the school of the americas, the U.S. military school with a notorious rep for training the soldiers of some of Latin America's most brutal regimes, is scheduled to reopen this week under a new name.The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation's mission statement was softened to include human rights training, even instruction in disaster relief, after Congress raised concerns about massacres connected to some of the school's alumni.
But activists camped out in front of the school's digs at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, to mark the occasion say the newly renamed institute is a clone of the old school.
"It's essentially the same organization under a new language," says Julie Mooney, a Toronto spokesperson for School of the Americas Watch, one of three groups that held a protest outside the U.S. consulate yesterday (Wednesday, January 17), one of several actions across North and Latin America.
In Columbus, meanwhile, Colonel George Ruff says it's hard to take protestors seriously when they're wearing cow costumes and the men are in pink tights. "They see military training as inherently bad," says Ruff. "We disagree."