By Roberto Cintli Rodriguez
The simple answer is the actions--and inactions--of US President Ronald Reagan, the man who provided cover for every tin-pot dictator on the continent. A better answer is the preeminence of "America," with its mythological foundation and narrative. The best answer is the actions--or rather, inertia--of the citizens of the United States of America. It is we who permitted the atrocities of not simply this dictator, but all the military dictators on the continent during that bloodthirsty era.
The majority of US voters put Reagan in office, not once, but twice ... and then rewarded his imperial reign by subsequently electing his vice president, Papa Bush, into office. And then he got airports, freeways and buildings named after him.
Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich recently called for a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate how the United States got itself into Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan (plus Yemen and Somalia). That would be an important step. However, before it takes place, a commission must be created to examine the US role in Central America, primarily in the 1980s, which resulted in the deaths and disappearances of hundreds of thousands of civilians from Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. All these wars were financed by US tax dollars. All those ruthless dictators and their leading military officers were trained by the US military. Yet in Reagan-speak, the United States was simply spreading democracy (with heavy weaponry) in Central America--the same goal Bush claimed in launching the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And from a Reagan-based perspective, the hundreds of thousands of Central American victims were little brown people whose lives were irrelevant.
Ronald Reagan and killing Indians, see Guatemalan Dictator Charged with Genocide and Reagan Aided Atrocities Against Indians.
Below: "Ronald Reagan campaigning in the Central Coast area in the 1960s." (Photo: Fresh Conservative/flickr)