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Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital With Money From Families Tied To Death Squads

Posted: 08/08/2012 9:38 am Updated: 08/09/2012 12:21 am



Elections 2012, Mitt Romney, Elections 2012, Mitt Romney, Video, Arena Party, El Salvador, Mitt Romney Bain Capital, Roberto D'Aubuisson, Bain Capital, Death Squads, Mitt Romney 2012, Mitt Romney Bain Investors, Mitt Romney Death Squads, Mitt Romney El Salvador, Politics News


In 1983, Bill Bain asked Mitt Romney to launch Bain Capital, a private equity offshoot of the successful consulting firm Bain & Company. After some initial reluctance, Romney agreed. The new job came with a stipulation: Romney couldn't raise money from any current clients, Bain said, because if the private equity venture failed, he didn't want it taking the consulting firm down with it.

When Romney struggled to raise funds from other traditional sources, he and his partners started thinking outside the box. Bain executive Harry Strachan suggested that Romney meet with a group of Central American oligarchs who were looking for new investment vehicles as turmoil engulfed their region.


Romney was worried that the oligarchs might be tied to "illegal drug money, right-wing death squads, or left-wing terrorism," Strachan later told a Boston Globereporter, as quoted in the 2012 book "The Real Romney." But, pressed for capital, Romney pushed his concerns aside and flew to Miami in mid-1984 to meet with the Salvadorans at a local bank.


It was a lucrative trip. The Central Americans provided roughly $9 million -- 40 percent -- of Bain Capital's initial outside funding, the Los Angeles Times reported recently. And they became valued clients.


"Over the years, these Latin American friends have loyally rolled over investments in succeeding funds, actively participated in Bain Capital's May investor meetings, and are still today one of the largest investor groups in Bain Capital," Strachan wrote in his memoir in 2008. Strachan declined to be interviewed for this story.

When Romney launched another venture that needed funding -- his first presidential campaign -- he returned to Miami.


"I owe a great deal to Americans of Latin American descent," he said at a dinner in Miami in 2007. "When I was starting my business, I came to Miami to find partners that would believe in me and that would finance my enterprise. My partners were Ricardo Poma, Miguel Dueñas, Pancho Soler, Frank Kardonski, and Diego Ribadeneira."


Romney could also have thanked investors from two other wealthy and powerful Central American clans -- the de Sola and Salaverria families, who the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe have reported were founding investors in Bain Capital.

While they were on the lookout for investments in the United States, members of some of these prominent families -- including the Salaverria, Poma, de Sola and Dueñas clans -- were also at the time financing, either directly or through political parties, death squads in El Salvador. The ruling classes were deploying the death squads to beat back left-wing guerrillas and reformers during El Salvador's civil war.


The death squads committed atrocities on such a mass scale for so small a country that their killing spree sparked international condemnation. From 1979 to 1992, some 75,000 people were killed in the Salvadoran civil war, according to the United Nations. In 1982, two years before Romney began raising money from the oligarchs, El Salvador's independent Human Rights Commission reported that, of the 35,000 civilians killed, "most" died at the hands of death squads. A United Nations truth commission concluded in 1993 that 85 percent of the acts of violence were perpetrated by the right, while the left-wing Farabundo MartÍ National Liberation Front, which was supported by the Cuban government, was responsible for 5 percent.


When The Huffington Post asked the Romney campaign about Bain Capital accepting funds from families tied to death squads, a spokeswoman forwarded a 1999 Salt Lake Tribune article to explain the campaign's position on the matter. She declined to comment further.


"Romney confirms Bain had investors in El Salvador. But, as was Bain's policy with any big investor, they had the families checked out as diligently as possible," the Tribunewrote. "They uncovered no unsavory links to drugs or other criminal activity."


Nobody with a basic understanding of the region's history could believe that assertion.


By 1984, the media had thoroughly exposed connections between the death squads and the Salvadoran oligarchy, including the families that invested with Romney. The sitting U.S. ambassador to El Salvador charged that several families, including at least one that invested with Bain, were living in Miami and directly funding death squads. Even by 1981, El Salvador's elite, largely relocated to Miami, were so angered by the public perception that they were financing death squads that they reached out to the media to make their case. The two men put forward to represent the oligarchs were both from families that would invest in Bain three years later.


The most cursory review of their backgrounds would have turned up the ties.

