EL SALVADOR (CN) — The Biden administration is showing every indication of bungling relations with Central America, as the United States has done for more than a century.
Briefly stated: U.S. policy, even under Biden, is to support “strongmen,” no matter how murderous and corrupt, so long as they assume their proper role as U.S. clients; and to foment violence and economic ruin against elected leaders who — just as the United States does — look to their country’s own interests first.
U.S. policy toward Latin America — perhaps better described as a bad habit — was summed up best by Henry Kissinger, a concoctor of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 military coup against, and assassination of, the rightfully elected President Salvador Allende. Quoth Kissinger: “We’re not going to watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people.”
Well. Take that, Democracy.
All signs indicate that the Biden team’s strategy — already failing in advance — is to cast aspersions upon El Salvador’s popular president, Nayib Bukele, in hopes that the success of his Nuevas Ideas party will not spill beyond El Salvador’s borders — which it already has. New Ideas parties have sprung up in Guatemala and Honduras.
Recent articles in The Washington Post, The New York Times and other responsible U.S. media have accepted without question the Biden team’s uninformed and misguided attacks upon Bukele.
The common theme is that Bukele is showing “dangerous autocratic tendencies” as he dismantles the gangs that have terrorized his country for 25 years: gangs that were formed in the United States, mostly in Los Angeles, then deported to El Salvador.
Also dangerous and “autocratic,” apparently, is Bukele’s plan, already being carried out, to distribute free laptop computers to every child in a public school from pre-K up to their senior year in high school, and a vast expansion of free public health care. All cities and most towns have clinics where the most common medications are stocked and provided without charge. In addition, health promoters based in the clinics do outreach, visiting remote villages with medications, health screenings and advisories, according to Joaquina, a promoter on a motorbike in the state of Cuscatlán.
As a government employee working for the Health Ministry, Joaquina checks on people with disabilities, passes out medications, birth control services, gives injections, and arranges for clinic visits and transportation. Much of her time is spent in education on mosquito control, hygiene, diet recommendations, glucose monitoring and domestic violence prevention. She and others who do this work are widely respected except by traditional men who blame them for a lack of pregnancies in their partners.
President Biden has delegated to Vice President Kamala Harris the lead role in trying to develop a strategy, or policy, or road map, of how the United States can help Central America prosper, so that its hungry, poor, oppressed and demoralized people can stay at home and prosper, rather than abandon hope and head North, on clipped wings and whispered prayers.
Well, as Al Smith said: Let’s look at the record.
Since the Covid-19 crisis began, every household in El Salvador has received at least 100 pounds of dried beans and rice and powdered milk and corn flour — and $300 in cash. There have been at least three food deliveries, door to door, in every town and village, to every isolated ranch. The deliveries are made by members of the armed forces and continue today. The deliveries consist of 30-pound packages to all households and if three generations live in a household, as is common, the donation is doubled, according to recipients interviewed on news broadcasts.