The Second Crucifixion of El Salvador

An immigrant from El Salvador who has been living “legally” in the United States since 1989, may soon be forced to return to that Central American nation.

Unlike hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans who are deported every year for working in the U.S. without papers, Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova was warmly welcomed when he arrived in Miami from El Salvador; in fact he was greeted like a king and quickly granted permanent residency.

Why? Vides Casanova was Minister of Defense in El Salvador and in command of the National Guard during that nation’s Civil War (1980-1992).

It may seem strange that Vides Casanova would get a hero’s welcome in the U. S. since during Civil War in El Salvador, tens of thousands of innocent people were tortured and killed by the military and government-backed death squads.

According to the New York Times, before Vides Casanova retired to the United States with a generous pension, he “was praised by American officials as a reformer struggling to root out human rights violators from his corps.”

In fact Vides Casanova “participated in or concealed torture and murder by his troops.”

In an important decision, the U. S. Board of Immigration Appeals ruled March 11 that, among other crimes, Vides Casanova “covered up the role of National Guard troops under his command in the rape and murder of four American churchwomen in December 1980. Those killings,” the Times piece said, “as much as any others by the Salvadoran armed forces during the decade-long war, revealed the rampant violence of the military that Washington staunchly supported in its Cold War confrontation with leftist guerrillas.”

The United States provided over $7 billion in weapons and financial assistance to the dictatorship in El Salvador in the 1980s. It also provided military training for the Army, National Guard, and even to death squads organized through that nation’s Treasury Police.

Why did the United States support the dictatorship in El Salvador? They were but one legion of shock troops in a century-long effort by the U. S. military industrial complex to maintain control over all of Latin America and its people.

In the 1980s, the FMLN — a united front of progressive political groups — led the people of El Salvador against a military government that had ruled since The Matanza of 1932, a massacre of 32,000 peasants by General Maximiliano Hernandez Martinez. General Martinez, one of El Salvador’s many dictators, murdered peasants in the tens of thousands in order to crush a planned revolt organized by Farabundo Martí, the Salvadorean revolutionary from whom the FMLN derived their name.

So when the people rose up as they did in El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, Argentina, Guatemala and throughout Latin America, the U. S. did what they have always done when the people try to take control of their own country and make changes there: They intervened.

In fact since the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine, every time a nation south of the border has attempted to solve its own problems in a manner that did not meet the approval of major US banks and corporations, military advisers have been sent, arms appropriated, sanctions imposed, coup d’etats engineered, and troops dispatched. As a result, nothing much has changed in Latin America since 1825 — the date of the first US intervention there.

Seventy-five thousand people died during the Civil War in El Salvador; hundreds of thousands fled the violence and mayhem during the 1980s and beyond, most of them finding their way to the United States.

It’s a terrible irony that people forced by a deranged military dictatorship to flee their homeland should seek sanctuary in the nation that supported and supplied the regime that oppressed them. It is an even crueler twist of history that those refugees, and their children, would, upon their arrival in the U. S., and for decades to come, be viewed and treated as criminals.

By interfering directly in a war of liberation, one lead by the heroic FMLN, the U. S. prevented El Salvador from charting their own destiny. As a result, even after Peace Accords were signed in 1992, and democratic elections staged, that country is still to this day recovering from the damage wrought by that war, one that leveled forests, destroyed industries and infrastructure, damaged almost beyond repair the rule of law, and wounded the very psyche of the people. The brutal and devastating war also created ideal conditions for the introduction of a massive narcotics trade, well organized narco-criminal groups, and a state of lawlessness that continues to hold that nation, and much of Latin America, in its grip.

Just last year thousands of children, many traveling on their own, endured the perilous journey from El Salvador to the U.S. in an effort to escape gang violence and mob rule. Most were quickly deported, though many await an immigration hearing. Unlike Vides Casanova, they await those appeals in jail.

At a 2014 deportation appeal, Vides Casanova’s attorney, Diego Handel, told an immigration judge that it was unfair to deport his client because “The United States government was an active participant on the side of the El Salvadoran government,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“U.S. officials have not been held accountable for their role in the violence,” the attorney said.

copyright © 2016 J. P. Bone

 

to read the New York Times piece by Julia Preston, published March 12, 2015 click on the following link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/13/us/general-in-el-salvador-torture-and-killings-can-be-deported-immigration-court-rules.html?_r=0

 

 

 

 

Hillary is the Bomb

“He has said he would do anything I asked,” Hillary Rodham Clinton declared with astonishment, extra double-A eggs with blue bulls-eyes dangerously close to popping out of her head.

