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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

El Salvador's Legacy 

I guess it was inevitable that this Administration would turn to the savage tactics used in El Salvador during the 1980’s. This is where they learned to fight a proxy war by supporting right-wing paramilitaries against progressives, labor, campesino peasant farmers, and those elements of the Catholic Church there who objected to the oligarchy. The group who viewed this brutal policy as ‘anti-communism’ is the same group that President H.W. Bush’s son has turned to for foreign policy advice.

As Frontline journalist Joe Rubin has pointed out, “President George W. Bush recruited many Reagan/Bush-era veterans of the Central American wars to serve on his foreign policy team. Despite objections from Democrats in Congress, Bush's déjá vu appointments have included Eliot Abrams (who pled guilty to two counts of lying to Congress during the Iran Contra hearings), Richard Armitage, John Poindexter, Roger Noriega and Otto Reich. Most recently, John Negroponte was appointed ambassador to Iraq. Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras under George H.W. Bush and was criticized by human rights organizations for not doing enough to stem death squad activity there.”

The move to consider reviving the discredited policies of the Central American wars of the 1980’s in Iraq has been brewing for some time. Vice President Cheney, himself a former hardline supporter of aid to the groups responsible for rampant death squad activity in El Salvador, has been attempting to rewrite the history of this troubled nation. During the Vice Presidential debate, Cheney
referred
to the 75,000 killed there during the civil war as though their deaths had been at the hands of the rebels, when in fact the UN Truth Commission established otherwise, that 80-90% of all the killing in El Salvador was committed by the US-supported Army and paramilitary death squads.

For anyone wanting to understand the horror and savagery the US policies wreaked on this tiny country, I recommend reading Teresa Whitfield’s Paying the Price, a detailed history of the Salvadoran Army’s killing of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter, for the crime of speaking out against other such killings.

Having interviewed innocent civilian victims of this policy and seen the results, I can’t believe this is the path being considered again. It’s unspeakable.

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