The School of Assassins

César Maxit created this powerful poster of Ingrid Carillo, who is holding a picture of her disappeared relative Alma Argentina at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia. The poster is based on a photograph by Linda Panetta. Ingrid is the daughter of Adriana Bartow-Portillo who is a life-long advocate for human rights and a survivor of the war in Guatemala.

After Guatemalan security forces killed one of her brothers and disappeared six members of her family, among them her father, her 10 and 9 year old daughters, and her 18-month old sister, Adriana and her two surviving daughters fled their native country and arrived in the US in 1985.

(Photo by Gordon Walek)

She has since worked hard to educate the US public about the human rights situation in her country, and the impact of political trauma and torture on the individual, community, and society in general. She has also worked hard to raise awareness of and educate about disappearances and the plight of their surviving relatives. She is the founder of the Guatemala-based Where Are The Children?, a non-profit organization working to find out the whereabouts of the thousands of children who disappeared during the war in Guatemala.


For the last 25 years people from all over the US have converged at the gates of the Fort Benning US Army Base in Georgia. They come with thousands of crosses inscribed with different names, many of them children and elderly each memorializing a death at the hands of right-wing governments in Latin America.

Please watch this short report below on the history of the school of the assassins and one priest’s 25 year effort to close it down.


The SOA is a military training school for Latin American security personnel. Its graduates are continually implicated in human rights violations against civilian populations across Latin America. In 1996 the Pentagon was forced to release training manuals used at the school that advocated the use of torture, extortion and execution.

The SOA was founded in 1946, and since its opening, has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers and police in courses ranging from commando tactics to military intelligence, psychological operations and counter-insurgency warfare.

In December 2000 Congress authorized the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC to replace the SOA. The renaming of the school was widely viewed as an attempt to diffuse public criticism and to disassociate the school from its reputation. The underlying purpose of the school remains the same: to control the economic and political systems of Latin America by training and influencing Latin American militaries.

2 responses

  1. That’s very powerful. Thank you for sharing this story.


    December 7, 2015 at 6:11 pm

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