US imperialism in Latin America

This video is called The Massacre at Nueva Linda- Southwest Guatemala.

From British daily The Morning Star:

A high price for US imperialism

(Sunday 22 June 2008)

Empire’s Workshop by Greg Grandin
(Owl Books, £12.99)

ONE of the many great quotes in Greg Grandin’s book is, paradoxically enough, from a general.

Former head of the armed forces in Ecuador Rene exploded in fury at the 2004 Quito summit after the then defence secretary in the Bush White House Donald Rumsfeld suggested that the armies of south America ought to subordinate their forces to the Pentagon’s command in order to combat “terrorism.”

First, the defence minister of Chile objected, commenting that the UN was the only body that could act globally on security issues, then the Argentinians weighed in with barbed remarks about being able to look after their own borders and then the general summed it all up.

“In Latin America, there are no terrorists, only hunger and unemployment and delinquents who turn to crime. What are we going to do, hit you with a banana?”

Some readers might find the title of this book slightly grandiloquent, but trust me, it does what it says on the tin. The central thesis is that Ronald Reagan allowed what we now know as the neoconservatives to road-test their theories on free-market democracy in central America simply and solely because it was so totally unimportant strategically.

The cost was borne by Guatemala, where 200,000 people have been killed, El Salvador, where 50,000 have been killed, and Nicaragua, where a terrorist movement was created and sustained on the basis that it was fighting a “war of independence” analogous to that of the US colonists. Iraq and Afghanistan are now, of course, at the centre of the storm.

Art and massacres in Central America: here.

Lawyers representing potentially thousands of Guatemalan citizens who were infected by US syphilis experiments decades ago announced on Tuesday that they will sue top US officials unless a system is created out of court to settle victims’ claims: here.

A US Nun Tortured in Central America Recalls the Nightmare. Sister Dianna Ortiz, “The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse” from New York University Press: “It was in this setting that on November 2, 1989, I was abducted by members of the Guatemalan security forces, put into a police car, blindfolded and taken to a clandestine prison, where I encountered a world I never could have imagined. In that place, I came face to face with evil. There, my life changed forever”: here.

6 thoughts on “US imperialism in Latin America

  1. Posted by: “Compañero”

    Sat Jul 5, 2008 10:26 pm (PDT)


    On the day of Ronnie RayGun’s state funeral, a colleague and I were
    talking. He mentioned that when Warren Harding died, he was sorely
    missed, i.e., some thought he was a substantial guy, not responsible
    for fiascoes such as Teapot Dome. Inside a year, the truth was
    coming out. We wondered how long it would be before the truth of the
    Reagan regime’s crimes would be revealed.

    Not too long ago, I was talking with a nearby bookstore owner. I
    asked him if he was aware of any books yet about Ronnie’s crimes. He
    said that his is a “No Reagan Zone,” and that we Americans seem to
    be in a worship-our-leaders mode. (As I work in the tourism
    industry, I agree. My God, our “founding fathers” walked on water!)
    Consequently, there are not yet books out–except those written
    while Ronnie was still alive–which expose Ronnie for what he was: a
    bumbling idiot who could respond only to a script or a teleprompter,
    and who was probably incapable of tying his own shoes. But nearly
    all the books now available praise Reagan. They claim he
    single-handedly ended the Cold War (!), that he was an apostle for
    world peace, that trickle down worked (!!), you name it. The guy can
    do no wrong, right?

    Incidentally, I just had a tour last week in which the teacher said
    she took her kids to the Reagan Library in CA. One of the kids told
    me she “role played” there, they had her sit in a chair and go over
    information on Grenada–remember that one?–and she had to decide
    what to do. Speaking of disinformation! But, back to the subejct:

    Well, I’m putting together a bunch of articles I’ve found on the
    real Reagan—I’m now up to about 65 pages. I ran across just today
    an interesting article that should interest anyone interested in
    TRUTH. It relates to the one event which did scare Reagan’s
    manipulators, Iran Contra. Note that the article relates to
    propaganda, how it was ILLEGALLY used, covered up because of it’s
    illegality, and how it’s used today to manipulate us into support
    for the Iraq quagmire.

