A plot by pro-Trump militants to kidnap the Democratic Governors of Michigan and Virginia, Gretchen Whitmer and Ralph Northam, respectively, points out the degree to which the United States has fallen into Latin American “banana republic” status. The assassination of state governors and other local leaders in Latin America have become so commonplace, the actions receive barely a mention in the U.S. media.
The FBI and state law enforcement recently charged 13 members of a group called the Wolverine Watchmen and charged them with crimes under terrorism, criminal conspiracy, and weapons statutes. Six of the thirteen men were criminally charged under federal and Michigan law for plotting to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation home on Lake Michigan, place her before a vigilante “tribunal” at a “secure” location in Wisconsin, try her for “treason,” and execute her. The plotters also spoke about “taking” Northam. These militia actions were coupled with a plot to storm the State Capitol building in Lansing and foment a “civil war.”
In addition to Wisconsin, the Michigan plot also extended to participants in Ohio, Delaware, and as subsequently reported, Virginia. Some of those arrested were spotted in May among a large group of armed anti-Covid lockdown protesters inside the Lansing State Capitol during sessions of the Senate and House of Representatives. Many legislators said they feared for their lives at the time.
Whitmer and Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel linked the plot to incendiary comments made by Donald Trump, who refused to condemn the plot against Whitmer and Northam. In fact, Trump had sent tweets with the messages “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA!” Trump also referred to the Michigan governor as “HALF-WHITMER,” a derogatory play on words.
Other Democratic governors who have received death threats from right-wing quarters include Kate Brown of Oregon, Andy Beshear of Kentucky, Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Janet Mills of Maine, Jay Inslee of Washington, Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Steve Sisolak of Nevada, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Gavin Newsom of California, Tony Evers of Wisconsin, Tim Walz of Minnesota, and Jared Polis of Colorado.
Plots against state governors have been the rule of the day for decades in Latin America and the Middle East and South Asia. Such assassinations were emblematic of the breakdown in the rule of law and stable government in the countries where they occurred.
In 2004, Hazem al-Ainachi, the Governor of Basra, Iraq, was shot to death on his way to work in the southern Iraqi city. In August 2007, Governor Muhammad Ali Al-Hassani of Muthana Province in southern Iraq was assassinated by a roadside improvised explosive device (IED). Earlier that same month, Governor Khalil Jalil Hamza of Qadisiya Province, also in southern Iraq, was killed by a roadside IED.
On September 11, 2006, Governor Hakim Taniwal of Paktia Province in Afghanistan was killed by a suicide bomber.
In 2011, Governor Salman Taseer of Punjab Province in Pakistan was shot in the back by a radical Islamist member of his security detail from the Elite Force of Punjab police.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the car bomb assassination in 2015 of Governor Jaafar Mohamed Saad of the Yemeni Province of Aden. [right] In 2016, the Islamic State made an attempt to assassinate by a car bomb a second Governor of Aden, Aidarous al-Zubaidi.
In 1983, Carol Urzua, the governor of the metropolitan region of Santiago, Chile, was killed by a spraying of automatic gunfire at his car while it was stopped at a red traffic light. A previously unheard of group claimed responsibility for the assassination.
In 2010, Rodolfo Torre Cantú, a popular candidate for governor of the state of Tamaulipas in Mexico was killed by an automatic weapons attack on his motorcade by an armed militia tied to drug gangs.
In 2012, Jose Eduardo Moreira, the nephew of Coahuila state governor Humberto Moreira and son of former Governor Humberto Moreira, was executed near the U.S.-Mexican border and the Texas town of Del Rio.
Earlier this month, former Cauca Department Indigenous Governor Fredy Guetio Zambrano and his wife, Reina Mera, were assassinated by assailants suspected of being members of a right-wing paramilitary linked to President Ivan Duque. In 2005, right-wing paramilitary forces assassinated Indigenous Governor Francisco Antonio Cuchillo Baltazar of the Guambiano (Misak) people in Valle del Cauca Department.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).