Kissinger’s powerful roles during two administrations impacted the lives millions of Latin Americans, and U.S. Latinos. His futile efforts to win Vietnam War under President Richard Nixon indirectly fueled the Chicano Movement in the 1960s and 70s.
Stephen G. Rabe, Professor Emeritus at University of Texas at Dallas, wrote “Kissinger and Latin America : Intervention, Human Rights, and Diplomacy” which will be published in 2020.
He described Kissinger’s legacy in America as “very, very mixed but more positive than many people give him credit.” Rabe noted Kissinger’s role in resolving economic and trade disputes between Mexico, Ecuador and Peru, and Venezuela. Kissinger was instrumental in drafting the Panama Canal Treaty. This agreement, signed by the Carter Administration to return control of the canal to Panama, helped to shape the basic outline.
Kissinger’s support for the right-wing dictatorships in Latin America during the 1970s is what makes him most famous. Rabe stated that Latin Americans still view Kissinger as a “war criminal” and are furious at him.
Rabe stated that “by and large, most Latin Americans would consider Kissinger to be the most destructive force” in the history inter-American relations. Kissinger oversaw foreign policy at a time when the U.S. supported dictatorships in countries article from 2016, wrote about South America in the 1970s: “Tens and thousands of people were tortured in clandestine camp, their bodies were dumped into rivers by planes, and their children given to strangers under false identitiy.”
Peter Kornbluh is the director of the Cuban and Chile Documentation Projects in the National Security Archive. He told NBC News, “Henry Kissinger’s legacy in Latin America was a dark one because he did not care about human rights.” … He supported and dealt with some of the most brutal dictatorships that have existed in the past of the region. Chile will forever be his Achilles heel.”
Kornbluh claims that Kissinger was the architect behind the efforts to topple the democratically-elected government of Salvador Allende. Kissinger was the main enabler for Gen. Augusto Pinochet in 1973, when he came to power. The documentation which has been declassified is unambiguous. In Chile under Pinochet’s regime, thousands of Chileans were tortured and more than 3,000 died or disappeared as a result of political violence. Around 200,000 Chileans left for exile in Europe or the U.S.
This emigration pattern was part of a larger pattern in Central and South America. The U.S. ‘s intervention in Latin America resulted to waves of immigration into cities such as Los Angeles, Miami, and Washington D.C.
Kornbluh stated that Kissinger’s role in undermining democracy, human rights and freedom of speech will be remembered by Latin Americans.
Kornbluh says that the criticisms of Kissinger’s alleged disregard for human right led to these rights becoming a criterion institutionalized in U.S. Foreign Policy.
He said that the laws in place today, which provide aid to countries who support human rights came about because Congress was repulsed by Kissinger’s embrace of Pinochet.
Vietnam’s casualties, Chicano movement
Kissinger, who served as National Security Advisor under Nixon had a profound impact on U.S. Latinos. In 1970, Latinos the war in Vietnam escalated, Latinos were increasingly making up a disproportionate number of casualties. Despite serving their country with pride in Vietnam, some Latinos have become disillusioned by the war.
Carlos Munoz, Jr., professor at the University of California in Berkeley, recalled, “At first, it was a very patriotic time.” “I was in Army Intelligence, and that experience was radical for me. I saw the actions of the administration and came to believe that [the war] should never have happened. “So many of my colleagues and friends died in needless deaths.”
Munoz, along with some of his fellow “veteranos”, became anti-war activists after he served. “Once discharged, I began protesting on the streets. The anti-war movement is a real precursor to the Chicano Movement. As the movement grew hundreds of people took to the streets, but not everyone realized that Chicano Veterans were there at its beginning.”
Munoz said, “To be fair… it didn’t matter who served in Kissinger’s position. It was a losing proposition.” The war was killing far too many of our Chicano Boys. It was an imperialist war.
Kissinger’s policies can be seen as indirectly supporting the growing struggle for Mexican American civil liberties at home.
Kissinger was adamantly anti-communist, but declassified documents in “Back Channel to Cuba”, by Kornbluh & William LeoGrande, revealed how he secretly sought normalized relations with Cuba during the 1970s.
Kissinger, however, abandoned these efforts in 1976 after Cuba began to support the newly independent African nation of Angola. Kissinger warned President Gerald Ford that if Cuba’s military presence expanded in Africa, the U.S. would have to “smash Castro”. He advocated “clobbering the country” with military force, and in 1976 he drafted contingency plan for a potential U.S.attack. The plans were never carried out, because Jimmy Carter became president in 1980.
In 1983, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, Kissinger led a commission tasked with studying Central America’s problems and proposing possible solutions. Under President Ronald Reagan, Kissinger headed a commission that was charged with studying the problems in Central America and proposing solutions. Kissinger received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Nobel Peace Prize both in 1977. He became a sort of foreign policy oracle in his later years, and lawmakers like Marco Rubio sought out his advice.