    Enjoy it, and ponder how those who insist on getting government off
    our backs–one of Ronnie’s leading platitudes–are maniuplating us
    into doing what they want, despite the truth, despite the lives
    they’re throwing away.


    Iran-Contra’s ‘Lost Chapter’

    By Robert Parry (A Special Report)

    June 30, 2008


    As historians ponder George W. Bush’s disastrous presidency, they
    may wonder how Republicans perfected a propaganda system that could
    fool tens of millions of Americans, intimidate Democrats, and
    transform the vaunted Washington press corps from watchdogs to

    To understand this extraordinary development, historians might want
    to look back at the 1980s and examine the Iran-Contra scandal’s
    “lost chapter,” a narrative describing how Ronald Reagan’s
    administration brought CIA tactics to bear domestically to reshape
    the way Americans perceived the world.

    That chapter – which we are publishing here for the first time – was
    “lost” because Republicans on the congressional Iran-Contra
    investigation waged a rear-guard fight that traded elimination of
    the chapter’s key findings for the votes of three moderate GOP
    senators, giving the final report a patina of bipartisanship.

    Under that compromise, a few segments of the draft chapter were
    inserted in the final report’s Executive Summary and in another
    section on White House private fundraising, but the chapter’s
    conclusions and its detailed account of how the “perception
    management” operation worked ended up on the editing room floor.

    The American people thus were spared the chapter’s troubling
    finding: that the Reagan administration had built a domestic covert
    propaganda apparatus managed by a CIA propaganda and disinformation
    specialist working out of the National Security Council.

    “One of the CIA’s most senior covert action operators was sent to
    the NSC in 1983 by CIA Director [William] Casey where he
    participated in the creation of an inter-agency public diplomacy
    mechanism that included the use of seasoned intelligence
    specialists,” the chapter’s conclusion stated.

    “This public/private network set out to accomplish what a covert CIA
    operation in a foreign country might attempt – to sway the media,
    the Congress, and American public opinion in the direction of the
    Reagan administration’s policies.”

    However, with the chapter’s key findings deleted, the right-wing
    domestic propaganda operation not only survived the Iran-Contra
    fallout but thrived.

    So did some of the administration’s collaborators, such as South
    Korean theocrat Sun Myung Moon and Australian press mogul Rupert
    Murdoch, two far-right media barons who poured billions of dollars
    into pro-Republican news outlets that continue to influence
    Washington’s political debates to this day.

    Before every presidential election, Moon’s Washington Times plants
    derogatory – and often false – stories about Democratic contenders,
    discrediting them and damaging their chances of winning the White

    For instance, in 1988, the Times published a bogus account
    suggesting that the Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis had undergone
    psychiatric treatment. In 2000, Moon’s newspaper pushed the theme
    that Al Gore suffered from clinical delusions. [For details, see
    Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

    As for Murdoch, his giant News Corp. expanded into American cable TV
    with the founding of Fox News in 1996. Since then, the right-wing
    network has proved highly effective in promoting attack lines
    against Democrats or anyone else who challenges the Republican power

    As President George W. Bush herded the nation toward war with Iraq
    in 2002-03, Fox News acted like his sheep dogs making sure public
    opinion didn’t stray too far off. The “Fox effect” was so powerful
    that it convinced other networks to load up with pro-war military
    analysts and to silence voices that questioned the invasion. [See
    Neck Deep.]

    Seeds of Propaganda

    The seeds of this private/public collaboration can be found in the
    84-page draft Iran-Contra chapter, entitled “Launching the Private
    Network.” [There appear to have been several versions of this “lost
    chapter.” This one I found in congressional files.]

    The chapter traces the origins of the propaganda network to
    President Reagan’s “National Security Decision Directive 77” in
    January 1983 as his administration sought to promote its foreign
    policy, especially its desire to oust Nicaragua’s leftist Sandinista

    In a Jan. 13, 1983, memo, then-National Security Advisor William
    Clark foresaw the need for non-governmental money to advance this
    cause. “We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding,”
    Clark wrote.

