by Joe Courter
The slow motion squeeze being put on Venezuela over the last 10 or 15 years has been so incremental as to not register in people’s minds, or in the reporting on affairs in that country. They hit home for me because I spent 10 days in Venezuela in 2008, in Caracas and out in the country as well, both urban and rural. Chavez was still president, and the many programs put in place to help the poor with education and healthcare were elevating the lives of people we met with.
Yes, I am sure, then and more so now as sanctions have done their work, the more wealthy folks were not pleased, but this is understandable when an economy is reorganized to give more to those who have less.
One outstanding person we met with was Eva Golinger, who is still worth reading for a valued perspective. But now as I write (Feb. 22), things are coming to a head and could go through major developments, none of which look good.
In Editors’ Picks on page 24, you will find a source which gives information about the biased news coverage and seeming blind acceptance of the U.S.-engineered overthrow of Maduro. I would like to zero in on the most profound example of this whole episode, the appointment of Elliot Abrams as an overseer of instilling democracy in Venezuela.
This man is a human rights horror who first emerged in the Reagan administration, and it was wonderful to see him put on the hot seat, however briefly, by Rep. Ilhan Omar on Feb. 13. (You can find it on CSPAN.) This perspective on Abrams is from an article in Counterpunch by Christopher Fons from Feb. 18:
“With the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, some in the foreign policy establishment believed that the Nixon and Carter administrations had been too cozy with the communists in China and the Soviet Union, as if killing 3 million people in Vietnam and Laos and allying with the Shah of Iran was humanitarian do gooder-ism. Elliot Abrams was in this camp.
“For Reagan and Abrams Central America was ground zero for the New Cold War. In 1979, under Jimmy Carter’s watch, a popular revolution had occurred in Nicaragua, a country that had been ruled by the Somoza family whose military force, organized, financed and trained by the U.S., for kicks liked to throw peasants and trade unionists into volcanoes from helicopters. After seizing power the leaders of the revolution, the FSLN, held elections – they won clear majorities. Besides establishing democracy the FSLN, initiated a literacy program, implemented universal healthcare with help from Cuba and began a land reform program.
“At the same time in neighboring El Salvador a similar revolutionary movement, the FMLN, was vying for state power. By the late ’70s, the Salvadoran military was about to fall but was given a lifeline by the Carter administration. By the early ’80s the FMLN was planning a ‘final offensive.’ In the name of fighting communists the U.S. helped train death squads that not only murdered peasants, trade unionists, socialists, democrats and teachers by the thousands but also nuns and a conservative arch-bishop that could no longer keep silent about the holocaust that was occurring in his country.
“In Guatemala, the fight for democracy and civil rights for the Maya majority had raged since the 1950s, but with the victory of the Nicaraguan revolution the revolutionary forces had united and began a renewed effort to defeat the dictatorship and their U.S. backers.
“The Reagan administration’s strategy was quite simple, in all three countries – they would try to defeat all three revolutionary movements by force. Death squads were used in El Salvador. In Guatemala, a ‘strategic hamlet’ project was established, based on the Phoenix Program in Vietnam in the ’60s; it basically cordoned off villages so that complete surveillance could take place over entire communities. Or they razed entire villages and murdered all of its inhabitants. In Nicaragua, a counter-revolutionary army was raised out of the remnants of the Somaza National Guard. They were funded by the U.S. and terrorized and murdered anyone that would ally with the revolution. This included the destruction of hospitals, water treatment programs and the assassination of teachers, health workers and U.S. citizens.
“Elliot Abrams was the point man for U.S. policy in Central America at this time. There was no murder too heinous, or atrocity too large that he would not rationalize in the name of anti-communism. His illegal activity and lying to congress eventually led to a felony conviction, and subsequent pardon by George H W Bush.
“What this week’s testimony was about was not just the vileness of Elliot Abrams and his individual crimes but the impunity by which Abrams and his ilk have operated over hundreds of years in Latin America and the world.
“His response was telling.
“He would not even answer the questions because he and his henchmen want this history to be erased.”
The full article can be seen at https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/02/18/the-crimes-of-elliot-abrams/.