NACLA Report on the Americas is an excellent publication that we find endlessly useful to our solidarity work. I was therefore surprised and disappointed at the historical errors in “The Small Arms Trade in the Americas,” by Rachel Stohl and Doug Tuttle, which appeared in the March/April 2008 issue. We certainly expect the NACLA Report to provide accurate history.
The authors talk about the “Central American civil wars of the 1980s” and their effect on the arms trade. But Nicaragua’s civil war ended July 19, 1979, with the Sandinista triumph over the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship. During the 1980s Nicaragua was subjected to a proxy war of terror initiated by the Reagan administration. It is important that we do not forget that.
Even worse, the authors state that the U.S. government provided the Nicaraguan Contras with weapons in response to Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries’ providing arms to the Sandinistas through Cuba. The Sandinistas wouldn’t have needed arms if the United States hadn’t been making war against the revolutionary government. The authors have the cause-and-effect relationship exactly reversed, and that does your readers a great disservice.
Finally, to write about Venezuela’s arms purchases without explaining that the Bush administration’s arms embargo was the reason Venezuela needed to replace its military equipment paints a false picture of a Venezuela military buildup. The fact is that Venezuela’s military expenditures are significantly less than those of its immediate neighbors, Colombia and Brazil.
Your readers need true history, not accounts that disguise the U.S. government’s sordid role in the region.
National Co-Coordinator, Nicaragua Network, and Interim Coordinator, Venezuela Solidarity Network