Bush gets scared of leftist takeover of Latin America, quietly orders joint military training

Originally published 11/11/06:

Man, this is nuts.  USA Today reports:

WASHINGTON – Concern about leftist victories in Latin America has prompted President Bush to quietly grant a waiver that allows the United States to resume training militaries from 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries. The administration hopes the training will forge links with countries in the region and blunt a leftward trend. Daniel Ortega, an adversary of the United States in the region during the 1980s, was elected president in Nicaragua this week. Bolivians chose another leftist, Evo Morales, last year.”

http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20061110/1a_bottomstrip10.art.htm

We are resuming the era of the Contras and other terrorist activities by training right wing militaries to counter the left leaning tendencies within their own borders.  This is exactly what the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning Georgia is for… training people to commit torture, human rights abuses etc. so that any lefty’s will think twice before they deny rich profits to US multinational corporations.

http://www.soaw.org/new/

Brace yourselves latin America.  Here we come.

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8 Responses to “Bush gets scared of leftist takeover of Latin America, quietly orders joint military training”


  1. 1 ChrisH September 14, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    I respectfully suggest that you live in Latin America for a few years, including at least one full year in Nicaragua, before you come to the conclusion that a US presence or influence, economically and militarily, is a bad, bad thing. It’s not all good; but it’s got more going in favor of it than against it.

    The situation here is complex and cannot be understood only through books and the media. For one thing, what you all up there call “leftists” we here call “dictators”. And what you consider “conservatives” are known as “liberals” both in the streets and the media here. Why? Because the “conservatives/liberals” are in favor of freedom, civil liberties and a more equitable distribution of income. The “leftists/dictators” are oppressive sociopaths who seek to concentrate all wealth and power in their inner circles. They do not help the people — they hurt them — and the maority of the people here agree according to most polls, which aren’t even published in the US, by the way.

    Most people here think the Americans are the good guys and would like us to be more involved. The people who don’t are a very vocal minority, who skillfully manipulate elections and consistently make international headlines because the drama sells advertising.

    You’ve got it all backwards. If you lived here you’d see it for yourself; I’ve seen dozens of expats go through that process over the years. I imagine you will scoff at this idea but I hope you will have an open mind and give it a try. You’re clearly intelligent and I would like to see your voice (once fully informed) heard loudly.

  2. 2 ChrisH September 14, 2007 at 11:22 pm

    Below is just one example (from a posting I happened to come across today) of what happens when the US allows, through a lack of action, a dictator to take power. If you lived here, you would hear how the people really feel about this sad period, as well as a more recent period during which Montt’s hand-puppet, Portillo, was elected President. During his tenure Portillo and Montt orchestrated what is known as Black Thursday in July 2002, and I had the displeasure of being in the center of it, barricaded inside my house, with an angry mob, paid by them, burning tires and throwing rocks at my doorstep. The country immediately asked, “Where are the Marines? Why don’t they stop this?”

    Portillo left office in Guatemala with a 4 percent approval rating. Ortega in Nicargaua currently has a NEGATIVE 10 percent approval rating. So you see, these democracies are not mature yet and need some nurturing. There are bumps and mistakes along the way, but overall, the US is helping to stabilize and improve these countries. The US is helping to teach them how to become mature, productive and peaceful societies.

    GUATEMALA:
    Genocide Plans May Be Declassified
    By Inés Benítez

    GUATEMALA CITY, (IPS) – Guatemala’s Constitutional Court must decide whether or not to declassify documents from 1982 and 1983 military operations commanded by then dictator José Efraín Ríos Montt that would shed light on the genocide committed in this Central American country.

    “The victims have the right to know the truth, and revealing these documents is a form of reparation,” Alejandro Rodríguez, a lawyer with the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR), said Thursday in a public hearing held by the Constitutional Court.

    In the hearing a public prosecutor and Ríos Montt’s defence attorneys presented arguments in favour of and against declassifying the files.

    The Court has five working days, as of Thursday, to make a decision.

    On Jul. 19, an appeals court dismissed a legal plea by Ríos Montt to keep the military documents secret. Appeals court Judge Napoleón Gutiérrez argued in his ruling that the documents did not compromise national security because the crimes had already been committed.

    He instructed the Defence Ministry, which has kept the files confidential as “state secrets,” to hand certified copies of them over to the court hearing the case in which Ríos Montt and other military officers have been charged with genocide.

