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SOA Border Convergence

What is the SOA?

The School of the Americas (SOA), renamed “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation” (WHINSEC) in 2001, is an institute that trains Latin American soldiers in military operations. SOA/WHINSEC graduates have participated in some of the worst human rights atrocities Latin America has ever experienced, including the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. The SOA has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned. Victims of SOA graduates include the tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and those forced to become refugees.

History of the SOA:
The school was originally established by the U.S. in the Panama Canal Zone in 1946. In 1984, the school moved to Fort Benning, Georgia due to terms in the Panama Canal Treaty. Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” Since its beginning, the institution has instructed more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics.

The Pentagon itself has acknowledged that in the past the School of the Americas utilized training manuals advocating coercive interrogation techniques and extrajudicial executions. After receiving their training at the institution, officers went on to commit countless human rights atrocities in countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia.

Activists long lobbied Congress to shut down the school, and in the waning days of the Clinton presidency they nearly achieved their goal. In July 1999, the House passed an amendment that cut funding for the military institution, but the Senate decided to pass its own version of the bill that included funding. Compromise legislation between the House and Senate deleted the funding cut, effectively restoring public support for the school. Shortly afterwards Congress renamed the school Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) and revised the institution’s structure and curriculum. Although the curriculum is said to differ from the past, the teachers remain the same. Most of these teachers have graduated from the ‘former’ school and have been known themselves for human rights abuses.

The Victims:
Over decades that the school has been teaching, the graduates of the school have been killing. The people of Latin America have been in fear for their lives and their children’s lives. To learn more about specific massacres and to see who has been victimized, please look at the following links:

Virtual Encuentro 

SOA Watch 2020

On November 21-22, Join the School of the Americas Watch for this important Rooted in Resistance event.  On Saturday, November 21st, there will be three virtual panels about the historic and current impacts the US has had on communities throughout the Americas and the powerful movements organizing to defend the autonomy and dignity of local communities.  

On Sunday, November 22nd, the SOAW will be hosting their annual vigil, including Presentes and litany with the support of the SOA Watch Musicians Collective, remember all those killed or disappeared in the Americas as a result of greed and violence.  

To register for this free event, please go to

There is an opportunity to donate to the cause as well.  

If you would like to discuss this event before or after, please contact Mary Niebler in the Center for Social Concern at  

Date: November 21-22, 2020

Cost: free

Location: Online

Sign up below for a pre and post discussion to the Virtual Encuentro. Any questions, please contact Mary Niebler 

For more information on this topic, please read this blog.

Virtual Encuentro Registration Form


Campus Ministry's Center for Social Concern

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