The connection between the families involved with Bain's founding and those who financed death squads was made by the Boston Globe in 1994 and the Salt Lake Tribune in 1999. This election cycle, Salon first raised the issue in January, and the Los Angeles Times filled out more of the record earlier this month.


There is no shortage of unsavory links. Even the Tribune article referred to by the Romney campaign reports that "about $6.5 million of $37 million that established the company came from wealthy El Salvadoran families linked to right-wing death squads."


The Salaverria family, whose fortune came from producing cotton and coffee, had deep connections to the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), a political party that death-squad leader Roberto D'Aubuisson founded in the fall of 1981. The year before, El Salvador's government had pushed through land reforms and nationalized the coffee trade, moves that threatened a ruling class whose financial and political dominance was built in large part on growing coffee. ARENA controlled and directed death squads during its early years.


On March 24, 1980, Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador and an advocate of the poor, was celebrating Mass at a chapel in a small hospital when he was assassinatedon D'Aubuisson's orders, according to a person involved in the murder who later came forward.


The day before, Romero, an immensely popular figure, had called on the country's soldiers to refuse the government's orders to attack fellow Salvadorans.

"Before another killing order is given," he advised in his sermon, "the law of God must prevail: Thou shalt not kill."

In 1984, Robert White, the former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, named two Salaverria brothers -- Julio and Juan Ricardo -- as two of six Salvadoran exiles in Miami who had directly funded death squads, repeating in sworn congressional testimony a claim he'd made earlier as ambassador. The group became known as the "Miami Six." White testified that a source close to the Miami Six had notified the U.S. embassy of their activities in January 1981.


White was pushed out of his job by the incoming Reagan administration in 1981; he was considered insufficiently supportive of the Salvadoran ruling class. (D'Aubuissonendorsed Ronald Reagan in 1984.) When contacted by phone recently, White reiterated his claim about the Salaverria brothers, but said he couldn't reveal his source's identity in order to protect the source.


"The Salaverria family were very well-known as backers of D'Aubuisson," White told The Huffington Post. "These guys were big-money contributors. ... They were total backers of D'Aubuisson and the extremist solution, including death squads."

Alfonso Salaverria was a close associate of Orlando de Sola, a leading death-squad figure, and, like him, supported D'Aubuisson.


The Salaverria family also violently resisted land reform efforts. When the Salvadoran government seized about 140 of the country's largest farms in March 1980, 73-year-old Raul Salaverria was the only landowner to openly resist, the Washington Post reported at the time. A brief exchange of gunfire between government forces and Salaverria's people resulted in two injuries, and 1,500 weapons were allegedly found on the property.


Eight years later, workers in an agrarian reform co-operative whose land once belonged to the Salaverrias barely escaped an assassination attempt. "Members of the co-op suspect the former owners, the Salaverria family, were behind the violence," a 1988 Human Rights Watch report said. The family denied involvement.

Francisco de Sola and his cousin, Herbert Arturo de Sola, also invested early in Bain, according to the Los Angeles Times. Two other members of the de Sola family were "limited partners," according to the Boston Globe, but the Romney campaign declined to provide The Huffington Post with their names. The de Sola family was one of El Salvador's most powerful coffee growers and a financier of the ARENA party.


Herbert's brother was the notorious Orlando de Sola, who resisted the peace negotiations toward the end of the civil war. The Romney campaign acknowledges Orlando de Sola's connection to death squads but insists he is not representative of the de Sola family investors. While Romney told the Tribune in 1999 that the backgrounds of the families had been checked diligently, he had explained to the Boston Globe in 1994 that Bain's due diligence included only the backgrounds of the individual investors, not their family members. "We investigated the individuals' integrity and looked for any obvious signs of illegal activity and problems in their background, and found none. We did not investigate in-laws and relatives."


Deflecting the association with Orlando, Strachan, whom Romney had charged with vetting the investors, described him that same year to the Globe as "the black sheep of the family. ... He was kicked out of the family business."


Yet there is strong evidence that Orlando was anything but a black sheep in the de Sola family. Indeed, he was a leading public face of the Salvadoran elites in Miami, speaking, for example, on behalf of the El Salvador Freedom Foundation, the organization which arranged a U.S. press conference for D'Aubuisson as part of its public relations activities on behalf of the oligarchs and ARENA. An Associated Press story from April 1981 includes Orlando de Sola and Alfonso Salaverria speaking on behalf of the oligarchs in exile. The story also makes reference to White's charges regarding the funding of death squads, indicating that the charges were already well known by that point.


