SOA Grad Arrested for Murder of Colombian Archbishop Print
Colombia ? Police arrested the presumed murderer of Archbishop Isa?as Duarte. John Fredy Jim?nez, a graduate of the School of the Americas (SOA), was arrested on Saturday in Cali, Colombia. Jim?nez graduated from the SOA in 1992, having completed a cadet combat course. Archbishop Isa?as Duarte was shot and killed on March 17.

Colombia has sent over 10,000 soldiers to the SOA, more than any other country. Colombia has the worst human rights record to date in the Western Hemisphere.

Clergy have been consistently targeted by SOA graduates throughout Latin America. While saying mass Archbishop Oscar Romero was gunned down in El Salvador in 1980 by assassins trained at the SOA. Bishop Juan Gerardi was bludgeoned to death by an SOA grad in 1998 two days after he released a comprehensive human rights report on the Guatemalan civil war. SOA graduates have been found responsible for the murders of thousands of civilians including four US churchwomen in El Salvador in 1980, and six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter in El Salvador in 1989.

More than 300 Catholic bishops have called for the closure of the SOA. To date, more than 170 US Catholic bishops, including Cardinal Francis George from Chicago, eight archbishops, and the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, have signed a resolution to close the SOA. Over 140 bishops from Latin America, including 15 archbishops, have written letters supporting the closure of the infamous school. The 78,000-member Leadership Conference of Catholic Nuns has also passed a resolution to close the SOA.

The SOA, renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers located at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Its graduates are consistently involved in human rights abuses and atrocities. In 2000 Congress authorized the WHISC to replace the SOA. The renaming was widely viewed as an attempt to diffuse public criticism and disassociate the school from its dubious reputation. SOA Watch maintains that the underlying purpose of the school, to control the economic and political systems of Latin America by aiding and influencing Latin American militaries, remains the same.

SOA Watch works to stand in solidarity with people of Latin America, to change oppressive US foreign policy, and to close the SOA/WHISC.