Western Hemisphere Institute for Security CooperationThe Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC or WHINSEC), formerly the School of the Americas (SOA; Spanish: Escuela de las Américas) is a United States Department of Defense facility at Fort Benning near Columbus, Georgia in the United States.
Between 1946 and 2001, the SOA trained more than 61,000 Latin American soldiers and policemen. Some of them became notorious for human rights violations, including generals Leopoldo Galtieri, Efraín Ríos Montt and Manuel Noriega, dictators such as Bolivia's Hugo Banzer, some of Augusto Pinochet's officers, members of the Atlacatl Battalion of El Salvador who carried out the El Mozote massacre of 1981, and the founders of Los Zetas, a drug cartel formerly affiliated with the Gulf Cartel. Critics of the school argue that the education encouraged such internationally recognized human rights violating practices and that the WHINSEC is merely a new name for exactly the same practices. This is denied by the SOA/WHINSEC and its supporters, who claim they now emphasize democracy and human rights.
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