This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Central American University (UCA) massacre. On the morning of November 16, 1989 the Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army, led by 19 School of the Americas (SOA) graduates, entered university grounds and brutally assassinated Elba Ramos, her 16-year old daughter, Celina Ramos, and six Jesuit priests–amongst them, Father Ignacio Ellacuría, an outspoken critic of El Salvador’s military dictatorship. The SOA Watch movement initially formed to denounce this massacre — one of the many atrocities that occurred in Central America as the United States funded civil wars and trained military at the SOA/WHINSEC.
We estimate that more than 83,000 Latin American state forces have been trained at the SOA/WHINSEC in counterinsurgency techniques (i.e. civilian-targeted warfare), sniper tactics, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence, interrogation tactics, and torture. Graduates of the SOA have consistently used these tactics to wage war against their own people — resulting in massacres, assassinations, torture, forced disappearances, the destabilizing of economies, land grabs by corporations that pillage the earth and value profit over people, and forced migration of millions throughout the hemisphere. Additionally, in September 2019, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) shared that Fort Benning, GA, home of SOA/WHINSEC will be the new location of an “urban warfare” training facility that is expected to include “hyper-realistic” simulations of homes, hotels, and commercial buildings in Chicago and Arizona. This means that ICE, in addition to US Border Patrol agents already being trained at the SOA/WHINSEC, will have access to similar training to use on communities within the United States. Border Patrol, which operates with impunity, is accused of serious human rights violations, including murder, rape, and destroying critical humanitarian aid.