This week on ‘I did not know that!…with Naomi Klein’, we have this little nugget about Ford. Apparently, Ford was very pleased with the Argentine Government’s brutal repression of its people, and it helped out where it could.Grahan Linehan is right about Klein making her readers angry, but he is worse. Take this line: "Ford was very pleased with the Argentine Government’s brutal repression of its people, and it helped out where it could". Even by the abysmal standards of reflexive leftist partisanship it's revolting to suggest that Ford was "pleased" with the existence of a repressive regime. Linehan seems to exist in a world where people who disagree with him, and other bogeymen like businessmen, are creatures of absolute evil. Inevitably, this leads him to excesses of spite. In this post he exults in the recent robbery of a Republican delegate.
“It was in Argentina, however, that the involvement of Ford’s local subsidiary with the terror apparatus was most overt. The company supplied cars to the military, and the green Ford Falcon sedan was the vehicle used for thousands of kidnappings and disappearances. The Argentine psychologist and playwright Eduardo Pavlovsky described the car as “the symbolic expression of terror. A death-mobile.”
I did not know that!
(Excerpt from ‘The Shock Doctrine’ the book you can’t read at night because it makes you too angry to sleep.)
Klein is not much better. Toyota pickups have become the favourite vehicle of Islamist terrorists. Is Toyota to blame for this? How would they stop their pickups getting into the hands of terrorist groups? The Ford Falcon was strongly associated with the security forces in Argentina and was a symbol of repression. Was there anything more to it than the Argentinians thinking the cars were batmobile-cool and buying them - whatever Ford might think?
Well, possibly. Allegedly, there were links between Ford and the Junta. And between Mercedes-Benz and the Junta. And between pretty much every large company in every sector of industry and the Junta. That's what Juntas are like: totalitarian, which is to say brutal, corrupt and controlling. And here is where Klein's allegation comes from:
During the 1980's, an investigation by the National Commission on Disappeared Persons, a government body, found that abductions of workers occurred at Ford, Mercedes-Benz and other factories owned by both Argentine and foreign interests, including shipyards, steel mills and pharmaceutical plants.And here's the bit she leaves out:
By some accounts, about half of the estimated 15,000 to 30,000 people who disappeared during the dictatorship were workers or union leaders.
The prosecutor who filed the charges against Ford, Félix Crous, said both automakers not only colluded with the military, but also profited as the junta's campaign of kidnappings and killings made targets of workers and union leaders.
Each company, he said, had particularly close ties with the military as suppliers. Mercedes-Benz made trucks for the army, while Ford made the greenish-gray Falcons used by death squads in the kidnapping of thousands of people.
Both Ford and Mercedes-Benz were targets of the left-wing Montonero urban guerrilla movement during the chaotic period of political violence that preceded the March 1976 military takeover in Argentina.Businesses were caught in the crossfire. The idea that Ford would like being in an environment where its executives were kidnapped and murdered and it couldn't do business without bought protection and kickbacks is absurd. Even the report above, which appears to be Klein's source, shows Ford liked Argentina so much it withdrew all its American employees from the country.
A Mercedes-Benz executive was kidnapped and released only after the payment of a multimillion-dollar ransom. Ford withdrew its American employees from Argentina after at least two executives were ambushed and killed and others were injured between 1973 and 1975.
There would be a case for saying that Ford should have ceased operations in or after the military coup of 1966, though no doubt that would have led to people like Klein accusing them of abandoning tens of thousands of workers. Maybe she'd have got a book out of it: Vulture Capitalism, perhaps? But staying there and continuing to trade meant selling cars to whoever wanted to buy them, including men with reflecting shades. While the Falcon might have been associated with the Junta in the popular mind in Argentina, Ford as a company wasn't and they have managed to stay in business there under very challenging conditions since the liberation from military rule.