The CIA is one of the most putrid, vile, and despicable organizations on the planet that cares about nothing but money and power. Most people who have studied US history are familiar with the major battles of the Cold War, but the secret battles, operations, black propaganda, coups, and assassinations conducted primarily by the CIA are less well-known. Both types of warfare were (and continue to be) conducted to further the economic interests of the world’s empires. This section will be devoted to the latter.
The National Security Act of 1947 created the Central Intelligence Agency, (CIA) the National Security Council (NSC), and a unified Department of Defense, (DoD), which was originally called (in a rare display of government honesty) the Department of War and changed in 1949 likely to garner public support. These branches of government are used to take these more secretive actions to further the interests of US corporations. The National Security Council wrote the NSC-68 bill in 1950, which called for money spent on “defense” to quadruple. Money spent on “defense” in America is now higher than ever before.
Two years prior in 1948 Frank Wisner, head of the Office of Policy Coordination, CIA’s covert action branch, created the Operation Mockingbird, a secret campaign that recruited American journalists, student and cultural organizations, (like the National Student Association) and magazines to proliferate the CIA’s views and further their agenda with funds from the Marshall Plan. Operation Mockingbird was one of the CIA’s first black propaganda programs organized by CIA agents, Cord Meyer and Allen Dulles. Wisner recruited Philip Graham of the Washington Post to head the operation, along with staff from the New York Times, Newsweek, CBS, and 21 other major newspapers and wire agencies. William S. Paley of CBS, Henry Luce of Time and Life Magazine, Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Alfred Friendly, managing editor of the Washington Post, Jerry O’Leary of the Washington Star, Hal Hendrix of Miami News, Barry Bingham Sr. of the Louisville Courier Journal, James Copley of Copley News Services and Joseph Harrison of the Christian Science Monitor were recruited as well.1 Most of the compromised “journalists” were told to write about the alleged dangers of communism, socialism, unions, and worker’s control of industry. Journalists were also pressured and bribed to avoid reporting on illegal, clandestine CIA coups of democratically elected leaders, such as Operation Ajax in Iran and Operation PBSUCESS in Guatemala. Allen Dulles even prohibited certain journalists from traveling to Guatemala to see the human rights disaster the CIA was creating first-hand. According the “Family Jewels” Report released by the National Security Archive, the CIA also wire-tapped two Washington journalists as part of the operation. In 1964 the book Invisible Government was published, which exposed Operation Mockingbird and the CIA’s financial interests that motivated their coups abroad. In response the CIA offered to buy every copy of the book, which the publisher, Random House, entertained but only on the condition that they could print a second edition. The CIA promptly abandoned the plan as a result. When George Bush Sr. became the director of CIA he claimed the CIA would cease to manipulate the media, but this was simply a PR move and the CIA’s policy of manufacturing public opinion and support for the agency never ended and is still in constant use.
The CIA since its formation has worked for American corporations (and the highest bidders) more than any other branch of government with the help of the lapdog media establishment. It is one of the most corrupt, morally bankrupt organizations that exists and its former and present directors should be held responsible to the fullest extent for the torture and destruction they have wrought. The CIA has facilitated hundreds of coup d’états in order to benefit American corporations. One of the earliest was the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état, which was known internally in the CIA as Operation PBSUCESS as previously mentioned. This coup was planned seven years into the Cold War when the democratically-elected President of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán, decided to create new land reform policies like Decree 900 also called the Agrarian Reform Law that required corporations to distribute their unused land to the poor so that they could use it for subsistence farming. Before these policies were introduced, in 1945 seventy percent of all fertile land in Guatemala was owned by a mere 2.2% of the country’s population, and only twelve percent of this land was used for agriculture.2 The US based United Fruit Company owned a great deal of this land primarily because of Manuel Estrada Cabrera, Guatemala’s 13th President, who signed a contract with United Fruit’s Vice President Minor Cooper Keith in 1904 that provided land grants, control of all railroads on the Atlantic side, and tax exempt status to United Fruit. (When workers at United Fruit went on strike, Cabrera responded by ordering an armed unit to siege the worker’s compound and fire indiscriminately on workers while they were sleeping.) United Fruit was, of course, opposed to giving the unused land to residents who needed it to survive because they did not want to sacrifice any potential profits, even at the expense of Guatemalan lives. Therefore, the company again used its political powers to “protect” their financial interests.
Allen Dulles, then director of the CIA, was on the board of the United Fruit Company and a major shareholder of the company, (as was his brother who was also U.S. Secretary of State). Dulles, along with the rest of the CIA, helped to convince the government and residents of America and Guatemala that Guzman was a “communist threat” so that they could attempt to justify overthrowing him to protect their financial interests in the country. The original operation to overthrow Guzman was called PBFORTUNE as they apparently did not feel much need to hide the fact that this was a financially motivated plot.
An exiled Guatemalan army officer named Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas was put in charge by the CIA to lead the military coup. Before the invasion, Armas distributed pamphlets from warplanes over Guatemala about their “communist” government. The pamphlets read, “Struggle against communist atheism, Communist intervention, Communist oppression . . . Struggle with your patriotic brothers! Struggle with Castillo Armas!” The houses of supporters of Guzman were also labeled with stickers that read “A communist lives here,” and Armas also took control of Guatemalan radio stations to spread more propaganda.
