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Nov 30th
¡Presente! Home
WHINSEC Instructors and the Drug Mafia PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Lindsay-Poland, FOR   
The Colombian Army’s Third Brigade, based in Cali, was deeply penetrated by the drug trafficking mafia, according to a recent criminal investigation.

“What the prosecutors’ investigation has shown as it progresses,” reported Semana magazine, “is that ‘Don Diego’ [a drug mafia kingpin] didn’t just buy these officers in exchange for one-time favors, but that many of them belonged to his organization. They were part of the mafia and put their jobs in the Army at its service.” Brigade commander Gómez Vergara resigned August 16, 2007, as a result of the investigation, and a dozen other officers have been arrested or are under investigation.

Colonel Alvaro Quijano – who served as an instructor at the Western Hemisphere Institute Gen. Montoyafor Security Cooperation, formerly known as School of the Americas - was arrested onActive Image August 15, 2007. The former chief of the brigade’s operations, Lt. Colonel Javier Escobar Martínez, has also been arrested and accused of mobilizing army units to protect the drug trafficker. Quijano, former commander of Colombia’s Special Forces in the Valle department, and another accused officer, Major Wilmer Mora Daza, taught “peacekeeping operations” and “democratic sustainment” at the SOA/WHINSEC from 2003-2004.
The commander of the Army’s Third Division (General Hernando Pérez Molina, another SOA/WHINSEC grad), to which the Third Brigade belongs, was relieved of his post.

Last year, Colombian army officers from the Third Brigade ambushed an elite, U.S.-trained anti-drug squad in the Valle town of Jamundí, killing ten policemen. The leader of the attack, Colonel Bayron Carvajal, now under arrest, was also a graduate of the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC).


Published in the Fall 2007 issue

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¡Cierren la SOA!
written by jks789, July 16, 2009
El General Romeo Velásquez, el líder del golpe militar en Honduras, es un egresado del Instituto del Hemisferio Occidental para la Cooperación en Seguridad (SOA/WHINSEC), una institución con una historia larga de adiestrar dictadores, asesinos, torturadores, terroristas y conspiradores de golpes de estado.

Necesitamos exigir que el gobierno de los Estados Unidos cierre esta escuela de dictadores. ¡Envíele un mensaje a su oficial elegido ahora!

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Fall 2015 Issue of Presente Out Soon Do you want to receive a copy of Presente, the newspaper of the movement to close the School of the Americas sent to your home? Click here to sign up for free!

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Can you distribute Presente in your community? To order a box, visit SOAW.org/distribute (or make a donation instead).

SOA Violence
Image Update from Honduras

“I want to see justice for the assassination of my son. I don’t want there to be any more blood of Hondurans in the streets. But how will the murders stop if there is no justice? Without justice, they aren’t afraid to keep murdering young people....”

The Americas
SOA Instructor Who Oversaw Dozens of Killings Commands US-Aided Unit 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.

International Human Rights Encuentro in Bajo Aguán, Honduras

fathermila.jpgInterview 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.  

Local Organizing
Peoples Movement Assembly


The Saturday morning assembly in the Convention Center during the 2013 November Vigil was organized in the Peoples Movement Assembly (PMA) format. The PMA model has been developed by Project South and through the US Social Forum (USSF).

Six-hundred people took part in 21 small group discussions about the role of nonviolent direct action, and grassroots organizing. The groups developed collective political understanding through dynamic conversations, and new relationships started to form. A goal for the PMA process is to engage everyone to come up with answers to questions about strategies, to develop our political analysis, and to come up with joint plans for action.

Direct Action
Moving the 2016 November Vigil to the Border? The 2015 Vigil is still going to take place at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, but there are discussions within the SOA Watch movement to move the 2016 vigil to the militarized U.S./Mexico border. What do you think?
Image H.R. 2989 - The Latin America Military Training Review Act of 2013

H.R. 2989, the Latin America Military Training Review Act of 2013 renews the legislative efforts against the notorious U.S. military training institute, formerly known as the School of the Americas.

SOA Watch in Latin America
SOA Watch Chile Declassified List with Names of WHINSEC Graduates

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.

School of the Americas Watch Chile, with the participation of other human rights organizations (La Agrupación de Familiares de Ejecutados Políticos, La Comisión Ética Contra la Tortura, La Comunidad Ecuménica Martín Luther King, La Corporación 3 y 4 Álamos and La Juventud Guevarista) used Chile’s “Transparency Law” to achieve a first victory in their home country.

The Defense Ministry, the Chilean Army, Navy, and Air Force handed over lists that include first and last names, dates, and courses attended by Chilean military personnel at SOA/WHINSEC between 2001-2015.

The declassified materials also mention the names of “invited instructors” who assisted the military school in Georgia as well as those of other high-ranking Chilean officials who are part of the WHINSEC leadership. Additionally noteworthy about the response by the military is the mention of WHINSEC personnel that travelled to Chile to instruct the “Personal Development Course for Cadets” at the Chilean Escuela  Militar. Nonetheless, what is left out is the “Combined Operations Course 2012,” held at the Academia de Guerra and organized by the Joint Chiefs of Staff (Estado Mayor Conjunto ) together with the mobile team of WHINSEC.

Although the information is incomplete, the declassification still represents an important step since one of the characteristics of the SOAW movement is to monitor the behavior of the troops that receive training at the military base and for that purpose it is indispensable to know, who its graduates are.

Despite the Army not revealing the identities of Escuela Militar students and of some other officials, using the argument that this is “legally secret information,” it is an important accomplishment in the fight for more transparency and for continuing with the to demand to stop sending Chilean soldiers to the School of the Americas.

SOA graduates participated in the assassination of the singer songwriter Víctor Jara, in the car bomb attack, carried out in the middle of Washington, DC, that killed  Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffitt, and in the death of union leader Tucapel Jiménez; among hundreds of other cases that involved soldiers who received training in the US.

The fight for accountability in the US

It is important to remember that the lists with names of Latin American soldiers who trained at the SOA/WHINSEC after 2005 are classified and secret information in the US.
Prior to that year, from 1946-2004, the names had been declassified. This allowed SOA Watch to know that a significant number of soldiers, who committed human rights abuses, had been trained in counterinsurgency methods in the US; including courses that suggested “to use torture, blackmail, extortion and reward payments for murdered enemies.”

In April 2013, Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton from the District of Northern California, responded favorably to a Freedom of Information request presented by SOAW activists Theresa Cameranesi and Judith Liteky, demanding the declassification of the names of all Latin American soldiers who received training at the so-called “School of the Assassins.”

Judge Hamilton reminded in her verdict that the Freedom of Information Act is meant to “assure a well-informed citizenry, a fundamental  thing for making a democratic society work and necessary to stop acts of corruption as well as to hold the governing body accountable to the governed.” Her verdict was immediately appealed by the lawyers of the US government and the trail continues to this day. 

Image Looking Back to Move Ahead I was asked to write a piece about people of color organizing to attend the 2009 SOA Watch vigil and about our plans for 2010. I believe everything happens for a reason.
Ron Teska Ron Teska, a stone carver and organizer from Wind Ridge, Pennsylvania worked on this piece of art throughout the November Vigil weekend in Georgia.
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