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Mar 24th
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SOA Shadow Army in Iraq PDF Print E-mail
Written by Pam Bowman, SOA Watch   
SOA-trained  Latin American soldiers are playing a far greater role in the Iraq war than most people realize, and the implications will be felt from Baghdad to Bogotá. There are an estimated 30,000 mercenaries in Iraq. No less than 1,200 Chileans, 1,000 Peruvians, 700 Salvadorans, and hundreds each from countries like Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua have taken up security work in Iraq. 

Blackwater helicopterNumerous publications have documented the connections between Blackwater USA and other security corporations hiring former soldiers from Latin American militaries to perform military duties in support of the Iraqi occupation.  As Foreign Policy magazine reports, these private security firms exploit the security-trained hiring base of U.S.-trained Latin American soldiers, using “uneven vetting procedures” that “potentially undermine official U.S. policies to promote respect for human rights by Latin American military and police forces.” 1 Independent journalists such as Dave Lindorff have cited the connection between Blackwater and the SOA, reporting that “Blackwater, Dyncorp and other such firms are hiring Israeli veterans, former South African police, and Latin American graduates of the notorious School of the Americas.” 2  CNN has reported on numerous lawsuits directed at Blackwater, including one citing “hiring ex-Chilean commandos who were barred from security or military work in their home country after admitting to human rights violations.” 3  

The rewarding of known human rights abusers with financial and logistical support at the expense of U.S. citizens is a frequent trend that extends all the way back to the SOA/ WHINSEC.  WHINSEC accepted Colonel Francisco del Cid Diaz of the El Salvador army to attend WHINSEC in 2003, despite State Department Human Rights Country Reports, the El Salvador Truth Commission, and the Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights all confirming his involvement in notorious human rights abuses.  This example is only one of the instances in which the U.S. military has turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in favor of supporting an outdated policy relying on militarization.

The United States military has spun a complicated web of widespread, undocumented effects of their foreign military training programs in Latin America and around the world. The SOA/ WHINSEC has taken the “not-my-problem” approach to their training programs, publicly stating that how graduates use their combat and interrogation training after exiting the program is not their business.  MercenaryThis is akin to a surgeon performing an operation and prescribing treatment with no follow-up or evaluation of the success of a medical procedure. Reputable educational institutions worldwide routinely promote and pride themselves on statistics of how their graduates are performing in society post-graduation, yet the SOA/ WHINSEC refuses to track their graduates. SOA/ WHINSEC officials go to great lengths to prevent information about the devastating effects of their military training becoming public.

As the investigations of private security firms such as Blackwater unfold, the SOA/ WHINSEC, as well as other U.S. military training programs, will continue to be implicated as the effects of military training programs continue to include the abuse of innocent civilians. This endless proliferation of military training – with no evaluation by the U.S. Congress or the military – is certain to generate continued opposition in grassroots movements worldwide, as well as serious ramifications for all those who choose to ignore it.

1 “Latin America’s Hidden War in Iraq” by Kristina Mani, Foreign Policy magazine, October 2007
2 “Why Don't We Ban Blackwater and other Mercenary Outfits Here?” by Dave Lindorff, OpEdNews.com, September 22, 2007
3 “Blackwater guards pumped on steroids, lawsuit alleges” by Jamie McIntyre and Laurie Ure, CNN, November 27, 2007

Published in the Spring 2008 issue


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School of the Americas 2 in Wales
written by Anne Greagsby, June 23, 2008
We are concerned about plans for a new military academy in Wales, a UK version of the school of the americas. The ANTI-METRIX Campaign to oppose the St Athan privatised military academy - biggest PFI/PPP ever, with arms dealers Raytheon Serco Mike Hayle, chief executive Metrix consortium 'Our aim is that by 2013 if you travelled anywhere in the world and talked about military training, people would say that St Athan was the only place to go. 'It will genuinely be on the world map. People will come from Australia, the Middle East and other parts of the world to train.
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Featured Article
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.

Download this issue of Presente here.

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