AOC says the US should apologize for its history of interventions in Latin America: 'It's very hard for us to move forward when there is this huge elephant in the room'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York met with Chilean President Gabriel Boric at La Moneda Palace in Santiago, Chile.JAVIER TORRES/AFP via Getty Images
  • Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said the US has to reckon with its history of interventions in Latin America.

  • "The first element of it is just acknowledgement," the third-term congresswoman told The Guardian.

  • Ocasio-Cortez was part of a congressional delegation that recently traveled to the region.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in a newly-published interview that the US government needed to apologize for its history of interventions in Latin America, arguing that such actions contributed to government instability in the region.

In an interview with The Guardian, the New York Democrat — who returned from Chile just days before the 50th anniversary of the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, where the democratic socialist president Salvador Allende was ousted from power — spoke in detail regarding America's role in the region and argued that the US needed to come to terms with past mistakes in order to move forward with more productive diplomatic relationships.

"I believe that we owe Chile, and not just Chile but many aspects of that region, an apology," Ocasio-Cortez told the publication. "I don't think that apology indicates weakness; I think it indicates a desire to meet our hemispheric partners with respect."

"It's very hard for us to move forward when there is this huge elephant in the room and a lack of trust due to that elephant in the room," she continued. "The first step around that is acknowledgement and saying we want to approach this region in the spirit of mutual respect, and I think that's new and it's historic."

For generations, the US has had an outsized role in seeking to oust socialist governments in the region.

The US played a role in coups that led to the ousters of Guatemalan president Jacobo Árbenz and Brazilian president João Goulart in the 1950s and 1960s, and American leaders had long sought to remove former Cuban president Fidel Castro from power. (Castro served as the prime minister of Cuba from 1959 to 1976 and was the country's president from 1976 to 2008.)

Ocasio-Cortez told The Guardian it is essential that the US reflect on its previous decisions to overthrow governments that it saw as threats.

"Latin America, I believe, due to its proximity, was absolutely unique in US interventionism during the cold war, and that was under [secretary of state] Henry Kissinger and President Nixon," the congresswoman said.

"I think a lot of Latin America is still very much grappling in the present day with the consequences of coups that were supported by the United States, with Operation Condor that Henry Kissinger helped largely lead," she continued. "What we see is the ramifications of decades of those policies and how they shape US-Latin American relations today, I think primarily around trust."

Ocasio-Cortez was part of a congressional delegation that recently traveled to Brazil and Colombia, in addition to Chile, with a goal of forging a more positive relationship in the region.

"We were sending a message not of paternalism or consequences or telling people what to do, but truly saying we're here to reset this relationship in a new light," she told The Guardian.

Ocasio-Cortez has sought to declassify information that might offer more insight into the CIA's role in the 1973 Chilean coup, which ushered in the brutal regime of Augusto Pinochet.

"The first element of it is just acknowledgement," she said. "We're not even at the point of an apology because we haven't even gotten to an acknowledgement, and that's why I believe the declassification of these documents is going to be so critical to our relationship to Chile, as well as also acknowledging the unified right-wing movements that the US has very much historically been exporting to Latin America."

Read the original article on Business Insider