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Local events in solidarity with the stand against the SOA

November 12, 2010

The School of the Americas (SOA), in 2001 renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC) in 2001,  is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Initially established in Panama in 1946, it was kicked out of that country in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Frequently dubbed the “School of Assassins,” the SOA has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned.

According to SOA Watch,“The past 59 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, ‘disappeared,’ massacred, and forced into being refugees by those trained at the School of Assassins.”

From Nov. 15 to 21, people seeking to close the school will gather at the gates of Fort Benning for the “Convergence of Hope,” as they have since 1990. Locally, The Bloom Collective is sponsoring two film/discussion events in solidarity with the Fort Benning protests:

  • 11 a.m. Monday Nov. 15  Film, Hidden in Plain Sight, and Campus March at GVSU Allendale campus, 2204 Kirkhoff. This event is free.
  • 6:30 p.m. Thursday Nov. 18 Film & Discussion, Guns and Greed at The Bloom, 671 Davis NW. Suggested donation $3 to $5 includes a light supper with vegan options.

Guns and Greed features “Powerful statements from Students against Sweatshops, labor leaders, veterans and church people participating in protests at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia and at a Washington DC protest of World Bank and IMF policies.”

Hidden in Plain Sight explores the link between U.S. foreign policy and 20th century Latin Americas bloodstained history. It features interviews of both SOA supporters and critics, and shows footage of soldiers and victims.

You can also view  Hidden in Plain Sight on line. Both are available at The Bloom Collective.

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