    As administration officials began reaching out to wealthy
    supporters, lines against domestic propaganda soon were crossed as
    the operation took aim at not only at foreign audiences but at U.S.
    public opinion, the press and congressional Democrats who opposed
    funding Nicaraguan rebels, known as contras.

    At the time, the contras were earning a gruesome reputation as human
    rights violators and terrorists. To change this negative perception
    of the contras, the Reagan administration created a full-blown,
    clandestine propaganda operation.

    “An elaborate system of inter-agency committees was eventually
    formed and charged with the task of working closely with private
    groups and individuals involved in fundraising, lobbying campaigns
    and propagandistic activities aimed at influencing public opinion
    and governmental action,” the draft chapter said.

    Heading this operation was a veteran CIA officer named Walter
    Raymond Jr., who was recruited by another CIA officer, Donald Gregg,
    before Gregg shifted from his job as chief of the NSC’s Intelligence
    Directorate to become national security adviser to then-Vice
    President George H.W. Bush.

    [The draft chapter doesn’t use Raymond’s name in its opening pages,
    apparently because some of the information came from classified
    depositions. However, Raymond’s name is used later in the chapter
    and the earlier citations match Raymond’s role.]

    According to the draft report, the CIA officer recruited for the NSC
    job had served as Director of the Covert Action Staff at the CIA
    from 1978 to 1982 and was a “specialist in propaganda and

    “The CIA official [Raymond] discussed the transfer with [CIA
    Director William] Casey and NSC Advisor William Clark that he be
    assigned to the NSC as Gregg’s successor [in June 1982] and received
    approval for his involvement in setting up the public diplomacy
    program along with his intelligence responsibilities,” the chapter

    “In the early part of 1983, documents obtained by the Select
    [Iran-Contra] Committees indicate that the Director of the
    Intelligence Staff of the NSC [Raymond] successfully recommended the
    establishment of an inter-governmental network to promote and manage
    a public diplomacy plan designed to create support for Reagan
    Administration policies at home and abroad.”

    Raymond “helped to set up an elaborate system of inter-agency
    committees,” the draft chapter said, adding:

    “In the Spring of 1983, the network began to turn its attention
    toward beefing up the Administration’s capacity to promote American
    support for the Democratic Resistance in Nicaragua [the contras] and
    the fledgling democracy in El Salvador.

    “This effort resulted in the creation of the Office of Public
    Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Department of
    State (S/LPD), headed by Otto Reich,” a right-wing Cuban exile from

    Though Secretary of State George Shultz wanted the office under his
    control, President Reagan insisted that Reich “report directly to
    the NSC,” where Raymond oversaw the operations as a special
    assistant to the President and the NSC’s director of international
    communications, the chapter said.

    “At least for several months after he assumed this position, Raymond
    also worked on intelligence matters at the NSC, including drafting a
    Presidential Finding for Covert Action in Nicaragua in
    mid-September” 1983, the chapter said.

    In other words, although Raymond was shifted to the NSC staff in
    part to evade prohibitions on the CIA influencing U.S. public
    opinion, his intelligence and propaganda duties overlapped for a
    time as he was retiring from the spy agency.

    Key Player

    Despite Raymond’s formal separation from the CIA, he acted toward
    the U.S. public much like a CIA officer would in directing a
    propaganda operation in a hostile foreign country. He was the go-to
    guy to keep the operation on track.

    “Reich relied heavily on Raymond to secure personnel transfers from
    other government agencies to beef up the limited resources made
    available to S/LPD by the Department of State,” the chapter said.

    “Personnel made available to the new office included intelligence
    specialists from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army. On one
    occasion, five intelligence experts from the Army’s 4th
    Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were
    assigned to work with Reich’s fast-growing operation. .

    “White House documents also indicate that CIA Director Casey had
    more than a passing interest in the Central American public
    diplomacy campaign.”

    The chapter cited an Aug. 9, 1983, memo written by Raymond
    describing Casey’s participation in a meeting with public relations
    specialists to brainstorm how “to sell a ‘new product’ – Central
    America – by generating interest across-the-spectrum.”

    In an Aug. 29, 1983, memo, Raymond recounted a call from Casey
    pushing his P.R. ideas. Alarmed at a CIA director participating so
    brazenly in domestic propaganda, Raymond wrote that “I philosophized
    a bit with Bill Casey (in an effort to get him out of the loop)” but
    with little success.

