Defending the ILEA

Many organizations which form the opposition in El Salvador are steadfastly opposed to the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) which will use US personnel to provide training of police, judges and prosecutors from around Latin America. Critics like CISPES and others, argue that the ILEA is simply a reincarnation of the discredited School of the Americas, where the US trained Latin American military forces in counter-insurgency tactics which often led to human rights abuses when the trainees returned home.

But the issues are not so simple. El Salvador needs police with more training and professionalism if it is to solve its crime problems. And an important voice for human rights in El Salvador, the Human Rights Institute at the University of Central America is participating in the ILEA. Benjamin Cuellar, director of the Institute, was asked:

Q. What do you say to people who criticize the institute for collaborating with the ILEA?

There are two levels, the people who are not informed, who don't know, who believe it's another School of the Americas (SOA). We were never going to work with the SOA. The SOA is located in the United States, and it'’s for the military. This is for police officers and law enforcement agents in the region. To those who are not informed or misinformed, we're happy to educate them and ask them to come along with us. The school is open so that journalists, human rights groups, victims and other interested people can enter with us.

To those that say it's secret and that they're not sharing any information, when many of them were there in the U.S. Embassy receiving the same information as we did, I say that's no longer a question of bad information. It's a foregone conclusion, in which they'’re not being open to see if this is what really happens in practice. The social movements and political forces in the legislative assembly —knowing that they didn't have the votes to defeat it could have negotiated things like the conditions we've put in place. It would have been great if those conditions were in the agreement. Frankly, it would have been better if the other human rights groups, civil society organizations and political forces had accompanied us and together we could have guaranteed that the ILEA fulfill its mission of training police and law enforcement and not be used for other terrible, evil things.

They say that it's violating El Salvador's sovereignty, for example. But who says this country is sovereign? If they believe it is, that the Salvadoran government is independent, autonomous, I'd be grateful if they could convince me of that. It was approved in the legislative assembly, right? Formally, they completed all of the steps. So I would say to those people: look, please at least respect the institution's decisions.

At least, let us do our job without causing more complications than what we already have from our adversaries and assume that we are going to support all of these victims that struggle against impunity and want to find justice. And that they join us in denouncing the case of the Jesuits, not because it'’s the Jesuits, but because it is one of the symbols like Romero, El Mozote and Sumpul that can help to begin to tear down the wall of impunity. I would also like everyone to know that if anything happens that is out of line, if we begin to see that the ILEA could turn into another SOA, the IDHUCA will be the first institution to denounce it, and the only ones with objective knowledge because we're going to be inside and know what's going on.

Read the rest of the interview here.


Anonymous said…
What I don't get, is why do they think the U.S. can provide any guidance at all in successfully combatting gangs? Has anyone been to LA or Chicago or New York, DC/Virginia, or even smaller towns like Minneapolis, etc etc etc lately? Nobody can honestly say that US law enforcement has any clue how to stop gangs -- they certainly have no success on the ground in trying to stop them. Because the most basic, obvious point is that it is not at root a law enforcement or policing issue. The miserable failure of 'mano dura' and 'super mano dura' should make that clear.

Just this morning there was a segment on NPR about gangs in Chicago, estimating that there are between 75,000 and 125,000 (I think those were the numbers) gang members in the Chicago area, and that they have spread into the Chicago suburbs, and there is even some evidence of them in Iraq (!) now.

So while the problem of gangs in El Salvador is beyond terrible, and I can understand the desire to get someone, anyone to help train the police there on on how to deal with it, I would say that U.S. law enforcement is exactly the wrong group of people to be doing the training. This is not to mention the real (and in my opinion correct) concerns that this is another SOA-like operation to extend US hegemony throughout military and police institutions in Latin America.
Basta de Casaca said…
In my opinion the ILEA is simply a reincarnation of the School of the Americas, whose purpose seems to be the creation and training of murders.

I understand the desperation of many people in El Salvador who are fed up with violence and who are willing to give up some liberties in order to get some sense of security, and here is where the ARENA government takes advantage of the situation by simply imposing their political agenda and by "inventing" ridiculous, failure guaranteed anti-gang plans like mano dura, super-mano dura, which at the end, have proven to be nothing but a disgrace. By the way according to Félix Garrid Safie, in a interview that appears in EL FARO ( the increased violence in El Salvador is the result of the failed system.

Take a look at the Notorious Salvadoran School of the Americas Graduates here: - are we asking for more of that?

It's unfortunate that most of these criminals are not only still alive, but free of all charges and prosecution thanks to ARENA. The USA has even given many of them the "prize" of becoming american citizens... WHY?

In my opinion the ILEA is not the solution for the gangs in El Salvador-It comes to my mind the example of Irak, of how americans are training Iraquies to do a job which they themselves have no clue how to do. What's the real purpose behind the ILEA then?
Anonymous said…
To Samuel:

Have you have read a one paper about this whole issue? Really? are you really documented or is just another annoyance in your way of life?
Basta de Casaca said…
To Mario Hernandez;

I'm not sure that I understand your question, but, how about giving us your position, and opinion about this issue, if you have it; then, we can take it from there.
Anonymous said…
Samuel: what I see here is a repeated left propaganda. You are against Saca government, it doesn't matter the topics, is your way to see things. That attitude make you a losser. You will never see more than that. What a shame
Basta de Casaca said…
Well, Mario Hernandez;

If a repeated left propaganda is all you see, what a shame! There's a lot more happening than that... then I think it's time for you to open your eyes and be honest with your self, to see things the way the whole planet sees them not just the way El Diario de Hoy wants you to believe.