Hillary was, of course, referring to her housemate, publicist, political strategist, campaign manager and chief fundraiser Bill. A delighted crowd purred with expectation as Hillary waited for just the right moment: “I would put him to work!” she said adding a huge exclamation mark just outside the dialogue balloon.

Bill in a pink apron cooking lentils, Bill tending to the roses in the garden, Bill paying the bills, Bill cleaning the tub, Bill washing the dishes, Bill coaching a girl’s soccer team…

Wait a minute — nothing domestic for Bill! This is an international assignment.

But Bill going around the world? And with Hillary’s blessing? So theirs IS an open marriage, after all…

Suddenly Hillary takes great pride announcing how many people “love Bill.” And many have. “I’m very lucky that my husband has been so experienced in all these areas,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.

If it is possible for Hillary to get out of character for just a minute it seems that she may be violating some tenet of bourgeois feminism invoking as she has the image and influence of her husband to further her own career.

Or am I still living in the 60s?

Next thing you know the Democratic front-runner will be flirting with the notion of including Bill in her cabinet, which would require a legislative measure of some audacity, which, flashing forward then back, would require a miracle of some magnitude – that Hillary be elected President of the United States.

Of America.

Or perhaps all of this is simply a campaign ploy, part of “the conversation,” Hillary’s way of helping us “visualize the future.”

Let’s try.

Close your eyes for a moment and tilt your head back… That’s it.

Keep your eyes closed tight now! Yes there you are, in the crowd… And there SHE is… Hillary, right hand raised in the brisk morning air, palm arched, fingers stiff, nearly a military salute, Oliver North swearing to tell the truth, a hand gesture laden with more meaning than any other, save one.

A Woodstock-size crowd hushes, poised as it is to witness history and take cell-phone photos of the Capitol Rotunda, Hillary Rodham Clinton, uncharacteristically on the left, facing the Supreme Court Chief Justice, on the far right as usual, a historic moment, the climax of a long career, faithful spouse Bill facing the crowd, behind the Bible, he has Nancy Reagan eyes…

“So help me God,” Hillary swears.

The masses erupt with adoration, a seething orgasmic swirl of love gushing across the land. Another Clinton White House! Let the party begin!

Ah but that is all just a fantasy now, though among oddsmakers six will give you nine that Clinton will win the nomination. That’s clearly what corporate America expects, where they’ve wagered their bread… Yes almost all the big boys are behind Hillary, behind Bill, behind the Clintons. Politics makes strange bedfellows, it is said, in this case bringing together an estranged husband and wife and the military industrial complex in a ménage à trois, weapons of mass destruction far more arousing than leather, whips and chains.

“I can’t think of a better cheerleader for America than Bill Clinton, can you?” Hillary said with an impish grin.

But wait a minute, there’s just one problem with Bill as national cheerleader – remember? He got caught with his pants down. Yes it was just a blow-job, yes it was just a little white lie he told, but he said it under oath and was impeached. Bill should have said it under his breath, under the covers, under wraps. But he didn’t. And yes, it’s damn unfair — Republicans can screw people and get away with it when democrats get in trouble just opening their mouths.

But Bill DID have sex with that woman. Yes that one. And it was such a humungous moment in history that it even changed the way people define carnal relations. PART OF THE LEGACY of Bill Clinton is that a lot of young people think they can have oral sex and claim they didn’t – have sex, that is…

But despite Bill’s violation of marital vows he proved over and over again his fidelity to something bigger — the Clinton’s unorthodox open marriage, a blissful union of free markets and new age fascism.

Let us not forget that Bill ushered through the GATT and NAFTA treaties, cut the safety net for immigrants, attacked poor people under the guise of welfare reform, while always — always — demonstrating absolute fidelity to the big corporate donors that are the holy union of Clinton, Inc.

As far as the whole Lewinsky affair goes, Bill confessed and asked to be forgiven, establishing what is now ritual, a key element of political liturgy — the blessed act of contrition. Bill paid penance for his sins; he traveled the world and visited the sick and homeless, raising money for the disadvantaged and the poor.

And now he has been called again, this time to help poor Hillary.

“I believe in using former presidents, particularly what my husband has done,” Hillary explained, “to really get people around the world feeling better about our country. We’re going to need that. Right now, they’re rooting against us and they need to root for us.”