    The documents in question deal with military operations carried out at the height of the counterinsurgency “scorched earth” campaign in which hundreds of rural indigenous villages were destroyed, along with every man, woman and child living there. The operations were known as “Campaña Victoria 1982”, the Jul. 15, 1982 “Operativo Sofía”, the 1983 “Operación Ixil, Civilian Affairs” and “Plan Firmeza 1983”.

    Article 30 of the Guatemalan constitution establishes that all administrative documents and files are public unless they deal with military or diplomatic affairs involving national security.

    “We cannot try to hide the atrocities that were committed by arguing that a ‘state secret’ is involved,” said another AJR lawyer, Edgar Pérez.

    “The argument of ‘state secret’ cannot be used as a mechanism of impunity,” said Rodríguez, who maintained that the aim of those who want the documents to remain confidential is to block an investigation of the atrocities ordered by Ríos Montt.

    The former dictator, who governed Guatemala from March 1982 to August 1983, is facing legal action in Guatemala for human rights crimes committed during his time in office, considered the bloodiest period of the 1960-1996 armed conflict that left more than 200,000 — mainly rural indigenous people — dead, including 50,000 victims of forced disappearance.

    And in July 2006, a high court in Spain, the Audiencia Nacional, issued an international arrest warrant to seek the extradition to Spain of Ríos Montt and seven other former military and civilian officials from his de facto administration, on charges of torture, state terrorism and genocide.

    One of Ríos Montt’s lawyers, Luis Alfonso González, said Thursday that under military rules, a document considered to be a “state secret” can only be declassified “after 30 years, or under a decision by the same authority that classified it” — in this case, the Defence Ministry.

    “If the public prosecutor office’s request is granted, both the Defence Ministry and the Constitutional Court judge would be violating the constitution,” argued González, who said “the judge cannot decide whether or not the document is secret.”

    Iduvina Hernández of the non-governmental Association for the Study and Promotion of Security in Democracy (SEDEM) told IPS that “at this point, a quarter century after the events, there is no national security argument that can justify the continued classification or secrecy surrounding military operations in the field.”

    “What is a state secret? Killing children, burning down thatch huts? The army wants to wash its hands like Pilates,” Ramón Caba, the survivor of a massacre and the chairman of the AJR board of directors, told journalists Thursday.

    The AJR groups survivors of the massacres committed during the civil war.

    At the end of the public hearing, which lasted an hour and a half, Caba said he hoped the Constitutional Court “will have a good response for us, the survivors.”

    Tiburcio Gutui, 67, will never forget Feb. 16, 1982, the day the army came into his village and killed his father, mother and five brothers and sisters. “First they shot people, then they set everything on fire and took away the animals — the pigs and chickens,” he described to IPS.

    Euligia López, whose husband was shot to death, told reporters that “In my community (in the central province of Chimaltenango) alone, they killed 24 women, children and men. We want justice because we were left in utter poverty after the military burnt down our houses.”

    The survivors who showed up at the public hearing expressed their trust in Guatemala’s justice system.

    Juan Francisco Soto, the head of the Centre for Legal Action on Human Rights (CALDH), also expressed optimism.

    In a statement, CALDH pointed out that according to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in cases of human rights violations, authorities cannot invoke mechanisms like “state secrets,” confidentiality, or reasons of public interest or national security to refuse to hand over information requested by authorities carrying out an investigation or legal process.

    The Inter-American Court took that stance in its ruling against the Guatemalan state for the murder of anthropologist Myrna Mack, the founder of the Association for the Advance of Social Sciences in Guatemala (AVANCSO), who was stabbed to death outside of the group’s offices in the capital in September 1990.

    In 1989, Mack had published a study which concluded that government counter-insurgency policies had caused the internal displacement of Guatemala’s indigenous people.

    In 1993, Sergeant Noel de Jesús Beteta Álvarez, a member of the Department of Presidential Security, was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for Mack’s murder.

    Thursday’s hearing added a new dimension to next Sunday’s general elections, in which Guatemalans will choose a new president, vice president, legislators and mayors.

    Ríos Montt, 81, heads the list of parliamentary candidates of the right-wing Guatemalan Republican Front, the main opposition party.

    A May 18 ruling by the Supreme Electoral Court allowed him to run for reelection to the legislature, despite the legal charges he is facing. The decision drew howls of outrage both within and outside Guatemala.

    On Jul. 30, the Guatemalan attorney general’s office received 1,200 letters from people in 23 countries urging it to speed up the cases against Ríos Montt and other military officers accused of genocide and crimes against humanity.

