Manual When States Kill: Latin America, the U.S., and Technologies of Terror

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An example is the United Fruit corporation, which had significant financial stakes in production of bananas, tobacco, sugar cane , and various other agricultural products throughout the Caribbean, Central America and the northern portions of South America. US citizens advocating imperialism in the pre—World War I era often argued that these conflicts helped central and South Americans by aiding in stability. Some imperialists argued that these limited interventions did not serve US interests sufficiently and argued for expanded actions in the region.

Anti-imperialists argued that these actions were a first step down a slippery slope towards US colonialism in the region. Some modern observers have argued that if World War I had not lessened American enthusiasm for international activity these interventions might have led to the formation of an expanded U.

When states kill: Latin America, the US, and the technologies of terror - ProQuest

However, this view is heavily disputed, especially as, after a decrease in activity during and after World War I, the U. Roosevelt ; no official American colonies had been created. Though many other countries in the region may have been influenced or dominated by American banana or other companies, there is no history of U. The Great Depression made overseas military expeditions too costly for the U. The Good Neighbor policy was the foreign policy of newly elected American president Franklin Roosevelt toward the countries of Latin America.

The United States wished to improve relations with its Latin American neighbors in a time of increasing international conflict. Giving up unpopular military intervention, the United States implemented its policy of Pan-Americanism to maintain its influence. This policy supported strong domestic leaders, the training of national guards, economic and cultural penetration, Export-Import Bank loans, financial supervision, and political subversion.

On March 4, , Roosevelt stated during his inaugural address that: "In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor—the neighbor who resolutely respects himself and, because he does so, respects the rights of others. Hull endorsed the resolution, "No country has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another. President Roosevelt's policy after was to pay special attention to Latin America, to fend off German influence, to build a united front on behalf of the war effort, and then to win support for the United Nations.

Only Brazil contributed significant numbers of men to fight. It spent millions on radio broadcasts and motion pictures, hoping to reach a large audience. Madison Avenue techniques generated a push back in Mexico, especially, where well-informed locals resisted heavy-handed American influence. A deal was reached whereby , Mexican citizens living in the United States served in the American forces; over were killed in combat.

On the whole the Roosevelt policy was a political success, except in Argentina, which tolerated German influence, and refused to follow Washington's lead until the war was practically over. After the United States declared war on Germany in December , the Federal Bureau of Investigation drafted a list of Germans in fifteen Latin American countries it suspected of subversive activities and demanded their eviction to the U.

In response, several countries expelled a total of 4, Germans to the U. Also among them were 81 Jewish Germans who had only recently fled persecution in Nazi Germany. The bulk were ordinary Germans who were residents in the Latin American states for years or decades.

Some were expelled because corrupt Latin American officials took the opportunity to seize their property or ordinary Latin Americans were after the financial reward that U. Argentina , Brazil , Chile and Mexico did not participate in the U. Most Latin Americans have seen their neighbor to the north the United States growing richer; they have seen the elite elements in their own societies growing richer — but the man in the street or on the land in Latin America today still lives the hand-to-mouth existence of his great, great grandfather They are less and less happy with situations in which, to cite one example, 40 percent of the land is owned by 1 percent of the people, and in which, typically, a very thin upper crust lives in grandeur while most others live in squalor.

It officially started in with the Truman doctrine theorizing the " containment " policy, the Cold War had important consequences in Latin America.

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It "must be the policy of the United States", Truman declared, "to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures. By aiding Greece, Truman set a precedent for U. During the war, Washington had been able to secure Allied support from all individual governments except Uruguay , which remained neutral, and wished to make those commitments permanent.

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With the exceptions of Trinidad and Tobago , Belize and the Bahamas , no countries that became independent after have joined the treaty. Secretary of State George Marshall. Member states pledged to fight communism on the American continent. Background: Arbenz pursued an ambitious social program that focused on income distribution and economic nationalism. This included agrarian land reform, which meant expropriating over , acres of land from the United Fruit Company A US-based, banana production firm.

The central disagreement came from the fact that the Guatemalan government did not place much value on the lands because they were not immediately being used for production. The United Fruit Company countered by arguing that they needed extra acres to avoid soil exhaustion, and to keep the plantations separated to avoid dissemination of plant disease.

In the end, the Eisenhower administration responded by approving a secret operation to overthrow Arbenz using some Guatemalan rebel forces stationed in Honduras. Part of the rationale for this measure was that the administration had come to view Arbenz as a communist threat. As would later be the case in conflicts with Cuba, Nicaragua, and other Latin American nations, the potential threat of lurking Communism was more than enough justification for intervention. Ultimately, the rebel forces removed Arbenz from power, nullified his reforms, and United Fruit got their expropriated lands back.

Also, the Inter-American Development Bank was established in The slogan 'we will not allow another Cuba' hides the possibility of perpetrating aggressions without fear of reprisal, such as the one carried out against the Dominican Republic or before that the massacre in Panama — and the clear warning stating that Yankee troops are ready to intervene anywhere in America where the ruling regime may be altered, thus endangering their interests.

