09/02/12 Javier Sicilia

Century of Lies

Caravan for Peace VI, Javier Sicilia at School of the America's, Lucia Vaca, Nate Sanderson of NAACP, Father Frank Kushiack, Terry Nelson and Richard Newton of LEAP

Audio file


Century of Lies / September 2, 2012


DEAN BECKER: Hello. This is Dean Becker and this is Century of Lies. Today’s show features segments taken from the recent visit by the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity to the Fort Benning School of the Americas, home of the Maneuver Center. In Spanish, “asesino “ means assassin, murderer.

SPEAKER: And now we are going to release the names of distinguished Alumni from the School of the Americas.


DEAN BECKER: The list goes on and on. We’ll share more with you when we close out the program.

This is Javier Sicilia, the Mexican Poet leading this caravan, speaking at Fort Benning.

JAVIER SICILIA: [via interpreter] Good afternoon and thank you very much.

We’re here in front of the School of the Americas that now has another name but is the same.

Criminals have humiliated us deeply in Mexico but the people that have been trained in this school has humiliated us as much as they have.

This school represents the country of what the army should be. This school humiliates the ethic of the army. This school is the face of legalized criminals. This school is the opposite of what armies have always been - those who protect a nation and the people who live in a nation. This school humiliates for centuries what have been the army because this school has trained, as I said before, legalized criminals that now become illegal criminals – our army in Mexico, our armies in Latin America, and Central America.

From this school the best crooks have been brought up. In Mexico and this thirteen armed commands that have been implicated in violating Mexico graduated from this school. One of them, Jose Van Bremas, was the author in 1994 of the Plan Chopas in 1994 - a plan that was asking for the militarization of Chopas and the creation of paramilitary death squads.

This logic of war next to the logic of submission in front of great capital and the governments. They thought that indigenous people were going to volcanize our country and those who were volcanizing our country were criminals and this type of armies.

An example of these is the Gulf Cartel that hired 31 ex-soldiers as criminals. They became what’s known now as the Zetas. The Secretary of Defense in Mexico says that 33% of those were trained at the School of the Americas. These are the people that disappear people.

This is the reality of this school. A reality that goes hand and hand with crime to humiliate nations, to humiliate people, to destroy them. And we make a call from here to the armed forces of Mexico and Mexican government to pull out their students from this school because they are criminals, because they are going to produce more crime in our country, because if they leave and they have no ethics they are going to join the organized crime of the country.

We ask all governments of Latin America, Central America to pull out the students from this school. And we call on the government of the United States and their citizens to close this school and close all of the schools that are humiliating the armies of the world.

This is an advance towards peace because these armies are part of the War on Drugs. The cost in life and suffering is huge.

Thank you.

SPEAKER: We investigated the school and what we found was serious. Over 55,000 soldiers had been trained here from 18 countries throughout the Americas. Among them, including, were over 3,000 from Mexico.

They came here to learn counter-insurgency. They came here to learn combat skills and how to repress people.

At the School of the Americas we also discovered in the curriculum manuals that advocated torture. This issue is not complicated. This School of the Americas is all about defending U.S. economic interests. It enables the exportation of cheap labor and the exploiting of natural resources.

Every November we gather at this site in the name of solidarity to keep alive the memories the thousands that have been killed in Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and other countries.

2 months ago we were in Ecuador where we met with President Rafael Correa. At the meeting he made a decision to pull the troops out. He said, in the meeting, this school should not exist.

Tomorrow we will meet with President Daniel Ortega to request he, too, pull the troops out. Let me just say that your presence here will energize this large grass roots movement called School of the Americas watch.

Years ago they changed the name from the School of the Americas to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. While this has a new name it is the same shame.

In November we will gather once again by the thousands to call for the closing of what we now to be a school of the assassins. When we gather your presence will be felt and your many loved ones who’s posters and photos that you bring today.

Thank you for being here and you honor us.

ANNOUNCER: Now we will hear from several people affected by the policies of the United States. I present Sapardio Hernandez Hernandez.

SAPARDIO HERNANDEZ HERNANDEZ: [via interpreter] The demands that we are bringing as an indigenous community. We demand justice for our people. Like one of the cases where 45 people were masscred. There were children and women and pregnant women.

The people who developed these activities are people from the government and they are working alongside with the military authorities that were trained in the School of the Americas. They were trained in the School of the Americas here in the United States.

They are the ones that have been training the paramilitary forces and commands. This is happening in our country because of them.

Mr. President of the Mexican Republic, Felipe Calderon, as a person from the Mexican people, we demand the cancellation of the concessions for mining companies that are from Canada and the other terminal electric developments that are happening.

