The Ten Most Lethal CIA Interventions in Latin America
Note: In its 200 year history, the USA has intervened in, invaded or militarily occupied the following Western Hemisphere nations:
Canada, Confederate States of America, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela, Surinam, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Grenada.
While the dates most associated with the Central Intelligence Agency are the 1953 coup against Iran’s Mohammed Mossadeq and the following year against Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz, the world’s most notorious–and possibly ignoble–spy agency actually was chartered on this day, 18 September, in 1947.
Since then, the CIA has played a role in hundreds of assassinations, military coups, and rebellions around the globe, from Argentina to Zaire.
Despite it’s championing of freedom, the CIA’s true objective has always been imperialist in nature. Whether oil in Iran or bananas in Guatemala, the U.S. has a material interest in every country in whose affairs it has meddled.
In order to meet its goals, the CIA recruits influential, intellectual and charismatic personalities. The agency also resorts to threats, kidnappings, torture, enforced disappearances and assassinations. The organization incites violence, uprisings and military rebellion, and causes economic chaos and misery to the people through scarcity of basic foods, etc..
The CIA has been exposed on a number of occasions through documented evidence, leaks of information and whistleblowing by active and former agents.
Che Guevera, the revolutionary face of resistance against U.S. homicidal interventions. Two years after leading a rebellion against Washington’s intervention in Bolivia, Che was murdered.
1. 1954 – Guatemala
In 1944, the violent U.S.-backed dictatorship of Jorge Ubico was overthrown by a popular uprising. The people of Guatemala were sick and tired of the brutal injustices of his regime, although in reality Ubico was merely a puppet of The United Fruit Company, which obeyed Washington’s orders. They basically enslaved the population. They stripped campesinos and Indigenous people of their lands and forced them to work their own parcels and paid them bread crumbs. Those who dared to disobey were brutally punished by a police force working for the U.S. fruit company.
The victory of the uprising brought peace to the country but it only took 10 years for U S President Dwight Eisenhower (and two of Ike’s cabinet members [who were also United Fruit Company insiders] Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA Chief Allen Dulles) to implement a plan to overthrow the government.
In 1954, (US President Dwight Eisenhower’s) CIA launched the so-called Operation PBSuccess. The country’s capital, Guatemala City, was bombed by U.S. warplanes. The young Ernesto “Che” Guevara was there and witnessed the ordeal first hand. Hundreds of campesino leaders were executed and many campesino and Mayan Indigenous communities were completely wiped out. The brutal CIA intervention wasn’t complete until 200,000 had been killed. U.S. companies were again enjoying huge profits in the Central American country and Washington was happy.
U.S.-backed and financed military tyrants of Guatemala 1954
2. 1959 – Haiti
Haiti is equally strategic to the United States as are the Dominican Republic and Cuba. So, Washington doesn’t hesitate when their brutal control appears to wane in the Caribbean. Under no circumstance, would the U.S. allow governments in the region to lean to the left, and if they dare to, (US President Dwight Eisenhower’) CIA steps in to push them back to the right. Of course, Cuba is a rare example of resilience to U.S. efforts to achieve hegemony in the area. Since 1959, the Cuban revolution of Fidel Castro has repealed the relentless U.S. attacks.
But in Haiti, the story is different. In 1959 as well, popular discontent rose against the brutal puppet of the U.S., Francois Duvalier. The CIA stepped in and stopped it immediately. With the help of the intelligence agency, Duvalier wasted no time and created an army to violently repress all those who rose up against him. He and his heir to the regime, Jean Claude Duvalier, ordered massacres that were so horrendous they defy words. Over 100,000 people were murdered. And in 1986, when a new but uncontrollable rebellion took over, a U.S. Air Force plane rescued Jean Claude and took him to France so he could live in peaceful luxury.
U.S. puppet Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier—a CIA murderer
3. 1964 – Brazil
The year of 1964 was one of incredible transformation in Brazil. Democratically-elected President Joao Goulart implemented his “Plan of Basic Reforms.” Even though the U.S. had exerted much of its power through ensuring people weren’t lifted from ignorance and illiteracy, Brazil implemented real changes that made Washington very uncomfortable. Firstly, a tax reform was put in place that would hugely carve into the profits of the multinational corporations of the United States and its allies. Washington was also very unhappy with a reform by which land would be given back to their legitimate owners and would redistribute other lands to poor people.
It was now time to send in (US President Lyndon Johnson’s) CIA to take action against the government of Goulart, which they did in 1964. They put in power a brutal dictatorship that lasted 19 years. During this regime, thousands were tortured and hundreds executed. The CIA also made sure all those leaders who had leftist tendencies were eliminated, particularly Marxists.
