Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 11, 2001
UN ambassador has nefarious history
President George W. Bush has nominated John Negroponte as the next U.S. ambassador to the UN. That says a lot.
Negroponte was the political officer at the U.S. embassy in Vietnam from 1964 to 1968, during the height of the Vietnam War and U.S. ambassador to Mexico from 1989 to 1993 where he supervised the NAFTA negotiations to their ill-fated conclusions.
As ambassador to Honduras between 1981 and 1985 he oversaw a military buildup in that country and turned that region into a safe haven for U.S. trained and funded Contras to attack Nicaragua.
One would think that Negroponte's role in the suffering and death of thousands of Nicaraguans would hardly qualify him as an ambassador to an international institution founded to end conflict and promote peace and human rights.
But such shocking contradictions seem to be commonplace in the higher echelons of international politics.
A precedent might be the appointment of General Walters as U.S. ambassador to the UN as a reward for engineering the overthrow of democratically elected president Jaoa Goulart of Brazil in 1964 and engulfing that country in two decades of military dictatorship.
During his years in Honduras, Negroponte was the principal responsible person to carry out a U.S. policy, including the mining of harbours, which was declared in violation of international covenants by the International Court of Justice. Washington ignored the court.
During Negroponte's tenure, U.S. military aid to Honduras skyrocketed from $4 million to $77.4 million. Working closely with General Alvarez, chief of the armed forces, he trained Honduran soldiers in psychological warfare, counter insurgency, sabotage, and encouraged human rights violations including torture and kidnapping and disappearances.
Some of his most brutal collaborators were graduates of the School of Americas.
Graduate Luis Alonso Discua Elvir, was the founder and commander of the infamous CIA equipped and trained Battalion 316, responsible for numerous atrocities.
Negroponte helped conceal from Congress the human rights abuses, tortures and assassinations perpetrated by this unit. No mention of it is made in the state department human rights reports.
Sister Laetitia Bordes recalls meeting Negroponte in 1982 at the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa to question him about the disappearance of religious women who had fled the death squads of El Salvador after the murder of Archbishop Oscar Romero.
These women were forcibly taken from their living quarters, only months after their arrival, pushed into a van and never seen again. Negroponte denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of the women and claimed that the embassy did not interfere in the affairs of the Honduran government.
Bordes had to wait 13 years to find out that the women were savagely tortured by the Honduran secret police, before being thrown to the ground out of flying helicopters.
American authorities were aware and endorsed these practices as part of Reagan's policy to "stop communism from taking over the region."
Interestingly enough, while Negroponte is considered for the important post at the UN, a number of former Honduran death squad members have been deported from the U.S., including the notorious Luis Alonso Discua Elvir of Battalion 316.
These men could have provided shattering testimony against the appointment of Negroponte. But the U.S. in protecting its interests will continue to use and discard people as it suits them.
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