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Bush's Latin America Nominations Reopen Wounds

The spirit of WAISdom is rare in Washington, D.C. U.S. policy toward Latin America, especially Cantral America, divides Washington so sharply that many people are not on speaking terms. President Bush is accused by Democrats omaking too conservative nominations, while some of his appointments are criticized by Republicans as too liberal. Nere is an extract from a long New York Times article which John Wonder sent me:

The debates may be about policy, but they are also deeply personal. In Congress, top Democratic and Republican staff members who handle Latin America refuse to speak to one another. A Reagan White House official complained that a liberal Congressional aide "stared daggers" at him in a local restaurant. The careers of would-be ambassadors from both parties have been crushed by senators who abhorred their views on Central America.

Veterans of the period recall critics who questioned their patriotism, honesty or intelligence as if the encounters took place last week. US policy toward Latin America. "I feel so strongly on this to this day," said Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, who was Mr. Reagan's ambassador to the United Nations and was a champion of his Central American policy. "I can feel my blood pressure rising as I talk to you."

On the other side, Robert E. White, a former ambassador to El Salvador who became an ardent critic of the Reagan policy, angrily described watching Mr. Abrams testify before lawmakers about the illegal effort to resupply the contras. "I watched in disbelief as Abrams told lie after lie to members of Congress," Mr. White said. He voiced indignation at President Bush's appointment of Mr. Abrams to the National Security Council post responsible for promoting democracy and human rights. "I just find it passing strange that perjury or lying to Congress can become a qualification for public office," Mr. White said.

Ronald Hilton - 8/7/01