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"Someone is not honest": Elliott Abrams, Venezuelan envoy of Trump, pursued with suspicion

A protester sits behind US Special Envoy for Venezuela, Elliott Abrams, as he announces in Venezuela on Wednesday in the subcommittee on foreign affairs of the House. (Jose Luis Magana)

The diplomat came to the congress and was told that he could not be trusted.

"I have to tell you, and I'm sorry to say that, as one who feels very strong, we must start building a two-sided foreign policy from now on," his questioner He said, "I'm afraid there's too much in the record at the time to play that role effectively."

The diplomat, Deputy Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, replied, "I'm sorry you feel that way."

The exchange took place in 1987 during congressional hearings on the Iran-Contra affair, when lawmakers examined the secretive efforts of the Reagan administration to support the Nicaraguan rebels. "Someone is not honest with us," Abrams was warned.

The dialogue was repeated on Wednesday – more than three decades later – at a hearing of the House's Foreign Affairs Committee when Abraham's Deputy Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Who is now Venezuela's special envoy to President Trump, said his word do not be good.

"I do not understand why the members of this committee or the American people should find a testimony that they consider truthful today," said Omar, a Newman Democrat who was controversial this week, claiming that Congressman Israel support them because they are financially committed to the American Public Affairs Committee in Israel.

The confrontation with Omar proved the truism that Mark Twain wrote: "History does not recur, but it often rhymes." The back and forth focus again on a series of controversies that Abrams had left behind in their mid-century public life. It revealed the moral compromises that went into his role as a hawk, a global stance that Trump once opposed, but has increasingly adopted, even claiming that military intervention in Venezuela is "an option."

On returning to the government, Abrams offers a case study that describes how neo-conservatives have warmed to "Trumpism," which the diplomat warned in a Weekly Standard column of 2016 that he should not be "undisputed." the No. 2 position in the State Department. After six months in the administration, he judged Trump a "traditionalist" and commented on his "conventional" foreign policy.

Abrams was untrustworthy, Omar said, because he acknowledged in 1991 that he had denied Congress any information about illegal efforts to support its counterparts. For the offenses, he was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of civil service. He was later named President George H.W. Bush and served as a national security adviser to the younger Bush president.

When Abrams tried to defend himself, the congressman interrupted him and said, "That was not a question." The diplomat thundered: "It was an attack!"

In an email to the Washington Post on Thursday, Abrams defended his role in the Reagan Administration.

"It is a remarkable support for Latin democracy, which Rep. Omar obviously has no idea and in which she has no interest," said the emissary, who has passed from his role as senior research fellow for studies in the Middle East Council External relations in support of the diplomatic response to the escalation crisis in Venezuela. "This became clear from her behavior, which is an attack instead of questioning a witness."

Abrams had no shortage of defenders under siege. "The antisemitic congresswoman is disappointing the Jewish-American hero," headlined the Washington Free Beacon, the Conservative website, which was largely funded by hedge fund manager Paul Singer.

It was not just partisans who condemned the interrogation of Omar, whose family had fled Somalia in 1991 before the civil war and spent four years in a refugee camp in Kenya before finding a safe haven in the United States. Abrams also found support from those who considered themselves critics of the president, including Nicholas Burns, a former Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Ambassador to NATO twittered"Elliott Abrams is a dedicated civil servant who has spent much of his working life in our country. It is time to build bridges in America and not to tear down people. "

Critics of interventionism saw it Hurry to defend Abrams as an example of the failure of the foreign policy establishment.

"I was impressed by the closure of people you could call foreign policy insiders who argued that Elliott Abrams should be respected as a loyal official and a good person," said Patrick Porter, Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham, England, said in an interview with The Post: "I think that's weird because we have an elected representative of the population here, who is examining a commissioner about his protocol."

The diplomat's record began with a blue tint.

"I was raised as a Democrat in New York City, and I was a Democrat and I would say a Hardline Democrat," he said in 2013 in a conversation with Bill Kristol, the founder of the now-defunct Weekly Standard.

In New York, Abrams visited the elitist, liberal Little Red School House, whose alumni include Kathy Boudin, a member of the Anti-War-Weather Underground, and activist and scholar Angela Davis. In college, he led Harvard's chapter on Americans for Democratic Action, an advanced organizational group, and supported Hubert H. Humphrey as president. He practiced law and worked in democratic politics, including as chief of staff of former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York.

However, he was disappointed with his party's foreign policy under President Jimmy Carter as the Cold War intensified after the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He and other members of a centrist faction called the Coalition for a Democratic Majority were asked to meet Carter during their stay in his 1980 re-election campaign and "until the end of the meeting, everyone in the room was for Reagan, including me." He nudged the Republican candidate, who spoke his Jewish groups with his foreign policy.

When Abrams became assistant secretary to Reagan Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in 1981, interest groups hoped that he would be a "liberal mole", as he confirmed in a 1982 New York Times interview.

He disappointed her and became a hardened critic of left-wing governments and ally of regimes accused of human rights abuses, such as South Africa and Taiwan, who portrayed themselves as anti-communists. He called himself a "gladiator" of the Reagan doctrine – a gladiator trying to leave his office in the State Department, where his portfolio with more than two dozen countries was placed, at 18:30. to bring it home to his two young children.

"I just can not stand the fact that the left sits on a high horse and thinks that they have a morally superior position on human rights because they are on the left," Abrams said in an interview in 1982.

In a testimony delivered that year before the congress, he dismissed reports of the El Mozote massacre, in which members of the US-trained Salvadoran army killed more than 800 civilians in December 1981, as "untrustworthy." Omar referred to these comments by asking the envoy whether he still believed American policy was a "fabulous achievement" in the Central American country.

"From the day on this president [José Napoleón] Duarte was voted in a free election until today, El Salvador was a democracy, "he replied, referring to the former president's victory in 1984." That's a great achievement. "

She urged him to say whether the violence committed by the US-trained battalion was "a fabulous achievement that came under our supervision." He asked the question "ridiculous". Then she said she would "take that as a yes".

Omar then asked whether the envoy would support an armed uprising in Venezuela that resulted in war crimes and genocide if he thought insurgents were "serving US interests, as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua . "

In 1983, Abrams defended the dictator of Guatemala, General Efraín Ríos Montt, as the Reagan administration lifted an embargo on military assistance to the country trapped in a civil war. The killing of innocent civilians, according to the diplomat, was "progressively reduced" under the general, who had been put into a military coup in 1982. This year, however, nearly half of all human rights violations a year later, a United Nations-sponsored truth commission later found. Montt, who was deposed in 1983 and later elected to Congress, was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity in 2013.

Abrams refused to respond to what he believed should not be "real questions."

"Whether a genocide will take place under your supervision and you will look the other way because American interests were respected is a fair question," Omar continued, thinking about what our actions might be and how we believe that our values ​​are promoted. "

He acknowledged that "there was a question there," and responded that American politics in Venezuela should "support the efforts of the Venezuelan people to restore democracy in their country."

At the hearing on Wednesday, demonstrators waved signs and jerseys explaining the diplomat's complicity in hard deeds. Some used the term "war criminals", a charge raised by Eric Alterman, a professor of English and journalism at Brooklyn College, New York City's University.

Porter, the international security professor, said he was "ambivalent" about the label. The legislature must still be feared to be misled again, he said. "That's a question of how the Republic shapes its foreign policy."



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