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Kissinger blamed lefties for his lunacy. Now lefties blame him for theirs

Cold Warrior Conspiracy: Then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shakes hands with Ismael Huerta Diaz, the Foreign Minister of Chile's right-wing military dictator Augusto Pinochet, at a Latin America conference in Mexico City on Feb. 22, 1974. Thousands of people were killed, tortured or disappeared in Chile during Pinochet's rule from 1973 to 1990, and Kissinger is widely blamed today for aiding and abetting Latin American regimes like his.
Ed Kolenovsky
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AP
Cold Warrior Conspiracy: Then U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger shakes hands with Ismael Huerta Diaz, the Foreign Minister of Chile's right-wing military dictator Augusto Pinochet, at a Latin America conference in Mexico City on Feb. 22, 1974. Thousands of people were killed, tortured or disappeared in Chile during Pinochet's rule from 1973 to 1990, and Kissinger is widely blamed today for aiding and abetting Latin American regimes like his.

COMMENTARY The left-wing madness we're seeing in Latin America in this century so often gets a pass thanks to the right-wing madness that prevailed in the last century — thanks largely to Henry Kissinger.

While there’s no shortage of leftist lunacy in Latin America these days, this past week has served up enough of it to spook Bernie Sanders into keeping his Che Guevara T-shirt hidden in the dresser.

However, this past week also saw the death of former U.S. Secretary of State and consummate cold warrior Henry Kissinger — whose actions a half century ago help explain why leftist lunacy keeps getting a pass in Latin America.

But first the lunacy. Moving around the Caribbean basin, let’s start in Nicaragua, where the Macbeths of Managua — left-wing dictator Daniel Ortega and his henchwoman wife, Rosario Murillo — have launched one of the most lefty-lunatic campaigns since Hugo Chávez made everyone in Venezuela turn their clocks back a half an hour. Only this is more sinister:

Danny and Rosie accuse the Miss Nicaragua beauty pageant — which produced last month’s Miss Universe winner, Sheynnis Palacios — of conspiracy to overthrow their tin-pot regime because it turns out Palacios took part in massive anti-government protests five years ago. They’re out to arrest the pageant’s director and her family for committing “terrorist actions.” In their Nicaragua, that means kangaroo-court justice and lengthy, often tortuous prison sentences.

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Then let’s sail over to Venezuela, where dictatorial socialist leader Nicolás Maduro just held a referendum essentially asking voters if it’s OK to invade neighboring Guyana and annex two-thirds of its territory. (Venezuela lost that oil-rich turf in an international border arbitration back in 1899.) Maduro says 98% of them said “Yes!” He also says 13 million Venezuelans voted.

Both assertions are about as absurd as Maduro’s claims that the late Chávez speaks to him through birds. But the whole obscene, nationalist charade shows how desperate he is to deflect attention from his brutally authoritarian rule — and from the fact that his Marxist-muddled incompetence has shackled Venezuelans to the worst humanitarian crisis in modern South American history.

The U.S. bogeyman is used as a knee-jerk excuse for leftist lunacy because Latin Americans still recall Washington not as an imagined but actual menace.

And finally, let’s fly north to communist Cuba, which we learned this week allegedly enjoyed the spying servicesof no less than a former U.S. ambassador in Latin America, Manuel Rocha. The leftist lunacy in this case isn’t so much the regime’s — although its hardliners’ efforts to stifle desperately needed expansion of private enterprise are lunatic enough. Rather, it’s that of Rocha and every other ideologically idiotic American who’d want to partner with a dictatorship that currently holds more than a thousand political prisoners behind bars.

But all this madness has one vital thing in common — and that’s where we raise the ghost of Kissinger and all the 20th-century interventionism that’s left America with such an exploitably negative image in the Americas.

Gringo-scapegoating

A man gestures while talking to a woman.
Alfredo Zuniga
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AP
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (right) and his Vice President wife, Rosario Murillo, in Managua in 2018.

Take, for example, the b.s. statement Nicaraguan police issued about their hunt for the pageant “terrorists.” It charges them with turning beauty contests “into political traps and ambushes, financed by foreign agents.” “Foreign agents” of course refers to los yanquis. Maduro raises the same specter of a “U.S.-backed coup” every time he arbitrarily disqualifies an opposition candidate whose popularity makes his mustache hairs stand on end. And Cuba has made gringo-scapegoating so indispensable it should be written into the national anthem.

They can use the U.S. bogeyman as a knee-jerk excuse for their leftist lunacy because enough Latin Americans recall, bitterly enough, that Washington was for so long not an imagined but actual menace on their street. It showed up in the form of people like Kissinger, who made propping up sinister right-wing lunacy in the region a foreign policy default key.

Taking his cue from earlier CIA-led ousters of leftist leaders, like the army coup that deposed Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz in 1954, Kissinger aided and abetted the right-wing military putsches of the 1970s in Chile and Argentina. Those resulted in two of the most viciously murderous regimes of Latin America’s late 20th century. And they were followed in the 1980s by U.S. backing of equally homicidal right-wing goon government in places like El Salvador.

Kissinger claimed he wasn’t aware how demonic the generals he helped put in power were. Evidence that’s emerged since leaves little doubtthat’s as preposterous as a Nicaraguan police report.

Back then, Kissinger could blame the commies to get away with it. Today, the lefty lunatics get away with it by blaming him.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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