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Home News Press Releases US Army School of the Americas Cited by Guatemalan Truth Commission Report
US Army School of the Americas Cited by Guatemalan Truth Commission Report PDF Print E-mail
Washington, DC

The newly-released Guatemalan truth commission report singled out the controversial US Army School of the Americas (SOA) for its counterinsurgency training that “had a significant bearing on human rights violations during the armed conflict.”

In describing the National Security Doctrine taught at the SOA, the independent Historical Clarification Commission (CEH) report states: “By identifying all opponents as adversaries, the National Security Doctrine helped to broaden the definition of counterinsurgency and to spread techniques of persecution...within a growing atmosphere of State terror.” The CEH was established as part of a United Nations Peace Accord that ended the armed conflict in 1996.

The SOA, now located at Ft. Benning, GA, played a key role in the training of Guatemalan military personnel and the military intelligence apparatus that orchestrated the genocide campaign against Guatemala’s Mayan civilian population. This “Scorched Earth” policy of kidnappings, torture and murder left 200,000 dead during Guatemala’s 36 year civil war.

A separate 1998 human rights report released by the Guatemala Archdiocese Human Rights Office also linked the SOA to the civilian-targeted genocide campaign. Unlike the Historical Clarification Commission which was limited by a Peace Accord agreement, the Archdiocese document, Guatemala: Never Again, named specific military officers responsible for atrocities.

The 1998 document cited SOA graduates for some of the most notorious human rights violations, including the murder of anthropologist Myrna Mack, the cover-up of the murder of US citizen Michael DeVine, and the torture and murder of Efrain Bamaca, husband of US lawyer, Jennifer Harbury. The Archdiocese report also named SOA graduates as top leaders in the fearsome Guatemalan military intelligence agency (D-2 or G-2) which both reports cite for horrific abuses.

Both reports concur that paramilitary groups were to blame for a large percentage of the 42,000 human rights violations. SOA graduate Benedicto Lucas Garcia masterminded the creation of the paramilitary Civil Patrols responsible for some of the most brutal violations of the war.

The US Army School of the Americas was established in Panama in 1946 and moved to Ft. Benning, GA in 1984. The SOA has come under increasing criticism from human rights activists, religious leaders, veterans and student groups, organized labor, and Congressional leaders. The new truth commission report fuels Rep. Joseph Moakley’s (MA) bipartisan congressional campaign to close the infamous Army training School. HR 732, introduced in mid-February, has 65 cosponsors. A vote to cut SOA funds is expected later this year.


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