Joe Biden Fueled the Latin American Migration Crisis

Colombians and Hondurans tell Max Blumenthal about the damage the U.S. presidential candidate has done to their societies.

By Max Blumenthal
The Grayzone

While campaigning for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination this year, former Senator and Vice President Joseph Biden has touted the crucial role he played in designing U.S. mega-development and drug war campaigns that transformed the socio-political landscape of large swaths of Latin America.

“I was one of the architects of Plan Colombia,” Biden boasted in a July 5 interview with CNN, referring to the multi-billion dollar U.S. effort to end Colombia’s civil war with a massive surge of support for the country’s military. According to Biden, the plan was a panacea for Colombia’s problems, from “crooked cops” to civil strife.

But Biden’s plan for Colombia has contributed directly to the country’s transformation into a hyper-militarized bastion of right-wing rule, enhancing the power and presence of the notoriously brutal armed forces while failing miserably in its anti-narcotic and reformist objectives.

This year alone, more than 50 human rights defenders were killed in Colombia in the first four months of 2019, while coca production is close to record levels. And as Colombian peace activists lamented in interviews with The Grayzone, the U.S. is still in complete control of Bogotá’s failed anti-drug policy, thanks largely to Plan Colombia.

Biden has also pumped up his role in an initiative called the Alliance for Prosperity, which was applied to the Northern Triangle of Central America. The former vice president was so central to the program’s genesis that it was informally known as “Plan Biden.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigning in Marshalltown, Iowa, July 4, 2019. (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

Marketed as an answer to the crisis of child migration, Biden’s brainchild channeled $750 million through a right-wing government installed by a U.S. -orchestrated military coup to spur mega-development projects and privatize social services.

The Grayzone visited Honduras in July and documented, through interviews with human rights defenders, students, indigenous activists, and citizens from all walks of life, how the Alliance for Prosperity helped set the stage for a national rebellion.

In recent months, teachers, doctors, students, and rural campesinos have been in the streets protesting the privatization plans imposed on their country under the watch of Biden and his successors.

The gutting of public health services, teacher layoffs, staggering hikes in electricity prices, and environmentally destructive mega-development projects are critical factors in mass migration from Honduras. And indeed, they are immediate byproducts of the “Biden plan.”

“Biden is taking credit for doing something constructive to stop the migration crisis and blaming the concentration camps [on the U.S. -Mexico border] on Trump. But it’s Biden’s policies that are driving more people out of Central America and making human rights defenders lives more precarious by defending entities that have no interest in human rights,” explained Adrienne Pine, a professor of anthropology at American University and leading researcher of the social crisis in Honduras, in an interview with The Grayzone.

“So $750 million U.S. taxpayer dollars that were allocated to supposedly address child migration are actually making things worse,” Pine added. “It started with unaccompanied minors and now you have children in cages. Largely thanks to Biden.”

Architect of Plan Colombia

In an interview with CNN on July 5, Biden was asked if he favored decriminalizing the entry of Latin American migrants to the United States. Responding with a definitive “no,” Joe Biden stated that he would be “surging folks to the border to make those concrete decisions” about who receives asylum.

Biden argued that he had the best record of addressing the root causes of the migration crisis, recalling how he imposed a solution on Central America’s migration crisis. “You do the following things to make your country better so people don’t leave, and we will help you do that, just like we did in Colombia,” he said.

“What did we do in Colombia? We went down and said, okay, and I was one of the architects of Plan Colombia,” Biden continued. “I said, here’s the deal. If you have all these crooked cops, all these federal police, we’re sending our FBI down, you let us put them through a lie detector test, let us tell you who you should fire and tell you the kind of people you should hire. They did and began to change. We can do so much if we’re committed.”

With the arrogance of a pith-helmeted high colonial official meting out instructions on who to hire and fire to his docile subjects, Biden presided over a plan that failed miserably in its stated goals, while transforming Colombia into a hyper-militarized bastion of U.S. regional influence.

‘They Ask for Bread, You Give Them Stones’

Plan Colombia was originally conceived by Colombian President Andrés Pastrana in 1999, as an alternative development and conflict resolution plan for his war-torn country. He considered calling it the “Plan for Colombia’s Peace.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (left) escorts Colombian President-elect Alvaro Uribe through an honor cordon and into the Pentagon, 2002. (DoD/ R. D. Ward)

The proposal was quickly hijacked by the Bill Clinton administration, with Joe Biden lobbying in the Senate for an iron-fisted militarization plan. “We have an obligation, in the interests of our children and the interests of the hemisphere, to keep the oldest democracy in place, to give them a fighting chance to keep from becoming a narcostate,” Biden said in a June 2000 floor speech.