When Armas and his army invaded, they were greatly outnumbered by the Guatemalan military. However, fearing direct US intervention and invasion, parts of the Guatemalan military began to surrender to Armas’s forces, and Guzmán resigned. On the same day, SS Springfjord, a British ship loaded with Guatemalan coffee and cotton, was napalmed by a pilot from the CIA’s “Liberation Air Force.” (The CIA claimed they believed the ship was carrying arms to Guatemala.) Armas took Guzmán’s place and ruled the country as a violent dictator, resulting in a thirty-six-year Civil War. About 250,000 Guatemalans disappeared or were killed by the oppressive government and its militias as a result.3
In 1982 as the Civil War continued to rage, the CIA installed another dictator via coup in Guatemala, José Efraín Ríos Montt, an army general. A report by the Guatemalan Commission for Historical Clarification conducted by the UN documented ubiquitous massacres, torture, and rapes of indigenous Guatemalans (especially Maya and Ladino people) conducted by Montt’s military regime. The CIA supported Montt as his regime was committed to crushing Marxist rebels in the country and any sympathizers. In 2013 Montt was convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity and sentenced to 80 years in prison. 10 days later the conviction was overturned. In a sham of “justice” a Guatemalan court stated at his retrial that he can stand for crimes against humanity and genocide but cannot be punished because of his age and health. Had he been an ordinary civilian who had committed the same crimes, the government wouldn’t have hesitated to execute him or imprison him for life. But positions of power grant most lifelong immunity within governments, demonstrating the absolute idiocy of the concept of authority.
The Guatemalan coup d’état of 1954 wasn’t the CIA’s first. Just one prior, the CIA overthrew another democratically elected leader, Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, because he wanted to nationalize the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, the largest oil refinery in the world at the time. Iran’s oil was the British government’s largest overseas investment and it owned 51% of the company. This coup was code-named Operation Ajax.
Mosaddegh wanted the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company to be regulated, less exploitative, and more profitable for the people of Iran, instead of profiting billion-dollar, transnational corporations and their CEOs from Britain and America. Britain initiated a military blockade against Iran and boycotted their oil worldwide. The CIA then bribed thugs, politicians, and army men to help spread propaganda about Mosaddegh. Eventually, he was arrested by a mob paid by the CIA and sentenced to solitary confinement, and his supporters were tortured and killed.
Mosaddegh was replaced by Mohammad-Rezā Shāh Pahlavi who ruled as an oppressive dictator for 26 years until he was overthrown in 1979. The American government supplied him with arms during in his rule, and the CIA specifically helped to train his brutal and corrupt police force. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company then became the British Petroleum Company, better known as BP today, the company infamous for its oil spill that ravaged the gulf coast in 2010.
The CIA and the government of France installed Hissène Habré as Chadian President in 1982 for similar reasons. (Chad was a colony of France). Libya invaded Chad in July 1980 and the US and France aided Chad to contain Libya’s rule under Muammar al-Gaddafi with the end game being the oil in Libya. The CIA provided Habré and his military (including known torturers) massive military aid, intelligence, training, and arms. A secret base in Chad was also used to train captured Libyan soldiers to fight against Gaddafi. In 1983 Libya invaded northern Chad again to topple Habré, to which France responded with paratroopers and air support while the Reagan administration provided surveillance from the sky, causing Gaddafi’s forces to retreat in 1987. The CIA was aware that Habré was ordering his forces to kill and torture thousands of innocent people based on their ethnicity, especially the Hadjerai and the Zaghawa people but they continued to provide him support to crush Gaddafi and secure Libya’s oil. On May 30 2016, the Extraordinary African Chambers, a tribunal established between the African Union and Senegal, convicted Habré of rape, sexual slavery, and ordering the killing of 40,000 people and sentenced him to life in prison. Unsurprisingly, no official from the CIA was ever convicted of supporting Habré, however,
Operation Condor was another series of coups and acts of terrorism against leftist and socialist groups in South America largely orchestrated by the CIA and its scope merits a thorough discussion. Operation Condor was a brainchild of the US Army School of the Americas, (rebranded as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) the Organization of American States, the Conference of American Armies, the CIA, and Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger. During the operation an estimated 60,000 people were killed and thousands were tortured, including dissidents and leftists, union and peasant leaders, priests, nuns, students, teachers, intellectuals, suspected guerillas, and actual guerilla groups like Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front, (named after Farabundo Martí, the peasant leader of the 1932 Salvadoran peasant uprising who was murdered in the subsequent government massacre). The Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front was an umbrella group of five leftist guerilla organizations: the Fuerzas Populares de Liberación Farabundo Martí (FPL), the People’s Revolutionary Army (ERP), the Resistencia Nacional (RN), the Partido Comunista Salvadoreño (PCS), the Partido Revolucionario de los Trabajadores Centroamericanos (PRTC), and several student unions. Brazilian journalist, Nilson Mariano estimates the numbers of killed and missing people as part of Operation Condor was 2,000 in Paraguay, 3,196 in Chile, 297 in Uruguay, 366 in Brazil, and 30,000 in Argentina during its “Dirty War” from 1976 to 1983, most of whom were trade-unionists, social activists, and relatives of activists, such as founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a group of mothers whose sons had been “disappeared” by the government and who gathered weekly in the Plaza de Mayo of Buenos Aires to demand the whereabouts of their children) nuns, and university professors.4
Operation Condor in the Southern Cone alone (which consists of Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile) resulted in 400,000 arrests. Hundreds of infants and children were also kidnapped from their mothers in prison who too had been kidnapped by the state and later disappeared; despicably, the children were given illegally to military families and associates of the regime. 12,000 disappeared by the Argentinian government were released from clandestine detention camps by the end of the war due to international pressure.
Operation Condor’s key members were the governments of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil. (Peru also collaborated with the military intelligence service, 601 Intelligence Battalion in the kidnapping, torture and “disappearance” of a group of Montoneros, an Argentine leftist, urban guerrilla group living in exile in Lima. The US government provided technical support and military aid (largely via the CIA, which also served as an intermediary for Argentinian, Uruguayan, and Brazilian death squads) to the participants until at least 1978, and again after Ronald Reagan became President in 1981. According to a declassified State Department cable from the Ambassador to Paraguay, Robert White, to the Secretary of State of Brazil, the governments of Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay were all offered and made use of an encrypted US communications network, which was crucial to the success of the many coups and acts of repression in these countries that took place during the operation. The CIA also helped coordinate the intelligence agencies and death squads of these governments in order to bolster their efforts. Operation Condor was primarily planned on November 25, 1975 when the leaders of the CIA and the military intelligence services of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay met with Manuel Contreras, chief of DINA (Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional, the Chilean secret police). However, the policies of Condor are actually much older.
