Obama Arrests & Deports El Salvadorian General Who Reduced Death Squad Killings

It’s an Obama world.
The Obama administration arrested and deported a former El Salvadorian general who helped reduce death squad killings from over 800 a month to 23 per month. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova fled to the US when it became to dangerous in El Salvador.

This month the Obama administration arrested the 77 year-old Vides and sent him back to El Salvador.
Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova
Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova handcuffed and arrested in Florida. (The Independent)

The Wall Street Journal reported:

The drama that played out this year around Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova is a reminder of what can happen when time passes and Americans forget. Gen. Vides was El Salvador’s minister of defense in the government of José Napoleón Duarte in the 1980s. Duarte was an American favorite, with plenty of backing from the Reagan administration and Democrats who understood his commitment to democracy and human rights. That included his desire to resist attacks from the communist guerrillas of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), who were supported by Cuba and Nicaragua’s Sandinistas.

Human-rights abuses were rampant when Duarte became president in 1984: Political killings by the military or death squads linked to it exceeded 800 per month in 1981, according to a RAND Corp. paper from a decade later. In an infamous attack in 1980 four American churchwomen were raped and murdered by national guard soldiers when Gen. Vides was the guard commander. But two separate investigations—by the U.S. in 1983 and an official Salvadoran “truth commission” established when the civil war ended in 1992—concluded that Mr. Vides played no role in those killings (though the latter report suggests he helped try to cover them up).

Together Duarte and Gen. Vides dramatically reduced death squad killings, which dropped to 23 a month in 1987, according to an Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis report the following year. U.S. diplomats in El Salvador during that period can attest that Duarte’s key partner in reducing abuses and taming the military was Gen. Vides. Right-wing oligarchs in El Salvador repeatedly approached the army with plans for a coup against Duarte, but Gen. Vides and other loyal senior officers blocked them.

Mr. Vides moved to the U.S. in 1989 because his safety in El Salvador could not be protected. He has since lived in Florida, and his children and grandchildren are all U.S. citizens.

Two cases, both filed in 1999, brought legal claims against him in American courts. The first was filed by the families of the murdered churchwomen. In 2000 a federal jury ruled that Gen. Vides was not liable for the killings. The second was brought by three people who had fled El Salvador after being tortured during the conflict. In 2002 a federal jury in that case did find Gen. Vides liable, under the theory of “command authority”—that as head of the military, he was ultimately responsible for the actions of nearly 55,000 soldiers and police.

Those who recall Gen. Vides’s efforts to curb human-rights abuses in the 1980s find that conclusion laughable and unjust. Nevertheless, Mr. Vides handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars of his assets when the judgment went against him. But his accusers also wanted him expelled from the U.S. And now, at age 77, he has been.

An immigration judge ruled on Aug. 16, 2012, that he should be deported under laws allowing such treatment for human-rights abusers. On March 11, 2015, Mr. Vides’s initial appeal was rejected and he was given 30 days to depart. He decided he would leave the U.S. and return to El Salvador while his attorneys appealed the case.

But allowing him to take a commercial flight home, where his brother stood ready to meet him, was too dignified for the U.S. government.

Read the rest here.

General Vides was deported by Obama this year.

Hat Tip Banafsheh

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