Costa Rican President Oscar Arias announced Wednesday that Costa Rica will cease to send police to train at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, formerly known as the U.S. Army School of the Americas.
Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, made the decision after talks with an SOA Watch delegation, including Julio Yao of SERPAJ Panama; the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch; and Lisa Sullivan Rodriguez of the SOA Watch Latin America Project.
Costa Rica has no army but has sent some 2,600 police officers over the years to be trained at the school. Minor Masis, leader of Costa Rica’s former “Comando Cobra” anti-drug squad attended the school in 1991 and returned to Costa Rica, only to serve a 42-year jail term for rape and murder committed during a 1992 drug raid. Costa Rica currently has three policemen at the center.
"When the courses end for the three policemen we are not going to send any more," Arias said.
Costa Rica is the fourth country to announce a withdrawal from the SOA/WHINSEC. In 2006, the governments of Argentina and Uruguay announced that they would cease all training at the school, becoming the second and third countries to announce a cessation of training. In January of 2004, Hugo Chavez announced that Venezuela would no longer send troops to train at the school.
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