Sunday, October 03, 2004

Uncle Sam's favorite nephew

Why is El Salvador in Iraq? Catherine Elton finally gets a story into a major U.S. media outlet, the Miami Herald, covering this angle. For readers of this blog, it will be nothing new:

''El Salvador suffered a prolonged internal conflict, and thanks to the support of the international community, it achieved a lasting peace,'' President Tony Saca told the United Nations recently as he explained the rationale for the presence of El Salvador's Cuscatlan Batallion in Iraq.

''We believe it is time for us to put our experience to the service of other peoples,'' he added.

But many here say the government's decision to stay in Iraq is really about the ruling party's long-standing, almost obsessive quest to be Uncle Sam's favorite nephew.

''Staying on created a contrast with those who left, giving El Salvador the opportunity to prove itself even more faithful to the United States, to be the one country that wouldn't betray it,'' said Luis González, who edits the political journal Proceso.

But as El Faro (an excellent online newsweekly) noted this past week, I suppose it depends on who you're talking to. They report that, in a September 7th interview for a local paper (i.e., one that was for local consumption), Saca was a bit more direct about why Salvador has troops in Iraq:
"It is an opportunity to identify ourselves with the friend and ally that has asked us for this identification."

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