One more reason

In case we needed one more reason to finally close down the School of the Americas/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, here's a very serious one ...

The general who overthrew the democratically elected president of Honduras on Sunday is a two-time graduate of the U.S. Army School of the Americas, an institution that has trained hundreds of coup leaders and human rights abusers in Latin America.

Gen. Romeo Orlando Vásquez Velásquez toppled President Manuel Zelaya in a dawn coup, surrounding the presidential palace with more than 200 soldiers and tanks and tear-gassing a crowd outside. The president was then taken to an Air Force base and flown to San Jose, Costa Rica. (Read more in NCR)

He's the latest of a long list of Latin American military personnel trained at the SOA/WHINSEC who have later been involved in dedidedly undemocratic routes to power in their countries.

  • Argentine Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri who overthrew in a bloody coup another grad, Gen. Roberto Viola who’d come to power in 1981 during the Dirty War.
  • Guatemalan dictator Gen. Efrain Rios Montt who seized power in a coup in 1982.
  • Panamanian dictator Gen. Omar Torrijos who overthrew a civilian government in a 1968 coup.
  • Panamanian dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega, who ran the country while on the CIA payroll.
  • Ecuadoran dictator Gen. Guillermo Rodriguez who came to power in 1972 by overthrowing the elected civilian government.
  • Bolivian military dictator Gen. Hugo Banzer Suarez who came to power in a violent coup in 1971.
  • Bolivian dictator Gen. Guido Vildoso Calderon who took power in 1982.
  • Peruvian dictator Gen. Juan Velasco Alvarado who toppled the elected civilian government in 1968.

No wonder the General is quoted by the Washington Post as saying, ""Nobody scares us." We trained him that way. And apparently we trained some of the folks who helped him with the coup, including Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, the head of the Honduran Air Force who also was trained at the SOA.

Please take two minutes to write to your member of Congress. Ask them to co-sponsor HR 2567 - the Latin American Military Training Review Act. What's happening in Honduras is just more proof that we need to close the SOA ... now.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

This comes as no surprise but I am glad that you posted it as we all need to be reminded that WHISC(SOA) is NOT a thing of the past, but still a very current moral challenge to world peace and the good of peoples.