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Bolivia Says NO! PDF Print E-mail
President Evo Morales announced in October 2007 that Bolivia will withdraw its military from the School for the Americas. 

Bolivia is now the fifth country - after Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay and Costa Rica - to formally announce its withdrawal from this military training school.

"We will gradually withdraw until there are no Bolivian officers attending the School of the Americas” said Morales, in a speech in Bolivia. “They are teaching high ranking officers to confront their own people, to identify social movements as their enemies.”

President Evo Morales' October 2007 announcement to withdraw the Bolivian military from the School of the Americas is a great victory for human rights activists in Bolivia and all of the Americas. The SOA/WHINSEC has played a significant role in Bolivia's recent political history. Hugo Banzer Suarez, who ruled Bolivia from 1971-1978 under a brutal military dictatorship, was a graduate of the SOA and was later inducted into the school's "Hall of Fame." The SOA/WHINSEC has trained thousands of Bolivian military officers. In October of 2006, two graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC, Generals Juan Veliz Herrera and Gonzalo Rocabado Mercado, were arrested on charges of torture, murder and violation of the constitution for their roles in the death of 67 civilians in El Alto, Bolivia during the "Gas Wars" of 2003.

Roy Bourgeois, Evo Morales, Lisa Sullivam-RodriguezIn 2006 a delegation led by SOA Watch Latin America Project Coordinator Lisa Sullivan-Rodriguez, Salvadoran torture survivor Carlos Mauricio and SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois met with grassroots groups in Bolivia and with President Morales. Bolivian human rights defenders petitioned their government throughout the following year, asking them cease sending troops to the SOA/WHINSEC for training. Their persistence paid off with Morales’ announcement in October of 2007 that Bolivia will pull out of the SOA/WHINSEC.
 
Published in the Spring 2008 issue

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Evo Morales writes letter to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Cooperation’s Commandant, Col. Gilberto Perez
written by SOA Watch Media, May 11, 2008
In a letter to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Cooperation’s Commandant, Col. Gilberto Perez, President Evo Morales announced that the Bolivian military will no longer attend the former U.S. Army School of the Americas in Fort Benning, GA.


WASHINGTON, DC - February 19 - In a letter to the Commandant of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, U.S. Army Col. Gilberto Perez, Bolivian President Evo Morales formally announced yesterday that he will not send Bolivian military officers to attend training programs at the institute formerly known as the U.S. Army School of the Americas.

The announcement came as confirmation of a previous statement made by President Morales in October of last year when he announced that he would discontinue sending troops to the institute based on its historical ties to oppressive military regimes in Latin America. Bolivia has now officially become the fifth country after Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela to announce a withdrawal from the Fort Benning institution due to its negative image amongst Latin Americans.

The SOA/WHINSEC is a U.S. tax-payer funded military training facility for Latin American security personnel located at Ft. Benning, Georgia. It was originally founded in 1946 in the Panama Canal zone and relocated to Fort Benning in 1984. The institution was catapulted into the headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution.

The SOA/WHINSEC has played a significant role in Bolivia’s recent political history, Hugo Banzer Suarez, who ruled Bolivia from 1971-1978 under a brutal military dictatorship attended the school in 1956 and was later inducted into the school’s “hall of fame” in 1988. In October of 2006, two former graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC, Generals Juan Veliz Herrera and Gonzalo Rocabado Mercado were arrested on charges of torture, murder, and violation of the constitution for their responsibility in the death of 67 civilians in El Alto Bolivia during the “Gas Wars” of September-October 2003.

Graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC have recently been making headlines throughout the Americas. On February 12, Teofila Ochoa Lizarbe, a survivor of the Accomarca massacre of 1985 in Peru, testified in a Miami court Monday against Telmo Ricardo Hurtado and Juan Rivera Rondon. The two former military officers led the Peruvian army units responsible for the death of 69 unarmed civilians living in the Andean highlands of Peru on August 13, 1985. Hurtado and Rondon, attended Arms Orientation courses at the U.S. Army School of the Americas from 1981-1982. On February 18, a Colombian graduate of the SOA, Lt. Byron Carvajal was convicted for the murder of ten elite counter-narcotics police agents. Carvajal and fourteen other Colombian military officers are suspected of collaborating with a Colombian drug cartel.

In March 2006 a School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) delegation led by Lisa Sullivan-Rodriguez, Salvadoran torture survivor Carlos Mauricio, and SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois met with President Evo Morales to request that Bolivia cease to send troops for training at the SOA/WHINSEC.
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Download the Spring 2016 issue of Presente

The Spring issue contains mobilizing information for the SOA Watch Border Convergence, which is taking place from October 7-10, 2016 at the US/Mexico border in Nogales, and also focuses on recent developments in Latin America and within the SOA Watch movement.

Click here to download a PDF version of the Spring 2016 issue.

As this issue of Presente went to print, our hearts were heavy. The assassination of our dear friend and comrade Berta Cáceres, and the increased repression against social movement groups, have left us shocked and saddened. SOA Watch Latin America liaison Brigitte Gynther traveled to Honduras the morning after she learned about the assassination and has been coordinating SOA Watch’s response together with our partner groups on the ground. If you do not already receive Urgent Action emails from us, please click here to sign up now.

The recent decision by the U.S. judge in North Carolina to extradite one of the perpetrators of the 1989 massacre at the University of San Salvador gives us hope that justice will prevail in the end. It will take all of us to create change! Please join us as we mobilize to the U.S./Mexico border from October 7-10, 2016!

Other articles in this issue cover a protest by SOA Watch in Chile against US bases in Latin America, the FBI surveillance of SOA Watch, updates from Colombia and Mexico, news about the first Border Patrol agent to receive training at WHINSEC, background information about Direct Action, the Youth Encuentro in Guatemala, and more.

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