The Nov. 3 Wisconsin State Journal quotes Madison Bishop Robert Morlino as saying, regarding the former School of the Americas, now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, "I know for a fact there is no evidence to connect what the school teaches with any kind of atrocities."
"That was disturbing," says Sister Maureen McDonnell, a member of the local chapter of School of the Americas Watch. "When I saw that, the thought occurred to me, I'm not sure what kind of evidence he's looking for."
At least since the fall of 2005, when he accepted an appointment to the Georgia-based military school's board of directors, Morlino has been bombarded with just such evidence, from a United Nation's truth commission and other sources. Even the school itself has purportedly affirmed that its graduates have committed human rights abuses throughout Latin America, including the murders of nuns and priests.
In June 2006, a delegation including McDonnell presented Morlino with a study documenting these abuses written by a UW graduate student and published in a respected journal, Latin American Perspectives. This February, Morlino attended a forum at which the study's author and others offered further substantiation.
McDonnell says further meetings with Morlino are not planned or sought. What would be the point?
In concert with protests in Georgia, a prayer vigil for victims of violence and oppression in Latin America - "including the murders, torture and other atrocities carried out by soldiers trained at the School of the Americas" - will take place on Friday, Nov. 16, on the Capitol Square, beginning at 6:15 p.m. Participants are asked to bring flashlights to serve as candles.
Bishop Morlino is not expected to attend.