Most Notorious SOA Graduates


Name: Naval Officer Emilio Massera (Deceased), Commander-in-chief of the Navy, 1973 – 1978 , Military Junta Leader 1976 – 1978
Country: Argentina
Dates/courses: Attended the School of the Americas in Panama*
Info: In May 1976, Massera, then head of the Navy, undertook a military coup against Perón, together with General Jorge Videla (see below), and the army commander, and Brigadier Ramón Agostin, the commander of the air force. Sought out by the US government for his opposition to communisum, he attended the SOA, then located in Panama, and installed an interrogation and torture centre in the Naval School of Mechanics, ESMA. Here, around 30,000 “enemies of the state” where held as prisoners, and tortured, killed, and routinely taken on “death flights” where they would be dropped from airplanes into the river plate. The newborn babies from women who gave birth while in captivity where sold and/or given away to military families and members of the police force.
Assisting the US with the development of Plan Cóndor, too coordinate the terrorism efforts of South American military dictatorships at the time, he also supported the US backed military dictatorships in Central America. In August 1978, he was ultimately forced to retire. In 1999 an international arrest warrant for him was issued but Argentina refused to extradite him to Spain.

*(This SOA graduate is not in our database, but was determined to have attended the SOA through other sources: The Independent, Nov. 10th, 2010)

Name: General Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo – Army commander, Military Junta Leader 1976 – 1981
Country: Argentina
Dates/courses: Trained at the School of the Americas facility in Panamá. *
Info: Videla took power together with the “Junta of 3” (with the leaders of the three branches of the armed forces) in 1976 in a coup d’etat that overthrew María Estela de Perón, former wife of  Perón. He continued in power until 1981. Like Massera, he participated in the “disappearances” of 30,000 persons, and coordinated acts of repression in neighboring Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay operating to implement the U.S. designed “Plan Condor.”  (Punto Final, Jan. 2011)
In 1985 he was discharged from the army, and received a life sentence for crimes against humanity (though he was later pardoned by Menem in 1990, and remained in liberty until 1998.) Videla, is as of 2008 now being held in military custody. (The Cutting Edge, Nov. 2008)
*(This SOA graduate is not in our database, but was determined to have attended the SOA through other sources: The Independent, Nov. 10th, 2010)

Name: General Roberto Viola
Country: Argentina
Dates/courses: 1971, Tactical Officer, Arg. Cadet Course.
Info: Military dictator, 1981: Achieved power via scheduled change of military rulers. (WP, 5/19/94) In December 1985, Viola was convicted of murder, kidnapping and torture during the “dirty war.”(The New York Times, 10/8/89)

Name: Luis Arce Gomez
Country: Argentina
Dates/courses: Communications course, Tactical officer and radio repair courses, 1958
Info: With Garcia Meza Tejada, Arce Gomez plotted and executed a bloody coup, which occurred on July 17, 1980. (Garcia Meza became “president” and Arce Gomez Minister of the Interior.) Prior to the coup, Arce Gomez was in charge of assembling a paramilitary force to overthrow the government. (One of his recruits was Klaus Barbie, the Nazi war criminal known as the Butcher of Lyon) (Americas Watch Report, Bolivia: The Trial of Responsibilities: The Garcia Meza Tejada Trial, 1993) Drug trafficking (convicted), 1989: Arce Gomez, who was declared a fugitive from justice in 1986, was captured by Bolivian police in 1989. With the approval of the Bolivian government, he was handed over to the United States and is currently serving a 30-year sentence in Miami for drug-trafficking. (Americas Watch Report, Bolivia: The Trial of Responsibilities: The Garcia Meza Tejada Trial, 1993)

Name: General Leopoldo Galtieri, military dictator, 1981-1982
Country: Argentina
Dates/courses: Engineer course, 1949
Info: One of many violent dictators of Argentina, who achieved power by means of a violent coup. Galtieri was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for leading Argentina into the disastrous war with Britain for control of the Falkland Islands, using the war as a way to manipulate public support for the military. He was pardoned, along with 280 other human rights abusers by President Carlos Menem in October 1989. (The New York Times, 10/12/89)


Name: Sub. Tte. Luis Arce Gomez
Country: Bolivia
Dates/courses: 1958, Communications Officer; 1958, Tactical Officer, Radio Repair
Info: Armed insurrection (convicted), 1980: With Garcia Meza Tejada, Arce Gomez plotted and executed a bloody coup, which occurred on July 17, 1980. (Garcia Meza became “president” and Arce Gomez minister of the Interior.) Prior to the coup, Arce Gomez was in charge of assembling a
paramilitary force to overthrow the government. (One of his recruits was Klaus Barbie.) (Americas Watch Report, Bolivia: The Trial of Responsibilities: The Garcia Meza Tejada Trial, 1993)             Drug trafficking (convicted), 1989: Arce Gomez, who was declared a fugitive from justice in 1986, was captured by Bolivian police in 1989. With the approval of the Bolivian government, he was handed over to the United States and is currently serving a 30-year sentence in Miami for drug-trafficking. (Americas Watch Report, Bolivia: The Trial of Responsibilities: The Garcia Meza Tejada Trial, 1993)

Name: General Hugo Banzer Suarez
Country: Bolivia
Dates/courses: Attended the SOA in 1956
Info: Military general and dictator of Bolivia after seizing power in a violent coup in 1971.  He closed universities and banned all political activity, participated in Operation Condor, and his rule was repressive with numerous labor leaders and members of the opposition exiled, jailed and killed. Several thousand Bolivians sought asylum in foreign countries, 3,000 political opponents were arrested, 200 were killed, and many more were tortured. In the basement of the Ministry of the Interior or “the horror chambers” around 2,000 political prisoners were held and tortured with many others disappeared.  For all this, Banzer was included in a photo gallery called the “Wall of Fame” at the SOA.