When Plan Colombia’s first formal draft was published, it was done so in English, not Spanish. The original spirit of peace-building was completely sapped from the document by Biden, whose vigorous wheeling-and-dealing ensured that almost 80 percent of the $7.5 billion plan went to the Colombian military. Five hundred U.S.  military personnel were promptly dispatched to Bogota to train the country’s military.

“If you read the original Plan Colombia, not the one that was written in Washington but the original Plan Colombia, there’s no mention of military drives against the FARC rebels,” Robert White, the former No. 2 at the U.S. embassy in Bogota, complained in 2000. “Quite the contrary. [Pastrana] says the FARC is part of the history of Colombia and a historical phenomenon, he says, and they must be treated as Colombians.”

White lamented how Washington had abused the trust of the Colombians: “They come and ask for bread, and you give them stones.”

Plan Colombia was largely implemented under the watch of the hardline right-wing President Álvaro Uribe. In 1991, Uribe was placed on a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency list of important Colombian narco-traffickers,” in part due to his role in helping drug kingpin Pablo Escobar’s obtain licenses for landing strips while Uribe was the head of Colombia’s Civil Aeronautics Department.

Under Uribe’s watch, toxic chemicals were sprayed by military forces across the Colombian countryside, poisoning the crops of impoverished farmers and displacing millions.

President Andres Pastrana (right) points out sights in Cartagena, Colombia, for visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen (left), 1998. (DoD/ Helene C. Stikkel)

Six years after Bill Clinton initiated Plan Colombia, however, even U.S. drug czar John Walters was forced to quietly admit in a letter to the Senate that the price of cocaine in the U.S, had declined, the flow of the drug into the U.S. had risen, and its purity had increased.

Meanwhile, a UN Office of Drugs and Crime report found that coca cultivation reached record levels in Colombia in 2018. In other words, billions of dollars have been squandered, and a society already in turmoil has been laid to waste.

For the military and right-wing paramilitary forces that have shored up the rule of leaders such as Uribe and the current ultra-conservative Colombian president, Ivan Duque, Plan Colombia offered a sense of near-total impunity.

The depravity of the country’s military was put on bold display when the so-called “false positives” scandal was exposed in 2008. The incident began when army officers lured 22 rural laborers to a far-away location, massacred them, and then dressed them in uniforms of the leftist FARC guerrillas.

It was an overt attempt to raise the FARC body count and justify the counter-insurgency aid flowing from the U.S. under Plan Colombia. The officers who oversaw the slaughter were paid bounties and given promotions.

Colombian academics Omar Eduardo Rojas Bolaños and Fabián Leonardo Benavides demonstrated in a meticulous study that the “false positives” killings reflected “a systematic practice that implicates the commanders of brigades, battalions and tactical units” in the deaths of more than 10,000 civilians. Indeed, under Plan Colombia, the incident was far from an isolated atrocity.

Colombian activist Santiago Salinas in Bogotá. (Ben Norton)

Forfeiting National Sovereignty

In an interview in Bogotá this May, The Grayzone’s Ben Norton asked Colombian social leader Santiago Salinas if there was any hope for progressive political transformation since the ratification of Plan Colombia.

An organizer of the peace group Congreso de los Pueblos, Salinas shrugged and exclaimed, “I wish.” He lamented that many of Colombia’s most pivotal decisions were made in Washington.

Salinas pointed to drug policy as an example. “It seems like the drug decisions about what to do with the drugs, it has nothing to do with Colombia.

“There was no sovereign decision on this issue. Colombia does not have a decision,” he continued. It was Washington that wrote the script for Bogota. And the drug trade is in fact a key part of the global financial system, Salinas pointed out.

But Biden was not finished. After 15 years of human misery and billions of wasted dollars in Colombia, he set out on a personal mission to export his pet program to Central America’s crime and corruption-ravaged Northern Triangle.

Selling Mass Privatization

In his July sit-down with CNN, Joe Biden trumpeted his Plan Colombia as the inspiration for the Alliance for Prosperity he imposed on Central America. Channeling the spirit of colonial times once again, he bragged of imposing Washington’s policies on the governments of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“We’ll make a deal with you,” Biden recalled telling the leaders of these countries. “You do the following things to make your country better so people don’t leave, and we will help you do that.”

Biden announced his bold plan on the editorial pages of The New York Times in January 2015. He called it “a joint plan for economic and political reforms, an alliance for prosperity.” Sold by the vice president as a panacea to a worsening migration crisis, the Alliance for Prosperity was a boon for international financial institutions which promised to deepen the economic grief of the region’s poor.

The Alliance for Prosperity “treated the Honduran government as if it were a crystal-clear, pure vessel into which gold could be poured and prosperity would flow outward,” explained Dana Frank, a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of the book, The Long Honduran Night.”

