Merida, 17th December 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s National Experimental University for Security (UNES), which trains police in human rights and preventative policing, has launched a two month, nationwide campaign against the US run School of the Americas (SOA).
Pablo Fernandez, head of curriculum development at the university, said that it was a “campaign of solidarity with Latin American movements that are working to close the School of the Americas… which represents, for the whole American continent, one of the most perverse expressions of what used to be the doctrine of national security”.
Launched at the start of this month, the campaign includes forums with activists and academics, film showings of the documentary The School of the Americas: School of Murderers, a concert “for peace and closing the School of the Americas”– organised with the National Front of Rebellious Bands and other musical groups, and postcards signed by people in favour of closing the school, to be handed over to the US embassy and the head offices of the UN and the OAS in Venezuela.
The campaign aims to raise UNES students’ and the general public’s awareness of the origin, historical objectives, and actions of the SOA.
“This proposal that came from the UNES, has been taken on and supported by President Nicolas Maduro and foreign minister Elias Jaua, so that it can grow into a national campaign, involving other universities, other social movements… so that all of Venezuela can say enough repression, enough interference, never again such human rights violations in Latin America, nor anywhere in the world,” Fernandez said.
“The School of the Americas has obliged our soldiers and military to create a distortion of the reality of our homeland and to betray her. At this school they train different Latin Americans to be traitors… so we should close this school for the sake of peace, life, and love of our homeland,” said Eduy Ramirez, at a UNES anti-SOA event in Aragua state.
He said the UNES in Aragua-Carabobo would work with the newly elected mayor of Linares Alcantara municipality, Alexis Zamora, “for peace and life”. The UNES in Aragua state has 1263 students studying policing and criminology, and 98 teachers.
At a film showing in the UNES of Anozoategui state, of We Are One America, director of the university, Damian Mas, stated, “We want to internationalise our university so that brothers [sic] from different ally countries can come here and … receive a humanist education, one that is respectful of human rights.”
UNES-Anzoategui student, Rene Ortiz said, “The difference between both schools is that the School of the Americas belongs to the old policing model that sought to repress, humiliate, and mistreat, while the UNES trains students under the new preventative model of citizen security, in order to lower the levels of violence and insecurity”.
The SOA is a US military combat training school for Latin American soldiers based in Fort Benning, Georgia.
“It’s run by the US army, and has trained military and police since the 1940s… the majority of the dictatorships, disappearances, and coups [in Latin America] have been organised by SOA graduates. President Chavez ordered that Venezuela stop sending soldiers to the SOA in 2004, and since then, six other countries have followed suit,” Lisa Sullivan of SOA Watch told Venezuelanalysis.com.
The SOA, renamed as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation in 2001, sends US instructors to Chile, Colombia, and Paraguay to train their soldiers, while a range of countries send their soldiers to the school in the US. Those countries which sent the most in 2012 were Colombia with 836 soldiers, Chile (162), and Honduras (93).
Since it was founded, the SOA has trained over 61,000 Latin American soldiers in combat techniques, military intelligence, and torture techniques.
The UNES was founded in 2009 in order to train the new national Venezuelan police force with new methodology and values. The university aims to recreate the role of police from a community perspective and to transform the power relationship between police and society.
The university also has a strong focus on human rights, crime prevention, financing research on issues related to delinquency as well as on expanding police officers’ role in addressing the social causes of crime. Many of the university’s teachers specialise in libratory education and leftwing politics.