(See below for congressional call-in script and go to www.cispes.org/ilea for more info.)

CISPES ACTION ALERT
June 2006

Help Close the School of the Americas and Denounce the New U.S. Congress-Funded International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in El Salvador!

(Much of the following information comes from the School of the Americas Watch – www.soaw.org)

This week Congress will vote on an amendment to close the SOA/ WHINSEC. Rep. McGovern (MA) will introduce an amendment to the Foreign Operations appropriations bill to cut funding for the SOA/ WHINSEC!

Meanwhile, funding for the new International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) – which has yet to be constructed but is already operating in a temporary installation in San Salvador – will also be voted on as part of the same appropriations bill. Salvadorans consider this Academy an extension of the SOA and a new effort by the U.S. to extend its grip on Latin America by continuing to support the forces of state repression. If the SOA/ WHINSEC is shut down, there would still be a stronghold of U.S. interests training up to 1500 police officers a year, more than the current SOA in Ft. Benning! (go to www.cispes.org/ilea for more information about the ILEA.)

Though time has run out to present a formal amendment excluding funding for the San Salvador ILEA from Foreign Operations appropriations, a successful vote to shut down the SOA/ WHINSEC would be a positive step in the campaign to raise awareness about the continuation of U.S.-promoted institutes of repression, opening the possibility of shutting down the ILEA the next time it comes up in Congress.

SOA Watch expects a close vote on the McGovern amendment and needs as many people as possible flooding the offices of the House of Representatives with calls in support of a YES vote on the amendment. Visit the Legislative Action Index for more information: www.soaw.org/legislative.

TAKE ACTION!

1. Call the DC office of your Representative through the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll free at 1-888-355-3588. Ask to speak with the foreign affairs legislative assistant and urge them to vote “Yes” of the McGovern amendment to the Foreign Operations bill that would cut funding to the School of the Americas/WHINSEC. Or click here to send an email and fax to your Representative.

2. Tell your Representative to take a stand against the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in El Salvador and set up a meeting with them to raise concerns about the ILEA. See below for talking points on the ILEA, and go to www.cispes.org/ilea for more information.


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Congressional Call-in script – Close the SOA and stop the ILEA!
June 2006

Background: This week the House of Representatives will vote on the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill. Included in this bill is funding for the infamous School of the Americas (SOA, now known as the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation, or WHINSEC). Fortunately, Rep. James McGovern (MA) is prepared to present an amendment to cut that funding. With 133 bipartisan cosponsors, this year’s House vote is our best chance ever to shut down the SOA.

Meanwhile, the foreign ops appropriations bill also includes funding for International Law Enforcement Academies (ILEA), US-sponsored police schools, the latest of which is set to be built in El Salvador. The ILEA in El Salvador is just an SOA under a new name and in a new location. The issue of the ILEA is relatively unknown to most of Congress – the ILEA-El Salvador was just put forward by the State Department last year – and thus no Representative has yet come forward to present a similar amendment excluding funding for the ILEA. Through calling this week we hope to both help shut down the SOA and build the campaign to close the El Salvador ILEA.

Call the House Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or toll free at 888-355-3588

When you call:

1) Ask to speak to the foreign affairs legislative assistant, chief of staff or legislative director

2) Tell them you are a constituent and want to know your Rep's position on the McGovern amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which would cut funding to the School of the Americas/WHINSEC.

3) If the Rep. is going to vote for the amendment, thank him/her. Then ask if they have heard of the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) and move on to # 5.

4) If the Rep is undecided or against the amendment, urge them to vote in favor of it. Explain to them the horrible history of the SOA in teaching torture and human rights abuse to Latin American military officials.

5) Using the talking points below, explain why the ILEA is considered an extension of the SOA and why groups in El Salvador are demanding that it be closed. Offer to send your Rep. more information about the ILEA

6) If the Rep. agrees, ask that they publicly denounce the ILEA in Congress. Ask them to present an amendment to the Foreign Operations appropriations bill excluding funding for the ILEA.

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Talking Points: Why the U.S. Congress should not fund the construction of the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in El Salvador

Though backers of the ILEA promise that only civilians would be trained there, in fact the agreement leaves the possibility of military training open. The 1992 Peace Accords that ended El Salvador’s civil war explicitly call for the separation of police and military. With state-sponsored repression towards social activists on the rise, the ILEA would only worsen the blurred line between military and police forces.

El Salvador is already the second largest recipient of military training in Latin America, as US military training and aid to the region has increased dramatically in recent years.

The ILEA would offer immunity to all foreign officials involved in designing the curriculum and teaching the courses.

The agreement to build the U.S.-sponsored ILEA is considered direct intervention in El Salvador’s internal affairs, a violation of its national sovereignty and a violation of various international treaties.

The November 2005 approval of the ILEA agreement in Salvadoran Assembly was unconstitutional: there was no space for public debate and it was passed without the usual 2/3 majority needed for international treaties.

The agreement touches on the sensibility and dignity of the Salvadoran people. Many Salvadorans had family members and friends who were tortured or assassinated by military personnel trained in the SOA, and the bitterness from that era still remains.

Go to soaw.org to view all 133 COSPONSORS OF H.R. 1217