August 2, 2004
"And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was death, and hell followed with him." - Revelation 6:7
The above biblical quotation is a reference to the Angel of Death. For me, it could just as easily describe John Dimitri Negroponte, the recently installed U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
From 1971 to 1973 in Vietnam, Negroponte was the officer-in-charge at the National Security Council under Henry Kissinger. During that period, former DEA Michael Levine was conducting undercover operations in Saigon, Thailand and Cambodia, where our government was smuggling heroin from into the U.S. Our government was utilizing caskets and body bags of those "Killed In Action" to smuggle the heroin.
From 1981-1985, Negroponte was U.S. ambassador to Honduras, where he illegally assisted the Contra war and helped the Reagan administration to 'disappear’ close to 300 political opponents in classic death squad fashion. He supervised the creation of the El Aguacate air base, which the Contras used as a secret detention and torture center. In August 2001, excavations at the base discovered 185 corpses, including two Americans missionaries. In May 1982, a nun, Sister Laetitia Bordes, went on a fact-finding delegation to Honduras to investigate the whereabouts of thirty Salvadoran nuns who fled to Honduras in 1981. Negroponte claimed the embassy knew nothing. But in 1996, a U. S. newspaper interviewed Negroponte’s predecessor, Jack Binns, who said that a group of Salvadorans (with Bordes among them), had been captured on April 22, 1981, and savagely tortured by the Honduran secret police, and then later thrown out of helicopters alive. Negroponte turned a deliberate blind eye to a murderous pattern of political killings. He orchestrated the famous death squad, Battalion 316, which used "shock and suffocation devices in interrogations." Prisoners were also "kept naked, and when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves." We recently saw pictures in Iraq of similar atrocities committed by our servicemen and women.
From 1989 to September 1993, Negroponte was also ambassador to Mexico, where he directed our U. S. intelligence services to assist the war against the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas. Furthermore, he was there obstructing the war on drugs. Seven Mexican drug agents were gunned down in an ambush by 100 members of the Mexican army on the payroll of a drug cartel; Negroponte dismissed the slaughter as "a regrettable incident." The slaughter had been videotaped by the DEA from another plane, which had also been strafed by the army unit.
Ironically enough, I was stationed in Vietnam as a combat soldier at the same time that Negroponte was assigned to Vietnam. It was there that I saw some of my brothers laid low from drug addiction. It was also there that I promised myself that if I survived that war, I would initiate my own personal war against drug trafficking. In 1979, I became one of very few Latino DEA agents.
From 1985 to 1991, I was assigned to Honduras, Guatemala, Belize and El Salvador. As one of two DEA agents that covered those countries, it was revealed that our U.S. government was complicit in drug trafficking and human rights violations. The area was rife with rebellion, gun-running, and a perception that communism was festering in our back yard. One of my job descriptions was to train members of their military intelligence on interdiction of drug traffickers. However, most of my time was spent assisting the CIA in training the death squads. We were also utilizing CIA contract agents from different parts of South America, specifically Venezuela and Argentina. In reality, Central America became one huge country, which allowed the death squads to overflow into each other. Mario Sandoval-Alarcon, best known as the godfather of the death squads and the creator of the notorious "La Mano Blanca," ran all the death squads. Sandoval was so loved by Ronald Reagan, that he got a private invitation to attend Reagan’s inauguration.
At the same time, we had an anti-government guerilla movement known as the Contras fighting Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. Honduras and El Salvador became bases for the U.S. support of the right-wing Contras. They unleashed a sadistic "scorched earth" campaign, basing itself on the murderous theory that the only way to combat the leftist guerrilla resistance was to "empty the sea" in which the guerillas swam. The same blueprints that were used in Vietnam were implemented in Central America and once again, "worked." There are hundreds of secret cemeteries all over Central America, enough to keep one digging for another ten years. There is no doubt that these same blueprints will be used in Iraq.
In Honduras, I saw first hand how Negroponte and General Alvarez committed some of the worst human rights violations ever committed in the Western Hemisphere. In 1994, the Honduran Human Rights Commission charged Negroponte personally with several human rights violations.
If there was real justice in this world, John Negroponte should stand alongside Saddam Hussein and be charged with war crimes. There’s ample evidence to convict both.
I’ve risked my life to demonstrate what I believe to be real. An armed struggle (with pen in hand) is in order for those who are struggling to keep their freedom. I’ve now become a veteran of my third, and perhaps most dangerous, war - the war against the criminals in my own government.
Celerino "Cele" Castillo III is the author of "Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras and the Drug War." He is a 20 veteran of law enforcement. Watch Cele in GNN's Sundance award-winning NewsVideo Crack the CIA:
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