Friday, October 15, 2004

The "terrorist" label

If the Salvadoran conflict were still ongoing, yet about to be resolved today, would the State Department permit assistance to help demobilize the FMLN rebels? Probably not, given that the FMLN would likely have been labeled (and rightly so, I might add, from my reading of how the label is defined) as a "foreign terrorist organization" by the State Department.

So Marcela Sanchez raises a very good point today when she questions the difficulties in using U.S. funds to help demobilize rightwing paramilitaries in Colombia. Human rights groups rightly worry about the lack of prosecution of these guys for past crimes, but I don't recall anyone making such concerns a fundamental reason for questioning the validity of U.S. assistance to demobilize leftist guerrillas or the military (which also committed terrorist acts, but which of course the State Department would never have included in the FTO category) in the Salvadoran context, not to mention rightwing contras in the Nicaraguan case.

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