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SOA graduates and military coups in Honduras and Venezuela at MIT

Lisa Sullivan, a long-time activist working to close the School of the Americas (now the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation - WHISC or WHINSEC) and the Venezuelan Consul General in Boston, Omar Sierra presented a lecture on "The Involvement of Graduates from the School of the Americas in the Coup d'etat in Honduras and Venezuela.

Sullivan explained how Fr. Roy Bourgois and her were able to meet first Vice President Rangel in Venezuela and later with President Chavez to request that they stop sending military officers to be trained at the SOA, and succeeded. Ironically, some of the generals that participated in the coup de'etat against Chavez in 2004 were graduates of the SOA. That coup was succesfully reversed by the massive protests that exercised presure on Venezuelan soldiers who joined in the demands to return Chavez to the Presidency.

Consul Sierra lectured on the contradictions within the Venezuelan military, which was many times mobilized by right-wing politicians in power to repress the people. Some of these actions resulted in the massacre of protesters such as the Caracazo in 1989. However, from the ranks of the same military emerged a cadre of soldiers such as Hugo Chavez himself, who in effect revolted against the system that ordered them to kill their own people.

The government of President Chavez took it upon itself to offer reparations from the state to the surviving families of the victims. At the same time the Venezuelan government has reopened the investigations of these crimes and is seeking to extradite from the U.S. the president that gave the orders to the military for the Caracazo massacre, Carlos Andres Perez.

Finally, a representative from the Committee in Solidarity with the Honduran Resistance reported briefly the efforts being made in the Boston area to help the grassroots organizations that oppose the Honduran dictatorship. She called attention to the fact that many people arond the world are fasting in support of the resistance and requested from those present to join in the fast. Many volunteers signed up to participate locally in the fast for democracy in Honduras.