MAP is launching a letter writing campaign starting tonight at the Life-Emmaus Corp Meeting, Tuesday, November 10th 6-8 p.m. The strategy with this campaign is to support Jim McGovern’s bill, H.R. 2567 to take a step toward closing the School of Americas/WHINSEC at Ft. Benning, Georgia. The target audience are the republican members of House Armed Services Committee. A complete list of co-sponsors for the bill are available at http://www.opencongress.org. Last year a similar bill failed at a house floor vote by 9 votes. So help make the difference this year!
Here are the steps to take:
- Get some friends and classmates to help write a letter with you.
- Visit the House Armed Services Committee website and pick a committee member to contact, preferably a Republican (as this is a Democratic bill).
- Look up the Congressman’s address at: www.house.gov
- Add the address to the top of your letter, print and sign it.
- Bring your letter to Campus Ministry, drop it in the red box, and fill in a square on the cross.
- Our goal is 800+ letters by December 11th: Each letter = one victim at the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador in 1981. (December 11th is the 28th Anniversary).
SOA sample Letter: (Cut and Paste into Word to Personalize)
I am a student at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, CA. I am writing this letter to urge you to support H.R. 2567, which ensures the public release of names, rank, country of origin, dates and courses attended for graduates and instructors of the SOA/ WHINSEC.
As you may know the School of the Americas, renamed WHINSEC, has a notorious history linked to serious crimes and human rights violations throughout Latin America.
“Over its 59 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins” (soaw.org).
Former Panamanian President Jorge Illueca stated, “…the SOA has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned” (soaw.org). “In the past few years under WHINSEC, known human rights abusers have attended the school and WHINSEC instructors have been arrested in Colombia for returning home and aiding the drug cartels. None of this information would be known if the basic information regarding enrollment at WHINSEC were not disclosed” (soaw.org).
Though the direct effects of the SOA are located in Latin America, I and the students at Mitty, have felt the connection to these destructive events from our school programs at Archbishop Mitty H.S. in San Jose, CA. Through our Campus Ministry and Religious studies departments we offer a course on these event in El Salvador that the year with a visit to the region. For over ten years our school also participated in the protests at the School of Americas/WHINSEC at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Currently, I am involved with our school’s advocacy program, Mitty Advocacy Project. This project researches and takes legislative action on social justice issues in conjunction with the teachings and position of the Catholic church.
At Archbishop Mitty High School, students are taught that humanity is not comprised of distant and separate communities, but one global community. We have met El Salvadorans in the area of El Mozote, talked with survivors of the Jesuit massacre of 1989, and also have heard arguments in support of WHINSEC. It is our firm stance that the operations of the School of Americas/WHINSEC are a direct human rights violation and a deteriorative component of our foreign policy that must be closed.
I appreciate your consideration for our position of support on H.R. 2567; we are confident you will help lead America with a new foreign policy direction starting today by voting in support of this bill.
Archbishop Mitty High School
5000 Mitty Way
San Jose, California 95129