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From: (Rich Winkel)
Subject: The SOA and Chiapas
Followup-To: alt.activism.d
Date: 23 Jan 1998 21:04:59 GMT

/** reg.guatemala: 200.0 **/
** Topic: fwd: of interest - SOA and Chiapas **
** Written 10:50 PM Jan 19, 1998 by in cdp:reg.guatemala **
From: "Michael Katz-Lacabe"
Organization: Derechos Human Rights
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 22:32:28 +0000

What is the "School of Assassins?"

The US Army School of the Americas (SOA), now located at Ft. Benning, GA, was established in Panama in 1946 -- supposedly to promote stability in the region. However, the School's reputation for churning out despots soon earned it the nickname "School of Assassins," and, sadly, history supports this accusation.
Today, the School of the Americas trains 900-2,000 soldiers a year from Latin America and the Caribbean. They are taught combat skills, counterinsurgency operations, sniper fire, military intelligence, commando tactics and psychological operations. Recent revelations show that the SOA used training manuals that advocated torture techniques, assassinations, blackmail and other undemocratic methods.
Latin American soldiers at the SOA are not taught to defend their borders from invasion. They are taught to make war on their own people -- specifically and especially religious leaders, labor organizers, educators, student groups, and others working for the rights of the poor.

The SOA in Mexico

The December 22, 1997 massacre of 45 unarmed civilians -- including 20 women and 14 children -- in the community of Acteal in Chiapas, Mexico was a shocking, but all too familiar story. The low intensity warfare of repression, massacres, intimidation and assassination that has followed School of the Americas' graduates through El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia and elsewhere, now seems to be showing its ugly face in Mexico. We see emerging both a genocide campaign that targets the indigenous Mayan population and a growing number of refugees fleeing the violence. SOA graduate Gen. Hector Gramajo was the architect of a similar campaign in Guatemala. The growing state-sponsored violence against the Mexican Mayan community is disturbingly like the SOA-spawned genocide in Guatemala, and the Acteal massacre fits the pattern.

Though we have just begun the investigation of the SOA connection to Mexico's growing human rights abuse, we do know that Mexican graduates of the School of the Americas have played a key role in the "low-intensity conflict" in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca. At least 13 top military officials involved in the conflict are SOA grads. Their names are listed on side two.

Consistently the countries with the worst human rights records have sent the most students to the SOA during the heyday of the repression. Given that history, it is no coincidence that Mexico is now the largest country client of the SOA. In the first 49 years of the School, Mexico sent very few students -- 766 total -- to be trained at the SOA. That number escalated sharply in 1996 and rose to 315 in 1997 -- 1/3 of the graduating class.

Not surprisingly, this sudden rise in Mexican graduates corresponds to the growing economic justice movement in Mexico. These voices of and for the poor represented by the Zapatistas and others -- like Bishop Ruiz from the San Cristobal Diocese --threaten the powerful and wealthy. The elite few in Mexico and the US who benefit from the NAFTA model are moving quickly to bolster the military "muscle" that will ensure and strengthen their stranglehold on wealth, land and power. Those trained at the School of the Americas are part of that "muscle" whose job it is to silence the voices who speak out for justice.

A Partial Listing from Preliminary Investigation

SOA-trained Mexican military key to the low-intensity conflict campaign in Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca (source: Covert Action Quarterly)

Other infamous SOA Mexican graduates include: For information about the campaign to close the School of the Americas contact:

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