In , Cuba became a member of the newly created Non-Aligned Movement , which succeeded the Bandung Conference. After the implementation of several economic reforms, including complete nationalizations by Cuba's government, US trade restrictions on Cuba increased. Additionally, the U. In March , tensions increased when the freighter La Coubre exploded in Havana harbor, killing over 75 people.

Latin America–United States relations

Fidel Castro blamed the United States and compared the incident to the sinking of the USS Maine , which had precipitated the Spanish—American War ; he could provide no evidence for his accusation. Eisenhower authorized the CIA to organize, train and equip Cuban refugees as a guerrilla force to overthrow Castro, which would lead to the failed Bay of Pigs invasion authorized by president John F.

Every time the Cuban government nationalized US properties, the US government took countermeasures, resulting in the prohibition of all exports to Cuba on October 19, Consequently, Cuba began to consolidate trade relations with the Soviet Union , leading the US to break off all remaining official diplomatic relations.

Later that year, U. Sweet and Wiliam G. Friedman were arrested and expelled from the island, having been charged with "encouraging terrorist acts, granting asylum, financing subversive publications and smuggling weapons".

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This was to be a co-ordinated program of political, psychological and military sabotage, involving intelligence operations as well as assassination attempts on key political leaders. The Cuban project also proposed false flag attacks, known as Operation Northwoods. Senate Select Intelligence Committee report later confirmed over eight attempted plots to kill Castro between and , as well as additional plans against other Cuban leaders.

Besides this aggressive policy towards Cuba, John F. Kennedy tried to implement the Alliance for Progress , an economic aid program which proved to be too shy signed at an inter-American conference at Punta del Este , Uruguay, in August Elements of the left parties then formed the Armed Forces for National Liberation FALN , a communist guerrilla army, to overthrow the democratic Betancourt administration.

This drove the leftists underground, where they engaged in rural and urban guerrilla activities, including sabotaging oil pipelines, bombing a Sears Roebuck warehouse, kidnapping American colonel Michael Smolen, seizing soccer star Alfredo Di Stefano , and bombing the United States Embassy in Caracas. FALN failed to rally the rural poor and to disrupt the presidential elections.

At the same time, the U. However, these suspensions were imposed only temporarily, for periods of only three weeks to six months. However, the US finally decided it best to train Latin American militaries in counter-insurgency tactics at the School of the Americas. In effect, the Alliance for Progress included U.

The nuclear arms race brought the two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war. In , President John F. Kennedy responded to the installation of nuclear missiles in Cuba with a naval blockade—a show of force that brought the world close to nuclear war. The aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis led to the first efforts toward nuclear disarmament and improving relations.

By , under President Lyndon Johnson, the program to discriminate against dictatorial regimes ceased. In March , the U. Earlier the OAS issued a resolution calling the combatants to end all hostilities. On May 5, the OAS Peace Committee arrived in Santo Domingo and a second definite cease fire agreement was signed, ending the main phase of the civil war.

Under the Act of Santo Domingo, OAS was tasked with overseeing the implementation of the peace deal as well as distributing food and medication through the capital. The treaties failed to fully prevent violations such as small scale firefights and sniper fire. On May 26, U. Balaguer emerged victorious in the elections, after building his campaign on promises of reconciliation.

On September 21, , the last OAS peacekeepers withdrew from the island, ending the foreign intervention in the conflict. Following the Cuban Revolution and the local implementation in several countries of Che Guevara 's foco theory , the US waged a war in South America [ citation needed ] against what it called "Communist subversives ", leading to support of coups against democratically elected presidents such as the backing of the Chilean right wing , which would culminate with Augusto Pinochet 's Chilean coup against democratically-elected Salvador Allende.

By , all of South America was covered by similar military dictatorships, called juntas. In Peru , leftist General Velasco Alvarado in power since , planned to use the recently empowered Peruvian military to overwhelm Chilean armed forces in a planned invasion of Pinochetist Chile. A " Dirty War " was waged all over the subcontinent, culminating with Operation Condor , an agreement between security services of the Southern Cone and other South American countries to repress and assassinate political opponents, which was backed by the US government.

In the frame of Operation Charly , supported by the US, the Argentine military exported state terror tactics to Central America, where the "dirty war" was waged until well into the s, making hundreds of thousands " disappeared ". With the election of President Jimmy Carter in , the US moderated for a short time its support to authoritarian regimes in Latin America. At the same time, voices in the US [ who? The inauguration of Ronald Reagan in meant a renewed support for right-wing authoritarian regimes in Latin America.

In the s, the situation progressively evolved in the world as in South America, despite a renewal of the Cold War from to , the year during which Mikhail Gorbachev replaced Konstantin Chernenko as leader of the USSR, and began to implement the glasnost and the perestroika democratic-inspired reforms. South America saw various states returning progressively to democracy. However, at the same time, Washington started to aggressively pursue the " War on Drugs ", which included the invasion of Panama in to overthrow Manuel Noriega , who had been a long-time ally of the US and had even worked for the CIA before his reign as leader of the country.

