Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Two top Honduran coup leaders trained in the School of the Americas

This blog entry was originally posted at AllVoices.

Two important military leaders of the coup are graudates of the School of the Americas: Gen. Romeo Vasquez head of the armed forces and Gen. Luis Suazo head of the Air Force. Zelaya had earlier clashed with Vasquez over distributing ballots for a referendum and ended up dismissing him.
As this article notes the School of the Americas as it used to be called was infamous for training Latin American dictators. Several graduates of the School had earlier been military dictators of Honduras responsible for many human rights abuses.
I notice that so far there has not been much coverage on CNN and Fox news of demonstrations against the regime. On CBC the one shot I saw of a demonstration was of a pro-coup crowd! There have been a number of injuries as the pro-Zelaya demonstrations have been broken up but very little is being reported and certainly there is not the twittering that one heard during the demonstrations in Iran.

This is from Southernstudies:

Over the last week, Zelaya clashed with and eventually dismissed General Romeo Vasquez -- who is now reportedly in charge of the armed forces that abducted the Honduran president.According to the watchdog group School of Americas Watch, Gen. Vasquez trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at least twice -- in 1976 and 1984 -- when it was still called School of Americas. The Georgia-based U.S. military school is infamous for training over 60,000 Latin American soldiers, including infamous dictators, "death squad" leaders and others charged with torture and other human rights abuses.
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According to SOA Watch, the U.S. Army school has a particularly checkered record in Honduras, with over 50 graduates who have been intimately involved in human rights abuses. In 1975, SOA Graduate General Juan Melgar Castro became the military dictator of Honduras. From 1980-1982 the dictatorial Honduran regime was headed by yet another SOA graduate, Policarpo Paz Garcia, who intensified repression and murder by Battalion 3-16, one of the most feared death squads in all of Latin America (founded by Honduran SOA graduates with the help of Argentine SOA graduates).General Vasquez isn't the only leader in the Honduras coup linked to the U.S. training facility. As Kristin Bricker points out:
The head of the Air Force, Gen. Luis Javier Prince Suazo, studied in the School of the Americas in 1996. The Air Force has been a central protagonist in the Honduran crisis. When the military refused to distribute the ballot boxes for the opinion poll, the ballot boxes were stored on an Air Force base until citizens accompanied by Zelaya rescued them. Zelaya reports that after soldiers kidnapped him, they took him to an Air Force base, where he was put on a plane and sent to Costa Rica

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