Wednesday | July 24, 2002
This story has made my day. Two Salvadoran generals must pay $54.6 million to three victims tortured by troops under their command.
The money is not the issue, since there is no illusion that the generals have the money, or will not flee the US to avoid payment. But it does shine a spotlight on the abuses wrought by the US-backed and trained Salvadoran armed forces in the 80s.
I am intimately acquainted with people like the general in this case. My extended family in El Salvador is well-connected and mildy wealthy. They run in the same circles as the Salvadoran elite responsible for much of the pain and suffering the nation has endured. I'm not wealthy. I vehemetly oppose ARENA, the right-wing party currently running the nation. And I am a Democrat. Since I do not love ARENA, Republicans, and Ronald Reagan (as all good Salvadoran elites must), I am thus branded the family communist. I wear the label, however inaccurate, with pride.
That's the way things work in places like El Salvador. You are either extreme right-wing, or you are a communist. Black and White. The wealthy dominate the economy, preventing the economic advancement of the lower classes. Family connections and a prominant last name guarantee economic success. The ruling elite take care of their own, funneling government funds to their friends and family.
Bush and Cheney would fit right in.
I don't personally know the aforementioned generals, but I do know their kind. If the verdict bankrupts them, then great. If it forces them to leave their undoubtedly posh settings in Miami, even better. Let them, and the Pinochets, and all the other human rights abusers face the wrath of the law. They deserve no less.
(Alterman adds his $.02 here.)Posted July 24, 2002 02:25 PM | Comments (2)