Arias ‘Would Agree’ to Send Police to Controversial School

November 23, 2007

President Oscar Arias told The Tico Times that he agrees with the idea of sending police officers to train at a controversial U. S. military school that has come under fire in recent years.

“If they are going to get training in how to handle drugs, I would be OK with it,” Arias said after a presentation by the State of the Nation last week.

Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal recently visited the school, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in the U.S. state of Georgia, and plans to recommend to the President that some Costa Rican police officers train there (TT, Nov. 16).

Arias said in May after meeting with U.S. peace activists that he would not send any more officers to the school, formerly known as the School of the Americas and which trains military and law enforcement officers from Latin America, Canada and the United States.

Isabel MacDonald, who heads the Friends’ PeaceCenter in downtown San José, was not pleased.

“We’re going to make a big fuss, of course,”MacDonald said.

Activists say that in its former incarnation as the School of the Americas, the institute graduated some of Latin America’s worst human rights violators.

WHINSEC spokesman Lee Rials said the school has since changed; it now has a human rights curriculum.

The School of the Americas Watch, which lobbies for the WHINSEC’s closure, held its annual protest last weekend outside the school.

 

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