Elliot Abrams and the murdered children of El Mozote

Women look over the excavation site where the remains of their friends and relatives were being exhumed in El Mozote, El Salvador.

Elliot Abrams oversaw death squads in Central America and was convicted of lying to Congress. So why did President Joe Biden appoint this evil war criminal to the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy?

Abrams tried to cover up the 1981 El Mozote massacre in El Salvador. It was the small, even tiny, skulls found there that proved he lied about this atrocity. 

Of the 143 skulls identified by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Unit in El Mozote, all but a dozen belonged to children less than 12 years old. 

Yet Abrams insisted to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the massacre was a myth. The Reagan administration claimed the bodies found in the village were those of guerrilla soldiers killed in battle.

The U.S.-trained Atlácatl Battalion murdered as many as a thousand people in El Mozote on Dec. 11-12, 1981. Many young girls were raped before being executed.

A United Nations Truth Commission supervising the forensic investigation revealed these horrible facts in 1992. Elliot Abrams and other Reagan officials always knew the bloody truth. 

Reagan was pouring billions into El Salvador to fight a poor peoples’ movement called the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). A handful of rich families were running the country, but the real power center was the U.S. Embassy. 

As Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs – what a lying job title! – Abrams’ task was to deny El Mozote happened. The Reaganites remembered how the My Lai massacre in Vietnam turned millions against that war.

A mass movement against U.S. intervention in Central America was growing. It included many Catholics who remembered how San Salvador Archbishop Óscar Romero was assassinated while he was celebrating mass on March 24, 1980.

One hundred thousand people marched on the Pentagon on May 3, 1981, to stop Reagan and his war plans. The idea for this march came from the late communist leader Sam Marcy.

Reagan’s counteroffensive was helped by the Wall Street Journal. It attacked New York Times reporter Raymond Bonner, who along with Washington Post correspondent Alma Guillermoprieto exposed the El Mozote massacre.

New York Times management went along with this right-wing campaign by removing Bonner from reporting about Central America.

Uncle Sam sells crack

Elliot Abrams was the godfather of death squads. U.S.-backed tyrant Efraín Rios Montt murdered 200,000 people in Guatemala.

Five out of six people killed there were Indigenous, with over 400 communities destroyed. Death squads would pour gasoline over people and set them on fire.  

While Marine Colonel Ollie North got more publicity, Abrams helped supervise the Contra terrorists who killed 30,000 people in Nicaragua.

The people of Nicaragua overthrew the decades-long Somoza family dictatorship in 1979. The CIA was determined to crush the new revolutionary government, who were called Sandinistas. 

Their movement was named after the liberator Augusto César Sandino, who fought U.S. Marines in the 1920s to free Nicaragua from Wall Street’s domination.

After the bloody war against Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, people in the United States were overwhelmingly against a new conflict. The House of Representatives passed the Boland Amendment – named after Massachusetts Congressperson Edward Boland – that initially barred any aid to the Contras in Nicaragua.

That didn’t stop Elliot Abrams, Ollie North and the rest of the Reagan gang. They continued to secretly finance the Contra terrorists.

They did so by two methods. The first was to flood the Black and Latinx communities with crack cocaine, with some of the profits going to the Contras.

Journalists Robert Parry and Gary Webb helped expose this Contra drug connection. (See Gary Webb’s book, “Dark Alliance, the CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion.”)

Webb deserved a Pulitzer Prize for his articles but was driven to suicide – or was perhaps “suicided” – instead. 

When Barry Seal – the #1 U.S. drug smuggler – was murdered in 1986, he carried the personal phone number of Reagan’s vice president (and future president), George Herbert Walker Bush.

The crack epidemic also served as an excuse to increase the prison population by seven times between 1980 and 2020. The 2.2 million poor people in jail are members of the working class.

The second method to fund the Contras was to shake down U.S. client regimes. In 1986, Elliott Abrams met in London with Brunei’s Defense Minister General Ibnu to exhort a $10 million “contribution.” 

It’s unclear whether this loot went to the right Swiss bank account or was just scooped up by “unknown parties.”

Unlimited coup plotting

Going around Congress to fund the Contras wasn’t just illegal. It was as subversive as Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

A president that can ignore Congress to finance a dirty war is on the way to being a dictator. Historically it was the “power of the purse” – meaning the control of tax money – that allowed parliaments to shrink the power of kings.

The Contragate scandal was finally exposed when CIA mercenary Eugene Hasenfus was shot down over Nicaragua on Oct. 5, 1986. His plane was owned by the CIA front Southern Air Transport, whose employees included future Attorney General (for both George W. Bush and Donald Trump) William Barr

Even Elliot Abrams had to face the music, but not for his war crimes. For lying to Congress, Abrams was sentenced to a $50 fine and 100 hours of community service. He was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.

In contrast, Frank Wills – the Black security guard who caught the Watergate burglars – was sentenced to a year in jail for allegedly shoplifting a pair of sneakers.

Elliot Abrams went on to conspire to overthrow Venezuela’s elected President Hugo Chávez in 2002. The CIA-backed coup was defeated by the Venezuelan people, who came out in the streets to defend their democracy.

Abrams was one of those behind the May 1, 2019, coup attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro that fizzled. Abrams was Trump’s stage manager for the now all-but-forgotten presidential pretender Juan Guaidó.

Abrams was also Trump’s choice to conspire to overthrow Iran’s government.

Biden’s selection of Abrams shows that whether there’s a Democrat or Republican in the White House, there’s a permanent capitalist establishment. It will get its way unless the people stop it.

Abrams himself worked for Henry Jackson, the Democratic senator from Washington state who was known as the “senator from Boeing” for demanding war contracts. Jackson sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976 by attacking school integration.

Abrams was later chief of state for New York Senator Daniel Moynihan, who had urged President Nixon to show “benign neglect” towards Black people. So many of Washington’s war plotters got their start in the war against Black people.

The 81 million people who voted for Joe Biden didn’t want war criminals back in government. The U.S. senate should refuse to confirm Elliot Abrams. He should face Nuremberg justice instead.

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