While the United States was officially neutral in the conflict, allegations that Reagan provided intelligence to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during the war had a key role in the change of relations between Washington and Buenos Aires, as the military government had been actively helping Reagan. The Argentine intelligence service was training and arming the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinista government Operation Charly.

While the U. Due to the covert U. In Brazil , this was taken by the academic establishment as a clear example of how the Hemispheric relations worked, leading to new perspectives in matters of foreign policy and international relations by the Brazilian establishment. Some of these academics, in fact, argue that this definitively turned the TIAR into a dead letter, [58] and the Mexican government withdrew from the treaty in citing the Falklands example, though notably Argentina itself is still a TIAR member.

On the economic plane, hardly affected by the oil crisis , the refusal of Mexico in to pay the interest of its debt led to the Latin American debt crisis and subsequently to a shift from the Import substitution industrialization policies followed by most countries to export-oriented industrialization , which was encouraged by the International Monetary Fund IMF , the World Bank and the World Trade Organization WTO.

While globalization was making its effects felt in the whole world, the s were dominated by the Washington Consensus , which imposed a series of neo-liberal economic reforms in Latin America. The political context evolved again in the s, with the election in several South American countries of socialist governments. Although these leaders vary in their policies and attitude towards both Washington, D.

The state of Bolivia also has seen some friction with Brazil, as well as Chile. On one side, you have a number of administrations that are committed to moderate economic reform. On the other, you've had something of a backlash against the Washington Consensus [a set of liberal economic policies that Washington-based institutions urged Latin American countries to follow, including privatization, trade liberalization and fiscal discipline] and some emergence of populist leaders [71].

Bush administration as much as the latter attacked him, and claimed to be following a democratic socialist Bolivarian Revolution , the geo-political context has changed a lot since the s. Larry Birns , director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs , thus stated:. La Paz has found itself at the economic and political nexus of the pink tide, linked by ideology to Caracas , but economically bound to Brasilia and Buenos Aires. One thing that Morales knew, however, was that he couldn't repudiate his campaign pledges to the electorate or deprive Bolivia of the revenue that is so urgently needed.

Momentum for the Free Trade Area of the Americas ALCA was lost after the Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas , which saw strong protests against the proposal from members of the Anti-Globalization Movement from across the continent, however free trade agreements were not abandoned. Regional economic integration under the sign of neoliberalism continued: Under the Bush administration , the United States, which had signed two free-trade agreements with Latin American countries, signed eight further agreements, reaching a total of ten such bilateral agreements including the United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement in , the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement in , etc.

The Cuzco Declaration , signed a few weeks before at the Third South American Summit , announced the foundation of the Union of South American Nations Unasul-Unasur grouping Mercosul countries and the Andean Community and which as the aim of eliminating tariffs for non-sensitive products by and sensitive products by Canada, which also has a free-trade agreement with Costa Rica, has also been negotiating such an agreement with Central American country, named Canada Central American Free Trade Agreement. Mercosur , the trade agreement between Argentina , Brazil , Paraguay and Uruguay with Venezuela currently suspended is also in negotiations to sign a wider free-trade agreement with the European Union , following the signing of similar agreements with the Andean Community , Israel [77] and Egypt [78] in August , among others.

These negotiations between Mercosur and the EU are advancing rapidly again after stalling during the s. The agreement, originally signed on 4 February , is being renegotiated after the United States withdrew. Apart from binational free-trade agreements, the US has also signed a number of bilateral investment treaties BIT with Latin American countries, establishing the conditions of foreign direct investment. These treaties include "fair and equitable treatment", protection from expropriation , free transfer of means and full protection and security.


Critics point out that US negotiators can control the pace, content and direction of bilateral negotiations with individual countries more easily than they can with larger negotiating frameworks. In case of a disagreement between a multinational firm and a state over some kind of investment made in a Latin American country, the firm may depose a lawsuit before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes International Center for the Resolution of Investment Disputes , which is an international court depending on the World Bank. Such a lawsuit was deposed by the US-based multinational firm Bechtel following its expulsion from Bolivia during the Cochabamba protests of Local population had demonstrated against the privatization of the water company, requested by the World Bank, after poor management of the water by Bechtel.

The first essay introduces the overarching themes of violence in Latin America, including its history of European conquest, state-directed terrorism, and the prominent role of the United States during the campaigns of terror. The introductory essay addresses the current relevance of the US involvement in Latin America, in addition to the rising occurrence of political disruption in Latin American states. An analysis of Operation Condor is particularly insightful as it demonstrates the deep involvement of the United States in preventing the rise of governments desiring to spread revolutionary movements and social change.

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Print this article Print all entries for this topic Cite this article. Ojo Por Ojo Ojo por Ojo Eye for an Eye , a right-wing terrorist group in Guatemala, emerged from the escalating violence of the late s. Susanne Jonas and David Tobis, eds. James Dunkerley, Power in the Isthmus , esp.