Wednesday, April 28, 2021

U.S. advisor at El Mozote massacre (April 28, 2021)

 "There is no military honor in killing children," said expert witness Terry Karl, wrapping up her testimony at a pretrial hearing in El Salvador in the case of the 1981 El Mozote massacre, in which soldiers killed nearly 1,000 villagers, half of whom were children.

Karl said a United States military advisor, Sergeant Major Allen Bruce Hazelwood, was in Morazán with Coronel Domingo Monterrosa, commander of the Atlacatl Battalion, during the killing. Her revelation this week expands the known scope of U.S. involvement in the Salvadoran civil war and the reasoning behind the United States covering up the massacre perpetrated by the Salvadoran Army, reports El Faro. (See yesterday's briefs.)

One of the pieces of evidence that Karl presented about Bruce Hazelwood’s role in the massacre was a statement from Aryeh Neier, who was director of Human Rights Watch, then known as America’s Watch, in 1982. In an interview given in 2019, Neier told Karl that Elliot Abrams, then Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, complained to him about a January 11, 1982 New York Times article written by Raymond Bonner, in which he described the participation of an American advisor in a torture session that took place in El Salvador. Abrams denied that there was an advisor at the torture session, but he said to Neier, “I’d like to be able to say the same about El Mozote.” He was referring to Hazelwood.

Karl spoke about a pattern of massacres to show that the events at El Mozote fit within a strategy of terror advanced by the hard-line military leadership in control in El Salvador in 1980-81. And she spoke about a pattern of operations in the department of Morazán in northeast El Salvador where El Mozote is located. According to Karl, an order to “leave no witnesses” could not have been given to the troops on the ground without the authorization at the highest levels.

Karl's conclusion tied the massacres of the early 1980s to the present day. These campaigns of terror she said, forced people to flee, and they began fleeing north to the United States, starting a process of migration that continues. (El Salvador Perspectives)

News Briefs

  • Brazil's Congress launched a parliamentary inquiry into President Jair Bolsonaro's handling of the coronavirus epidemic. The politically charged investigation will be conducted by 11 of the country’s 81 senators, including several of Bolsonaro’s fiercest opponents, reports the Guardian. Bolsonaro opponents hope the inquiry will undermine his reelection bid next year. (See yesterday's briefs.)
  • Brazil’s researchers blame the government's anti-science stance for the country's devastating Covid surge. (Nature)
  • In Brazil, where out-of-control infections have given rise to a more transmissible and deadly variant, pregnant and post-partum women are showing higher death rates from COVID-19. Last week, Brazilian officials took the unusual step of asking women to avoid getting pregnant -- and it appears Brazilian women are already doing just that, reports the Conversation.
  • As global activists and policymakers celebrate the conviction of George Floyd’s murderer, Brazil — where police kill nearly six thousand people per year, some 80% of them black and brown — has yet to begin its own reckoning with police violence, according to Edmund Ruge in Americas Quarterly.
  • Fahd Jamil Georges, a veteran drug trafficker along the Paraguay-Brazil border, said he surrendered to authorities after being threatened by the PCC — a reminder of how completely the Brazilian gang has come to rule this frontier, reports InSight Crime.
  • P.1, an aggressive Covid-19 variant from Brazil is now raging across this continent. Countries that recently had pandemic under control, including Uruguay and Chile, are now seeing surging hospitalizations and deaths, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  • The case of Chile, which is a regional vaccination super star, indicates that jabs alone aren't enough to overcome the pandemic, reports IPS.
  • Chilean authorities announced they would extend the closure of the country’s borders for another 30 days as hospitals remain near-full and Covi-19 cases high despite a gradual improvement in recent weeks. (Reuters)
  • Chilean President Sebastian Piñera will sign into law a bill allowing billions of dollars in early pension withdrawals after the Constitutional Court threw out his bid to block the proposal, reports Bloomberg.
  • Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador thanked his Cuban counterpart, Miguel Díaz-Canel, for sending about 1,000 health workers to help Mexico respond to the coronavirus pandemic. (Al Jazeera)
  • Lawmakers from López Obrador’s party have triggered outrage by voting to add two years to the four-year term of the Supreme Court chief justice, Arturo Zaldívar. Zaldívar is generally regarded as sympathetic to the president, reports the Washington Post.
Regional Relations
  • The U.S. enables corruption to flourish in Honduras, notably through its close collaboration with President Juan Orlando Hernández, despite insistent protests locally and abroad that Hernández oversees a repressive and corrupt regime -- Alexander Cockburn in Harpers.
  • Of the 68,000 asylum cases processed in the U.S. under the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols, the policy also known as “Remain in Mexico,” 28,000 were closed because asylum seekers didn’t present themselves. Many missed their court dates because they were kidnapped and held hostage, or detained by Mexican officials, or because they couldn’t find a safe way to get to the border in the middle of the night, when most were told to arrive for their hearings, reports the Washington Post.
  • Haitian asylum seekers, unable to obtain entry to the U.S. and facing discrimination in Mexico, say they have nowhere to go and are losing hope. (Al Jazeera)
  • More than two weeks after winning Ecuador’s election, President-elect Guillermo Lasso’s transition appears prepared and professionally managed, according to the Latin America Risk Report. "The one clear point that comes through in everything Lasso has done is that he is focused on pro-business policies."
  • Blockades of roads to Argentina’s shale fields in Patagonia are set to enter their fourth week as health workers on the front lines of the pandemic demand salary increases to keep pace with one of the highest inflation rates in the world, reports Bloomberg.
  • Colombia’s peso suffered the biggest sell-off in emerging markets as lawmakers threaten to scupper the government’s attempt to raise taxes, reports Bloomberg.
More El Salvador
  • Eduardo Rogelio Rivas Polanco, who, as Minister of Justice and Public Security, oversaw a historic reduction in homicides, was removed from his position at the end of March. The reason for his ousting, reports El Faro based on state intelligence, was that he was building a political plan to become the Nueva Ideas (NI) party’s presidential candidate for the 2024 elections.

Did I miss something, get something wrong, or do you have a different take? Let me know ...

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