Pentagon Plans SOA Whitewash

In response to mounting opposition to the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA)—including the most recent protest at which more than a third of the 12,000 activists assembled at Fort Benning in Georgia committed civil disobedience—the Pentagon has proposed changes, such as re-naming the school, altering course content, and scattering its activities among several locations. The chief of the U.S. Southern Command, Gen. Charles Wilhelm, told Congress that the SOA "is so important for our strategy in the region that if it were shut down, we would begin to organize its reopening the very next day, in one form or another."

SOA opponents offer a different perspective. "When we shut down this school," declared Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch, "that’s not the end of it. We’re not only talking about this school, we’re talking about the militarism that has such negative effects in Latin America and throughout the developing world, and we will continue after shutting down this school to go after this issue."

SOA Watch is planning to rally and lobby in Washington, D.C., April 2-3, 2000, in conjunction with a weeklong nationwide solidarity fast. Contact (202) 234-3440; www.soaw.org.

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