Name: Captain Filmann Urzagaste Rodriguez
Country: Bolivia
Dates/courses: Attended the SOA/WHINSEC in 2002 for a 49-week course
Info: Was one of those responsible in 1997 for the kidnapping and torture of Waldo Albarracin, then the director of the Popular Assembly for Human Rights in Bolivia and now the Human Rights Defender (Ombudsman). In 2006, SOA/ WHINSEC officials and the supporters tried to discredit this research linking the “new school WHINSEC” with admitting known human rights abusers by claiming Waldo had recanted his story and did not accuse Captain Rodriguez of the crime.  A letter from Waldo was submitted to the Congressional Record by Congressman Jim McGovern on the House floor to corroborate the research and expose the attempts to silence Waldo’s story.


Augusto Pinochet is not a graduate of the School of the Americas; yet his influence is held in high esteem. in 1991, visitors could view a note from Pinochet, and a ceremonial sword donated by him, on display in the office of the Commandant (Charles Call, MH, 8/9/93)

Graduates of the School of the Americas have comprised 1 out of every 7 members of the command staff of DINA, the notorious Chilean intelligence agency responsible for many of the worst human rights atrocities during the Pinochet years. See here for a complete list.

Name: Colonel Pablo Belmar
Country: Chile
Dates/courses: Guest Instructor in 1987, and took Basic Arms Orientation course in 1968
Info: Directly implicated in the 1976 torture and murder of United Nations official Carmelo Soria, whose neck was broken after he was arrested and tortured by Chilean DINA (Dirección de lnteligencia Nacional) personnel, Pinochet’s personal secret police force that operated from 1974-1977. Soria’s car and body were dumped in a Santiago canal in order to make his death appear accidental. (Americas Watch Report, Unfinished Business: Human Rights in Chile at the Start of the Frei Presidency, 1994) According to former SOA instructor Maj. Joseph Blair, as a guest instructor in 1987, Belmar was responsible for teaching the human rights component to the students.

Name: First Lieutenant Miguel Krassnoff
Country: Chile
Dates/courses: 1974, Urban Counterinsurgency Course Cited in Spanish Human Rights Case, 1998: Info: One of 30 officials cited in the case of Augusto Pinochet for crimes of genocide, terrorism, torture, and illegal arrest. A former member of the DINA, Krassnoff was known by political prisoners held and tortured at Villa Grimaldi, Tress Alamos and Cuatro Alamos. Implicated in the death by torture of former Spanish diplomat Carmelo Soria in 1976. Took part in the assault on the residence of former president Salvador Allende who was deposed by the Army in Sept. 1973. (Derechos Chile)

Name: Armando Fernandez Larios
Country: Chile
Dates/courses: Combat Arms Orientation, 1970
Info: Fernandez Larios was second in command to General Sergio Arellano Stark, whose tour of northern cities in 1973 resulted in dozens of summary executions. (Americas Watch Report, Chile in Transition, 1989) He was one of two DINA agents charged with assassinating General Carlos Prats Gonzalez, who was defense minister under the regime Augusto Pinochet overthrew. Prats and his wife were killed by a car bomb in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Americas Watch Report, Unfinished Business: Human Rights in Chile at the Start of the Frei Presidency, 1994) He was also indicted in 1979 by U.S. grand jury for involvement in the Letelier assassination in Washington, D.C. (Americas Watch Report, Chile in Transition, 1989)

Name: Gen. Odlanier Rafael Mena Salinas
Country: Chile
Dates/courses: Comand and General Staff Office Course, 1970
Info: Mena participated in the Caravan of Death after the 1973 coup. From 1977-80. he commanded the Center for National Intelligence (formerly known as DINA), Chile’s notorious secret police. In 2009, Mena was convicted for ordering the deaths of Oscar Codoceo, Manuel Donoso, and Julio Valenzuela during the Caravan of Death period. After serving the first part of his 6-year sentence in the luxury Cordillera military prison, public pressure forced Pres Piñera to close the facility and transfer the prisoners to another prison. Instead of serve out his sentence, Mena committed suicide while on weekend leave on 9/28/13. Pres. Piñera publicly eulogizes him and Pinochet’s daughter attends his funeral.


Name: Colonel Alvaro Quijano
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: Instructor of Peacekeeping Operations and Democratic Sustainment courses at the school from 2003 to 2004
Info: Col. Alvaro Quijano led a special counterinsurgency unit in western Colombia — a drug cartel stronghold — and he and other soldiers who attended the SOA were arrested in 2007.  They were arrested for allegedly providing security for the Norte del Valle cartel’s leader and most-wanted drug lord, Diego Montoya, is on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted list.