    The chapter added: “Casey’s involvement in the public diplomacy
    effort apparently continued throughout the period under
    investigation by the Committees,” including a 1985 role in
    pressuring Congress to renew contra aid and a 1986 hand in further
    shielding S/LPD from the oversight of Secretary Shultz.

    A Raymond-authored memo to Casey in August 1986 described the shift
    of S/LPD – then run by neoconservative theorist Bob Kagan who had
    replaced Reich – to the control of the Bureau of Inter-American
    Affairs, which was headed by Assistant Secretary of State Elliott
    Abrams, another prominent neoconservative.

    Another important figure in the pro-contra propaganda was NSC
    staffer Oliver North, who spent a great deal of his time on the
    Nicaraguan public diplomacy operation even though he is better known
    for arranging secret arms shipments to the contras and to Iran’s
    radical Islamic government, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal.

    The draft chapter cited a March 10, 1985, memo from North describing
    his assistance to CIA Director Casey in timing disclosures of
    pro-contra news “aimed at securing Congressional approval for
    renewed support to the Nicaraguan Resistance Forces.”

    North’s Operatives

    The Iran-Contra “lost” chapter depicts a sometimes Byzantine network
    of contract and private operatives who handled details of the
    domestic propaganda while concealing the hand of the White House and
    the CIA.

    “Richard R. Miller, former head of public affairs at AID, and
    Francis D. Gomez, former public affairs specialist at the State
    Department and USIA, were hired by S/LPD through sole-source, no-bid
    contracts to carry out a variety of activities on behalf of the
    Reagan administration policies in Central America,” the chapter

    “Supported by the State Department and White House, Miller and Gomez
    became the outside managers of [North operative] Spitz Channel’s
    fundraising and lobbying activities.

    “They also served as the managers of Central American political
    figures, defectors, Nicaraguan opposition leaders and Sandinista
    atrocity victims who were made available to the press, the Congress
    and private groups, to tell the story of the Contra cause.”

    Miller and Gomez facilitated transfers of money to Swiss and
    offshore banks at North’s direction, as they “became the key link
    between the State Department and the Reagan White House with the
    private groups and individuals engaged in a myriad of endeavors
    aimed at influencing the Congress, the media and public opinion,”
    the chapter said.

    In its conclusion, the draft chapter read:

    “The State Department was used to run a prohibited, domestic, covert
    propaganda operation. Established despite resistance from the
    Secretary of State, and reporting directly to the NSC, the [S/LPD]
    attempted to mask many of its activities from the Congress and the
    American people.”

    However, the American people never got to read a detailed
    explanation of this finding nor see the evidence. In October 1987,
    as the congressional Iran-Contra committees wrote their final
    report, Republicans protested the inclusion of this explosive

    Though the Democrats held the majority, the GOP had leverage because
    Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, the House chairman, wanted some
    bipartisanship in the final report, especially since senior
    Republicans, including Rep. Dick Cheney, R-Wyoming, were preparing a
    strongly worded minority report.

    Hamilton and the Democrats hoped that three moderate Republicans –
    William Cohen of Maine, Warren Rudman of New Hampshire and Paul
    Trible of Virginia – would break ranks and sign the majority report.
    However, the Republicans objected to the draft chapter about Ronald
    Reagan’s covert propaganda campaign.

    As part of a compromise, some elements of the draft chapter were
    included in the Executive Summary but without much detail and shorn
    of the tough conclusions. Nevertheless, Cohen protested even that.

    “I question the inordinate attention devoted in the Executive
    Summary to the Office of Public Diplomacy and its activities in
    support of the Administration’s polices,” Cohen wrote in his
    additional views. “The prominence given to it in the Executive
    Summary is far more generous than just.”

    Long-Term Consequences

    However, the failure of the Iran-Contra report to fully explain the
    danger of CIA-style propaganda intruding into the U.S. political
    process would have profound future consequences. Indeed, the
    evidence suggests that today’s powerful right-wing media gained
    momentum as part of the Casey-Raymond operations of the early 1980s.

