Roamy here. When I was visiting college friends years ago, there was a group on campus that planned to protest outside Fort Benning because “they teach torture at the School of the Americas!” My first thought is that there’s nothing we could teach a Third World soldier about torture that he probably doesn’t already know.
Here’s the Columbus Ledger Enquirer article. (No way am I linking New York Times.) Eventually 26 people were arrested over the weekend.
School of the Americas was renamed Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. They teach the same classes taught to our military officers and non-commissioned officers but in Spanish. Leadership, intelligence gathering, artillery, infantry skills, etc. They added in classes in civil rights, rule of law, and due process in response to the accusations.
SOA Watch points to graduates like Manuel Noriega and Leopoldo Galtieri as signs that the school should be shut down. To me, that’s like holding University of Puget Sound responsible for Ted Bundy or Harvard and University of Michigan for Ted Kaczynski.
XBradTC here: The whole point of the School of the Americas was to improve the professionalism of Latin American armies. And it seems to have had some effect. It used to be there was a military coup every other week in South America, to be followed by a ruling junta. One of the goals of SoA was to teach the students that armies existed to support the civil government, not displace it. Building the professionalism and civic mindedness of these institutions is the work of generations.