Since 1946, the US Pentagon has operated a military training center for Latin American soldiers and policemen known as the School of the Americas. The Real News spoke to Pablo Ruiz, a Chilean human rights activist, journalist and former political prisoner who lives in Santiago, Chile. Watch the video below.
The school has become the focus of attention as many of the graduates have been found to have committed a range of crimes in their countries- from torture to mass killing. Some of them became notorious for human rights violations, including generals Leopoldo Galtieri, Rios Montt and Manuel Noriega, dictators such as Bolivia's Hugo Banzer, as well as some of Augusto Pinochet's officers.
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. In El Salvador, in 1989, a Salvadoran army patrol executed six Jesuit priests as they lay face-down on the ground at Central America University. According to the United Nation's Truth Commission Report on El Salvador in 1993, 19 of the 27 officers who took part in the executions were trained at the SOA. Roberto D'Aubuison, the late leader of El Salvador's Death Squad, was implicated in the plot to assassinate Archbishop Romero. He also participated in numerous murders, including a massacre in the village of El Mazote, where more than 900 men, women, and children were killed. He graduated from SOA as well.
Pablo Ruiz is spearheading efforts to seek the withdrawal of Chile from the School of the Americas. He works as the Communications Coordinator for School of the Americas Watch's, Partnership America Latina.
Pablo states, "The School of the Americas, from my point of view, continues to promote the worn-out idea of the national security doctrine. Teaching the soldiers, directly or indirectly, to view students, workers, peasant farmers, as potential enemies at which point the battle isn't outside the border but inside it."
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