Well before Operation Condor was official, the policy of snuffing out dissenters, socialists, and communists was practiced in South America at least as early as 1954 after General Alfredo Stroessner overthrew Paraguay’s President, Federico Chávez. After a short rule by Tomás Romero as interim President, Stroessner ran for President unopposed and won, beginning his tyrannical rule that lasted 35 years. He was “reelected” six times due to rigging. Stroessner declared a state of emergency and renewed it every 90 days until 1987, which permitted him to crush civil liberties and rule under martial law. He also supported the US invasion of the Dominican Republic and Vietnam, even offering to send troops, and the USG provided military aid in return. Stroessner invited the IMF to Paraguay in 1956 to solicit loans. President LBJ also met with Stroessner at the summit conference at Punta del Este, Uruguay in 1967. In a declassified CIA Weekly Review of March 1st 1968, the CIA extolled “the decisive and disciplined” Stroessner as providing “Paraguay its longest period of stability in this century” by “ruthlessly crushing any attempts by discontented exiles to foment revolution.”5 The CIA laments in the report “The sparse population and lack of investment limits effective exploitation of forests, pastures, and farm lands.” The irony was apparently lost on the psychopathic CIA.
Between 1962 and 1975, the United States government provided $146 million to Paraguay’s military government and trained Paraguayan officers at the US Army School of the Americas. Between 1962 and 1966, nearly 400 Paraguayan military personnel were trained by the United States government in the Panama Canal Zone in the US.6 Furthermore, Stroessner’s Paraguay became a haven for Nazi war criminals, including Josef Mengele, German Schutzstaffel (SS) officer and physician in Auschwitz who performed deadly experiments on prisoners and selected victims for the camp’s gas chambers. Press freedoms were also limited by Stroessner. Any media outcry about government mistreatment or terror resulted in the destruction of the media outlets responsible and many of those in charge of the outlets were sent to prison or tortured. Pastor Coronel, chief of the Department of Investigations or secret police regularly interviewed “suspects” in a “pileta,” a bath of human excrement. He was also known to rape suspects with electric cattle prods.7 In one particularly gruesome example, the Secretary of the Paraguayan Communist Party, Miguel Soler, was hacked up alive with a chainsaw while Stroessner listened on the phone. The screams of tortured dissidents were often sadistically recorded and played back to family members of the victims, and sometimes the bloody clothing of the victims was sent to their family’s homes. Stroessner also ordered egregious human rights violations against the Aché population of Paraguay’s eastern districts. The native Aché people had resisted relocation attempts by the Paraguayan army for years and the government retaliated with massacres and forced many Achés into slavery. According to a 1963 article from Time magazine, Stroessner spent 33% of the 1962 annual budget on the army and police force, 15% for education, and just 2% for public works. In 1974 the UN accused Paraguay of slavery and genocide.
The next major conflict of Operation Condor was the Chilean Dirty War, which some historians claim began in 1976 while others claim it began earlier in 1969. Still, others claim it began in 1946 with the election of Juan Perón, Argentina’s President, an open fascist who supported Mussolini and Hitler and offered sanctuary for Nazi war criminals like Adolf Eichmann in 1950, former Commandant of Sobibor and Treblinka death camps, Franz Stangl, SS functionary, Ludwig Lienhardt, and SS-Hauptsturmführer, Klaus Barbie. López Rega was appointed Minister of Social Welfare by Perón and was given control of 30 percent of the federal budget. With it he created the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance (or Triple A) that was perhaps the worst perpetrator of human rights abuses during the war. The Triple A killed left-wing guerillas, dissidents, students, journalists, artists, intellectuals, professors, unionists, Marxists, and anyone suspected of being a socialist. Cooperation agreements were also signed by the Triple A and the CIA, forming an alliance.
The Argentine military opposed Perón and attempted to overthrow him in 1951 but failed and tried again in 1955, this time successfully. Two military dictatorships and two civilian governments succeeded him and forced him into exile. In 1973 Perón traveled back to Argentina, again ran for President, and won for the third time. After several heart attacks and a final one on July 1, 1974, Perón died. Isabel Perón, Juan’s wife, then took her husband’s place and gave the fascist López Rega even more power. When the ERP representative Amilcar Santuchowas was captured he revealed information about the organization, which was then given to the Argentine intelligence agency, Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA) through the FBI and used to destroy the revolutionary group.8 On March 24 1976, Isabel was overthrown by the military led by General Jorge Videla who took over the country and ramped up the dirty war. Workers began to organize and unionize in response but not without significant repression and violence from the military dictatorship. An additional 12,000 to 30,000 more Argentinians were killed under Videla. One of Videla’s most ruthless torturers in the Argentine Navy was Alfredo Ignacio Astiz known then as El Ángel Rubio de la Muerte (the “Blond Angel of Death”) who kidnapped and tortured hundreds, including Azucena Villaflor and two other founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo along with Catholic nuns, Léonie Duquet and Alice Domon.
Kissinger drafted legislature appealing the US Congress to grant Videla’s regime $50 million for “security assistance,” which was approved in April 1976. The US Congress granted an additional $30 million in military aid by the end of 1976. Training and weapons were also provided by the US government, including $120 million in spare parts in 1977 and 1978 and $700,000 to train 217 Argentine military officers. According to L’Humanité’s Gérard Devienne, “In June 1976, Nixon’s senior adviser, Henry Kissinger and secretary of inter-American affairs, William Rogers, gave the green light to the dictatorship in Buenos Aires to “eliminate subversion within ten months”.9
The Argentine government wasn’t content with suppressing and terrorizing the left in Argentina alone. During Operation Charly, a part of Operation Condor, Argentine General and later President and dictator, Roberto Viola, and Argentine Admiral, Emilio Massera, supported the Nicaraguan President from 67′ to 73′ and the Somoza family dictatorship (which rose largely due to military support from the US Marine Corp that occupied Argentina and trained its brutal National Guard that regularly tortured dissenters) in Nicaragua fighting against the socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front named after Augusto César Sandino who led the Nicaraguan resistance against US occupation and was later assassinated in 1934. The Somoza family maintained absolute control over Nicaragua for 44 years with the support of the US government due to his persecution of socialists, dissenters, and communists and the family amassed a fortune in the process. Viola and Massera sent material support and advisers to Somoza’s National Guard that also received training at military and police academies in Argentina.