General Luis Bernardo Urbina Sanchez
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: Command and General Staff Course, 1985
Info: Paramilitary death squad activity, 1988-89 — Fellow SOA graduate Meneses Baez confessed to Urbina Sanchez’ involvement in paramilitary death squads, which he referred to as “self-defense’ groups; Disappearance, assassination, 1989 — Implicated in the assassination of Amparo Tordecilla.  Assassination, 1987 — Implicated in the assassination of Union Patriotica member Alvaro Garces Parra. Disappearance, torture, assassination, 1987 — Ordered the detention, torture and assassination of Mario Alexander Granados Plazas. Disappearance, 1986 — Intellectual author of the detention/disappearance of William Camacho Barajas and Orlando Garcia Gonzalez. Torture, disappearance, 1977 — Implicated in the torture of Omaira Montoya Henao and Mauricio Trujillo, and the subsequent disappearance of Omaira Montoya. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN COLOMBIA, 1992)

Name: General Luis Alfonso Zapata Uribe
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: Counter-insurgency, Small-Unit Infantry Tactics C-7, 1976
Info: San Jose Killings: Has commanded the 17th Brigade of the Colombian Army since May 2005., whom were involved in the November 17th, 2005, killing of Arlen Salas David, a leader of the Peace Community of San Jose de Apartado, Antioquia.

The soldiers accused, along with members of the self-defense forces [paramilitaries], of the slaughter are Colonel Orlando Espinosa Beltrán, Major José Fernando Castaño López, Luitenant Alejandro Jaramillo Giraldo, Captian Sabarain Cruz Reina, Sargent Ángel María Padilla Petro, Sargent Jorge Humberto Milanés Vega, Sargent Henry Agudelo Guasmayan Ortega, Sargent Édgar Garciá Estupiñón, Sargent Darío Brango Agamez, and Captain Ricardo Bastidas Candia. Criminal proceedings against the soldiers were brought on February 26, 2009 for murder of protected persons, acts of extreme cruelty, and conspiracy as part of their participation in the February 21, 2005 massacre in which eight people, including four children, were murdered..(El Tiempo, Jan. 2010)

Name: General Harold Bedoya Pizarro
Dates/courses: 1978-79, SOA Guest Instructor;1965, Military Intelligence Course
Info: Paramilitary death squad activity, 1965 – present: “Throughout Bedoya’s entire career, he has been Implicated with the sponsorship and organization of a network of paramilitary organizations. Bedoya, who has never undergone any investigation for his involvement in the massacres of non-combatants or other dirty-war crimes, is an articulate proponent of the continued “legal” involvement of local populations in counterinsurgency operations.” (Ana Carrigan, NACLA Report on the Americas, March/April 1995)

Paramilitary death squad activity (“AAA”), 1978: Believed to be the
founder and chief of the paramilitary death squad known as “AAA” (American Anti-communist Alliance). (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN COLOMBIA,

Other prominent members of the AAA Paramilitary group graduated from the SOA include: Tte. Cnel. Mario Montoya Uribe (1993, SOA Guest Instructor; 1983, Tactical Officer, Cadet Arms) Maj Jorge Flores Suarez (1972, Military Intelligence Officer Course)

Name: Major Alejandro de Jesus Alvarez Henao
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: 1984, Joint Operations
Info: Paramilitary death squad activity (MAS), 1982: Principal member of
“Muerte a Secuestradores” (MAS), a paramilitary death squad responsible
for numerous assassinations and disappearances. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN

Other prominent members of MAS Paramilitary group graduated from the SOA include: LTC Virgilio Anzola Montero (1967, Cadet Orientation Course), GEN Carlos Julio Gil Colorado (1969, 0-6), GEN Farouk Yanine Diaz (1990, Guest speaker; 1991, Guest speaker; 1969, Maintenance Orientation Course)

Name: First Lieutenant Luis Enrique Andrade Ortiz
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: 1983, Cadet Arms Orientation Course
Info: Massacre of a judicial commission, 1989: Believed to be the intellectual author of the paramilitary massacre of 12 officials, including 2 judges, who were investigating military/paramilitary cooperation.
Assassination, 1988: Ordered the assassination of farmer Jorge Ramirez, carried out by a military/paramilitary patrol under his command.
Assassination, 1988: Ordered the assassination of Jose Sanchez, also carried out by military/paramilitary soldiers under his command. Then he had the corpse put on display for the benefit of the public.
Ramirez family massacre, 1986: Andrade Ortiz was one of officers in charge of military/paramilitary soldiers who broke into the home of the Ramirez family, killed two members outright; and captured 4 others whose bodies were found later with signs of torture. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN

Name: General Hernan Jose Guzman Rodriguez
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: 1993, SOA “Hall of Fame”; 1969, Maintenance Orientation
Info: Former Commander, Colombian Army, dismissed: With five other top military officers, Guzman Rodriguez was dismissed on November 22, 1994 by President Ernesto Samper. Samper overhauled the military leadership in the hopes of decreasing corruption and drug trafficking in the armed
forces, and Improving the human rights record of the military. (Reuters, 11/22/94)
Paramilitary activity (MAS), 1987-90: Guzman Rodriguez protected and
aided paramilitary death squad MAS between 1987 and 1990, when it was
responsible for the deaths of at least 149 people. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO
Illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial execution, 1986: Guzman Rodriguez commanded the soldiers who detained, tortured, gang raped and executed Yolanda Acevedo Carvajal – then concocted the story that she committed suicide by shooting herself in the nape of her neck. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN COLOMBIA, 1992)

Name: Colonel Roberto Hernandez Hernandez
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: 1970, Automotive Maintenance Officer;
1976, Tactical Officer, Small Unit Infantry Tactics
Info: Paramilitary activity, 1980-90: Consistently implicated in paramilitary
activities in association with members of the extreme right.
Torture, 1990: Supervised the illegal detention and torture of 42
people, most of whom were union members and human rights workers.
Trujillo massacre, 1990: Implicated in the gruesome killings in
Trujillo, in which many victims were dismembered with chain saws.

