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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Notorious Army School of the Americas Connection: Sen. Ortiz y Pino Speaks Out Against Susana Martinez's Nomination of Dr. Jose Garcia for Higher Ed Secretary

Garcia Just prior to the holidays, Republican governor-elect Susana Martinez announced she was nominating Dr. Jose Z. Garcia, 65, an associate professor of government at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, for the post of Secretary of Higher Education. Garcia, a conservative who chaired the Democratic Party of Dona Ana County during the early 1980s and still claims to be a Democrat of sorts, was a member of the steering committee of "Democrats for Martinez" during the gubernatorial campaign.

The following is a statement from New Mexico State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino upon learning Dr. Jose Garcia once taught at the U.S. Army School of the Americas. The school has been roundly criticized for the human-rights violations performed by a number of its graduates throughout Latin America.

"The Army School of the Americas has a deeply troubling history of training human-rights abusers throughout Latin America. Dr. Jose Garcia and Susana Martinez must come out and explain his involvement with the school. The halls of New Mexico government are no place for anyone who condones the types of abuses that were spawned from the School of the Americas in the 1980s and early 1990s. Dr. Garcia owes anyone who values human rights a full accounting of his time working for the school."

Jose Z. Garcia, PhD, was “appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor at the United States Army School of the Americas from 1989-1991, where he was named instructor of the year for 1990.” (1)

Background on the Army School of the Americas (now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation):

On June 28, 1996, a report was issued by the Intelligence Oversight Board a four-person, independent board created by President Clinton. The IOB, headed by attorney Anthony S. Harrington and including Gen. Lew Allen, Jr., USAF (Retired), found that the "School of the Americas ... used improper instruction materials in training Latin American officers from 1982 to 1991 ... certain passages appeared to condone practices such as execution of guerillas, extortion, physical abuse, coercion, and false imprisonment." (2)

According to School of the Americas Watch, these manuals taught repressive techniques and promoted the violation of human rights throughout Latin America and around the globe. The manuals contain instructions in motivation by fear, bounties for enemy dead, false imprisonment, torture, execution, and kidnapping a target's family members. The Pentagon admitted that these manuals were a "mistake."(3)

Notes:
1) Jose Garcia Bio
2) US Intelligence Oversight Board Cites SOA (1996)
3) Pentagon Investigation Concludes That Techniques In SOA Manuals Were "Mistakes"

According to a Get the Facts page on SOA Watch:

Initially established in Panama in 1946, it was kicked out of that country in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” The SOA, frequently dubbed the “School of Assassins,” has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned.

Over its 59 years, the SOA has trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. These graduates have consistently used their skills to wage a war against their own people. Among those targeted by SOA graduates are educators, union organizers, religious workers, student leaders, and others who work for the rights of the poor. Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, “disappeared,” massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins.

... From its beginning, the mission of the SOA has been to train soldiers to protect the interests of multinational corporations and maintain the economic status quo for the few rich and powerful in the US and their cohorts in Latin America. Labor leaders and union organizers have always been among the primary targets of SOA violence.

Many readers are probably familiar with SOA Watch because of its annual protest against the School of the Americas:

Since 1990, SOA Watch has sponsored an annual public demonstration of protest of SOA/WHISC at Ft. Benning. In 2005, the demonstration drew 19,000 people. The protests are timed to coincide with the anniversary of the assassination of six Jesuit priests in El Salvador, on November 1989, by graduates of the School of the Americas. On November 16, 1989, six Jesuit priests (Ignacio Ellacuria, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Joaquin López y López, Juan Ramon Moreno, and Amado López); their housekeeper, Elba Ramos; and her daughter, Celia Marisela Ramos, were murdered by the Salvadoran Military on the campus of the University of Central America in San Salvador, El Salvador, because they had been labeled as subversives by the government. A United Nations panel concluded that 19 of the 27 killers were SOA graduates.