In 1978 agents of the Batallón de Inteligencia 601 and the Secretaría de Inteligencia de Estado, (SIDE) then intelligence agency of Argentina were also sent to Nicaragua to kill Argentine guerrillas fighting within the Sandinista Front. Public opposition to the Somoza dictatorship had been growing for decades and boiled over when an editor of the leftist Managua La Prensa publication was murdered by the Somoza dictatorship on January 10 1978. Riots broke out in response and a general strike was then called, which shut down 80% of the businesses in Managua and the capitals of Leon, Granada, Chinandega, and Matagalpa. The Sadinistas then kidnapped 2000 officials from the National Palace in Managua, forcing the government into negotiations, but the government refused to hold free elections. By June of 1979 the country was under the control of the Sadinistas and on July 12 1979 President Somoza finally resigned. Once in power, the Sandinistas introduced various land reforms that gave land back to the peasants of Nicaragua. However, former Argentinian officials from the Somoza dictatorship who were exiled played a primary role in the formation of the Contras to fight the Sandinistas.
In July 1979 agents from Argentine intelligence agency began to form an anti-Sandinista insurgency by organizing exiled members of Somoza’s National Guard residing in Guatemala. The Argentine military organized and trained the Contras in Honduras with the Honduran government and the CIA after General Gustavo Álvarez Martínez offered the CIA and Argentina’s intelligence agency a space in Honduras to set up a base of operations to fight the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in 1981. Batallón de Inteligencia 601 also trained the Nicaraguan Contras with members of the Honduran security forces.
On November 1st 1981, William Casey, then director of the CIA, met with the Chief of Staff of the Argentine military and agreed that they should supervise the contras and that the United States would finance them and supply weapons. 150 Argentine military advisers trained members of the Honduran security forces and the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras. The Honduran army unit, Battalion 316 was also formed to assassinate and torture suspected political opponents of the government and dissidents, including teachers, politicians, and union bosses. The battalion (named after the unit’s service to three military units and sixteen battalions of the Honduran army) was trained by the CIA both in Honduras and on US military bases. Free elections were held in 1984 in which José Daniel Ortega Saavedra of the Sadinista Front won 66.97% of the vote. In spite of this, (or perhaps because of it) the war against the Sandinistas grew in intensity. More on the CIA’s support of the terrorist Contras in their war against Sandinistas will be discussed in a later section.
The Argentine military also established clandestine military centers and death squads that regularly employed torture and forced disappearances in Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, (where Archbishop Oscar Romero known as the “voice for the voiceless,” was assassinated a few days after he sent a letter to President Carter beseeching him to not send aid to the homicidal military junta in place), Honduras, Guatemala, and Nicaragua in 1979. In December 1981 General Leopoldo Galtieri replaced General Viola as the head of Argentina’s military junta. A few days before taking power, Galtieri announced the government’s decision to align itself as an unconditional ally of the US in the “world struggle against Communism.”
The Argentinian government also supported the Salvadorian government in the El Salvador Civil War with intelligence training, weapons, and counterinsurgency advisers while the US government supplied the bulk of the weapons. The Argentine government did this, in part, via an agreement with US intelligence agencies to intercept weapons from Cuba and Nicaragua on their way to leftist guerrillas so that they could be offered to the Salvadorian government. The Argentinean government also became involved with the Guatemalan Civil War in 1980, dispatching army and naval personnel to assist Guatemalan death squads in crushing guerrilla groups in Guatemala. Two hundred Guatemalan officers were sent to Buenos Aires for military intelligence training in 1981.
In 1982 the Argentine military attempted to occupy and seize the disputed Falkand Islands to regain the public’s support, sparking the Falkland’s war, which it lost to the British. As a result the defeated military dictatorship stepped down and finally allowed elections to take place. Declassified documents of the Chilean secret police cite an official estimate by the Batallón de Inteligencia 601 of 22,000 killed or “disappeared” between 1975 and mid-1978. In 1986 the military threatened another coup if the the Argentine congress didn’t pass the Pardon laws, which exonerated all military and security officers for human rights violations committed during the military dictatorship, and the Pardon Laws were voted into law on December 24, 1986. In his book The Failure of Nonviolence, Peter Gelderloos explains“The democracy that followed continued the exact same political project that the military had pursued with an iron fist during the Dirty War. Many of the exact same people stayed in power and the dominance of the military remained unquestioned. It was not until people fought the police in the streets and toppled one government after another in 2001, that the military’s immunity was finally revoked. The Mothers [of the Plaza de Mayo] played an important part in this process, but in all fairness it was a process that used a diversity of tactics, from blockades to riots to peaceful vigils.”10
In Chile in 1973 the US government backed another coup to overthrow democratically elected socialist, Unidad Popular President Salvador Allende. During his term as President, Allende nationalized the copper and banking industries, restructured the health care system to be administered by the government, and began a state program that provided free milk and meals to school children, pregnant women, and the youth of shanty towns in Chile with his National Supplementary Food Program.11 Allende also nationalized between 1/5 and 1/4 of all properties listed for nationalization by previous the President, Eduardo Frei Montalva.12 Allende also returned 200,000 hectares of land that had been stolen by Spanish colonists from the indigenous Mapuche back to the tribe according to the Coordinadora de Comunidades Mapuche en Conflicto Arauco – Malleco. In 1970 Allende gave 3000 Mapuche children scholarships, granted amnesty to political prisoners, granted part-time workers social security, reduced rents, increased minimum pensions by 550%, established peasant councils, exempted the poor from income taxes, doubled the duration of maternity leave, and made university education tuition free, resulting in an 89% rise in enrollment between 1970 and 1973. Allende also established a 37%-41% higher minimum wage for blue collar workers, reduced unemployment to 3.8%, and sent 55,000 volunteers to the south to provide lessons on reading and writing and medical care for the illiterate portions of the population.13 12 million copies of cheaper editions of classic literary works were also printed and made available to schools, and the new Minister of Agriculture under Allende, Jacques Chonchol, expropriated all estates larger than eighty hectares by the end of 1972. Of course, Allende’s incredibly laudable support of the poor and working class was despised by the US government that only saw potential lost profits in his policies.
