Death by ‘Security’: Israel’s Services in Latin America

The country has supported repressive governments in the region to suppress indigenous movements and uprisings.

Source: Al Jazeera

According to a Mexican news article that surfaced in May, the Israeli military will begin training the police force in Mexico’s southeastern state of Chiapas, where the predominantly indigenous Zapatista National Liberation Army is based.

Yaron Yugman, Israel’s defence ministry representative in Mexico, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic, is quoted as affirming that “a country’s security is fundamental to its growth” and that human rights would be one of the focuses of military instruction.

Of course, “security” and “growth” aren’t luxuries usually intended for domestic indigenous groups. A May article in The Electronic Intifada recalls the aftermath of the 1994 Zapatista uprising, which coincided with the inauguration of the North American Free Trade Agreement:

“The Mexican government found itself needing to respond to the dictates of foreign investors, as a famously leaked Chase-Manhattan Bank memo revealed: ‘While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy’.”

As for the alleged focus on human rights, Israel’s expertise in oppressing indigenous populations and squelching dignity happens to be more marketable.

The Israeli embassy in Mexico has reportedly denied military machinations in the southeast, but not even Fox News Latino is convinced:

“The Israeli Embassy’s denial of its government working in Chiapas is puzzling, given the long history that Israel’s government has of working with Mexico. Since the early 1970s, the Mexican government has purchased airplanes, helicopters, missile boats, small arms and other weapons from either the Israeli army or Israeli military contractors.”

Contributions to genocide

Mexico’s indigenous Mayans are not the only group to have found themselves on the receiving end of Israel’s arsenal.

In an email to me, acclaimed author and historian Greg Grandin outlined a previous episode of such charitable regional intervention:

“In [civil war-era] Guatemala, Israel, acting on behalf of the Reagan administration, stepped in to supply military equipment, including helicopters and Galil rifles, and training that had been cut off during the previous Carter administration. Israel also supplied [the Guatemalan regime with] computers, software, and other equipment used for surveillance. This was at the height of the genocide, which ultimately left 200,000 dead, including many Mayans.”