Name: Major Carlos Enrique Martinez Orozco
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: 1975, Guerrilla Warfare Operations
Info: Massacre, 1988: Implicated in the massacre of 18 miners in Antioquia, whose body parts washed in pieces down the river Nare. Mart?nez Orozco was subsequently promoted.
Paramilitary activity, 1990: Protected a chief paramilitarist responsible for high-profile assassinations; and in June 1992 was charged in a military court for his connection to paramilitaries.
(Amnesty International Report: Colombia: Political Violence: Myth and Reality; TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN COLOMBIA, 1992)

Name: General Gustavo Pardo Ariza
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: 1971, Irregular Warfare Operations
Info: Escape of Pablo Escobar, 1992: Pardo was one of three Army officers (two of them SOA graduates) forced into retirement upon the “escape” of Pablo Escobar from prison. Pardo was head of the Fourth Brigade in Medellin; soldiers under his command were supposed to be guarding the prison from which Escobar literally walked away. (Americas Watch Report: State of War Politcal Violence and Counterinsurgency in Colombia, 1993)

Name: General Rafael Samudio Molina
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: 1988, SOA “Hall of Fame”; 1970, SOA Guest Instructor
Info: Massacre at the Palace of Justice, November 7, 1985: Oversaw the Army massacre at the Palace of Justice following an attempt by the M-19 to take it over. The Army under his command set the building ablaze, resulting in the needless and horrifying deaths of many of the hostages. Other hostages were killed in Army crossfire, or, as some suspect, direct assassination. Even the hostages who lived through the horrifying ordeal were not safe; some were killed before exiting the palace and others were arrested and disappeared immediately upon leaving the building. Taped conversations between Samudio Molina and his commanders in the building establish that at no time did Samudio Molina act as an agent of the civilian government, but rather used the situation to prove the brutality of the Colombian military and to eliminate individuals, including Supreme Court justices, who were not staunch enough allies of the Colombian Army. (POJ) Samudio Molina has also been implicated in paramilitary activities since 1978. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN COLOMBIA, 1992)

Name: General Farouk Yanine Diaz
Country: Colombia
1990, Guest speaker; 1991, Guest speaker; 1969,
Maintenance Orientation Course
Info: Urabá massacre, 1988: Implicated in the massacre of 20 banana workers in Antioqua in March 1988.
Assassination, 1987: Implicated in the assassination of the mayor of Sabana de Torres, Alvaro Garces Parra.
Paramilitary activities (MAS), 1984-85: Implicated in paramilitary activities associated with the death squad MAS. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN COLOMBIA, 1992)
Massacre of 19 businessmen, 1987: After an investigation that linked Yanine to this 1987 massacre, the public prosecutor’s office issued an arrest warrant for Yanine, who was at that time giving classes at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington. Upon return to Colombia, Yanine was detained, but, in a decision criticized by the U.S. State Department, among others, his case was quickly passed to a military court where he was absolved. (Colombia: Derechos humanos y derechos
humanitarios, Comision Colombiana de Juristas, 1997) According to the 1998 State Department Report on Human Rights in Colombia, “Despite the government’s attempts to bring him to justice in the civilian court system, the military prevailed, continuing the tradition of impunity for all but the lowest-ranking members of the security forces.” According to former SOA instructor Maj. Joseph Blair, Yanine visited the SOA as a guest speaker from 1986 to 1989 on an annual basis and was a close personal friend of US Army Col. Miguel Garcia, who was the commandant of the SOA at the time.

Cadete Ritoalejo del Rio Rojas
Country: Colombia
Dates/courses: 1967, Cadet Orientation Course
Info: Paramilitary activity, 1985: Implicated in paramilitary activities, including the theft of an Army weapons shipment. (TERRORISMO DE ESTADO EN COLOMBIA, 1992) In 1999, President Pastrana sent Del Rio into retirement without explanation, at a time when he was under investigation by the federal Prosecutor’s Office for alleged human rights abuses and could face criminal charges. (Miami Herald 4/10/99)

Costa Rica

Name: Minor Masis
Country: Costa Rica
Dates/courses: 1991,Curso Basico para Oficiales de Infanteria (0-20)
Info: Rape and Murder, 1992: This leader of Costa Rica’s former “Comando
Cobra” anti-drug squad is serving a 42-year jail term for rape and
murder committed during a 1992 drug raid in the South Atlantic Talamanca
Mountains. (The Tico Times, 1998)


Name: General Guillermo Rodriguez
Country: Ecuador
Dates/courses: Three-time graduate of the SOA, taking courses on topics like Irregular Warfare (1967 Maintenance Management, 1961 C &R; & Bn Staff, 26 Aug. 1966 Irregular Warfare Orientation.)
Info: Military dictator of Ecuador from February 6, 1972 to January 11, 1976 who took power by leading a coup to exile the previous president.  Initiated an extensive seven year period of military rule over Ecuador.

