By Alan Morales
A deplorable look into the government’s covert activities involving training assassins and their murderous missions were highlighted on campus last week. Hoping to raise awareness, ELAC students gathered in the auditorium to watch the film “School of Assassins” promoted by School of the Americas Watch and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán.
The SOA Watch, a pacifist organization opposing the School of the Americas and the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, is in constant campaign to “show what the U.S. government does not want people to see.” SOA Watch said these military facilities are being funded by at least $30 million tax dollars per year.
“The video was very enlightening, because it’s not something that you are going to see in the mainstream media, which is controlled by five corporations. They have a vested interest on free-markets, such as NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or LAFTA (Latin American Free Trade Association),” said Chicano Studies professor Tony Sandoval.
Three videos were presented touching on topics such as the massacre at the Salvadoran town El Mozote, where at least 900 hundred were killed by 10 soldiers sponsored and trained by the U.S. through SOA. In the Salvadoran Civil War, death squads operated without restrictions, often taking the lives of scores of people in a single night.
The numerous killings inspired San Salvador’s Archbishop Oscar Romero’s appeal for peace to the military leaders on March 23, 1980. Roberto D’Aubuisson a SOA graduate along with two of his SOA peers are known to have planned and executed Romero’s murder as shown on documents obtained by investigators from the U.S. embassy in San Salvador.
“Live like you are going to die tomorrow and
learn like you are going to live forever,”
The existence of the school was debated in 1993 when Massachusetts representative Joseph Kennedy II brought in an amendment to the state department budget. “People are being trained at the School of the Americas, so that anybody who resists will be considered insurgents. The insurgents are just people fighting workers and human rights and a way to be able to live,” said Sandoval.
“They will not distinguish from killing an 87-year-old man or a three-month-old baby. These issues also happened behind closed doors. Suffering can go for so long. It’s not a matter of what is going on over there, but the long consequences that this can have on people. We are educating people to do horrible things rather than educating our own,” said a student attendee. During the presentation of the video, at least two students responded to the open discussion held by MEChA by saying how they had been affected directly or indirectly as a result of the civil wars.
As part of MEChA’s compromise to raise social awareness, “School of Assassins” was shown to educate students. “Students should be more involved with their communities, as well as more politically active,” said the club’s chairperson Ana Exiga.
“Students should raise their consciousness and awareness. This is public money of tax payers and citizens, not only MEChA should know about it, but the whole population at large should know what tax money is being used for what reasons money is being used to hurt,” said Sandoval.
SOA Watch has formed protests in the past at Fort Benning, and is now promoting the closure of the facilities by encouraging people to take direct action. The film was shown on campus because “this is the week in which protests are taking place at Fort Benning, Georgia. Since we couldn’t go, we felt that it was important to bring this information to the students at ELAC,” said Exiga.
“There are so many issues that are going on. The School of the Americas, the budget cuts and I feel that it’s time for students to start organizing and spreading the word,” said Exiga.
“Students should join causes like MEChA, to learn more about where they come from or they will not have any clue to where they are going. We are like trees and need to have our roots well planted in the ground to avoid getting knocked over. Live like you are going to die tomorrow and learn like you are going to live forever,” said Sandoval.