Student Coalition for Social Justice hosts School of the Americas Awareness Week

The Student Coalition for Social Justice will host a variety of events this week to explain the U.S. Army’s School of the Americas, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, in Fort Benning, Ga.

The school, which since 1946 has trained Latin American soliders in combat, counter-insurgency, counter-narcotics efforts and commando operations, has been the target of protest for more than a decade. Religious organizations and human rights advocates contend that the school has trained and continues to train those responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. SOA graduates are said to have participated in the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the massacre of 900 civilians.

Student Coalition for Social Justice members will staff information tables about the school from 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today through Thursday on the lower quadrangle of the St. Paul campus. They also will make crosses to represent people killed by SOA graduates.

Additionally, these events are planned:

  • 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, in Room 126, John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts: The film “Romero,” about the life of the late Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador, will be shown. Romero’s fight for human rights led to his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980. That assassination has been linked to soldiers who graduated from the School of the Americas.
  • 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium: A panel discussion about the School of the Americas will include Justice and Peace Studies program faculty member Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Teresa Ortiz and other guest speakers. The film “Guns and Greed,” which recorded a debate between Nelson-Pallmeyer and SOA commandant Col. Glen Weidner, will be shown. Everyone is welcome.
  • Noon and 1 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, on the St. Paul campus lower quadrangle: Students and faculty of the St. Thomas community will re-enact the November 1989 killing of six Jesuit priest, their housekeeper and her daughter by SOA graduates.

For more information about Minnesotans’ involvement in protesting the School of the Americas, visit the home page of Minnesota SOA Watch, the local arm of a national organization, SOA Watch, founded in 1990 by a Maryknoll priest, the Rev. Ray Bourgeous.