Death squads and vulture capitalism: The money behind Bain Capital and Mitt Romney's political career
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So how exactly was Bain Capital financed? How did it get started on its work of crushing people and companies into oblivion and profiting off the remains?
Well, how is really who. And the who in large part were El Salvadoran oligarchs with blood-stained hands:
In 1983, Bill Bain asked Mitt Romney to launch Bain Capital, a private equity offshoot of the successful consulting firm Bain & Company. After some initial reluctance, Romney agreed. The new job came with a stipulation: Romney couldn't raise money from any current clients, Bain said, because if the private equity venture failed, he didn't want it taking the consulting firm down with it.
When Romney struggled to raise funds from other traditional sources, he and his partners started thinking outside the box. Bain executive Harry Strachan suggested that Romney meet with a group of Central American oligarchs who were looking for new investment vehicles as turmoil engulfed their region.
Romney was worried that the oligarchs might be tied to "illegal drug money, right-wing death squads, or left-wing terrorism," Strachan later told a Boston Globe reporter, as quoted in the 2012 book "The Real Romney." But, pressed for capital, Romney pushed his concerns aside and flew to Miami in mid-1984 to meet with the Salvadorans at a local bank.
It was a lucrative trip. The Central Americans provided roughly $9 million -- 40 percent -- of Bain Capital's initial outside funding, the Los Angeles Times reported recently. And they became valued clients.
"Over the years, these Latin American friends have loyally rolled over investments in succeeding funds, actively participated in Bain Capital's May investor meetings, and are still today one of the largest investor groups in Bain Capital," Strachan wrote in his memoir in 2008.
And just who were these mysterious Central Americans?
When Romney launched another venture that needed funding -- his first presidential campaign -- he returned to Miami.
"I owe a great deal to Americans of Latin American descent," he said at a dinner in Miami in 2007. "When I was starting my business, I came to Miami to find partners that would believe in me and that would finance my enterprise. My partners were Ricardo Poma, Miguel Dueñas, Pancho Soler, Frank Kardonski, and Diego Ribadeneira."
Romney could also have thanked investors from two other wealthy and powerful Central American clans -- the de Sola and Salaverria families, who the Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe have reported were founding investors in Bain Capital.
While they were on the lookout for investments in the United States, members of some of these prominent families -- including the Salaverria, Poma, de Sola and Dueñas clans -- were also at the time financing, either directly or through political parties, death squads in El Salvador. The ruling classes were deploying the death squads to beat back left-wing guerrillas and reformers during El Salvador's civil war.
Yes, these oligarchic families who helped organize, and supported the activities of, El Salvador's death squads -- see the NBC News report below -- funded not just the firm that made Romney hugely wealthy but Romney's own political career. And they have remained active in both.
This is making a few waves given the appearance of the story at HuffPo yesterday, but it's not the first time it's been reported. The L.A. Times article is from July 19, and The Nation wrote about it the same day, referring back to a Salon piece from way back on January 20 called "The roots of Bain Capital in El Salvador’s civil war." Needless to say, the story deserves much wider attention.
And look for Romney, who likes to play fast and loose with the facts, to deny he ever had anything to do with Bain Capital, or maybe to say that he pre-retired from it before it ever got off the ground, and that he doesn't know anything about anyone from this place called "Al Salvader," the existence of which he can't confirm.