Backgrounder: Mercy's Involvement in School of Americas

The Sisters of Mercy's presence protesting the School of the Americas (SOA) at the Gate in Fort Benning, Georgia began with Sister Alice Lovett in the mid-1980s. Since then the SOA, known now as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), has been steeped in controversy.

From 1946 to 1984, the SOA was located in Panama. In the early 1980s, the Sisters of Mercy, who had sisters serving in Panama, stood in steadfast witness protesting the SOA at the Gate of Fort Gulick, the military compound housing the School of the Americas in Panama. Before it was removed from Panama under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty, a major Panamanian newspaper dubbed it the School of Assassins, and for good reason: SOA-trained soldiers left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where they served.

For almost three decades, Sisters of Mercy have walked with our Latin American brothers and sisters, victims and family members of persons tortured, raped, assassinated, massacred and forced into refugee camps at the hands of SOA-trained troops who waged war against their own people.

Sisters of Mercy, associates, students, and Mercy friends have joined others at the gate of Fort Benning in prayer-filled protest, placing their bodies on the line, as walking sisters seeking nonviolent justice, calling military and legislative systems to Close the SOA, to Close WHINSEC.