|Letter to Candidate|
Dear (Name of Candidate here),
I am writing to urge you to support human rights in Latin America by supporting legislative efforts to close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), formerly the United States Army School of the Americas (SOA). It is my hope that should your bid for a seat in the House of Representatives be successful, you will represent my interests in Washington D.C. by supporting any legislative measure to cut funding for, or suspend operations at, this notorious school.
The graduates of the SOA/ WHINSEC have a long history of human rights violations. From the atrocities in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1980's, to recent violations in Colombia, SOA/WHINSEC graduates consistently appear in reports on human rights abuses in Latin America. SOA/WHINSEC training has resulted in civilian massacres, assassinations, disappearances, death threats and has led to both attempted and successful coups of democratically elected governments in the hemisphere. Recently, it was uncovered that WHINSEC has trained known human rights abusers, despite the congressionally mandated vetting of potential students.
Despite efforts to silence opposition to the Ft. Benning-based training school through a name change and cosmetic changes, it is still a military training school that provides dangerous skills and weapons training to countries with questionable human rights records. Many of the school?s graduates have been prosecuted and convicted for terrorism and international human rights violations. The proliferation of skills like counter-insurgency and psychological warfare in countries like Colombia, where impunity is offered to paramilitaries, only perpetuates the cycles of violence.
Keeping the school open under any name sends a powerful anti-human rights message. Establishing reasonable living conditions for the people of Latin America and strengthening civil institutions will do more to stabilize the region than training militaries. Closing the SOA/WHINSEC, whatever its name, would demonstrate that the United States has made a clean break from the tragic history of the school and its graduates.
In closing, I wish you luck in your campaign for the House seat in our congressional district and hope that you will support human rights in Latin America by supporting legislative efforts to close the SOA/ WHINSEC.
Please send me a letter with your position on this issue. Thank you for your time and commitment to this important matter.
(Your signature here)
733 Euclid Street NW
Washington, DC 20001