Philadelphia City Council Resolution
Urging the President and Congress of the United States to support the closure of the United States Army School of the Americas.
Whereas, the School of the Americas (SOA) located in Fort Benning, Georgia, was founded in 1946 with the purpose of teaching Latin American militaries the values of democratic civilian control overmilitary forces while promoting "friendly" assistance to our Latin American neighbors; and,
Whereas, over the course of more than five decades, national and international human rights groups have concluded that the SOA has served as a training grounds for dictators and military leaders who have been among the most avowed proponents of human rights abuses; and,
Whereas, in1996, the State Department declassified SOA training manuals that included the advocacy of execution; false imprisonment, and physical abuse as tactical weapons against civilian suspects and,
Whereas, there is documented evidence that many SOA graduates have been involved in murderous plots. This was demonstrated in the 1980 assassination case of Archbishop Oscar Romero in which two of the three Salvadoran officers responsible were graduates of the SOA. Further, nineteen of the twenty-six Salvadoran officers cited in the November 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, a housekeeper and her daughter, were also SOA graduates; and,
Whereas, Guatemalan Colonel Julio Roberto Alpirez, an SOA alumnus, was implicated in the killing of U.S. citizen Michael Devine and Efraim Bamaca; and,
Whereas, it is estimated that there are more than 600 SOA graduates who have been accused of human rights abuses including the massacres of entire villages; and,
Whereas, more than one hundred and thirty U.S. Catholic Bishops, forty Latin American Bishops, the California Veterans of Foreign War, the New York and New Jersey State Legislatures, the Executive Council ofthe AFL-CIO, the NAACP and more than a dozen major daily newspapers have expressed support for the closing of the Schoolof Americas; and,
Whereas, the Center for Defense Information, a reputable non-profit research organization led by retired high-ranking U. S. military officers, are calling for the closure of the School of the Americas; and,
Whereas, a majority of the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, voted in favor of substantially reducing SOA government funding; and
Whereas,Representative Moakley from Massachusetts introduced HR 732, a legislative measure calling for the closure of the School of the Americas; and,
Whereas, among the HR 732 co-sponsors are Philadelphia Representatives Robert Borski and Chaka Fattah; therefore
Resolved, that the City Council of Philadelphia opposes the continued operation of the SOA, an organization whose goals are no longer consistent with American foreign policy that promotes peace, and the protection of human rights.
Further Resolved,the City Council of Philadelphia urges President Clinton and the Congress of the United States to support the closure of the United States Army School of the Americas, and that a copy of this resolution be presented to the President and the Philadelphia Congressional delegation as an expression of the sincere sentiments of this legislative body.
City Councilman Angel L. Ortiz
Thursday, September 30,1999
Return to School of the Americas Watch West Main Page