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Protest at U.S. Military-Training School Builds Campaign to Close School of the Americas/W

...Close School of the Americas/WHINSEC~Interview with Joao da Silva, communications coordinator with the School of the Americas Watch, conducted by Between the Lines' Melinda Tuhus
Protest at U.S. Military-Training School Builds Campaign to Close School of the Americas/WHINSEC

Interview with Joao da Silva, communications coordinator with the School of the Americas Watch, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

On the third weekend in November, an estimated 20,000 people gathered outside the gates of Fort Benning, Ga., to call for the closure of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or WHINSEC, formerly known as the School of the Americas. Participants came from all over the country to bear witness to the tens of thousands of Latin American civilians who have been killed, and often tortured, with the complicity of their nation's military graduates of the school.

The activists' goal is to close the school either by cutting its funding, or by draining the pool of soldiers from countries throughout Latin America which send a thousand students to attend classes at the school annually. In recent years the largest number of soldiers at WHINSEC have come from Colombia followed by Mexico.

Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Joao da Silva, communications coordinator with School of the Americas Watch, the organization founded by Maryknoll priest Fr. Roy Bourgeois in 1990 after several priests, who were close friends of his, were murdered by soldiers in El Salvador. Da Silva discusses the increasing collaboration between SOA Watch, human rights groups and progressive political leaders in Latin America. He also describes his group's campaign to pass legislation in the US Congress that would close the school, which got a boost after 20 Congressional supporters of WHINSEC lost their bid for re-election in November.

For more information, visit the School of the Americas Watch's website at www.soaw.org or call their office at (202) 234-3440.

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