Burlington, VT Calling for the Suspension of School of the Americas

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Burlington, VT, US

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Type: Resolution

Status: Adopted on 3/27/06

Source File: Click here

Text:

THE UNITED STATES ARMY SCHOOL OF THE AMERICAS

In the year Two Thousand Six
Resolved by the City Council of the City of Burlington, as follows:

That WHEREAS, the School of the Americas (SOA) located in Fort Benning, Georgia, was founded in 1946 with the purpose of teaching Latin American militaries the values of democratic civilian control over military forces while promoting "friendly" assistance to our Latin American neighbors; and

WHEREAS, over the course of six decades, national and international human rights groups have concluded that the SOA has served as a training grounds for dictators and military leaders who have been among the most avowed proponents of human rights abuses; and,

WHEREAS, in 1996, the State Department declassified SOA training manuals that included the advocacy of execution; false imprisonment, and physical abuse as tactical weapons against civilian suspects (see attachment); and

WHEREAS, in response to mounting evidence of abuses by SOA graduates, Congress closed the SOA in 2000 but the Department of Defense reopened it soon thereafter as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC); and

WHEREAS, there is documented evidence that many SOA graduates have been involved in murderous plots, such as the 1980 assassination case of Archbishop Oscar Romero in which two of the three Salvadoran officers responsible were graduates of the SOA, and the November, 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, a housekeeper and her daughter by 26 Salvadoran officers, 19 of whom were SOA graduates (see attachment); and

WHEREAS, Guatemalan Colonel Julio Roberto Alpirez, an SOA alumni, was implicated in the killing of U.S. citizen Michael Devine and Efraim Bamaca; and

WHEREAS, more than one hundred and thirty U.S. Catholic Bishops, forty Latin American Bishops, the California Veterans of Foreign War, the New York and New Jersey State Legislatures, the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO, the NAACP and more than a dozen major daily newspapers have expressed support for the closing of the School of the Americas; and

WHEREAS, the Center for Defense Information, a reputable non-profit research organization led by retired high ranking U. S. military officers, is calling for the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC; and

WHEREAS, on March 10, 2005, Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) reintroduced legislation in the 109th Congress to suspend operations at the School of the Americas (HR 1217, "The Latin America Military Training Review Act of 2005"), which currently has 125 bi-partisan co-sponsors, among them Vermont Representative Bernie Sanders;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Burlington City Council urges President Bush and the Congress of the United States to support the suspension and investigation of the United States Army School of the Americas (now known as WHINSEC), and that a copy of this resolution be presented to the President, the Vermont Congressional delegation, and the candidates running for Congress in the November election, as an expression of the sincere sentiments of this legislative body.

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