El Salvador

Name: Colonel Francisco del Cid Diaz
Country: El Salvador
Dates/courses: 2003, Cadet Troop Leader Training; 1991, Combat Arms Officer Adv. Course; 1988, Infantry Officer Basic Course .                                                                                              Info: In 1983, Colonel Diaz (then a 2nd Lieutenant) commanded a unit that forcibly removed 16 residents from the Los Hojas cooperative, bound and beat them, shot all 16 at point-blank range and threw their bodies in the Cuyuapa River. This very well known, very high profile and notorious massacre was cited in the annual State Department Human Rights Country Reports throughout the 1980s, and investigated by, and included in the final report of, the El Salvador Truth Commission. The OAS Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stated that there was substantial evidence that Col. del Cid Diaz gave orders to execute, and recommended that the Salvadoran government bring them to justice. Instead of facing justice, Col. del Cid Diaz was at the SOA/ WHINSEC in 2003.

Name: Captain Roberto D’Aubuisson
Country: El Salvador
Dates/courses: 1972, Communications Officer Course (Chief Off Communication 0 – 20)
Info: Romero assassination, 1980: Planned and ordered the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero, beloved champion of the poor in El Salvador. Death Squad Organizer, 1978-1992: Organized El Salvador’s death squad network. (United Nations Truth Commission Report on El Salvador, 1993)

Name: General Jose Guillermo Garcia
Country: El Salvador
Dates/courses: 1962 – CIO, Counterinsurgency Course
Info: El Mozote massacre, 1981: Then-defense minister Garcia, and the Armed Forces High Command, refused to investigate reports that hundreds of unarmed civilians were brutally murdered by the U.S.-trained Atlacatl battalion** in the Morazon province in December of 1981. The reports turned out to be true.
Murder of U.S. Churchwomen, 1980: Garcia also failed to launch a serious investigation of the murder of 4 U.S. church women by members of the Salvadoran National Guard in December 1980. (United Nations Truth Commission Report on El Salvador, 1993) Later granted residency in the U.S.

**These events occurred in the course of an anti-guerrilla action known as “Operación Rescate” in which, in addition to the Atlacatl Battalion, units from the Third Infantry Brigade and the San Francisco Gotera Commando Training Centre took part. In the course of “Operación Rescate”, massacres of civilians also occurred in the following places: 11 December, more than 20 people in La Joya canton; 12 December, some 30 people in the village of La Ranchería; the same day, by units of the Atlacatl Battalion, the inhabitants of the village of Los Toriles; and 13 December, the inhabitants of the village of Jocote Amarillo and Cerro Pando canton. More than 500 identified victims perished at El Mozote and in the other villages. Many other victims have not been identified. (“From Madness to Hope: the 12-year war in El Salvador” Truth Commission Report for El Salvador, 1993)

Lieutenant Colonel Domingo Monterrosa Barrios (deceased)
Country: El Salvador
Dates/courses: 1966, Parachute Rigger Course
El Mozote massacre, 1981: Commander of the brutal Atlacatl battalion, which massacred hundreds of unarmed men, women and children in and around El Mozote in December 1991. (United Nations Truth Commission Report on El Salvador, 1993)

Other officers in command of the Atlacatl Battalionl include SOA graduates: Commanding Officer: Major (now Colonel) Natividad de Jesús Cáceres Cabrera (1970, General Supply Officer Course); Chief of Operations: (deceased) Major José Armando Azmitia Melara (1967, Cadet Orientation Course); Company Commanders: (now Colonel) Juan Ernesto Méndez Rodríguez (1970, Cadet Course); (deceased) Roberto Alfonso Mendoza Portillo (1980, Supply/Human Rights Course); (now Lieutenant Colonel) José Antonio Rodríguez Molina (1972, Combat Arms/Support Services), (now Lieutenant Colonel) Captain Walter Oswaldo Salazar (1974 Basis in Engineering for Officers) and (currently a fugitive from justice) José Alfredo Jiménez (1971, Cadet Course). (“From Madness to Hope: the 12-year war in El Salvador” Truth Commission Report for El Salvador, 1993)

Name: General Rafael Humberto Larios
Country: El Salvador
Dates/courses: Command and General Staff course at the SOA in 1977.
Info: Jesuits massacre (1989): Held the rank of General and was Minister of Defense at the time. Was present at meetings where the orders were given and discussed.

Name: General Juan Rafael Bustillo
Country: El Salvador
Dates/courses: CIO Orientation course at the SOA in August of 1965
Info: Jesuits massacre (1989): Held the rank of general and was commander of the Salvadoran Air Force at the time of the massacre. Participated in the meetings where orders were given for the massacre.

Name: General Juan Orlando Zeped
Country: El Salvador
Dates/courses: 1975, Urban Counterinsurgency Ops.; 1969, Unnamed Course
Info: Jesuit massacre, 1989: Planned the assassination of 6 Jesuit priests and covered-up the massacre, which also took the lives of the priests’ housekeeper and her teen-age daughter. (United Nations Truth Commission Report on El Salvador, 1993)
Other war crimes, 1980’s: The Non-Governmental Human Rights Commission in El Salvador also cites Zepeda for involvement in 210 summary executions, 64 tortures, and 110 illegal detentions. (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador)
Member of the “La Tandona” and held the rank of colonel and served as the Vice Minister of Defense at the time of the massacre. Prior to the massacre he publicly accused the UCA of being the center of operations for the FMLN and was present for the meetings where orders were given for the massacre. He was later promoted to the rank of general.

