The Multinational Monitor


G L O B A L   N E W S W A T C H

Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay Off U.S. Human Rights "Blacklist"

In a reversal of the Carter administration policy of opposing loans to any country engaged in "a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights," the Reagan administration has ordered U.S. delegates to international development banks to support loans to Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uraguay.

The administration "decided to vote for the loans in view of the progress that has been made in the area of human rights in these countries," Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Ernest B. Johnson, Jr. testified to a House Banking subcommittee July 21.

Although the law specifying the human rights restrictions, the International Financial Institutions Act of 1977, is still on the books, "We do not believe the situation in any of (the four countries) currently requires us to oppose loans under the statute," Johnson said.

The policy change, communicated July 1 to House Banking Committee Chair Fernand J. St. Germain (D-R.I.) by the Treasury Department, requires the U.S. during the month of July to approve $483.8 million in loans from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank to the four countries.

Among the loans scheduled for consideration are $100 million for private oil and gas credits and $200 million for refinery conversion to Argentina; $126 million for highway construction to Chile; $7.8 million for a hydro-electric project to Paraguay, and $40 million for telecommunications to Uruguay.

The decision has met with objections from several human rights organizations. Amnesty International has characterized all four countries as "gross violators of human rights," citing numerous incidents of "disappearances" and torture in these countries.

A spokesperson for the Council of Hemispheric Affairs stated that the human rights records of the four countries have dramatically worsened in the past year and "the administration's decision essentially sanctions these violations."

The administration has acknowledged specific violations in the South American countries, but maintains that they do not constitute a "consistent pattern" of gross violations of human rights.

No specific countries are designated in the law, although in recent years the U.S. voted "no" or abstained on 122 loans to 16 countries on human rights grounds.

The Washington-based International Human Rights Law Group charged that the Administration's decision "is beyond the scope of the law." The International Financial Institutions Act states that consideration must be given "to the extent of cooperation of such country in permitting an unimpeded investigation of alleged violations by appropriate international organizations." But according to the law group's Executive Director, Amy Young-Anawaty, , Paraguay, Chile, and Uruguay have refused such investigations.

- Susan Milligan

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