One of the blackest marks on American foreign policy was this nation's support of right-wing death squads in El Salvador in the late 70's and 80's. Of the 70,000 citizens killed in that nation's civil war, international human rights reports attribute 65,000 of those deaths to the forces of the ARENA party and its leader Roberto D'Aubuisson. Now the Huntington Post is reporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney became rich using money from Salvadoran oligarchs who also financed the death squads.
The Post has all the details, but the gist of the story is Romney needed money to start Bain Capital. He went to Miami to solicit funds from 8 families who fled there when civil war broke out in El Salvador. At least two of the most infamous families gave Romney about $9 million which was 40% of initial capital used to start Bain Capital. These same families were funneling money to ARENA to fund its death squads, which executed as many as 30 people a day at the height of the war. They also poured money into Republican coffers, particularly Ronald Reagan, who in return sponsored and protected D'Aubuisson against congressional criticism and attempts to cut off American aid to these murderers.
To this day, Romney is still receiving millions of dollars in income from Bain Capital, money he would not have were it not for the help of these Salvadoran investors. These families owned 90% of all land in El Salvador, and when the people finally revolted, they poured money into ARENA to crush the rebellion and protect their wealth.
Maybe you don't remember the ARENA party or even D'Aubuisson. It's possible you do remember the murder and rape of 4 American nuns who worked with the poor in El Salvador. Or perhaps you remember the men who broke into the Jesuit seminary in San Salvador and executed 6 Jesuit priests and their housekeeper because they expressed sympathy for the poor and condemned the violence of the death squads. You must remember the most notorious act of D'Aubuisson and company when he ordered armed men to walk into the cathedral of San Salvador and execute Archbishop Oscar Romero at the altar while he was celebrating Mass. All of these actions, and much more, were financed by the same families who invested in Bain Capital. In fact, Romney increased their wealth enabling them to increase the violence and enhance the murder of men, women and children.
Romney's people claim he vetted these families and found nothing incriminating in their backgrounds. It reminds me of Sgt. Schultz in Hogan's Heroes..."..I see nothing...I hear nothing." As early as 1978, the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Robert White, identified these families and their role in the death squads. They were accused of funding assassination plots in Guatemala. It would have been impossible not to know of the source of their wealth and their support of D'Aubuisson. D'Aubuisson was the darling of the Republican establishment (of which Romney was a part). Reagan funneled billions of dollars to ARENA. The infamous School of the Americas, an American military academy, trained the Salvadoran military on how to put down a rebellion including how to torture, rape, kidnap and execute opponents. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms championed D'Aubuisson and sponsored a trip for him to Washington to gin up support for him and his cause. All of this at the same time reports were published, and events documented, about mass murder, torture, political executions all carried out by ARENA sponsored militias. (FYI...A New York Times reporter broke the story of a mass grave filled with dozens of bodies and reported on ARENA and D'Aubuisson's involvement. The Reagan administration denied the connection and pressured the Times to fire the reporter. They did. Only to find out later he was absolutely accurate...so much for an independent media.)
For Romney to claim he didn't know about these family's involvement in all of this defies credibility...it is incredible. What is much more likely is he knew and didn't care. He knew, as did Reagan, Helms, the C.I.A. etc, and approved of these tactics because the rebels were "communists" receiving aid from Fidel Castro. Romney's wealth is directly tied to Bain Capital and Bain Capital only exists because he was able to find investors including these Salvadoran oligarchs to get it off the ground.
Oscar Romero, the 4 murdered nuns, the Jesuits and their housekeeper and 65,000 others were murdered because they wanted justice. They had the courage to speak out against the immorality of crushing poverty caused by 8 families owning all of the land and the political party using terrorism to protect their interests. Mitt Romney also protected their interests and increased their wealth at the very time this wealth was paying for bullets in the back of the head of innocent people. His claim of ignorance does not wash. What does make sense is it didn't bother him in the least.
The reason Romney's flip-flops on issues are important is not because he changed his mind, but because they show a pattern of a man willing to do anything...say anything...ignore anything...to get ahead, or more recently, to get elected. He was willing to accept the blood money in order to get Bain Capital started. He was wiling to ignore the murders and executions and assassinations because he stood to get rich if Bain was successful. These recent revelations reveal Romney to be a moral windsock blowing in any direction the wind blows in order to achieve his goals.
I don't expect this story to have very long legs. Most Americans have no memory of El Salvador, or the civil war, the sanctuary movement and the role our government played in propping up regressive dictatorships throughout Latin America. Most Americans do not know about this nation's role in facilitating the deaths of tens of thousands whose only crime was a desire for justice. However, for me, this new information shows a cynical, calculating, morally ambiguous man willing to do anything to get ahead. What will he do to get elected and what is he willing to do to hold on to the office?