Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi
Pelosi: We Must
Close the School of the Americas, Whose Graduates Have Committed Human Rights
July 2, 2002
House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued the following statement today
at a press conference in San Francisco held by School of the Americas Watch West:
"Although Congressional business prevents me from being with you in person
today, I appreciate the opportunity to receive this Declaration of Protest from
Fr. Louis Vitale, Fr. William ODonnell, and Leone Reinbold.
Fathers Vitale and ODonnell share a long history of activism for peace,
justice and human rights, and have worked tirelessly on behalf of the most vulnerable
members of society. I thank them for their important contributions to the Bay
Area and applaud their willingness to stand up for what is right.
In 1999, the U.S. Congress voted to close the School of the Americas, which has
educated some of the most horrible violators of human rights in this hemisphere.
Last year, the Pentagon changed the name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for
Security Cooperation , but did little to address the fundamental issues raised
by Congress about the schools training methods, its lack of oversight, and its
record of graduating human rights abusers.
I am proud to co-sponsor H.R. 1810, which would repeal the authority of the Department
of Defense to operate the school, effectively closing it. This legislation would
also establish a joint congressional task force to evaluate what kind of education
and training is appropriate to provide to military personnel of Latin American
nations, particularly with respect to the observance of human rights.
Human rights abuses by military personnel in Latin America are not, unfortunately,
a thing of the past. We must not condone any of the atrocities that have been
performed by people who are graduates of the School of the Americas, and I will
continue to work with all of you to close this institution."
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