The US government chose General Augusto Pinochet to take Allende’s place. Pinochet’s forces took power by bombing the presidential palace in Chile on September 11 1973, during which Allende allegedly committed suicide. As many as 80,000 Chileans were forced into concentration camps during his reign and according to the later Valech Report his forces tortured approximately 31,947 people and killed 1,312. However, the Chilean government now estimates 3,095 were killed.14 According to the journal, Latin American Perspectives, at least 200,000 Chileans were forced into exile during his regime.15 Under Pinochet, women in Chilean prisons were regularly raped and tortured, sometimes with rats forced into their orifices. Prisoners were also immersed in baths of urine and excrement, much like Stroessner’s victims. At Villa Grimaldi, one of DINA’s most notorious prison camps, prisoners were run over with trucks, crushing their legs. And in one prominent government murder, renowned Chilean singer, Victor Jara’s body was found riddled with 44 bullet holes and his face was disfigured beyond recognition.
In 1975 Pinochet appointed various Chilean economists who studied at the University of Chicago (thus dubbed the “Chicago Boys”) under the rapacious capitalists Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger to powerful positions in government, such as Minister of Finance, Economy, Labor and Pensions, and leadership positions in the Central Bank of Chile where they advocated for further deregulation, privatization, brutal austerity measures, and other “free market” policies. (The University of Chicago’s Department of Economics also set up scholarship programs with its affiliate, the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.) In part due to their influence, Pinochet banned trade unions and privatized social security and hundreds of state owned operations. He also donated public lands to forestry companies and attempted to justify the giveaway with the capitalist argument that property ownership is only legitimate if you are using it make money. The 200,000 hectares of land that Allende had rightfully given back to the Mapuche was reclaimed by Pinochet partially under Decree Law 701, which increased the number of lumber plantations in Mapuche lands. (Forestry companies Mininco S.A. And Arauco Forests currently own three times the amount of land Mapuches do. All of the forestry companies in Chile combined own 2 million hectares of Mapuche lands and are seeking to buy 5 million more.) After holding a referendum that was heavily rigged in Pinochet’s favor, which was confirmed by its organizers16, an entirely new constitution was drafted in 1980 by a close adviser to Pinochet named Jaime Guzmán so that Pincohet could rule with greater powers without elections for 8 more years, ultimately making his rule 17 years long. During his presidency he embezzled funds and evaded taxes, amassing $26 million.
Pinochet also introduced a counter terrorism statute that has been used against native Mapuches and defines “terrorism” incredibly broadly, including “acts of arson intended to produce fear.” The statute also allows prosecutors to keep evidence from defense teams in court for up to 6 months. The law is still being used to prosecute natives. For example, in August 2004, five Mapuches were sentenced to 9-10 years in prison for “terrorist arson” for burning a pine plantation on Poluco Pidenco estate, land that traditionally belonged to the Mapuche but was stolen by the state and bought by logging company, Mininco. Those convicted of ‘terrorism’ under the law are prohibited from holding public office for 15 years, becoming educators, joining a trade union, or engaging in journalism.
Historian Peter Winn notes that the US instigated an invisible blockade against Chile preceding the coup of Allende to disrupt the economy and there is evidence the CIA planned the entire coup. The CIA also made Pinochet’s officers and members of the Chilean DINA intelligence service (including DINA head, Manuel Contreras) into paid contacts according to the CIA’s own document entitled “CIA Activities in Chile” released in 2000. Immediately after the coup of Allende before Pinochet was officially made President, the military exercised both executive and legislative functions of the government, imposed strict censorship and a curfew, suspended the Constitution and the Congress, banned all parties and halted all political activities. Contreras on CIA payroll later received multiple convictions for his abductions and disappearances of socialist party leader, Victor Olea Alegria, MIR member, Miguel Ángel Sandoval, journalist, Diana Frida Aron Svigilsky, Spanish priest Antonio Llidó Mengual, political dissident Marcelo Salinas Eytel, former Chilean General Carlos Prats, his wife Sofía Cuthbert, and others. He was sentenced to more than 500 years in prison while the CIA received no punishment whatsoever.
After the coup of Allende, the Argentine Secretariat of Intelligence (SIDE) and the Chilean DINA assassinated Chilean General Carlos Prats who served under Allende with a car bomb. They also murdered former Uruguayan MPs Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, (however, Uruguay’s dictator Bordaberry who was also installed via the CIA was arrested for these murders) and the ex-president of Bolivia, Juan José Torres, in Buenos Aires. The SIDE even assisted Bolivian general Luis García Meza Tejada’s Cocaine Coup (so-named because it was financed by Bolivian cocaine exportation worth $850 million in the two year period of the García Meza regime, double the value of the country’s official exports according to the government’s own report) in Bolivia with the help of the Italian Gladio operative, Stefano Delle Chiaie, and Nazi war criminal, Klaus Barbie. 70 foreign agents were hired by the Argentine secret services to assist in the coup.
