Originally published at Digital Journal
Money from families closely connected with Salvadoran death squads funded the launch of Bain Capital in the 1980s, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was the man who solicited that funding.
Unable to raise money from clients of Bill Bain’s successful consulting firm, Romney turned to Central American oligarchs awash in money as well as in the blood of tens of thousands of poor, innocent peasants being brutally repressed by US-backed, right-wing governments that used paramilitary death squads trained in and by the United States to maintain control of their countries and their fortunes.
As the Los Angeles Times recently reported, 40 percent of Bain Capital’s initial outside funding, or about $9 million, came from wealthy Central Americans. Among the founding investors in Bain were the de Sola and Salaverria families, both of which heavily funded Salvadoran death squads that killed tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Of the 75,000 people who died in El Salvador’s 13-year civil war, the United Nations concluded that 85 percent of them were killed by the US-backed right-wing government and its death squads, while 5 percent were killed by the left-wing rebels fighting to liberate the nation from the rule of the oligarchs who funded both the death squads and Bain Capital.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, “about $6.5 million of $37 million that established the company (Bain) came from wealthy El Salvadoran families linked to right-wing death squads.” The Salaverrias, oligarchs who grew fabulously wealthy off the back-breaking labor of the peasants who toiled in their cotton and coffee fields, were intimately tied to death squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson. D’Aubuisson, who was trained in kidnapping, torture and murder at the US Army School of the Americas, ordered the 1980 assassination of Oscar Romero, the Archbishop of El Salvador, who was targeted for his courageous and outspoken advocacy of the poor and oppressed peasants.
US-trained Salvadoran death squads linked to D’Aubuisson also kidnapped, raped, tortured and murdered Americans Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel and Jean Donovan, three Catholic nuns and a lay missionary who followed in Archbishop Romero’s footsteps by dedicating their lives to assisting El Salvador’s poor.
Robert White, the US ambassador to El Salvador at the time of these assassinations, called D’Aubuisson a “pathological killer.” But the murderous death squad leader enjoyed warm relations with US President Ronald Reagan, whose administration armed, funded and trained death squads not only in El Salvador but also in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Ambassador White told the Huffington post that the Bain-funding Salaverria family “were very well-known backers of D’Aubuisson.”
“These guys were big-money contributors,” he said. “They were total backers of D’Aubuisson and the extremist solution, including death squads.”
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, while Mitt Romney confirmed that some of Bain’s founding investors were from Central America, “they (Bain) had the families checked out as diligently as possible,” and “they uncovered no unsavory links to drugs or other criminal activity.”
But that depends on the definition of ‘criminal activity.’ The United States backed much criminal activity in the region in those days, as the Iran-Contra scandal revealed, including murderous death squads and drug trafficking into the United States. What any reasonable observer would instantly identify as criminal activity– or much worse– was tolerated, even encouraged by the Reagan administration and justified on the grounds that ‘anything goes’ in the fight against communism. In those days, unrepentant terrorists were given refuge and residence in the United States. Orlando Bosch, for example, was an anti-Castro Cuban exile terrorist responsible for blowing up a Cuban airliner and killing 73 innocent passengers. But instead of bringing him to justice, he was allowed to settle in Miami, where the city government actually named a holiday after him.
So, while it may have been easy for Mitt Romney to claim that he had uncovered no ‘criminal activity’ among Bain’s early Central American backers, the reality is that some of them were deeply involved in funding war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Ricardo Poma, for example, was the first Bain investor who Romney thanked on a 2007 visit to Miami. Poma, who headed the Poma Group, was one of three members of the Bain Capital investment committee, the Huffington Post reports. But the Pomas were also gave large amounts of money to Roberto D’Aubuisson’s ARENA party, which backed savage violence against poor peasants.
Bain seed investor Francisco de Sola, Orlando de Sola and D’Aubuisson allegedly assassinated two leftist activists in Guatemala in 1990 as well.
“Under Ronald Reagan, the US sent billions of dollars to the murderous regime, which utilized that aid to fund the military and death squads in an effort to preserve the unjust privileges of the Salvadoran oligarchy,” Arturo J. Viscarra, an immigration lawyer who fled El Salvador to the US to escape the civil war, told the Huffington Post.
“To now learn that a man that may become president of the US deserves some of his success due to the incredible inequality that the US helped to preserve in El Salvador is ironic,” he added.
It seems to be more than that, and it some observers wonder how these revelations will affect Romney’s already moribund support among Latino voters.