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Close the School of the Assassins!

By Tom Burke

Columbus, GA – “Shut Down the S.O.A.! Shut Down the S.O.A.!” rings in the ears of everyone the 12,000-plus protesters, students, faith activists, and also the sales clerks, waitresses, workers, U.S. and Latin American soldiers at the School of the Americas, Fort Benning, in Columbus, Georgia, Nov. 17-19. Far away in Colombia the leaders of trade unions, student organizations, peasant associations, and human rights groups also think quietly about and discuss, in out-of-the-way places, the need to shut down the S.O.A.

Activists in the U.S. will witness and do acts of civil disobedience at Fort Benning in solidarity with the poor and oppressed in Colombia. Meanwhile, the Colombian people prepare for the day when the Colombian Army and the paramilitary death squads that the S.O.A. trains will show up to torture and execute people in their village or barrio. This is happening on a weekly basis now that “Plan Colombia” has begun.

Clinton and Gore's Plan Colombia has unleashed a type of fascist terror in parts of Colombia. Trained and directed by Colombia's S.O.A.-educated military, with over 10,000 S.O.A. graduates, the paramilitary death squads are at the core of the CIA/Pentagon/White House Plan Colombia. The paramilitaries' job is to terrorize both rural and urban populations into submission. Anyone who acts to organize their community, school, work place, or farm becomes a “legitimate target” because they are a threat to “national security”.

Clinton stomped all over the human rights requirements in the $1,300,000,000 Plan Colombia aid package. He approved the funding, in spite of the fact that only one of the seven human rights requirements were met by the Colombian government and military. Clinton and Gore do not care about human rights.

Clinton and Gore both know the Colombian war is for preserving the economic domination of U.S. big business. Al Gore knows he has to defend his own and his billionaire/millionaire friends' ownership of oil, silver, minerals, bananas, coffee, technology, and waterways. While the number one business in the world is weapons, the number two business is illegal drugs, and the capitalist class that runs the U.S. has the commanding interest in both markets. The rich rulers of the U.S. will not allow either market out of their control. The S.O.A. is the rich man's University of State Terror.

The protesters at the School Of the Americas will create a larger and more militant demonstration this year. The movement against the S.O.A. is surging yet again because of the Plan Colombia and its murderous affects. There will be more students who are organizing to stop U.S. intervention in Colombia. Students are forming chapters of the Colombia Action Network to stop the war in Colombia. Jackson Potter, a college senior said, “I oppose the S.O.A. because it is where most of the human rights violators in Colombia are trained and then invited back to teach classes!”

More trade unionists will be at the S.O.A. this year because half of the trade unionists killed or disappeared in the world last year were Colombians; a union leader is killed every three days by Colombia's death squads. The religious activists continue to march forward in growing numbers seeking peace with justice. This demonstration should push the anti-S.O.A. protests to a new level. The protest will reach people across the U.S. and give hope to those fighting for justice in Colombia. We will shut down the S.O.A.!

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