founder, School of the Americas Watch
Fr. Roy Bourgeois was born in Lutcher, Louisiana in 1938. He graduated from the University of Southwestern Louisiana with a Bachelor of Science degree in geology. After college Fr. Roy served as a Naval Officer for four years--two years at sea, one year at a NATO station in Europe, and one year of shore duty in Vietnam. He received the Purple Heart. After military service, Fr. Roy entered the seminary of the Maryknoll Missionary Order. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1972, and he went on to work with the poor of Bolivia for five years before being arrested and forced to leave the country, then under the repressive rule of dictator and SOA grad General Hugo Banzer. In 1980 Fr. Roy became involved in issues surrounding US policy in El Salvador after four US churchwomen--two of them his friends--were raped and killed by Salvadoran soldiers. Roy became an outspoken critic of US foreign policy in Latin America. Since then, he has spent over four years in US federal prisons for nonviolent protests against the training of Latin American soldiers at Ft. Benning, Georgia. In 1990, Roy founded the School of Americas Watch, an office that does research on the US Army School of the Americas (SOA), now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC, at Fort Benning, Georgia. Each year the school trains hundreds of soldiers from Latin America in combat skills - all paid for by U.S. taxpayers. The School of the Americas Watch, located just outside the main entrance of Fort Benning and in Washington, DC, informs the general public, Congress and the media about the implications of this training on the people of Latin America. Roy has worked on and helped produce several documentary films, including 1983's "Gods of Metal" about the nuclear arms race and 1995's "School of Assassins." Both films received Academy Award nominations. Fr. Roy was the recipient of the 1997 Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award. In December of 1998, Roy testified in Madrid before Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon seeking the extradition of Chile's ex-dictator General Augusto Pinochet. From 1999 to the present time, Roy has and continues to travel extensively, giving talks at universities, churches, and other groups around the country.
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