January 03, 2007
What's going on here? Look it up.
The Record's Nov. 15 editorial criticized Latin America's new governments, asking, "What's going on here?" exclaiming, "Ay, caramba!" Your intention was positive. The problem is that dominating nations forget history that the dominated countries can't forget.
Nicaragua (your term: that "poor Central American country") has suffered under U.S. hegemony since in the early 20th century. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler described his role there as "a gangster for capitalism" since FDR dubbed Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza "an SOB, but he's our SOB," a phrase that has epitomized U.S. policy throughout the region and world since Augosto Sandino's liberation movement and his assassination by U.S. client Somoza. Using your phrase, we can "look it up."
Sandino's cause resurrected in the late 1970s revolution against Somoza's son, bringing Daniel Ortega to the presidency, elected by 63 percent in 1985. In 1990, he was "kicked out of office" (your view) for the U.S.-sponsored Violeta Barrios de Chamorro when he got 41 percent of the vote facing a coalition of opponents and the effect of the invasion of Panama on Nicaraguan voters. This after a U.S.-financed electoral campaign against their government that followed the illegal U.S. "contra" war, which, you say, "precipitated the Iran-contra affair." Fifty thousand Nicaraguans died.
You state your concern as "leftist governments have taken over (they were popularly elected, you know) in Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and the Dominican Republic. That's what happens when friends feel they've been ignored," the Record opines. No, that's what can happen — governments for the country's people, not the country's U.S. corporate friends — when the U.S. can't dominate. First controlled by colonial power Spain, then capitalist U.S., they are standing up for their well-being — what you call "leftist."
Look up John Perkins' "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," learn what those countries know that we don't know, to our ignorance and loss. Read the history of U.S. covert and overt invasions in Latin America and worldwide in William Blum's well-documented "Killing Hope." From Latin America to the Middle East, we reap what we sow.
These aren't liberal or conservative facts. These are unalloyed facts. Why are we so uninformed? Why no reporting on the conference attended by officials from those countries in mid-November exploring how to re-establish human rights after suffering decades of onerous abuse? Abuse overlooked, condoned, supported by the U.S. in favor of its "friends."
Look up: the Uruguayan former president and others now under indictment for crimes against that country's citizens; Chilean President Gen. August Pinochet, indicted before he died for human rights abuses after we helped overthrow his elected predecessor; the Argentinean president, generals and other military officers involved in the 30,000 "disappeareds"; the U.S. and CIA overthrow of elected governments in Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and Brazil; the support of a death squad backed government in El Salvador in the '80s; the ludicrous invasion of Grenada by Reagan, which left the island nation far worse off; and the invasion to get Noriega in Panama when he defied his U.S. bosses. That's only a partial list.
Look up School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga. SOA Watch states, "Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the 'biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.' The SOA, frequently dubbed the 'School of Assassins,' has left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned. ... Hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans have been tortured, raped, assassinated, 'disappeared,' massacred, and forced into refugee by those trained at the School of Assassins."
U.S. government Latin American friends?
"Ay, caramba!" indeed.
Elmer Brunsman of Montgomery is a history teacher and former Peace Corps volunteer in Peru.