The School of the Americas
One part of this almost unbelievable US torture scandal is the little-known U.S. Army "School of the Americas", located in Fort Benning, Georgia, which trains Latin American military officers and soldiers to subvert their governments and kill hope in their own countries.
This so-called 'university' is also known as the "School of Dictators," and has produced thousands of dishonorable graduates linked to terror, torture, massacres and military death squads.
Founded by the United States in 1946, the SOA was initially located in Panama, but in 1984 it was kicked out under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty and moved to the army base at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Then-President of Panama Jorge Illueca called it "the biggest base for de-stabilization in Latin America," and a major Panamanian newspaper dubbed it " The School of Assassins."
In September 1996, under intense public pressure, the Pentagon was forced to release SOA training manuals advocating torture, extortion, blackmail and the targeting of civilian populations. According to a Washington Post story at the time:
"Used in courses at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas, the manual says that to recruit and control informants, counterintelligence agents could use fear, payment of bounties for enemy dead, beatings, false imprisonment, executions and the use of truth serum."
In the 1990s, there were extensive investigations exposing the SOA's practices and its connections to brutal dictators, but the publicity has died and efforts to shut down the school have failed.
The Association for Responsible Dissent estimates that by 1987, 6 million people had died as a result of CIA covert operations. And these 'operations' certainly did not stop by 1987; if anything, they accelerated.
The school still exists, but is rarely mentioned in the US today, and their attitude now is, 'We can do anything we want, anywhere we want'.
Today, SOA instructors and students are recruited from the cream of the Latin American military establishment. The School trains up to 2,000 dictators and their military each year and, since its inception in 1946, more than 60,000 military dictatorship personnel have graduated.
The SOA curriculum includes courses in psychological warfare, counterinsurgency, interrogation techniques, and infantry and commando tactics. Presented with the most sophisticated and up-to-date techniques by the US Army's best instructors, these courses teach military officers and soldiers of Third World countries to subvert the truth, to muzzle union leaders, activist clergy, and journalists, and to make war on their own people.
It prepares them to subdue the voices of dissent and to make protesters submit. It instructs them in techniques of marginalizing the poor, the hungry, and the dispossessed. It tells them how to stamp out freedom and terrorize their own citizens. It trains them to destroy their people's hope of good government.
The impact of SOA graduates on Latin American freedom has been devastating. Armed with sophisticated training, modern US weapons, and up-to-date techniques of control and surveillance, graduates of the SOA have terrorized their own countries for many decades.
When they return to their home countries, graduates of the SOA hold a rather unique and peculiar view of their countrymen. They look upon priests, social workers, journalists, and intellectuals, as subversives, dangerous to the system that keeps these dictators and their US sponsors in power.
Graduates of the SOA have been among the most repressive tyrants in Latin America, and their actions have been some of the most cruel and violent. Typically, the countries with the worst human rights records send the most soldiers to this School.
In Guatemala, a small country of 10 only million, the indigenous Mayan population endured the greatest suffering in Latin America. During more than 30 years of US-sponsored brutality and civil war, hundreds of thousands were slaughtered.
Most of the high-level military officers involved in all these acts of terror and murder during this period were trained for this in the USA, at the 'School of the Americas'.
In one famous case, these US 'freedom-loving, democratic leaders', arrested thousands of civilians for opposing the brutality of the government. They stripped everyone naked and handcuffed people together in groups of about 50.
They raped all the women, then loaded the people - still all handcuffed together in a long chain - into a military transport plane. They flew the plane to 3,000 meters, and threw out of the plane the person at the end, so they would all fall into the ocean in a long string like sausage links.
Maybe US President Ronald Reagan gave them a medal for showing American ingenuity and creativity.
The US-sponsored dictators from Argentina, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, have all sent thousands of soldiers to this school.
In all these countries, the "graduates" of this US "school" have committed countless thousands of murders, massacres - especially of women and children, assassinations, deaths by torture, 'disappearances'.
They were trained to overthrew the legitimate governments in their countries, were supplied with money arms and weapons to do so, and were then heavily supported by the US.
The education they received was in torture and terrorising their population, and in obeying American 'national interests' by permitting US companies to plunder their nations.
All have been bitter enemies of all human rights, and many organised the famous CIA-sponsored "death squads" that roamed these nations slaughtering civilians by the tens of thousands. There is probably no accurate record of the millions killed.
The picture is even worse when we consider the now widely-available information that from the time of the Vietnam war the CIA financed much of this activity by trafficking in cocaine, opium and heroin, importing much of it into the US to be sold to Mafia drug dealers.
Americans who condemn world terrorism, torture and the abuse of human rights, should be condemning their own government instead of criticising other nations.
One place for them to begin is to demand the closing of this abominable school of brutal dictatorships, terrorism and torture.
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This article is adapted from information at Third World Traveler Original Article Here.
Training Camp for Dictators.From the Socialist Worker.