[News] Evo Morales Announces Withdrawalfrom School of the Americas

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Oct 11 10:57:19 EDT 2007

For Immediate Release
October 10, 2007

School of the Americas Watch


Bolivia is the fifth Latin American country to announce a withdrawal
from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation

Washington, DC - President Evo Morales announced Tuesday that Bolivia
will gradually withdraw its military from training programs at the
Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC),
formerly known as the School for the Americas (SOA). 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, a former coca farmer and advocate of indigenous rights,
criticized the institution for training Latin American militaries to
identify social movement leaders as "enemies of the state." "We will
gradually withdraw until there are no Bolivian officers attending the
School of the Americas" said Morales. Questioning the U.S. government
foreign policy he noted that "they are teaching high ranking officers to
confront their own people, to identify social movements as their

The SOA/WHINSEC is a U.S. tax-payer funded military training facility
for Latin American security personnel located at Ft. Benning, Georgia.
The institution was catapulted into the headlines in 1996 when the
Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated
torture, extortion and execution.

The SOA/WHINSEC has played a significant role in Bolivia's recent
political history, Hugo Banzer Suarez, who ruled Bolivia from 1971-1978
under a brutal military dictatorship attended the school in 1956 and was
later inducted into the school's "hall of fame" in 1988. In October of
2006, two former graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC, Generals Juan Veliz
Herrera and Gonzalo Rocabado Mercado were arrested 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 September-October 2003.

In March 2006 a School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) delegation led by
Lisa Sullivan-Rodriguez, Salvadoran torture survivor Carlos Mauricio,
and SOA Watch founder Father Roy Bourgeois met with President Evo
Morales to request that Bolivia cease to send troops for training at the

On June 21, 2007 the McGovern/Lewis amendment to the FY 2008 Foreign
Appropriations bill that would have prohibited funding for the
SOA/WHINSEC lost by a margin of only six votes. 203 members of Congress
voted in favor of the amendment to cut the funding for the school in
part due to its connection to human rights abuses throughout Latin


Joao Da Silva
Communications Coordinator
School of the Americas Watch

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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