Bush's Cool Cold Warrior Goes to UN ; Senate Approval: John Negroponte's Urbane Denial of Human Rights Abuses in Honduras Wins the Day
Jan McGirk Latin American correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
At first glance, President George Bush has chosen the perfect ambassador to the United Nations. Suave and imposing, the multilingual John Dimitri Negroponte is at the peak of his gilded career at 62, with an impeccable multinational pedigree, a formidable society wife and the support of the Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Despite disturbing questions over his past, the ambassador was quietly approved 14-3 on Thursday by the Senate, because the new mood in Washington requires a pragmatic cold warrior to forge alliances.
Yet as Senate investigators were digging deep into Mr Negroponte's diplomatic record, forensic scientists were digging up skeletons at the Honduran military base of El Aguacate, leftovers from the murky Sandinista years when Mr Negroponte was Ronald Reagan's ambassador to Honduras. But with thousands of new human remains under the World Trade Centre, these remains from the Eighties seemed suddenly less relevant.
El Aguacate, built by the CIA 80 miles east of the capital Tegucigalpa for anti-Sandinista forces, is riddled with unmarked graves. Forensic experts say the remains of 28 bodies recovered so far are those of right- wing Contra rebels from the US proxy war against Nicaragua's Sandinistas. But federal prosecutors say at least 80 of the 184 dissidents who vanished in Honduras between 1979 and 1990 are buried at the camp, now abandoned. Civilians living around the base in the Eighties tell of croaked cries for water and pleas for help from inside, and witnesses say they saw naked prisoners beaten and subjected to electric shocks.
Mr Negroponte told the Senate hearing: "The consolidation of Honduras's fragile democracy was ... our number-one policy priority for that country. It would be a distortion of reality to judge either events in Honduras or the performance of the US mission through the exclusive prism of human rights considerations. This is not to excuse any single abuse of a person's rights which might have occurred in Honduras. One human rights violation is a violation too many."
Mr Reagan had appointed him in 1981 as the President launched his crusade against the Communist Sandinista government of neighbouring Nicaragua and the FMLN rebels in El Salvador. Human rights groups say the reports Mr Negroponte filed to Washington glossed over political disappearances, murder, torture and other human …
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Publication information: Article title: Bush's Cool Cold Warrior Goes to UN ; Senate Approval: John Negroponte's Urbane Denial of Human Rights Abuses in Honduras Wins the Day. Contributors: Jan McGirk Latin American correspondent - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: September 16, 2001. Page number: 15. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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