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by Mark M Seeger
Email: mseeger33 (at) aol.com (unverified!)
Current rating: 0
19 Sep 2003
The author has attended the annual SOA protest outside Ft. Benning, Georgia (Columbus, GA) twice with a Rockhurst University group. For your information and education, this handout includes a general and historical outlook of the SOA/WHINSEC and those who struggle for peace and against it.
FYI on the SOA/WHINSEC
See “Graduates in the News,” Resources,
WHINSEC search (Ft. Benning, military webpage)
Human Rights Watch
People: Oscar Romero, Hugo Banzer, Pinochet, Dom Helder Camara, Juan Gerardi, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Fr. Ray Bourgeois, etc.
Places: LATIN AMERICA (Central and South America)
The 10 nations of the 756 students in 2002, in order of main patrons:
Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Venezuela,
El Salvador, Paraguay, Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador
Videos: available from www.soaw.org include School of Assassins, SOA: Guns and Greed, An Insider Speaks Out, Romero and others
Writings: Oscar Romero’s works, “Beyond Vietnam” by MLK, “Ripple of Hope” speech by Robert Kennedy, El Mozote book, School of Assassins: Guns, Greed, and Globalization by Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, William M. Leogrande’s Our Own Backyard: the United States in Central America, 1977-1992, M. Gandhi, Catholic social teaching, “Men and Women for Others” by Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Superior-General of the Society of Jesus, 1973, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, present Superior-General of the Society of Jesus
Why is the SOA/WHISC/WHINSEC still relevant since its purported closing in January 2000?
Then: Found responsible and in connection with the death of Archbishop Romero
Now: In connection with the death of Archbishop Juan Gerardi (1998)
Then: Robert Kennedy from a Cape Town, South Africa June 7, 1966 speech:
Our answer is the world’s hope; it is to rely on youth. . . As I have seen, and as I
have said—in Europe, in Asia, in Latin America, and now in South Africa—it is a
revolutionary world we live in; and thus, I have said in Latin America, in Asia, in
Europe and in the United States, it is young people who must take the lead. . .
Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or
strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing
each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples
build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and
Then: from a 1967 speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:
True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice, which produces beggars, needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
Now: Nov. 2002, Amnesty calls for suspension and investigation of SOA/WHINSEC in a report “Unmatched Power, Unmet Principles: The Human Rights Dimensions of US Training of Foreign Military and Police Forces”
Now: Report calls for suspension of training at WHINSEC, independent commission of inquiry to investigate the school, and reparations
Now: Amnesty says, “WHINSEC is essentially the same school as SOA, with the same primary mission—conveying military skills to members of Latin American armed forces.”
Now: Changes “do not absolve the US government of responsibility for identifying and prosecuting those responsible for past human rights violations perpetrated by the SOA.”
Then: Archbishop Dom Helder Camara of Brazil:
When I fed the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked, ‘Why are they poor?’ They called me a Communist.
Now: Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior-General of the Society of Jesus:
Since Saint Ignatius wanted love to be expressed not only in words but also in
deeds, the Congregation committed the Society to the promotion of justice as a
concrete, radical but proportionate response to an unjustly suffering world.
fostering the virtue of justice in people was not enough. Only a substantive
justice can bring about the kinds of structural and attitudinal changes that are
needed to uproot those sinful oppressive injustices that are a scandal against
humanity and God.
This sort of justice requires an action-oriented commitment to the poor with a
courageous personal option. In some ears the relatively mild expression,
“promotion of justice,” echoed revolutionary, subversive and even violent
language. For example, the American State Department recently accused
some Colombian Jesuits of being Marxist-inspired founders of a guerilla
organization. When challenged the U.S. government apologized for this
mistake, which shows that some message did get through.
Then: Dom Helder: “Opting for nonviolence means to believe more strongly in the power of truth, justice and love than in the power of wars, weapons and hatred.”