“In reality, the Plan would further enrich and strengthen the political power of the very same elites whose greed, deliberate subversion of the rule of law, and destruction of natural resources and of Indigenous and campesino land rights, were responsible for the dire conditions the proposal ostensibly addressed,” Frank added.

In Honduras, the government had no capacity or will to resist Biden’s plan. That is because the country’s elected president, Juan Manuel Zelaya, had been removed in 2009 in a coup orchestrated by the United States.

As Zelaya told The Grayzone’s Anya Parampil, the Obama administration was infuriated by his participation in ALBA, a regional economic development program put forward by Venezuela’s then-President Hugo Chavez that provided an alternative to neoliberal formulas like the so-called “Biden Plan.”

Following the military coup, a corporate-friendly administration was installed to advance the interests of international financial institutions, and U.S. trainers arrived in town to hone the new regime’s mechanisms of repression.

Under the auspices of the Central American Regional Security Initiative, the FBI was dispatched to oversee the training of FUSINA, the main operational arm of the Honduran army and the base of the Military Police for Public Order (PMOP) that patrols cities like an occupation force.

In an October 2014 cable, the U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa acknowledged that the PMOP was riven with corruption and prone to abuse, and attempted to distance itself from the outfit, even though it operated under the umbrella of FUSINA.

This June, the PMOP invaded the Autonomous University of Hondurasattacking students protesting the privatization of their school and wounding six.

The creation by the U.S. embassy in Honduras of a special forces unit known as the Tigres has added an additional layer of repressive muscle. Besides arresting activists, the Tigres reportedly helped a drug kingpin escape after he was detained during a US investigation.

While violent crime surged across Honduras, unemployment more than doubled. Extreme poverty surged, and so too did the government’s security spending.

To beef up his military, President Juan Orlando Hernández dipped into the social programs that kept a mostly poor population from tumbling into destitution.

Chart on Honduran budget priorities by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2017.

As Alex Rubinstein reported for The Grayzone, the instability of post-coup Honduras has been particularly harsh on LGTTBI (Lesbian, Gay, Trans, Travesti, Bisexual, and Intersex) Hondurans. More than 300 of them have been killed since 2009, a dramatic spike in hate crimes reinforced by the homophobic rhetoric of the right-wing Evangelical Confraternity that represents the civil-society wing of the ultra-conservative Hernandez government.

As the social chaos enveloped Honduran society, migration to the U.S.-Mexico border began to surge to catastrophic levels. Unable to make ends meet, some Hondurans sent their children alone to the border, hoping that they would temporary protective or refugee status.

By 2014, the blowback of the Obama administration’s coup had caused a national emergency. Thousands of Hondurans were winding up in cages in detention camps run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and many of them were not even 16 years old.

That summer, Obama went to Congress for $3.7 billion in emergency funds to ramp up border militarization and deport as many unaccompanied Central American minors as possible.

Biden used the opportunity to rustle up an additional billion dollars, exploiting the crisis to fund a massive neoliberal project that saw Honduras as a base for international financial opportunity. His plan was quickly ratified, and the first phase of the Alliance for Prosperity began.

From the IADB’s sanitized survey of the Alliance for Prosperity.

Energy Industry Rush

The implementation of the Alliance for Prosperity was overseen by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), a U.S.-dominated international financial institution based in Washington, D.C., that supports corporate investment in Latin America and the Caribbean.

graphic on the IADB’s website outlined the plan’s objectives in anodyne language that concealed its aggressively neoliberal agenda.

For instance, the IADB promised the “fostering [of] regional energy integration.” This was a clear reference to Plan Pueblo Panama, a region-wide neoliberal development blueprint that was conceived as a boon to the energy industry. Under the plan, the IADB would raise money from Latin American taxpayers to pay for the expansion of power lines that would carry electricity from Mexico all the way to Panama.

Honduras, with its rivers and natural resources, provided the project with a major hub of energy production. In order for the country’s energy to be traded and transmitted to other countries, however, the International Monetary Fund mandated that its national electricity company be privatized.

Since the implementation of that component of “Plan Biden,” energy costs have begun to surge for residential Honduran consumers. In a country with a 66 percent poverty rate, electricity privatization has turned life from precarious to practically impossible.

Rather than languish in darkness for long hours with unpaid bills piling up, many desperate citizens have journeyed north towards the U.S. border.

As intended, the Alliance for Prosperity’s regional energy integration plan has spurred an influx of multi-national energy companies to Honduras. Hydro-electric dams and power plants began rising up in the midst of the lush pine forests and winding rivers that define the Honduran biosphere, pushing many rural indigenous communities into a life-and-death struggle.

