In November 2011, the Sisters of St. Francis, Clinton, Iowa sponsored a group of students from Grinnell College on a trip to SOA Watch:
"One of the coolest parts of Friday was, at the start of the research work shop, all the attendees introduced themselves, and we were able to hear a little about the work of professionals in fields including academia, law, clergy and medicine who have been able to make human rights advocacy the core of their careers. Moreover, all of these professionals were very excited to talk to us about their work, and about how we can pursue social justice in more meaningful ways."
Click HERE to read more about their exciting trip.
School of the Americas
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC or WHINSEC), formerly the School of the Americas (SOA) is a combat training facility for Latin American soldiers and operated by the United States Department of Defense at Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia.
Since it was established in 1946 the SOA has trained more than 61,000 Latin American soldiers and policemen in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. The school has been the training ground for such notorious human rights violators as General Manuel Noriega, some of Augusto Pinochet's officers, as well as other dictators and members of dangerous drug cartels. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, "disappeared," massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the SOA. School of the Americas Watch
is an advocacy organization founded by Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois and a group of supporters in 1990 to protest the training of these military officers, by the United States Department of Defense, at the School of the Americas (SOA) and to work to close it. One of the most notable actions of the SOA Watch is an annual vigil held each November at the site of the academy, in protest over myriad human rights abuses committed by some graduates of the academy or under their leadership. In 2000, rather than closing the academy, the SOA was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in response to the "mounting protests" spearheaded by SOA Watch.
The annual vigil is held on the weekend closest to November 16th, the date that six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter were murdered at the University of Central America in San Salvador by graduates of the SOA in 1989.