Third Annual Vigil to Close the School of the Americas, Ft. Benning , GA
The SOA Watch began in 1990 in Ft. Benning, GA as a small grassroots organization aimed at shutting down the School of the Americas after the Nov 16, 1989 murder of the 6 Jesuit priests other horrific massacres in Latin America. The SOA Watch has grown into a large and diverse organization over the years, still fighting for the rights and lives of those in Central America that have been and continue to be affected by millitaries that are trained by the School of the Americas (U.S. military school located in Ft. Benning, GA.)
The School of the Americas was established in 1946 during the Cold War as The Latin American Training Center in the Panama Canal Zone at the U.S. army base Ft. Amador. It quickly expanded, and in 1949 it was moved to Fort Gulick and renamed U.S. Army Caribbean Training Center. The expansion didn't end there. In 1963 it was renamed the School of the Americas and was once again relocated to its current location of Fort Benning, GA in 1984. The SOA taught American military courses in Spanish to military officers of the Western Hemisphere. Its claimed mission was to foster a mutual relationship of transparency and cooperation with these nations. In actuality, as many citizens of these nations came to find out, its mission was to be the big brother to hostile and corrupt militaries, providing funding and training in exchange for "cooperation" otherwise known as control over the region. During the mid 90's the SOA came under heavy criticism by the Center for International Policy for encouraging and influencing human rights violations in multiple Latin American countries. As a result of this criticism and heavy international pressure, and in attempt to disassociate itself from its horrible past, the School of the Americas was "shut down" (renamed) and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC) was opened in January of 2001.
At this years Vigil there will be multiple workshops and rallies focused on the United States current immigration laws (especially the one recently passed in Alabama) and foreign policy in Latin America. The Vigil began this morning at 10am and will continue through Sunday.
If you are interested in attending any of the events check out the SOA Watch's website for more information on schedule and location details.