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From: Sid Shniad
Subject: Joseph Kennedy Letter on the School of the Americas
Followup-To: alt.activism.d
Date: 17 Jan 1998 20:12:34 GMT

Dear Colleague:

As the investigation into the December 22 Chiapas massacre continues, published reports link School of the Americas (SOA) graduates with the Mexican Government's failed Chiapas policy. In the past four years, the Mexican government's policy toward Chiapas has failed to bring about peace in the region. Talks have completely broken down, and operations have escalated into a low-intensity conflict involving members of the Army, paramilitary groups, and local security forces.

Suspicions are high that the Mexican Army's complacency may have allowed the recent massacre to take place. The Mexican government has sacked numerous government officials, including President Zedillo's interior minister and the governor of Chiapas. As the Army occupies much of Chiapas, there is little sign that the violence will end. Amnesty International has reported that the Army committed "widespread human rights violations" during their operations in Chiapas throughout 1997. On January 12, 1998 state police killed a woman during a protest in the town of Ocosingo.

The press in Mexico has been quick to point out that the military's failed Chiapas policy has been engineered and conducted in large part by SOA graduates. Demonstrations are being held across the United States in which protesters blame the war in Chiapas on the United States, citing the role of SOA graduates in the conflict. According to School of the Americas Watch, at least 13 SOA graduates who are now top military officials have played a key role in the conflict in the Southern Mexican states. Those officers include:

This is a familiar pattern: a story comes out about violence or oppression in Latin America, and the names of School of the Americas graduates emerge. Once again the US is shamed.

Graduates of the SOA will come back to haunt us every year, in different countries and under varied circumstances. Every time an SOA grad is implicated in a human rights violation, America's image suffers another black eye. And as our image is further degraded, our credibility in Latin America erodes.

It is time we disassociate ourselves with the School of the Americas once and for all. Join 129 of your colleagues in closing down the School by becoming a cosponsor of H.R. 611. To cosponsor, call Robert Gerber at 5-5111.


Joseph P. Kennedy II      

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