|Groups Call On Obama to Honor Archbishop Romero and Close the School of the Americas|
For immediate release
Groups Call On Obama to Honor Archbishop Romero and Close the School of the Americas
Human rights groups to hold protest in San Salvador and call on Obama to close the school that trained those responsible for his murder.
Washington DC - On Wednesday, March 23, President Obama will visit the tomb of Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador to honor the legacy of the slain Salvadoran church leader. Romero was shot to death on March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass after calling on the nation's soldiers to cease violating the human rights of the Salvadoran people. The United Nations' 1993 Truth Commission on El Salvador found that Romero's assassination was ordered and carried out by graduates of the U.S. Army School of the Americas.
Since his murder, church leaders and human rights advocates have called on the United States' government to close the school and investigate connections between foreign military trainings and human rights abuses across Latin America. During President Obama's visit, human rights activists will hold a protest to raise awareness of the School of the America's continued operation and to call for greater accountability for past abuses.
"While we welcome President Obama's interest in visiting Archbishop Romero's tomb, a more fitting tribute to Romero's legacy would be the closure of the school that trained his murders," said Lisa Sullivan, SOA Watch Latin America Spokesperson. "Until the School of the America's is truly investigated and closed, Obama's symbolic gesture only rings hollow".
The School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, trains more than 1,000 soldiers from Latin America each year. In 1996, the Pentagon released training manuals from the school which showed support for torture, execution, and blackmail. The school has graduated more than 600 known human rights abusers and eleven dictators, including the leaders of the 2009 military coup in Honduras.
From April 4-11, 2011, human rights activists will hold a fast, lobby Congress and engage in a nonviolent civil disobedience action at the White House in Washington, DC, calling for the closure of the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC) and to speak out for justice in solidarity with the people of the Americas.
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