And Bill can do much to buttress what voters think about Hillary, to make them feel better about her, to root for her, to send her money.

Remember this is a Clinton we’re talking about, not some left-liberal or progressive, for godsakes, certainly not a reformer. She’s as safe a bet to stand for, well, nothing as a $20 wager that Bill will get caught with his pants down again, something that simply won’t happen with Hillary… And Hillary wears pants, too, a la Diane Feinstein, the Democratic trend-setter in the Senate, modeling the last word in fashion as well…

Some of her critics suggest that Hillary is no longer a feminist: No liberated woman would put up with someone like Bill, the argument goes. Okay maybe Hillary isn’t as militant as Maria Shiver, so what? Her corporate backers know what she is, the voters know what she stands for, which is more than they can say about a lot of the other candidates for president. Hillary has a clear identity: She is a hawkish dove, a conservative liberal, a foe of welfare and friend of the indigent. Hillary opposes the War in Iraq and “certainly wouldn’t have voted” for it if she knew then what she knows now, though clearly it was not a mistake for her to give George Bush the power to bomb Baghdad.

In short Hillary is as Clinton as they come. All she needs is a little more sex appeal. And that’s simple: She just needs to threaten to invade Iran, and to “not rule out” the use of nukes. Not rule out, mind you. That is an important detail. Yes Hillary has to show us her muscles, demonstrate her strength, prove she will take-no-prisoners. U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! THEN her nomination will be assured because then Hillary – not George, not Barack, not Tom, Dick or Harry, but Hillary will be the bomb.

Still relevant after all these years

originally written for These Green Times

copyright © 2008 J. P. Bone

UN arms treaty opposed by North Korea and NRA

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a treaty April 2 to reduce the international sale of attack helicopters, combat aircraft, large-caliber rifles, missiles and launchers, and other weapons that kill thousands of innocent people every year.

 

The treaty, which according to the New York Times took seven years to negotiate, was opposed by North Korea, Syria, Iran and the National Rifle Association (NRA).

 

While currently focusing its fire-power on efforts to introduce handguns and other weapons into public schools, the NRA blasted the United Nations vote, claiming it would violate the “sovereignty of the United States.”

 

The U.S. is the world’s largest exporter of weapons of all kinds, with reported sales estimated to be $70 billion a year.

 

Other neo-fascist groups, such as the Heritage Foundation, also opposed the treaty, suggesting it “blames weapons” for the problems and “not those who use them.”

 

The NRA and founders of the Heritage Foundation supported covert arms shipments to the Contras and other terrorist groups in the 1980s. (The Contras were a armed band of mercenaries that attempted to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.)

 

Right-wing fanatics also backed the secret shipment of missiles and other sophisticated weapons to Afghanistan during that nation’s insurgent war against the former Soviet Union.

 

President Ronald Reagan and leading members of the Republiklan secretly approved massive spending to arm and train what they called “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan. Those groups would later become known as the Taliban and al-Qaeda. One of the darlings of the “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan was the dashing young Saudi, Osama bin Ladin.

 

Using the logic of the NRA and Heritage Foundation, groups like al-Qaeda should, perhaps, be allowed to purchase and otherwise acquire weapons since, after all, it is not weapons that kill people but “those who use them.”

 

The first time I was executed

I remember being tied to a makeshift seat in a wooden ox cart that sat atop a dry and dusty hill in the parched desert beside the Gulf of California. Three Mexican Federales yanked leather and hemp straps tight and secured them to the cart. As they prepared me for execution they said nothing at all: No crime was described, no sentence proclaimed. The immense silence was disturbed only by the cry of an eagle high above and the wind that carried it.

Nearby a handful of officers kept watch while the soldiers tended to their assignment, lining up the cart’s wooden wheels in two deep parallel ruts that ran in a rolling yet nearly straight line down the dusty desert hill.

Sweat ran down the faces of the men as they nervously inspected each part of the wooden cart to make certain it was in good repair–a safety check of sorts, though not one that would benefit the passenger. They leaned on the most peculiar feature of the cart: two long smooth wooden poles that jutted straight out about three feet from the wheel hubs.  The soldiers took hold of the poles, made certain they were sturdy, then ran their fingers over scars in the wood, grooves that appeared to have been cleaved into both at exactly the same spot.

