Coming to the Aid of War Criminals

There is an article in Counterpunch titled Coming to the aid of war criminals. What it is really about is the US Congress threating to withold aid to Nicaragua because of unresolved compensation issues. Note that I filed it under Politics because that, to me, best reflects both the issues and the suggested solution.

The Nicaraguan refugees who are now US Citizens received a warm reception and a safe home among other Latin American expatriate communities in South Florida. They were also the darlings of the far right-wing of the Republican Party, including members of Congress who felt the need to take up their cause.

This paragraph seems to convey the political nature of this picture very well. For those who need the step-by-step, here it is:

  1. A corrupt, US-created Somoza dynasty was overthrown in 1979.
  2. Some members of that dynasty fled to the US, were accepted and have become US citizens.
  3. The new government in Nicaragua confiscated property of many of these people.
  4. The political football is that US aid to Nicaragua should be witheld because the Nicaraguan government has not compensated US Citizens for property confiscated in the 1980s.

There is no debate about confiscations taking place and there are certainly cases where most would consider various confiscations to be improper. There are lots of things that could be debated but that becomes a rehash of the revolution, US retaliation, ... which I think we are all sick of hearing about. And, of course, the whole idea that the US needs to send aid to Nicaragua is another debate.

What, to me, seems to be a new discusison point is the implication that the Nicaraguan government confiscated the property of US Citizens. While there may be exceptions, I expect that in most cases, this is a more accurate statement: The Nicaraguan government confiscated property of people who have since become US Citizens.

The way this political game has been played for 30 years, this seems like a very important distinction. We have been made to think that the government of revolutionary Nicaragua stole property owned by US Citizens and, thus, Nicaragua was not a safe place for usanos to invest. In practice, it seems like an advantage of these Nicaraguans acquiring US Citizenship is that the US government becomes their advocate and, in return, gets more play out of this political football.

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It was a Jesse Helm amendment to some bill cf NI

Basically, yes. I understand that some land was confiscated in cases where people had not fled Nicaragua and gone to the US (or Paraguay). Somoza seized more foreign-owned property than did the FSLN (German owned fincas during WWII where Somoza joined the US in declaring war on Germany).

Nicaragua was basically paying the reparations out of aid money, so the actual aid was what was left after the reparations were deducted.

A book I just finished reading on the Hunza pointed out that in the 1950s, the US's best friends in Asia were the countries it had helped the least. Most people who are determined to go out and help another country tend to both assume the other country is inferior in some essential way and that they as helpers are superior, kind, benevolent, and more knowledgable than the locals (and annoying as hell to overhear in the streets). In "Hunza: The Lost Kingdom of the Himalayas" John Clark said:

"First, let us stop at once the ruinous system of large, direct gifts from the American government to Asian governments. Such gifts are expensive to us and always breed avarice and resentment on the part of the recipients. My experience with the Mir of Hunza was completely illustrative. It is no coincidence that the Chinese, to whom we gave most, chose Communism, and that the Indians, to whom we are now giving tens of millions, irrationally dislike us. We gave least to Islam, so that Moslem nations remain our most faithful friends in Asia, despite the blows we have unintentionally dealt them in Israel and Kashmir."

The Mir of Hunza basically spread the idea that things were just idyllic in the Hunza Valley to con Westerners and keep his power. All aid was supposed to go through him and he hustled Clark for various fairly expensive toys. Two of Clark's students wanted to go to the US to study -- the Mir forbade it since he was the decision maker and his people were his children (rather abused children from Clark's comments). Reminded me of how the US saw the first Somoza. The Mir disliked the independence of mind that Clark's students were developing.

Substitute Asian governments for Central American and African governments, and I think it's same/same.

Indian dislike of the US wasn't all that irrational since the US had worked with the British to fight Indian nationalism from the turn of the century on, but otherwise, fairly interesting comments.

Rebecca Brown

According to an article in Tico Times

Most of the siezures of property of US citizens who were US citizens at the time have been resolved, and the Nic. government resolved a few more caseslast year. The fact that the remaining ones are of people who became US citizens after the seizures does seem to put it in the political football range.

As far as aiding war criminals, seems our boy Hugo is selling deisel to the Syrian govmint to keep its tanks running...

"You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality." Ayn Rand