  3. 3 ChrisH September 14, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    One last comment, and then I’ll leave you alone, at least for today. 🙂

    I sincerely hope that you and others are not so naieve as to believe that the battle over releasing these classified documents about the genocides was initiated by Guatemalans. Oh no. It is the direct result of strong US pressure and funding through various NGOs, and probably the CIA as well. A few brave Guatemalans are involved of course but without US support, such a bold step would never have been imagined here. Never. Not in a million years, if the US had not pushed for transparency and democracy.

    This is the kind of thing you don’t hear about Stateside. You can only learn about it by being here, by seeing — no, experiencing — the big picture and watching how each piece of the puzzle fits together over time.

  4. 4 theradicalmormon September 15, 2007 at 6:04 am

    Chris,

    I appreciate your remarks, sharing your experience. I would love to travel to Latin America sometime. I have especially been interested in the developements in Venezuela and have followed the situation for the last 7 years or so. I appreciate your experience… however, I have spoken with many others who have had quite different personal experiences.

    I’m sure you already know this history, but this Ríos Montt guy is basically a creation of the US in the first place. He was trained in the School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, Georgia, in counterinsurgency (read: get rid of anything that appears leftist) and was instrumental in the coup which overthrew Arbenz in 1954 (the coup was essentially run by the US). He was backed in his coup to take over the Guatemalan government in 1982 by the CIA, which supported him thru his worst atrocities. Reagan visited him in 1982 and said:

    “President Ríos Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment. … I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.”

    When an awful guy like this becomes more of a liability than an assett, the US will publicly withdraw support, as they have in Montt’s case. The same thing happened with Suharto of Indonesia. He was a horrible, genocidal maniac, who was supported to the hilt by the US for a long time, until he became so unpopular that the Clinton administration finally suggested that he step aside, publicly withdrawing support, and with immediate results, Suharto stepped aside.

    The US will not send in the Marines to take care of their creations who have become a liability. They just sort of drop them like a bad habit. Where you see the Marines coming in is in cases where leftists are elected who are not obedient to the US. The US is most concerned now with Venezuela, and Bolivia, and is not particularly enamored with other somewhat less leftist leaders in Latin America. Some leftists are not good leaders or good men. I’ll definately recognize that. However, some seek to do good for their people. Look at the popular backing that Chavez has in Venezuela right now. He has never lost an election against a corrupt and fully US backed opposition. His reforms have led to a marvelous lifting of the burdens of the poor there. The oil revenues of his nation are benefitting the common people. The US desires that the oil revenues of Venezuela benefit a few filthy rich oligarchs. Who is right? The Venezuelan people say Chavez is.

    Again Chris, I appreciate your views, but I’m afraid your anecdotal experiences do not shake me from the evil that the US has enacted on the Latin American peoples. By the way, I’d recommned a book by Noam Chomsky entitled, “Deterring Democracy.” You can find it online for free and it goes thru and documents very well how the US has gone about actively fighting against the freedom’s of many foreign peoples in favor of business interests. Pretty much the description in the Book of Mormon of secret combinations.

  5. 5 ChrisH September 15, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Chavez does NOT have popular backing right now. The elections have NOT been free, and the poor are NOT better off. The oil revenues are NOT benefiting the common people. That is precisely my point: you are misinformed. Go to Caracas and ask ten people on the street if you don’t believe me.

    You speak of secret combinations. Which secret combinations have conspired to put these ideas into your head?

    It scares me to think that Americans who are truly interested in the wellbeing of the poor could possibly think Chavez is part of the solution.

  6. 6 theradicalmormon September 15, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Wow Chris. You’re going to have to provide some sources for that. Chavez has approval ratings at about 60%. Even the constitutional reforms (which are quite arguably not in the best interest of the Venezuelan people) are supported by the majority of the people there and will probably pass. The elections have been certified as fair and free by the OAS and the Carter Center. The oil revenues have been used to trade for health care in providing 20,000 doctors and nurses to care for the common people. Housing projects are being built at a rapid pace and food is subsidized for the poor. Literacy rates are near 100%. Sadly… I believe that it is you that are misinformed sir.

    Secret combinations are a great description for the combination of support the CIA gave for Rios Montt during his murderous reign.

  7. 7 theradicalmormon September 15, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    Actually a recent poll by Datos showed Chavez’s approval rating at 73.4%! I’m afraid you’ve been talking to the wrong people for your information Chris.

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