Spooked in Peru

Media Is Snowblind No More

The answers are not pretty. Instead of promoting democracy in Latin America, the CIA has forged alliances with a tiny elite comprised of "businessmen, bankers, dynastic families and generals." The partnership has been good for the region's military and political leaders, who typically get arms deals and "gentle treatment" when they stand accused of corruption and torture. And it's been good for American military contractors and businessmen. But the CIA and U.S. embassies have done little to save the lives of hundred of thousands of civilians who continue to be tortured and killed by rogue gunmen allied with corrupt military leaders. With friends like that, who needs enemies?

As a final test of credibility, watch how the media covers the subject of the CIA's relationship with Montesinos. By 1994, when Clinton approved the plan to shoot down drug planes, Montesinos was already notorious in Peru. The L.A. Times reported that, before becoming intelligence chief, he was a lawyer representing drug traffickers, a "reptilian" guy who collected diamond watches, Italian shoes, and flashy young girlfriends. According to The New Yorker, Montesinos kept his top military officers happy by sharing the profits he made from arms sales and from "drug traffickers, who relied on the cooperation of the armed forces to stay in business."

Last September, shortly after a tape surfaced showing Montesinos bribing a local congressman, he went on the lam, and the U.S. has done little to help track him down. Given that the reptile-in-exile personally launched a U.S. drug initiative now under scrutiny by Congress, an exposé addressing his relationships with the CIA and U.S. diplomats is long overdue.


ccotts@villagevoice.com

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