It seems silly, I know, to point at the current administration and try and point out the similarities to the past and the ways that they have failed, continuously, to learn from the mistakes of the past. In this situation I point to the decision to appoint Mr. John Negroponte the head of all of our intelligence organizations as the Director of National Intelligence. To begin, such an organization in itself rings a little to close to any centralized intelligence agency that handles all foreign and domestic issues on terror, counter-terror and espionage seen in totalitarian states, but I (as usual) am going to skim over that issue and move onto my points about the man.
Negroponte was the U.S. ambassador to Honduras during the Regan administration. The previous Ambassador, Jack Binns, was appointed by Jimmy Carter and had made innumerable complaints regarding the Human Rights violations that occurred in that nation perpetrated by the Honduran military. Not only did Negroponte deny being told of such violations, or observing them, he was accused by the Honduras Commission on Human Right of human right violations and he oversaw the growth of military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a year. An article published in 1995, went over the various accusations that were thrown towards Negroponte. It states that Mr. Negroponte was informed that; "GOH [Government of Honduras] security forces have begun to resort to extralegal tactics -- disappearances and, apparently, physical eliminations ` to control a perceived subversive threat," and that “a Honduran army intelligence unit, trained by the CIA, was stalking, kidnapping, torturing and killing suspected subversives.” A long list of abuses was apparently shown to Mr. Negroponte, and he apparently ignored by the ambassador and to order a cover up; ”Rick Chidester, then a junior political officer in the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, told The Sun that he compiled substantial evidence of abuses by the Honduran military in 1982, but was ordered to delete most of it from the annual human rights report prepared for the State Department to deliver to Congress.” Why was this happening? Well, had Congress known of the actual occurrences in Honduras, they would have stopped payment of the aide to Honduras under the Foreign Assistance Act which prohibits military aid to a government engaging, “in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights."
Why would Mr. Negroponte not want funding to stop to Honduras? Because of Nicaragua. During the Reagan administration, Negroponte was a U.S. ambassador involved in helping rebels in Nicaragua; the words “Iran-Contra Scandal” come to mind. Honduras was the staging ground and base camp for Regan’s attempt to battle south and central American Communism. The problem with Nicaragua, was similar to many countries in the area. They were communist. So the Regan administration decided to start a “war” against them by funding rebels. This was against the Leftist Marxist political group known as the Sandinistas, the rebels were from the remaining from the Somoza family government known as the Contras (meaning against in Spanish). The Sandinista movement was the main opposition group against the dictatorship of the Somoza government that won power in a civil war in 1979. Somoza, popularly known as "Tacho," amended the Constitution to centralize all power in his hands. Was the country communist? Not really. They created a “Junta” (Council) of National Reconstruction, to begin the task of establishing a new government, which was made up of five members and while the majority were Marxist, there were different ideologies represented; no one wanted annother dictatorship like the Somoza family had instituted. Also, in contrast to the Cuban revolution, the Sandinista government practised political pluralism throughout its time in power. A broad range of new political parties emerged that had not been allowed under Somoza. According to someone at wikipedia;
“One of the most notable successes of the revolution was the literacy campaign, which saw teachers flood the countryside. Within six months, half a million people had been taught to read, bringing the national illiteracy rate down from over 50 per cent to just under 13 per cent.”
They also held free and open, national elections where the FSLN won 61 out of 90 seats not including president and vice president.
So why did Regan hate Nicaragua? In 1981, U.S. President Ronald Reagan condemned the FSLN for joining with Cuba in supporting Marxist revolutionary movements in other Latin American countries. I am not going to say that it was Regan who authorised the CIA to begin financing, arming and traing the Contra’s, but somehow it happened and there are ties to America, and to the military of Honduras while Mr. Negroponte was the Ambassador there.
This was brought up at the hearing for his appointment to the position of Ambassador to the UN in 2001, in fact some of the comments are rather hilarious such as the following from Senator Christopher Dodd ;
“I know there will be those who say, that it isn't terribly important that the Honduran military committed human rights abuses more than fifteen years ago in some cases. Moreover, in relative terms those abuses in Honduras paled in comparison to what to else where in Central America. My response to that is that the Senate has a duty and responsibility to be a partner in the fashioning of U.S. foreign policy, and the only way it can be a full partner is if we in this body are kept fully informed. When it came to our ability to be full partners with respect to U.S. toward Honduras or elsewhere in Central America, I would tell you that we were unable to do that because we were flying blind. It gives me great pause as I ponder how to vote on this nomination to think that someone as intelligent and capable as Ambassador Negroponte would treat this committee and this body so cavalierly in his responses to my questions. I wonder who he thinks he works for?”
And if you want to know more, there are various news articles that talk about his involvement (alledged) in the Nicaraguan revolts.
What happened to Nicaragua? The US backed Contras and the Sandinistas both are accused of atrocities through the struggle from 1981 to 1990 but I have no right to claim which is valid and which not. The full on war was so bad towards the later years that the only option was a cease fire. There were new elections and the Sandinistas peacefully stepped down. The results of this election have always been suspect but the nation seems peaceful enough now.
From Honduras, Mr. Negroponte moved to being the Ambassador for the UN in 2001 which met with a little controversy and then to Iraq for one year in 2004. Currently he is head of all intelligence agencies and now he claims that the port deal has low threat potential.
I am usually for forgiveness and forgetting, but something about his past makes me question his honesty or his intelligence. If he was “unaware” of what was going on in Honduras and Nicaragua while he was there then he is a moron, and should not be given this power. If he was aware and did nothing then he is a man without compassion and should not be in this position. If he not only knew of it but also participated in it, he should be tried for war crimes and breaking the law (giving/providing aide under the Foreign Assistance Act.).