2004-06-11 03:48:25 UTC
and: ....the Observer were devoted to "How the Gipper stole into
This was a tribute to Ronald Reagan, whose "sunny attitude" and "iconic
status" made him "a consummate communicator" whose "popularity knew no
Yes, he had increased America's war spending as never before, but that was
"to fight the Communist peril".
Ad nausea. Reagan's true distinctions were as follows.
At the height of his "popularity", fewer Americans voted for him than for
any modern era president - 27 per cent of the electorate. No other post-1945
president, apart from George W Bush, presided over such a distortion in the
economic life of the United States. Billions were taken from ordinary
Americans and handed, in tax cuts, to the richest 5 per cent. The Reagan
regime helped create the Taliban and supplied Saddam Hussein with chemical
weapons. An anti-apartheid sanctions bill was passed in congress only after
Reagan tried to veto it. Above all, it was Reagan's secret, illegal and
murderous attacks on Central America, one of the world's poorest regions,
for which he ought to be remembered. The Observer writer Paul Harris did
make a passing reference to the Iran-Contra affair and the "public row" that
"claimed some notable scalps".
Reagan, however, "survived" - unlike tens of thousands of his victims. For
most of his two terms in the 1980s, Reagan secretly approved an onslaught on
El Salvador and Nicaragua. In El Salvador, the CIA funded, trained and
directed a jack-booted, black-helmeted National Guard which, together with
death squads it controlled, murdered thousands, especially moderate
reformers: those like Jose Viera, president of the El Salvador Land Reform
Institute, and Archbishop Oscar Romera, who was shot dead as he held up the
chalice at Mass, having made the mistake of preaching that the enforced
poverty of his flock was not God's will, and they should resist the
American-sponsored terror regime.
On rubbish tips outside San Salvador,
morning after morning, I saw bodies killed by Reagan's clients, including
pregnant women. In its attacks on Nicaragua, Reagan's "contra" forces
specialised in slitting the throats of midwives and children as they slept.
In charge of this terrorism was John Negroponte, US ambassador to Honduras,
who, reported the Baltimore Sun, created and directed a military unit that
"used shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were
kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked
graves." George W Bush has just appointed Negroponte as the first American
"ambassador" to "liberated" Iraq. You might have thought these matters were
worthy of mention in the Observer - that, under Reagan, more than 100,000
people were slaughtered in Central America, and the United States was
distinguished as the only country ever to have been convicted by the World
Court for acts of terrorism. Having omitted all this, Harris quipped of the
Gipper: "You had to admire his style". This is not the Telegraph, or a
Murdoch paper. In Britain's oldest liberal newspaper, the very idea of a
dissenting voice is becoming exotic."