4. 1969 – Uruguay
During the sixties, revolutionary movements spread through Latin America. Uruguay was drowned in crises. United States saw influential socialist leaders emerge in this South American nation. For example, the urban revolutionary guerrilla known as the Tupamaros. Jose “Pepe” Mujica was part of it, and so was his wife Lucia Topolansky. Washington became obsessed with eliminating them, fearing the influence and power they were achieving.
Nelson Rockefeller went to Uruguay to observe first-hand how they were, generating a growing anti-Yankee sentiment. He returned to Washington to alert authorities that something needed to be done urgently.
Of course, (US President Richard Nixon’s) CIA responded immediately. They sent their special agent Dan Mitrione. He trained security forces in the art of torture and other highly macabre practices that are indescribable in nature. And then the CIA put in power Juan Maria Bordaberry and his military dictatorship. He ruled under direct order from Washington the next 12 years, during which he killed hundreds of people and tortured tens of thousands more. Repression was so brutal and Uruguayans were so traumatized and fearful they no longer carried out their traditional dances, which symbolize happiness and victory.
5. 1971 – Bolivia
The vast Latin American natural resources are the envy of the greedy and powerful politicians of the United States, who resort to any means to control them for their own benefit, and never for the people and countries they brutally exploit. During decades, U.S. multinational corporations enslaved people in vast regions of Chile, Bolivia and Peru. When those living under slavery conditions dared to rebel against their oppressors, they were annihilated in bulk. Che Guevara felt compelled to go to Bolivia and help the people rise in revolution.
This was 1967. By then, U.S. mining companies had enslaved entire communities, including children, who they banned from school. Two years later, Che Guevara was murdered by (US President Richard Nixon’s) CIA. Once out of their way, CIA officials established a military regime.
However, the people again turned on Washington. General Juan Jose Torres took power and implemented reforms to benefit workers and those living in poverty. Hope returned to Bolivia and its people, but the CIA would not allow this to continue. The agency recruited General Hugo Banzer. He led the coup against Torres and in 1971, he kicked off his violent dictatorship. He ordered the torture of a number of opposition leaders and the execution of hundreds of influential political leaders. He sent about 8,000 other leaders to jail. Washington was happy.
6. 1973 – Chile
Chilean President Salvador Allende was just another of the many victims of the many coups on democracy carried out by the United States (Note the date: 9/11/73)
Chile was another country brutally exploited by U.S. corporations.Washington (US President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger) made sure the people lived in utter misery. The CIA used different tactics but the results were the same. The agency led a smear campaign against the government of Chile, as it is currently doing in Venezuela. They used national and international media to demonize President Salvador Allende. They made sure people who had once been loyal to him because of his benevolent way of governing turned on him.
How you ask? The same way they’re doing it in Venezuela. By causing scarcity through extortion, through torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearances and by assassinating all those who refused to bow to them. Washington was irritated beyond control after Allende nationalized natural resources. They were also annoyed because Allende built houses for those who couldn’t afford homes. He made sure his people had access to education. When Allende’s popularity was successfully undermined, the next step was to plan a coup against him. It would now be easy. And on September. 11, 1973, Gen. Augusto Pinochet led the military all the way to the presidential palace with the backing of the CIA, who provided him with all the necessary weapons and armored vehicles.
War planes dropped bombs on the palace. Before he died, Allende told his people: “I will not give up! Placed in a historic transition, I will pay for the loyalty of the people with my life. And I tell you with certainty that that which we have planted in the good conscience of thousands and thousands of Chileans will not be shriveled forever. They are strong and they may be able to dominate us, but the social processes cannot be halted nor with crime nor by force.”
Pinochet ruled for 17 years. He jailed 80,000 people, tortured 30,000 and murdered 3,200.
7. 1976 – Argentina
The Argentine people endured arguably the bloodiest dictatorship of South America. It was so terrible that reading about it can be traumatic. Concentration camps, torture centers, massacres, massive rape of women and children, the beating of pregnant women, and the execution of boys and girls. In total, 30,000 people were executed. Behind it all: the CIA.
In 1973, Argentina was going through a political crisis so grave that President Juan Peron collapsed and ultimately died of a heart attack in 1974. His wife, Eva Peron, took power only to confront conflicts everywhere, even within her own Peronist party.
The CIA waited like a cat hunting its prey until 1976, when the situation they themselves provoked was so bad their intervention would be a walk in the park. Of course, as usual, a key recruitment was in order. The right-wing military dictator-to-be was Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla. The next step – a coup d’etat in yet another Latin American nation, and again another dictatorship at the service of the United States.
