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by Laetitia Bordes [fwd. by IWA]
Friday, May. 25, 2001 at 1:41 AM
firstname.lastname@example.org 218.879.8628 International Workers Association, 323 Fourth Street, Cloquet, Minnesota, 55720 - 2051
John D. Negroponte, President Bush's nominee as the next ambassador to the United Nations? My ears perked up. I turned up the volume on the radio. I began listening more attentively. Yes, I had heard correctly. Bush was nominating Negroponte, the man who gave the CIA-backed Honduran death squads open-field when he was ambassador to Honduras from 1981to 1985.
The U.S. Section of the International Workers Association [the
Syndicalist International] circulates the following statement written by
Laetitia Bordes of San Francisco, California. This statement is circulated
at the request of the AIT-California Collective, a group of the IWA. If you
would like more information about the IWA, send an e-mail to any of the
addresses given at the end of this message.
POLITICAL MURDERS, POLITICAL MURDERERS
John D. Negroponte, President Bush's nominee as the next ambassador to
the United Nations? My ears perked up. I turned up the volume on the
radio. I began listening more attentively. Yes, I had heard correctly.
Bush was nominating Negroponte, the man who gave the CIA-backed Honduran
death squads open-field when he was ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to
My mind went back to May 1982 and I saw myself facing Negroponte in
his office at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. I had gone to Honduras on a
fact-finding delegation. We were looking for answers. Thirty-two women had
fled the death-squads of El Salvador - after a series of assassinations in
1980 - to take refuge in Honduras. Some months after their arrival, these
women were forcibly taken from their living quarters in Tegucigalpa and
pushed into a van. They "disappeared." Our delegation - a delegation of
women - was in Honduras to find out what had happened to THESE women. John
Negroponte listened to us as we exposed the facts. There had been
eyewitnesses to the capture, and we were well-read on the documentation that
previous delegations had gathered.
Negroponte denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of these women. He
insisted that the U.S. Embassy did not interfere in the affairs of the
Honduran government, and it would be to our advantage to discuss the matter
with the latter.
Facts, however, reveal quite the contrary. During Negroponte's
tenure, U.S. military aid to Honduras grew from million to .4 million;
the U.S. launched a covert war against Nicaragua and mined its harbors, and
the U.S. military trained Honduran military to support the Contras.
John Negroponte worked closely with General Alvarez, Chief of the
Armed Forces in Honduras, to enable the training of Honduran soldiers in
psychological warfare, sabotage, and many types of human rights violations,
including torture and kidnapping. Honduran and Salvadoran military elites
were sent to the School of the Americas to receive training in
counter-insurgency directed against people of their own country. The CIA
created the infamous Honduran Intelligence Battalion 3-16, that was
responsible for the murder of many people in Nicaragua. General Luis Alonso
Discua Elvir, a graduate of the School of the Americas, was a founder and
commander of Battalion 3-16. In 1982, the U.S. negotiated access to
airfields in Honduras and established a regional military training center
for Central American forces, principally directed at improving fighting
forces of the Salvadoran military.
In 1994, the Honduran Rights Commission outlined the torture and
disappearance of at least 184 political opponents. It also specifically
accused John Negroponte of a number of human rights violations. Yet, back
in his office that day in 1982, John Negroponte assured us that he had no
idea what had happened to the women we were looking for.
I had to wait 13 years to find out. In an interview with the
BALTIMORE SUN in 1996, Jack Binns, Negroponte's predecessor as U.S.
ambassador in Honduras, told how a group of Salvadorans, among whom were the
women we had been looking for, were captured on April 22, 1981 and savagely
tortured by the DNI - the Honduran Secret Police - before being placed in
helicopters of the Salvadoran military. After take off from the airport in
Tegucigalpa, the victims were thrown out of the helicopters. Binns told the
BALTIMORE SUN that the North American authorities were well aware of what
had happened and that it was a grave violation of human rights. But it was
seen as part of President Ronald Reagan's counterinsurgency policy.
Now in 2001, I'm seeing new ripples in this story. Since President
Bush made it known that he intended to nominate John Negroponte, other
people have suddenly been "disappearing," so to speak. In an article
published in the Los Angeles TIMES on March 25, Maggie Farley and Norman
Kempster reported on the sudden deportation of several former Honduran
death-squad members from the United States. These men could have provided
shattering testimony against Negroponte in the forthcoming Senate hearings.
One of these recent deportees just happens to be General Luis Alonso Discua,
founder of Battalion 3-16. In February, Washington revoked the visa of
Discua, who was Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations. Since then, Discua
has gone public with details of U.S. support of Battalion 3-16.
Given the history of John Negroponte in Central America, it is indeed
horrifying to think that he should be chosen for high office at the United
Nations. Will he act to ensure that the human rights of all people receive
the highest respect? How many people, I wonder, know who John Negroponte
San Francisco, California
Yours for workers' freedom,
S mas Cain, National Secretary of the IWA in the U.S.
Jeff Hilgert, International Secretary of the IWA in the U.S.
Tom Gilliam, National Treasurer of the IWA in the U.S.
Catherine McDonald, MidWest Regional delegate
Tom Carr, Western Regional delegate
Wade Rawluk, Northeast Regional delegate
[Bronx, New York]
The AIT-Maine Collective
The AIT-Minnesota Collective
The AIT-California Collective
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