To: Josie Shunake, Press Attache for US Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow
via FAX 011-52-5-208-7643
From: Al Giordano, the Boston Phoenix
CC: Clif Garboden, Managing Editor, the Boston Phoenix
Dear Ms. Shumake,
Thank you for taking my call today. This week the Boston Phoenix is publishing a story about Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow and his activities in Chile, Mexico and Central America.
Of course I offer the Ambassador the opportunity to speak to the facts of this story and respond.
You have asked me to submit my questions in writing. As I stated to you, it is my strong preference that the Ambassador contact me today by telephone at the number above to respond directly to these important questions and any follow-up questions that are likely to arise.
However, to offer him every possible opportunity to respond, I send you these written questions.
If he wishes to reply in writing he may do so through my e-mail address above. Again, I recommend he contact me by telephone today (I will be on the road all weekend), or by e-mail address to which he may send a telephone number and time where I can reach him this weekend.
Sunday or Monday will be our last possible opportunities to clarify these questions.
Thank you again for your attention to this matter of great concern to Boston Phoenix readers, the citizens of the United States, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica and other nations, members of the US Congress, human rights organizations and other media organizations, many of whom are sources on this story and thus already aware that this story is about to be published.
Questions to Ambassador Davidow
1. Recently declassified US government documents related to the trial of General Pinochet in Spain have listed your name, Ambassador Davidow, as political officer of the US Embassy in Santiago during and after the military junta. Milenio magazine of Mexico City has reported that, as political officer, you had specific responsibility for the cases of assassinated US journalist Charles Horman, and US citizen Frank Teruggi.
As political officer, who did you answer to at the Embassy and State Department in matters regarding the Horman case in particular?
Were there any US officials with more direct responsibility than you? If so, would you please provide their names and titles?
Was the job of political officer in 1974 similar in responsibilities to those of the current political officer in the US Embassy in Mexico Jan Erik Hall? Or, if the answer is no, how was it different?
2. In addition to the 5,300 documents declassified on June 30th regarding the Chile coup and US involvement in that history, another document became public on October 8th of this year. It was a US Department of State memorandum from 1976 that resulted from an investigation of the Horman assassination. That document was published by the Independent of London, England. It stated that US officials in Chile were "negligent, or worse, complicit" in Charles Horman's assassination by military coup officials; that they "may have been involved in providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the government of Chile"; or, at worst, that US officials were "aware that the government of Chile saw him in a rather serious light and US officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of the government of Chile's paranoia."
When did you become aware of the existence of the journalist Charles Horman in Chile?
When did you first become aware that the coup would happen or was happening?
Did you become aware of Mr. Horman's presence before or after his assassination?
What actions did you take, if any, to learn what had happened to Mr. Horman?
Did you have any direct contact with Mr. Horman's family during this time or since?
Do you agree or disagree with the 1976 State Department memorandum that described the US role as "negligent, or worse, complicit" in Mr. Horman's assassination?
What have you learned from this experience? What steps, for example, does the US Embassy in Mexico take to protect the lives, safety and rights of US citizens, journalists and human rights observers in the Republic of Mexico?
3. On May 22, 1974, you wrote a memorandum from the Embassy in Santiago that acknowledged the illegal detention of "many thousands" of individuals by the military junta, and their prolonged "interrogation" at the hands of coup officials.
Were you aware at the time that said "interrogation" involved torture, physical brutality, sexual violation and assassination of detainees?
Was there pressure on you from Ambassador Popper, Secretary Kissinger or other higher-level officials to refrain from using the word "torture" in your reports?
Could you please elaborate on what you meant in your March 4, 1974 statements to military junta officials when you stated to them that there was "a conspiracy on the part of the enemies of Chile to paint the junta in the worst possible terms"?
Who engaged in said "conspiracy"? Who were these "enemies of Chile"? Was Orlando Letelier one of these "enemies of Chile"?
In that March 4, 1974 statement to junta officials, you added that "It is not the desire of the US government to tie the question of human rights to that of assistance." Do you believe that junta officials took your statement as a signal that their abuses of human rights could be continued without loss of US aid? Might they have taken your words as a tacit endorsement of their systematic use of torture?
4. Have you received any communication, written, oral or other, from US Justice Department or State Department officials regarding the possible reopening of widow Joyce Horman's wrongful death lawsuit now that new documents have been declassified?
5. Now, would you be so kind as to answer some questions regarding your tenure in Mexico and your prior State Department positions in Latin America .
In the summer of 1998, two US embassy officials were kidnapped by paramilitary groups in Chiapas, Mexico. After they gained their release, your statements published in La Jornada of Mexico City denied that your officials had been detained by paramilitary organizations, and you said "We don't know of any paramilitary groups." Do you continue not to acknowledge the existence of paramilitary groups in Chiapas?
On June 2 and 3, 1999, you were quoted in numerous Mexican newspapers stating that the day's reports in the NY Times (regarding drug money laundering by General Enrique Cervantes) and the Washington Post (regarding US investigations of Carlos Hank Gonzalez for drug trafficking and money laundering) were, in your words, "an old act of theater" by US press organizations "with the motive of soiling bilateral relations." What evidence did you have at the time that these two news organizations had a "motive" to soil bilateral relations?
