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SOA Watch in Nicaragua and Ecuador PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 21 February 2008 00:00
SOA Watch activists and human rights advocates Pablo Ruiz (of SOAW-Latina), Lisa Sullivan-Rodriguez (SOAW Latin America Project) and Fr. Roy Bourgeois met on Wednesday, February 20, 2008 with Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa. The meeting was part of the Latin America Project, the ongoing Americas-wide initiative by grassroots social justice groups to persuade Latin American governments to cut their ties with the School of the Americas/ WHINSEC. So far, the defense ministers of Argentina and Uruguay as well as the presidents of Bolivia, Costa Rica and Venezuela have denounced the legacy of the SOA and pledged to stop sending soldiers to be trained at the school.

(Photo - from L to R - Fr. Roy, Lisa Sullivan, President Correa, Pablo Ruiz)

Ecuador's president Correa was very familiar with this school and with its terrible legacy in Latin America. He was, however, surprised at the growing numbers that Ecuador is sending to this school. From a group of 37 in 2006, this grew to 49 under his first year as president, and SOA-WHINSEC anticipates 56 students from Ecuador this year. He was, quite frankly, unaware of this large number. This was a reaction that we anticipated, since all the previous 4 presidents with whom we have met (and quite a few Defense Ministers in Latin America) are unaware of just how many of their soldiers and officers are participating in this school. This seems to be indicative of how the school goes about giving out invitations. He was glad that we brought this issue to his attention. We also gave him the full list of Ecuadorian soldiers from 1946-2004 which he appreciated. In addition, we gave him a copy of the "blacked out list" which he found surprising and disconcerting.

President Correa made it very clear that he is in sympathy with our cause and asked that we express this support to the movement. He indicated that while it would be difficult to withdraw the students who are currently studying at SOA-WHINSEC, that he will commit to taking a serious look at whether Ecuador will continue at SOA-WHINSEC in 2009. This is very exciting news! The fact that he took so much time to listen, to express support, and to firmly commit to re-considering Ecuador´s participation at SOA-WHINSEC gives us tremendous hope.

Before their visit to Ecuador, Lisa Sullivan-Rodriguez and Father Roy Bourgeois spent time in Nicaragua. They were able to meet with SOA Watch allies in the country and had several very important conversations with Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua. Ortega expressed public outrage over the school and will look at the continued participation of Nicaragua at SOA.

Standing up to the Pentagon has serious implications for Latin American countries and the history of U.S. military involvement in Nicaragua is long. The United States Marines occupied Nicaragua from 1912 to 1934. The U.S. government supported the 45 year long Somoza dictatorship financially and trained the members of its National Guard at the School of the Americas in the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

Read more -Background on U.S. Military Involvement in Nicaragua

Read more -The Latin America Project

Read more about SOAW Latinoamerica
Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 September 2008 20:53

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