This July, The Grayzone traveled to Reitoca, a remote farming community located in the heart of the Honduran “dry sector.” The indigenous Lenca residents of this town depend on their local river for fish, recreation and most importantly, water to irrigate the crops that provide them with a livelihood. But the rush on energy investment brought an Italian-Chilean firm called Progelsa to the area to build a massive hydro-electric dam just upstream.

Reitoca community leader Wilmer Alonso by the river threatened by a major hydro-electric project. (Ben Norton)

Wilmer Alonso, a member of the Lenca Indigenous Council of Reitoca, spoke with The Grayzone, shaking with emotion as he described the consequences of the dam for his community.

“The entire village is involved in this struggle,” Alonso said. “Everyone knows the catastrophe that the construction of this hydro-electric plant would create.”

He explained that, like so many foreign multi-nationals in Honduras, Progelsa employs an army of private thugs to intimidate protesters: “The private company uses the army and the police to repress us. They accuse us of being trespassers, but they are the ones trespassing on our land.”

U.S. Generating Violence 

The Alliance for Progress also provided the backdrop for the assassination of the renowned Honduran environmentalist and feminist organizer Berta Cáceres.

Ink portrait of Berta Cáceres. (Melanie Cervantes y Jesús Barraza, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

On March 3, 2016, Cáceres was gunned down in her home in rural Honduras. A towering figure in her community with a presence on the international stage, Cáceres had been leading the fight against a local dam project overseen by DESA, a powerful Honduran energy company backed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and run by powerful former military officers.

The representative that DESA sent to sign its deal with USAID, Sergio Rodríguez, was later accused of masterminding Cáceres’ murder, alongside military officials and former company employees.

In March 2018, the Honduran police arrested DESA’s executive president, Roberto David Castillo Mejía, accusing him of “providing logistics and other resources to one of the material authors” of the assassination. Castillo was a West Point graduate who worked in the energy industry while serving as a Honduran intelligence officer.

This July, The Grayzone visited the family of Berta Cáceres in La Esperanza, a town nestled in the verdant mountains of Intibucá. Cáceres’ mother, Doña Berta, lives there under 24-hour police guard paid for by human rights groups.

The Cáceres household is bristling with security cameras, and family members get around in armored cars. In her living room, we met Laura Zúñiga Cáceres of the Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), the human rights group that her mother Berta founded.

Laura Zuniga Caceres of COPINH in the home where Berta Caceres was raised. (Ben Norton)

“The violence in Honduras generates migrant caravans, which tears apart society, and it all has to do with all of this extractivism, this violence,” Zúñiga Caceres told The Grayzone. “And the response from the U.S. government is to send more soldiers to our land; it is to reinforce one of the factors that generates violence the most in our society.”

“We are receiving reports from our comrades that there is a U.S. military presence in indigenous Lenca territory,” she added. “For what? Humanitarian aid? With weapons. It’s violence. It’s persecution.”

Gutting Public Healthcare

The Alliance for Prosperity also commissioned the privatization of health services through a deceptively named program called the Social Protection Framework Law, or la Ley Marco de Protección Social.

Promoted by Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernández as a needed reform, the scheme was advanced through a classic shock doctrine-style episode: In 2015, close associates of Hernández siphoned some $300 million from the Honduran Institute for Social Services (IHSS) into private businesses, starving hospitals of supplies and causing several thousand excess deaths, mostly among the poor.

With the medical sector in shambles, Hondurans were then forced to seek healthcare from the private companies that were to provide services under Hernandez’s “Social Protection” plan.

“The money that was robbed [in the IHSS scandal] was used to justify the Ley Marco Proteccion Social,” Karen Spring, a researcher and coordinator for the Honduras Solidarity Network, told The Grayzone. “The hospitals were left in horrible conditions with no human capital and they were left to farm out to private hospitals.”

“When Hondurans go to hospitals, they will be told they need to go to a private company, and through the reductions in their jobs they will have to pay a lot out of pocket,” Spring said. “Through the old universal system you would be covered no matter what you had, from a broken arm to cancer. No more.”

In response, Hondurans poured out into the streets, launching the March of Torches – the first major wave of continuous protests against Hernandez and his corrupt administration.

In March 2015, in the middle of the crisis, Joe Biden rushed down to Guatemala City to embrace Hernández and restore confidence in the Alliance for Prosperity.

“I come from a state that, in fact, is the corporate capital of America. More corporations are headquartered there than anyplace else,” Biden boasted, with Hernández and the presidents of Guatemala and El Salvador standing by his side. “They want to come here. Corporate America wants to come.”

