By Mumia Abu-Jamal, M A.
#495 Column Written 2/10/2001
All Rights Reserved

..."A society that becomes accustomed to using
violence to solve its problems, both large and small,
is a society in which the roots of human relations are
-- Ignacio Martin-Baró, O.J.

It is virtually impossible for anyone to consider the
horrific violence that has taken place in Central and
Latin America, without accounting for the hideous
roots of that violence, that grow and thrive in

For decades, the bloody flood from murders, massacres,
rapes, torture and carnage, created a trail that could
be traced to the doorsteps of a U.S. military training
institution known as the School of the Americas, in
Fort Benning, Georgia.  Human rights activists have
held increasingly swelling demonstrations at the SOA,
and have dubbed it the "School of Assassins."

For years the Pentagon dismissed such criticism, and
defended the SOA as an elite international training
academy for "counter-insurgency," or, more obliquely,
for "teaching democracy."

The graduates of SOA, however, constituted a kind of
rogue's gallery of military despots and dictators,
like Bolivia's Gen. Hugo Banzer Suárez, who brutally
suppressed progressive church workers and striking tin
miners; like Guatemalan dictator Gen. Romeo Lucas
García (1978-82), whose rule saw over 5,000 political
killings and about 25,000 civilians murdered by the
Guatemalan army; and Gen. Juan Rafael Bustillo, of El
Salvador, former airforce chief, who, according to a
U.N. report of 1993, both planned and then covered up
the massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper,
and her daughter, for starters.

If you mention a massacre, the chances are great that
the men who either ordered or committed the deed were
SOA grads.  The El Mozote, El Junquillo, Las Hojas,
and San Sebastian Massacres were all the work of SOA-
trained "death squads."  When four U.S. churchwomen
were raped and murdered, when Archbishop Oscar Romero
was assassinated, when union members were killed, it
was SOA grads who led in the carnage.  U.S.-trained
and armed SOA people have been involved in so many
military coups that in Latin America the school is
known as the escuela de golpes-coup school.

Recently, the Defense Deptartment, stung by decades of
negative publicity, officially "closed" SOA, only to
immediately reopen it under the name Western
Hemisphere Institute for Security Co-operation
(WHISC).  Although not as catchy as SOA, WHISC
promises to play the same game, by another name.
Shortly after the Jesuit murders, U.S.-trained
Salvadoran troops surrounded the office of the
Catholic archdiocese, and shouted, "Ignacio Ellacuría
and Ignacio Martin-Baró have already fallen and we
will continue murdering communists! Ellacuría and
Martin-Baró were two Jesuit priests involved in
Christian base communities, where the poor learned
literacy, history and how to organize for human rights
in the midst of monstrous repression.

Martin-Baró was a brilliant liberation theologist and
psychologist, who, like the revolutionary Frantz
Fanon, chose the side of the oppressed rather than the
rich and powerful oppressors.

For this he was targeted by the U.S.-trained
terrorists of the SOA, and it is for men and women
like him, who seek an end to economic and social
oppression, that imperial training camps, like
SOA/WHISC exist.

Its name has changed, but the game remains the same.
(c)MAJ 2001

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Text (c) copyright 2001 by Mumia Abu-Jamal. All rights
reserved. Reprinted by permission of the author.

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Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of three books: 'Live
from Death Row', 'Death Blossoms', and 'All Things
Censored'. A new biography, 'On A Move: The Story of
Mumia Abu-Jamal', is available at