Israel's Support For the Murderous Regimes of El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua
America's role in Central America is well known at least among those who have bothered to become informed. Actually in my case I learned about US foreign policy in Latin America in a very memorable fashion. In a darkened church basement while only a child I heard an American Priest and a Nun dramatically recount being tortured and constantly threatened with death by an El Salvadoran Death Squad while their CIA advisor passively watched on. They were lucky to make it out alive but dead American clergy would have been bad press. Not that occasionally even american priests and nuns weren't targeted. Anyway it was an experience that made an impression on me America was involved in pure evil. It aided oppressive regimes like El Salvador and Guatemala which killed hundreds of thousands of people while waging a proxy war on Nicaragua for the crime of attempting to lessen poverty, illiteracy and provide medical care to a populace long neglected by it's ruler Somoza who with a few of his friends owned everything in the country.
Little mentioned however was the Israeli role in Latin America. Israel was in some cases even more responsible for what happened then the US. In the post Vietnam malaise congress (It seems strange and miraculous to me now) actually managed to put some checks on Reagan's support for Americas Mass Murdering Central American Allies. Guatemala was so bad that the US cut off the majority of it's aid in 1975 after it threatened to invade then british colony Belize. Even a monster like Kissinger relished his chance to take a hypocritical condemnation of the Guatemalan regime (He approved even worse in Vietnam and Indonesia where he gave the green light to genocide.) Luckily for Guatemalan Junta and disastrously for it's people Israel stepped in to provide aid and advice. This is a continuation of sorts of my article Israel Apartheid South Africa. It is also based primarily on Jane Hunter's excellent book "Israeli Foreign Policy South Africa and Central America" she was also one of the authors of the Classic "Iran Contra Connection Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era" The other authors were Jonathan Marshall and Peter Dale Scott. I highly recommend both books. It is important to understand how imperialism operates through networks of nations. And ultimately currupt bussinessmen Israel because of it's ever growing Military Industrial Complex has traditionally stepped in to provide those Pariah states whose crimes made it difficult to support for the US Or Europe.
Israel's aid to the murderous brutal, and repressive El Salvadoran regime replaced American Aid in 1977. The Carter administration was attempting to link aid to Human rights in an effort to clean up America's unpopular image worldwide after murdering a couple of million people in South East Asia. After the US cut off aid Israel stepped in with 80% with France and Brazil providing the rest. After Reagan's election the US was able to start directly aiding the regime. Israeli aid continued. To get an Idea of El Salvador watch the excellent largely forgotten "Salvador" it fictionalizes the details but provides a good portrayal of how terrifying life was in El Salvador during the 70's and 80's. The Army, the Police and Death Squads run by the few Rich families and big Landowners waged a war on their impoverished populace. The majority of the population lived in terror that they could be picked up tortured and then executed. A state which regarded it's own populace as an Enemy it sought aid and advice from Israel with it's experience oppressing and terrorizing Palestinians. They were not disappointed. Israel provided helicopters, fighter planes, machine guns, and Assault rifles. They provided sophisticated surveillance equipment and computers that through analyzing utilities Usage could discover illegal meetings. They provided advisers that trained El Salvador's secret police, military and death Squads. Infamous El Salvadoran War Criminals like Roberto D'Aubuisson and Sibgfredo Ochoa were trained by the Israelis. Ochoa once remarked that he preferred Israeli advisers after all the Americans "lost the war in Vietnam" he praised the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (where Israel collaborated with Fascist death squads in the mass murder of Palestinian refugees) and demanded that El Salvador and the other right wing governments should invade Nicaragua in emulation. Ironically Israel's invasion of Lebanon resulted in Israel's Vietnam and the Creation of their only successful foe Hezbollah. I mention it because the same thing happened in South Africa where the apartheid regime also admired and attempted to emulate Israel's aggressive Foreign policy. Israel seems to have provided bad examples to right wing regimes all over the world back then. The way in which Israel attempted to Terrorize the palestinians into submission was a model it attempted to export across the world. In El Salvador the Israelis's helped devise Project 1000 a plan to settle the 500,000 refugees from the governments's terror Campaign in 1000 Guatemala Style model Villages. This model village tactic is a classic element of Counter-Insurgency warfare the French used it in Algeria the American's in Vietnam and Israel tried a variation of it in the occupied territories. Today however their Tactics would better be described as a Model Prison approach with the Palestinians imprisoned behind high walls. I'll describe Guatemala's model village system in the next section. Much of Israel's aid was under the cover of Agricultural Aid. This a a common tactic as well the US has used the innocuous sounding USAID for crimes all over the world. To give one example USAID shipped portable generators to be used for electric torture to regimes all over the world. Thus Israel provided weapons, training Strategic and economic Guidance that helped the El Salvadorans murder terrorize and exploit their people.
