SOA Watch Founder Fr. Roy Bourgeois Speaks on US Human Rights Abuses (Part 2) listen02/24/10 Lisa Marzilli
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For the last two decades Fr. Roy Bourgeois has been working to shut down the notorious School of the Americas, or SOA, now known as WHINSEC.
The US Army facility in Fort Benning, GA has trained some 60,000 Latin American military personnel in counter insurgency and torture since it opened in 1946. Its list of graduates includes some of the world’s most notorious human rights abusers. Speaking to a packed house at Lakewood United Church of Christ in St. Petersburg, Fr. Roy explained exactly what US taxpayer dollars were funding and who suffered as a result.
He spoke passionately about his hero, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, who was assassinated in 1980.
Bourgeois talked about the recent military coup in Honduras, also carried out by SOA graduates. He said he was disappointed in President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for their inaction in helping return President Manuel Zelaya to office. But he said change is sweeping across Latin America as more and more countries pull their military members out of WHINSEC.
When asked what it would take to shut down WHINSEC, Fr. Bourgeois told WMNF that the President could do it with the stroke of a pen by executive order.
SOA Watch celebrated a small victory last summer when congress approved the McGovern-Sestak-Bishop-Lewis amendment which will require that the names, ranks, countries of origin and dates of attendance of WHINSEC graduates and instructors be made public; information which Fr. Bourgeois said is vital in documenting the violence.
Last year MA Representative Jim McGovern reintroduced the Latin America Military Training Review Act. HR2567 would suspend operations at the SOA and investigate human rights abuses associated with the school. Forty-two US House members have endorsed the bill to date. The only Florida delegate to have signed on is Democratic Representative Alan Grayson of Orlando.
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