More than 100 people from Long Island and New York City are outside the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, for the 20th annual vigil and direct action (see photo below, taken today by SOA Watch’s Linda Panetta) to protest the School of the Americas (now called WHINSEC), the notorious training facility for Latin American soldiers. Yesterday, a group of Long Islanders protested outside the office of Rep. Peter King, a big SOA supporter.
They groups include students from Hoftstra University and members and friends of SOA Watch and NYCISPES.
The vigil began 20 years ago, after a death squad that was trained at the SOA murdered six Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her 15-year-old daughter in San Salvador. SOA grads have been implicated in many other massacres and tortures and disappearances since the school’s inception.
In the recent coup in Honduras, the major players that ousted President Zelaya are two well-known graduates of the SOA: General Romeo Vasquez, the head of the military, and General Luis Suazo, a 1996 graduate, the head of the air force.
This school is well known in Latin America as a school of coups. The school has trained over 60,000 soldiers from 15 countries in Latin America in combat skills. And it’s all paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
It’s time to shut down the SOA.
For more information on the local groups, contact Bill McNulty of SOA Watch Long Island.