Emphasizing the need for more anti-corruption and security measures to attract international financial investment, Biden pointed to Plan Colombia as a shining model – and to himself as its architect. “Today Colombia is a nation transformed, just as you hope to be 10 to 15 years from now,” the vice president proclaimed.

Following Biden’s visit, the privatization of the Honduran economy continued apace — and so did the corruption, the repression, and the unflinching support from Washington.

U.S.-Style Supermax Prisons

By 2017, the movement in Honduras that had galvanized against the U.S.-orchestrated 2009 coup saw its most immediate opportunity for political transformation at the ballot box. President Hernández was running for re-election, violating a constitutional provision on term limits. His opponent, Salvador Nasrallah, was a popular broadcast personality who provided a centrist consensus choice for the varied elements that opposed the country’s coup regime.

When voting ended on Nov. 26, Nasrallah’s victory appeared certain, with exit polls showing him comfortably ahead by several points. But suddenly, the government announced that a power outage required the suspension of vote counting. Days later, Hernández was declared the victor by about 1 percent.

The fraud was so transparent that the Organization of American States (OAS), normally an arm of U.S. interests in Latin America, declared in a preliminary report that “errors, irregularities and systemic problems,” as well as “extreme statistical improbability,” rendered the election invalid.

But the United States recognized the results anyway, leaving disenfranchised Hondurans with protest as their only recourse.

“Hondurans tried to change what happened in their country through the 2017 elections, not just Hernández but all the implementation of all these policies that the Biden plan had funded and implemented all these years since the coup,” explained Karen Spring, of the Honduras Solidarity Network.

“They tried to change that reality through votes and when the elections turned out to be a fraud, tons of people had no choice but to take to the streets.”

At the front lines of the protests in 2017 was Spring’s longtime partner, the Honduran activist Edwin Espinal. Following a protest in November of that year where property damage took place, Espinal was arrested at gunpoint at his home and accused of setting fire to the front door of a hotel. He fervently denied all charges, accusing the government of persecuting him for his political activism.

In fact, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights had placed a protective measure on Espinal in 2010 in response to previous attempts to legally railroad him.

The government placed Espinal in pre-trial detention in La Tolva, a U.S.-style maximum security prison normally reserved for violent criminals and narco-traffickers. Last October, Espinal and Spring were married in the jail while surrounded by masked guards.

Karen Spring and Edwin Espinal marry in La Tolva in October 2018 (Karen Spring)

“Since the Biden plan, contractors have been coming down to build these U.S.-style maximum security prisons,” Spring said. “That’s where my husband Edwin Espinal is being held.”

She added: “They say the company is Honduran but there’s no way Hondurans could have built that without U.S architects or U.S. construction firms giving them the plans. I’ve been in the prison and it’s like they dumped a U.S. prison in the middle of Honduras.”

Reflecting on her husband’s persecution, Spring explained, “Edwin wanted to stay in his country to change the reality that caused mass migration. He’s one of the people who’s faced consequences because he went to the streets. And he’s faced persecution for years because he’s one of the Hondurans who wanted to change the country by staying and fighting. Berta Caceres was another.”

She continued: “Hondurans wanted to use their votes to change the country and now they’re voting with their feet,” she continued. “So if Biden’s plan really addressed the root causes of the migrant crisis, why aren’t people asking why migration is getting worse? Hondurans are voting on the Biden plan by fleeing and saying your plan didn’t work and it made our situation worse by fleeing to the border.”

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of books including best-selling Republican Gomorrah,” Goliath,” The Fifty One Day War and The Management of Savagery.” He has also produced numerous print articles for an array of publications, many video reports and several documentaries including Killing Gaza and Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie.” Blumenthal founded the Grayzone Project in 2015 to shine a journalistic light on America’s state of perpetual war and its dangerous domestic repercussions.

This article is from The Grayzone.

Before commenting please read Robert Parry’s Comment PolicyAllegations unsupported by facts, gross or misleading factual errors and ad hominem attacks, and abusive language toward other commenters or our writers will be removed.

29 comments for “Joe Biden Fueled the Latin American Migration Crisis

  1. Jeannine Silkey
    August 12, 2019 at 10:39

    I thank everyone for the insightful and sometimes corroborative, first-hand-experience comments. As a voter, I would find it so helpful if MSM cable news outlets would report these things with sufficient depth in their regular evening and morning news programs. Their fact checks are both incomplete and inadequate, in my experience. On this subject, for example, the only MSM cable news outlet fact check I found that even mentioned Biden’s comment about the $750 million in aid mentioned here in Mr. Blumenthal’s article was NBC. They rated it true and noted that the Trump administration repurposed those funds in 2019. No mention of whether it actually worked which I feel should have been included because by touting it, Biden was suggesting it did work. Given the current administration’s fetish with the immigration issue, using it to pump up its base, one could reasonably expect this $750 million in aid package to show up on ALL the fact checks, in my estimation. Even a comment such as “The effectiveness of the aid package was not challenged in this debate,” would have been better than total lack of noting it at all. This is not the place to get into a long discussion of fact-checking debates upon which voters will be making decisions, but I find comfort in the comments above noting the framing done by MSM. It’s real and people are suffering for it all over the world.

