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News > Latin America

Meet 3 Secret Trump Picks out to Take Down Latin America's Left

  • A woman walks past anti-U.S. imperialism graffiti in Caracas. March 9, 2015

    A woman walks past anti-U.S. imperialism graffiti in Caracas. March 9, 2015 | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 March 2017

A Hugo Chavez alarmist and two ambassadors to El Salvador: the three men promising to take down the left in Latin America are now working for the state.

Of the 400 hires secretly made by Donald Trump to various major state agencies published by ProPublica on Wednesday, several already have a record of messing with Latin American affairs.

Trump has filled about 520 seats in every major federal agency through a process that avoids Senate confirmation and keeps their names confidential.

According to the names obtained and published by ProPublica and DiploPundit, the majority of picks have no previous experience in their roles — some just graduated from high school or college — but were likely picked for working on the Trump campaign.

Three names, though, are worrying for Latin Americans.

Jon Perdue

Trump's choice for a special assistant to the Treasury Department, Jon Perdue, wrote a book — called "The War of All the People: The Nexus of Latin American Radicalism and Middle Eastern Terrorism" — which according to its description is about how Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "forged an active alliance hell-bent on destroying the established order in the developed world" through an "ideological and political war against the United States, capitalism, and the widely accepted tenets of modernity." He also wrote the foreword to a book by Evgueni Novikov, an outspoken Soviet defector.

He also suggested a new method for implementing regime change in what he calls "slow tyranies" without orchestrating a military coup. His technique "focuses on a combination of aggressive diplomacy and economic engagement as a first and necessary step, along with a capability for small-unit operations that can be conducted with a much smaller footprint when necessary," he wrote in an article for the Jewish Policy Center.

Perdue has also traveled throughout Latin America to put his reasoning into practice, from closely studying Cuban dissidents, to observing the 2009 elections in Honduras which legitimized the coup of a left-wing president, to decrying freedom of speech in Ecuador after President Rafael Correa took action against a conservative paper which called him a dictator.

In 2010 Perdue helped prevent the extradition to Argentina from the U.S. of Roberto Bravo, one of the architects of the 1972 Trelew massacre in Argentina where 16 leftist political prisoners will killed in jail as part of that country's Dirty War.

Charles Glazer

George W. Bush’s former ambassador to El Salvador will now be a senior advisor at the Department of State. Charles Glazer spent most of his career in investment banking and international brokerage, only serving a two-year stint as a diplomat before being deposed by Barack Obama.

In his short stint, he overlooked the tiny Central American nation right before it shifted from the U.S.-friendly administration to the FMLN, a left-wing party formed from five guerilla groups.

Glazer had actively tried to prevent a win by the “communist-dominated and Chavez-supported” FMLN, according to a cable leaked by WikiLeaks. Besides accelerating economic and anti-gang cooperation through agreements like CAFTA and USAID programs, Glazer urged the U.S. respond to election rhetoric in order to help skew the results, such as keeping Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans in the U.S.

"A decision to cancel TPS during the current electoral cycle would likely be played up by the FMLN in the press and in the campaign as a loss of U.S. support for the country and current administration — an unearned political windfall benefiting the FMLN and influencing the outcome of 2009 elections," he wrote months before the vote. "Terminating TPS could also dramatically undermine this administration's ability to support us in Iraq, other peacekeeping missions, and other global and hemispheric issues where we depend on the proactive leadership of the Saca administration."

El Salvador was the first in the hemisphere after the U.S. to send troops to Iraq — "an expression of gratitude for the U.S. 'standing by' the GOES (government of El Salvador) during the Salvadoran civil war" — making the ruling conservative coalition "one of our most important allies in the Western Hemisphere, during a major rise of leftist populist regimes unfriendly to USG (U.S. government) interests," he added.

Glazer ended his memo assuring the State Department that he would "continue to monitor and report on" any electoral developments that could end up impacting U.S. interests.

Robert Blau

When the Salvadoran embassy was emptied after Glazer’s leave, Robert Blau filled in as a charge d’affaires ad interim from Jan. 2009 to Sept. 2010, following the FLMN's win. After he retired he was chosen to serve on Trump's landing team at the State Department.

Blau, according to WikiLeaks, praised "the outgoing (Antonio) Saca Administration (for working) to promote the advancement of democracy and human rights in Cuba. For example, when Fidel Castro resigned as Cuba's leader in February 2008, President Saca publicly expressed hope for a real democratic transition in Cuba and emphasized the importance of freedom of expression and multiparty elections."

He also panicked when the FMLN came to power and reformed the prison system, a "backwards" move that involved "loosening of security controls at El Salvador'' maximum security prison at Zacatecoluca, granting greater access to family members and other visitors throughout the system, and eliminating vestiges of regimentation such as prisoner uniforms," halting construction of expanded prisons and increasing the number of those eligible for conditional release in an overcrowded prison system.

"The course changes so far at DGCP (Directorate General of Prisons) are troubling. Whether intentional or not, the reforms Moreno has already implemented will go a long way towards unraveling the significant progress INL (International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs) has achieved in partnership with Caceres and company over the last two years," he wrote in a 2009 cable, adding it would impact implementation of the Merida Initiative.

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