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Blood of Paradise (Mortalis) free pdf ""El Salvador: America's great Cold War success story and the model for Iraq's fledgling democracy-if one ignores the grinding poverty, the corruption, the spiraling crime, and a murder rate ranked near the top in the hemisphere. This is where Jude McManus works as an executive protection specialist, currently assigned to an American engineer working for a U.S. consortium. Ten years before, at age seventeen, he saw his father and two Chicago cop colleagues arrested for robbing street dealers. The family fell apart in the scandal's wake, his disgraced dad died under suspicious circumstances, and Jude fled Chicago to join the army and forge a new life. Now the past returns when one of his father's old pals appears. The man is changed-he's scarred, regretful, self-aware-and he helps Jude revisit the past with a forgiving eye. Then he asks a favor-not for himself, but for the third member of his dad's old crew. Even though it's ill-considered, Jude agrees, thinking he can oblige the request and walk away, unlike his father. But he underestimates the players and the stakes and he stumbles into a web of Third World corruption and personal betrayal where everything he values-and everyone he loves-is threatened. And only the greatest of sacrifices will save them. "This big, brawny novel runs on full throttle from first to last page. Brutal and heartrendering, eloquent and important, this is a fully engrossing read."-Michael Connelly "A Quiet American for the new century. Angry and impassioned, Blood of Paradise is that rare beast: a work of popular fiction that is both serious and thrilling."-John Connolly, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Every Dead Thing" "David Corbett is a supremely gifted writer and Blood of Paradise reminds me of a Robert Stone novel. Its lyrical prose and exotic setting filled with damaged souls grasping for redemption any way they can combine in a tour de force that will haunt you long after you reach the end."-Denise Hamilton, nationally bestselling author of "Prisoner of Memory" "If you're looking for the best in contemporary crime fiction, this is it."-The Washington Post, on "Done for a Dime"_________________________________________________________________ THE MORTALIS DOSSIER- BONUS FEATURE FROM DAVID CORBETT FROM TROY TO BAGHDAD (VIA EL SALVADOR) The Story's GenesisI conceived "Blood of Paradise "after reading "Philoctetes, "a spare andrelatively obscure drama by Sophocles. In the original, an oracle advisesthe Greeks that victory over the Trojans is impossible withoutthe bow of Herakles. Unfortunately, it's in the hands of Philoctetes, whom the Greeks abandoned on a barren island ten years earlier, when he was bitten by a venomous snake while the Achaean fleetharbored briefly on its way to Troy.Odysseus, architect of the desertion scheme, must now return, reclaim the bow, and bring both the weapon and its owner to Troy.For a companion, he chooses Neoptolemus, the son of his slainarchrival, Achilles.Neoptolemus, being young, still holds fast to the heroic virtuesembodied by his dead father, and believes they can appeal toPhiloctetes as a warrior. But Odysseus-knowing Philoctetes willwant revenge against all the Greeks, himself in particular-convinces Neoptolemus that trickery and deceit will serve theirpurposes far better. In essence, he corrupts Neoptolemus, who subsequentlydeceives Philoctetes into relinquishing his bitterness toreenlist in the cause against Troy.The tale has an intriguing postscript: It turns out to be the corruptedNeoptolemus who, by killing King Priam at his altar duringthe sack of Troy, brings down a curse upon the Greeks even as theyare perfecting their victory.This story suggested several themes, which I then molded to myown purposes: the role of corruption in our concept of expedience, the need of young men to prove themselves worthy in the eyes ofeven morally suspect elders (or especially them), and the curse of ahard-won ambition.Why El Salvador?I saw in the Greek situation a presentiment of America's dilemma atthe close of the Cold War: finally achieving unrivaled leadership ofthe globe, but at the same time being cursed with the hatred of millions.Though we have showered the world with aid, too often wehave done so through conspicuously corrupt, repressive, even murderousregimes, where the elites in charge predictably siphoned offmuch of that aid into their own pockets. Why did we look the otherway during the violence and thievery? The regimes in question werereliably anticommunist, crucial to our need for cheap oil, or otherwiseamenable to American strategic or commercial interests.We live in a dangerous world, we are told. Hard, often unpleasantchoices have