What do Mitt Romney and El Salvadoran death squads have in common? Well if you’re the Huffington Post the answer is a lot. If you happened to be one of the few people who went to the Huffington Post website on August 8, you probably saw the following provocative and ridiculous headline: “Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital with Money from Families Tied to Death Squads.”
The article asserts that when Romney was looking for money to form Bain Capital in 1983, he turned to several Central American investors, investors who supposedly had ties to death squads throughout El Salvador. While the article accurately presents what the death squads in El Salvador were and who supported them, the connection to Mitt Romney is far from accurate or complete.
The focus of the El Salvadoran death squads originates from a man named Roberto D’Aubisson and a right-ring political party he founded known as ARENA, the military led group which ran El Salvador during the Salvadoran Civil War. The United States has a long history of supporting nations and governments who oppose Communism including ARENA. Between 1979 and 1992, ARENA was engaged in a brutal civil war with the FNLN, a left-wing guerilla group backed by Cuba and Fidel Castro (doubtless with the additional blessing of the Soviet Union).
While the United States did support ARENA because of their anti-Communist sentiments, their massacre of 70,000 El Salvadorans remains a black stain for the United States. Romney did receive financial support for Bain from individuals who backed the anti-communist ARENA government but so did the United States during their civil war. To assert that Mitt Romney is a grand supporter of death squads in El Salvador because he received money from anti-Communists is unsubstantiated and false.
There is no evidence that Mitt Romney ever supported the brutal tactics of ARENA, but his association with anti-Communists is enough for the Huffington Post to connect him to the death squads in El Salvador.
To borrow a phrase the Left likes to use these days, liberals quite simply were "on the wrong side of history" in the 1980s when they made excuses for or outright supported leftist Communist movements in Central and South America.
Yes, U.S. foreign policy is never black and white, often times requiring our government to make tough political choices. In this instance our government chose to back a regime that sought to defeat left-wing guerrillas funded by Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Unfortunately, the practices used by ARENA were horrific and our government has since regretted such actions including the assassination of Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, which it is believed D’Aubisson ordered killed. At the same time, the Communist-affiliated Marxist movements in El Salvador and elsewhere in the Americas were equally if not more brutal in their repression of human rights and squelching of political dissidents.