Chapter 2: The Home Front Segment 2/7
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Central America has been a foreign policy obsession throughout the eighties, and the effects are evident. Prior to this grim and shameful decade, Central America had been one of the most miserable corners of the world. That its fate might teach us some lessons about the great power that has long dominated the region and repeatedly intervened in its affairs is a thought foreign to the minds of the important people, and it is understood that they are not to be troubled by such discordant notes. Thus in the New York Times Magazine, James LeMoyne ruminates on the deep-seated problems of Central America, recalling the role of Cuba, the Soviet Union, North Korea, the PLO, Vietnam, and other disruptive foreign forces. One actor is missing, apart from the phrase that in El Salvador, "the United States bolstered the Salvadoran Army, insisted on elections and called for some reforms." In another Times Magazine story, Tad Szulc gave a similar treatment to the Caribbean, observing that "the roots of the Caribbean problems are not entirely Cuban"; the "Soviet offensive" is also to blame along with the consequences of "colonial greed and mismanagement" by European powers. The U.S. is charged only with "indifference" to the brewing problems.4
In a later Times Magazine story, Stephen Kinzer concedes that in Guatemala -- which he had offered as a model for the errant Sandinistas -- the progress of "democracy" leaves something to be desired. To be sure, there are some encouraging signs; thus murders by the security forces we bolster have declined to perhaps two a day, definitely an improvement over the period when Reagan and his cohorts were enthusiastically hailing Lucas Garc¡a and R¡os Montt, whom Kinzer now describes as "two of the most ruthless military presidents" (in fact, mass murderers). But Kinzer, who knows the role of the U.S. in Guatemala well, also knows the rules of decorum: in his version, Guatemala's democratic interlude of 1944-54 ended for some unstated reason, and the subsequent U.S. role, until today, receives no mention whatsoever. We find again only an oblique reference to general indifference: "rich countries -- notably the United States -- welcomed, and in some cases helped to force the transitions to civilian rule in Latin America," but without sufficient commitment or recognition of "longer-term challenges." If in Guatemala "more people are unemployed, and more people now eat out of garbage dumps, than ever in memory," if the army maintains its vicious and murderous regime, if the military and super-rich who rule behind a thin civilian façade persist in what the Catholic bishops call the "inhuman and merciless" abuse of the impoverished peasants, then it must be a reflection of their inherent worthlessness. Surely no respectable person could imagine that the United States might share some responsibility for instituting and maintaining this charnel house.5
The practice is virtually a literary convention. Reporting the Bosch-Balaguer 1990 election campaign in the Dominican Republic, Howard French tells us that Juan Bosch, "a lifelong Marxist," "was removed from office in a military coup shortly after winning the country's first free elections, in 1963," and that his rival, Joaqu¡n Balaguer, defeated Bosch in the 1966 presidential election. Omitted are a few pertinent facts, among them: that there had been no prior free elections because of repeated U.S. interventions, including long support for the murderer and torturer Trujillo until he began to interfere with U.S. interests; that "the lifelong Marxist" advocated policies similar to those of the Kennedy Democrats; that the U.S. was instrumental in undermining him and quickly backed the new military regime; that when the populace arose to restore constitutional rule in 1965, the U.S. sent 23,000 troops on utterly fraudulent pretexts to avert the threat of democracy, establishing the standard regime of death squads, torture, repression, slave labor conditions, increase in poverty and malnutrition, vast emigration, and wonderful opportunities for U.S. investors, and tolerating the "free election" of 1966 only when the playing field had been levelled by ample terror.6
Even such major atrocities as the slaughter in Cambodia that the U.S. conducted and presided over in the early 1970s have faded quietly away. As a matter of routine, when the New York Times reviews the horror story of Cambodia, it begins in April 1975, under the heading "The Cambodia Ordeal: A Country Bleeds for 15 Years." No one bled, apparently, from the time of the first sustained U.S. bombings in March 1969 through April 1975, when 600,000 people were killed, according to CIA estimates.7
The moral cowardice would be stunning, if it were not such a routine feature of intellectual life.
Returning to Central America, a decade ago there were glimmerings of hope for constructive change. In Guatemala, peasants and workers were organizing to challenge one of the most primitive oligarchies on the face of the earth. In El Salvador, church-based self-help groups, unions, peasant associations and other popular organizations were offering a way for the general population to escape grinding poverty and repression and to begin to take some control of their lives and fate. In Nicaragua, the tyranny that had served as the base for U.S. power in the region for decades was overthrown in 1979, leaving the country in ruins, littered with 40,000 corpses, the treasury robbed, the economy devastated. But the National Guard was driven out and new popular forces were mobilized. Here too there was hope for a better future, and it was realized to a surprising degree, despite extreme adversity, in the early years.
The Reagan administration and its liberal Democrat and media accomplices can take credit for having reduced these hopes to ashes. That is a rare accomplishment, for which history will assign them their proper place, if there is ever an honest accounting.
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4 LeMoyne, NYT Magazine, April 6, 1986; Szulc, NYT Magazine, May 25, 1980.
5 Kinzer, NYT Magazine, March 26, 1989.
6 French, NYT, May 8, 1990. See Turning the Tide, 150f.
7 NYT, July 19, 1990. See Manufacturing Consent for many similar cases, and details on Cambodia. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.Stumble It!