Demonstrators today end a four-day protest in Washington calling for the closing of the School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, which has trained some of Latin America’s most ruthless and notorious human rights violators. Around 60 people were arrested yesterday in front of the Pentagon, and many protesters today head for Congress to lobby their representatives to support a legislative bill sponsored by Rep. John Moakley (D-Mass) to close down the school.
And last week, Representatives Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Constance Morella (R-MD) re-introduced the Human Rights Information Act, which would establish a secure and fast system to the release of information by the U.S. government on human rights atrocities committed in Honduras and Guatemala in the 1980’s.
Among the graduates of the School of the Americas is General Luis Alfonso Discua Elvir, the former Chief of Staff of the Honduran Armed Forces, who took courses at Fort Benning in military intelligence, irregular warfare and jungle operations. He briefly headed the notorious CIA-trained “Batallion 3-16”, which is responsible for scores of disappearances and extrajudicial executions during the 1980’s. General Discua now lives in Miami and is on the payroll at the United Nations as a member of the Honduran delegation to the UN.
- Dr. Ramon Custodio, Director of the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras. He is in New York attempting to have General Elvir removed from his post at the United Nations.
- Susan Peacock, Research Fellow at the National Security Archives specializing in Honduras. Together with the Honduran Human Rights Ombudsman Leo Valladares, she co-authored the report “In Search of Hidden Truths,” which documents human rights abuses in Honduras in the 1980’s, including the disappearance of over 184 people.
- U.S. Congress switchboard: 202.225.3121. Bill to close down School of the Americas: HR 732. Human Rights Information Act: HR 1625.