The far right's Newt Gingrich, ex professor of history, and Speaker of the House under Ronald Reagan, saw fit to pontificate on a handshake between two heads of state saying, "I think it sends a terrible signal to all of Latin America, and a terrible signal about how the new administration regards dictators."
Excuse me? A terrible signal to dictators? Whose dictators are we talking about?
Newt, perhaps you've forgotten how the US, through the CIA has helped to overthrow numerous democratically elected Latin American governments and helped install military dictatorships that in turn slaughtered their own people. How about the U.S. sanctioned assassination of Salvador Allende in Chile. Remember who we put in his place? Agusto Pinochet, who imprisoned well over a hundred thousand Chileans and used torture and rape as methods of interrogation, and terminated civil liberties, abolished unions.
Newt, for the record, US interventions date back as far as 1846, but here are a few of the more recent interventions, you might personally remember, since they happened on your watch and you being such a history buff and all. Remember?
U.S., seeking a stable base for its actions in El Salvador and Nicaragua, tells the Honduran military to clean up its act and hold elections. The U.S. starts pouring in $100 million of aid a year and basing the contras on Honduran territory.
Death squads are also active in Honduras, and the contras tend to act as a state within a state.
The CIA steps in to organize the contras in Nicaragua, who started the previous year as a group of 60 ex-National Guardsmen; by 1985 there are about 12,000 of them. 46 of the 48 top military leaders are ex-Guardsmen. The U.S. also sets up an economic embargo of Nicaragua and pressures the IMF and the World Bank to limit or halt loans to Nicaragua.
Gen. Torrijos of Panama is killed in a plane crash. There is a suspicion of CIA involvement, due to Torrijos' nationalism and friendly relations with Cuba.
A coup brings Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt to power in Guatemala, and gives the Reagan administration the opportunity to increase military aid. Ríos Montt's evangelical beliefs do not prevent him from accelerating the counterinsurgency campaign.
Another coup in Guatemala replaces Ríos Montt. The new President, Oscar Mejía Víctores, was trained by the U.S. and seems to have cleared his coup beforehand with U.S. authorities.
U.S. troops take over tiny Granada. Rather oddly, it intervenes shortly after a coup has overthrown the previous, socialist leader. One of the justifications for the action is the building of a new airport with Cuban help, which Granada claimed was for tourism and Reagan argued was for Soviet use. Later the U.S. announces plans to finish the airport... to develop tourism.
Boland Amendment prohibits CIA and Defense Dept. from spending money to overthrow the government of Nicaragua-- a law the Reagan administration cheerfully violates.
CIA mines three Nicaraguan harbors. Nicaragua takes this action to the World Court, which brings an $18 billion judgment against the U.S. The U.S. refuses to recognize the Court's jurisdiction in the case.
U.S. spends $10 million to orchestrate elections in El Salvador-- something of a farce, since left-wing parties are under heavy repression, and the military has already declared that it will not answer to the elected president.
Finally Newt, what more terrible signal could this country send than the fact that this country engaged in torture under the "dictatorship of George W Bush and the Dick, Cheney? Now every two bit dictator can just point to America and say; "see they do it too".
It's hard to tell whether Newt's revisionist history is just his memory gone bad, or another far right, in your face, assault on our intelligence, as for me I say the latter.
Latin American dictators, Newt? You should know, you helped establish enough of them. Or as they say: "One man's dictator is another man's military junta".