After my executioners tightened the straps restraining me one final time, they paused, their eyes following the deep ancient ruts in the hillside as they rolled downhill, narrowing until reaching a most bizarre structure of wood standing alone in the barren desert. Wooden poles and ribs joined together forming what looked, at first, like a massive cage, though even from a distance I could see an apparatus inside – a system of wood gears and ropes. Towering above the whole colossal structure was a massive wooden pole as tall as a Jeffrey pine, its bark planed-off until smooth. A huge triangular-shaped stone was lashed to the end of it, creating what appeared to be a tremendous hammer.

The cartwheels fit perfectly into deep ruts that ran down the hill and into an entrance to the edifice and an enclosure, each side framed by sturdy V-shaped wooden slots, opening outward, narrowing toward the back.

As they fidgeted, soldiers waited for word from their superiors, who huddled together and whispered in muffed tones, hands over their mouths, as though afraid their words may be overheard. A gust of wind, in breezy contempt of the desert and the conspiracy, carried the faint cool scent of the sea.

The conference ended and an officer nodded his head. The soldiers gave the cart a mighty push and off it went, bounding down the dusty hill toward the structure, the wheels bouncing up and down frantically, rocks and dirt spat out behind it as it gained speed.

The cart careened madly down the mountain, wheels smashing against the ancient hillside. Amid the pounding — wood buckling and groaning, the wind whirling in my ears — I glanced at the restraints that bound my hands and feet to the cart and at the great puffs of dirt that blew up around them, covering my arms and legs in a crystal-like powder. At any moment it seemed the cart would break loose from the rutted tracks and crash into the hillside, bursting apart into iron nails and ten thousand splintered pieces, a loose bundle tumbling down hill in a dense and chaotic cloud.

After one particularly violent jolt, the cart was launched into mid-air, clear of the tracks and the mountainside and everything, it seemed…

It was then, in one of those pauses that insert themselves into absolute chaos, that everything moving nearly stopped: Clouds of dirt that, until that moment, appeared then vanished in an instant, now expanded as slowly as a nebula in deep space. And in the space within those clouds, in between the granules of granite and specks of crystal, there was an opening: I could see an immense mountain range burst skyward, breaking upward through a desert plane, while volcanoes erupted, red and glowing yellow lava flowing, the earth itself breached.

I closed my eyes, wishing I could return to the frenzy of the cart as it bounded down the mountainside. When again I opened my eyes, sunlight calmly refracted against the dirt cloud: There was a rainbow and a hail of glitter; objects became sharper and all things slowed as waves do when seen from the heavens, surf calmly rolling toward the shore.

In that moment I looked down the hillside at the structure, now visible in great detail. It was then that I saw it expand, poles bound together moving outward, a dome stretching despite the resistance of leather-and-hemp binds. As it slowly ballooned, the dome groaning under pressure, there was a most horrendous rattling, ten thousand dry bones shifting, disturbed after eons of repose.

When the structure swelled until I thought it might burst, it suddenly stopped moving, rivulets of dirt sputtering toward the earth, dust settling…

In that place where the laws of motion had no force, I could once again see a massive pole towering above the whole apparatus, like a giant mast, a huge gray stone lashed to its end. The surface of the pole was perfectly smooth except for a series of evenly-spaced scars, shaped like claws, as though a dragon had fought its way to the top of the pole and back.

Then with a mighty heave, the entire structure began to contract as binds tightened and pine poles drew together, the dome collapsing inward.

At that moment, the full reality of motion reintroduced itself. Everything flew into action, the wheels of the cart slamming against rock and pounded dirt, once again following ruts on the hillside as it crashed back to earth, bounding toward the structure at the end of the road. The cart slammed into the wooden structure, the extended axis of its wheels finding the V-shaped groove and following the sloping sides as they narrowed, then ended in a device seemed designed to engage.

Timber cracked as the motion of the cart’s extended axis both struck blocks of wood, absorbed by the mechanism and structure itself, designed to receive it. Cogs were engaged, wheels and winches turned, ropes tightened, slackened then tightened again. Though I could not see anything but the cogs of a wooden apparatus before me — dust flying, rope spooling, loose then taunt — I could feel the swift and powerful movement of something high above, like a pteranodon turning and rolling into a dive in pursuit of prey…

I knew all along that it was the great rock hammer that wheeled toward me. Following an arc, it slammed into the back of my head, killing me instantly, the energy that was my soul following a trajectory created by the movement of the giant hammer, a curving strobe that jutted across the universe for eternity …