 12 and 13th of December of this year it will be 30 years since the Mozote Massacre.  These two commemorations invite us to continue with efforts to denounce impunity and demand that the Salvadoran government provide the truth, justice and reparations for the crime against humanity committed in El Mozote and surrounding areas. For this reason:

1.  We declare to never forget this cruel, inhumane and aberrant extermination. Read More »

Spain Demands that El Salvador extradite military personnel processed for the massacre of the Jesuits

December 9, 2011

The Council of Ministers also resolved to request that the United States of America extradite the two other military personnel accused in the killing who reside in that country. One of the defense lawyers said that the call for extradition does not worry them because they are certain that the Supreme Court of Justice will deny the request.

Ignacio Ellacuria, SJ

By Efren Lemus / Published December 2,  2011
Translated by Bethany Loberg.  Original in Spanish here

This Friday the Spanish Council of Ministers agreed to request that Salvadoran and U.S. authorities extradite 15 Salvadoran military personnel accused of participating in the assassination of six Jesuit priests and two of their collaborators, a crime which occurred the 16th of November of 1989. 

Europa Press stated that in accordance with the proposal of the Spanish Minister of Justice, Francisco Caamaño, the Spanish government has emitted 13 requests for extradition from El Salvador and two from the United States. Caamaño presented the application for extradition at the request of the Supreme Court, the institution prosecuting the military personnel for the crimes of assassination, terrorism, and crimes against humanity.   Read More »

El Mozote: Seeking Justice in Spite of the Amnesty Law

December 6, 2011

December 11th, 2011 marks the 30th anniversary of the El Mozote massacre – one of the largest, most brutal massacres in Latin America. As part of the military’s scorched earth campaign to remove any possible source of supplies for the guerrilla by killing entire rural villages, members of the armed forces entered El Mozote and the surrounding villages in December of 1981, rounding up, separating, and systematically killing men, women, and children. Through investigations including exhumations and testimonies, Tutela Legal, the San Salvador Archdiocese’s human rights office has identified 819 individuals killed in the massacre – over half under the age of twelve.

Thanks to Rufina Amaya’s tireless efforts to tell her story, as the sole survivor of the massacre, international news coverage, several rounds of exhumations of human remains, and the work of human rights organizations like Tutela Legal, the massacre can no longer be denied. El Mozote has become a well-known symbol of the brutality of the armed forces during the war.


The Salvadoran government, however, has not taken actions to investigate or bring to trial the intellectual and material authors of these brutal murders. To the contrary, since the peace accords, the army and government have paid homage to Colonel Domingo Monterrosa, a key leader in the massacre, on numerous occasions. As Gisela León of the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) stated in a recent interview, “The massacre of El Mozote represents the absolute impunity that all cases from the conflict are in.” Efforts at truth-telling and investigation, necessary elements in reaching reconciliation, have come solely from civil society.

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Thanksgiving Day Protest in Solidarity with the 99% Global Occupy Movement

November 26, 2011

On Thursday, November 24th, as people in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving, US citizens in El Salvador and Salvadorans gathered outside of the US Embassy to stand in solidarity with the global “Occupy” and “Indignados” movements.  Their demands include an end to neoliberal, capitalist free trade policies, the militarization of the Central American region, and environmental destruction that has led to climate change. Tedde Simon, SHARE staffer, (right) said of the morning: “This is a symbolic event to express our solidarity with the millions of people around the world that have stood up to say, BASTA!, enough.  We believe that a better world is possible, and we are working together to create it, every day.”

Read about How the Occupy Movement Came to El Salvador here!

The group published the following press release:

Capitalist globalization has forced governments all over the world to prioritize the economic interests of the richest 1% of the global population over basic needs such as education, health care and employment for the other 99% of humanity.

Faced with a corrupt democratic process, staggering social inequality and an ecological crisis which threatens life itself, the 99% has risen up against this injustice in over 1,500 cities all over the world, through the Occupy Movement in the United States and the Indignados Movement in Spain and other European countries, and through a wealth of local and national alternatives in Latin America and around the world. Read More »

CDH Students Cry out for the Salvadoran People at SOA Protest

November 24, 2010

This past weekend, Cretin Derham Hall (CDH) Spanish teacher Ariana Lowther brought a group of students down to the gates of Fort Benning in Georgia to bear witness to all those killed at the hands of School of the Americas (SOA) graduates.

Photo courtesy of Ariana Lowther

Sunday morning at the vigil, participants carry crosses with the names of those who have been killed by graduates of the SOA. While everyone solemnly processes past the base, leaving crosses, pictures, and peace cranes, they sing out the names and lift their crosses, crying,”Presente,” you are here present with us. Above is a picture of senior Akoni García and Ariana with their crosses. Ariana said, “We felt honored to be there and cry out for all the people of El Salvador.” Both Akoni and Ariana participated in CDH SHARE delegations this summer, in July and August respectively. Akoni has graciously shared a poem he wrote about his experience at the SOA protest, which you can read below. Read More »

Coup d’etat in Honduras

June 30, 2009

On Sunday, June 29, the Honduran military awakened the Honduran president, Mel Zelaya, and forced him on a plane to Costa Rica in an illegal coup d’etat. The coup occurred on the day that Hondurans were to vote to hold a Constitutional Assembly in November which could allow Mr. Zelaya to run for a second term. The coup was led by General Romeo Vásquez, a graduate of the infamous School of the Americas, who opposed the vote for the Constitutional Assembly, and is supported by the Honduran Congress and the Supreme Court.

The coup in Honduras echoes Central America’s violent history of military coups. As phone lines are cut and national TV channels are taken off the air, Hondurans are taking to the streets to denounce the military’s actions and are calling for international support. There are reports that demonstrators have been beaten, arbitrarily detained, and assassinated by the Honduran military. Read More »

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