to be made.It's a difficult argument for those who have suffered under suchregimes to swallow. They would consider it madness to suggest that itis envy of our preeminence, or contempt for our freedom, that causesthem to view America so resentfully. Rather, they would try to get usto remember that while their hopes for self-determination, freedom, and prosperity were being crushed, America looked on with astrangely principled indifference, often accompanied by a fiercely patrioticself-congratulation, not to mention blatant hypocrisy.Not only have we failed to admit this to ourselves, but the NewRight has embraced a resurgent American exceptionalism as the antidoteto such moral visitations, which such conservatives considerweak and defeatist. Instead, they see a revanchist America marchingboldly into the new century with unapologetic military power, uninhibitedfree-market capitalism, and evangelical fervor-most immediatelyto bring freedom to the Middle East.The New Right's historical template for this proposed transformationis Central America-specifically El Salvador, trumpeted as"the final battleground of the Cold War," and championed as one ofour greatest foreign policy successes: the crucible in which Americangreatness was re-forged, banishing the ghosts of Vietnam forever.There's a serious problem with the New Right's formulation, however: It requires an almost hallucinatory misreading of history. Misremembering the PastIn their ongoing public campaign to justify the Iraq war, manysupporters and members of the Bush Administration-includingboth Vice President Dick Cheney and former defense secretary DonaldRumsfeld-have singled out El Salvador as a shining example ofwhere the "forward-leaning" policy they champion has succeeded.Mr. Cheney did so during the vice presidential debates, contendingthat Iraq could expect the same bright future enjoyed by El Salvador, which, he claimed, is "a whale of a lot better because we heldfree elections." What Mr. Cheney neglected to mention: - At the time the elections were held (1982), death squadslinked to the Salvadoran security forces were murderingon average three to five hundred civilians a month.- The death squads targeted not just guerrilla supportersbut priests, social workers, teachers, journalists, evenmembers of the centrist Christian Democrats-the partythat Congress forced the Reagan Administration to back, since it was the only party capable of solidifying theSalvadoran middle.- The CIA funneled money to the Christian Democrats toensure they gained control of the constituent assembly.- Roberto D'Aubuisson, a known death squad leader, opposed the Christian Democrats as "Communists," andlaunched his own bid to lead the constituent assembly, forming ARENA as the political wing of his death squadnetwork. His bid was funded and supported by exiledoligarchs and reactionary military leaders, and managedby a prominent American public relations firm.- "Anti-fraud measures" proved intimidating. For example: ballots were cast in glass jars. Many voters, who had toprovide identification, and who suspected the governmentwas monitoring their choices, feared violent reprisal ifthey were observed voting "improperly."- ARENA won thirty-six of sixty seats in the assembly, andD'Aubuisson was elected its leader.- This was perceived by all concerned as a disastrousfailure for American policy. When D'Aubuisson triedto appoint one of his colleagues as assembly president, U.S. officials went to the military and threatened to cutoff aid. D'Aubuisson relented, but it was the onlyconcession he made to American demands. In short, there was American influence, money, and manipulationthroughout the process, putting the lie to the whole notion theelections were "free"-though Mr. Cheney was arguably correctwhen he stated that "we" held them. Unfortunately, all that effortcame to naught, as what America wanted from the elections lay inshambles. Even when, in the following year's election, a great dealmore money and arm-twisting resulted in Washington's candidatebeing elected president, he remained powerless to reform the military, curtail the death squads, or revive the economy, measuresWashington knew to be crucial to its counter-insurgency strategy.By 1987, the Reaganites decided to abandon the decimated ChristianDemocrats for ARENA-the party it had spent five years andmillions of dollars trying to keep from power.As for Mr. Rumsfeld's remarks, he made them in the course of abrief stopover in El Salvador to thank the government for its supportin the Iraq war. The defense secretary trumpeted the just nature ofthe cause in Iraq, noting that the Middle Eastern country had oncebeen ruled by "a dictatorship that killed tens of thousands of humanbeings . . . A regime that cut off the heads and hands of