'Elliott Abrams, President Trump’s special envoy to Venezuela, first became notorious in 1982 after he was named assistant secretary of state for human rights in the Reagan administration. As a junior point man for the Reagan administration’s wars in Central America, Abrams was an aggressive defender of pro-U.S. forces that committed human rights atrocities and fierce critics of those who reported accurately on their war crimes.
With Abrams set to testify this week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his early days as a U.S. policymaker can serve as a guide to what we can expect from the Trump administration’s policy of “regime change” in Venezuela.
In an exchange that made national news at a House Foreign Affairs Committee last month, Rep. Ilhan Omar confronted Abrams about his conviction for lying to Congress and false statements he made about the infamous El Mozote massacre.
But the exchange only hinted at the scope of Abrams’ mendacious style. While in the Reagan administration, Abrams wove such particular lies into a tapestry of propaganda that prefigured Trumpism in its contempt for facts, gaslighting of critics, evasion of evidence, and tolerance of brutality.
Three Representative Lies
When Abrams began his career in the U.S. national security policymaking community in the early 1980s, Central America was convulsed by popular rebellions. Dictatorships in El Salvador and Guatemala had suppressed and exploited the poor majority for decades. By the late 1970s, these feudalistic governments, led by military officers and landholding elites, faced their most serious challenge ever.
In El Salvador, a once-conservative cleric Archbishop Oscar Romero gave voice to a popular rebellion that enjoyed support from the public and some factions in the military.
In Guatemala, the repression that began with the CIA coup in 1954 was driving most opponents of the government to sympathize with or join a growing guerilla movement in the countryside.
President Reagan, dedicated to “turning the tide” against communism worldwide, viewed anyone who did not pledge fealty to U.S. policy as a “communist,” “terrorist,” or “communist dupe.” As such, these forces were targets of violent suppression.
In El Salvador, the Reagan administration backed an ultra-right faction of the military led by intelligence officer Roberto d’Aubuisson who was trained at the CIA-run International Police Academy in Washington. D’Aubuisson masterminded the assassination of Monsignor Romero in March 1980 and commanded the death squads that liquidated civilians in favor of peaceful change.'
Read more: Elliott Abrams’ Bloody Lies
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