November 19,1999 - Newswire Release

Author: Michael O. Garvey

N.B. Further information about these events may be obtained from Rachel Soltis by telephone at (219) 634-0739 or through e-mail at or from Elizabeth Moriarty by phone at (219) 233-6138 or through e-mail at
p. More than 50 Notre Dame students will take part in a prayer vigil and demonstration against the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) at Fort Benning, Ga., Nov. 20-2l.p. The group, a delegation from the Notre Dame chapter of Pax Christi, will depart from Notre Dame today to join some 10,000 people representing labor unions, student groups, military veterans, and several religious communities protesting the military training school. The event marks the 10th anniversary of the murder of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her 15-year-old daughter on the campus of the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador. According to United Nations investigators, 17 of the 23 Salvadoran military officers guilty of the murders were SOA graduates.p. A product of the Cold War, SOA was established in 1946 in the Pentagon’s Southern Command Headquarters in Panama to train Latin American military officers. It was moved to Fort Benning, on the border between Alabama and Georgia, in 1984. Many of its 60,000 graduates have earned international notoriety for human rights abuses. Those best known in this country include former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, now serving a 40-year sentence for drug trafficking; Salvadoran death squad leader Roberto D’Aubisson, who is widely believed to have ordered the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero; Raoul Cedras, head of the Haitian coup that ousted elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide; and three of the five Salvadoran military officers U.N. investigators found guilty of the 1980 murders of four Americans—three nuns and a lay social worker. The Pentagon admitted in 1996 that the SOA had used manuals on the use of fear, torture, and truth serum, an admission that added congressional pressure to the growing movement against the school.p. The House of Representatives voted 230-197 to cut $2 million from SOA’s budget in July, but the money was later restored in conference committee.

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