Latin America Military Training Review Act

February 14, 2012

ACTION ALERT

Call your Representative and ask her/him to co-sponsor the Latin America Military Training Review Act (HR 3368).

BACKGROUND

In 1946, a combat training ground for Latin American soldiers was established, called the School of the Americas.  It trained soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques and psychological warfare. Nearly every military coup and counterinsurgency force in Latin America (including Chile and Peru, where Columbans serve), since the school began operations, has included former SOA students.  The name was changed in 2001 to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). However, despite the name change, the institution’s objectives remain essentially the same. Proponents of the school cite new courses on human rights and disaster relief training as evidence that the school has rid itself of its harsh past, but these courses are not required and are sparsely attended.  The school has not stopped teaching students the tactics that have been used for years to destabilize Latin America.

SOA/WHINSEC is fiscally irresponsible as well. It costs $18 million annually to keep the school operating. This money could be put to good use increasing the prosperity of Latin America, but instead the money is used to train individuals who spread discord in the region.

Now, Representative James McGovern (D-MA) has introduced the Latin America Military Training Review Act, (HR 3368). The legislation would suspend all torturous and abusive practices of the SOA/WHINSEC.

Catholic Social Teaching requires us to respect the dignity of life and the dignity of the most vulnerable in our society. As people of faith, we should oppose any institution that spreads violence and furthers the disrespect of human dignity.  As Americans, we cannot allow our country to use taxpayer money to support training that brings harm to its neighbors. We have the responsibility to speak out against the SOA/WHINSEC and take action today.

Click this link to learn if your Representative has already co-sponsored the bill. If so, please thank your member of Congress. If not, follow our action steps below.

ACTION REQUESTED

Let your voice be heard… CALL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE TODAY!

Making a call is easy and it only takes a few minutes! When the office receptionist answers the phone, follow the basic call script below. The receptionist’s job is to make sure messages from constituents are relayed to their boss. Make sure you give him/her your name and address so your call can be officially logged into their database.

TO FIND CONGRESSIONAL CONTACT INFORMATION, YOU CAN:

Call the Capitol switchboard at (202-224-3121) and ask for your Representative.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when making the call:

  • Feel free to share why this issue is important to you.
  • Say thank you! Receptionists often have many duties, but saying thanks is a great way to let them know that the delivery of your message is important to you!

SAMPLE SCRIPT

I am calling to urge Representative ____________ to co-sponsor HR 3368, the Latin America Military Training Review Act. The tortuous and abusive practices of WHINSEC formerly known as the School of the Americas must be stopped to protect the life and dignity of all people.

CONTACT INFORMATION

The Columban Center for Advocacy & Outreach

Michelle Melcher Knight

Telephone: 301.565.4547

mmknight@columban.org