Name: Colonel Inocente Orlando Montano
Country: El Salvador
Dates/courses: 1970, Engineer Officer Course
Info: Jesuit massacre, 1989: Was in on the planning of the massacre, and cooperated in the cover-up. (United Nations Truth Commission Report on El Salvador, 1993)
Held the rank of colonel and was a Vice Minister in the Salvadoran government at the time of the massacre. Prior to the massacre he publicly accused the Jesuits of being aligned with subversive movements and was present for the meetings where orders were given for the massacre.
Other SOA graduates who were compicit to the 1989 Jesuit massacre are:
•  Colonel Francisco Elena Fuentes – held the rank of colonel and was the commander of the First Infantry Brigade in San Salvador at the time of the massacre. He was present for the meetings where orders were given for the massacre, and one day after the killings, troops from his First Infantry Brigade attempted to intimidate members of San Salvador’s Archdiocese by transmitting messages over loudspeakers saying, “We are still killing communists, Ellacuría and Martín-Baró have fallen, surrender, this is the First Brigade.” Fuentes took the Irregular warfare course at the SOA in 1969, a second course in 1973, and was invited to the SOA to be an instructor in 1985.
•  Lieutenant Colonel Carlos Camilo Hernández Barahona – held the rank of major and was the interim Assistant Dean at the Military College in El Salvador at the time of the massacre and later promoted to lieutenant colonel. On the night of November 15, 1989, he was present when Benavides informed the officers at the Military College of the order he had been given to murder Ellacuría and remained silent when asked by Benavides if anyone objected to the order. Later, Benavides ordered Hernández Barahona to organize and plan the operation.

Hernández Barahona organized and attended the meeting where the orders were given for the massacre. He also handed over an AK-47 rifle that had been captured from the FMLN and told them to use it in the massacre. The use of the FMLN AK-47 would serve to point blame away from the Armed Forces and toward the FMLN. Additionally, Hernández Barahona ordered them to leave behind at the murder site propaganda mentioning the FMLN.

Hernández Barahona was also involved in the cover up, by taking part in the burning of a small suitcase containing photographs, documents and money which the soldiers had stolen from the Jesuits. In conjunction with Benavides he ordered that all Military College arrival and departure logs for that year and the previous year be burned. This was done to prevent investigators from learning who had attended the meetings held at the Military College at the time the murders of the Jesuits were being planned and ordered. He attended the SOA twice in both 1972 and 1975.
•  Second Lieutenant Gonzalo Guevara Cerritos – held the rank of Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the Atlacatl Battalion at the time of the massacre. He was not the commander of the unit, but was an officer with command authority over the troops that carried out the massacre. He was sentenced to three years for instigation and conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism for his role in the Jesuits massacre and was later released and continued active service in the armed forces. Cerritos came to the U.S. in 2005 and was employed in Los Angeles. He was deported back to El Salvador in April 2007. He attended the SOA in 1988.
•  Sergeant Antonio Ramiro Avalos Vargas – was a sergeant in the Salvadoran Army and was assigned to the Atlacatl Battalion at the time of the massacre. In the 1991-1992 trial he admitted to killing Fathers López and Moreno. He was not convicted. He attended the SOA in 1988.

Biographies courtesy of the Center for Justice and Accountability’s website. You can access the full biographies here.


Name: General Efrain Rios Montt
Country: Guatemala
Dates/courses: Attended the SOA in 1950
Info: Former dictator of Guatemala who seized power in a coup in 1982.  Two Truth Commissions documented widespread human rights abuses by his regime including rape, torture, executions and acts of genocide against the populace, including indigenous population through a scorched earth campaign.  Conservative estimates cite 200,000 Guatemalans being killed.  His regime was supported by U.S. aid and President Ronald Reagan declared during a meeting with Ríos Montt on December 4, 1982: “President Ríos Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. … I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.”

Name: Colonel Byron Disrael Lima Estrada
Country: Guatemala
Dates/courses: Attended the SOA in the 1960’s*
Info: Arrested in January 2000 for involvement in the death of Guatemalan
Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi in 1998 as part of continuing concerns about SOA graduates undermining peace and justice throughout Latin America.  Bishop Gerardi was murdered in April 1998 just two days after he released a report accusing the Guatemalan military for most of the human rights abuses committed during the country’s civil conflict.

*(Does not appear in the SOA Grads Database, but appears in other sources)

Name: Pedro Pimentel Ríos
Country: Guatemala
Info: Following on the heels of an earlier conviction in the case of the 1982 Dos Erres massacre, SOA-trained Pedro Pimentel Ríos was sentenced to 6,060 years for his role in the killings of 201 people. After his participation in the massacre, Ríos left to become an instructor at the School of the Americas.*

*(Does not appear in the SOA Grads Database, but appears in other sources)

Name: Otto Perez Molina
Country: Guatemala
Info: 1985, Command and General Staff College (Commandant’s List) Assassination, 1994: Chief of the G-2 (military intelligence) and on the payroll of the CIA, Perez Molina was in charge in 1994, when the General Staff was implicated in the assassination of Judge Edgar Ramiro Elias Ogaldez. (Allan Nairn, The Nation, 4/17/95)


