|SOA VOTE IN HOUSE|
In the closest vote yet, the House of Representatives voted Sept. 4 against an amendment to the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act bill (HR 2159), which would have cut funding to the School of the Americas. The amendment was offered by Reps. Esteban Torres (CA) and Thomas Foglietta (PA).
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The latest effort to cut SOA funds follows closely on the heels of a similar amendment offered by Rep. Torres in the Appropriations Committee meeting on Wednesday July 9. That amendment lost by a narrow margin (23-21) after a spirited debate.
Note that this vote does not affect House bill H.R. 611 or Senate bill S.980, which are separate bills to close the SOA.
Since its creation in 1946, the US Army School of the Americas, now located at Fort Benning, near Columbus, Georgia, has trained nearly 60,000 Latin American soldiers. SOA graduates have committed atrocity after atrocity -- including massacres of entire communities, assassinations, rapes, torture, and "disappearances."
In September 1996, under intense pressure, the Department of Defense finally released training manuals used at the SOA. The manuals advocated execution, false imprisonment, blackmail, physical abuse, and other forms of torture. They confirm that the SOA has been teaching Latin American soldiers how to intimidate and murder their own people -- especially religious workers, labor organizers, and others working for the rights of the poor and oppressed.
Schools for our children and other human investments in our communities go wanting while the "School of Assassins" draws nearly $20 million tax dollars a year for operations, maintenance, and US military and civilian personnel that help keep the SOA open.
Read the Floor discussion on the SOA
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