But the ties run deeper still. In 1990, Orlando de Sola, D'Aubuisson and founding Bain investor Francisco de Sola allegedly assassinated two left-wing activists then in Guatemala, according to a report by that country's government, which cited its intelligence sources. The activists had just held a meeting with then-Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), who was attempting to broker a Salvadoran peace deal.


Francisco de Sola later pleaded his and his cousin Orlando's innocence to the U.S. ambassador. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights looked further into the killings and concluded that elements of the Salvadoran right were indeed the mostly likely assassins, but said that it couldn't confirm the guilt of the de Solas or D'Aubuisson. It deemed the investigation incomplete and called for a deeper look. The three men were never charged.


Francisco de Sola is now president of the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development. His assistant, Ada Chang, said that he was traveling and unavailable to comment, but she confirmed to HuffPost that he had been accused of murdering the two leftists in 1990. Whether he committed the crime or not, the fact that Guatemalan intelligence would associate him with Orlando de Sola and D'Aubuisson, and place them in Guatemala together, casts further doubt on Strachan's claim that Orlando de Sola was merely a "black sheep" who had been "kicked out of the family business."


Orlando de Sola, who is serving an unrelated prison sentence for fraud, told the Los Angeles Times that he did not personally benefit from the Bain investments. "I would say their relationship with Bain Capital was a step to diversify into foreign investments," he said of his family.


Ricardo Poma was the first investor Romney thanked when he traveled to Miami in 2007. The head of the Poma Group, he became one of the three members of the Bain Capital investment committee, according to Strachan's memoir. The Poma family were financiers of D'Aubuisson's ARENA party.


The Regalado-Dueñas family, like many of El Salvador's other powerful clans, amassed much of their wealth and political power through the coffee industry. Along with the Alvarez family, they also helped to found Banco Comercial, one of the biggest banks in El Salvador.


The Regalado-Dueñas and Alvarez families were leading supporters of ARENA. Arturo Dueñas "regularly supplied" the head of an ARENA-affiliated "paramilitary unit ... with a variety of official Salvadoran documents," according to a redacted 1984 CIA document, which uses the euphemism for death squad. (Salvadoran government documents were used by death squads to assemble lists of people to kill.)

Miguel Dueñas and Ricardo Poma did not respond to requests for comment. The Salaverria brothers are dead, according to Ambassador White.


Jeffery Paige, author of "Coffee and Power: Revolution and the Rise of Democracy in Central America" and a professor at the University of Michigan, has studied the political economy of Central American oligarchies. Romney's claim to have checked out the backgrounds of the families and come away satisfied befuddles Paige.

"These people benefited from one of the most exploitative and repressive agricultural systems in Latin America. That's why they had a revolution," Paige said. "This money, certainly there wasn't much concern where it came from and what these people had done to make that money."


Sergio Bendixen, who now does polling for President Barack Obama, spent a significant amount of time in El Salvador in the early '80s, doing political polling for Univision. He said that he met D'Aubuisson on many occasions and found him to be one of the warmest, most charming and charismatic people he has ever met. But he said D'Aubuisson was also very upfront about what he saw as the justifiable use of death squads.


"There were 10 or 30 bodies in the street every morning," Bendixen recalled of his time there. "D'Aubuisson said it was necessary. The message needed to be sent [that] if you were associated with the communists or socialists, you had to be killed. He said it was an instrument in keeping the violence down, because others would see the consequences."


Bendixen suggested that a cursory look would have shown Romney what those families were involved with. "If anybody tries to tell you there was a line, a Chinese wall, between ARENA and the death squads, that's just not the way it was," he said.

The Salvadoran elite in Miami talked openly at the time, he said, of supporting the death squads battling the rebels. It wasn't a source of shame, Bendixen recalled, but a source of pride. "They were proud of the fact that they were supporting their country against the communists," he said.


As Romney now seeks support from the Latino community in his campaign for president, his knowledge of Bain's all-too-few degrees of separation from Salvadoran death squads may become a topic of interest.


"Under Ronald Reagan, the U.S. sent billions of dollars to the murderous regime, which utilized that aid to fund the military and death squads in an effort to preserve the unjust privileges of the Salvadoran oligarchy," said Arturo J. Viscarra, an immigration lawyer, who, like many other Salvadorans, emigrated to the United States in order to escape the civil war. He said his family left the country in 1980 after his father began receiving death threats.


