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Date: Wed, 21 Jan 1998 14:47:37 -0500 (EST)
To: Multiple Recipients of List Mexico2000 <>
Subject: Kennedy SOA letter, SHUT EM DOWN!

Darrin Wood, Director.

Letter From Joseph Kennedy Concerning
The School Of Assassins In Mexico
"Shut `Em Down !"

- Darrin Wood, Director NAP-Europa.

January 20, 1998

Several weeks ago we at Nuevo Amanecer Press - Europa received a call from US congressman Joseph Kennedy's office in Washington asking us for information about Mexican graduates of the US Army's School of the Americas (SOA) involved in counterinsurgency operations in Mexico. The information we provided resulted in a January 12 "Dear Collegue" letter being sent out by Kennedy's office to other members of congress. After reading the letter, we feel that we need to clarify a few points made in it.

The letter mentions that "Colonel Julian Guerrero Barrios (SOA, Class of 1981, Major: Commando Operations) has been charged with the crime of "violence against the people" and for his leadership in the torture and massacre of over a dozen young men in Jalisco." No "massacre" of over a dozen young men occurred. They were all kidnapped and tortured, but, only one of them was finally murdered. Also, the letter doesn't mention that a total of 27 other officers and soldiers were also arrested in connection with these acts. They all form part of Mexican Special Forces units, called the GAFE, that are currently receiving training at the Jonh F Kennedy Special Warfare School at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Nuevo Amanecer Press is firmly against all US military training of the Mexican Army given that the biggest threat to Mexican sovereignty is the US itself. Instead, Mexican take their US skills back home to use them against their own citizens. The so-called "Human Rights" training included their courses at Fort Bragg doesn't seem to have made much difference to the men under Col. Guerrero Barrios' command. According to an article about the kidnappings and torture in Jalisco by Maria Rivera, published in the "Masiosare" supplement of the Mexican daily La Jornada on January 18th :

From all the water that the force into him, from so many blows, Ricardo Sanchez begins to vomit blood. But the worst is still to come. The hooded men who kidnapped him along with 19 other youths from San Juan de Ocotan, a Nahua indian village about half an hour away from Guadalajara, are going to give him a special treatment: they puncture his feet with two large nails. Ricardo wakes up freezing to death. His kidnappers have thrown him by the bank of the road. He doesn't know how lucky he is. The luck that Salvador Jimenez Lopez lacked, another of the youths kidnapped by members of the Fifth Military Region and who died by drowning in his own blood because, when they tired of beating him, they cut his tongue."

Fort Bragg or Fort Benning. The results are the same and need to be condemned as well.

The second excerpt that we wish to comment on is "General Jose Ruben Rivas Pena (SOA, Class of 1980, Major: Commando and General Staff). Rivas Pena's analysis of the Chiapas conflict helped design the counter-insurgency strategy in Chiapas. Included in this detailed plan are directives to censor local media, to secretly organize sectors of the civilian population, and to conduct psychological operations against civilians."

The letter doesn't mention that general Rivas Pena was later sent to command the 28th Military Zone in Oaxaca when the Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR) appeared. After his stay in Oaxaca, paramilitary groups have appeared.

The last name mentioned in the letter is that of "General Juan Lopez Ortiz (SOA, Class of 1980). Lopez Ortiz was commander of the 1994 operation in Ocosingo where suspected Zapatista sympathizers were rounded up, placed alongside prisoners, and shot in the town's market. Lopez Ortiz remains engaged in the Army's operations in Chiapas."

The last statement is not true. During the Zapatista uprising in January of 1994, general Lopez Ortiz was sent into Chiapas with his troops from the neighboring states of Campeche and Tabasco to carry out the repression of zapatistas in Ocosingo. [At the time, general Lopez Ortiz was the commander of the 33rd Military Zone in Campeche] However he does not appear to have stayed there for very long. The last that NAP-Europa has heard was that he was named the commander of the 12th Military Region in the state of Guanajuato. [La Jornada, September 5, 1996] Coincidentally the 12th Military Region includes the state of Michoacan and the 21st Military Zone whose commander was - or is - SOA grad (1971, Irregular Warfare Operations) general Gaston Menchaca Arias who happened to be the commander at the 31st Military Zone in Chiapas when the the zapatistas rose up in arms.

Colonel Guerrero Barrios, General Rivas Pena and General Lopez Ortiz are the only US trained officers mentioned in the letter. We think it is useful for everyone to know that there are more.

