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The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC or WHINSEC), formerly the School of the Americas (SOA; Spanish: Escuela de las Américas) is a United States Department of Defense facility at Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia in the United States.
Between 1946 and 2001, the SOA trained more than 61,000 Latin American soldiers and policemen. A number of them became notorious for human rights violations, including generals Leopoldo Galtieri, Efraín Ríos Montt and Manuel Noriega, dictators such as Bolivia's Hugo Banzer, some of Augusto Pinochet's officers, and the founders of Los Zetas, a mercenary army for one of Mexico's largest drug trafficking organizations, the Gulf Cartel. Luis Posada Carriles was educated there in 1961, although he never graduated. Critics of the school argue that the education encouraged such internationally recognized human rights violating practices and that this continues in the WHINSEC. This is denied by the WHINSEC and its supporters who argue that the alleged connection is weak. According to the WHINSEC, the education now emphasizes democracy and human rights.
On September 20, 1996, under intense public pressure, the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals that were used at the School of the Americas for years. These manuals advocated torture, extortion, blackmail and the targeting of civilian populations. A Washington Post article by Dana Priest broke the story.
The release of these manuals proved what SOA Watch, thousands of Latin Americans and numerous human rights organizations had been saying for years: that U.S. taxpayer money had been used for the teaching of torture and repression.
Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” The SOA have left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned. For this reason the School of the Americas has been historically dubbed the “School of Assassins”.
Since 1946, the SOA has trained over 64,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins.
"I think that as Americans, we have a particular responsibility when our government has been involved in a lot of atrocities throughout history, but even more so today when our military aid is not being used in accountable ways," said Charity Ryerson, an activist with SOA Watch who spent six months in federal prison for intentionally trespassing on Ft. Benning to draw attention to the school's crimes.
On the weekend of November 20th, tens of thousands of activists are set to converge at its gates to demand an end to the militarization and the massacres, the human rights violations and the secrecy and will continue the fight to close the School of the Americas.
How Does This Background on US-Backed Torture and Murder in Latin America Fit in With Mexico?
Perhaps, part of understanding torture going on now in Mexico is what Sister Ortiz wrote about her horrific ordeal in Guatemala: "So often it is assumed that torture is conducted for the purpose of gaining information. It is much more often intended to threaten populations into silence and submission. What I was to endure was a message, a warning to others - not to oppose, to remain silent and to yield to power without question."
A CIA Latin America Section Chief Makes His Argument for "Ugly" Collateral Damage
Given that the CIA and countless US intelligence agencies, not to mention the Drug Enforcement Agency, are entrenched in Mexico, it might be appropriate to reflect that our real government/corporate interest in the nation is as a marketplace and a non-populist pro-US government.
In a 2007 documentary, "The War on Democracy," by British, leftist, political commentator John Pilger, he explores the exploitative and deadly anti-democracy efforts to ensure that Latin America stays in the hands of the ruling classes and open to American business and the extraction of natural resources south of our border.
A free trip to the United States
Lieutenant Zarza (a pseudonym) is one of 1,764 Mexican soldiers who have studied at SOA. Although he spoke openly with AméricaEconomía, he was pushing the bounds of acceptable military behavior, and asked not to be identified to avoid punishment.
Zarza arrived at SOA in the second half of the 1990s, and he admits that when his superior recommended him for the course on intelligence, he knew little to nothing about the school. His education, up to that point, had been in the line of duty, and he was often on the front lines of the battle against drug trafficking.
"For me, it was a scholarship to go to the United States. I wasn't high ranking and I didn't have any specialty in the field, but I had the highest grades in the preparatory courses, so in spite of the complaints of higher ranking officials, I went to Fort Benning," he says.
On 8 June 2001, three army officers – Col. Byron Disrael Lima Estrada and Capt. Byron Lima Oliva (father and son), and José Obdulio Villanueva – were convicted of his murder and sentenced to 30-year prison terms. A priest, Mario Orantes, whom the court had identified as an accomplice, was sentenced to 20 years. The case was precedent-setting in that it was the first time that members of the military had faced trial before civilian courts. The defendants appealed, and in March 2005 an appeals court lowered the Limas' sentences to 20 years. Orantes' sentence was left unchanged and Villanueva had been killed in prison before the appeal verdict was reached. These revised prison terms were upheld by the Constitutional Court in April 2007. The elder Estrada had been trained at the School of Americas.
f the Wharton School had this many Milkens, maybe it would. A NEWSWEEK investigation of the School of the Americas turned UP hundreds of less than honorable graduates--some of them petty thugs, some of them top military brass. At least six Peruvian officers linked to a military death squad that killed nine students and one professor at a university near Lima last year were graduates of the school. Four of five senior Honduran officers accused in a 1987 Americas Watch report of organizing a secret death squad called Battalion 316 were trained there. Last year a coalition of international humanrights groups issued a report charging 246 Colombian officers with human-rights violations; 105 were school alumni.
Originally posted by drakus
A galactic/demonic/whatever conspiracy not only puts us in a fantastic and surreal adventure, it also tickles our egos. While more "mundane" conspiracies remaind us how massively we are all being taken up the arse and moreso how BLIND and PROGRAMMED most of us are...
That's not an easy thing to acknowledge....