Chiapas and the School of the Americas.

Robert Johnson (johnsorl@COLORADO.EDU)
Sat, 11 Mar 1995 05:16:51 -0700

Sanjuana Marti'nez
PROCESO, No. 957 March 6, 1995, pp.38-39.
MADRID.-General Manuel Garci'a Ruiz, presently in command of the XXIV
Regiment which occupies the "ejido" of Nuevo Momo'n, in Chiapas, is one
of 500 officers of the Mexican Army who graduated from the School of the
Americas, located in Fort Benning, Georgia, U.S.A.
This worries American researcher, and human rights activist Darrin Wood
because "the worst criminals in the history of Latin America have gone
through that school," he said to this reporter in an interview conducted
in his office, located in the barrio Prosperidad, in Madrid.
Staff qualified Brigadeer General Manuel Garci'a Ruiz, was in charge of
occupying Nuevo Momo'n, one of the Zapatista strongholds, where, on Friday,
February 10, lieutenant colonel Hugo Manterola was killed, under
circumstances still unexplained.
The official version pointed out that he was the victim of a sharpshooter.
Testimonies picked up by the press assure that there was an exchange of
gunfire which lasted approximately 10 minutes, between Federal and
Zapatista soldiers. General Garci'a Ruiz assured that there had been no
At the "ejido", where some 118 families lived, the soldiers under Garci'a
Ruiz's command searched the empty houses and found Molotov Cocktails, two
22 caliber rifles, ski masks, and propaganda from the Zapatista Army of
National Liberation.
The School of the Americas was founded with the aim of providing special
jungle training for U.S. soldiers. Wood points out that later it became
a training center for members of the military from all over Latin
America, with courses on low intensity warfare, command operations,
military intelligence, psychological operations, and a long etcetera.
That is why it quickly became known as the " School for the Overthrow of
Initially installed in Panama', it left that country to relocate in Fort
Benning, Georgia.
Wood recalls that the Panamenian newspaper "La Prensa" coined another
nickname for it, and called it "The School of Murderers"(In Spanish
'asesinos' stands both for murderers and assassins,t.n.) On the other
hand, Panama's president Jorge Illueca referred to the school as "the
largest destabilization base in Latin America." According to this
resarcher, the scool trains over 4.000 members of the military
annually:"It is a training base for officers from Latin America, but at
the same time it helps to keep control, and to have a relationship with
the armies of the Latin American countries.
Darrin Wood was able to obtain, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act
in the United States, the list of the Mexican officers who attended the
school in 1980, where the name of Garci'a Ruiz, who, as a lieutenant
colonel, took a course on "Joint Operations Latin America O-16" appears.
According to Wood's investigations, among the military who have gone
through that school are the six Peruvian officers members of a death
squad which killed 10 people in 1992; four of the five Honduran officers
quoted in a report by the human rights organization America's Watch as
the men responsible for the death squad "Batallion 316", and 105 of the
246 officers mentioned in a formal complaint about human rights
violations in Colombia.
Furthermore, and according to a report from the Truth Commission of the
United nations, about the war in El Salvador, out of the 69 officers of
the Salvadoran Army mentioned as human rights violators, 42 graduated
from the School of the Americas; out of those 42, two were accused of the
assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero , in 1980; three are
involved in the case of the rape and murder of three U.S. nuns, and a lay
worker; another is accused of having directed the killing of 300 men,
women, and children at the River Sampul, in 1980; three were investigated
in relation to the murder of labor union leaders at the Sheraton Hotel,
in 1981; three are accused of the massacre of 16 civilians in Las Hojas,
NNin 1983; another for the murder of four Dutch newspaper reporters , in
1982; two were accused of murdering hundreds of civilians in the town of
El Mozote in 1981; six for the murder of ten civilians in San Sebastia'n,
in 1988; 19 for the murder of the Jesuit priests from The Central
American University, in 1989, and two accused of having murdered Doctor
Begon~a Garci'a Arandigoyen, in 1990.
Vicky Imerman, of the Covert Action magazine gave the names of other
former students of the School of the Americas:
General Leopoldo Galtieri , Argentinian military dictator between
1981-1982, General Hugo Ba'nzer Sua'rez, dictator of Bolivia between
1971-1978, and actually condemned for genocyde; Colonel Jose' Mario
Godi'nez of El Salvador, accused of having committed 1.051executions, 129
tortures, and eight rapes; Colonel Dionisio Ismael Machuca, also from El
Salvador, accused of 318 cases of torture and 610 illegal detentions;
He'ctor Gramajo, Edgar Godoy Gayta'n and Jose' Domingo Garci'a Samayo
accused of grave human rights violations in Guatemala; Major
Joseph-Michel Francois, former Haitian chief of police, and a participant
in the military coup against President Aristide; General Humberto
Regalado Herna'ndez, of Honduras, linked to drug dealers in Colombia, and
Panamenian general, Manuel Antonio Noriega.
Darrin Wood points out that close to 50.000 officers have been trained at
the School ofthe Americas.
____?Why does a government hich calls itself democratic, like the U.S.
government, sponsors a training camp with such characteristics,
especially being geared towards Latin Americans?
____It prepares mercenaries to protect United States Interests, because
those military do the job they cannot do. That is to say, after the
Vietnam War, the United States do not want to enter into conflict outside
its borders, so it trains others to do it.

(Translator. M.L.)