America in El Salvador’s Crisis

This is an excerpt from What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky. WUSRW is a compilation of talks and interviews by Prof. Chomsky that took place between 1986-1991. I downloaded the file from the library section over at libcom.org. It explains the U.S. role in crimes against humanity committed by right-wing paramilitaries during the eighties in El Salvador.

After reading this, think about what responsibility the United States has in the humanitarian crisis on the border today. These are the destabilizing actions of the past that led to what poor Salvadorans are running from today:


1970-1990: The war of counter-insurgency in El Salvador

Noam Chomsky on the ultra-violent war of the right-wing regime in El Salvador against grassroots resistance of workers, peasants and liberation theologists – socialist clergymen and women.

The crucifixion of El Salvador

For many years, repression, torture and murder were carried on in El Salvador by dictators installed and supported by the US government, a matter of no interest in the US. The story was virtually never covered. By the late 1970s, however, the government began to be concerned about a couple of things.

One was that Somoza, the dictator of Nicaragua, was losing control. The US was losing a major base for its exercise of force in the region. A second danger was even more threatening. In El Salvador in the 1970s, there was a growth of what were called “popular organisations” – peasant associations, cooperatives, unions, Church-based Bible study groups that evolved into self-help groups, etc. That raised the threat of democracy.
In February 1980, the Archbishop [libcom – though nominally part of the Catholic Church, they did not receive the backing of the Vatican] of El Salvador, Oscar Romero, sent a letter to President Carter in which he begged him not to send military aid to the junta that ran the country. He said such aid would be used to “sharpen injustice and repression against the people’s organisations” which were struggling “for respect for their most basic human rights” (hardly news to Washington, needless to say).
A few weeks later, Archbishop Romero was assassinated while saying a mass. The neo-Nazi Roberto d’Aubuisson is generally assumed to be responsible for this assassination (among countless other atrocities). D’Aubuisson was “leader-for-life” of the ARENA party, which now governs El Salvador; members of the party, like current Salvadoran president Alfredo Cristiani, had to take a blood oath of loyalty to him.

Thousands of peasants and urban poor took part in a commemorative mass a decade later, along with many foreign bishops, but the US was notable by its absence. The Salvadoran Church formally proposed Romero for sainthood.

All of this passed with scarcely a mention in the country that funded and trained Romero’s assassins. The New York Times, the “newspaper of record,” published no editorial on the assassination when it occurred or in the years that followed, and no editorial or news report on the commemoration.

On March 7, 1980, two weeks before the assassination, a state of siege had been instituted in El Salvador, and the war against the population began in force (with continued US support and involvement). The first major attack was a big massacre at the Rio Sumpul, a coordinated military operation of the Honduran and Salvadoran armies in which at least 600 people were butchered. Infants were cut to pieces with machetes, and women were tortured and drowned. Pieces of bodies were found in the river for days afterwards. There were church observers, so the information came out immediately, but the mainstream US media didn’t think it was worth reporting.

Peasants were the main victims of this war, along with labour organisers, students, priests or anyone suspected of working for the interests of the people]. In Carter’s last year, 1980, the death toll reached about 10,000, rising to about 13,000 for 1981 as the Reaganites took command.
In October 1980, the new archbishop condemned the “war of extermination and genocide against a defenceless civilian population” waged by the security forces. Two months later they were hailed for their “valiant service alongside the people against subversion” by the favourite US “moderate,” José Napoleón Duarte, as he was appointed civilian president of the junta.

The role of the “moderate” Duarte was to provide a fig leaf for the military rulers and ensure them a continuing flow of US funding after the armed forces had raped and murdered four churchwomen from the US. That had aroused some protest here; slaughtering Salvadorans is one thing, but raping and killing American nuns is a definite PR mistake. The media evaded and downplayed the story, following the lead of the Carter Administration and its investigative commission.

The incoming Reaganites went much further, seeking to justify the atrocity, notably Secretary of State Alexander Haig and UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick. But it was still deemed worthwhile to have a show trial a few years later, while exculpating the murderous junta – and, of course, the paymaster.

