Intensification of the Cold War:
Terrorists and fundamentalists under Bush's wing
The selection of ultra-right winger Cuban-American Otto Reich as Under- Secretary for Hemispheric Affairs forms one more link in a chain of political appointments that has intensified Washington's Cold War policy towards Latin America. The selection of Reich points to a larger strategy aimed at politically driving American state administrative institutions to the extreme right. These include foreign policy organs and the Departments of Justice and Defence. During the formative years of the Reagan administration, Reich was director of the Agency for International Development (AID). In a declassified report, former Attorney General and ex-general advisor to the Agency, John Bolton, admitted that AID "is a subsidiary of the CIA which serves to promote the political and economic interests of the federal government through financial assistance programs abroad." Between 1983 and 1986 Reich was Chief of the Office of Public Diplomacy (OPD) which was a covert psychological operations department whose primary task was to discredit progressive governments and social movements throughout the hemisphere. Through this office, a full-scale anti-Sandinista propaganda campaign was waged [portraying] revolutionary Nicaragua as a gulag and Soviet beachhead. At the same time the Contra narco-insurgents were presented as "freedom fighters". The objective was to maintain the flow of money and arms to the mercenaries at all costs. One document, declassified in 1998, by the then CIA Director Robert Gates, spells out the narcotics connection: "It was a question of preservation not only of the Contras, but also of the Agency's project ... "During periods of aid suspension, the Contras continued to receive food, medicine, munitions and other forms of assistance — the narcotics paid for it all". According to The New York Times, terrorist Luis Carriles, presently in a Panamanian prison for having organised an armed attempt on the life of Cuban President Fidel Castro last year, was employed by the CIA during that period as second-in-command of arms and narcotics re-supply. Thanks to the repugnant commerce in arms and drugs, the mercenaries were able to continue their war against the Nicaraguan people. Reich's personal vendetta against the Cuban Revolution is very well known. His intimate relation with the Miami mafia and reactionary paramilitary groups based in Florida date back three decades. According to the Boston Globe, Reich was the "architect of the 1996 Helms-Burton Act". The legislation penalises US subsidiaries and the companies of other countries that attempt to conduct business with Cuba. But Reich merely represents one domino. Bush has recently announced the nomination of Mauricio Tamargo as president of the Federal Legal Committee of the US Justice Department. Tamargo is yet another extremist Cuban- American. According to The Washington Post, the European Union is in an uproar over the nomination, given the number of lawsuits by European companies in US courts due to the extraterritorial nature of the Torricelli and Helms- Burton Acts. The selection of former Contra political officer, Roger Maurer, as Secretary of Defence for Inter-American Issues, has produced even more controversy. In an interview with The Washington Post, one Defence Department functionary, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that the "new administration simply has failed to take note as to how fragile US-Latin American relations are these days". Another rightwing appointment is that of John Negroponte as US representative to the United Nations. Negroponte was formerly US ambassador to Honduras where he collaborated with both the CIA and the Honduran Armed Forces in the creation and training of Battalion 316. According to Human Rights Watch and the Honduran authorities, this paramilitary group was responsible for numerous acts of sabotage and torture, homicide and no less than 184 disappearances of political opponents. Editorials published in the most widely read US dailies, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times, expressed their opposition to Bush's "chosen ones", labelling them as "cold war relics of Reagan's United States of America".
* * *Abridged from Granma International Digital