Western Hemisphere Institute For Security Cooperation


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Western Hemisphere Institute For Security Cooperation

  1. 1. Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation Formerly the United States Army School of the Americas (SOA)
  2. 2. <ul><li>November 20, 2008 found over 100 Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Associates, Colleagues and Students departing from all over the United States to converge at Ft. Benning, Georgia to participate in educational activities, attend seminars, and hear speakers relate the history of those trained at the United States Army Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly the School of the Americas (SOA). </li></ul>
  3. 3. Mid-Atlantic Community Participants at the SOA Vigil
  4. 4. The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
  5. 5. Chaplain Kieser escorts us on the tour of the SOA
  6. 6. Gathering and Introduction to the SOA
  7. 7. The Introduction Begins
  8. 8. Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation <ul><li>Vision </li></ul><ul><li>The premier defense institute preparing leaders </li></ul><ul><li>to solve hemispheric challenges </li></ul><ul><li>and to foster regional cooperation </li></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Mission </li></ul><ul><li>Provide professional education and training to military, law enforcement, and civilian personnel of the Western Hemisphere within the context of the democratic principles of the Organization of the American States (OAS) </li></ul><ul><li>Foster mutual knowledge, transparency, confidence and cooperation among participant nations </li></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Promote democratic values , respect for human rights , and knowledge and understanding of US customs and traditions. </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Entrance to the SOA
  12. 12. <ul><li>Our group asked many questions about recruitment, attendance at the school, countries who send trainees, courses offered, training manuals used, and ethics taught. Our host’s response was that torture was not taught but that interrogation techniques were. </li></ul><ul><li>The position of the United States Government is that only “honorable’ training is conducted here. </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>Members of our group respectfully challenged several of the things we heard. We questioned the torture taught in the training manuals, the deaths of the Jesuits, their housekeeper and daughter, the four church women, Archbishop Romero, without even asking about the thousands of others killed. The fact that the assassins were trained at the SOA seemed to have no bearing on these situations according to our host. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Jon Sobrino, SJ speaks to those attending the Pax Christi Gathering
  15. 15. <ul><li>Jon Sobrino, SJ, a widely respected liberation theologian, was born in Spain but has lived for over 50 years in El Salvador where he works among the poor. </li></ul><ul><li>Jon was a member of the local Jesuit Community in El Salvador whose six members, along with their housekeeper and her daughter, were murdered in 1989 by soldiers trained at the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) in Ft. Benning. </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Pax Christi, USA honored Fr. Sobrino with the Pax Christi USA Book Award for his latest book, No Salvation Outside the Poor: Prophetic-Utopian Essays . </li></ul>Kathleen Pritty, RSM (Northeast ) introduces Fr. Sobrino
  17. 17. <ul><li>` In conferring the award Pax Christi stated: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Rev. Sobrino is one of the greatest theologians of our time, articulating the central themes of Scripture---liberation, solidarity, compassion, and reconciliation-- </li></ul><ul><li>And prophetically challenging any status quo built on the oppression of the poor. It is a tremendous honor to have this true prophet with us this evening.” </li></ul>
  18. 18. Sheila Tynan, RSM and Mariette Schmidt, RSM
  19. 19. Dale Jarvis, RSM (Northeast), Jennifer Kyle, , Regina Ward, RSM (Mid-Atlantic)
  20. 20. Mid-Atlantic Participants: Diane Guerin, RSM, Catherine Darcy, RSM, Claire Maier, Associate
  21. 21. Mary Bilderback, RSM, Marie Cook, RSM (Mid-Atlantic) and Chole (Northeast)
  22. 22. <ul><li>Early on Sunday morning, November 23, 2008, thousands (an estimated 20,000) began gathering at the gates of Ft. Benning in preparation for the march. Incense was burned by a Native American and prayers were offered in remembrance of the thousands, and thousands murdered by death squads in Central and South America. </li></ul>
  23. 33. <ul><li>As the names of each one murdered was chanted, those in attendance raised their white crosses and proclaimed, “PRESENTE!” </li></ul><ul><li>So many were killed that often the name of a victim was unknown. Those chanting remembered them: </li></ul><ul><li>“ 6month old baby boy, Columbia or 5 year old girl the daughter of Pedro Ruiz, El Salvador.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Presente!” </li></ul>
  24. 57. <ul><li>After two hours of continuous chanting of names, crosses were placed in the fencing surrounding Ft. Benning. The crosses bore the names of those whose deaths were recorded; thousands more were never found. </li></ul>
  25. 62. <ul><li>`As we placed our crosses in the fence, the loud speaker at Ft. Benning echoed in the distance. The tape endlessly repeating, </li></ul><ul><li>“ This is a United States Military facility. If you cross the line and enter this facility, you will be arrested, charged with a felony, and subject to imprisonment.” </li></ul>
  26. 63. <ul><li>A short time into our solemn “funeral procession’, we received word that 6 people had “crossed” in an act of nonviolent resistance . </li></ul>
  27. 67. <ul><li>At the end of the solemn funeral procession as we departed from the gates of Ft. Benning, we were met along the road by puppeteers, mimes, and actors. Bodies were scattered across the road depicting the thousands of innocents murdered by the death squads . </li></ul>
  28. 68. <ul><li>A profound sadness settled over us all. </li></ul><ul><li>Yet, in a sense, we were comforted by the words of Archbishop Oscar Romero, “I must tell you, as a Christian, I do not believe in death without resurrection. If I am killed, I shall arise in the Salvadoran people.’ -- </li></ul>
  29. 77. <ul><li>As we prepared to return home our thoughts </li></ul><ul><li>turned to next year at this time </li></ul><ul><li>May we not need to be here again. May this School be closed down through prayer and legislative action. </li></ul><ul><li>May the Martyrs of Central and South America---those named and those unnamed always be remembered for their courage and their faith. </li></ul>
  30. 81. <ul><li>PRESENTE! </li></ul>