    I so appreciate this article and the comments following it.

  2. CharlesCG
    August 1, 2019 at 14:35

    The Merida Initiative is missing in this whole article. But good reporting.

  3. August 1, 2019 at 08:49

    More excellent work from Grayzone. Thank you. I travelled to Colombia twice (late 1990’s) on human rights delegations where I witnessed first hand the impacts of Biden’s “Plan Colombia” policies. At the time of my visits the EU was funding projects for growing organic cacao (chocolate) and simultaneously the U.S. was spraying Glyphosate on those very same projects in the name of the “drug war,” thus insuring no economic alternative to coca (cocaine) could take hold among the poor in Colombia. I witnessed the destruction of these projects along with the destruction of small family farms (again, no coca in sight anywhere) all destroyed by Roundup sprayed by the U.S. under “Plan Colombia,” and always in areas where the FARC traversed. It was Vietnam all over again with Agent Orange and our defoliation operations all operating as part of U.S. counter-insurgency policy.

    By the time I was traveling to Colombia 10,000 labor leaders, activists and members had been slaughtered by the Colombian military and death squads with the support, arms and training of the U.S. One of the AUC death squad’s preferred tactics was to kill a community leader in front of the entire village in order to terrify them into leaving. Cutting that leader up alive with a chainsaw was not an unusual event. So emboldened by unwavering U.S. support were the death squads the people were murdered even while a delegation of U.S. peace activists would be visiting, given they had no fear of repercussions or sanctions from Bill Clinton’s regime. The level of uber-violence, torture and brutality was so off the charts that most American’s can’t really begin to even visualize it, all of course subsidized by our tax dollars.

    I’d also earlier in the 1990’s travelled on delegations to Nicaragua and El Salvador, where similar U.S. counter-insurgency policy left torture scars, mutilated bodies and PTSD among the survivors in it’s wake. There is no “mystery” as to why droves of poor people have had to flee their home in Latin America. Decades of U.S. sponsored terror and economic warfare have wrought devastation and various levels of societal collapse. Democratic party policies are absolutely as responsible for this as their Republican counterparts.

    One memory remains vivid amidst all the fear and horror I witnessed in those travels. The ONLY PLACE I saw real hope among the poor was in Sandinista led Nicaragua. And here, all these years later, U.S. policy continues to try to destroy that hope. Our level of completely amoral barbarism here in the U.S. is simply astounding! I have no words.

    • August 1, 2019 at 12:24

      I had the same feeling when I traveled in Mexico and Central America. The poverty and hopelessness in most regions was heartbreaking. In Nicaragua however, there was an aura of pride and hope in the future. It was a very stark contrast.
      The U.S. “meddling” in these countries is beyond criminal. It’s pathetic that so few people know or care to know about the roots of the immigration crisis. Especially the Democrat’s involvement.

  4. geeyp
    August 1, 2019 at 01:34

    “When Hondurans go to hospitals, they…. told they need to go to a private company”. Sounds like some situations in the USA under Medicare. Of course, that is something foreign to those on the government teat for life. Like around D.C., right? And how many times has Plagiarist Joe had his face wrapped around his skull – paid for with taxpayers’ money? I think of the punishment for treason and the pictures of Mary Serratt and others at the gallows poles, hung for the assassination of President Lincoln. And I think another effective way to enforce this idea is put the last two CIA heads, last two presidents (O. and W.) and Plagiarist Joe in their own separate little cages for all the world to see.

  5. LJ
    July 31, 2019 at 20:37

    Not that my vote matters here in the state of my birth, California, but if it comes down to Joe Biden and Trump I will vote for Trump. South and Central America is the tip of the melting iceberg. Bucktooth Biden, he of the hair implants, (Yes I remember balding Joe Biden who is no more), the former groper, Bucktooth Biden is cut out of the same corrupted Centrist Democratic cloth as arw the Clintons and Kamala Harris. I will vote against the Democrat if it’s Biden or Harris. . There is a trail of his corruption on 6 if not 7 continents. It is is the public record. Trump is just a walking Pig, ‘4 legs good, 2 legs better;. Biden is the real thing, a seasoned Politician,

  6. Garrrett Connelly
    July 31, 2019 at 20:25

    Check Biden’s position on

  7. Joe Wallace
    July 31, 2019 at 19:37

    Is it considered aggressive or hostile to call attention to an error? I twice noted that “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” was written by John Perkins (not John Pilger), but my comment was never posted. What’s up with that?

