WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE: The Americas Watch Report on Human Rights and U.S. Policy in Latin America by Cynthia--Ed. Brown

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE: The Americas Watch Report on Human Rights and U.S. Policy in Latin America

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A strong case for the thesis that ""the Reagan administration has no true human rights policy."" Human rights, this argues, have become a ""rhetoric of convenience"" subordinated to Ronald Reagan's view of a world divided ""in battle between the Communist East and Christian West."" In detailed studies of nine Latin American countries, Brown and other members of Americas Watch, a human-rights organization focusing on Latin America, delineate the Reagan approach: the attacks on human-rights groups--particularly Amnesty International and Americas Watch itself--rather than investigations of the groups' charges of abuses by U.S. allies; the ignoring of American and international laws and customs concerning human fights; narrowing of the definition of human rights to electoral matters; and the ""consistent double standard,"" which lets Reagan overlook severe repression in Chile while allowing unsubstantiated claims of human rights abuses in Nicaragua to serve as the basis for widely publicized charges. Americas Watch says that Honduras seems to be the Reagan administration's ideal Latin American ally: a constitutional democracy where the armed forces have ""undisturbed and uncontrolled power"" over security, allowing the generals to give the U.S. the kind of military presence it prefers behind a democratic facade. The book asserts that Jimmy Carter's human-rights policy, far from giving away the ranch, helped Argentina and Uruguay return to democratic government, among other accomplishments. Partisan, certainly, and not a new interpretation, this report is still well-documented and provocative. Timely reading as the Latin America debate heats up.

Pub Date: June 4th, 1985
Publisher: Pantheon