The School of the American Empire<br>by Mumia Abu-Jamal, M.A. Print
"A society that becomes accustomed to using violence to solve its problems, both large and small,is a society in which the roots of human relations are diseased." -- Ignacio Martin-Bar?, O.J.

It is virtually impossible for anyone to consider the horrific violence that has taken place in Central and Latin America, without accounting for the hideous roots of that violence, that grow and thrive in America.

For decades, the bloody flood from murders, massacres, rapes, torture and carnage, created a trail that could be traced to the doorsteps of a U.S. military training institution known as the School of the Americas, in Fort Benning, Georgia. Human rights activists have held increasingly swelling demonstrations at the SOA, and have dubbed it the "School of Assassins."

For years the Pentagon dismissed such criticism, and defended the SOA as an elite international training academy for "counter-insurgency," or, more obliquely, for "teaching democracy."

The graduates of SOA, however, constituted a kind of rogue's gallery of military despots and dictators, like Bolivia's Gen. Hugo Banzer Su?rez, who brutally suppressed progressive church workers and striking tin miners; like Guatemalan dictator Gen. Romeo Lucas Garc?a (1978-82), whose rule saw over 5,000 political killings and about 25,000 civilians murdered by the
Guatemalan army; and Gen. Juan Rafael Bustillo, of El Salvador, former airforce chief, who, according to a U.N. report of 1993, both planned and then covered up the massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter, for starters.

If you mention a massacre, the chances are great that the men who either ordered or committed the deed were SOA grads. The El Mozote, El Junquillo, Las Hojas, and San Sebastian Massacres were all the work of SOA- trained "death squads." When four U.S. churchwomen were raped and murdered, when Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated, when union members were killed, it was SOA grads who led in the carnage. U.S.-trained and armed SOA people have been involved in so many military coups that in Latin America the school is known as the escuela de golpes-coup school.

Recently, the Defense Deptartment, stung by decades of negative publicity, officially "closed" SOA, only to immediately reopen it under the name Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Co-operation (WHISC). Although not as catchy as SOA, WHISC promises to play the same game, by another name. Shortly after the Jesuit murders, U.S.-trained Salvadoran troops surrounded the office of the Catholic archdiocese, and shouted, "Ignacio Ellacur?a and Ignacio Martin-Bar? have already fallen and we will continue murdering communists!" Ellacur?a and Martin-Bar? were two Jesuit priests involved in Christian base communities, where the poor learned literacy, history and how to organize for human rights in the midst of monstrous repression.
Martin-Bar? was a brilliant liberation theologist and psychologist, who, like the revolutionary Frantz Fanon, chose the side of the oppressed rather than the rich and powerful oppressors.

For this he was targeted by the U.S.-trained terrorists of the SOA, and it is for men and women like him, who seek an end to economic and social oppression, that imperial training camps, like SOA/WHISC exist.

Its name has changed, but the game remains the same.
(c)MAJ 2001

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Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three Books: 'Live from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things Censored'. A new biography, 'On A Move: The Story of Mumia Abu-Jamal', is available at www.MumiaBook
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