The independent newspapers in El Salvador, which might have reported these atrocities, had been destroyed. Although they were mainstream and pro-business, they were still too undisciplined for the military’s taste. The problem was taken care of in 1980-81, when the editor of one was murdered by the security forces; the other fled into exile. As usual, these events were considered too insignificant to merit more than a few words in US newspapers.

In November 1989, six Jesuit priests, their cook and her daughter, were murdered by the army. That same week, at least 28 other Salvadoran civilians were murdered, including the head of a major union, the leader of the organisation of university women, nine members of an Indian farming cooperative and ten university students.

The news wires carried a story by AP correspondent Douglas Grant Mine, reporting how soldiers had entered a working-class neighbourhood in the capital city of San Salvador, captured six men, added a 14-year-old boy for good measure, then lined them all up against a wall and shot them. They “were not priests or human rights campaigners,” Mine wrote, “so their deaths have gone largely unnoticed” – as did his story.
The Jesuits were murdered by the Atlacatl Battalion, an elite unit created, trained and equipped by the United States. It was formed in March 1981, when fifteen specialists in counterinsurgency were sent to El Salvador from the US Army School of Special Forces. From the start, the Battalion was engaged in mass murder. A US trainer described its soldiers as “particularly ferocious….We’ve always had a hard time getting [them] to take prisoners instead of ears.”

In December 1981, the Battalion took part in an operation in which over a thousand civilians were killed in an orgy of murder, rape and burning. Later it was involved in the bombing of villages and murder of hundreds of civilians by shooting, drowning and other methods. The vast majority of victims were women, children and the elderly.

The Atlacatl Battalion was being trained by US Special Forces shortly before murdering the Jesuits. This has been a pattern throughout the Battalion’s existence — some of its worst massacres have occurred when it was fresh from US training.

In the “fledgling democracy” that was El Salvador, teenagers as young as 13 were scooped up in sweeps of slums and refugee camps and forced to become soldiers. They were indoctrinated with rituals adopted from the Nazi SS, including brutalisation and rape, to prepare them for killings that often have sexual and satanic overtones.

The nature of Salvadoran army training was described by a deserter who received political asylum in Texas in 1990, despite the State Department’s request that he be sent back to El Salvador. (His name was withheld by the court to protect him from Salvadoran death squads.)

According to this deserter, draftees were made to kill dogs and vultures by biting their throats and twisting off their heads, and had to watch as soldiers tortured and killed suspected dissidents — tearing out their fingernails, cutting off their heads, chopping their bodies to pieces and playing with the dismembered arms for fun.

In another case, an admitted member of a Salvadoran death squad associated with the Atlacatl Battalion, César Vielman Joya Martínez, detailed the involvement of US advisers and the Salvadoran government in death-squad activity. The Bush administration has made every effort to silence him and ship him back to probable death in El Salvador, despite the pleas of human rights organisations and requests from Congress that his testimony be heard. (The treatment of the main witness to the assassination of the Jesuits was similar.)

The results of Salvadoran military training are graphically described in the Jesuit journal America by Daniel Santiago, a Catholic priest working in El Salvador. He tells of a peasant woman who returned home one day to find her three children, her mother and her sister sitting around a table, each with its own decapitated head placed carefully on the table in front of the body, the hands arranged on top “as if each body was stroking its own head.”

The assassins, from the Salvadoran National Guard, had found it hard to keep the head of an 18-month-old baby in place, so they nailed the hands onto it. A large plastic bowl filled with blood was tastefully displayed in the centre of the table. According to Rev. Santiago, macabre scenes of this kind aren’t uncommon.

People are not just killed by death squads in El Salvador — they are decapitated and then their heads are placed on pikes and used to dot the landscape. Men are not just disembowelled by the Salvadoran Treasury Police; their severed genitalia are stuffed into their mouths. Salvadoran women are not just raped by the National Guard; their wombs are cut from their bodies and used to cover their faces. It is not enough to kill children; they are dragged over barbed wire until the flesh falls from their bones, while parents are forced to watch.

Rev. Santiago goes on to point out that violence of this sort greatly increased when the Church began forming peasant associations and self-help groups in an attempt to organise the poor.

By and large, the US approach in El Salvador has been successful. The popular organisations have been decimated, just as Archbishop Romero predicted. Tens of thousands have been slaughtered and more than a million have become refugees. This is one of the most sordid episodes in US history – and it’s got a lot of competition.