Israel's relationship with Guatemala was even more integral. This was because Reagan was unable to get approval from Congress to resume military aid. The US would have to wait for the election of phony reformer Cerezo's 1986 election to resume aid. Under Cerezo the world merely pretended things had changed the killings continued, nor was real economic reform allowed to take place. In any case from 1975 till 86 Israel was Guatemala's main Patron. The Guatemalan Government were glad to receive the aid and training minus the obnoxious American hypocrisy about Human Rights. With Israeli advice they were free to Carry out their genocidal War on the Mayan Indians who had despite 400 years of occupation by the spanish Invaders managed to keep their culture surprisingly intact in secrecy. The Maya are one of the planets most fascinating Civilizations. They made advanced achievements in Astronomy and Math but went into decline because of escalating wars between their city states. They did not mysteriously vanish as the popular imagination would have it. There were still Maya cities when Cortez arrived to begin the butchery and enslavement of Mexico and Central America. In the 1980's the campaign of Butchery and enslavement was still going strong.
Ever since the 1954 coup against Arbenz Guatemala had been ruled by a murderous Junta. The big landowners descendants of the Conquistadors were trying to steal Indian Land. Luckily they had the experts on Land theft Israel to advise them. Israel supplied the weapons and Trainers to Launch brutal attacks on Indian villages. Then the survivors were settled in model villages where they became Slave labor used to grow fancy crops for export. Israel provided the agricultural advice and helped them design the model villages. In addition to having their Labor exploited residents were forced either to inform on their fellow villagers or join so called self defense units forced to go on endless patrols and kill their fellow Maya. If they didn't they were likely to be tortured and or Killed. The new villages were set up so they could be kept under constant surveillance. In addition the Israelis supplied a computer system used to draw up weekly death lists of those targeted for Murder. Over 100,000 people were killed. The Guatemalan military gloried in their victory over the forces of social Progress. When under American pressure Cerezo was elected Israel helped Guatemala to re-establish ties with Western Europe. Germany, France and Belgium reestablished aid to Guatemala. So did the US.
Israel's relationship with Nicaragua went back to the 30's Anastasio Somoza Garcia helped the Israeli Haganah their pre state militia illegally buy weapons. Interestingly Guatemala was instrumental in passing the partition agreement that created Israel although Ironically that was when it was ruled by more moderate elements that would be overthrown by the coup forces Israel later came to aid. Israel claimed it owed a debt to Somoza although he was well payed for signing phony end user certificates that allowed the Israeli's to smuggle in the weapons they would Use to launch what Palestinians call the Nakbah the catastrophe, what Israeli Historian Ilan Pappe correctly labels the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. By slaughtering civilians they were able to create a massive tide of refugees clearing the land for themselves. They then forbid them ever to return. In the late 70's Carter cut off Aid to Somoza's son and successor Anastasio Somoza Debayle. Israel stepped in to supply 98% of Nicaragua's military needs. An american Diplomat at the time observed that Managua looked liked Jerusalem because Somoza's Brutal national guard were all wearing Israeli Berets (and carrying Israeli Uzis and Galil Assault Rifles). Like in El Salvador and Guatemala Israel supplied weapons, Training, Strategic and economic advice.the Carter administration successfully pressured Israel to end their aid either because of some dark scheme by Zbigniew Brzezinski or because His idealistic secretary of state Cyrus Vance won out. Somoza fell soon after in the First Successful Violent Revolution in the America's since Cuba. The Sandanista's took power.
Like Cuba Nicaragua was to be targeted for the crime of attempting to improve conditions in the country. A violent dictator was deposed, literacy and health improved markedly by American logic this made them dangerous tyrants even though they held elections. The absurd media propaganda of the time pretended tiny Nicaragua posed a threat to the US. Nicaraguans would soon be invading Texas the American people were told. They even made a movie about it Red Dawn. Immediately the US launched plans for proxy war. First there was the so called Secret Team. Because of all the scandals over assassinations, drug dealing, mass murder, coups etc a number of the CIA from the operations (ie covert operations) department were fired first by Nixon then Carter. Some have speculated that this may be one of the causes of watergate. What is clear is that these former CIA helped Reagan get elected against carter. They became the Nucleus of what Became known as the Iran Contra Scandal. They had wide experience running guns and drugs in Asia now they moved to advise the Contras. The Contras were former members of Somoza's Killers in the National Guard. Very similar to what's happening in Syria today they would attack and perform all sorts of horrific atrocities. Contra means Counter revolutionaries. By the way the birth of so called Al Qaeda" they were referred to as mujahadeen was taking place with similar players in Afganistan instead of Cocaine, Heroin and instead of Fascist contras, Jihadis. The contras and the Jihadi's shared a passion For slicing people up. In hindsight the events in Afghanistan should be linked to events in Central America. In both places America sought to turn back the clock.
