We mustn’t forget Bush Sr’s horrific conduct as director of the CIA, write George Binette and Carole Ashley, not to mention his racist 1988 campaign
Amidst the Trump administration’s shameless venality, vulgarity and viciously reactionary policies, many liberals on both sides of the Atlantic seem to view the Reagan-Bush years through rose-tinted spectacles. To his credit, Godfrey Hodgson’s obituary of the elder George Bush (Obituary, 3 December) provides a salutary reminder of some of the ugly realities of the time including the notorious “Willie Horton ad” from Bush’s 1988 presidential election campaign, an example of dog-whistle racism, which surely anticipated Trump’s appeal.
Curiously, however, the obituary omits mention of a particularly horrific feature of Bush’s time at the helm of the CIA. While Operation Condor, a clandestine initiative that unfolded over two decades across most of Latin America, predated Bush’s arrival, it was certainly at its bloodiest during his tenure in the mid-1970s. The US covertly poured millions into helping regimes including Pinochet’s Chile, the Argentinian junta, and military dictatorships in Brazil and Paraguay deal with “political dissent”. Credible estimates suggest that 60,000-80,000 leftists, trade union and peasant leaders, and human rights activists perished, while more than 400,000 others wound up as political prisoners across these and other countries in the region.