On November 16-18, Highlander staff member Roberto Tijerina provided interpretation for the 18th annual Vigil to Close the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia. Several thousand protestors attended the vigil, making it one of the largest anti-militarization gatherings in the United States this year.
The School of the Americas (SOA) was founded in 1946 and renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001. It trains military personnel from Latin American countries in subjects like counter-insurgency, military intelligence and counter-narcotics operations. SOA graduates have been linked to state-supported murder and torture, including the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero in 1980, the El Mozote massacre of over 900 men, women and children in 1981, and hundreds of other human rights abuses.
The Vigil was organized by SOA Watch, which seeks to close the School of the Americas through nonviolent protest, media outreach, and legislative work. For more information about SOA Watch and the Vigil, visit www.soaw.org.