"To now learn that a man that may become president of the U.S. deserves some of his success due to the incredible inequality that the U.S. helped to preserve in El Salvador is ironic," Viscarra said. "It's morbidly funny.”


The U.S. involvement in the bloodshed is now seen as a black mark on the nation's record. When President Obama visited Central America in March 2011, he made a symbolic stop at Romero's grave, lighting a candle for the archbishop.


Romney, however, has shown no public remorse for signing up such investors, although the concept of culpability is not foreign to him. When he returned to Miami in 2007, he condemned those who had financed torture and other human rights abuses during the Salvadoran civil war -- just not those he was connected to.

"These friends didn't just help me; they taught me," Romney said. "Ricardo's brother had been tortured and murdered by rebel terrorists in El Salvador. Miguel himself had been chained to a floor in Guatemala for weeks and tortured. And their torturers were financed by Fidel Castro. I learned from these friends about the human cost when Castro has money."










"I'm just trying to make a way out of no way, for my people" -Modejeska Monteith Simpkins









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Well....aside from a "few" places, where is there to live?  Yeah America has its problems...but!  Do you REALLY [as a black are a black man...right?] wanna live elsewhere?  If so, where?  I mean I know there's a lotta people in Africa....but!  For me that's not the place I wanna be.  You?  Okay to be fair.  Let's look at areas in Europe or even in WANNA live there where the stain of being "African" is associated with slavery?  Or inferiority?  Or subhumanness?  Cuz that's the consensus.  And they treat you WORSE there  than you are treated here in the land of the free.  At least here you can SCREAM at the top of your lungs..yeah not many will listen...but!  You won't get KILLED for excerising your human right to be HEARD.  Unlike Arab Spring  where people are slaughtered just for wanting a better life.  


For me, the journey to get to this point as a result of the blood, sweat and death of many black people encourages me to stick it out cuz I feel the blue rainbow is approaching.  We have done what others under the same EXACT circumstance have yet to do in terms of achieving human rights and freedom.  We set the stage for social change as WHY soooo many people come here to seek citizenship.   We, black folks, have managed to crack the system of slavery in less than 500 years....those in the middle east, India and even china and other developing countries are STILL deep in their backward practice of inhumanity.  Hell...Arab Spring within itself is a testimony of how twisted in their thinking those there in power are.  Women STILL can't drive or walk in a public place unescorted by a male.  Young boys are still being pulled in the back alleys and raped by adult sickos who sexually mutilate women as a form of custom and who marry female infants at birth.  Wanna be in a place like that?


So I'm sorry...there is NO other grass greener than America's.  Yes it has a little blood on it.  But!  That's cuz progress is happening....against the will of many....but!  It is happening nonetheless.  But!

Mitt's days are numbered.  Too many of his own people don't even like him.  And even fewer of the most active White voters (those who ALWAYS go to the polls and vote ... i.e, the ultra-Conservatives!!) like him even less. 


His loss is all but certain.  However ... knowing this, I think we must beware of what's going to be a strong push (by the White voters that won't vote for Mitt) .. to elect the kinds of people they think can do the most damage (to the President, should he be re-elected) into Congress!! 


People MUST be convinced to go out and VOTE ... and to vote for DEMOCRATS ... whether they approve of the President or not.  It will be our only hope for the future.

  I got kinda I always do sometimes....but!  I agree with you totally my sista.  Mitt's days are numbered and this piece of information didn't make it any better.  I was feeling that he is one of these elites who care only about making money........the good or bad way. After reading this?  I know my hunch was correct.


 I have close friends from El Salvador and they told me how absolutely HORRIBLE it was during the war and why they had to flee.  They still have family members there.  When I think of the contra wars with Oliver North and how cocaine from central America was sold in the streets of the black community to fund a terrorists ploy  that utlimately took the lives of a lotta  innocent people here and aboard.....when I think of that....I know Mitt has a lot of explaining to do now that his involvement during that time is now KNOWN.  OMG!  I know he wanna crawl under a rock right about now.


Hopefully, white folks are not sooooo stupid as to vote for him anyway merely cuz he's white.  If so, lord have mercy on their souls.  Cuz they will be making a BIG mistake with their eyes wide open.  But!   

