Editor, Daily Nexus,

I am writing as a concerned human being showing solidarity to our brothers and sisters around the world who are victims of human rights violations. I want to call everybody in the UCSB community to join the students from the Chicano Studies Globalization and Transnational Social Movement class in a weeklong educational event as part of the should be the School of the Americas (SOA) Awareness Week.

The SOA, a combat training facility for Latin American security personnel located in Fort Benning, Ga., made headlines in 1996 when the Pentagon released training manuals used at the school that advocated torture, extortion and execution. Despite this shocking admission and hundreds of documented human rights abuses connected to soldiers trained at the school, no independent investigation into the training facility has ever taken place.

More than 60,000 graduates of the SOA over its 59-year history continue to be implicated in human rights violations throughout Latin America. Critics argue that the school promotes military solutions to social and political problems. However, hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, massacred and forced into refugee status by those trained at the “School of Assassins.” SOA graduates have consistently used their skills to wage war against their own people, especially educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders and others who work for the rights of the poor. In relation to the topic, pictures of abuse at the hands of U.S. personnel and recent reports about secret CIA detention facilities have catapulted the controversial School of the Americas back into the public spotlight.

Thousands of people around the country are preparing for a Nov. 19 through 20 demonstration calling for the closure of the SOA. Twelve people from the Chicano Studies class will be representing UCSB to join the demonstration in Georgia this weekend. Please educate yourself, as well as the people around you, and show your support by coming to the rally this Wednesday at noon in Storke Plaza. Please visit http://www.soaw.org for more information, or stop by our tables in the Arbor throughout the week. A film on SOA will be screened at 6 p.m. in the MultiCultural Center this Tuesday.