The land is ours. We want respect for our sacred land where we have our ceremonies. We are not selfish with our mother land. We want to share with those who have not been born yet. Stop with environmental contamination. We want justice, dignity and peace for all human beings.

Thank you.

MARIA HONDO: I am Maria Hondo, Alejandro’s mother. He was a young electronic engineer. He was working at IBM in Mexico. He was disappeared when she was driving his car from Mexico to Laredo, Texas.

He was traveling…our life changed. On January 27, 2011 He disappeared and we know nothing about him. We’re here to demand that they close the schools like this one because a lot of the paramilitary-type forces that are working alongside with the criminals in Mexico were trained in these schools.

They are linked with organized crime and there are thousands of people like my son and there are thousands of families that are being destroyed that are honest families that make their living and work hard to make their living. Those families shouldn’t be suffering because of bad government policies.

We have gotten to talk to all the authorities and we haven’t gotten any response from them. It is like the earth swallowed them. We want answers. They took them alive we want them back alive.


[crowd chants ‘You are not alone’ in Spanish.]

MARCELOS MARANO: My name is Marcelos Marano. I want all the countries in all the world to know the place that we are standing in now. It is the School of the Americas. Supposedly in my country, El Salvador, it’s a military school.

My son was deported from the United States to El Salvador in 1998. Since he was carrying no documents they thought he was a guerrilla fighter because guerrilla war fighting is still going on in my country.

The soldiers on the road captured him and then tortured him for 6 months and those soldiers were trained in the very place we’re standing now, the School of the Americas. This very same man that started the death squads in El Salvador where many students, the union officials, workers and fighters were disappeared in El Salvador.

This school should not be called School of the Americas. It should be called “school of assasins” because that’s exactly what they are.

We expect justice for all those tortured and killed in my country and in other countries as well as the disappeared.

Thank you.

ANNOUNCER: Now I would like to introduce Mr. Nate Sanderson, the local president of the NAACP.

NATE SANDERSON: Thank you ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of the national NAACP, the state NAACP and the local Columbus NAACP we want to welcome you into our community.

We want to thank Javier for organizing this event. With me I have my state president, Mr. Edward Dubois, and our state secretary Ms. Tonsa Tom<?>.

It is about time that someone spoke up about the War on Drugs. It has destroyed not only your community but it has also destroyed the black community too. And, indeed, each community that it touches in this country and in your country.

So much potential has been lost due to this War on Drugs and it must stop. This War on Drugs can be linked directly to the prison industrial complex and its perpertration on our communities.

We call for an end of the War on Drugs and we ask for our local, our state, and our federal officials to look at the devastation it is causing each and every individual. The loss of lives and potential that we have been destroyed by this War on Drugs is intolerable.

We have, right now, millions of people that are in jail – non-violent drug offenders. But the debt to get those drugs is devastating to each and every person – mother, father, sister, and brother.

So today we stand in solidarity with you calling for an end to the War on Drugs.

God speed be with you and great success. Gracious.


FRANK KUSHIACK: I am Father Frank Kushiack. I am a Polish priest serving the San Jacinto parish.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. We’re here at the gathering for the Caravan for Peace. What are your perceptions of what’s being shared, what’s being relayed here.

FRANK KUSHIACK: Being from Poland…we just went there a couple years ago. 20-25 years ago through something very terrible because we went through the “solidarity movement’ and Marshall Law and through the communist time and now being here in San Antonio it’s an honor for me to be here today and share my solidarity with the people who are suffering.

I’m here to support them with my prayer and to support them any way I can to do what we, as individuals, as Christians, should do to make sure that violence will be eliminated from this beautiful planet.

Violence is something that we cannot tolerate anymore. We are here to serve God, to love one another and violence doesn’t have anything to do with God. Our God is a god of peace. He is full of mercy. So only when we are merciful, when we are loving and forgiving we are serving God. Without peace we are not humans – we are animals.

DEAN BECKER: Yes sir. That’s a term that Javier Sicilia spoke of that these cartels are not animals – they are less than animals.

The suffering that these people have endured and that they’re bringing…the folks from the caravan. This is something that we, as Christians, should find a way to stop, to prevent – should we not?

FRANK KUSHIACK: Yes, we have to stop it but we have to stop it in a peaceful way. Every time we try to end violence with violence we are no better than those who are using violence. So only the peaceful ways – the Jesus way. We are taking care of violence by loving others, by loving those who persecute us.

I remember from my Polish experience when the tanks were coming to the towns to crush the people who were for solidarity. We were eliminating those by throwing flowers in the tanks. No stones – only flowers – and they stopped. They were crying with us.

So this works. This fruit from using peaceful methods and I hope that this tragedy over here on this continent can be stopped also by peaceful methods.

