As recently as January (when remarking on the election of Michelle Bachelet as President of Chile), I noted that the frontrunner in upcoming presidential elections in Peru was yet another populist opponent of unregulated, laissez faire, "free market," consumerist capitalism. Ollanta Humala has promised populist policies which include tighter government control of natural resources like coal and oil, he has condemned globalization as a US led assault on the poor, and he has spoken out against US "domination." And until recently he was leading all other candidates in the polls.
Now, however, his fortunes have taken a turn for the worse.
On Feb. 15, Humala was accused of a series of war crimes. The charges included forced disappearance, torture and attempted murder that are alleged to have taken place when he commanded a jungle counterinsurgency base in 1992 at the height of the bloody civil war with the extremist Maoist Shining Path and Guevarist MRTA that engulfed Peru through much of the 1980s and 1990s. It is a charge that Humala vehemently denies, but it is a charge that has stuck and rapidly knocked him down to second place in the polls.It sounds pretty bad, no? And in fact if the charges are true, Humala should give up his presidential aspirations. Because no one should support terror, and terror as a means can never be justified, even by the ends of democracy. But wait...
No! You don't say! Really? What a shock!
The "non-governmental organization" (NGO) that led the charge against Humala was the National Coordinator for Human Rights, the umbrella organization for several human rights groups commonly known as the "Coordinadora." Whether or not the Coordinadora’s charges are true or fabricated, nobody in the press has investigated its history or who backs it. Is the Coordinadora merely a disinterested and neutral human rights organization doing its job, or was this denunciation the result of another more nefarious hidden agenda? To anyone following Latin America recently, it should come as no surprise that the accuser, the Coordinadora is an "NGO" that has been funded by the U.S. government for years.
So, what exactly IS going on with Luis Posada Carriles?
Although it is not mentioned in the Coordinadora’s "official history" written by the Washington, D.C. based nonprofit called the Washington Office on Latin America, it has been funded by both the Agency for International Development (USAID) and the smaller National Endowment for Democracy (NED) on and off for more than a decade. While both USAID and NED are civilian entities, they are largely controlled by the State Department and are indispensable instruments of U.S. foreign policy.
Does U.S. funding of a foreign "NGOs" affect their behavior? Andrew Natsios, USAID’s former head, stated unequivocally in a widely distributed 2003 speech that even foreign USAID-funded contractors and NGO’s "are an arm of the U.S. government." And the role of the much smaller NED was made clear when Allen Weinstein, one of its founders stated in a 1991 Washington Post article that, "a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."