Benjamin Gilman, to pressure the OAS Secretary General into creating a nowork high-salary post of Special Advisor just for him. On this occasion, the OAS Secretary General confessed to his confidantes that he didn’t really want any special advice from Noriega, but he promoted him anyway, giving him “little respect and no assignments” according to a report by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. After Iran/Contra blew over, Noriega moved on to a job with of the House International Relations Committee, where he unsuccessfully undertook to implicate the security guards of Jean Bertrand Aristide, President of Haiti, in a series of political killings in Port-au-Prince and an attempt on the life of the Haitian ambassador in Washington \(TO, May directly for Jesse Helms as a senior staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where he tried to secure a tighter embargo of Cuba, endearing himself to the Florida Cubans, Otto Reich and that whole sick crew. The Washington Post wrote about this stint: “Roger F. Noriega earned a reputation for many things. Tact was not one of them. He was ultra conservative, intolerant and even hostile to people with opposing views. And as the Republicans’ Latin America expert on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee under Jesse Helms, he left the U.S. diplomatic corps deeply wounded. His was an unforgettable ‘reign of terror,’ for those who lived through it.” Returning to the OAS in 2001 as Bush’s ambassador, Roger apparently behaved himself for a year or so and earned the distinction of the “Grand Master of the Order of the Sun,” from the government of Peru. Despite this august award, foreign policy analysts for Latin America report that they are disappointed with Bush’s nomination of Noriega to be Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. Endorsements are tepid to say the least: William Goodfellow of the Center for International Policy, who organized the fight against Reich in 2001, said that Noriega was not the “heavy hitter” that people expected. Goodfellow was “astonished that they would pick someone with his resume,” and, in a burst of understatement, Sen. Christopher Dodd individuals with a great deal more stature.” Nonetheless, everyone believes that, unlike Reich, Noriega will be confirmed. His experience with Congress will help him, especially in this Congress: he is not insane and will probably do as he’s told. Word has it, though, that if he had to be confirmed by the State Department instead of the Senate, he would never make it: the diplos are not impressed by the Grand Master of the Order of the Sun, and at least half of the U.S. ambassadors now stationed in Latin America suffered through some very tough times at the hands of Noriega and Helms. Meanwhile the Cuban American National Foundation, to which Bush is deeply indebted for his theft of the 2000 election in Florida, is jubilant, and called Noriega’s nomination “a wonderful addition to the State Department Team.” And as the dust settled last month, Otto Reich came home to roost in the basement of the Executive President’s Special Envoy to Latin America. In the United States we have short memories. Many of us can barely recall the distant days of relative peace we enjoyed during the 1990s. But it’s hard to forget what happened the last time a brainless right-wing president stashed a renegade red-baiter and Cuba-hater in the basement of the EOB: the ayatollahs turned up with weapons that they didn’t used to have, and years of random killing were visited upon the Central American poor in the interests of “freedom.” In those days, of course, all of this was condemned as illegal and ultimately stopped. But with Noriega now at the helm, Reich in the basement and Bush on the warpath, God alone knows what may be in store for Latin America. Gabriela Bocagrande writes about InterAmerican hijinks for the Observer. She has a very long memory. Throughout his undistinguished career, Roger typically cools his heels, collects a six-figure tax-free salary, and lies in wait at the OAS for a better position. His dubious political connections first landed him there in 1991, writing technical brochures that no one read. At the time, he needed a place to hide out because he had been superficially burned by Iran/Contra, the whimsical foreign policy episode conducted by Oliver North, John Poindexter and Ronald Reagan in Central America. 2/28/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17
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