|SOA Instructor Who Oversaw Dozens of Killings Commands US-Aided Unit|
|Written by John Lindsay-Poland, FOR|
A key vehicle for US military aid in Colombia is a special operations unit, known by its Spanish acronym CCOES. The unit is sent in after bombing runs to gather bodies of guerrillas and other material. CCOES is the Colombian counterpart to the US Joint Special Operations Command, which conducts secret targeted killings around the world.
In September, a former WHINSEC instructor, General Jaime Lasprilla Villamizar, took over command of CCOES, after running another focus of US military assistance in Colombia, Task Force Omega, which received tens of millions of dollars in US training, supplies and equipment, under Washington’s ill-conceived drug war and ‘war on terror.’
There is just one catch. In 2006-2007, Lasprilla directed the Ninth Brigade in Colombia’s Huila Department, which was responsible for more than 80 killings of civilians under his command. Under the US Leahy Law, aiding a foreign unit is prohibited if there is credible information that the unit’s commander committed gross human rights abuses. To abide by Leahy Law, Washington must end its assistance to Lasprilla’s CCOES unit.
Most of the killings committed under Lasprilla in Huila are called “false positives,” many under investigation by Colombian human rights prosecutors. “False positives” were executions of civilians by troops who then claimed the victims were guerrillas killed in combat. The Army reportedly carried out more than 4,000 such killings from 2002 to 2010.
Lasprilla was an instructor at WHINSEC in 2002-2003, and studied for a year at the National Defense University in Washington in 2005-06, just before his deployment to Huila.
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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.
Interview with Father Fausto Mila in Honduras
SOA Watch participated in the International Human Rights Encuentro in Honduras in February 2012. Laura Jung spoke with Father Fausto Milla, a religious leader in the Honduran movement who has been persecuted by the State of Honduras.
By Pablo Ruiz, Equipo Latinoamericano of SOA Watch
SOAW Chile achieved an important victory; to declassify the names of over 760 Chilean soldiers who took courses at the School of the Americas/WHINSEC during the past decade.
For more info about ¡Presente!, go to About US.
There is no way to peace, peace is the way.
- A. J. Muste
A challenging new documentary has quickly become one of the
widest-reaching films to encapsulate the history of the SOA Watch
An in-depth look at the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, focusing on an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed in 2002.