    • anon
      July 31, 2019 at 22:52

      The transitional comment system works and appears to accept most comments, but they disappear for a few hours or overnight until moderation. The main problem is that the commenter must edit them before posting, and wait to see how it looks.

        July 31, 2019 at 23:23

        There is no mention of that book in this article.

  8. Gregory Herr
    July 31, 2019 at 18:31

    Too bad the “debaters” won’t have this “fuel” to work with to give Biden a bit of confrontation tonight.

    As for the moderators—let me guess…”Middle class tax hikes to pay for health care?” “Will you provide health care to illegal immigrants?” And so it goes…

    • sandra
      August 1, 2019 at 21:59

      Illegal immigrants only get health care if they pay for it. They don’t get SS unless they have paid into it. Too bad employers like Trump have scammed them into working very hard for very little. Trump didn’t get rid of his illegals until caught red-handed. If we have middle-class tax hikes it will be used to provide for the middle class. But in the end, what we need is for the top 1% of the wealthiest to pay their fair share. Trickle-down has never and never will work.

      • Gregory Herr
        August 2, 2019 at 14:03

        I agree that “trickle down” is a canard and also think the wealthiest should pay more and that there should be a transaction tax applied to stock exchanges.

        I am deriding the way the MSM “moderators” of these “debates” underhandedly frame questions about Medicare-for-All and humane immigration reform. Sanders does a decent job of pointing out that, yes, MFA involves paying more in Federal taxes—but that is more than offset by no more insurance premiums and co-pays. Plus, people would actually have health care needs met.

      • Gregory Herr
        August 2, 2019 at 16:21

        Sandra—what I fumbled with trying to say is that the MSM looks to frame (with their gotcha questioning) MFA as “costly” for the middle class. And they think if they can frame immigration policy in terms of “giveaways”, they score. There’s never a context of broader realities and what direction the really big money flows.

  9. Mary Saunders
    July 31, 2019 at 14:44

    So profoundly sad. While ex-pat sites extoll the wonder of cities in Columbia, to know the slaughter and brutality go on in the countryside is heart-hurting. It is as if there are two worlds separated by a curtain, a curtain of blood. My friend Brian Wilson, author of Blood on the Tracks, reports from Nicaragua.

    • ML
      July 31, 2019 at 18:13

      I grew up in Colombia and my formative years were spent there. As an American, it was a complete shock when I moved to Bogota’, a lovely city, but one full of police and judicial corruption and abject poverty that my young eyes had never before seen. To see “gamines” (street children) in the streets in dirty rags, begging for coins and for food had a profound effect on me that forty plus years later, still haunts me. It is sad, Mary, and even though I did not know what an “oligarchical” society meant at the time, I saw it and recognized the deep unfairness of it all for what it was. The rampant crime, the barrios of shanty towns up the hillsides, the warmth of the regular Colombian people, the eternal springtime of the high mountain air, all moved me deeply. I read about Biden’s role in the destruction of Latin American countries and it makes me angry and determined he should never become our Panderer in Chief. He is not worthy as a human being to guide or to right the many wrongs this country has brought upon our neighbors to the South. Disgraceful man.

  10. Jeff Harrison
    July 31, 2019 at 12:12

    It would be good if the MSM showed what happened after other countries get all our “help” instead of letting it all go down the memory hole by virtue of it being off the news. The US fomented not one but two “color” revolutions in Ukraine. The Ukrainians rejected the first one and elected a non-US approved government so we fomented another revolution. This time with the help of Joe Biden. Half the Ukrainian government were relatives of Joe Biden. Porky and his family are now fleeing the country after the electorate overturned the second US inspired coup which resulted in the US threatening Ukraine if they undid some of the crap that Biden & Co stuck them with. Ukraine went from being an independent country making ends meet to becoming the poorest country in Europe and now trapped in the grips of the IMF. Much the same can be said for Georgia who’s own “color” revolution resulted in two provinces breaking away from Georgia, the president, like Porky, has fled the country. Eventually, countries will figure out that signing up with the US is a prescription for disaster.

  11. michael
    July 31, 2019 at 12:11

    In addition to ongoing National “Emergencies” against Columbia and Cuba (from Clinton), Obama left an on-going one against Venezuela, and Trump has one against Nicaragua. Our neoliberal and neocon experts are bristling for war in “our backyard”; they want more military dictators running these Latin countries, since they are easy to control with bribes and weapons.