In December 1977 the disappearances of two French nuns and several founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo garnered international press. They were later identified among those bodies that washed up on beaches south of Buenos Aires in December 1977. Like many other victims of the regime, they had been subject to “death flights” wherein the government would kidnap its targets, force them into a helicopters, and drop them in the middle of the ocean. Additionally after the coup, Chilean economist, ambassador to the U.S. and foreign minister in Allende’s administration, Marcos Orlando Letelier del Solar, fled from Pinochet’s Chile and accepted numerous academic roles in Washington D.C. where he was later blown up in a car bomb left by DINA agents on September 21, 1976. The Coordination of United Revolutionary Organizations, (CORU) a US terrorist group headed by Orlando Bosch and Posada Carriles (paid CIA operatives in the 1960s) mainly focused on disrupting Castro’s Cuba, training the Nicaraguan Contras, and Operation Condor was also involved in the coordinating Letelier del Solar’s murder. CORU received large monetary and logistical support from the US government, despite its terrorist attacks on civilian populations. Orlando was later pardoned by George H. W. Bush and given permanent residence in America. George W. Bush Jr. as President also declined to deport Posada Carriles in 2004 to Venezuela, despite being wanted for numerous crimes.
Henry Kissinger, US Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, maintained close relations with Pinochet and the dictators of Uruguay and Argentina. He also approved all of their policies. Kissinger was wanted for questioning for his involvement in the disappearance of five French nationals in Chile, the murders of American journalist, Charles Horman (executed by the Chilean military), Bernardo Arnone, an activist who was kidnapped and tortured by the regime, and General Rene Schneider (whose family filed a lawsuit against him and then CIA director, Richard Helms for $3 million). Kissinger has ignored all of these requests, flaunting his “untouchable status” in the largest military empire on Earth and he has never had to answer for his many crimes. If justice was anything but an abstract concept rarely put into practice, he would be hung from the tallest tree.
In a 1988 referendum, the Chilean public voted out Pinochet, leading to democratic elections. Pinochet stepped down in 1990 but continued as commander-in-chief of the Chilean army until 1998 when he retired and became a “senator for life” in accordance with the 1980 constitution he had his adviser draft. Following the issuance of an international arrest warrant, Pinochet was arrested in London in 1998 for numerous human rights violations but he was released on grounds of “ill health.” He returned to Chile in 2000. In 2004, Chilean Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia ruled Pinochet was in acceptable medical condition to stand trial and he was placed under house arrest. But before the 300 criminal charges pending against him could be filed in court he died at 91 years of age in 2006 comfortably in his home.
Operation Condor also spread to Brazil and began there with the military coup of left-wing president João Goulart in 1964. In the State Assembly, Goulart fought for the rights of the hungry by advocating for lower food prices and when elected to the Chamber of deputies he fought to improve conditions in Brazilian prisons (but didn’t advocate for abolition, unfortunately). As Minister of Labor he signed decrees favoring social security and the regulation of loans. He may have contributed to a doubling of the minimum wage instituted by the Vargas administration as well. Goulart was elected Vice President in 1956 and when then President, Jânio Quadros, resigned in 1961, Goulart became President. Goulart was considered too radical for the Presidency by the military and Congress for his liberal policies and they sought to prevent him from taking office. The right wing military reached an agreement with Goulart’s supporters that stipulated he could take office if the Parliament took all Presidential powers. However, in 1963 Goulart established a referendum to restore his Presidential powers, which was voted into law. As President, Goulart sought to make Latin America nuclear free, prohibited private schools, designated 15% of Brazil’s income for education, opposed sanctions against Cuba, nationalized a subsidiary of the ITT corporation, demanded profits made by international corporations operating in Brazil with headquarters abroad be reinvested in Brazil, (for which was labeled a “socialist threat” by the military and right-wing sectors) and perhaps most significantly called for the expropriation and redistribution of all non-productive properties larger than 600 hectares.
On March 31 1964, Brazilian General Olímpio Mourão Filho of the 4th military region ordered his troops to move to Rio de Janeiro to overthrow Goulart who left Rio the following day to Brasilia in an attempt to prevent the coup politically that he knew was coming. Then President LBJ urged US ambassador, Lincoln Gordon, and the military attaché, Colonel Vernon A. Walters to support the coup. Johnson also ordered a US Navy fleet sailing from Aruba led by an aircraft carrier to aid the coup. They brought ammunition, gasoline, and motor oil. 110 tons of ammunition and CS gas (o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile, a central component of tear gas) were airlifted. Johnson also ordered two US guided missile destroyers, an aircraft carrier, and four destroyers to sail to Brazil under the pretense of a “military exercise.” The CIA station in Brazil under Director John McCone and deputy chief of Western Hemisphere operations, Desmond Fitzgerald also injected money into Goulart opposition groups and covertly encouraged anti-socialist sentiments in Brazil’s armed forces, student groups, churches, and businesses in order to rally support for the coup. But as the CIA’s files on the operation remain classified, the full scope of its involvement is currently unknown to the public.
The coup leaders installed right-wing fascists as heads of state like Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco who terminated all civil rights and liberties in the country and gave himself emergency powers. All parties were outlawed and replaced with the military government’s party, Aliança Renovadora Nacional or the National Renewal Alliance Party. The opposition party called the Movimento Democrático Brasileiro or the Brazilian Democratic Movement was allowed to continue to exist but it had no power. To the glee of the US government, the Brazilian dictatorship then instituted polices of torture, incarceration, and murders of all who opposed the military rule, including artists, writers, painters, singers, filmmakers, and students. The IMF, World Bank, USAID (US Agency for International Development), the Inter-American Development Bank, and various American transnational corporations offered $4 billion in loans and other financial assistance to the military dictatorship from 1964-1971 and more throughout its rule.17 Meanwhile, Goulart died in his apartment in 1976 in exile allegedly of a heart attack although there is evidence to support he was poisoned as part of Operation Condor. 30,000 people attended his funeral, of which the military dictatorship prohibited press coverage.