From What Uncle Sam Really Wants, by Noam Chomsky.

Chomsky is of course an American citizen, and so “we” and “our” refers to the US. The article has been edited slightly by libcom – US to UK spellings and a few small details have been added for the reader new to the topic.

Real Reason for The West’s Interest in Venezuela’s Suffering

Venezuela is in deep economic trouble and has a resulting humanitarian crisis on their hands. According to mainstream media reports (even though some contrary anecdotal evidence has been offered up by some far left sources that I am skeptical of; 3 million people not leave their homes for another country for no reason) relay stories of starvation, water shortages, and blackouts. And a ten million-percent inflation on the way by 2020, things look dire for the Latin American country.

What does the West want out of this situation with their sanctions? They want regime change to an oligarchy that get loans from the World Bank (WB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and ascending entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) allowing Western influences upon the affairs of Venezuelan black crude.

But first things first, the American government is trying through sanctions to force out Pres. Nicolas Maduro, a Chavista socialist with the interests of the poor at the fore and replacing him with self-declared interim president Juan Guaido. America wants Guaido to come in and overthrow the peoples’ leader Maduro with an oligarchy that would kowtow to anything Washington orders. American leaders are the puppet masters behind the International sanctions against Venezuela causing most of the peoples pain. This is the reason for the resulting humanitarian crisis in the Bolivarian Republic.

In the interest of credibility here though let me state that these sanctions alone have not created the current economic situation in Venezuela entirely. Previous leader Hugo Chavez spent the money of the Venezuelan people on the poor quite loosely. New schools, new health clinics, new services everywhere were created. But that was all before the price of oil fell precipitously. Oil is the main export of the country and there were no funds saved by Chavez for a “rainy day.” This caused a large deal of the collapse. But the sanctions have further exacerbated all the problems when they were implemented before Chavez’s death and Maduro’s ascension. They have just now been tightened like a vice on the people in the South American nation to an extreme extent.

Venezuela needs a multi-billion-dollar investment to get back on its feet. The U.S. aid trucks sitting in Colombia are nothing but show pieces for Guaido because it would take thousands upon thousands of trucks to make a dent in the Venezuelan crisis. The only real, if I can use that word, solution to the crisis would be loans from the WB, the IMF, and entrance into the WTO. But let me tell you how this will work against the poor of Venezuela.

These financial organizations will demand in return for their loans the smashing of unions and the implementation of neo-liberal and globalist policies. They will only develop oil as the source of revenue Venezuela and will not allow the nation to create a self-sustaining economy. Globalizing small, poor countries with WB/IMF loans produces single exports to sale on the world market, e.g., if Venezuela’s people want to produce rice for the people themselves, the WB/IMF will not allow them saying they could import in from other poor WTO countries, like in Indochina WTO members who are a singular product economy also. And what happens in most cases is that member countries take loans from the WB/IMF, they cannot pay them back. So what happens? They take out further loans and these crooked institutions make further demands upon the member/leant against countries, like further privatizing sectors of industries, and undermining further progressive initiatives. And this repeats. Therefore Maduro insists there is no crisis in his country. He knows that the admitting of this situation would put too much pressure on the people to fool them into letting in these neo-liberal institutions into the country. That is what is at heart of the Venezuelan crisis.

Oh, and on another note, millions upon millions of Venezuela dollars are frozen here in American financial institutions as part of the sanctions. The Trump administration has stated that they will be released if Guaido’s coup succeeds. Now who cares about the suffering masses now?

Americans Should be Envious: “Why Infants May Be More Likely to Die in America Than Cuba”

nyti.ms/2HieZUR

A great op-Ed by Nick Kristoff at the NYT explaining how, though lacking in first rate medical technology, the infant mortality rates are actually lower in Cuba. We could take away many good practices from the Socialist, island nation so close to our shores.

Venezuela’s Pres. Maduro Interview and Article

Venezuelan President Nicolas MaduroA great piece in The Guardian on recent Venezuelan unrest with a print and video interview with Pres. Nicolas Maduro.

Maduro claims that the U.S. is almost directly involved with the middle- to upper-class revolt their in an effort to procure Venezuela’s vast oil reserves.