For example...

There have been recent reports of the growth of paramilitary organizations in the state of Guerrero. It is not surprising since there are a large number of SOA grads active in that state. A report on human rights violations committed by the Mexican Army in Guerrero by the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Center for Human Rights specifically mentions two SOA trained generals as being responsible for several abuses. They are Miguel Levya Garcia (1971, Command and General Staff) and Edmundo E. Leyva Galindo (1978-9, Joint Operations). The training of paramilitary groups appears to have a direct SOA link according to a recent article published in LA JORNADA. The article states that Lt. Col. Joel Ciprian (1979, Patrol Operations) as being involved in helping form the paramilitary groups.

Another curious fact about SOA graduates in Mexico has recently come to light in the newsweekly PROCESO. According to PROCESO, when the current Mexican Interior Minister, Horacio Labastida Ochoa, was governor of the state of Sinaloa, the military commander there, general Rodolfo Reta Trigos, gave legal status to the "White Guards", or, armed henchmen of local landowners used to control rebellious peasants. According to our information, general Reta Trigos was at the SOA in 1966 for two courses, "Military Intelligence" [SIC] and "Counterintelligence". That fact doesn't give us much hope that the new Interior Minister will make any serious efforts to disband the paramilitary groups in Chiapas and other states.

After the bloody massacre of 45 Indian men, women and children took place on December 22nd in the village of Acteal in Chiapas, hundreds of US trained Special Forces troops were immediately sent into the Municipality of Chenalho. We have also discovered that two SOA grads have being active in Army operations intending to penetrate refugee camps of Zapatista supporters in Chenalho. They are Capt. Jose F. Miranda (1995, "Anti-Mine Operations" and "Training for Instructors") and Col. Hector Aragon, who happened to be an instructor at the School of the Americas until September of last year.

We would also like to point out the following SOA graduates who have been active recently in Chiapas:

    SOA : 1972 - Irregular Warfare Operations.
    Last heard of: Commander of the 83rd Infantry Batallion in Rancho Nuevo, Chiapas.

    SOA: 1972 - Military Intelligence
    Last heard of: Commander of the "Teran" Task Force Group in Las Tacitas, Chiapas.

    SOA : 1975 - Jungle Operations
    Last heard of: Commander of the Combined Operations Base of the 7th Military Region in Chiapas.

    SOA: 1981 - Administration - Supply
    Last heard of: Commander of the "Gaytan" Task Force Group in Monte Libano, Chiapas. General Gaytan Ochoa was at the SOA the same year as General ENRIQUE ALONSO GARRIDO, who, in 1994 was one of the commanders of the 83rd Infantry Batallion in Rancho Nuevo, Chiapas.

    SOA : 1994 - Command and General Staff
    Last heard of: Commander of the Army camp outside of the ejido Taniperlas in Ocosingo, Chiapas. Before the elections in Mexico last July 6th, Colonel Bautista was leading troops into Indian communities asking the people what the Zapatistas had planned for the day of the elections.

Congressman Kennedy's letter closes with "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." We at Nuevo Amanecer Press fully support all efforts to close down the School of the Americas, however we have serious problems with the language of H.R. 611 which specifically states that Latin American officers will continue to be allowed to train at other U.S. military institutions.


We wholeheartedly support shutting down all US military training of Latin American officers. The skills gathered in such training has only been, and will continue to be, used against civilians in the hemisphere. In 1997, Mexico had around 150 officers being trained at Fort Benning. They had 1,500 being trained in Special Forces Skills at Fort Bragg. One of the masterminds behind the counterinsurgency program in Chiapas is General Mario Renan Castillo Fernandez, who recently served as an "honorary witness" in a ceremony where the Chiapas state government handed over half a million dollars to the paramilitary organization "Paz y Justicia" (Peace and Justice). General Castillo Fernandez is a Fort Bragg "psychological warfare" expert.

At Nuevo Amanecer Press - Europa, we prefer to dust off an old Public Enemy record and listen to Chuck D shout...

"But look around
Hear go the sound of the wreckin' ball
Boom and Pound
When I
Folks, that song goes out to Fort Benning, Fort Bragg, and all points in between...


Non Profit organization translating and distributing information in support of the work in defense of human rights.
General Director: Roger Maldonado-Mexico
Assistant Director: Susana Saravia (Anibarro)
Director Spain: Darrin Wood

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