Name: Colonel Gambetta Hyppolite
Country: Haiti
Dates/courses: 1959, Policia Militar para Alistados
Info: Ordered his soldiers to fire against the Provincial Electoral Bureau, 1987: During the 1987 elections, Col. Gambetta Hippolite ordered his soldiers to fire on the Provincial Electoral Bureau in Gonaives as part of a larger army campaign to “stop the democratic elections”. (Americas Watch Report: Human Rights in Haiti, 1987)

Name: Colonel Franck Romain
Country: Haiti
Dates/courses: 1956, MP Officer
Info: St. Jean Bosco Massacre: On Sept. 11, 1988, armed men broke into the St. Jean Bosco church while Fr. Jean Bertrand Aristide was saying mass and killed 12 parishioners and wounded at least 77. The doused the church in gasoline and set it on fire. Witnesses identified at least two of the gang members as deputies of Col. Romain, who was then Mayor of Port-au- Prince. Col. Romain later publicly justified the massacre as legitimate. (Americas Watch Report: Human Rights in Haiti, 1987)


Name: General Romeo Orlando Vásquez Velásquez
Country: Honduras
Dates/courses: Took a combat arms course at SOA in 1976 and another course on small military units in 1984
Info: Four out of the six Honduran soldiers who were accused by Honduran officials as responsible for flying President Zelaya out of the country during the June 2009 coup were SOA trained, including General Velasquez, head of the of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Honduran military, who was aided by another SOA graduate, Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, the head of the Honduran Air Force (who took a 1996 course on joint operations).

Name: Policarpo Paz García, head of the 1980-1982 dictatorial regime
Country: Honduras
Dates/courses: Communications course, 1956 and General officer course, 1959
Info: “Paz Garcia, whom the U.S. Army installed into SOA’s ‘Hall of Fame’ ten years later. Paz Garcia’s tenure was also marked by brutal military repression and the formation of Battalion 3-16, a military death squad that worked closely with the CIA in targeting suspected leftists in the ’80s. Paz Garcia’s military commander was another SOA grad, Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, who ran 3-16 and ordered the execution of Fr. James Carney, a U.S. missionary to Honduras.”  (National Catholic Reporter, June 2009)


Mexican graduates of the School of the Americas have played a key role in the “low-intensity conflict” in the States of Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca.  (Nuevo Amanecer Press and Covert Action Quarterly).

At least 13 top military officials involved in the conflict are SOA grads, including:

Col. Harold B. Rambling Torres (1972 – irrefular Warfare Ops. O-6), Brig. Gen. Carmelo Teheran Montero (1972, Military Intelligence 0-11) Col. Jose Luis Ruvalcaba  (1975 Jungle Operations OE -8), Brig. Gen. Carlos Demetrio Gaytan Ochoa (1981, Administracion/Recursos 0-17), Col. German Antonio Bautista (1994, Curso de Comando y Estado mayor para Oficiales 0-3), Capitan 1 Gaston Menchaca Arias (1971, Operaciones de Guerra Irregular 0-6),  Mayor Miguel Leyva Garcia (1971), Mayor Enrique Alonso Garrido (Nov. 1981, Administracion/Recursos 0-17), TCNEL Manuel Garcia Ruiz (1980, Operaciones Conjuntas – America Latina 0-16), TCNEL Adrian Maldonado Ramirez (1978, Operaciones Conjuntas 0 – 16, 1979, Operaciones Conjuntas – America Latina 0 – 16), Coronel Edmundo Elpidio Leyva Galindo  (1978, Operaciones Conjuntas 0 -16, 1979, Operaciones Conjuntas – America Latina 0 -16), Renato Garcia Gonzalez, TCNEL Jose Ruben Rivas Pena (see below)

More documentation here:

Zetas: An October 22, 2003 article in The Brownsville Herald (TX) reported that the notorious Gulf Drug Cartel has hired 31 ex-Mexican soldiers to be part of its hired assassin force, The Zetas. According to the Mexican secretary of defense, at least 1/3 of these deserters were trained at the SOA as part of the elite Special Air Mobile Force Group. Their highly specialized and dangerous weapons, training, and intelligence capabilities are now being used to increase the availability of the drugs and terrorize the region. The Mexican attorney general’s office implicates them in dozens of shootouts, kidnappings and executions of police officers.

Name: Mayor Miguel Leyva Garcia
Country: Mexico
Dates/courses: 15 Mar. – 17 Dec. 1971
Info: Leyva Garcia was complicit (together with Gastón Menchaca Arias, having attended an Irregular Warfare Operations Course at the SOA) in the actions against the EZLN revolt in Chiapas in January, 1994. Leyva Garcia also became “famous” in human rights violation reports in the state of Guerrero as a military commander in the action against the Ejercito Popular Revolucionario.

Name: (retired) Lieutenant Coronel Julian Leyzaola Pérez
Country: Mexico
Dates/courses: 1997, Administration of resources
Info: The current Ciudad Juarez chief of police, is a graduate of the SOA, and has been accused by the UNHCR of arbitrary detention, excessive violence and torture.

