March 07, 2005

Central American Wars in Bush's America

Dora Maria Tellez, member of Nicaraguan Sandanistas, 1979: Terrorist

The woman who epitomised the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution that overthrew the dictator Anastasio Somoza has been denied entry to the US to take up her post as a Harvard professor on the grounds that she had been involved in "terrorism".

...It comes at a time when President George Bush has appointed as his new intelligence chief a man associated with the "dirty war" against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

...Ms Tellez was a young medical student when she became a commandante with the leftwing Sandinistas in their campaign to topple the dictator.

...The US state department has told her she is ineligible because of involvement in "terrorist acts". A spokesman for the department confirmed yesterday that she had been denied a visa under a section making those who had been involved in terrorist acts ineligible. (via Avedon Carol)

John Negroponte, Ambassador to El Salvador, 1981: Not a Terrorist

From 1981 to 1985 Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador to Honduras. During his tenure, he oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year. At the time, Honduras was ruled by an elected but heavily militarily-influenced government. According to The New York Times, Negroponte was allegedly involved in "carrying out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the Sandinistas government in Nicaragua." Critics say that during his ambassadorship, human rights violations in Honduras became systematic.

Negroponte supervised the construction of the El Aguacate air base where Nicaraguan Contras were trained by the U.S., and which some critics say was used as a secret detention and torture center during the 1980s. In August 2001, excavations at the base discovered 185 corpses, including two Americans, who are thought to have been killed and buried at the site.

Records also show that a special intelligence unit (commonly referred to as a "death squad") of the Honduran armed forces, Battalion 3-16, trained by the CIA and the Argentine military, kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of people, including U.S. missionaries. Critics charge that Negroponte knew about these human rights violations and yet continued to collaborate with the Honduran military while lying to Congress.

Elliot Abrams, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs under Reagan, 1981-1985, Not a Terrorist

Unless you were around and following events in the 1980s, especially Central American affairs and later, the Iran-contra scandal, you probably won’t know who Elliot Abrams is. More’s the pity too. As Reagan's Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs he used to oversee US foreign policy in Latin America, and was active in covering up some of the worst atrocities committed by the US-sponsored Contras. According to congressional records, under Abram's watch, the Contras "raped, tortured, and killed unarmed civilians, including children," and that "groups of civilians, including women and children, were burned, dismembered, blinded and beheaded."

One Abrams specialty was massacre denial. During a Nightline appearance in 1985, he was asked about reports that the US-funded Salvadoran military had slaughtered civilians at two sites the previous summer. Abrams maintained that no such events had occurred. And had the US Embassy and the State Department conducted an investigation? "My memory," he said, "is that we did, but I don't want to swear to it, because I'd have to go back and look at the cables." But there had been no State Department inquiry; Abrams, in his lawyerly fashion, was being disingenuous. Three years earlier, when two American journalists reported that an elite, US-trained military unit had massacred hundreds of villagers in El Mozote, Abrams told Congress that the story was commie propaganda, as he fought for more US aid to El Salvador's military. The massacre, as has since been confirmed, was real. And in 1993 after a UN truth commission, which examined 22,000 atrocities that occurred during the twelve-year civil war in El Salvador, attributed 85 percent of the abuses to the Reagan-assisted right-wing military and its death-squad allies, Abrams declared, "The Administration's record on El Salvador is one of fabulous achievement." Tell that to the survivors of El Mozote.

Like natasha noted this weekend, with Homeland Security working so hard on hassling people like the archbishop and visiting professors of Harvard, it must mean our country is safe.

Posted by Mary at March 7, 2005 11:32 PM | Human Rights | Technorati links |
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