• Increase font size
  • Decrease font size
  • Default font size
Costa Rica to Cease Training at the SOA/WHINSEC PDF Print E-mail

Costa Rica to Cease Training at the SOA/WHINSEC!

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias announced Wednesday that Costa Rica will cease to send police to train at the U.S. Army Ft. Benning facility after citing its history of involvement in military coups and human rights abuses throughout Latin America.

(Photo: President Oscar Arias)

Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, made the decision after talks with a delegation of the School of the Americas Watch, including the Rev. Roy Bourgeois (founder of SOA Watch) and Lisa Sullivan Rodriguez of the SOA Watch Latin America Project who traveled to Mexico and Costa Rica to meet with human rights organizations, community organizers and political leaders.

Costa Rica has no army but has sent approximately 2,600 police officers over the years to be trained at the school. Minor Masis, leader of Costa Rica’s former “Comando Cobra” anti-drug squad attended the School in 1991 and returned to Costa Rica, only to serve a 42-year jail term for rape and murder committed during a 1992 drug raid. Costa Rica currently has three policemen at the center.

"When the courses end for the three policemen we are not going to send any more," Arias said.

Costa Rica is the fourth country to announce a withdrawal from the SOA/WHINSEC. In 2006, the governments of Argentina and Uruguay announced that they would cease all training at the school, becoming the second and third countries to announce a cessation of training. In January of 2004, Hugo Chavez announced that Venezuela would no longer send troops to train at the school.

Costa Rica's withdrawal from WHINSEC is a great victory for human rights in Latin America. With this major breakthrough, Costa Rica adds its name to the list of countries who are rejecting the destructive approach of institutions such as the SOA/WHINSEC. Combat training and military spending as a means to "solve" social problems does not bring peace and democracy.

Read More about this Breaking News!

Read More about the Latin America Project

Colombian Warlord Confirms Collusion with SOA/WHINSEC Graduates

Salvatore Mancuso, the former Commander of the right wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, testified Tuesday that the paramilitaries, branded "foreign terrorist organizations" by the U.S. State Department in 2001, were aided by high ranking Colombian military officers in training and logistics.

Mancuso, testifying in a closed hearing in the city of Medellin, said the Colombian state supported the paramilitaries since their creation in the 1980’s and that “paramilitaries are a state policy”.

Amongst the military and government officials signaled by Mancuso as collaborators are General Rito Alejo del Río, General Martín Carreño Sandoval, General Harold Bedoya Pizarro, General Fernando Landazabal, Colonel Alfonso Manosalva Flores, and the current Minister of Defense, Juan Manuel Santos. The six men received training or served as instructors at the U.S. Army School of the Americas and have been accused by Mancuso of inciting and promoting paramilitary intervention in certain regions of Colombia.

The strategy of using civilian paramilitary groups and death squads to avoid government oversight and accountability has been a common tactic of SOA/WHINSEC graduates throughout Latin America. Salvadoran SOA/WHINSEC graduate and ARENA party founder Roberto D'Aubussoin established the Death Squads that were responsible for much of the violence in El Salvador in the 1980's. General Manuel B. Lucas Garcia, who attended the school in 1965 and 1970, masterminded the creation of the Civil Defense Patrols in Guatemala. Mexico's Jose Ruben Rivas Pena, who took the SOA/WHINSEC’s elite Command and Staff Course, called for the "training and support for self-defense forces or other paramilitary organizations in Chiapas” as a response to the Zapatista uprising in 1994.

The Colombian military is the largest recipient of US military funding and training in Latin America and holds over 60% of the seats available to attend courses at WHINSEC.

Read more about this Breaking News!

Visit the SOA Watch Latin America Website

Read More about the Latin America Project

Take Action to Close the SOA/WHINSEC Now!

Email/Fax your Representative urging her/him to Support HR 1707!

Call your Representative’s office and let them know your views and how you want them to represent you in Washington!
Visit our Legislative Action Index for tips on calling your representative and to learn more about HR 1707

Make a Donation to SOA Watch!

For more information on the SOA Watch Legislative Campaing, please contact the Legislative Coordinator of SOA Watch, Pam Bowman at pbowman(@)soaw.org or 202-234-3440.


Contact us

SOA Watch
733 Euclid Street NW
Washington, DC 20001

phone: 202-234-3440
email: info@soaw.org