Sunday, August 19, 2012

Harry Barnes RIP

Harry Barnes has died. He was the US Ambassador to Chile during the Reagan administration, and actively supported democratization. Proof of that is that Jesse Helms criticized him.

Further proof comes from the Chileans praising him. He stood against violence and for free elections.

It's easy to forget that the Reagan administration soured on Augusto Pinochet. There are a number of reasons, one of which is resentment about the murder of Orlando Letelier in Washington, DC. State terrorism is one thing, but not even friendly governments are supposed to do it in the United States. In addition, the Pinochet government had outlasted its usefulness. There was no Marxist threat anymore, hadn't been for years, and increasingly even conservatives didn't see the point of getting beat up over human rights abuses in Chile. An orderly transition would preserve capitalism and allow Reagan to claim his commitment to democracy (despite glaring examples to the contrary elsewhere in Latin America).

Whatever the reason, it was the right thing to do, and Barnes played a key role.

4 comments:

Mike 8:26 PM  

From the bits and pieces that I've read, the Reagan administration soured on him but Reagan didn't. It was some of the pro-democracy people at State and US Aid that convinced Reagan to promote democracy in Chile and elsewhere after the poor performance of his first term in Latin America. Is that accurate? I guess I'm thinking of Thomas Carothers' In the Name of Democracy book.

Greg Weeks 9:18 AM  

Constable and Valenzuela argue that there was concern that a) Pinochet ran the risk of recreating a militant left through unnecessary repression; and b) the situation offered an opportunity to show there was no double standard when it came to Nicaragua (i.e. the U.S. opposes "tyranny" no matter what the ideology). (p. 290).

Ben,  11:58 AM  

Seems to me Mike has it right. See Morley and McGillion, Soldiering on: The Reagan Administration and Redemocratisation in Chile, 1983–1986 in Bulletin of Latin American Research, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 1–22, 2006. Even better, see the NSC meeting on Nov. 18, 1986, here: http://ciperchile.cl/wp-content/uploads/reagan-library-4.pdf Reagan wanted a state visit with Pinochet in 1986.

SwampNigger 9:44 PM  

"unecessary" has a logical corollary with the "necessary" repression that has to operate so that true freedom and democracy is possible in reality.

Whichever way you spin the situation, Reagan and the US have long been opponents of democracy and equality, human rights, ecological health, and national sovereignty.

You don't get points with sugar-coating the legacy of the US, because the jackals see you a a weak chump, and they are emboldened to engage all types of thuggery to advance tyranny..

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