The Case Against John Negroponte
A Letter of Testimony - Sister Laetitia Bordes worked in El Salvador
for almost a decade in the 1980 s and 90 s. She is the author of the
book Our Hearts Were Broken. In this letter, Sister Bordes recalls
a meeting with John Negroponte in 1982, when she was sent to Honduras
on a fact-finding mission regarding the disappearance of women who
had fled El Salvador after the assassination of Archbishop Romero.
Thirteen years later, Ambassador Binns reported that the women, after
savage torture, had been taken up in helicopters and thrown to the
ground. In this letter, Sister Bordes explains a bit about the roles
of The School of the Americas and Battalion 3-16, designed in part
for the murder of Nicaraguan Sandinistas, who had overthrown the U.S.
backed dictator Somoza in 1979.
"Fatal Secrets" - "When a wave of torture and murder
staggered a small U.S. ally, truth was a casualty. Was the CIA involved?
Did Washington know? Was the public deceived? Now we know: Yes, Yes
and Yes." (by Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson, Staff of The Baltimore
Sun, whose article was originally published on June 11, 1995.) This
article is lengthy and full and hard on the heart, but the cause of
honesty requires that it be made available. This is the kind of knowledge
with which we must arm ourselves if we are determined to never again
permit such atrocities to take place under the eyes of our own government.
One must ask oneself whether these are the kinds of abuses that would
be permitted by a man who would nominate a man like John Negroponte
to be our country's human rights spokesman.
What Message is Bush Trying to Send? This short article by Duncan
Campbell for The Sun-Herald of Sydney, Australia, asks that question
and mentions the very disturbing information that "Some members
of the battalion  lived in the US, but were deported just as
Mr. Bush's selection of Mr Negroponte was announced." What DOES
this say about the current administration's "honor and integrity"?
The Purpose of These In-Your-Face Appointments - Mary McGrory, in
the July 8, 2001 edition of The Washington Post comments that "Choosing
Abrams makes laughable Bush's promise of increased civility and bipartisanship.
Ditto his claims of being 'a uniter, not a divider'." This article
does not hold back in presenting the far-from-honorable character
of Elliott Abrams, whom Bush has already - with no requirement for
congressional approval - been able to reinstall in the White House.
But the fact that Negroponte may appear to be more of a "gentleman"
than the snarling Elliott Abrams in no way justifies Negroponte as
being fit in any fashion to be a representative for human rights.
Why? Why is Bush making these outrageous nominations and appointments?
The author suggests that "Cuban Americans who helped the president
in the great fight for Florida are getting what he feels is their
due. Bush owes them big time.
"From 1981 to 1985 Negroponte
was US ambassador to Honduras. During his tenure, he oversaw the growth
of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year.
According to The New York Times, Negroponte was responsible for "carrying
out the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the
Sandinistas government in Nicaragua." Critics say that during
his ambassadorship, human rights violations in Honduras became systematic.
Negroponte supervised the creation of the El Aguacate air base, where
the US trained Nicaraguan Contras and which critics say was used as
a secret detention and torture center during the 1980s. In August
2001, excavations at the base discovered 185 corpses, including two
Americans, who are thought to have been killed and buried at the site.
Records also show that a special intelligence unit of the Honduran
armed forces, Battalion 3-16, trained by the CIA and Argentine military,
kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of people, including US missionaries.
Critics charge that Negroponte knew about these human rights violations
and yet continued to collaborate with the Honduran military while
lying to Congress.
..."In early 1984, two American mercenaries, Thomas Posey and
Dana Parker, contacted Negroponte, stating they wanted to supply arms
to the Contras after the U.S. Congress had banned further military
aid. Documents show that Negroponte brought the two with a contact
in the Honduran armed forces The operation was exposed nine months
later, at which point the Reagan administration denied any US involvement,
despite Negroponte's participation in the scheme. Other documents
uncovered a plan of Negroponte and then-Vice President George H. W.
Bush to funnel Contra aid money through the Honduran government.
During his tenure as US ambassador to Honduras, Binns, who was appointed
by President Jimmy Carter, made numerous complaints about human rights
abuses by the Honduran military and he claimed he fully briefed Negroponte
on the situation before leaving the post. When the Reagan administration
came to power, Binns was replaced by Negroponte, who has consistently
denied having knowledge of any wrongdoing. Later, the Honduras Commission
on Human Rights accused Negroponte himself of human rights violations.
Speaking of Negroponte and other senior US officials, an ex-Honduran
congressman, Efrain Diaz, told the Baltimore Sun, which in 1995 published
an extensive investigation of US activities in Honduras:
Their attitude was one of tolerance
and silence. They needed Honduras to loan its territory more than
they were concerned about innocent people being killed.
The Suns's investigation found
that the CIA and US embassy knew of numerous abuses but continued
to support Battalion 3-16 and ensured that the embassy's annual human
rights report did not contain the full story.
When President Bush announced Negroponte's appointment to the UN shortly
after coming to office, it was met with widespread protest. However,
the Bush administration did not back down and even went so far as
to try to silence potential witnesses. On March 25, the Los Angeles
Times reported on the sudden deportation from the United States of
several former Honduran death squad members who could have provided
damaging testimony against Negroponte in his Senate confirmation hearings.
One of the deportees was General Luis Alonso Discua, founder of Battalion
3-16. In the preceding month, Washington had revoked the visa of Discua
who was Honduras' Deputy Ambassador to the UN. Nonetheless, Discua
went public with details of US support of Battalion 3-16.
Upon learning of Negroponte's nomination, Reed Brody of Human Rights
Watch in New York commented:
When John Negroponte was ambassador he looked the other way when serious
atrocities were committed. One would have to wonder what kind of message
the Bush administration is sending about human rights by this appointment.
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