On June 27, Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, at a meeting in Quito with a delegation of the US-based activist group SOA Watch, made the announcement that Ecuador is ceasing to send soldiers to the School of the Americas, the US Army training facility that has officially been renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). Ecuador joins Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina and Bolivia, who have likewise pulled out of the SOA/WHINSEC.
The SOA/WHINSEC has a long history of being involved in military coups in Latin American. In April 2002, the democratically elected Hugo Chávez government of Venezuela was briefly overthrown, and the SOA-trained soldiers Efrain Vasquez Velasco, ex-army commander, and Gen. Ramírez Poveda, were key players in the coup attempt.
On June 28, 2009, Honduran graduates of the SOA/WHINSEC led a military coup that
ousted Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected president of Honduras. While trade unions, students, campesinos, teachers continue to struggle for economic and social justice, human rights violations and violence against the people are increasing.
Since 1946, the SOA/WHINSEC has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counter-insurgency techniques, sniper skills, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. Human Rights groups are calling for the closure of the institute. From November 16-18, thousands will converge on Fort Benning, Georgia to engage in nonviolent direct action and to call for the closure of the School of the Americas. (SOAW, June 27)