State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism

State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism

State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism

State Terrorism and the United States: From Counterinsurgency to the War on Terrorism

Synopsis

Past history is counterpointed to ongoing situations in Colombia, Israel, Afghanistan, the Philippines and elsewhere.

Excerpt

By the year 2002, 71 demonstrators had served a total of 40 years of jail time for protesting in front of the School of the Americas.

In 1983 Father Bourgeois and two companions climbed a tree near Fort Benning, Georgia in front of the School of the Americas. Once perched in this strategic location, they used a microphone to broadcast the message of Archbishop Romero, the martyred prelate who had been assassinated March 24, 1980 while celebrating mass in the Chapel of the Hospital de la Divina Providencia in El Salvador. The message called upon the soldiers in the name of God and in the name of his suffering people to stop the repression. Father Bourgeois and his two companions were forced down from the tree, stripped, beaten, and handcuffed. Bourgeois received the longest sentence, 18 months in a federal prison. It was not to be the last time that this militant priest would be sent to prison. By the year 2002, 71 demonstrators had served a total of 40 years of jail time for protesting in front of the school. In 2002 alone, 29 activists were sentenced to from three to six months plus fines for trespassing. Among the group were three priests, one nun, and two Presbyterian ministers. The previous year 23 were sent to prison on the same charge. This included two nuns who are sisters, one 69 years old, the other 88 years old. The latter refused “motherhouse arrest,” so that she could serve her sentence with the rest of the group. One month into her sentence, however, she was transferred to a “residential facility” for health reasons. Her sister was transferred with her. The arrests have led Father Bourgeois to comment, “Those who speak out for justice are facing harsh prison sentences while School of the Americas (SOA) torturers and assassins are operating with impunity.”

These incidents—and the School of the Americas itself—provide a succinct introduction to the third central question investigated in each case study: whether the country that perpetrated the terror upon its own citizens was actually supported by Washington? In what ways was this support given? Father Bourgeois is convinced that the training of military personnel at the School of the Americas, personnel who later commit terror, makes Washington an accessory. He argues that this school is responsible for what its alumni do, a thesis explored in greater detail below, and has devoted his life to closing down the school.

Earlier in his career, Father Bourgeois antagonized the authorities in Bolivia by visiting the jails of La Paz. He found them to be filled with political prisoners. Some had obviously been tortured. Others were held incommunicado. This was during the dictatorship of General Hugo Banzar Suarez, one of the graduates of the School of the Americas. A portrait of the general hangs in the . . .

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