Groups demand WHINSEC closes its doors - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Groups demand WHINSEC closes its doors

FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) -

Crowds gathered at the gates of Fort Benning on Friday, demanding the closing of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, also known as WHINSEC.

This is a different group than the SOA watch that arrives here every year.

Carrying signs saying things like "Where is my son?" or " Help us find him," these protesters walked to the Stone Gate of Fort Benning, rallying against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC.

The group's leader, Javier Sicilia, spoke with News Leader Nine with the help of a translator.

"Here they build and construct not armies but criminals," said Sicilia.

Sicilia and the rest of the protesters with the Caravan for Peace with Justice and Dignity, is a poet from Mexico. The group has been traveling the United States protesting Mexico's War on Drug. They want to make America aware that this war has reportedly claimed thousands of lives.

Stopping in Columbus, Sicilia and other protestors from Latin America say much of the violence in their countries comes from those who have been trained by WHINSEC.

"Many of those who have left the armies now form drug cartels like the Zetas," said Sicilia.

However, Lee Rials, with Public Affairs for the school on Fort Benning, says the group's accusations are not true.

"The fact that somebody who went there at some point in his life and his career later committed a crime is irrelevant if you can't make the point that he learned something there that he shouldn't have and there is absolutely no evidence of that," said Rials.

He says the school teaches legal, moral and ethical curriculum approved by the U.S government.

"Anytime on any work day, anyone is welcome to come see what we do. Sit in on our classes, talk with our faculty and students, review our instructional materials," said Rials.

Next, the Caravan for Peace will head to Chicago, New York, and end in Washington D.C. On September 10th.

Copyright 2012 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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