[News] Elliot Abrams' Dark History in Latin America and the Struggle for Justice
news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 3 19:39:44 EST 2012
Elliot Abrams' Dark History in Latin America and the Struggle for Justice
Written by Cyril Mychalejko
Friday, 03 February 2012 19:07
Elliot Abrams, a former high level State
Department official during the 1980s, testified
last week that the Reagan administration knew
that Argentina's military junta was
systematically stealing babies from murdered and
jailed democracy activists and giving them to
right-wing families friendly to the regime.
In a meeting with the Junta's ambassador in
Washington on December 3, 1982, Abrams suggested
that the dictatorship could
its image by creating a process with the Catholic
Church of returning the children, some of whom
in secret torture chambers, to their legitimate
families. The contents of this meeting were
recorded in a memo Abrams wrote, which was
declassified by the State Department in 2002 and
is now a key piece of evidence against former
junta officials in this high profile trial.
While the disappeared were dead, these children
were alive and this was in a sense the gravest
humanitarian problem, Abrams read from his cable
testimony to a federal court in Buenos Aires. But
deter the State Department at the time from
granting Argentina certification indicating that
the country's human rights record was improving.
Alan Iud, a lawyer representing
<http://www.abuelas.org.ar/>The Grandmothers of
Plaza de Mayo, who claim that as many as 500
children were stolen, said that Abrams' testimony
our expectations. However, Abrams' and the
Reagan Administration's relationship with the
military junta at the time was not adversarial,
something that has been lost in the story, if not
the trial. In fact, in 1978, even before being
elected president, Ronald Reagan wrote a column
Miami News attacking President Jimmy Carter's
criticisms of Argentina's record of human rights
abuses. Reagan countered that the military junta
set out to restore order and that too much was
being made over the jailing of a few innocents.
However, human rights organizations estimate that
tens of thousands of people were tortured, killed
and disappeared during Argentina's dirty war.
One of Reagan's first acts as President was to
military aid restrictions put in place by Carter
as a result of the regime's horrendous human
rights record. The administration even hosted
an elegant state dinner. Furthermore, Reagan
paid members of Argentina's notorious death
squads to travel to Honduras to train the
Contras, as well as Honduran paramilitaries, such
as the infamous death squad
3-16, as the
Sun revealed in a 1995 exposé.
the only Latin American country facing its bloody
pastand Abrams played a role in these state atrocities as well.
In Guatemala, Efraín Ríos Montt is
trial for genocide and crimes against humanity.
Rios Montt, an evangelical general who ruled
Guatemala in 1982-83 after seizing power through
a military coup, was a close ally of Washington
training at the infamous
<http://www.soaw.org/index.php>School of the
Americas. He is
of being responsible for 1,771 deaths, 1,400
human rights violations and the displacement of 29,000 indigenous Guatemalans.
Reagan, with Abrams' assistance, not only
and abetted war crimes and genocide in Guatemala.
For example, President Reagan traveled to
Guatemala in December 1982 to
that Rios Montt was getting a bum rap, while
praising the dictator's progressive efforts and
dedication to democracy and social justice. Just
a few days after Reagan's presidential visit the
251 men, women and children in
<http://www.nisgua.org/themes_campaigns/index.asp?cid=1058>Las Dos Erres.
Members of the US-trained Atlacatl Battalion.
In another recent instance, El Salvador's
President Mauricio Funes apologized and asked for
forgiveness for the 1981
Mozote massacre where the Atlacatl battalion, a
notorious US-trained death squad, killed as many
as 1,000 people. Like in Guatemala and Argentina,
Reagan with Abrams' help simultaneously
human rights abuses in El Salvador. The country
endured a 12-year civil war which left some
70,000 people dead, with the Reagan-backed
government and paramilitaries believed to be
responsible for over 90 percent of the deaths. In
1993 when Congress planned to investigate the
Reagan administration's role in human rights
abuses in El Salvador, and indignant Abrams'
it a reprehensible McCarthyite charge," while
that, "The Administration's record on El Salvador
is one of fabulous achievement."
Unfortunately, as Latin America seeks to
reconcile with its unsavory past in order to
forge a more just and humane future, the United
States blindly barrels onnever looking back. The
US media is missing an excellent opportunity to
use Abrams' career as a vehicle to examine and
reflect on the United States' bloody and barbaric
history in the hemisphere. One could even argue
that there should be a Truth Commission in the
United States. Yet it is because of this willful
ignorance and institutionalized impunity that
diplomats such as Abrams, who the
Inquirer in a rare moment of editorial clarity in
2001 described as a deceitful, scheming coddler
of Latin American tyrants and uncontrite
peddler of lies can continue to resurface in
Washington, as a national security council member
to President George W. Bush and as an
adviser to President Barack Obama.
Back in 2009,
Obama said in response to a question about
whether he would apologize for the CIA's role in
Chile's 1973 coup, "I'm interested in going
forward, not looking backward. I think that the
United States has been an enormous force for good in the world."
If history isn't going to repeat itself the
president and U.S. citizens need to think again,
and start looking back to history so justice can move forward.
Cyril Mychalejko is an editor at
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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