SOA (US army’s School of the Americas) is a symbol of death, a symbol of terror. We have been gradually reducing our numbers of troops at the SOA… We have now entered a new phase and we will not continue to send troops to the SOA.”
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has said that the central American country will no longer send soldiers to the US army’s School of the Americas (SOA), labeling it a “symbol of death and terror,” Press TV reports.
“The SOA is a symbol of death, a symbol of terror. We have been gradually reducing our numbers of troops at the SOA, sending only five last year and none this year. We have now entered a new phase and we will not continue to send troops to the SOA,” Ortega said in a Tuesday meeting with a delegation of the US peace organization, School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) and the Nicanet solidarity group.
The solidarity activists were appealing that Nicaragua pull out its military personnel from the training programs operated by the infamous School of the Americas, located at Fort Benning, Georgia.
The SOA, which has been the principal training school for the US and Latin American military and police personnel, has since its founding in 1946 produced approximately 64 thousand alumni, many of whom have been responsible for grave violations of human rights on the continent.
According to the SOAW, “The worst atrocities of this continent, from Mexico to Chile, have been committed by graduates of this school.”
Fr. Roy Bourgeois was among the members of the SOAW delegation, who, along with his SOAW colleagues, had campaigned for the closure of the School of the Americas during its decade-long existence as generations of Latin American military personnel were trained by the school in techniques of oppression, including torture, forced disappearance and selective assassination.
“The School of the Americas is well known in Latin America as a school for murderers, torturers and perpetrators of coups d’état. It is the symbol of United States foreign policy whose role is always the same: to protect US economic interests and control the natural resources of Latin American countries,” Fr. Bourgeois said.
According to the SOAW members, recent examples of the performance of School of the Americas’ graduates include the 2009 coup in Honduras, where two of the soldiers were SOA trainees, the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002 and similar attempts in Ecuador and Uruguay.
So far Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Venezuela, and recently Ecuador by a public pledge, have announced their decision to withdraw their troops from the training programs offered by the US school.
During the Tuesday meeting, SOAW organizer Lisa Sullivan cautioned that President Ortega “stressed the importance of the growing unity and support among Latin American nations, and expressed gratitude for their economic solidarity. This is, however, still not sufficient to allow Nicaragua to be totally independent of the US, a nation that continues to punish Nicaragua for any slight step out of line by withholding their funds while also blocking other international funds destined for Nicaragua.”
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