This time, (US President Richard Nixon’s) nefarious Henry Kissinger would be in charge of supervising the brutal regime. The rest is history: genocide, massive human rights violations, enforced disappearances, child theft, among other heinous crimes. All this, with the approval of the hypocritical and shameless owners of power in Washington.
8. 1980 – El Salvador
Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero broke with Catholic tradition by caring for the poor. He paid for it with his life.
The people of this Central American country suffered no less than Argentina under the U.S. intervention that was carried out by you know who: the CIA. Washington had already backed a brutal dictatorship that lasted 50 years from 1931 to 1981. Campesinos and Indigenous were smashed without mercy. More than 40,000 were massacred.
Things were so bad a rare incident occurred. The Catholic church tried to intervene in favor of the poor and oppressed. At this point in time, El Salvador was controlled by 13 mafia-style families who had expropriated about half of the national territory. The 13 families were closely linked to Washington. And (US President Jimmy Carter’s and later US President Ronald Reagan’s) CIA, just in case, made sure the military was very well trained in everything horrific.
They were provided with all the right lethal equipment. And when the CIA found out that Jesuits were helping out the masses, they made sure they were killed. They also asked Pope John Paul II to speak to Archbishop Óscar Romero to try to persuade him to desist. Romero refused to comply and so they murdered him when he was officiating mass in 1980. When the U.S. intervention was over, 75,000 people were reported murdered, but the U.S. was at peace.
9. 1989 – Panama
CIA agent and Washington-backed drug trafficker Manuel Noriega enraged the U.S. when he refused to obey their orders, prompting an invasion that left 3,500 innocent civilians dead.
Another unprecedented incident occurs in this Central American country. A (US President George H. W. Bush’s) CIA agent rises to power as a dictator in the form of Manuel “Pineapple Face” Noriega. Washington’s interest here, among others, is the inter-oceanic canal.
When President Omar Torrijos tried to take over control of the Panama Canal, the CIA planted a bomb on his plane and that was the end of that.
In 1983, Noriega took power. He was a drug trafficker for the CIA. He had been for some 30 years. That was fine with Washington. He was of huge service to them. In fact, he was instrumental in the Iran-Contra affair, by which the CIA circumvented Congress’ prohibition to provide the Nicaraguan contras with weapons to be used against the leftist Sandinista movement.
Noriega helped with cocaine to be sent mainly to Los Angeles, California, where it was sold in form of crack and served to poison vast Black communities, another of the devious objectives of the CIA. The money was used to buy arms in Iran to provide the contras with them.
Money and power transforms the weak and devious. Noriega wasn’t exempt. It went to his head. He now believed he was untouchable and felt he could ignore Washington’s orders and instead of helping the U.S. place Guillermo Endara in power in Nicaragua, he decided he would impose a president of his own choosing: Francisco Rodriguez. Noriega also began harassing U.S. military bases in Panama. The U.S. was not about to put up his unruly behavior. Washington deployed troops to invade Panama in December 1989.
They captured Noriega and locked him up in a Miami jail, but before that, they killed 3,500 innocent civilians and displaced 20,000 more… (The CIA called the operation against Panama “Operation Just Cause.”)
10. 1990 – Peru
Finally, we arrive at Peru (and US President George H. W. Bush’s CIA). First we need to understand that this list by no means represents the end of U.S. interventions worldwide. The CIA continues to cause havoc across Latin America and the rest of the world. However, these 10 cases may enlighten those who refuse to believe that the United States is responsible for death and destruction. It also serves to show how they operate and can be easily detected in places where there is instability, hunger and chaos. Instability, hunger and chaos is their specialty.
In Peru another CIA agent rose to power. Alberto Fujimori was elected president in 1990. The reason why his election is highly suspicious is because he was a mediocre person with no education and no charisma. He had no political influence, and he was known to nobody but his family.
But he did show some intelligence when he asked Vladimiro Montesinos to be his associate. Montesinos was a lawyer and a very intelligent person with above average strategic thinking. He was also a CIA man.
Fujimori named him National Intelligence Service director. A paramilitary group was created only to murder leftist and Marxist leaders. Fujimori dissolved Congress and locked up all the members of the Supreme Court of Justice. The CIA helped him with his plan, they financed him and supervised all his atrocities. Today, Fujimori is in jail.
Note: The 10 sovereign Latin American nations that were discussed in some detail above were just the Ten Most Lethal CIA-led Coups. The article did not include the militarily-invaded Latin American nations of Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela, Surinam, Paraguay, Puerto Rico and Grenada. – GGK