people. Aregime that threw people off the tops of six-story buildings withtheir hands and legs tied."The irony of these remarks, which bordered on the macabre, wasnot lost on the locals: The Salvadoran military-which we funded, trained, and expanded tenfold-achieved a similar body count, employingsimilar if not identical methods in its bloody suppression ofthe internal opposition. The Salvadoran air force, for example, typicallythrew its bound captives not off rooftops but out of helicoptersand airplanes (the so-called "night free-fall training"), and the practiceof cutting off the head and hands of death squad victims was socommon it earned the sobriquet "a haircut and a manicure."These mischaracterizations, however, are merely part of a muchlarger deceit. In truth, America's claim to victory in El Salvadoris delusional. As late as 1988, military and policy analysts of everypolitical stripe were admitting that despite huge infusions of Americancash, the government was in a stalemate with the Marxist guerrillas.Although six strike brigades were arguably up to the task ofactually engaging the guerrillas, Salvadoran field tactics were oftenderided by Green Beret advisors as "search and avoid," and the government'spropensity to slaughter its critics desisted only when it feltunthreatened.Then, in 1989, the Soviet Union collapsed, and the Salvadoranoligarchy's main bargaining chip with Washington, its staunch oppositionto a Communist takeover, became moot-but not beforethe guerrillas staged one final offensive, in response to which themilitary reverted to form, strafing and bombing whole neighborhoods, reviving the death squads, and murdering six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her fifteen-year-old daughter.International outrage over the murdered Jesuits finally broughtmatters to a head. The time had come to consider a truce, which theUN, not the Americans, stepped in to broker. In 1992, the final PeaceAccords were signed.Thus, after over a billion dollars in military aid and three billionin non-lethal aid (most of it spent rebuilding infrastructure destroyedby the fighting) plus more than seventy thousand Salvadoranskilled, over forty thousand of them civilians (and more than90 percent of them murdered by their own government), the U.S.obtained a result it could have achieved over ten years earlier, in1981, when the guerrillas first proposed a negotiated settlement-aprospect that the Reagan hard-liners, many of whom now serve inthe Bush Administration, flatly and repeatedly rejected. Only victorywould do for them, a victory that proved utterly elusive untilthe distortions of political memory took over. Mischaracterizing the PresentBut even if the Reaganites didn't "win" El Salvador, isn't it true thesituation there has improved dramatically? With peace and stability, internationally monitored free elections, and a demilitarized judicialapparatus, cannot El Salvador be credibly described as "a whaleof a lot better" now?Consider the following: - Impunity from the country's civil and criminal lawscontinues, particularly for the politically, economically, or institutionally well-connected.- The concentration of economic power remains in thehands of a few. In fact, in the 1990s wealth became evenmore concentrated as a result of neoliberal reformsintroduced by ARENA.- Land transfer provisions dictated by the Peace Accordshave suffered endless delays.- Child labor remains endemic.- El Salvador is a source, transit, and destination country forwomen and children trafficked for sexual exploitation.- Civil society is under siege due to the availability ofweapons left behind by the war, the formation of shadowycrime syndicates by ex-military officers now turnedbusinessmen, and the presence of transnational youthgangs founded by Salvadoran immigrants in the U.S.- Death squads have returned, to conduct "socialcleansing."- The highest levels of the the Policia Nacional Civil (PNC)are controlled by former military men with dubious pasts.Corruption is widespread, and there are many tiesbetween the police and organized crime. An attorneywith the Human Rights Ombudsman stated: "When wego to the [police] Directorate for Investigating OrganizedCrime, we never go alone. There always has to be at leasttwo of us, because they might do something to harm us."The old political system was based on corruption, privilege, and brutality, and such things do not just evaporate, even in thewelcome light of peace and free elections. As we know fromworldwide example-Serbia, Ulster, Palestine, Thailand, Somalia, Afghanistan, and, yes, El Salvador and Iraq-today's paramilitaryforce is tomorrow's Mafia. And so-called free elections can oftenmask extreme imbalances of power, which voters feel helpless tochange.Meanwhile, almost a third of the