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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/29/10

U.S. Plunges Central America Back To Era Of Coups And Death Squads

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The Salvadoran death squads and their opposite numbers elsewhere in Central America tried to hide their violent and grisly crimes under the cloak of religiosity, but to murder El Salvador's top religious leader at the moment and under the circumstances they did was the work of men without moral or spiritual motives. It was the act of brutes.

Eight years ago a BBC report stated that the killing was, "according to declassified US documents and other witnesses, carried out by Salvadorean police intelligence agents on the orders of Major Roberto D'Aubuisson." [2] The U.S. military-trained D'Aubuisson carried the details of his role to the grave with him in 1992.

After Romero's death, after his - even in the most secular acceptance of the word - martyrdom, the mantle of the U.S. presidency was passed from Carter to Ronald Reagan, who appointed then recently retired Army general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Alexander Haig as his secretary of state.

In his eighteen-month tenure at what is formally the top diplomatic post in the U.S., Haig was involved in military, covert and in some instances openly terrorist operations against the governments of Afghanistan, Angola, (post-Khmer Rouge) Cambodia, Ethiopia, Grenada, Mozambique, Poland and Suriname among other nations, but from the day he took the helm at the State Department his main focus was on Central America.

It was during his watch there from 1981-1982 that the death squad campaigns in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and the Contra war against Nicaragua began in earnest.

During the early years of the first Reagan term U.S. military aid to El Salvador was increased from $5.9 million 1980 to $35.5 million in 1981 and to $82 million in 1982. A fourteenfold increase in two years.

This March 24th a government of El Salvador for the first time officially apologized on behalf of the state for the murder of Romero. President Mauricio Funes, elected last June on the ticket of the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front - the very group Washington armed and trained the Salvadoran military to exterminate thirty years ago - said on the anniversary that "This is something that should have been done a long time ago." [4]

His comment was uttered during a ceremony unveiling a mural dedicated to Oscar Romero at San Salvador's international airport.

A thousand Salvadorans marched from the chapel he was killed in to the cathedral in the capital chanting Romero's own words: "They can kill me, but they will never kill justice."

His words, his example have unfortunately assumed more urgency thirty years after his death than any would have wished.

Last June 28 D'Aubuisson's fellow graduate of the School of the America's, Hondura's General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, led a military coup d'etat against the standing government of President Manuel Zelaya and forced the head of state into exile in Costa Rica.

The very next day President Barack Obama welcomed Colombian head of state Alvaro Uribe, linked to Latin America's longest death squad horrors, to the White House, and the visit was followed by news that the Pentagon was acquiring the use of seven new military bases in the South American country. Colombia borders Venezuela and Ecuador, both Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) members along with Honduras before the coup.

To use an apt Cold War term, the coup was the opening salvo in the "rollback" against the most serious attempt in Latin America's history to assert itself against centuries of U.S. domination.

On January 13th of this year the post-coup regime of non-popularly elected Roberto Micheletti withdrew Honduras from ALBA, the only time a member has left the alliance.

"Honduras's entrance into the bloc in 2008 under the leadership of President Manuel Zelaya is considered to be one of the motivations for the right wing military coup that kidnapped and expelled Zelaya last June." [5]

Washington's desperation has increased dramatically since the meeting of the Rio Group in Mexico last month, which "agreed to form a Latin American alternative to the Organization of American States that excludes the United States and Canada." [6]

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at:
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