Speaker Calls for End to US Training Camp Print
Wednesday, 11 April 2007 00:00
Following a whirlwind tour of Latin America, Father Roy Bourgeois stopped in Cambridge yesterday to spread his message about the need to shut down a military training facility run by the U.S. Army for Latin American soldiers.

Bourgeois spoke in Emerson Hall last night of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), its predecessor the School of Americas, and their notoriety for allegedly teaching torture techniques to its students and graduating a number of infamous dictators.

Hosted by Harvard College Student Advocates for Human Rights and co-sponsored by The Latino Political Coalition, Bourgeois described his experiences in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam and a missionary in Latin America.

“The Unabomber graduated from Harvard, of course they didn’t shut down Harvard. But hundreds of graduates from [WHINSEC] have committed human rights violations,” Bourgeois said. “If hundreds of criminals graduated Harvard, they would be shut down in a second.”

On its Web site, WHINSEC says it is dedicated to maintaining “peace, prosperity, and freedom” in the Western Hemisphere. WHINSEC also says that those enrolled are required to get a minimum of eight hours of training in “the Human Rights Class.”

But Bourgeois has been championing his cause for over 15 years, having founded the School of Americas Watch in Washington.

“The role of [WHINSEC] is to protect the economic interests of the U.S. in Latin America,” Bourgeois said. “The poor of Latin America are saying ‘Basta’—‘Enough!’”

Eric A. Claros ’09, a member of the Latino Political Coalition, said Bourgeois’s experiences, particularly while serving in Vietnam, were very interesting and relevant. Carlos, who is from El Salvador, said he agreed with some of Bourgeois’ key points, but added that he felt the speech was too partisan.

Late last month, state Representative James P. McGovern and 72 co-sponsors put forth a bill that seeks to suspend the authority of WHINSEC.