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Home Action Legislative Action Current Bills and Actions Organization Letter to Congress 2012
Organization Letter to Congress 2012 PDF Print E-mail

*This letter was delivered to members of Congress in December 2012 and January 2013


December 11, 2012

RE: Eliminate funding for WHINSEC

Dear Member of Congress,

We, the undersigned, represent a wide range of religious, labor, and civil organizations seeking to promote justice and human rights for all. We write to you because we are concerned about how our tax dollars are spent, and like you, we are aware of the upcoming defense sequestration that would mandate cuts to the budget of the Department of Defense. While Congress continues to consider alternatives to defense sequestration, as decisions are made about the most appropriate ways of allocating funds to government programs, we urge you to eliminate funding for the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC.)

More than $180 million U.S. tax dollars have been poured into WHINSEC over the past ten years, in addition to an unknown amount of funds from undisclosed portions of the Department of Defense budget. The United States' federal budget deficit could be cut by $18 million this coming year alone merely by closing this institution.

At a time when every dollar of savings serves to reduce the deficit or be redirected towards priorities that have a positive impact on our society, ending the funding of ineffective institutions that perpetuate a negative image of the United States and fail to demonstrate the fulfillment of their mission is a simple solution.

WHINSEC, formerly named the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), stands out as a program that could be cut without harming the national security of the United States, saving millions of tax dollars each year. For more than sixty years, the United States has trained Latin American military personnel in the tactics of warfare at U.S. taxpayer expense. Graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC have left a bloody trail of victims throughout Latin America, undermining the credibility of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and generating distrust among our Latin American neighbors. The legacy of those graduates makes a mockery of the sense of justice that citizens of the United States hold so near and dear.

The history of SOA/WHINSEC is a sad story of corruption, torture and killing. More than 600 crimes by graduates were documented before the Department of Defense stopped revealing the names of the school’s graduates in 2006. Graduates of the school have been implicated in massacres in numerous countries including El Salvador, where SOA-trained troops murdered over 800 women, children, and men in El Mozote. Also in El Salvador, SOA graduates raped and murdered four U.S. church women who worked with the poor, killed six Jesuit priests, and assassinated Archbishop Oscar Romero as he delivered Mass. Graduates’ names continue to surface frequently and are linked to crimes of torture and killing in Chile, Argentina, and Guatemala, as well as to drug trafficking cases in Colombia and Mexico. In Honduras, SOA/WHINSEC graduates led the coup against the democratically-elected government in 2009.

In 1999, in response to concerns about the school’s record, the U.S. House of Representatives voted by a bipartisan majority to close it. However, rather than address these concerns, the Department of Defense acted the following year to close the SOA and within weeks open the
WHINSEC, on the same site, and with the same instructors, students, and curriculum, in essence merely renaming the institution. Then-Senator and SOA-supporter, the late Paul Coverdell (R-GA) characterized the changes as “cosmetic” and said they would ensure that the SOA could continue its mission and operation.

There are alternatives to squandering millions of dollars of Defense Department funds for such a notorious institution – alternatives that would better accomplish the currently unfulfilled mission of the SOA/WHINSEC. In a region already struggling with a violent history, the destabilizing influence of reinforcing a methodology of warfare as a viable solution, which frequently results in military resources being used against innocent civilians, does not serve the interests of the United States or promote security of stability in the hemisphere. Funding education programs, building roads and schools, investing in health care and bolstering judicial systems are just a few of the truly productive uses of U.S. tax dollars in Latin America. All of these options are available through existing programs funded by the Foreign Operations appropriations bill.

We hope you will agree that a just budget is of grave importance, and we strongly encourage you to join with other elected representatives in eliminating funding for WHINSEC. Please know that we look forward to working with you towards our common long-term goals of supporting the common good of the Americas through education, health care improvements and infrastructure improvements.

