School of the Americas

Trip Start Dec 06, 2004
Trip End Dec 13, 2004

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Flag of Panama  ,
Saturday, December 11, 2004

Today was a visit to the School of the Americas. The SOA was a training base for Latin American armies specializing in counter-insurgency strategy / low intensity conflict (LIC) and tactics. According to the SOA watch, the SOAs trained some of the most notorious human rights abusers in Latin American history. To check out its alumni, visit

We had lunch in the main dining room, as the school is now a very posh hotel. All in all, it was a very strange experience. Walking around the lavish grounds, I could barely imagine people sitting around discussing some of the more brutal tactics employed in effective counter-insurgency. Since this is a field of expertise for me, it was also extremely interesting, and I'm sure the girls were bored to tears with my "play-by-play" of some of the insurgencies / counter-insurgencies that the graduates of this school had been involved in! :)

Latin American counter-insurgency doctrine is notorious for its brutality. Essentially, to find the guerrillas that hide throughout the population, an army has to make it very costly for the population to hide the insurgents, normally through torture, abductions, killings of anyone associated with the guerrillas/ insurgents, and other nastiness. (As one author put it, it's like draining the sea to find the fish.) An excellent example of counter-insurgent doctrine gone horribly wrong is the CIA's training of the CONTRAS in Nicaragua.
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