Operation Condor in Bolivia fomented when the CIA set its sights on Juan José Torres, Bolivia’s President. After taking office in 1970, he called a People’s Assembly (Asamblea del Pueblo) of miners, unionized teachers, students, and peasants so that their voices could be heard and represented. The military and the Nixon administration despised him for his sympathy for the poor and his perceived socialism (they also despised Alfredo Ovando, Torres’s right-hand-man and commander in chief of the military who had nationalized the Gulf oil corporation and handed the Presidency to Torres after a failed coup attempt) and less than a year into his Presidency, the Junta of Commanders of the Armed Forces overthrew him in a bloody coup with the support of US Air Force communications.18 Torres then fled the country and settled in Buenos Aires. In June 1976 he was kidnapped and murdered as part of Operation Condor likely by one of Videla’s death squads on the orders of Hugo Banzer who masterminded the coup of Torres. Hugo installed himself as President and banned all leftist parties, closed the nation’s universities, and crushed the Obrera Boliviana, (the Bolivian Worker’s Center) a large trade union federation. In 1974 Hugo banned political activity altogether. 3,000 political opponents were arrested, 200 were killed, and in basement of the Ministry of the Interior (known by some as “the horror chambers”) around 2,000 political prisoners were tortured during his dictatorship.
As stated the psychopaths of Operation Condor also dug their claws into Uruguay after the country experimented with a collective Presidency between 1952 and 1967. The collective presidency was ended by a change in the Constitution that restored the one-person Presidency, which could be considered the beginning of Operation Condor in Uruguay. Óscar Diego Gestido was then elected President of Uruguay in March 1967. In early December of the same year he banned the socialist party of Uruguay and just a few days later on December 6 he suffered a heart attack and died. Jorge Pacheco Areco, Vice President of Oscar’s administration then became President after his death. Areco was even more adamant about his suppression of leftists and socialists. He banned all leftist political parties and their newspapers, removed left leaning professors from universities, and crushed labor unions. He also declared a “state of emergency” several times to grant himself greater powers. Between 1968 and 1971, Jorge doubled national spending on the military and slashed expenses on education from 24.3% to 16%. To work around Uruguay’s constitution that prohibits Presidents from serving more than one term, a referendum was submitted by Areco to change the Constitution. However, it was voted down, preventing him from serving a second term.
After Nelson Rockefeller visited Uruguay in 1969 on a tour commissioned by Nixon, he returned to Washington to set an intervention into motion. The CIA sent Dan Mitrione in 1969 who settled there to “oversee the Office of Public Safety, under the guise of USAID,”19 which helped to train local police and provide them with weapons. (Mitrione did the same in Brazil.) Mitrione made torture a government policy and directed them to target the Tupamaros relentlessly. Mitrione’s first targets, however, were homeless panhandlers whom he used to experiment his torture techniques. Of his techniques, he sickly stated“You have to act with the efficiency and cleanliness of a surgeon and with the perfection of an artist . . .” Tupamaros kidnapped Mitrione the following year and demanded the pardons of imprisoned Tupamaros in exchange for his release. Nixon refused to negotiate and instead made threats of incredible repression, which was ramped up the following year with the next election. Mitrione was found dead in the trunk of a car ten days after being kidnapped.
Juan María Bordaberry was elected president of Uruguay in March of 1972 and continued and expanded Areco’s brutal policies of repression of leftists and socialists. According to journalist, Gary G. Kohls the CIA put Bordaberry in power who ruled “under direct order from Washington the next 12 years.”20 He also criminalized trade unions and political parties, shut down parliament in 1973, and suspended civil liberties. In July 1972 he introduced a new law that allowed political prisoners to be tried in military courts. His administration also regularly tortured trade union activists, guerrilla groups like the Tupamaros, members of the communist party, and ordinary civilians.
In June of 1972 the National Assembly began to investigate the allegations of torture by the military. But the military refused to cooperate and in October military chiefs met with Bordaberry and made several demands, including permanent positions for commanding officers, military participation in state enterprises, military control over police, and military immunity from investigations on torture. On February 8 1973, in an attempt to check military power Bordaberry replaced the Minister of National Defense with retired general Antonio Francese. The Navy supported Bordaberry but the Army and Air Force opposed him. On February 8 the Army and Air Force declared they would not follow any orders by Francese and demanded a new minister. When Bordaberry declared Francese is here to stay, the Army occupied various radio stations and streets with tanks on February 9.
On February 12, 1973, Bordaberry caved to the military’s demands and allowed commanders to play an “advisory role” in politics. A new National Security Council was formed made up of the Army, Air Force, and Navy commanders and ministers of National Defense, the Interior, Economics, and Foreign Affairs. The National Security Council gave the military near total control of the country and it ruled Uruguay as a military dictatorship with total control of public services. Subsequent decree N° 464/973 of June 27 1973 made “attributing dictatorial intentions to the Executive Power” in the press a crime. When a few US diplomats planned to warn the governments of Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina about continued participation in Condor, Kissinger sent a cable dated September 16, 1976 ordering Uruguay not be warned and that “no further action be taken on this matter” by the State Department.
On November 17 2006, Bordaberry was arrested with Juan Carlos for the assassinations of Senator Zelmar Michelini of the Christian Democratic Party and House leader Héctor Gutiérrez of the National Party. The following year he was hospitalized for respiratory problems and transferred to house arrest due to his health problems. In 2008 the Social Security Administration, BPS, finally suspended Bordaberry’s retirement payments as former president and two years later in March 2010 Bordaberry was finally sentenced to 30 years in prison. However, Bordaberry escaped punishment by dying in his home at 83 in 2011, much like Pinochet.
