The Venice High MECHA Club and teacher Soni Lloyd held an assembly on September 15 in the West Gym. The speakers Eduardo Garcia and Maria Luisa Rosal talked to the students about the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), and SOA Watch.
The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA), is a United States Department of Defense Institute located in Georgia that provides military training to government personnel in US-allied Latin American nations.
According to the speakers, SOA-trained armies not only invaded many countries in Latin American countries, but dictators responsible for genocides came from SOA. Eduardo Garcia shared his moving story in which after writing about the problems in Mexico as a journalist, he was chased down by SOA. Garcia fled the country, but his friends who stayed behind were killed.
Rosal also shared her story in which her father was taken by SOA-trained soldiers for being an activist and was never seen again. Part of a documentary on the subject was shown to the students before Rosal and Garcia shared their stories.
SOA Watch, which both speakers are part of, is an independent organization that seeks to close the US Army School of the Americas, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work. SOA Watch hopes that speaking to students at many different schools will teach them about the struggle Latin America goes through, while some students might relate to the stories.