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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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'
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
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.