Dancing the Dance to Freedom

By Eilerman, Marge | The Humanist, July 1999 | Go to article overview

Dancing the Dance to Freedom


Eilerman, Marge, The Humanist


I believe that all of life is much like a ballet. Special moments and special people move in and out of life giving it movement and grace. Lights and shadows are made to take center stage as the dance goes on. One of those special moments in my life was a four-year missionary stay in Chiapas, Mexico. Without a doubt, those years formed a strong basis for my convictions regarding the School of the Americas.

Although my Mexican venture served as a foundation, the experience of traveling to Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, in August 1996 was the spark plug that engendered the energy to become interested in this particular issue. On that particular day, 400 nuns from across the United States came to the entrance of the army military base to conduct a prayer service, asking for the close of the SOA and pledging to continue to bring the institution and its program to light. It was during this time of prayer, and upon seeing the conviction of all those gathered there, that I decided it was important to also become involved.

From that moment, I began climbing the ladder of Martin Luther King Jr.'s four steps of civil disobedience: collection of the facts to see if injustice exists, negotiation, self-purification, and direct action. For the next several months, I tried to learn all I could about the SOA; its antithesis, the School of the Americas Watch; and the situation in Latin American countries.

I learned that the SOA was established in Panama in 1946 as the Latin American Training Center--Ground Division. It was quickly dubbed the "School of the Assassins" and was removed from Panama in 1984 to comply with the terms of the 1977 Panama Canal Treaty and relocated to Fort Benning. The curriculum includes thirty-three courses. Students are nominated by their own nations. And tuition is funded, at least in part, by U.S. taxpayers.

Over its fifty-plus years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 soldiers, police, and government personnel, mostly from Latin America. According to its website, the mission of the school is "to provide doctrinally sound, relevant military training and education to the nations of Latin America; promote democratic values and respect for human rights; and to foster cooperation among the multinational military forces." In 1961 President John F. Kennedy altered the original mission so that the SOA was "to provide instruction necessary to the nations in Latin America to thwart armed Communist insurgencies." In 1989, "when the guerrilla thrust subsided due to the collapse of the former Soviet Union," the curriculum shifted to focus on supporting the primary foreign-policy goals of the United States in the region.

SOA Watch took a different view of what the school was truly about. Founded by activist Father Roy Bourgeois in 1990, SOA Watch has been leading the struggle to close the school. His first up-front and personal involvement with the military began as a naval officer in Vietnam. He later became even more intimately involved in U.S. foreign policy as a Maryknoll missionary to Bolivia. It was his work there with political prisoners and their families that eventually led to his arrest and expulsion under threat of death in 1977.

Bourgeois first focused on the SOA in 1989 after the murder of six Jesuit priests and two female co-workers in El Salvador. A United Nations commission later found that nineteen of the twenty-six people participating in the attack were SOA graduates. Three Salvadoran graduates were also convicted in the 1980 rape and murder of four American churchwomen: three nuns and a laywoman. Graduates have been tied to human rights abuses in Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, and other Caribbean countries.

SOA Watch and other proponents of closing the SOA continued to express fear and belief that the army-run school was training students in torture. This allegation was repeatedly denied by school personnel. SOA Watch claimed that the school trained its students in "low-intensity" counterinsurgency techniques. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Dancing the Dance to Freedom
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.