Mitt is such a sucky candidate that Voter ID laws (poll tax refined) have been passed in various states to give him an advantage. See white people to their credit think ahead about this type of stuff. So who will be affected by these new Voter ID laws? The very elderly who don't drive, the very young just turning 18 an don't drive, Urban people (a good number of our people live in cities) and the rest that are say 21 to 45 plenty have criminal records which precludes them from voting. See where I'm going with this??

OOOps my bad sista Norland.   You do have a female avartar.  I wasn't pay attention as usual. I see it now.   I do apologize cuz sometimes those avartars can look kinda asexual and I just took your "Norland" as being male.  


 I know that I can be a little aggressive in my commentaries.  Sorry if I seemed kinda is the way I express myself don't mean any harm..  And surprisingly I suffer from migraines too [physically and societally] from time to time.  So I do understand how you feel.  Migraines are no fun..the ones in the head and the ones in life.  But! 

Originally Posted by Yemaya:

Mitt is such a sucky candidate that Voter ID laws (poll tax refined) have been passed in various states to give him an advantage. See white people to their credit think ahead about this type of stuff. So who will be affected by these new Voter ID laws? The very elderly who don't drive, the very young just turning 18 an don't drive, Urban people (a good number of our people live in cities) and the rest that are say 21 to 45 plenty have criminal records which precludes them from voting. See where I'm going with this??


Exactly, Yemaya!! 


And that's why they started this BS two years ago ... when they strategically made it a point to get as many Republican governors and members of Congress elected in the 2010 election!! 


Democrats, as usual, didn't even see that onslaught forming .... let alone coming right at them ... until it was too late and they completely got run over by it!!  But, starting the day after the 2008 election .... the Republicans started raising money and hand-picking and primping candidates for 2010!!!


And while trying to take over the House and Senate was important and most people thought it was the goal ... Getting Republicans - and especially ultra-Conservatives - elected as the GOVERNOR of a state meant that they could actually change LAWS that affected the MOST people ... whereas Congress' bickering and gridlock might not really accomplish much at all.   


And, as we can see, it hasn't.  And their strategy HAS worked. 

Did yall see his choice for the VP?  Ryan something or another? seems Mitt's trying to do a "Kennedy" handsome on the side.  You know since the Obamas are deemed a good looking presidential couple.  Maybe Mitt's trying to inspire those vain whitefolks who just look at the outside of a person instead of what he has to offer in terms of intergrity, dignity and honor,  Cuz he's a babe, in white folks terms.  And besides all that,  I NEVER heard of this guy.....until now.  Yall?

Yep, Ms. Koco .... Paul Ryan is pretty much an unknown.  At least until earlier this year when he proposed legislation that would essentially do away with Social Security, Medicare!  He also wants to make it so that rich people pay NO taxes on the money they earn just from having money (Like Mitt, who doesn't work for his .. the money he has just makes more money!  And under Ryan's plan, he wouldn't have to pay taxes on it!  


He's Conservative to the point of being ridiculous.  So much so that may of his Congressional peers think the same thing about him and won't always vote for his bills. Because "normal" people (such as White senior citizens) would NEVER go for some of the BS he comes up with!! (They will never vote to give up their SS checks or Medicare .. no matter how White, racist and/ or Republican they are!)


Anyway, Romney only chose him because ... as I said above ... Conservatives don't like him ... make that ... can't stand him and too many weren't going to vote for him come November.  Time will have to tell, but .... I have a feeling this 'VP pick" is going to backfire in the same way the Sarah Palin "pick" did ... because, as with her, it was only made to try to 'slick and slide' their way into the White House by some of their voters into believing that Mitt is a different/better man than he really is.  And will be a different/better president that most of their base KNOWS is not true!!


Their biggest problem is going to be the fact that Paul Ryan has very PUBLICLY disagreed or disapproved of just about EVERY position Romney has had so far!!    How he's gonna suddenly do an 'about-face" at this point and suddenly agree with his "running mate" I'm thinkin' is probably going to be more comedy and entertainment ..... than a successful political maneuver!!


But ... let's wait and see.  We ought to know whether this will be a success or failure within the next week or two.  And, personally, I'm expecting failure ... and I think the Republicans are half-expecting that too!!


Because otherwise they wouldn't have made what is the biggest, most anticipated, more important political announcement .... on a Saturday at 8:00 a.m. in the morning, during the final weekend of the Olympics and the start of football season ... when it's pretty much a sure bet that NOBODY is really paying attention or listening!! 

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