Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Something you're likely not to hear in mainstream American news

From the National Security Archive

Declassified U.S. records obtained by the National Security Archive under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that the United States was well-aware of the [US backed Guatemalan] government campaign to kidnap, torture and kill Guatemalan labor leaders at the time of García’s abduction. “Government security services have employed assassination to eliminate persons suspected of involvement with the guerrillas or who are otherwise left-wing in orientation,” wrote the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research four days after García disappeared, pointing in particular to the Army’s “notorious presidential intelligence service (archivos)” and the National Police, “who have traditionally considered labor activists to be communists.”

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala considered the wave of state-sponsored kidnappings part of an effort to gather information on “Marxist-Leninist” trade unions. “The government is obviously rounding up people connected with the extreme left-wing labor movement for interrogation,” wrote U.S. Ambassador Frederic Chapin in a cable naming six labor leaders recently captured by security forces, including García. Despite reports that García was already dead, the ambassador was “optimistic” that he and other detainees would be released after questioning.

Many of the kidnapping victims noted in U.S. records included in this briefing book also appear in the “Death Squad Dossier,” an army intelligence logbook listing 183 people disappeared by security forces in the mid-1980s. In 1999, the National Security Archive obtained the original logbook and released a public copy. The logbook indicates that García was among dozens of students, professors, doctors, journalists, labor leaders and others subjected to intensive army and police surveillance in the weeks leading up to their capture, disappearance and – in about half of the cases – execution. The logbook entry listing Fernando García includes his alleged subversive alias names and affiliation to the Guatemalan Communist Party, as well as detailed personal information taken from official documents such as his national identification card and his passport. Other victims listed in the Death Squad Dossier who are named in the U.S. documents posted today include Amancio Samuel Villatoro, Alfonso Alvarado Palencia, José Luis Villagrán Díaz and Santiago López Aguilar. U.S. records describe their disappearances in the context of the government campaign to systematically dismantle Guatemala’s labor movement.
Maybe if this kind of stuff was reported in the news, more Americans would understand why the rest of the world is a bit skeptical about American "democracy promotion" abroad. What's more, perhaps more Americans wouldn't automatically assume that because the American government condones or encourages the military actions of a client state that those actions are just.

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