First we have to pray that God who is full of love and mercy will help us because only he can do something with our help, of course. If we need peace he will give us peace because peace is always a gift from God.


This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Even with all the news about the failure of the current drug war the United States has upped the ante and deployed Marines to Guatemala in Central America.

The Associate Press reports - A team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala's western coast this week in an unprecedented operation to beat drug traffickers in the Central America region, a U.S. military spokesman said Wednesday.

The Marines are deployed as part of Operation Martillo, a broader effort started last Jan. 15 to stop drug trafficking along the Central American coast. Focused exclusively on drug dealers in airplanes or boats, the U.S.-led operation involves troops or law enforcement agents from Belize, Britain, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Guatemala, Honduras, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama and Spain.

"This is the first Marine deployment that directly supports countering transnational crime in this area, and it's certainly the largest footprint we've had in that area in quite some time," said Marine Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes at the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

This is half truth as best. The US has had troops in Central America for decades and for decades we have made absolutely no difference in the amount of cocaine flowing out of the Andean ridge nations. Of course these guys have no arrest authority and have to call the locals to make arrests.

We constantly hear complaining about our military being overstretched, and that our troops need more time off between deployments, yet we can just throw men, money and supplies at this lost war. And this is after the President of Guatemala called for drug to be legalized. Perhaps this is the result of Joe Biden’s trip to Guatemala to calm the President and offer millions more in aid to this lost cause.

Our budget is strained to the breaking point here at home and yet we can throw money away on this lost cause.

We need to change our drug strategy completely to one of regulation and control instead of arrest and incarcerate and then we may have a chance of reducing our nation’s drug consumption. But for sure we can reduce the number of lives we destroy by arresting and convicting those that have done no harm to others.

LEAP position is that we need to Regulate and Control these substances as they are much too dangerous to leave in the hands of criminal drug gangs and international drug cartels and the violence that come with them controlling the market. And, to regulate and control anything it first has to be legal.

This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.leap.cc signing off. Stay safe.


DEAN BECKER: The following was recorded a few days ago when the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity visited Houston, Texas.


RICHARD NEWTON: Hi. My name is Richard Newton. I spent 22 years as a Customs Agent on the border of Mexico and the U.S. and Puerto Rico and the Caribbean and Florida. I represent Law Enforcement Against Prohibition which is a group of former or current law enforcement officers who think the War on Drugs is a total and abject failure.

DEAN BECKER: Richard, you’ve been with this Caravan for Peace for a few thousand miles now. What’s your perceptions? What’s been the response to this caravan?

RICHARD NEWTON: I think the response, especially in the border communities, so far has been overwhelming because New Mexico and Texas are well aware of the violence in Mexico that is directly related to U.S. drug policy and what I’ve learned is the problems with gun sales in the U.S. that go to Mexico and promote the violence.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve just witnessed a gathering here in Houston. In plaza they’ve taken a couple assault weapons and destroyed them. Tell us what they did, your thoughts on what might be the reaction of the American press, the American public to this event.

RICHARD NEWTON: I was at the gun show when the weapons were purchased. I own hand guns. As a law enforcement officer or a cop I’m not a stranger to weapons. What blew my socks off was a young lady who’s a British citizen and a resident of Mexico City was able to buy a hand gun without a single piece of identification or a background check being carried out.

The people who complain about…I learn about the loop holes in gun shows that I kind of poo-pooed before this and I think it is an issue.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. I’m a gun owner, too. They’re there for protection. They’re there for target practice. They’re there, hopefully, as just a means of recreation but, as Americans, it’s our right isn’t it?

RICHARD NEWTON: It’s our right but also our responsibility. I mean with rights comes responsibilities. I could have bought a 75 round magazine for an AK-47 for $80. Why do you need a 75 round magazine for an assault rifle? There aren’t that many deer in the state of Texas.

DEAN BECKER: And they’re not that hardy…

RICHARD NEWTON: or hard to hit. If you need that many bullets to kill a deer you shouldn’t be buying a gun in the first place.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed. Well, Richard, it’s been an honor to ride with you through these border cities and to see such positive response, such demand, if you will, for a change to the current policy of drug war.

RICHARD NEWTON: Again, the violence in Mexico is directly related to the profits made by selling illegal drugs. We get rid of the illegality of the situation we get rid of the profits and, hopefully, the cartels tend to go away.

DEAN BECKER: Right. 50 billion dollars of discretionary money – gone.

RICHARD NEWTON: Yes, so pretty simple.


DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker. I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s edition of Century of Lies and that you’ll join us next week when we’re certain to have much more from the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity.

And now a final word from Fort Benning, as promised.


[crowd chanting in Spanish]


Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org