Sincerely,

AFL-CIO
United Auto Workers
Amnesty International
AFT 2121
8th Day Center for Justice
All-African People's Revolutionary Party (GC)
Alliance for Global Justice
Appalachian State Amnesty International Club
Arlington United for Justice with Peace
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition
Bread & Puppet Theater
Broome County Peace Action
Call To Action, New Jersey
Call to Action, Illinois
Campaign for Labor Rights
Catholics United
Center for International Policy
Central America Information Network
Central New York SOA Abolitionists
Centro Amigos Para La Paz
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
Church of Reconciliation
Church of the Brethren
CISPES de Santa Cruz
Coalition for Justice
Coalition of Immokalee Workers
Colectivo Morazán
Colombia Support Network-K.C. Chapter
Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
CISPES - Boston
CISPES - Portland
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism
Conflict Transformation Collective
Corvallis Raging Grannies
CTAWW
Danbury Committee for World Peace
Davis Religious Community for Sanctuary
Disciples Justice Action Network
Dominican Sisters Justice Promoters (NY/NJ)
Dominican Sisters of Houston
East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN)
Ecumenical Peace Institute
Emma's Revolution
Episcopal Peace Fellowship of Alabama
Faithful United
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Franciscan Federation
Friends of Franz Jagerstatter
Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace
Global Justice Publishing
Grandmothers for Peace International
Grassroots International
Guatemala Human Rights Commission
Heart of America Call to Action
Human Rights Action Service
Idahoans for Peace
Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice
International Action Center
InterReligious Task Force on Central America
la vaca vive/ buacape
La Voz de los de Abajo
Latin America Support Group
Lawrence Fair Food
Leadership Team of the Dominican Sisters for Peace
Long Island SOA Watch
Lourdes Santos
Missionaries of the Precious Blood
Missionary Oblates
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
National Lawyers Guild
National Lawyers Guild International Committee
Nature's Grace
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Nevada Desert Experience
New Sanctuary Movement (Philadelphia Chapter)
NicaNet
Nicaragua Center for Community Action
Nicaragua Network
Nonviolence International
North Country Peace Group
Northampton Committee to Stop Wars
NYC SOA Watch
Occupy New Orleans
OFFICE OF THE AMERICAS
On A Roll
OSF Tiffin
Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores de Argentina
Pax Chisti New Orleans
Pax Christi Michigan
Pax Christi Virginia
Peace by Peace (at The College of Wooster)
Pioneer Valley PSR
Plenty.org
Presente
Priests of the Sacred Heart
Progressive Catholic Coalition
Progressive Democrats of America
Project for Universal Justice
PSC/CUNY
PSR - Pioneer Valley
RAIR
Red Wing Alliance for Peace 
Refuge Ministries
Revolutionary Workers Party
Rochester Committee on Latin America
RRIASOA
San Jose, Costa Rica, Quaker Worship Group
Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word
Sisters of Mercy
Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia
SOA Watch
SOA Watch / SouthCom Watch South Florida
SOA Watch Austin
SOA Watch NYC
SOA Watch San Francisco
SOAW West
SOAW West - Contra Costa
SOAW WI/Peace Action WI
SOAW-LA
Society of Helpers
Sonoma Valley Peace & Justice
Southern Anti-Racism Network
St Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America
St. Matthew Apostle Catholic Church
St. Pauls Episcopal Church, Philadelphia
TASP
Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition (TASSC)
TCAP - Tri-City Action for Peace
Tennessee Editorial Forum
The Nuclear Resister
Topanga Peace Alliance
MLK Coalition for Jobs, Justice and Peace
TopPun.com - Maximizing prophets
Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment
U.S.-El Salvador Sister Cities
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Ursuline Sisters of Mount Saint Joseph
US Province of the Society of Helpers
USEU- Union of Salvadoran University Students
Veterans For Peace
Veterans for Peace, #109
Veterans for Peace, Baltimore Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter 105
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 089
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 089
Veterans for Peace, Chapter 115, Red Wing, MN
Veterans For Peace, Chapter 21, New Jersey
Veteran for Peace, New York
VFP Chapter 010
VFP Chapter 014
VFP Chapter 018
VFP Chapter 026
VFP Chapter 027
VFP Chapter 027
VFP Chapter 039
VFP Chapter 054
VFP Chapter 055
VFP Chapter 055
VFP Chapter 057
VFP Chapter 057
VFP Chapter 058
VFP Chapter 061
VFP Chapter 062
VFP Chapter 064
VFP Chapter 067
VFP Chapter 074
VFP Chapter 074
VFP Chapter 080
VFP Chapter 089
VFP Chapter 091
VFP Chapter 092
VFP Chapter 102
VFP Chapter 109
VFP Chapter 112
VFP Chapter 115
VFP Chapter 118
VFP Chapter 122
VFP Chapter 127
VFP Chapter 129
VFP Chapter 139
VFP Chapter 141
VFP Chapter 148
VFP Chapter 154
VFP Chapter 156
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
VSN
Walkabout Clearwater Chorus
WAMM Women Against Military Madness
WarIsACrime.org
Washington Peace Center
Wellington Avenue United Church of Christ
Where are the Children
Will County SOAW
Williams Woodworks & Construction
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)
Witness for Peace
Witness for Peace Southeast
Witness for Peace- Upper Midwest
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Peninsula branch
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, San Diego branch

 

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