Much shock and dismay has been expressed over the U.S. military’s use of torture in Iraq, Guantanamo and at so-called “black sites." However, the use of torture by the military or its surrogates is by no means new. The United States has a long dark history in the use, training and implementation of torture in Latin America. The most infamous institution associated with the promotion of torture, summary execution, disappearance and repression of dissidents is the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.
For decades the U.S. has propped up military dictatorships in Latin America that stifled progressive change and entrenched small cliques of elites which were completely out of touch with the population over which they ruled. The most notorious of these nefarious regimes were the Argentine junta, Chile's Augusto Pinochet and the Central American military dictatorships. The Mexican government, despite its dressings of democracy, has always operated with torture and disappearance of dissidents. These regimes assured a free hand for U.S. business interests and the iron fist for the impoverished masses. The modus operandi for the military and U.S. intelligence agencies was well established prior to 911. In fact some of the most active agents in promoting torture in Latin America include such well known Iraq war figures as Dick Cheney and John Negroponte.
Although the documentary history of this long and dark history of repression is abundant, most Americans have little knowledge of just how reprehensible their government has been in brutally repressing social change in Latin America. The history of the United States relationship with Latin America needs to be understood in order to gain a complete understanding of the migration of Latin Americans to the United States. More on this in future posts.