Around the time that Operation Condor was taking place, the CIA attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro in 1960 for similar reasons they killed Allende, Guzmán, Torres, Goulart, and Mosaddegh. Castro wanted to redistribute property that had been stolen from farmers by large American companies, and the CIA once again set out to defend these corporations. (Castro became a much more authoritarian dictator as time went on and many Cubans suffered and still do because of him, but the CIA was more concerned with his socialist policies than his authoritarianism. They were also wrong about Castro being a threat to other nations. He likely did not have any intention of using his long range weapons.) Castro discussed some of his policies the CIA opposed that led to the attack in his autobiography, My Life: A Spoken Autobiography:
“The most important steps we had taken so far were the agrarian reform and the nationalization of large industrial and commercial corporations and banks, along with certain other measures of great social impact, such as the literacy campaign, the reduction in rates for electricity and telephones, the urban reform, the rent-control act, the confiscation of property of those who had stolen from the government and the people. We’d done some very important things, but we hadn’t proclaimed ourselves as being Socialists, or openly proclaimed Marxist-Leninist doctrines. I should even say that our agrarian reform was, at the time, less radical than the reform General MacArthur had instituted in Japan. Because when the United States occupied Japan in 1945, MacArthur did away with large land holdings and parceled out the land and distributed it among the peasantry and the poor. But in Japan the large tracts of land hadn’t belonged to big Americans corporations, while in Cuba they had. So that’s why we weren’t allowed to have an agrarian reform, just as it wasn’t allowed in Guatemala when Arbenz tried to implement one in 1954.”
This is mostly accurate. The United States government will only support land reforms if they don’t negatively impact large American corporations. Had the land in occupied Japan belonged to large American corporations, peasants would not have seen any of it. However, General MacArthur was not the real architect behind the land reforms in occupied Japan. The main architect was Hiro Wada, former Japanese Minister of Agriculture who facilitated the purchase of 5.8 million acres of Japanese land from landlords, which was sold back to farmers who worked the land. By 1950 about three million peasants had acquired land as a result of this progressive policy.
On April 15th of 1960, Cuban exiles trained and funded by the CIA attacked Cuban airfields with B-26 bombers. The bombers were all deceptively marked as FAR (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias) planes, so that they would appear to be from the Cuban Revolutionary Armed forces. One of these bombers had its cowling taken out by CIA operatives and was shot prior to departure. Its pilot radioed a mayday call to Miami International Airport, claiming he had been shot at by Cuban ground forces and he landed there.
The following day Kennedy canceled the planned US airstrikes, but the ground strike was not called off. CIA operatives and 1400 CIA-trained, Cuban exiles infiltrated Cuba to kill Castro, but they were unsuccessful. This was known as the Bay of Pigs invasion. JFK later had regrets about trusting the CIA with this mission formed by the “Special Group” and believed it to be a disaster.
In sum these coups show the undeniable evil inherent in governments. Well-intentioned leaders in government aren’t allowed power because intelligence agencies like the CIA see Presidents who establish programs to feed, educate, and give land to peasants as greater “threats” than vicious psychopathic dictators who torture dissidents in baths of human excrement with cattle prods because they value money above all else. They want to maintain American hegemony and the feudalistic hierarchy that dominates the world and keeps the underclass on the bottom of the social pyramid to maintain the wealth of the cronyist ruling classes. These coups also demonstrate how much power military and police forces have as in many of these cases they took control over the Parliament and Presidency. Truly elections are nothing but shams when the most powerful sector of government can do whatever it likes regardless of how people vote when they don’t like the outcome and borders are defined without the public’s consent. This isn’t evidence we need greater “reforms” but rather evidence of the spectacular failure of governments to do nearly anything but repress, oppress, rob, torture, degrade, humiliate, and enslave the world. It is evidence that the cult of government and all forms of unwanted authority must end.
1 Carl Bernstein. “CIA and the Media”. Rolling Stone Magazine. October 20 1977
2 Stanley, Diane: For the Record: United Fruit Company’s Sixty-Six Years in Guatemala. Centro Impresor Piedra Santa., 1994. Pg. 179. Print.
3 Curry, John. Crisis in Central America on PBS Frontline. The New York Times. April 9 1985. Pg. 16. Newspaper.
4 Mariano, Nilson: “As Garras do Condor, São Paulo,” Vozes, 2003, p. 234.
6 Mora, Frank O. and Cooney, Jerry W. Paraguay and the United States: Distant Allies. University of Georgia Press. ISBN 0820329320. 2007. p. 169
7 “General Alfredo Stroessner.” The Telegraph, August 17, 2006
8 Bramovici, Pierre: “OPERATION CONDOR EXPLAINED – Latin America: the 30 years’ dirty war”. Le Monde diplomatique. May 2001.
9 Gérard Devienne: “Latin America in the 1970s: “Operation Condor”, an International Organization for Kidnapping Opponents” L’Humanité.
10 Gelderloos, Peter: The Failure of Nonviolence, pg 56-57.
11 Pan American Health Organization: “Social Protection in Health Schemes for Mother, Newborn and Child Populations: Lessons Learned from the Latin American Region” p. 72. ISBN 9789275128411. 2009.
12 A History of Chile, 1808–1994, by Simon Collier and William F. Sater
13 “Socialist Party: Socialist Party and CWI public figures : John Reid”. Socialistparty.org.uk.
14 “Former Chilean army chief charged over 1973 killing of activists.” The Guardian. 8 July 2016.
15 Wright, Thomas C and Oñate Zúñiga, Rody (2007). “Chilean political exile”. Latin American Perspectives 34 (4): 31. doi:10.1177/0094582×07302902.
16 Pilar Guevara: “The great historical fraud – the constitutional plebiscite of 1980. Witnesses confirm that it was all manipulated and arranged, including the final result,” 24 June 2012 <<http://www.cambio21.cl/cambio21/site/artic/20120622/pags/20120622183350.html>> and “The Dance of the Crows” by Javier Rebolledo
17 Supysaua: “A Documentary Report on the Conditions of Indian Peoples in Brazil,” Indigena Inc. and American friends of Brazil, Nov. 1974, pg.48