Kaufman Blasts NED at CounterInaugural

January 20, 2005


[The following speech was delivered on Jan. 20, 2005, at 4th and Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, DC, at the precise moment George W. Bush was taking the oath of office 4 blocks away at the Capitol.]

Why is someone from the Nicaragua Network speaking at a demonstration calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq and for bringing the troops home now?

Well, being a founder of the ANSWER Coalition and a member of the Steering Committee doesn't hurt ... but seriously, the reason we are on the Steering Committee is because Nicaragua and all of Latin America have much in common with Iraq.

When the US invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq in March of 2003, Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatista movement in Mexico said, "Chiapas is now Southwest Iraq." Latin Americans understand US imperialist aggression as well as anyone in the world because they've suffered blows from the mailed fist so often. Because of that experience El Salvador is the only country from all of Latin America that has troops in Iraq today.

That's also why the US is considering what it calls the "El Salvador Option" for Iraq. The "El Salvador Option" is nothing less than the training of death squads to terrorize the population that opposes US occupation. It worked so well in El Salvador - 70,000 unionists, peasant leaders, teachers, healthcare workers, and ordinary men, women, and children died thanks to the death squads. It worked well in Nicaragua too - 40,000 dead. But it worked best in Guatemala where over 200,000 were slaughtered. Yes, Iraq is indeed much better off since the US has brought them freedom.

Nicaragua, like Iraq, has been invaded and occupied by the US on more than one occasion. Early in the last century the occupation lasted for decades. The occupiers even ran the Nicaraguan customs service and post office. In our office we have a letter mailed from Nicaragua on Dec. 31, 1932, and the cancellation stamp reads "5th Regiment United States Marine Corp, Managua, Nicaragua."

Like Iraq, Nicaragua's natural resources have been exploited or stolen for the benefit of US corporations.

Like Iraq, Nicaragua's political system has been shamelessly manipulated, politicians bought, and elections paid for so that the corporate-owned US press could declare them free and fair as if we lived in an Orwellian nightmare where black is white and slavery is sovereignty, freedom is terrorism and liberty is death.

George W. Bush has a lot to answer for. I think he knows it too. Why else has he gone to so much trouble to try to keep us from lining the parade route. If he doesn't have to see us in our tens of thousands, maybe he can make himself believe the lies that he has told the American people. Lies that have cost the lives of 100,000 Iraqis and nearly 1400 US soldiers, not to mention the tens of thousands on both sides who have suffered life changing wounds both physical and emotional.

Granted, George Bush isn't the first person guilty of war crimes to have traveled the route from the Capitol to the White House on coronation day. You can almost choose names at random. How about Andrew Jackson who was already guilty of genocide against Native Americans when he took office? How about Thomas Jefferson whose crimes against humanity included slave ownership and rape? The greatest criminal in my own opinion was Harry Truman who used the ultimate weapons of mass destruction - the atomic bomb - not once, but twice, against the people of Japan.

The hypocrisy of the United States to think that we have something to say about what weapons other countries can stock when no country in the world has more weapons of mass destruction than we do and no country has killed more people through their use than ours is truly monumental.

A supposed love for democracy is the other area where the United States and particularly George W. Bush's neo-con proto-fascist cronies excel in hypocrisy. The first September 11 of global importance was September 11, 1973, when the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile was overthrown with CIA support. There are way too many countries whose governments have been overthrown by the US to list in a couple of minutes. Read William Blum's excellent book "Rogue State" for a complete list of those since WWII.

Today, the US anti-democracy campaigns are run by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). According to one of NED's founders, "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."

Nine million NED dollars bought the government of Nicaragua for the US in 1990 and ended the Sandinista experiment in popular democracy and economic justice.

More recently NED, through its affiliates the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center and the International Republican Institute, bankrolled the organizations that organized the unsuccessful coup against democratically elected Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and, unsuccessfully again, last year's recall election against him. How many rank and file labor union members know that their international solidarity center is in league with the Republicans to overthrow the progressive government of Hugo Chavez, the first Venezuelan president in decades who is concerned with poor and working people?

In Haiti, the International Republican Institute, with NED taxpayer given money, trained the groups of thugs who terrorized the Haitian people and provided a pretext for the US to kidnap democratically elected President Aristide and spirit him out of the country. Well more than 1,000 progressive Haitians have been killed in the aftermath.

Did you wonder where Ukrainians got all those orange clothes worn by the US-supported candidate's supporters during their recent election? I mean, I may have several orange outfits in my closet, but Sara tells me I have no fashion sense. I'll bet not many of you have orange outfits in your closets. Surprise, surprise, NED invested heavily on one side in the Ukrainian election...and it conducted the "exit polls" that called the result into question. I've seen liberals raise up the example of the so-called spontaneous outpouring of Ukrainians contesting the election. Still, those orange clothes make me wonder.

NED is also investing heavily in Iraq. I use the word investing advisedly because that's exactly what it is. NED's expenditures are well invested if they insure that pro-US government, pro-transnational corporate candidates are elected in countries where the US has strategic or economic interests. Well invested, that is, if you are a stockholder in a US arms manufacturer like Boeing or a stockholder in Halliburton or Citibank.

We are out here today after a long hard political and legal struggle to assert our constitutional right to be here - to loudly and strongly tell George W. Bush that it's not right to preemptively invade other countries. It's not right to drop 2,000 pound bombs on cities. It's not right to give the Israelis carte blanche for their apartheid and settler colonial persecution of the Palestinian people. It's not right to gut our civil liberties and to spend the money for our children's education and health care on war. It's not right to give tax cuts to the rich while Americans are living in the streets through lack of jobs and housing.

It's not right George W. Bush. We will fight your evil policies until our last breath. We will raise the domestic costs of your endless wars until even your fat cat friends can't stand the cost. We will be sugar in the gas tank of your war machine. We will be sand in the gears of your national security state until that day when we can look in the eyes of our friends in other countries and say that we too are a law abiding nation committed to human progress and equality for all.

Thank you.


Nicaragua Network
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National Endowment for Democracy (NED)

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