What is the deal with the SOA (School of the Americas)?

How come pretty much every “conservative Catholic” opinion on the matter is that the whole thing is not as bad as everyone makes it out to be and there’s no reason to close (or even investigate) the SOA, and pretty much every “liberal Catholic” opinion is that the place needs to be investigated and shut down and is responsible for numerous massacres?

I haven’t found an anti-SOA argument from “conservative Catholics”, nor a pro-SOA argument from “liberal Catholics”.

What’s the deal?

where is link to news story required by this forum?
if you are going to characterize the opinion of a conservative organization, state the organization and provide their statement. If you are going to cite a source critical of SOA, provide the source and the statement.

You could replace your argument with simply LIBERAL and CONSERVATIVE without the Catholic label. SOA is NOT a bad organization, but some of its graduates have been bad people.

Mea culpa. :frowning:

Article from 2005 by “Diogenes”, Close the SOA? (“conservative” opinion)

Wikipedia entry on the SOA/WHINSEC.

Given the controversy over the SOA I am impressed with the Wikipedia article; it’s pretty even handed. I suspect that the primary objection to the SOA is that it aided governments that SOA opponents disapproved of and attacking the school was a tactic to attack the governments. There is a great deal of smoke but very little fire in this controversy.


There is quite simply a lot of brutality in politics in South America - on both sides.

Leftist thinkers presume that humans are so innately good that demonstrably evil behavior must be caused by some outside influence (aka scapegoat). This is IMO THE major flaw in Liberation Theology: the failure to acknowledge original sin and the resulting flaw present in ALL humans, not just the rich and/or powerful.

Thus, it cannot be that evil opportunists within South American militaries sometimes leap at the chance to improve their capabilities through US military training. Oh no. It must be that the US military is taking shiny innocent natives and brainwashing them into killing monsters.

Have monsters come out of the SOA? Quite probably. Were they CREATED there? I doubt it. How do the leftists propose that we diplomatically screen who we give training to in such national cooperative efforts? They don’t. They merely seek to impose a situation where we cease ALL military cooperation and fail to recognize that the consequences of THAT decision could result in WORSE political destabilization. Want to see the shallowness of such critics’ thinking? Ask them what they think of Che Guevara…:rolleyes:

I wonder how many Cubans are training the Venezuelan military (and secret police) right now.

I have forgotten the exact details since it has been about a decade since I investigated this, but here are two examples that typify the mindset of the people leading the charge against SOA.

In one incident in El Salvador four nuns, a priest, and their housekeeper were murdered by a Salvadoran military unit who attempted to place the blame on the Salvadoran rebels. The facts of the event finally came out several years later when a Salvadoran officer (one who trained at SOA - although that connection is never mentioned) alerted US authorities to the truth. Of those involved, several were graduates of various SOA classes but the number given by the protesters included two men who had attended classes **after **the atrocity. You have to believe in extrasensory influence to believe that a school can influence its students before they arrive.

The most famous incident is probably the assassination of Archbishop Romero and the involvement of SOA graduate Roberto D’Aubisson. What is conveniently left out is the fact that D’Aubisson’s training at SOA consisted of a one or two week class in radio communications eight years prior to the incident. No one doubts that he was a butcher but there is no good reason to believe that we helped him along that path.


Thank you, Japhy for providing a newslink, but… and I hope this doesn’t look like I am picking at nits… this forum requires a current news link. There are lots, so I’ll provide two:

During this weekend’s School of the Americas (SOA) protest, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or WHINSEC held an open house for people to see what the school is about.

Students and teachers from across the country came to take a tour of WHINSEC and listen to a briefing by those associated with the school.


Sister Diane Therese Pinchot was arrested on suspicion of trespassing on the base property after an annual protest over the teachings at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.

The Ursuline Sisters’ stance against the institute stems from the 1980 rapes and murder of Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel, lay missioner Jen Donovan and Maryknoll Sisters Maura Clarke and Ita Ford in El Salvador


Here is the best case against the SOA.


I’m under no illusions that brutality exists and occurs on both sides in the seemingly endless struggles in South America. I just think the link shows extremely simplistic reasoning (“It’s all happening because of the SOA”) and betrays an underlying disbelief in original sin and its effects on us all.

I’ve personally been to extremely poor areas of Bolivia and the unbelieveable poverty of the many is a serious eyebrow raiser when you see the affluence and power of the few. It is no stretch to imagine that many would kill to preserve their privilidged lifestyles, but all that STILL doesn’t mean that the alternative is better. Activists seems to imagine that if the current regime is overthrown, justice will prevail. It doesn’t seem to occur to them that the forces looking to do the overthrowing are funded by such human rights luminaries as Fidel/Raul Castro and Hugo Chavez.

Absolutely protest the abuses and crimes against humanity. But stop pretending that surrender to the revolutionaries will make things better. History down there says that when armed rebellion replaces one dictator, it merely replaces it with another.

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