June 11 2004

Spanish-Language Press Focuses on Reagan’s ‘Two Faces’

Alongside effusive recognitions of former President Ronald Reagan, who died June 5, questions have surfaced regarding his legacy in the Spanish-language press.

News Analysis

Compiled and Translated by Pete Micek

Some world authorities decried Reagan’s willingness to use military force in international politics, especially in Central America, during his eight years in office, the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language daily La Opinión reported in a front-page article, “The Two Faces of the Farewell.”

In the Ft. Worth, Tex. Spanish-language daily El Diario La Estrella, the paper’s editorial on June 8, headlined, “Flags at Half-Staff,” made a similar point after enumerating Reagan’s importance in Cold War history: “No one forgets that his government gave support to the hated Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, and in Central America he is remembered as an interventionist who exchanged arms with Iran in order to finance the guerrilla against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.”

In Miami, the El Nuevo Herald Spanish-language daily carried extensive accounts of tributes and emotive farewells, but also a dispatch that detailed acrimonious analyses of Reagan’s death being broadcast and printed in Cuba’s state-run media.

One report on Radio Reloj, according to an AP article, said Reagan “should not have been born,” The report accused him of fomenting violence in the Middle East and, domestically, flushing thousands of homeless and mentally ill people from U.S. institutions.

Many media reports pointed out that Reagan was friendly with military governments in Chile and Argentina and invaded the Caribbean island nation of Grenada. He also supported the Salvadoran military, which engaged in many human rights violations in that country’s 1980s Civil War.

Current Nicaraguan opposition leader Daniel Ortega, who headed the Sandinista government in the Central American nation that fought a Civil War against the U.S.-backed “Contra” rebels, was quoted in La Opinión lamenting that Reagan died without being punished for crimes he committed against various countries.

Reagan disrespected international law to impose the will of the “Yankee Empire,” said Ortega, who was Nicaragua’s leader from 1985 to 1990. He said he neither celebrated nor was gladdened by Reagan’s death but did not mince words about his enemy, La Opinion reported.

“We cannot say that President Reagan respected international rights nor that he treated Nicaragua well — we are not going to lie,” Ortega said.

“Drug mafias” influenced the former president, Ortega said, referring to CIA-backed drug runners who, according to some controversial media reports, sold cocaine in the United States in the 1980s to finance the war against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government.

“We lament the death of a human being, but it is less regrettable when this person, who had a power so great as that of the President of the United States, committed crimes not only in Nicaragua but also in other parts of the world and these crimes remain unpunished,” he said.

Across the world, in East Timor, La Opinión reports, human rights groups assailed Reagan’s government for backing the Indonesian occupation of their country, which resulted in many thousands of civilian deaths.

“The world should not forget that under (Reagan’s) leadership, the United States helped the Indonesian army commit genocide in East Timor,”” Jose Luis Oliveira, director of East Timor’s main human rights group, was quoted as saying in La Opinión.

Reagan’s perspective in the Arab-Israeli conflict was biased toward the Israeli right wing, Haitham Al Kilani, former Syrian ambassador to the United Nations, was quoted as saying.

La Opinión also published a letter to the editor June 8 from reader Hugo Moreno, who wrote that while “many tributes were rendered to Reagan, it seems that the media has forgotten that under Reagan’s leadership Central America suffered thousands of deaths at the hands of death squads that Reagan’s government

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