  12. John Childs
    July 31, 2019 at 11:23

    This is a long read, but sounds like the latest chapter in “New Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins and the work of School of the Americas trained agents of destruction. The plan for Venezuela is more obvious but I have suspected the same with Honduras. I am amazed at the time duration of the new plans and how patient the antagonists are to take down nations. Thanks for exposing Biden’s role in it. He created quite a personal empire already and should be cut out of the loop.

  13. lysias
    July 31, 2019 at 11:07

    Biden as senator from Delaware was a prime mover in the adoption of successive “reforms” of the bankruptcy system, so that first school debts were made nondischargeable and then declaring bankruptcy was made far more difficult for private individuals.

  14. Skip Scott
    July 31, 2019 at 10:47

    The actions of our “most progressive” candidate read like a chapter of John Pilger’s “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”. If he gets the nod from the superdelegated DNC on the second ballot, we can expect a repeat of 2016, and four more years of “his Royal Orangeness.”

    • Joe Wallace
      July 31, 2019 at 19:31

      Agree with the spirit of your comment, but “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” was written by John Perkins.

    • Joe Wallace
      July 31, 2019 at 19:32

      Skip Scott:

      Agree with your comment, but “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” was written by John Perkins.

      • Skip Scott
        August 1, 2019 at 07:24

        Oops, my bad. I knew it was Perkins. Guess I’m getting old.

  15. July 31, 2019 at 08:35

    Yet all the sanctions and press attetion is on Venezuela…….

  16. David G
    July 31, 2019 at 05:25

    It’s noteworthy that one country in Central America that – despite being quite poor – does *not* have masses of people fleeing it northward in desperation is Nicaragua. Not coincidentally, I think, Nicaragua – unlike Honduras and Guatemala (and Mexico for that matter) – has, at tremendous cost, been able to secure some measure of sovereignty outside U.S. control for the last 40 years (it’s exactly 40 years this month, as a matter of fact, since the Sandinistas took power in Managua).

    Which is not to say that the U.S. has ever stopped trying to “correct” that state of affairs. Recently Nicaragua has been kept at a simmer on the back burner while the chefs in Washington have been focusing on cooking Venezuela’s goose, but anyone who’s been paying attention has seen the usual golpista ingredients being arranged for Nicaragua, and the heat may be turned up at any time.

    Max Blumenthal’s “The Grayzone” has also been reporting on developments in Nicaragua.

    • michael
      July 31, 2019 at 12:10

      In addition to ongoing National “Emergencies” against Columbia and Cuba (from Clinton), Obama left an on-going one against Venezuela, and Trump has one against Nicaragua. Our neoliberal and neocon experts are bristling for war in “our backyard”; they want more military dictators running these Latin countries, since they are easy to control with bribes and weapons.

    • Realist
      August 2, 2019 at 04:43

      Somehow Costa Rica has also managed to avoid the evil that Washington has imposed on most of the rest of Central America. Costa Rica has not even had a standing army for many decades. It is a favorite destination for many American expatriots and retirees. Lots of ecological research and lots of tourism are ongoing in the country’s many beautiful rain forests, some up in the mountains. An American professor I knew spent his career doing all his field research there. He married a Costa Rican native and moved there for good after retirement.

      Panama has been fairly peaceful and prosperous after Bushdaddy decided to kick off his rule by war with a brutal attack to remove Noriega from power. Think of his “Operation Just Cause” in Panama as a practice run for his “Operation Desert Shield” in Iraq to put the screws on Saddam, both wars being a lesson to dictators everywhere: never trust the Americans who build you up and install you in office. You will inevitably become the victim of regime change as their geopolitical goals are constantly in flux.

      It IS notable that the three most tranquil Central American republics have decidedly been the most leftist in orientation: Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama. Panama was almost like Nicaragua under the charismatic Omar Torrijos, until the CIA allegedly assassinated him. Then the company installed Noriega, who, like Saddam, became too independent-minded so he had to go. Whether Panama granted 25-year leases of the canal and its main ports on both oceans to the Chinese to dissuade Washington from trying to mess with them is debatable and refuted by the Americans, though it is interesting that Washington has so far refrained from raising hell over it.

      But these Latin American countries without complete domination by Washington are rarities. Biden’s “masterpiece” in Columbia, which both his gang and Trump’s want to replicate in Venezuela, are the norm. After brief interludes of independence from El Norte, Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil have been dragged back to abject vassalage through coups, impeachments and election fraud. Helluva world Smilin’ Joe has planned for the Global South.

      • Josep
        August 3, 2019 at 05:47

        Panama, like Ecuador and unlike Costa Rica or Nicaragua, uses the US dollar as its currency (has been doing it since 1904), so I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

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