For the WSJ, Feb 2021 By Mary Anastasia O’Grady.
Mrs. O’Grady has been a reliable window of knowledge for me for information about Central and Latin American countries. This article discusses an issue that will never see daylight in the mainstream press.
Funding for political activism and abortion won’t create jobs in the region.
When developed countries support equality before the law and property rights in poor countries, the left labels them imperialists. But use U.S. taxpayers’ resources to promote the termination of unborn life in poor countries, and progressives call it “health” spending. A similar language game is played when international socialists organize political factions under the banner of “democracy” to consolidate power.
Abortion and democratic socialism are two causes the Biden administration plans to champion in the Northern Triangle of Central America—Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Sovereignty, respect for local cultural norms, and the economic aspirations of millions of have-nots have never been high ideals in Washington. But now the condescending ideologues are resupplied. The problem is likely to get worse.
Latin Americans have reason to distrust President Biden, who had special responsibility for the region during the Obama administration. One notable disaster in that time was Colombia’s surrender to the narco-trafficking group FARC. The agreement was cooked up in Havana with U.S. help. Colombians rejected it in a referendum, but then-President Juan Manuel Santos pushed it through anyway, with backing from Team Obama.
FARC leaders got amnesty and unelected seats in Congress, but the agreement has been a disaster for the South American nation. The cocaine business has exploded anew, FARC honchos have been caught in drug deals, and coca-growing regions are again immersed in bloody conflict. The discredited Mr. Santos has been reduced to lobbying the U.S. to take Havana off its list of state sponsors of terrorism
In Central America, Biden administration foreign-policy makers want to reproduce a version of the United Nations’ International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (a k a CIGIG) that would span all three countries in the Northern Triangle.
Helping countries develop independent, transparent and accountable institutions is a worthy foreign-policy goal. But CICIG was none of that.
The commission prosecuted some criminals. But without checks, Commissioner Iván Velásquez gained absolute power and used it to unleash a reign of terror against Guatemalan society. What was billed as a way to help the country fight organized crime and build a credible judicial system was weaponized by the left. James Comey’s FBI going after Trump supporters had nothing on Mr. Velásquez. The most corrupt entrepreneurs and politicians stayed out of jail by cheering his misdeeds.
CICIG abuses gained international attention when lawyers for the Russian migrant family of Igor Bitkov, whom it targeted, testified at a Helsinki Commission hearing in Washington in 2018. They told of the gross mistreatment of the family, allegedly at the behest of Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Biden, who claimed to be an expert on CICIG, never condemned the collapse of due process or the cruelty the commission used to force confessions. He never even spoke up for the Bitkovs, whose 3-year-old son was thrown into an orphanage when they were jailed.
Guatemalans deserve an accounting. Instead Biden stenographers in the media are busy sanitizing his role in the CICIG story. The Bitkov family, still stuck in the corrupt Guatemalan legal system, remains a symbol of the dearth of empathy inside the Beltway.
But Joe cares deeply about the region—or so we are told. He will prove it now by pumping $4 billion into a variety of Northern Triangle social and activist political organizations. It won’t generate jobs beyond the aid industry.
An equally important agenda item for Mr. Biden is the export of abortion to the developing world. To that end, on his eighth day in office he signed an executive decree to allow U.S. taxpayer dollars to fund abortion providers operating overseas. This from the guy who pledges dignity for poor nations.
Plenty of Americans object. In a January Marist poll 77% of respondents said they oppose U.S. financing to “support abortion in other countries,” well above the 53% who said they are pro-life.
Some of these Americans may have an innate sense of respect for other cultures. In the developing world there is a strong belief that abortion doesn’t only take a life but that taking away the rights of the unborn undermines the ethical foundations of society.
This creed is captured in a recent “Culture of Life Africa” video. The 16-minute production features people across the continent pleading with Mr. Biden not to bring abortion to their shores. Honduras recently passed a constitutional amendment (requiring four-fifths approval in two different legislative sessions) prohibiting abortion.
In Honduras and many other poor countries where abortion remains illegal, organizations like International Planned Parenthood can now use U.S. government funds to promote their industry. Mr. Biden doesn’t need to share the moral convictions of pro-life nations. But his contempt for their views is troubling.
So we will spend $4 billion funding social and activist political organizations in a Catholic country that does not want abortions. Why? One reason might be jobs for organizations. I think the prime reason is to harvest organs.