Ecuador will no longer send troops to the U.S. military training school at Fort Benning, Ga., formerly known as the School of the Americas (SOA), whose graduates who have been implicated in human rights abuses, the country’s foreign minister announced Wednesday afternoon.
The announcement, first reported by the Spanish news agency EFE, comes after a meeting Wednesday between Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa and members of SOA Watch, a group founded by Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois to work for the closure of the military training school.
Confirming the news Wednesday, Ecuadoran foreign minister Ricardo Patiño posted on Twitter in Spanish that "Ecuador will no longer send members of its armed forces nor its police to the sadly famous former School of the Americas in the United States."
Hendrik Voss, SOA Watch’s national organizer, said in a phone interview Wednesday that the group first became aware of the news when several of its members met with Correa in the Ecuadoran capital, Quito, earlier that day. When the members, including Bourgeois, arrived for the meeting, Correa immediately told them of the decision, said Voss.