In the case of Carlos Hank Gonzalez, in particular, your statements discredited the combined investigative talents of the FBI, the DEA, the CIA, the Customs Service and Interpol, each of whom had participated in the joint report incriminating the Hank family in narcotrafficking and money laundering. Is it the job of the US Ambassador to discredit US law enforcement agencies? Why did you defend Mr. Hank against agents of your own government?
Also regarding Mr. Hank, there have been numerous published reports (including by El Universal, the Geopolitical Drug Observatory and Costa Rican congressmen) that stated that you, Ambassador Davidow, have been a guest of Mr. Hank on his property in Costa Rica. It has also been stated that you have been a guest on one or more of his properties in Mexico. Could you please confirm or deny whether you have been on any of Mr. Hank's properties? And if you have been on his properties, or with Mr. Hank or his sons, would you be so kind as to provide the dates and your reason for being there?
Given the strong reaction in Costa Rica, in particular, to Mr. Hank's relations to the current president of that nation, do you feel that your reported attendance at a meeting between the two men has worsened US foreign relations in Central America?
Has former Ambassador James Jones ever contacted you regarding the Hank family and their business interests?
What involvement, if any, does Carlos Hank Gonzalez have with the US Embassy and with US intelligence agencies?
Now, a question on another theme: After the February 7th 1999 state elections in Guerrero, the US State Department issued a travelers advisory warning of possible "guerrilla activity" near Acapulco and Chilpancingo. This was, of course, the time when non-governmental organizations and opposition parties had documented widespread electoral fraud in the gubernatorial election and various peaceful marches and campaigns were begun to overturn the electoral fraud, which gave the ruling party candidate a one-percent victory. Did you personally have a role in approving the wording of that travel advisory? And given the fact that the predicted violence in Guerrero did not materialize - in fact the supporters of the opposition victor, Senator Felix Salgado, have remained nonviolent even in the face of assassinations and repression against them - do you now believe that that travel advisory was in error?
Do you see how that travel advisory worked to support the ruling party campaign to discredit the peaceful opposition by labeling them as violent guerrillas?
Another group of US citizens in Mexico, by contrast, has received no support or protection from you nor from the Embassy. They are the journalists and human rights observers (and even some tourists) in the state of Chiapas. Since 1994, more than 400 foreigners have been expelled from Mexico for their mere presence in the conflict zone. Ambassadors from Italy, Norway, Finland and other countries have played active and public roles defending the rights, safety and lives of their citizens in Chiapas. The US Embassy, under your watch, has done nothing to help or protect these people. Some of these foreigners, like your two embassy officials, have been kidnapped by paramilitary groups. Mexican federal courts have begun overturning expulsions - including in the case of Tom Hansen of Pastors for Peace - as violations of the rights of visitors under Mexican law. What, if anything, have you or your office done to protect the rights and safety of US citizens in Chiapas?
Given the current volatility of Mexico's ruling party and many of its regions, what steps have you taken to assure that more journalists and US citizens like Charles Horman are not assassinated in that country?
El Universal has reported the existence of a telephone espionage center at Calle Cima #56 in the Pedregal section of Mexico City. According to El Universal, this spy center listens to the phone calls of Mexican political and government leaders, opposition parties, journalists, human rights groups and even foreigners residing in Mexico. The wiretapping is done without legal warrants and in violation of Mexican law. El Universal reports that cars with US Embassy license plates entered the property - a former mansion of Amado Carrillo - twice a week, and that the DEA was behind the telephone surveillance, selectively sharing the information with Mexican officials. You, Ambassador Davidow, have been quoted as saying you only know what you have read in the press about this spy center. How then do you explain the presence of US Embassy cars there? Are these embassy officials participating in this espionage operation (illegal under the laws of both countries) without and against your permission? DEA officials recently testified in Washington that they have had to relocate the espionage center: Why does the Embassy and the State Department allow such illegal activities on the part of US officials?
The February 15th summit between Presidents Clinton and Zedillo near Merida was held on the hacienda of Roberto Hernandez Ramirez, owner of BANAMEX. For two years prior to this meeting, the Merida daily newspaper Por Esto!, published by Mario Menendez Rodriguez (one of the most well known and respected veteran journalists in the hemisphere), had published evidence and photographs of cocaine trafficking on Mr. Hernandez' properties. Why was the presidential summit, an event that dealt largely with drug enforcement issues, held on the property of a publicly accused narco-trafficker and money launderer?
Have you ever been a guest on any of Mr. Hernandez's properties at other times than February 1999?
Now that the Mexican federal courts have exonerated Por Esto! and its publisher from libel charges; and now that the US Federal Reserve Board has invoked "death penalty" proceedings against BANAMEX for drug money laundering, do you feel it was a mistake to hold the presidential summit on his property?
Was this choice of meeting location an attempt to launder the image of Mr. Hernandez - widely regarded throughout the Yucatan peninsula as a major drug kingpin - before public opinion and US investigatory agencies?
Prior to the February 1999 presidential summit, did you alert US officials in Washington of the very public controversy regarding Mr. Hernandez and drug trafficking? Why or why not?
Thank you, again, Ambassador Davidow, for your attention to these questions. I also welcome you to make additional statements regarding these important matters so that the American and global public may be better informed on US-Latin American relations historically and in the present.