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Feb 23rd
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SOA Grads in the News 2013 PDF Print E-mail
Jorge Rafael Videla, SOA grad and Argentine dictator, died in prison on May 17, 2013. After the fall of the Junta in 1983, he was imprisoned, released, and imprisoned again as Argentine society took fitful steps towards justice. He is being tried posthumously for his involvement in Plan Condor, a US-backed operation to reinforce the dictatorships of the Southern Cone.

Odlanier Mena completed the SOA/WHINSEC Command and General Staff Officer Course in 1970, participated in the 1973 coup, the Caravan of Death, and became spy chief of the notorious secret police. Sentenced in 2007 for ordering the murders of Oscar Codoceo, Manuel Donoso, and Julio Valenzuela, he served the first years of his term in a white collar military prison, a situation emblematic of Chile’s ongoing struggle for justice. When grassroots pressure compelled President Piñera to close the prison, Mena committed suicide on September 28, 2013 while on weekend leave rather than serve out the rest of his sentence.

Months later, there were eight more convictions related to the Caravan of Death. One of the convicted officers is Pablo Martínez Latorre, who completed the SOA’s Combat Arms Orientation course in ‘71, and was sentenced to five years in prison. More trials are set.

Justice for Victor Jara
In the last edition of ¡Presente!, we called on you to demand justice for Chilean folk singer and martyr Víctor Jara, whose killer, Pedro Barrientos, currently lives in Deltona, Florida. Despite an extradition request from a Chilean judge, the State Department was slow in responding to grassroots pressure for his extradition. On December 10th, however, reports surfaced in the Chilean press that the State Department is finally looking into Barrientos’s immigration and military records. Keep up the pressure by joining us for a Memorial Forum for Víctor Jara on Thursday, April 3, 2014 during our Spring Days of Action in DC!

We held our breath as SOA grad and former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt was put on trial and convicted of genocide against the Ixil people. This is the first time a former head of state has been prosecuted for genocide in a national, as opposed to an international, court. While the conviction was eventually annulled and the trial rescheduled for 2015, the case brought Guatemalans face to face with the past representing a huge victory for historical memory.

A scandal stemming from the amnesty granted to an associate of SOA grad, torture convict, and former spy chief Vladimir Montesinos brought down the head of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces José Cueto, Peru’s top ranking officer. However, Cueto’s replacement, Leonel Cabrera Pino, is also an SOA grad, indicating that we must redouble our efforts to close the SOA.

Information compiled by Owen Silverman Andrews of the SOA Watch Research Working Group. To get involved, email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 202-234-3440  For more info about SOA Grads in the News: SOAW.org
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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.

Download this issue of Presente here.

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