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Shut Down the School of the Americas!

Fr. Roy Bourgeois, co-founder of the movement to the Close the School of the Americas, spoke in Portland, OR in September 2008 as a joint project of Witness for Peace NW and School of the Americas Watch Oregon.  Watch the video!

Photos from the 2008 Vigil to Close the SOA!

Interview with WFPNW Organizer Beth Poteet about the abuses of Drummond Coal against their workers in Colombia after a solidarity action in Birmingham, AL.


What is the SOA?

The SOA has trained countless Central and South American troops to fight dirty wars against their own civilian populations, teaching them to torture and kill unionists, organizers, religious workers, students, and others who fight for justice. Today, SOA graduates are deeply implicated in horrific brutalities in Colombia.

Since this damning evidence surfaced, pressure has mounted to close down this School of Assassins, funded by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Witness for Peace has been one of the most outspoken advocates in this fight.

In response to bad publicity, the U.S. Army closed the SOA at the end of 2000, only to reopen again at the start of 2001 with a new name: The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). This was a cosmetic change at best, however: a close examination of WHINSEC’s handbook makes clear that there has been no substantial change in the policies of the academy.

In response to the failure of the U.S. government to reform the SOA, activists for peace and justice continue to raise our voices.  We demand that the SOA be closed immediately and that graduates from the school who have committed human rights abuses be held accountable. The movement to close the SOA has seen tremendous successes in recent years, as Venezuela, Argentina, Uruguay, and Costa Rica have all withdrawn their soldiers from training at the SOA.

Last year, 25,000 people mobilized at the gates of Fort Benning, and 11 went to prison for participating in a separate, high-risk action. Over the years, 226 prisoners of conscience have served a collective 95 years for their brave actions.