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article imageOp-Ed: Did Romney start Bain Capital with money tied to death squads?

By Bill Schmalfeldt     Aug 8, 2012 in Politics
It's just one more bit of bad news for a campaign that is up to its armpits in bad news. Writers from the Huffington Post suggest in an article published today that Mitt Romney started Bain Capital with money tied to death squads in Central America.
According to HuffPo writers Ryan Grim and Cole Stangler:
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.
According to the story, after trying to raise money through traditional sources, Romney turned to "a group of Central American oligarchs who were looking for new investment vehicles as turmoil engulfed their region."
At first, the writers say, Romney was worried that the would-be investors might be tied to "illegal drug money, right-wing death squads, or left-wing terrorism." But somehow, the story goes, Romney was able to push these concerns aside and went to Miami to meet with a group of Salvadorans who had money burning a hole in their pockets.
The trip turned out well. The Salvadorans invested $9 million -- which was 40 percent of Bain Capital's initial outside funding, according to an earlier story in the LA Times.
According to the HuffPo story:
"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.
In 1982, two years before Romney began raising money from the these well-heeled Salvadoran financiers, El Salvador's independent Human Rights Commission reported that, of the 35,000 civilians killed in that tiny country's civil war, "most" died at the hands of death squads.
When the Huffington Post asked the Romney campaign about Bain Capital accepting funds from families tied to death squads, a spokeswoman sent them a 1999 Salt Lake Tribune article to explain the campaign's position on the matter and declined to comment further.
The article says, "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. They uncovered no unsavory links to drugs or other criminal activity."
According to the writers, this assertion stretches the credulity of anyone with even a basic understanding of the politics at the time.
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 discovered by the Boston Globe in 1994 and the Salt Lake Tribune in 1999. In the 2012 election cycle, Salon first raised the issue in January, and the Los Angeles Times filled in some of the blanks earlier this month.
So, on top of all his campaign's other problems, now Mitt Romney has to answer for how much he knew about the bloody hands of some of the people who helped get Bain Capital off the ground.
Will this be another secret that "you people" don't need to know any more about?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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