    According to one Raymond-authored memo dated Aug. 9, 1983, then-U.S.
    Information Agency director Charles Wick “via Murdock [sic] may be
    able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives.

    Raymond’s reference to Rupert Murdoch possibly drawing down “added
    funds” suggests that the right-wing media mogul was already part of
    the covert propaganda operation.

    In line with its clandestine nature, Raymond also suggested routing
    the “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has
    credibility in the political center.”

    Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon, publisher of the
    Washington Times, also showed up in the Iran-Contra operations,
    using his newspaper to raise contra funds and assigning his CAUSA
    political group to organize support for the contras.

    In the two decades since the Iran-Contra scandal, both Murdoch and
    Moon have continued to pour billions of dollars into media outlets
    that have influenced the course of U.S. history, often through the
    planting of propaganda and disinformation much like a CIA covert
    action might do in a hostile foreign country.

    Further, to soften up the Washington press corps, Reich’s S/LPD
    targeted U.S. journalists who reported information that undermined
    the pro-contra propaganda. Reich sent his teams out to lobby news
    executives to remove or punish out-of-step reporters – with a
    disturbing degree of success. [For more, see Parry’s Lost History.]

    Some U.S. officials implicated in the Iran-Contra propaganda
    operations are still around, bringing the lessons of the 1980s into
    the new century.

    For instance, Elliott Abrams. Though convicted of misleading
    Congress in the Iran-Contra Affair and later pardoned by President
    George H.W. Bush – Abrams is now deputy adviser to George W. Bush’s
    NSC, where he directs U.S.-Middle East policy.

    Bob Kagan remains another prominent neocon theorist in Washington,
    writing op-eds for the Washington Post. Oliver North was given a
    news show on Fox.

    Otto Reich now is advising Republican presidential candidate John
    McCain on Latin American affairs. Lee Hamilton is a senior national
    security adviser to Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

    Enduring Skills

    Beyond these individuals, the manipulative techniques that were
    refined in the 1980s – especially the skill of exaggerating foreign
    threats – have proved durable, bringing large segments of the
    American population into line behind the Iraq War in 2002-03. Only
    now – with more than 4,100 U.S. soldiers and hundreds of thousands
    of Iraqis dead – are many of these Americans realizing that were
    manipulated by clever propaganda, that their perceptions had been

    For instance, the New York Times recently pried loose some 8,000
    pages of Pentagon documents revealing how the Bush administration
    had manipulated the public debate on the Iraq War by planting
    friendly retired military officers on TV news shows.

    Retired Green Beret Robert S. Bevelacqua, a former analyst on
    Murdoch’s Fox News, said the Pentagon treated the retired military
    officers as puppets: “It was them saying, ‘we need to stick our
    hands up your back and move your mouth for you.'” [NYT, April 20,
    2008, or see’s “US News Media’s Latest

    Bush’s former White House press secretary Scott McClellan described
    similar use of propaganda tactics to justify the Iraq War in his
    book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s
    Culture of Deception.

    >From his insider vantage point, McClellan cited the White House’s
    “carefully orchestrated campaign to shape and manipulate sources of
    public approval” – and he called the Washington press corps
    “complicit enablers.”

    None of this would have been so surprising – indeed Americans might
    have been forewarned and forearmed – if Lee Hamilton and other
    Democrats on the Iran-Contra committees had held firm and published
    the scandal’s “lost chapter” two decades ago.

    Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for
    the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The
    Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his
    sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two
    previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty
    from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press
    & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there. Or go to


  2. Against Empire

    by Michael Parenti

    A brilliant exposé of the brutal realities of U.S. global domination.

    Richly informed and written in an engaging style, Against Empire, exposes the ruthless agenda and hidden costs of the U.S. empire today.

    As much of the world suffers unspeakable misery and lowered standards of living accelerate in the U.S., civil society is impoverished by policies that benefit rich and powerful transnational corporations and the national security state. Hard-won gains made by ordinary people are swept away.

    The history of imperialism is also, however, a history of resistance, struggle, and achievement. Against Empire offers compelling alternatives for progressive change.

    Softcover, 210 pp, Index


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