Navigation Bar

Home -> UE News -> 2001 Archives -> Article

House Bill Aims
At Closure of
‘School of Assassins’


SOA: The Final Casualty?

Just a few weeks before his death from leukemia on May 28, U.S. Rep. Joe Moakley (D., Mass.) was one of six members of Congress to introduce a bill to close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly the U.S. Army School of the Americas). Moakley had been a steadfast opponent of the counterinsurgency school.

In its 50-year history, the School of the Americas (SOA) has trained some 60,000 Latin American troops in commando tactics, military intelligence, psychological operations and sniper fire. Their targets have included labor organizers and religious leaders, students and teachers, peasants and workers.

Joining Moakley in introducing HR 1810 on May 10 were Representatives Lane Evans (D., Il.), Jim McGovern (D., Mass.), Connie Morella (R., Md.), Joe Scarborough (R., Fla.) and Christopher Shays (R., Conn.).

HR 1810 is modeled on last year’s Moakley - Scarborough - McGovern - Campbell amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill. It calls for the closure of the school and establishment of a joint Congressional task force to assess U.S. training of Latin American military.

The bill had gained 27 co-sponsors by June 1.



Urge your Representative to support closing of the 'School of Assassins'. Copy and paste this letter into your word processor or email program and send it to your member of the U.S. House.

Dear Representative _________________:

I am writing to urge your support for, and co-sponsorship of, HR 1810 (sponsored by Rep. James McGovern of Massachusetts). This legislation would close the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), recently renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, located at Ft. Benning, Georgia. It would also create a congressional task force to investigate the connection between the training at the SOA and the countless human rights abuses attributed to its graduate.

The SOA is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers. In its over 50-year history, the SOA has trained over 60,000 soldiers in commando tactics, military intelligence, psychological operation, and sniper fire. These soldiers are taught to make war against their own people. They have massacred entire villages of men, women, and children.

SOA graduates target grassroots leaders for assassination, torture, rape, and intimidation-especially religious leaders, student organizers, and labor leaders. The school’s unstated mission is to silence those who organize for rights of working people and the poor.

As a member of the United Electrical Workers (UE), I am outraged that my tax dollars ate being used to train union busters at the SOA. It is not impossible to imagine, that if the SOA trained U.S. police forces, UE members and leaders would be targeted for harassment, torture, and elimination.

I do not support the minor cosmetic "reform" at the SOA including, closing the and then reopening it under its new name on January 17, 2001. What matters is not the name, but the filthy anti-labor conduct promoted by this tax-payer funded outfit.

Please write me with your position on this issue so I can share it with my fellow UE members, who are concerned about the grave human rights violations that has surrounded this infamous school. Thank you for your time and commitment to this important matter.

(Your Name)

Successive UE conventions, and the AFL-CIO, have called for the school’s closure (see: UE Policy- School of the Americas- The Ultimate Union Buster.) A UE delegation led by Genl. Sec.-Treas. Bob Clark took part in protests last November at Fort Benning, Ga. (see: School of the Americas - 'Torture U' [UE News]).

Among those arrested at Fort Benning was Gwen Hennessey, a 68-year-old Dubuque, Iowa nun who faces a fine of up to $5,000 and six-months in prison. Her experience in Honduras prompted her civil disobedience.

In Honduras, she told a journalist, "inevitably men and women who get involved in union organizing ‘disappear’." The Franciscan sister recalled how she and 25 others sponsored by Catholic Peace Ministry in Des Moines were held at gunpoint while police tried to retrieve from them any union literature they may have received. "The military are not protecting the borders of their country from invasions but just protecting the ruling oligarchies and wealthy in these countries from their own citizens," Hennessey said.

The late Congressman Moakley’s opposition to the School of Americas dates to one of the more notorious events associated with the school’s graduates: the 1989 murder of six Jesuits, along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter by Salvadoran military personnel. The South Boston representative led the Congressional task force that traveled to El Salvador to investigate the massacre. Upon his return, he exposed the role of SOA training in the deaths, and launched a continuing effort to close the school.

UE News - 06/01

Home -> UE News -> 2001 Archives -> Article

Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources • Education • Health & Safety • International • Links

Copyright © 2003 UE. All Rights Reserved