If South American countries prosecute their war criminals, why don’t we?

Latin American countries used to be notorious for having dictators who ruthlessly repressed their own people, used death squads and torture indiscriminately, and demanded and received immunity for their acts. The rest of the world looked down at them for their lawlessness. Almost all of those dictators were strongly supported by the US.

But things are different now. In this interview, Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive, talks about the changes, how those countries are opening up the dark past and revealing the details of the abuses. One country Uruguay has even revoked the amnesty that was once granted to the perpetrators and says that it will treat all the abuses as crimes against humanity.

The vaults of the CIA, FBI, National Security Council, and the State Department contain documentation that would, if released, prove invaluable in tracking down and prosecuting those criminals. But since the US is fully engaged in the same kinds of lawless practices, such as torture, murder, and self-immunity that those countries used to indulge in, it is unlikely that they will release the documents.

While the Latin American countries are trying to write their past wrongs, many of their past excesses can be seen in current practices in the US, such as the use of paramilitary tactics on the Occupy Wall Street protestors. When you see police in riot gear with batons and gases strong-arming unarmed protestors, irrespective of age or whether they are even resisting, it is eerily reminiscent of what used to be commonplace on the streets of Buenos Aires or Montevideo. We do not have (as far as I know) death squads acting within the US killing off the enemies of the government, though they do act overseas with drones being the weapon of choice.

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