population of El Salvador hasemigrated to other countries, primarily the United States. The migrationwave continues today, estimated by some observers at sevenhundred persons per day. These expatriates now send back to theirless fortunate family members remittances ("remesas") of nearly threebillion dollars per year. If the country were reliably secure and prosperous, with wealth distributed reasonably among its people, itwould no longer need this foreign cash machine. But the most significantform of voting in El Salvador is done with one's feet: If onecan leave, one does.Those who have stayed behind have become increasingly frustrated.The unwavering grip that ARENA has on power-withconspicuous assistance from Washington-reminds many of theoligarchy's brutal control prior to the civil war. Organized protestshave turned increasingly violent, and many fear the country is onceagain coming apart at the seams.On July 5, 2006, student protests against bus fare increases resultedin gunfire, with two police officers killed and ten wounded.President Tony Saca blamed the FMLN before any credible evidencewas available (and subsequently retreated from this position).The FMLN responded by condemning the violence. As it turnedout, a gunman caught on tape was identified as an expelled partymember, now belonging to a splinter group calling itself the LimonBrigade.Beatrice Alamanni de Carillo, the Human Rights Ombudsman, remarked, "We have to admit that a new revolutionary fringe isforming. It's an open secret."Gregorio Rosa Chavez, the auxiliary bishop of San Salvador, stated, "We signed the treaty but we never lived the peace. Reconciliationis not just based on healing wounds, but healing themwell. . . . People are losing faith in the institutions."The "Salvador Option"If we described honestly the real state of affairs in El Salvador, would ordinary Iraqis truly wish that for their future? WouldAmericans consider the cost in human life, not to mention billionsof dollars per day, worthwhile? Forget all the blunders along theway (or the more jaundiced view that democracy was never theissue)-is this truly a sane model for a stable state?It's too late to pose the question, of course. The New Right's distortedunderstanding of the past and present in El Salvador has createdan almost eerie simulacrum in Iraq, with even ghastlier results.Taking one particularly ominous example: In the summer of 2004, as American efforts to stem the Iraqi insurgency foundered, U.S.officials decided to employ what came to be known as "the SalvadorOption." American advisers oversaw the establishment of commandounits composed of former Baathists. The commandos beganto exert themselves in the field, enjoying successes the Americansenvied, but also employing methods American troops shunned, especiallyin the aftermath of the Abu Ghraib scandal. The Americanadvisers overseeing the commandos-who had extensive backgroundsin Latin America and specifically El Salvador-adamantlystated they in no way gave a green light to death squads, torture, orother human rights violations- they may well have been sincere. Butmatters spiraled murderously out of control when Shiites dominatedthe elections of January 2005 and took over for the InterimGovernment: Shiite death squads, linked to the Badr militia but actingunder the aegis of the Ministry of Interior, soon began systematicallyhunting and killing Sunni men, creating a sectarian bloodbaththat continues to tear the country apart. American calls for transparentinvestigations of the murders have netted little in the way ofresults.Regardless of what the future holds for Iraq, these commandos, along with the paramilitary units and the other sectarian militias operatingin Iraq, will not melt away into nothingness. Many of theirmembers are tomorrow's gangsters (whose rackets will predictablyfund terrorist organizations).Meanwhile, the escalating bloodshed has caused, among countlessother troubles, the dislocation of millions of refugees, and theflight from the country of large portions of Iraq's professional class, who like ordinary Salvadorans realize the future lies elsewhere.Given all this, it's difficult not to revisit the notion of a curse. Inachieving sole superpower status, we have relied on false notions ofourselves and others, excused atrocity under the guise of expedience, sought our own national interest over all other considerations (withat times a cavalier appreciation of whether short-term successesmight in fact poison long-term ones)-all the while proclaiming, not without some merit, all the best intentions in the world. Tothink this wouldn't come back to haunt us is to believe in notions ofpower and innocence too fatuous for an adult mind to entertain.One last example should make the case conclusive. Consider oursupport for