Senate sneaks in Negroponte
New U.S. ambassador has death-squad links
By Heather Cottin
While most people here were focused on the aftermath of the
attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the U.S.
Senate on Sept. 14 approved the nomination of John Negroponte
to the post of ambassador to the United Nations.
Under cover of the rightward impetus dominating national
politics, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the day before
had voted 14-to-3 to approve Negroponte. Senators were "anxious
to fill the post of United States ambassador to the United
Nations," according to Reuters. But they were aware, too, that
this nomination was more likely to slip through if it was done
quietly, during a time when few were paying attention.
Negroponte's career indicates the strong connection between
the U.S. imperialist business, publishing, military and
intelligence "communities." The White House, announcing his
nomination, boasted that Negroponte "served in a wide variety
of Foreign Service posts including ambassador to Honduras from
1981-1985, ambassador to Mexico from 1989-1993 and ambassador
to the Philippines from 1993-1996.
"He held the post of deputy assistant secretary of state
with the rank of ambassador for oceans and fisheries affairs
from 1976-1979 and was then appointed deputy assistant
secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs in 1980.
From 1985-1987, he was assistant secretary of state for oceans
and international environment and scientific affairs. Reagan
named him deputy assistant to the president for national
security affairs, a post he held until 1989."
But it was Negroponte's role in Central America, in the
creation of death squads in Honduras, and as a conspirator in
the Iran-Contra scandal that alerted activists to protest his
nomination as ambassador to the United Nations.
Negroponte and Honduran
In April 2001 the Sydney Morning Herald reported, "President
George W. Bush's nominee for the post of U.S. ambassador to the
United Nations concealed from Congress human rights abuses in
Central America carried out by death squads trained and armed
by the CIA."
The New York Times credited Negroponte with "carrying out
the covert strategy of the Reagan administration to crush the
Sandinista government in Nicaragua" during his tenure as U.S.
ambassador to Honduras from 1981-1985. He oversaw the growth of
military aid to Honduras from $4 million to $77.4 million a
In early 1984, two U.S. mercenaries, Thomas Posey and Dana
Parker, contacted Negroponte, stating they wanted to supply
arms to the Contra army after the U.S. Congress had banned
governmental aid. Documents show that Negroponte connected the
two with a contact in the Honduran military. The operation was
exposed nine months later, at which point the Reagan
administration denied any U.S. government involvement, despite
Negroponte's contact earlier that year.
Other documents uncovered a scheme of Negroponte and
then-Vice President George Bush to funnel Contra aid money
through the Honduran government.
In addition to his work with the Nicaraguan Contra army,
Negroponte helped conceal from Congress the murder, kidnapping
and torture abuses of a CIA-equipped and -trained Honduran
military unit, Battalion 316. No mention of these human rights
violations ever appeared in State Department human rights
reports for Honduras.
After making a comprehensive study in June 1995 of
Negroponte's tenure in Honduras, the Baltimore Sun wrote:
"The intelligence unit, known as Battalion 316, used shock
and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were
kept naked and, when no longer useful, were killed and buried
in unmarked graves. Newly declassified documents and other
sources show that the CIA and the U.S. Embassy knew of numerous
crimes, including murder and torture, committed by Battalion
316, yet continued to collaborate closely with its
The Sun reported that Efrain Diaz Arrivillaga, then a
delegate in the Honduran Congress and a voice of dissent, told
the newspaper that he complained to Negroponte on numerous
occasions about the Honduran military's human rights abuses.
Rick Chidester, a junior embassy official under Negroponte,
reported to the Sun that he was forced to omit an exhaustive
section on human rights violations from his 1982 State
Sister Laetitia Bordes went on a fact-finding delegation to
Honduras in May 1982 to investigate the whereabouts of 32
Salvadoran nuns and women of faith who fled to Honduras in 1981
after Archbishop Oscar Romero's assassination. Negroponte
claimed the embassy knew nothing.
But in 1996 Negroponte's predecessor, Jack Binns, reported
that the women had been captured, tortured and then crammed
into helicopters, from which they were tossed to their
He conveniently 'forgot'
According to the Los Angeles Times, shortly after
Negroponte's nomination was decided, the U.S. government
revoked the visa of Gen. Luis Alonso Discua Elvir, who was
Honduras's deputy ambassador to the UN.
General Discua was the commander of Battalion 316 during
Negroponte's tenure as ambassador. He has publicly claimed to
have information linking Negroponte with the battalion's
activities. His testimony would be invaluable in illuminating
Negroponte's collusion with Honduran opponents on Capitol Hill.
In 1994, the Honduran Human Rights Commission charged
Negroponte personally with several human rights abuses.
All this took place while John Negroponte was ambassador. He
claimed in a recent hearing in the Senate to have forgotten
what happened during his watch in Honduras. Reuters reported on
Sept. 15, "Mr. Negroponte, pressed on various human rights
cases in Honduras and on what he discussed with the contras,
told the Senate committee he could not remember."
The Washington Post on Sept. 15 noted during the nomination
hearings, "Committee members questioned whether Negroponte
played down or knowingly failed to report government abuses,
possibly affecting congressional support for the Reagan
administration's plan to build up the military in neighboring
Central American nations."
They apparently had no objections when Negroponte replied by
asserting he served "honorably and conscientiously in a manner
fully consistent with and faithful to applicable laws and
Reuters had written the day before, "Senators said the
United States needed an ambassador in New York as soon as
possible to mobilize international support for President Bush's
campaign against terrorism." No one apparently saw the
duplicity or irony of appointing as ambassador to the United
Nations a man who was officially responsible for a nefarious
episode of U.S. state terrorism.
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