Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Evo Morales Orders Withdrawal from School of the Americas

The School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) reported today that Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced the withdrawal of his country's military forces from the infamous training facility formerly known as the School of the Americas, now called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) located at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

According to a press release by SOAW:

Bolivia is the fifth country after Costa Rica, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela to announce a withdrawal from the Fort Benning school, citing its history of collaborating with repressive regimes and human rights abuses.

Morales pointed out that school teaches officers in the militaries of Latin American countries to turn on their own people. He was quoted in the press statement as saying: "they are teaching high ranking officers to confront their own people, to identify social movements as their enemies."

According to SOAW, the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school "that advocated torture, extortion and execution."

In addition to former Bolivian dictator Hugo Banzer Suarez, former Bolivian generals Juan Veliz Herrera and Gonzalo Rocabado Mercado are infamous graduates of the school.

Veliz Herrera and Rocabado Mercado were arrested in 2006, according to SOAW, on charges of torture, murder, and violation of the constitution for their responsibility in the death of 67 civilians in El Alto Bolivia during the "Gas Wars" of 2003.

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