the Contras, a makeshift band of mercenaries assembledfor the sole purpose of causing as much havoc as possible for theSandinista government in Nicaragua, whom we accused of supportingthe Salvadoran guerrillas. While President Reagan steadfastlyproclaimed the Contras to be the "moral equivalent of our FoundingFathers," an adviser to the Joint Chiefs of Staff called them "justa bunch of killers." By 1985, the Contras had murdered at least fourthousand civilians, wounded an equal number, and kidnapped perhapsfive thousand more. Even the CIA admitted the Contras steadfastlyrefused to engage the Sandinista military and instead preferredto execute civic officials, heads of cooperatives, nurses, judges, anddoctors, while showing a stubborn propensity for abducting andraping teenage girls. The strategy: not to seize power or even prevailmilitarily, but simply to terrorize average Nicaraguans, and demonstratethat their government could not protect them or provide evenbasic services.And who has steadfastly imitated this strategy?The jihadists and insurgents in Iraq.Like the victims of, yes, a curse, we find ourselves trapped in theexact same position in which we put our previous enemies. Not evenSophocles could have devised it more neatly.The Murder of Gilberto SotoThe historically suspect pronouncements of Messrs. Cheney andRumsfeld and their camp followers were not the only topical incidentsof relevance to occur during the writing of this book. Another, far more chilling event also took place, an event that not onlyunderscored the deterioration of civil society in El Salvador, but eerilyechoed elements of the novel's plot: the murder of an American-aTeamster named Gilberto Soto.He was visiting family in El Salvador-and also hoped to meetwith port drivers to discuss possible plans to unionize-when gunmenshot him dead outside his mother's house in Usulutan. Many ofthe trucking companies that would have been affected byunionization are run by ex-military officers, but the police investigationnever pursued this. Instead, two gang members were pressedand possibly tortured into confessing that the victim's mother-inlaw, who had less than a hundred dollars to her name, hired them tokill Soto out of some vague, illogical family rancor.Two of the three defendants, Soto's mother-in-law and the allegedtriggerman, were acquitted in February 2006. The man allegedto have supplied the murder weapon was convicted, despitethe fact the Human Rights Ombudsman, in her scathing critique ofthe investigation-an investigation which was not conducted by thelocal prosecutor, but the PNC's notoriously corrupt Directorate forInvestigating Organized Crime-specifically noted that no chainof evidence existed concerning the gun and bullets.This murder took place during the American debate over ratificationof the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), and only by considerable arm-twisting was the Bush administrationable to secure the necessary votes for passage. (CAFTA passed theHouse by a mere two votes.) How can there be free trade, opponentsargued, if men and women seeking a just wage can be murderedwith impunity? But such arguments did not prevail. A Final Note on "Blood of Paradise"All of which leads to a brief summarizing glance at two of my characters, Jude and Clara.Like Neoptolemus, Jude allows himself to be seduced by amorally questionable elder into a reckless scheme. In a sense, hestands for all of us: an everyman who wants to do good in a worldhe knows needs plenty of it, but who also suspects that to accomplishthat end a few nefarious deeds must be indulged. He wants to believeas well that one can withstand such evil, rise above it, even as one doesits bidding: Good intentions, sound character, and professional skillwill prevail over necessary compromises with immorality. Whoknows, it might even be fun-kick ass, take names, shake handswith the devil but don't let him hold your wallet. We're Americansafter all, blessed by God and history. How can we not prevail?Clara-Salvadoran war orphan, rape victim-sees the matterdifferently. She ultimately understands that only through real sacrificecan the future possibly redeem the past. Being deeply religious, like many Salvadorans, she sees this call for renunciation as the challengeof the crucifixion. And so, in the end, she finds the heart to actupon her conviction-not in an empowering act of violence, but ina selfless, agonizing act of love.

About David Corbett

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Author : David Corbett
Publisher : Ballantine Books Inc.
Data Published : 15 June 2007
ISBN : 0812977335
EAN : 9780812977332
Format Book : PDF, Epub, DOCx, TXT
Number of Pages : 426 pages
Age + : 15 years
Language : English
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