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World Association of International Studies

PAX, LUX ET VERITAS SINCE 1965
Post Latin America's Dictators
Created by John Eipper on 03/04/19 3:09 PM

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Latin America's Dictators (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 03/04/19 3:09 pm)

I wish to thank the anonymous author of the post on Venezuela (March 4th).

For sure the author clearly demonstrates the background of CELAG and the bias of its members, mostly Marxists and/or members of the Spanish Podemos party. However just to be fair, why is a Marxist or Podemos ideology biased but a liberal ideology not so?

I'm confident that nobody will accuse me of liking the "Rojos," as I had the misfortune of knowing their actions first hand. At the same time I do not like the meddling in the internal affairs of another country and the use of sanctions. I have made my position on them clear, and I remember that someone said:

"Sanctions are a form of genocide carried out by hypocrites."

About South American dictators, yesterday I read an interesting but rather biased article in La República of Lima. The article lists the various dictators from South America after WWII and how badly they ended.

Manuel Antonio Noriega: Panama 1983 - 1989
Augusto Pinochet: Chile 1973 - 1990 (La República erroneously indicates 1974)
Jorge Rafael Videla: Argentina 1976 - 1981
Alberto Fujimori: Peru 1990 - 2000
Alfredo Stroessner: Paraguay 1954 - 1989
Fulgencio Batista: Cuba 1952 - 1959
Juan María Bordaberry: Uruguay 1973 - 1976
Francois Duvalier: Haiti 1957 - 1971
The Somoza family: Nicaragua 1937 - 1979
Marcos Pérez Jiménez: Venezuela 1953 - 1958

It's not easy to remember all of them.

It would be, however, an interesting historical exercise to see if and who was behind them or helped them to stay in power and what were their motivations.

In my opinion Pinochet and Videla (and perhaps Fujimori) were mostly motivated by the necessity to repel the "Terror Rojo" of the Communist insurgence.

On top of this, Pinochet left his dictatorship when he lost a free popular referendum. May I say that makes him a rather poor dictator?

On 11 September 1973, the day of the Pinochet coup, I was on board the Amoco tanker Conqueror at anchor in front of Texas City. When I heard the news with the lamentations of the "Reds/Democrats," I drank a nice cool beer to the health of some friends who suffered under the Rojo Government of Allende and his thugs in the streets.

I assume that Anonymous will do the same when Maduro goes, but do not forget some others too have faults. But, be honest, to be without bias is almost impossible.

JE comments: I'm not going to raise a glass to him, but Pinochet did have the virtue of leaving office more or less democratically. How many other dictators have done this? Might Chile's good fortune today be due to the peaceful end of its dictatorship?

Why did La República leave out Maduro and the biggest gorillas in the room, the Castros?

(As chance would have it, we're off to Chile on the morrow, through Sunday the 10th.)


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  • We Left Out Some Latin American Dictators (Nigel Jones, UK 03/05/19 2:51 AM)
    Surely the big Latin American dictator that Eugenio Battaglia leaves off his list (the "goat" opposed to the elephant in the room) is Trujillo of the Dominican Republic?

    There were several others--eg. Hugo Banzer in Bolivia, the Generals who ruled Brazil after the deposition of Jango Goulart in 1964, and indeed Getúlio Vargas in 1950s Brazil, and what about Perón in Argentina? The Castros in Cuba?


    Indeed dictatorship, whether of Left, Right, populist or military, was the Latin American norm until recently.


    Eugenio's hatred of the US blinds him to the hideous suffering of Venezuela under the Marxist Maduro. I am also puzzled: He denounces US attempts to depose this monster, but was happy to toast the US-backed Pinochet coup against the Marxist Allende.


    JE comments:  Eugenio did say it's impossible to remember them all!  I also had the question about the Chilean coup of 1973.  If Eugenio applauds the overthrow of Allende, which had ample support from the US, why is he opposed to similar (probably lesser) US meddling in Venezuela?


    (To Eugenio's defense, he reserves his criticism for US bullying and imperialism abroad, not the country per se or especially its people.)


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  • Latin American Dictators, and Atrocities Overlooked (John Heelan, UK 03/05/19 3:49 AM)

    Given his antipathy to "the Empire," Eugenio Battaglia (4 March) is remarkably quiet about the impact of the "Chicago Boys" on Chile, "Operation Condor" supporting the Latin American dictators, Henry Kissinger's travels, "The School of the Americas," a finishing school for dictators, the Videla Junta's impact on Argentina, the "desaparecidos," the tortures that took place in La Escuela Superior de Mecánica de la Armada, the American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's meetings with Argentinian military leaders after the coup, urging them to destroy their opponents quickly before outcry over human rights abuses grew in the United States.


    JE comments:  It's impossible to include every atrocity in one WAIS post.  We should also mention the US-engineered coup against Guatemala's Arbenz in 1954. 


    Shall we re-focus this discussion in the direction of "what now" for Venezuela?  Should the International Community intervene, and if so, how?  The Maduro-Guaidó showdown has few precedents in world history:  two presidents, each with recognition from world and regional powers.  Historically this would mean civil war, but fortunately nothing that cataclysmic has happened yet.


    Henry Kissinger is still going strong at 95.  I wonder how he would handle Maduro.

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  • More Latin American Dictators We Overlooked (Timothy Brown, USA 03/05/19 2:23 PM)
    I applaud Eugenio Battaglia's guarded reaction (March 4th) on what was obviously an ideologically selective newspaper article since I, too, wonder why they included Batista but not Fidel Castro or his half-brother Raúl, and the entire "Somoza" family but not the Somoza's distant cousin, Daniel Ortega. After all, the FSLN's namesake, Augusto César Sandino, was Somoza's main competitor for power, not a potential savior of democracy. Can anyone think of another reason for their list being so limited?  Maybe ideological selectivity?

    Should you like to see a few alternative versions of history, may I suggest reading what some hands-on veteran revolutionaries told me, such as El Viejo, Alejandro Pérez Bustamante, who was Sandino's personal bodyguard during Sandino's efforts to oust Somoza and take power for himself and, years later, head of a clandestine Contra support cell just across from El Zungano. (Chapter 3 in my When the AK-47s Fall Silent, Stanford: 2000).


    Or maybe José Obidio "Pepe" Puente León's comments in Chapter 2. (Carlos Fonseca Amador was its second leader. Its original leader was a COMINTERN agent name Noel Guerrero Santiago (pg. 12 in my Diplomarine).  He was a Director of the Sandinista Front from when it was created in Havana to when it took power in Managua and a key link in Mexico between Central American revolutionary movements, Soviet and Cuban intelligence and, I should add, to PEMEX's money.


    But then, myths are always more convincing than facts.


    JE comments:  How did I get this far without knowing about the Ortega-Somoza kinship?  Perhaps not surprising in such a small country.  But then again, Obama and Bush are (distant) cousins, too.


    Tim, another curiosity I cannot let pass by:  What is the PEMEX connection to the Sandinistas?  And Fidel and Raúl are half-brothers?  Come to think of it, they don't look much alike. 


    This post is brief but has a lot to sink your teeth into.


    Speaking of Latin America, we will shortly board the flight to Santiago de Chile (we're now at the Toronto airport).  WAIS will be on hold until tomorrow at midday. 


    Chicago Boys, here we come!

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