Now: Approximately 18 “prisoners of conscience” for civil disobedience
Now: There have been about 100 human rights defenders who have cumulatively spent over 50 years in prison.
Now: Out of 2001’s students: 463 Military, 152 Police, 44 Civilian
Now: Dec. 2000 attack on trade unionist Wilson Borja. An SOA graduate, Major Cesar Alonso Maldonado Vidales was detained for questioning. After Colombia’s Attorney General fired a human rights prosecutor, Maldonado was released.
Now: SOA graduate Captain Juan Carlos Fernandez Lopez and Colonel Victor Matamoros were indicted for illegal paramilitary groups in 1997 and 1999 in connection with more than 145 deaths committed by the paramilitary groups.
Then: Pedro Arrupe, 1973:
On Works of Justice from “Men and Women for Others”:
First, a basic attitude of respect for all people which forbids us ever to use them as instruments for our own profit.
Second, a firm resolve never to profit from, or allow ourselves to be suborned by, positions of power deriving from privilege, for to do so, even passively, is equivalent to active oppression. To be drugged by the comforts of privilege is to become contributors to injustice as silent beneficiaries of the fruits of injustice.
Third, an attitude not simply of refusal but of counterattack against injustice; a decision to work with others toward the dismantling of unjust social structures so that the weak, the oppressed, the marginalized of this world may be set free.
Now: from October 8, 2000 homily of Rev. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach
We do not have the certainty of a burning bush or a mighty voice calling us, but there will be echoes of grace, intimations of blessing, if we will listen closely. Sometimes that invitation comes from unlikely sources, people and problems we would never have chosen, but who cry out to us.
The Psalm says that “the Lord hears the cry of the poor.” The Lord also labors to get us to hear the cry of the poor. That cry is a technical term in Hebrew. It is not a cry of complaint or pain that evokes mere sympathy. It is a cry for vindication, a cry for justice. This is the cry that the Lord heard from the people enslaved in Egypt, a cry for vindication from the One who had led their ancestors into Egypt. The “preferential option for the poor” is not an act of noblesse oblige; it is a response to those who claim their vindication and call us to act in responsibility and in solidarity with them. Does this mean that we are all called to be activists? Certainly some are, but most of us are called to integrate this call into our lifelong calling, to integrate the cry of the poor into our teaching and scholarship, into our university programs and policies. We serve the needs of the world by using the talents we have; it is that convergence of talent and perceived need that reveals the gracious invitation of God.
Now: “The Pentagon’s New ‘Forward Operating Location’: The Militarization of the Americas” by Laura Carlson www.counterpunch.org/carlson09062003.html
“. . .military solutions to social and political problems not only escalate violence, they don’t work . . . The anti-terrorism lens fails to see crucial factors in regional conflicts: the drug trade may fund terrorists, but it stems from peasants’ lack of other productive options and the incessant demand for illegal drugs in U.S. cities. Counterinsurgency efforts may decimate organizations like the FARC, but they also lead to the displacement and death of thousands of civilians, thus creating new sources of social instability. By framing Western hemisphere security in anti-terrorist terms, the U.S. seeks the moral authority to intervene in regional conflicts in defense of its own particular interests, rather than the interests of long-term conflict resolution. Granting the U.S. a carte blanche for intervention based on its post-Sept. 11th victim status would be a mistake. The campaign against terrorism should not be viewed as a boilerplate for security policy in the Western Hemisphere. The results could be the opposite of peace.”
Nicaragua in devastation: www.counterpunch.org/solo08072003.html
www.terrelibere.it/cocacolacolombia_eng.htm see also a search for “Latuff Coca-Cola cartoons”
Hope magazine July/Aug. 2003 “Good Business: No-Jive Java” by Clare Leschin-Hoar
FAIR TRADE coffee www.equaleexchange.org www.globalexchange.org
Sweatshop clothing, exploitative labor, and child labor
Arms trade and manufacturing