Roberto Lovato is a journalist and educator, who has reported on immigration, the drug war, climate change, and national security. His work covers many parts of Latin America. In 2015, he wrote the article, “The Making Of Leopoldo Lopez,” for Foreign Policy.
Recently, he contributed a piece to Latino Rebels on the appointment of Elliott Abrams to represent the President Donald Trump’s administration as special envoy to Venezuela.
Lovato, who is of Salvadoran descent, joins the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast this week to discuss his work and comment on some of the recent developments in Venezuela.
He describes the dread he experienced when the former State Department official implicated in massacres in El Salvador in the 1980s was given a job in the Trump administration to help advance their oligarchic agenda in Venezuela. He recalls bearing witness to a mass grave.
Later in the show, Lovato recalls what happened to him when he went to Venezuela to report on Lopez, the opposition leader who is a folk hero to many international human rights groups and Western media outlets. He highlights when he was threatened by a member of the opposition. When he returned home, a State Department employee gave him a creepy phone call.
Lovato also highlights some of the individuals in the opposition, who have ties to neo-fascists.
To listen to the interview, click on the above player or go here.
“I saw Elliott Abrams with an opposition leader, David Smolansky, and it just literally made my stomach turn, and my frontal lobes felt really heavy, like when my mom died,” Lovato shares. “Or when I’ve had the unenviable experience of looking at a mass grave and smelling what is among the most hideous smells you’ll ever know if you ever know. God forbid that you would.”
That is because Abrams was “one of primary architects of U.S. policy in Central America in the 1980s, and I’m of Salvadoran descent.”
Lovato was born in the U.S. but visited El Salvador as a kid and as an activist in a previous life before he worked as a journalist. He knows, like any Central American, that Abrams was “directly involved in supporting and providing political cover” for the “U.S.-trained [and] armed militaries of El Salvador that killed approximately 80,000 people.”
“Regardless of where you are on Venezuela, if you have a human bone in your body, you have to feel for what the appointment of Elliott Abrams may portend for the people of Venezuela because it is catastrophe of the first order that he specializes in,” Lovato adds.
“We’re talking about very sinister forces when you’re talking about Elliott Abrams, when you’re talking about elements of the opposition that are, in fact, neo-fascist and linked to people like Alvaro Uribe, the worst mass killer and former president of Colombia.”
Lovato continues, “We’re dealing with a very serious matter, with very serious people, with very serious consequences, and we need to, regardless of what we think of [President Nicolas Maduro’s] government, we need to stop U.S. intervention in the matters of a sovereign nation under international law. There’s no international statute that says you can simply tweet a guy like Juan Guaido into power and then get some of your international buddies—most of them aren’t with the program—to say, oh, yes, he’s not elected but he’s the president. That’s an extremely dangerous precedent not just for Venezuela but [for] the world.”
“It has a potential to lead to just a bloodbath in Venezuela, and I don’t think anybody wants that. All these liberals, progressives out there, ask yourselves really: Do I feel comfortable being on the same side as Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president whose family has been found to be linked to death squads?”
“Am I comfortable being connected to Juan Orlando Hernandez in Honduras who is killing his own people and took power by questionable means? Am I comfortable being with Mike Pence, the vice president of the United States, with Elliott Abrams, one of the singularly most sinister people in modern U.S. diplomatic history, and am I comfortable being in bed with Donald Trump?”
“Those are the things that you have to ask yourselves. And do you really believe that these people are about fighting ‘tyranny’ and ‘fighting for democracy’? That’s the question you have to ask yourselves,” Lovato concludes.