Hundreds of protestors are expected to make their annual trip to the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, Nov. 21-23 to demonstrate against what they say is a school that teaches human rights abuses to Latin American militaries.
The annual protests against what was then the U.S. Army School of the Americas were begun in 1990 by then-Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois following shocking crimes: The murder of a missionary and three women religious in El Salvador in 1980, and the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper and her daughter. Both crimes were tied to graduates of the School of the Americas.
Under intense criticism, the school in 2000 changed its name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Officials insist the institute trains militaries to protect and defend human rights and democracy – protestors say nothing has changed but the window dressing and continue their November vigils. In 2006, a record 22,000 attended.
The kidnapping, rape and murder of Ursuline Sr. Dorothy Kazel, lay missioner Jean Donovan, and Maryknoll Srs. Maura Clarke and Ita Ford on Dec. 2, 1980, is personal for Maryknoll Sr. Madeline Dorsey.
She was supposed to be with them.
Dorsey had been ministering to the poor in El Salvador for five years, including the last year, when she worked alone serving 8,000 people in a rural diocese. It was Dorsey and Sr. Terry Alexander, another Maryknoll, who later identified the bodies of the four women when they were exhumed from a shallow grave.