Posts Tagged ‘Central America’

Ilhan Omar holds Elliott Abrams to account

February 14, 2019

Elliott Abrams in the 1980s carried out U.S. support for central American dictatorships that massacred their own people.  He is justly hated for his actions to this day.  For the Trump administration to put him in charge of U.S. policy toward Venezuela is an insult to the people of Latin America and a signal that the U.S. government does not care about human rights.

In the video above, Rep. Ilhan Omar, a new member of Congress from Minneapolis, questions Abrams about his record.  Along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib, she is a new voice in Congress, who speaks truths that others fear to state.

Omar referred to a notorious massacre in which more than 800 civilians, including two-year-old children, were killed by U.S.-trained troops.  The Intercept had details on this:

On December 11, 1981 in El Salvador, a Salvadoran military unit created and trained by the U.S. Army began slaughtering everyone they could find in a remote village called El Mozote.  Before murdering the women and girls, the soldiers raped them repeatedly, including some as young as 10 years old, and joked that their favorites were the 12-year-olds.  One witness described a soldier tossing a 3-year-old child into the air and impaling him with his bayonet.  The final death toll was over 800 people.

The next day, December 12, was the first day on the job for Elliott Abrams as assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs in the Reagan administration. Abrams snapped into action, helping to lead a cover-up of the massacre.  News reports of what had happened, Abrams told the Senate, were “not credible,” and the whole thing was being “significantly misused” as propaganda by anti-government guerillas.  [snip]

The extermination of El Mozote was just a drop in the river of what happened in El Salvador during the 1980s. About 75,000 Salvadorans died during what’s called a “civil war,” although almost all the killing was done by the government and its associated death squads. The numbers alone don’t tell the whole story. El Salvador is a small country, about the size of New Jersey. The equivalent number of deaths in the U.S. would be almost 5 million. 

Moreover, the Salvadoran regime continually engaged in acts of barbarism so heinous that there is no contemporary equivalent, except perhaps ISIS.

In one instance, a Catholic priest reported that a peasant woman briefly left her three small children in the care of her mother and sister. When she returned, she found that all five had been decapitated by the Salvadoran National Guard. Their bodies were sitting around a table, with their hands placed on their heads in front of them, “as though each body was stroking its own head.”  The hand of one, a toddler, apparently kept slipping off her small head, so it had been nailed onto it.  At the center of the table was a large bowl full of blood.

Criticism of U.S. policy at the time was not confined to the left. During this period, Charles Maechling Jr., who had led State Department planning for counterinsurgencies during the 1960s, wrote in the Los Angeles Times that the U.S. was supporting “Mafia-like oligarchies” in El Salvador and elsewhere and was directly complicit in “the methods of Heinrich Himmler’s extermination squads.”

Source: The Intercept

Similar stories could be told about U.S. support for the dictatorship in Guatemala and Panama and for the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.

(more…)

The Central American scene: Links 7/9/2015

July 9, 2015

My expatriate e-mail pen-pal Jack sent me a batch of links to interesting articles concerning two central American countries—Nicaragua, ruled by the formerly anti-U.S. Sandinistas, and Honduras, ruled by a military junta covertly supported by the U.S.

∞∞∞

Daniel Ortega is a Sandinista in name only by Stephen Kinzer for Al Jazeera America.

Daniel Ortega Goes From U.S. Foe to Friend in Drug War Battle by Michael D. McDonald for Bloomberg Business.

Nicaraguan Canal Could Wreck Environment, Scientists Say by Brian Clark Howard for National Geographic.  This is about a deal with a Chinese company to build a canal to supposedly rival the Panama Canal.

Nicaragua canal will wreak havoc on forests and displace people, NGO warns by Mark Anderson for The Guardian.

Nicaragua’s Grand Canal: No Indigenous Consent and Probable Environmental Catastrophe by Rick Kearns for Indian Country.

A Canal Too Far: Nicaraguan Campesinos Tell Ortega to Take His Canal and Shove It by Wilfredo Miranda for The World Post.

Long silence from Nicaragua’s president as first lady keeps press at arm’s length by John Otis of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Nicaragua’s Ortega says US senator, congresswoman on official list of banned foreigners by the Tico Times.

Mitch McConnell: John Kerry visited Nicaragua in 1980s to accuse Reagan of ‘engaging in terrorism’ by Louis Jacobson of the Tampa Bay Times.

∞∞∞

Hillary Clinton sold out Honduras: Lanny Davis, corporate cash and the real story about the death of a Latin American democracy by Matthew Pulver for Salon.

Hillary Clinton Admits Role in Honduran Coup by Mark Weisbrot for Al Jazeera America.

Hillary Clinton Suggested Lanny Davis Back Channel in Honduras by Lee Fang for The Intercept.

Scandal in the Social Security Institute in Honduras: Key Witness Shot by Aqui Abajo

Perilous journey

April 18, 2012

Last year I read a book entitled The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands about unauthorized immigrants and the Arizona borderlands.   The title referred to the death of Josseline Hernandez, a 14-year-old girl who was left behind to die on thirst and exposure in the desert when she was unable to keep up with the rest of her group of border crossers.

Josseline Hernandez was from El Salvador, not Mexico, and many of the other individuals mentioned in the book also were from Central America.  I wondered how this migrants made it across Mexico, a country which more restrictive on immigration than the United States.  This excellent Al Jazeera documentary tells how they do it.  Crossing Mexico is perilous.  Only about 40 percent of those who start out make it to the U.S. border, although some may succeed on a second or third try.

It stands to reason that a lot of people who cross the border without authorization probably do so for illicit reasons.  But I can’t help sympathizing with people who risk so much in order to gain a better life for themselves or their families.  All of us Americans, except for native Americans, the descendents of black slaves and the descendents of titled aristocrats, are descended from people like that.

Click on Death along the Arizona border for my review of The Death of Josseline.  The author, Margaret Regan, a reporter based in Tucson, describes the human side of unauthorized immigration very well, and does justice to the views of all concerned.