The nomination of John Negroponte to be the first National Intelligence chief in the United States received generally favorable reaction in the US press, but many voices in Latin America voiced dismay. Negroponte was ambassador to Honduras during the Reagan administration, at the height of American military aid to fight left-wing insurgencies and support of the Contras in Nicaragua.
La Prensa Grafica in San Salvador, certainly not known as an anti-US paper, wrote this about Negroponte:
Hated in Latin America
John Negroponte has been linked to military coups, violators of human rights and death squads in the terrible days of the armed conflicts in various Central American nations two decades ago.....
The Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) criticized the nomination of John Negroponte.... "What a barbarity!" said the coordinator of COFADEH, Bertha Oliva.
On September 7, 2001, before the "war on terror" and the invasion of Iraq, liberal columnist Bill Press had the following comments when Negroponte was nominated to be US Ambassador to the United Nations:
Bush's Latin American team reads like a roster of "Americas Most Disgraced Diplomats." They include John Negroponte, Bush's pick as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Elliott Abrams, new senior director of the National Security Council; and Otto Reich, nominated as assistant secretary of State. Based on their previous records in Latin American policy, none of them deserve the job.
Negroponte served as Reagan's Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. He was personally responsible for carrying out the Reagan administration's illegal policy of training and arming Contra rebels inside Honduras for the purpose of overthrowing Nicaragua's Sandinista government. He also oversaw the build-up of the Honduran military, while turning a blind eye to their campaigns of death and torture.
This was a period when the Honduran military's notorious Battalion 316, trained by the CIA, killed or disappeared at least 184 political opponents. Hundreds of articles in Honduran newspapers reported on the brutality of the government's death squads.
International human rights organizations condemned Honduras. Negroponte's predecessor had warned him about the alarming increase in extrajudicial military executions and torture of political opponents. Yet Negroponte insists, still today, there were no death squads in Honduras and, if there were, he knew nothing about them.