New General Assembly Head Calls U.N. a 'Dictatorship'
By BENNY AVNI, Staff Reporter of the Sun
June 5, 2008
UNITED NATIONS Newly elected as president of the
U.N. General Assembly, one of America's fiercest
longtime critics in Latin America is saying the
dominance of a few countries has turned the United
Nations into a dictatorship.
Although Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann said yesterday that
his previous comments against American leaders were
part of "history," it appears that reversing decades
of anti-American rhetoric will be a challenge for the
former foreign minister of Nicaragua's Sandinista
After his election yesterday to the presidency of the
192-member assembly, Mr. d'Escoto called the United
Nations the world's "longest-lasting dictatorship."
Members of the assembly, he said, "must unite in the
struggle to democratize the United Nations" and free
the world "for the sake of present and future
generations ... from the scourge of war among member
states and acts of aggression such as those occurring
in Iraq and Afghanistan."
In a 2004 interview with the TV and radio program
"Democracy Now!" Mr. d'Escoto, 75, called President
Reagan "the butcher of my people."
Hearing Reagan "talk about how we were supposedly
persecuting Jews and burning down nonexistent
synagogues, I was led to believe, really, that Reagan
was possessed by demons," he told the program's host,
Amy Goodman. "Frankly, I do believe Reagan, at that
time, as much as Bush today, was indeed possessed by
the demons of manifest destiny."
Mr. d'Escoto, a Catholic priest, said yesterday that
though he stands by his earlier statements, they are
part of the past.
"People seem to want change all over," he said. Asked
whether his use of a campaign slogan favored by
Senator Obama was a declaration of support for the
Illinois senator's presidential candidacy, Mr.
d'Escoto who was born in California and received his
religious training in America said: "I am not an
One of Mr. d'Escoto's biggest allies in Latin America,
President Chavez of Venezuela, made an unsuccessful
bid to gain a seat on the U.N. Security Council two
years ago after telling the General Assembly that he
could smell sulfur after Mr. Bush left the speaker's
podium. "I smell the devil," Mr. Chavez said, to
applause. But his remark turned off members of the
Latin American voting bloc, who afterward refused to
support his council campaign.
Diplomats said America failed in its halfhearted
campaign against Nicaragua's candidacy for the
presidency of the General Assembly, which, though
largely ceremonial, has become a springboard for its
holders to careers as top international officials.
Mr. d'Escoto, who will assume his post September 16,
"is now the president of the General Assembly and his
responsibility is to bring the members together to
serve the entire membership of the United Nations,"
the American ambassador to the United Nations, Zalmay
Khalilzad, who began his career in government as a
protégé of Reagan, said yesterday.
"We certainly disagree with that characterization of
the two conflicts" in Afghanistan and Iraq, Mr.
Khalilzad said. But Mr. d'Escoto "is not representing
his government and its sort of partisan aspects in
terms of policy." Or at least "that's our expectation,
and we have been led to believe that he understands
that, and so we will wait and see," the ambassador said.