I'm not making things up; what I state is what I have read at the Unicef website, the report from the United Nations Commission of truth, US State Department, Amnesty International, Human Rights Commission, etc. etc. having said that, if you want to labed all those organizations as leftists, that's your problem; there's nothing I can do about that. Sorry!

And what I say about the salvadoran government, only blind or dishonest people don't see it that way.

Finally, for the second and last time, what's your position about the topic? Do you have an opinion or not?
Tim said…
Some replies:

To L.S. -- I agree that an enforcement only approach will not solve the gang problem and I agree with you and Samuel that the ARENA Mano Dura policies have made things worse.

But it is also the case that in El Salvador less than 20% of murders ever lead to arrests and punishment. If you don't have any kind of competent law enforcement presence, you deprive the population of another basic human right -- the right to be secure in the persons.

So something has to be done, and the US has offered assistance in a model which has been accepted as appropriate in other parts of the world. What is your objection other than the fact the US is sponsoring the ILEA? I do not agree with the argument that says -- if the US sponsors something it is automatically a bad thing which must be rejected by the left.

Samuel -- I understand your points that the School of the Americas was a bad institution, but that was 15 years ago. I don't think that the UN or Amnesty International or any of the other organizations you mentioned have said anything about the ILEA. Do you have some specific rejection of the ILEA other than a believ that it must be the same as the SOA?
Anonymous said…
I wish so much when discussing this issue the words, "left" (and "right" for that matter) were not used. Labeling points of view doesn't help to understand the problem. ... More to the point, US covert and otherwise military and political involvement in Central America and Latin America in general has a well-documented history. One should ask, has US policies in Central America changed recently? Has the US recently decided NOT to meddle in Latin American affairs? As far as I have read it has not. Thus, any military school or police academy in Latin America funded by US tax dollars is doing what it has always done, unfortunately.
Hodad said…
time for 'loco gringo, Senor Pescado'
for me
I have been to jail 3 times El Salvador
I live in their country, I follow their laws, 72 hours for all things, till they sort it out,
you yell at a woman on the street in san Salvador, be rude, cuss in public, you go to jail, you should, their country
for me, yes, many stories, the policia nacional in Salvador in my opinion are excellent, mannered, well trained, polite and will escort your female companion home if asked
I have no problem with them, we even all got together in Playa San Diego in 94 to start a 'puesto' my little Yorkie would play on futball with them on the beach,hey, I am a 'gringo' sure give them a soda, a cerveza,[after horas of course[por supuesto]] some food, they were a presence and gave a sense of security,
when I was in Candelaria, Santa Tecla, even under 24 hora policia in Hospital Santa Tecla, [since fell in 2001] las maras, they gave me food, water, and even helped clean and all in a circle give thanks for life and living in Salvador,
[ok at the DAN [for 3 joints[ yes, I was able to call Domino's,Pollo Campero, Subway,hey I paid, I had the cash
but I definitely the USA does not need to be there,with the macho attitude of the 'trainers' and MY Experiencia with many of the SOApersonell that have been in Salvador later, see los periodicos, muy pronto] they are bullys and animals
now in the USA with the prevalence of Mikey's 5 gripes, arrogance, greed, ignorance, obesity[>83%]. xenophobia,
El Salvador, in communion with it's neighbors, and fellow, Latin Countries, has the ability to solve IT'S OWN PROBLEMS without the USA and it's idiotic military solutions these are the same that perpetrated horrors in Salvador, that still makes ME cry and feel guilty to be from a country that could do these things to such incredible people as 'guancos' and ask me, I have traveled the world. and the axiom of El Salvador, mas chico pais con de las mas grande CORAZON is TRUE

do not get me started, I am just a redneck from the South, thank GOD, and yes I have faith in God,
back to the original premise, the police in El Salvador seem to me, and yes I was a problemo late night on occasion with motorcycles and lots of girlfriends, yes even the Nina Box, campeon de las mujeres de Boxeo
but they always treated me with respect, courtesy and professionalism even when I was arrested and incarcerated
and as far as 'lass maras'
I lived in a 'Mara' neighborhood for one year, maybe one day the book and movie, but for me the experience was one of a kind, and for this
one of the precepts of my Senor Pescado is the pair a Mara with a fishermen it will work, but I will not reveal all at this time
but think about it
they simply do not care to understand the culture and would not help the problemo
I have been there since 1983 and have observed a bit
but then again, I am a 53 yr old surfer that rides Zunzal at 7 meters and jungle dives,
tengo huevos y mi pistola adonde es dentro mis piernas
Cuidate Y Viva El Salvador
Peace to all and
'Keep Surfing'
Anonymous said…

You are the same as those who said that been against any government proyects is a communism fella

"I think it's time for you to open your eyes and be honest with your self, to see things the way the whole planet sees them not just the way El Diario de Hoy wants you to believe".