Open thread for night owls: Survivor recalls '81 massacre that Trump's Venezuelan envoy downplayed
Nelson Rauda at the Daily Beast writes—Her Family Survived the El Mozote Massacre. Now She’s Fleeing El Salvador’s Gangs:
Marta Maritza Amaya was seated at the back of the bus, gazing through the window at the sunset over the green mountains of Morazán, in northern El Salvador. It was March 2017. Back in the 1980s this poor area was a war zone, ruled by the Revolutionary People’s Army (ERP in Spanish).
Marta’s bus stopped at the detour to Arambala village. It was here, in December 1981, that Salvadoran troops—trained and funded by the U.S., which backed the ruling junta—headed down that very detour in the direction of El Mozote, Marta’s hometown.
Back then, leftist guerrilla troops roamed clandestinely in almost of all the towns in northern Morazán. An army operation—allegedly to capture the guerrilla radio station, Radio Venceremos, and other military targets—turned into the worst massacre of the Salvadoran civil war. At El Mozote and other nearby villages, 988 civilians were killed; at least 553 of the dead were minors and at least 433 were children no older than 12. Four of those kids were Marta’s older brother and sisters.
The cover-up of the massacre at El Mozote still reverberates decades later. This past week, Representative Ilhan Omar reminded the U.S. Congress of the role that Elliot Abrams played in the aftermath of the slaughter, when he called early claims of the killing “communist propaganda.” To this day, Abrams, President Donald Trump’s new special envoy for Venezuela, hasn’t recanted his claims. To be fair, Abrams was just one more gear in a U.S. government machine that chose to overlook human-rights violations in El Salvador as part of its Cold War ideological crusade.
All these years after the massacre, there are still people looking for their family members. On Feb. 14, judge Jorge Guzmán and Dr. Silvana Turner conducted an exhumation to seek the remains of María de la Paz Pereira, 32, her husband, and her five children. The expedition was prompted by the discovery by farmers of old clothes and some bones. Mrs. Turner, a member of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, concluded that the bones were of animal, not human, origin, and that there was no point in digging them up, despite the presence of the clothes and shoes.[...]
One of the first two reporters of the massacre was Raymond Bonner, a former marine who had become a journalist. Less than a month after the slayings, he wrote about them for The New York Times in an article that would rile Abrams, then Assistant Secretary for Inter-American Affairs, and other thugs in the Reagan administration and spur them to howl and push to get Bonner booted. He was exiled from the Central American beat to the financial desk and he soon quit. From the Chicago Reader in 1993:
Bonner's most incendiary report described a «massacre of major proportions» in the hamlet of El Mozote: «In some 20 mud brick huts here, this reporter saw the charred skulls and bones of dozens of bodies buried under burned-out roofs, beams and shattered tiles. There were more along the trail leading through the hills into the village, and at the edge of a nearby cornfield were the remains of 14 young men, women and children. . . . The villagers have compiled a list of the names, ages and villages of 733 peasants, mostly children, women and old people, who they say were murdered by the Government soldiers. The Human Rights Commission of El Salvador . . . puts the number at 926.»
Two days ago, this time in The Atlantic, Bonner, now 77, again wrote about the massacre, Abrams and others in the administration who had downplayed with vehemence the possibility that the Salvadoran army—partially funded and some of its officers specially trained by the United States—had committed this atrocity. Their stance was not too surprising given their vile policies throughout Central America. Almost exactly a year after the Mozote massacre, Reagan himself dropped into Honduras to meet the genocidal general who was then president of Guatemala, Efraín Rios Montt. He called him “a man of great integrity'' and «totally dedicated to democracy” even though U.S. intelligence services knew full well that the man was overseeing the slaughter of thousands of Maya Indians at the time while receiving U.S. military equipment that Reagan had relabeled as civilian to get around a congressional ban.
Bonner notes at the end of his piece:
Inadvertently, Omar revealed that Trump may have picked the right man to implement his policy in Venezuela. As his record in El Salvador suggests, Abrams will say whatever is necessary to accomplish the administration’s will.
Indivisible’s list of Resistance Events & Groups
TOP COMMENTS • HIGH IMPACT STORIES
TWEET OF THE DAY
xThereÃ¢ÂÂs no way to avoid seeing this DHS move as a treacherous betrayal of American democracy by President Trump. HeÃ¢ÂÂs inviting hostile foreign powers to invade our elections, the heart of our sovereignty. His oath of office meant nothing to him. https://t.co/sQxANdksMg— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) February 17, 2019
BLAST FROM THE PAST
On this date at Daily Kos in 2006—Cheney drank before shooting his pal:
In an exclusive interview with Fox News' Brit Hume this afternoon, Vice President Dick Cheney took full responsibility for shooting his hunting companion, who has until now been pictured as the guilty party. The interview will not aired in full until 6 p.m. but according to Hume, in summarizing the contents, the vice president remained »totally unapologetic« about the long lag in reporting the shooting to the public—and also said that he had consumed one beer at lunch that day.
Cheney must consume a virtual cocktail of drugs every day because of his heart condition. I wonder what kind of reaction throwing alcohol into the mix might have.
Any doctors in the house?
Update: Here's video of Hume talking about his interview with Cheney. You see, according to Cheney, they drank beer but no one drank beer:
HUME: He said he had a beer at lunch and that had been many hours earlier. And it was dusk, around 5:00 p.m., when this incident happened. And he said that, you know, they had lunch out in the field, a barbecue, and he had a beer. But you said you don’t hunt with people who have been drinking. He said no one was drinking. He said they went back to the ranch afterwards, took a break after that, and went out about 3:00 and so you’re four or five hours distanced from the last alcohol that he consumed. And he said no one was drinking, not he nor anyone else.
Monday through Friday you can catch the Kagro in the Morning Show 9 AM ET by dropping in here, or you can download the Stitcher app (found in the app stores or at Stitcher.com), and find a live stream there, by searching for »Netroots Radio.”
LINK TO DAILY KOS STORE