Training Ground For Murderers
Continued U.S. support for the School of the Americas, an institution that has trained dictators and political assassins, is completely unjustifiable.
At seven o’ clock in the morning on December 11, 1981 an evil force entered the small El Salvadorian village of El Mezote (School of Assasins). With painted faces and army fatigues, the guerillas carried machine guns and automatic rifles into the peaceful village. As survivor Rufina Amaya recounts, “At ten o’clock the soldiers began to kill the men who were in the church. First, they machine-gunned them and slit their throats” (“Country Sheets for Close it Down Fast!” 3). After the men, the women were ...view middle of the document...
However, the school has been responsible for training dictators, assassins, and murderers like those at El Mezote. One would assume that the United States would discontinue support for an institution whose existence has escalated violence against civilians in Latin America. Yet, even in light of the massacres and dictators that have been directly linked to the school’s operation, nothing has swayed the government in its unyielding support for the school.
The United States established the School of the Americas in Panama in 1946, for the purpose training of Latin American military and police forces (“School of the Americas” 1, “Schools of the Americas; U.S. Military Training for Latin American Countries” 1). Prior to 1984, the United States had a network of schools in Peru and Panama that trained soldiers under CIA instruction (Buckley 5). Panamanian officials requested the U.S. to move the school out of the country, citing the 1977 Panama Canal Treaty giving Panama territorial control over the land the school occupied. In compliance, the United States withdrew the school’s operations in Panama and permanently moved the school to Fort Benning, Georgia (Buckley 5).
Training Latin Americans to protect their nation through strong-arm military tactics places an emphasis on the establishment of democracy through force. How can the American government claim rogue military and police forces create and environment conducive to fostering democracy? After all, democracy that rests on the shoulders of a military regime scarcely follows what the United States claims as “democratic principles” (“School of the Americas”). Outside the United States’ supervision, there are no barriers that curtail the usage of force against civilians by Latin American militaries. David Passage, former director of Andean Affairs at the State Department recently said before Congress, “…The only thing that Latin American militaries have ever done with any enthusiasm or proficiency has been to beat up and shake down their own citizens, overthrow their own governments or get their countries involved in scraps with their neighbors” (United States 1944 4). Passage’s claim illustrates that there is a stability problem within the military and police forces of Latin American countries and, therefore, a nation like Columbia (where in 2001, thirty-eight people died every day as a result of political and military associated violence) should not make up 17% of the population of students at the Schools of the Americas (“Taking Stock: Plan Columbia’s First Year 1; “School of the Americas: U.S. Military…” 8).
Supporters of the School of the Americas claim that the school has substantially increased trade between Latin American nations and the United States. Latin American nations are among the leading exporters of natural minerals and raw materials in the world (Schoultz 158). For Example, in 1985, 37.3% of oil imported into the United States came from Latin American nations (158)....