Thanks to the United States, Latin America has suffered human rights abuses, poverty, exploitation, and a long line of dictators. The latest coup we saw in that part of the world was in Bolivia when Jeanine Áñez usurped power and named herself president.
I lived under a ruthless dictatorship in Argentina. Memories from those times were so harrowing that I can never forget them even if I wished. Indeed, the military rulers who gave us the dirty war (1976-83) caused terrible scars on the country.
Argentina’s bloodiest coup in 1976 had the blessings of US President Gerald Ford and executed by his faithful henchman, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Some generals, like former Secretary of Defence James Mattis, rebuked President Donald Trump this week by stating that he is a danger to the constitution and that USAmericans in uniforms serve USAmericans, not a political agenda.
They did so after Trump cleared with force peaceful protestors from Lafayette Square for a photo-op at St. John’s Church.
Mattis added: “We can unite without him [Trump], drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”
Even if some have hailed Mattis for speaking out against Trump, his military career raises a lot of questions. The Marine Corps general fought in the Perian Gulf War, War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.
Amnesty International had questions about Mattis before his confirmation as Trump’s secretary of defense in 2017-2019.
“If confirmed, General Mattis would wield tremendous power, including the ability to order torture and flood Guantanamo with new detainees held without charge. General Mattis has said that those at Guantanamo should be held indefinitely – even though nearly all have been held without charge for more than a decade. However, he is reported to have rejected torture as a useful method of interrogation in conversations with [then] President-elect Trump.”
Mattis, who admitted that the Iraq War was a mistake, led the 1st Marine Division during the invasion and later oversaw the bloody retaking of Fallujah from insurgents in 2004. Some estimates claim that 90% of the people that the Marines killed in Fallujah were civilians.
Is General Mattis a war criminal, and is he an honorable broker with so much war history and blood on his hands?
Other high-ranking military leaders like John Kelly, John Allen, Mike Mullen, Richard Myers, Martin Dempsey, and others have also rebuked Trump. Even former President George W Bush, who condoned torture and invaded Iraq, is giving the thumbs down to Trump.
Remember former White House chief of staff and general, John Kelly, who defended the practice of separating immigrant parents from their children at the border.
Kelly is now making money off caged children. He is currently the board member of Caliburn International, the parent company of Comprehensive Health Services, which operates four massive for-profit shelters that have government contracts to house unaccompanied migrant children from south of the border.
It all sounds like a Hollywood movie with an unsure ending and a list of actors who may have committed war crimes and human rights violations. In all of this, we lose sight of the real issue: #BlackLivesMatter, social justice, and change.
In Argentina, the last military dictatorship that overthrew the democratically elected government of Isabel Martínez de Perón did so to restore “law and order.” They did this with presidential elections nine months away.
Coups in countries like Argentina usually kick off with a communiqué. The first one stated that “The country finds itself under the operational control of the armed forces…”
Even if Communiqué 1 asked for calm from the civilian population and not to intervene, it hid its most sinister plan, which was to unleash the suffering and death of tens of thousands of Argentineans.
If the end of democracy is near in the United States, I suspect it will kick off with an announcement like in Argentina in 1976. Contrary to Latin America, which is crude, even vulgar, in handling public relations with its population, the coup in the United States will not look like one but appear sugar-coated with deceitful lies.
The transition from an imperfect democracy that serves mostly whites at the cost and exploitation of blacks and other minorities won’t be hard. The United States has a lot of experience in Latin America, where its support for military and civilian dictatorships, domination, and torture are the trademarks.
The demise of the Soviet Union in 1991 not only brought down a superpower without firing a shot but started the deterioration of another one called the United States.
The social chaos in the United States could end if the country were honestly interested in turning a new leaf and change its ways.
In the next few months, we will see the direction the country is heading on its wayward and perilous path.