Seventeen Boston University students set a prime example of standing up for what they believe in last weekend. These students traveled to Ft. Benning, Ga., to protest the School of the Americas. They, along with protesters from all over the United States, risked arrest and trespassed over military base barriers for their cause. The activists may not succeed in closing this school, but they have succeeded in raising awareness about the school and they have set an example for the rest of the school community, by being active for a cause that they believe in.
The protesters peacefully gathered at the military base, where the school is located, to support the proposed legislation that would close the military school. The School of the Americas states that it trains Latin American soldiers to spread democracy and fight against drug trades in their own countries. However, many dictators who seized power in Latin American countries are graduates of this school, one of the most notorious being Manuel Noriega of Nicaragua.
Opponents of the school maintain that torture tactics are among some of the lessons taught to the students, and that the graduates go on to commit acts of brutality in Latin America. The protestors at Ft. Benning specifically mourned the 900 civilian victims of a massacre at El Mozote in El Salvador.
The school was originally designed for putting down violent communist insurgencies in the 1950s and ’60s in Latin America. The times have changed, and communist uprisings no longer pose such a salient threat. The United States should reevaluate how it deals with Latin American nations, and instead of using military force to affect change they should utilize economic means, which is a more effective and less violent method.
The BU students who took a stand against the School of the Americas should be commended for their commitment to a cause. These activists were part of a movement to raise awareness and draw national attention to this issue.