War

The School Of The Americas Is Still Exporting Death Squads

23.04.2015  |  03:13
The School Of The Americas Is Still Exporting Death Squads

CIA and U.S. Army manuals detailing torture techniques translated into Spanish and utilized by the SOA are a far cry from anything containing human rights protections. Indeed, as SOA Watch explains, "These manuals advocated torture, extortion, blackmail and the targeting of civilian populations."

CIA and U.S. Army manuals detailing torture techniques translated into Spanish and utilized by the SOA are a far cry from anything containing human rights protections. Indeed, as SOA Watch explains, "These manuals advocated torture, extortion, blackmail and the targeting of civilian populations."

The manuals, written in the 1950s and 1960s, "were distributed for use in countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala, Ecuador and Peru, and at the School of the Americas between 1987 and 1991." Indeed, in-depth research and testimony from torture survivors relay more than just a depiction of torture practiced by SOA graduates in South America during dictatorship eras, such as Chile under Pinochet. Sadistic torture practiced upon detainees at Abu Ghraib is also reflective of the CIA torture manuals and torture previously carried out on detainees in South America.

Since 2000 and the renaming of the SOA, other crimes linked to SOA graduates have come to light.

Col. Byron Lima Estrada was convicted in June 2001 of murdering Guatemalan Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi following the publication of a report insisting the Guatemalan army was responsible for the murder of almost 200,000 people in the civil war that took place from 1960 to 1996.

Two SOA graduates, Venezuelan Army Commander in Chief Efrain Vasquez and Gen. Ramirez Poveda, were involved in the failed 2002 coup against President Hugo Chávez. According to SOA Watch, Otto Reich, then-assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, was "appointed as a WHINSEC board of visitor member to ‘oversee' democracy and human rights curriculum, as well as operations at the school." Reich was also deeply involved in the planning of the coup against Chávez.

In 1999, Bolivian Captain Filiman Rodriguez had been found responsible for the kidnapping and torture of Waldo Albarracin, director of the Bolivian Popular Assembly of Human Rights. In 2002, Rodriguez was accepted for a 49-week officer training course at WHINSEC.

In May 2014, a detailed report by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Colombia-Europe-U.S. Human Rights Observatory highlighted U.S. military assistance to Colombia between 2000 and 2010. According to the report, which studies extrajudicial killings committed by the Colombian Army Brigades, U.S. intelligence assistance to Colombia "supported units that had adopted a strategy conducive to extrajudicial killings."

Colombia requires its officers to undergo training at WHINSEC. The 2014 report states that out of 25 Colombian graduates from 2001 to 2003, 12 had either been charged with "a serious crime or commanded units whose members had reportedly committed multiple extrajudicial killings."

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