Given Dr. Garcia's connection with the notorious School of the Americas, it's disturbing that Susana Martinez believes he's a good choice to head New Mexico's Department of Higher Education.

December 29, 2010 at 05:47 PM in Education, Hispanic Issues, International Relations, Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Susana Martinez | Permalink

Comments

I would be curious to know what kind of stuff he was teaching our kids at NMSU. And to think he was the Democratic Chair for Dona Ana county. You really don't know people do you. I think he is one that needs watching.

Posted by: Stephanie DuBois | Dec 30, 2010 9:19:49 AM

Thank you Sen. Ortiz y Pino! Excellent information, and I hope the Senate will look carefully at this before this appointment is approved.

Posted by: bg | Dec 30, 2010 4:24:09 PM

My daughter had him at NMSU and said he was an excellent teacher and she loved his class. I really think all this criticism is hype.

Posted by: MOM | Dec 31, 2010 11:08:00 AM

Criticism for teaching at the School of the Americas that trained officers under Pinochet, Manuel Noriega and many others who killed their own people to gain power for themselves and multinational corporations is "hype"? I don't think so.

Not only did Garcia do that, he doesn't have one bit of experience in administration or running a department like Higher Education. He writes papers and isn't even a full professor.

This is more pay to play by Susana Martinez. She's rewarding Garcia for raising money for her pure and simple. Bold change? Now that's hype.

Posted by: Mom Too | Dec 31, 2010 11:30:57 AM

I know how it seems bad but listen. Dr. Jose Garcia is a Democrat and he is not from Texas or Jeb's Florida. He is a New Mexican married into an ancient family from the south. He cares about New Mexico and he is the best we Democrats can hope for now that the Republicans are in power.
He is brilliant, a great professor, not a crazy-assed fundamentalist spiritual warrior and he's a Democrat. Honestly, given Susanna Martinez nominations for education and human services, he is by far not the worst that Susanna could have chosen. Democrats had better pick their battles for confirmation very carefully.
Dr. Jose Garcia is not an outsider so he understands how hard it is for New Mexicans to provide an education for their children. He will protect higher education access for New Mexicans trying to keep higher education affordable and standards high. Democrats need to focus on protecting higher education in this state as best we can.
Take that nomination for Sec. of education. She is a CEO of an educational math and science software company. She has an obvious conflict of interest in that she will no doubt seek to enrich herself by selling this educational software to our school districts. Also, Democrats, keep in mind that she means to sell a science curriculum dictated by her fundamentalist Christian norms. Her agenda is to privatize our public education, cut teacher pay and benefits by trying to replace human teachers with software. Our teachers would be relegated to monitoring vast classrooms of students plugged into her brain-washing software. These teachers would not even be required to be proficient in any content area and hence worth less money.
Susanna's nomination for health and human services will usher in a mean spirited even more obstructive process for getting help in these hard times. We are already seeing huge increases in demand for services and charities when the woman will try to privatize social services trying to convert the poor to Jebus and make women stay married to destructive and irresponsible men.
We really have bigger fish to fry at these confirmation hearings.
Democrats cannot afford to go after "moderates" like Dr. Jose Garcia when our future is in deep, deep trouble.

Posted by: qofdisks | Jan 1, 2011 12:13:17 PM

What you say is true to some extent but I question what kind of Democrat this man really is. I understand he is against a woman's right to choose and gay rights. Those are Republican positions not Democratic ones.

The fact that he taught at the brutal and much criticized School of the Americas tells me his economic views are also corporatist and right wing. That means they are aligned with those of Susana Martinez. Does anyone really know what his views are on higher education? If she wants to hire him he must have agreed to push her programs.

He is not the worst of her nominations so far, as you say, but I can't consider him to be a good one either. It may all be a moot point anyway because Martinez has said she wants to combine Public Education and Higher Education under one Secretary and it would likely be Garcia who would be tossed aside.

Posted by: Another View | Jan 1, 2011 5:22:48 PM