Peruvian Human Rights Violators Arrested in U.S. Print
Washington, D.C. – Retired Peruvian military officers Telmo Hurtado and Juan Rivera Rondon were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in Florida and Baltimore respectively, in violation of U.S. immigration laws this past week.

Hurtado and Rivera stand accused for the August 14, 1985 massacre of 69 children, women and men in the village of Accomarca, in the southeastern region of Ayacucho, Peru. Both are facing a 2006 extradition order by a Peruvian court for leading the four military brigades which executed the 69 civilians.

Telmo Hurtado and Juan Rivera Rondon attended Arms Orientation courses at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) from 1981-1982 during the height of military repression. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that investigated the political violence in Peru during the 1980’s, the armed forces killed and "disappeared" more than 7,250 civilians.

This is not the first time U.S. trained military officers accused of human rights abuses have been found living on U.S. soil while evading justice in their home countries. Salvadoran Generals Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova and Jose Guillermo Garcia had been granted U.S. residency and were living in retirement in the state of Florida for over a decade when they were sued for crimes against humanity by three Salvadoran torture survivors in 2002. Both had ties to the SOA, Vides Casanova as a guest speaker in 1985 and Guillermo Garcia as a student in the 1960’s.

The School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), is a military training facility for Latin American military and police located at Fort Benning, Georgia. The SOA/WHINSEC made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution.

Graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC, more than 60,000 over its 60-year history, continue to be implicated in human rights violations throughout Latin America.

On June 9, 2006, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) introduced an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that would have cut funding for the SOA/WHINSEC. While the amendment failed by a 15 vote margin, 35 Representatives who opposed the amendment lost their seats in the 2006 mid-term elections. Legislation to investigate the SOA/ WHINSEC and evaluate U.S. foreign military training in Latin America was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on March 27, 2007 as HR 1707, which already has broad bipartisan support in Congress.

Protests calling for the closure of the School of the Americas/WHINSEC have taken place around the November 16 anniversary of the assassination of six Jesuit priests and two Salvadoran women at the hands of SOA graduates since 1990. Last year over 22,000 participated in the annual vigil at Ft. Benning while simultaneous demonstrations took place in ten countries.