Israel's role in the Iran Contra Scandal is little remembered. This is absurd because it was Israeli Arms that were being funneled to both the Contras and the Iranians. Israel hoped to make the Iran Iraq war as destructive as possible and began selling arms to Iran at the beginning of the war. Ironically the Iranian situation is similar to the Nicaraguan one a corrupt brutal American installed dictator was overthrown. Thus the Iranian people were demonized and their enemy Saddam supplied with weapons to launch a brutal invasion. Frankly there is little more disgusting then the American Public's going along with these mindless desires for revenge. The people of Cuba, Iran,and Nicaragua should have been applauded. Instead they were and are senselessly persecuted. The american mainstream left wasn't quite as gullible back then. Today there are actually liberal idiots claiming that the Al Qaeda death squads operating in Syria are freedom fighters. Today the contras would doubtless be hailed as revolutionaries just like people in the west claim the rich fascists in Venezuela want democracy. Back then however Reagan was eventually forbidden from aiding the contras. Reagan was forced to plead with the Israeli's as well as their traitorous arab allies in Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Help. They agreed to the Israeli scheme to overcharge the Iranians and use the proceeds to buy Israeli arms to send to the contras. The Israeli's sent advisers that not only trained but lead the Contra terror raids into Nicaragua hospitals and schools were favorite targets. The US hoped that sending arms might get American hostages released. Ironically the hostages were taken in response to Israels Brutal invasion of Lebanon. (Where hospitals and schools were also targeted) Even more ironically aiding the Contras was a way for Israel to get back in the good graces of the Reagan administration after their brutality had deeply embarrassed Reagan who had given his promise to protect palestinian civilians if Arafat withdrew from Lebanon. They were the people and their children who had fled in the Nakba. They had been slaughtered instead. (To understand the complex Lebanon situation a major cause for the current War on Syria I highly recommend David Hirst's "Beware of Small States Lebanon Battleground of the Middle East.) Even though Reagan was extremely pro Israel with an administration full of Ne-Cons Israel had personally embarrassed him with their Brutal tactics In addition to their complicity in the Massacre of Sabra and Shatila, Israel shelled UN refugee camps killing international Peace keepers. Thus paradoxically to be forgiven for brutally killing civilians America demanded Israel help it brutally kill civilians. Interestingly the Israeli inteligence officer involved David Kimche would later be the Mossad adviser for the greatest murderer of our time and possibly History Paul Kagame of Rwanda. (10 million killed in his invasion of the Congo so far) His American adviser was Roger winter. (Both revealed by Keith Harmon Snow) Eventually a scandal emerged when the illegal weapons shipments were discovered. The American public was shocked to discover that Iran had been sold weapons. Congress was shocked that Reagan had defied the Boland amendment which forbade aid to the contras. The role of Israel was downplayed. The fact that the Contras were smuggling cocaine into the US with CIA assistance was largely covered up. Many of the Iran Contra players went on to play a role in the so called war on terror. Studying Iran Contra provides a rare glimpse in the tangled web of arms dealing, terrorism, prostituition, banking, drug dealing, and intelligence.
Thus Israel played a major role in the brutal events in Central America in the 70's and 80's. They provided training, equipment, weapons and advice. They were also deeply involved in the Iran Contra Scandal. I hope I've also shown how in Geopolitics events are linked across the globe. America, Britain France and Israel's games span the globe, events in Africa and the Americas and Eurasia are interlinked. Today it is Venezuela, Syria, Iran, Libya and Ukraine. Then it was south Africa, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iran and Central America. The people of the world must express solidarity in the Face of the Criminal schemes of the US NATO and Israel. Internationalism is the solution to Globalism, Neo-liberalism and Imperialism. We are all Palestinians we are all Iraqis we are all Greeks. We are the people of eastern Ukraine , we are Syrians. Until we recognize our common humanity we will be doomed to fight each other instead of fighting together to create a better world. We must support those peoples who are resisting empire.