Name: Jose Ruben Rivas Pena
Country: Mexico
Dates/courses: 1980, Comando y Estado Mayor
Info: Called for the formation of paramilitary groups: Rivas Pena wrote the army’s “Campaign Plan Chiapas 94” which calls for the “training and support for self-defense forces or other paramilitary organizations.” (NACLA Report on the Americas). Rivas Pena is also credited with saying: “The Vatican is the indirect cause of the conflict in Chiapas, which is directly sponsored by a contaminated current of Liberation Theology.” (Nuevo Amanecer Press)

Name: General Juan Lopez Ortiz
Country: Mexico
Dates/courses: 1959, Infantry Arms; 1959, Infantry Tactics
Info: Ocosingo Massacre, 1994: Troops under his command massacred five persons
in the Ocosingo market; the prisoners’ hands were tied behind their
backs before the soldiers shot them in the back of the head (Covert
Action Quarterly)


Name: General Manuel Noriega
Country: Panama
Dates/courses: Five time SOA graduate, including courses in Jungle Operations and Counter-Intelligence in 1965 and 1967 (1965 – Jungle Operations, 1967 Infantry Officer 0 -7, 1967 Jungle Operations OE – 8, 1967, Counter Intelligence Officer Course MI-Phase II, 1967 Combat Intell Off O-11A)
Info: Military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989.  He was on the CIA payroll while heavily involved in the drug trade.  He was tried in court for 8 separate counts of drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering in the early 1990’s, convicted of murder charges, an extradited to France in April 2010 and is now serving another prison sentence. The 1988 Senate Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics and International Operations concluded that “The saga of Panama’s General Manuel Antonio Noriega represents one of the most serious foreign policy failures for the United States.”


Name: General Roberto Knofelmacher
Country: Paraguay
Dates/courses: Attended the SOA in 1954
Info: General Knofelmacher was accused of being the “autor moral” of assassinations in Paraguay.  On July 12, 1996, peasant leaders Arsenio Vazquezy and Mariano Diaz were murdered by employees of a firm owned by Gen. Knofelmacher. The murders were followed by the destruction of the homes and the forcible removal of peasant families from a piece of land claimed by Knofelmacher. The peasants have brought suit against Knofelmacher as responsible for the assassinations. (Informe de Derechos Humanos en Paraguay)

Name: Alejandro Fretes Davalos
Country: Paraguay
Dates/courses: Attended the SOA in 1956
Info: Fretes Davalos was a member of military intelligence and participated in Operation Condor, which coordinated the efforts of Southern Cone military regimes to arrest, imprison, torture, and “repatriate” the opponents of the different regimes. (Es Mi Informe, 1994)


Name: Telmo Hurtado
Country: Peru
Dates/courses: Attended Arms Orientation courses from 1981-1982 during the height of military repression
Info: Accused of perpetrating the August 14, 1985 massacre of 69 children, women and men in the village of Accomarca while they commanded four military brigades that carried out the executions.  Hurtado separated the children and women of the village from the men so that his unit could rape them, then ordered them into buildings which he set on fire, burning them alive. (Some info cited here:;=80) Hurtado was sentenced to 6 years in prison for “abuse of authority.” A U.S. State Department report released in February 1994 said that Hurtado was freed and returned to active duty, a testament to the impunity enjoyed by most of the Peruvian military. Americas Watch reports he has since been promoted to captain. (Americas Watch Report: Untold Terror: Violence Against Women in Peru’s Armed Conflict, 1992; Latinamerica Press, 1/24/94).  He was arrested by ICE in the United States in 2006 after fleeing Peru.

Vladimiro Lenin Montesinos Torres
Country: Peru
Dates/courses: Attended the Cadet course at the SOA in 1965
Info: Former Chief of Intelligence who allegedly ran the “Colina death squads” linked to the La Cantuta murders and disappearances.  (Americas Watch Report: Anatomy of a Cover-up: The Disappearances at La Canuta, 1993) Four officers tortured after plotting a coup against Fujimori in November 1992 state that Montesinos took an active part in torturing them. (Americas Watch Report: Human Rights in Peru: One Year After Fujimori’s Coup, 1993)  He was sentenced 15 years in prison for numerous corruption convictions, and then sentenced to six more years in prison for using government money to fund former President Fujimori’s 2000 campaign.


Name: Captain Luis Alfredo Maurente
Country: Uruguay
Dates/courses: Attended the SOA in 1969 and 1976, with curriculum that included Military Intelligence courses
Info: Uruguay’s Justice Department sought extradition for Maurente for his involvement in the clandestine Automotores Orletti detention center, which operated in Buenos Aires, Argetina during the 1970’s. Maurente was part of the Defense Intelligence Services and, together with three other ex-military officers, faces charges for the disappearances of close to 100 Uruguayan and Argentinean citizens, kidnapping and illicit association.
More information cited here:


Name: Army Commander in Chief Efrain Vasquez and General Ramirez Poveda
Country: Venezuela
Dates/courses: Attended the SOA in 1988; 1972
Info: Both Vasquez and Poveda helped to lead a failed coup in Venezuela in April of 2002, despite supposedly receiving training at the SOA that encourages respect for democracy and civilian governments.  Otto Reich, then Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, shared his support for the coup and a new government, and in the same year was appointed as a WHINSEC Board of Visitor member to “oversee” democracy and human rights curriculum, as well as operations at the school.  Reich met with these SOA graduates prior to the coup and advised business leader Pedro Carmona, who subsequently seized the presidency.

Name: General Ramon Davila Guillen
Country: Venezuela
Dates/courses: Attended the SOA in 1967 for Irregular Warfare training
Info: General Guillen was indicted in November 1996 in connection with a shipment of one ton of cocaine into Miami in 1990, which he says was authorized by the CIA in an effort to catch drug dealers. In 1993, the CIA called the shipment “a regrettable incident” and dismissed the CIA agent involved. (CAP, 9/21/97)