Lobbying for Peace

Written on: June 27, 2013

The Catholic Coalition for Justice and Peace, a peacekeeping group sponsored by approximately fifteen women and men’s religious congregations in the Philadelphia area, invited members to a March 28, 2013 (Holy Thursday) meeting with Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA District 8) to advocate for the closing of the Schools of Americas (SOA) now named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). The meeting was attended by representatives from the Sisters of Mercy, Franciscans of Aston, PA and Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart, Sr. Pat Kelly and Sr. Rose Mary Cauley. Numerous organizations actively oppose the school and continue to lobby Congress to de-fund, investigate and close this institution.

WHINSEC is funded by American tax-payers at a cost of approximately $18 million per year. It is a U.S. Army training school for military personnel from Latin American countries and has been documented as a source of countless acts of violence and torture that have befallen the people of Latin America.  According to the SOA itself, more than 60,000 members of Latin American militaries have attended the SOA since its inception in 1946.

According to SOA WATCH  the school’s training has resulted in the following:

  • Many of the school’s graduates have been identified as dictators and agents of violence and massacres.
  • Tens of thousands of Latin American citizens have lost their lives in violent actions by military and police, many of whom studied at WHINSEC/SOA.
  • The assassinations of Archbishop Oscar Romero, six Jesuit priests and their housekeeper, and four American churchwomen, are attributed to school alumni.

Congressman Fitzpatrick agreed to co-sponsor the current bill (HR 3368) with Representative Jim McGovern. This bill advocates to defund, investigate and close the School. Our meeting gave the group the opportunity to give personal experiences and documented information about the School. In the updated information the financial and personal costs of the School were outlined and information was updated from Latin American leaders concerning the negative attitude towards the USA because of the grave human rights violations the school has engendered.

Afterword

As of June 18, 2013 Rep. Fitzpatrick has not co-sponsored HR 3368 as he promised.

Actions we suggest you can take:

  • Contact Rep. Michael Fitzpatrick urging him to co-sponsor HR 3368 as he said he would.
  • Contact your congress person urging her/him to support HR 3368 which is presently in the House Arms Service Committee.
  • Support your local or regional activity against the WHINSEC/SOA.

Sisters Rose Mary Cauley and Pat Kelly are members of the Peacemaking and Nonviolence Committee of the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart.  


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