The Pentagon snuck out an admission that the students at the notorious School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, once used manuals advocating torture, assassination, and kidnapping as tactics to be used against dissidents in Latin America. While the Army minimized the importance of the manuals, saying they "contained passages that did not represent U.S. Government policy," others, such as Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), believed the manuals confirmed that the school's congressional supporters have blood on their hands. The New York Times editorialized that an "institution so clearly out of tune with American values should be shut down without further delay."
This is precisely what nonviolent activists have been working at for years. Father Roy Bourgeois, an organizer who hopes to close the School of the Americas, is currently serving time in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for a civil disobedience action that occurred at the school in 1995.
Graduates from the School of the Americas participated in atrocities throughout Latin America, including the assassination of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980; the rape and murder of four American church women in El Salvador the same year; and the murder of six Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter in 1989.
Activists are planning a protest at the School of the Americas November 13-16, 1996. Call SOA Watch at (706) 682-5369 for more information.
Sandy Maben contributed research to this report.