Rebuttal of the SOA "it's only a few rotten apples" argument
Proponents of training Latin American military personnel at the School of the Americas often argue that only 1% of the 60,000 graduates have committed human rights abuses. Let's assume that number of correct. So we have about 600 human rights abusers in uniform.
However, raw numbers don't tell the entire story. We need to examine the RANKS of those abusers. The higher the rank, the greater the negative impact on a country and its people.
The chart to the right shows the command structure of the US Army. Latin American armies are organized in similar fashion. Note that a lieutenant, in charge of a platoon, commands only 16-40 soldiers. An abusive lieutenant cannot wreak great harm with so few troops under his command.
Now let's assume the abuser is a major general in charge of a division. That means 10,000-18,000 troops, a number that could create lots of harm. A lieutenant general in charge of 2-5 divisions, would control 2-5 times more troops. With these numbers, we can see how a single "rotten apple" could initiate widespread human rights abuses across an entire country. Examine the ranks of human rights abusers in the Latin American militaries. You'll find many high-ranking officers who have major horrific impact on their own people.
Here's only a small part of the more notorious SOA graduates.
- Argentina: Naval Officer Emilio Massera (Deceased), Commander-in-chief of the Navy, 1973 - 1978 , Military Junta Leader 1976 – 1978; General Jorge Rafael Videla Redondo - Army commander, Military Junta Leader 1976 – 1981; General Roberto Viola; General Leopoldo Galtieri, military dictator, 1981-1982
- Bolivia: General Hugo Banzer Suarez
- Colombia: General Luis Bernardo Urbina Sanchez; General Luis Alfonso Zapata Uribe; General Gustavo Pardo Ariza
- El Salvador: Captain Roberto D'Aubuisson (tied to ARENA death squads); General Jose Guillermo Garcia; General Rafael Humberto Larios
- Guatemala: General Efrain Rios Montt
- Panama: General Manuel Noriega
- Venezuela: Army Commander in Chief Efrain Vasquez; General Ramirez Poveda; General Ramon Davila Guillen