I am not backing that assessment but the U.S. has had a century of destabilizing activity in Latin America. The evidence is clear.

But what is important to take away from this piece, and the protests in general, is that it’s the revolution of the rich. U.S. political assessments of it are wrong. It is not a “Spring” revolt.

Now there are problems in Venezuela, and The Guardian lists them, but they are getting better as The Guardian also reports. It’s like Maduro said in the interview: “What country doesn’t have problems?”

There is no justification in these protests which are a coup attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government without major crime.

Read Here.

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Trouble in Venezuela

Protest against Maduro government in CaracasI was hopeful when I first read that the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’ was flirting with socialist ideals and policies. He allied with Castro and socialized oil refineries across his country. But in my heart I believed it wouldn’t work. Chavez led his people into too many economic and social problems (like the 56% inflation rate and the high crime rate.) Also the movement was driven by one charismatic leader, not a political sect. His faithful Red Shirts are facing an uphill battle.

So what we have now is Chavez’ successor, Nicolás Maduro, battling with street protesters demanding change at the government’s highest level. In response, Maduro is constricting certain Venezuelans’ freedoms in an effort to suppress the unrest. He is cutting off internet access in areas and refusing to ship oil to certain municipal locations controlled by the opposition. (These tactics should be scary to all liberty-loving people around the world.)

But yet it seems that, according to the reporting, the protesters are the upper-class members of society, such as college students and the oligarchs who tried to overthrow Chavez in the 2002 coup d’etat, not the people.

So who to trust?

Read the latest on the situation here at The Guardian.

The latest report from Venezuela’s political unrest and street violence amidst protests.

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Venezuela’s President’s New Law-Making Powers

Nicolas MaduroA good article in The Guardian about the President of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro’s, new powers to rule by decree without having to consult the national assembly. This new system was approved by the assembly in an effort to install a Cuba-like form of a socialist economy to combat corruption, retail mark-ups, and exploitation by foreign companies.

But critics claim that Maduro’s policies, which are the legacy of Hugo Chavez, will not stop the inflation problem, the corruption problem, and will hinder investments in the Latin American nation.

Read Here.

 

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Marxist Guerrillas in Paraguay Are A Throwback

14paraguay-graphic-articleInlineReminding me of the Castros and Guevara during the late 1950’s in Cuba, the Paraguayan People’s Army is a Marxist group in the jungles of Paraguay using guerrilla tactics to attack government officials in an outpost region.

The reason I’m recommending this article is twofold: First, the time for Marxist guerrilla groups has long past. There is no Soviet Union or powerful enough Communist Latin American nation to help Paraguay embark on a new radical left-wing agenda. They need to integrate themselves into the mainstream, republican political system.

Secondly, this article reports on how desperate the people of Paraguay ,an extremely poor nation, shrink the level of inequality in their homeland. The the chosen road of violence by the PPA is a symptom of corrupt officials and foreign ownership of large soybean plantations. The industry needs to be socialized.

Read Here.

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Chomsky Interview by Washington Times

images_001Here’s a transcript of an interview done by the Washington Post on Oct. 1st with Noam Chomsky. It covers many issues: The U.S. involvement in Syria; Change in Latin America; Signs of a possible decline in American influence worldwide.

Read Here.

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Snowden Wants Russian Asylum: Will He Get It?

snowden-340Edward Snowden, NSA hacker and as seen-by-some whistle-blowing hero, is asking for asylum in Russia, where he currently resides in a Moscow airport, until he can find safe passage to one of three Latin American nations (Venezuela, Nicaragua, or Bolivia) who have offered him asylum. Now Russia does not want to hurt relations with the U.S., nor does Putin want to look weak by bending to America’s will. How will they react?

Read Here.

Chavez Shows Proof of Life

Cuba_Venezuela_Chavez-06fd7The Venezuelan media has a released a photograph of Chavez and his daughters showing proof of life. Though he deals with the sometimes despicable Ahmadinejad (holocaust denier, amongst other things), Chavez is a big hope for fairer government in Latin America. He is forced to deal with people like the president of Iran because the U.S. avoids dealing with El Commandante because of his leftist positions.

Read Here.