From jacobin.org: ‘The Latin America WikiLeaks Files’; US diplomatic cables reveal a coordinated assault against Latin America’s left-wing governments’, authored by Alexander Main & Dan Beeton of CEPR (the Center for Economic Policy and Research). These are excerpts from their new book ‘The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire, in which they put paid to the farcical State Department claims that ‘the US doesn’t interfere with the internal politics of other countries’, and man, do you have to be a clueless dupe to believe that. But then, some hellish percentage of USians will go to their graves believing that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, so…
The authors describe how baked in neoliberalism was in Latin America by the 1980s, through IMF loan coercion and the US-backed training of local ‘Chicago Boys’ economists (Milton Friedman and friends). The gospel of fiscal austerity, deregulation, “free trade,” privatization, and draconian public sector downsizing brought the same conditions for the citizenry Greece experienced: rising poverty, stagnant growth, but open fields for the heat-seeking missiles of foreign investors and mega-corporations to make a killing. But oh, my; the oppressed began to push back against the capitalist neoliberal machine, and some elected candidates began to keep their promises to the people, using ‘heterodox’ economic policies to reduce poverty by asserting the state’s role in economics.
“From 1999 to 2008, left-leaning candidates won presidential elections in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Honduras, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Paraguay.
Much of the story of the US government’s efforts to contain and roll back the anti-neoliberal tide can be found in the tens of thousands of WikiLeaked diplomatic cables from the region’s US diplomatic missions, dating from the early George W. Bush years to the beginning of President Obama’s administration.”
But oh, no; the Empire couldn’t countenance Leftish populist movements, much less socialism that worked for the poor, the indigenous, or in some cases, the planet itself. They were duly terrified of Hugo Chavez’s ‘alleged “aggressive plans … to create a unified Bolivarian movement throughout Latin America.”
So by State Department threats of with-holding promised debt relief or canceling loans from the World Bank, the IMF, the International Development Bank, or sundry other ‘helpful programs’, or in so many cases using a plethora of NGO ‘democracy promotion for some™ tools to fund rightwing opposition parties or military regimes, and support violence and coups. You’ll want to read the entire exposé for the full effect, including their links to the cables themselves. The authors start with Evo Morales, and the ‘not blackmail’ ‘play ball’ threats to his government. When Morales metaphorically gave the US the finger, re-nationalized the hydrocarbon industry, re-regulated the labor markets, and went into a deeper alliance with Chavez. He announced that Bolivia was ‘nolonger beholden to the IMF’, which he advised Greece to do during their ongoing tribulations with ‘their creditors’.
“Unable to force Morales to do its bidding, the State Department began focusing instead on strengthening the Bolivian opposition. The opposition-controlled Media Luna region began receiving increased US assistance. A cable from April 2007 discusses “USAID’s larger effort to strengthen regional governments as a counter-balance to the central government.”
A USAID report from 2007 stated that its Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) “ha[d] approved 101 grants for $4,066,131 to help departmental governments operate more strategically.” Funds also went to local indigenous groups that were “opposed to Evo Morales’ vision for indigenous communities.”
A year later, the Media Luna departments would engage in open rebellion against the Morales government, first holding referenda on autonomy, despite these having been ruled illegal by the national judiciary; then supporting violent pro-autonomy protests that left at least twenty government supporters dead.”
Morales survived a true coup with the help of other South America countries, but it’s not over even yet; State is still attacking him as a narco-baron. There’s more ugliness in the cables, and remember: these cables aren’t top secret, just ‘everyday bidness’ or some such.
In Nicaragua in 2007 the the US embassy in Managua went into high gear to bolster support for right-wing opposition party Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) since the Sandinistas returned to power. Coyly stating that the US didn’t provide ‘direct support’ to political parties, she’d forward some useful NGO suggestions that would/could/should er….channel US funding to the ALN. Had better? Yes indeed.
“The ALN leader said she would “forward a comprehensive list of NGOs that indeed support ALN efforts” and the embassy arranged for her to “next meet with IRI [International Republican Institute] and NDI [National Democratic Institute for International Affairs] country directors.” The cable also noted that the embassy would “follow up on capacity building for [ALN] fundraisers.” [snip]
“Cables like this one should be required reading for students of US diplomacy and those interested in understanding how the US “democracy promotion” system really works. Through USAID, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), NDI, IRI and other para-governmental entities, the US government provides extensive assistance to political movements that support US economic and political objectives.”
Then Ecuador, of course, regarding Rafael Correa:
“Two months before those elections, the embassy’s political counselor alerted Washington that Correa could be expected to “join the Chavez-Morales-Kirchner group of nationalist-populist South American leaders,” and noted that the embassy had “warned our political, economic, and media contacts of the threat Correa represents to Ecuador’s future, and had actively discouraged political alliances which could balance Correa’s perceived radicalism.”
There’s more, of course, post-Correa-election, US base-closing, a new Constitution including economic justice and life guarantees for his people, food sovereignty, adding control over Ecuador’s central bank. Oh, no; we can’t have that as a precedent!
And we know some of what the WikiLeaks concerning Chavez’s administration demonstrated, but I’ll note a few particulars these authors have found in their search.
Hugo was close to Castro, and abjured neoliberalism, dissed Dubya’s war adventures, and mentioned ‘the smell of sulphur in the air’ after he spoke at the UN. Ooopsie. He exerted state control over the oil sector, using increased foreign rate revenues in aid of the poor, etc.
“In April 2002, the Bush administration publicly endorsed a short-lived military coup that removed Chávez from power for forty-eight hours. National Endowment for Democracy documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act showed that the US provided “democracy promotion” funding and training to groups that backed the coup and that were later involved in efforts to remove Chávez through a managerial “strike” that paralyzed the oil industry in late 2002 and plunged the country into recession.
WikiLeaks cables show that, following these failed attempts to topple Venezuela’s elected government, the US continued to back the Venezuelan opposition through NED and USAID. In a November 2006 cable, then Ambassador William Brownfield explained the USAID/OTI strategy to undermine the Chávez administration…” (cable language)
And of course, VZ’s Maduro had recently attempted to throw some of those ‘democracy’ NGOs out of the country, but funding for a second attempt by the Rightists have found a way to Lopez, et.al., and many have been killed under their covert auspices. And yes, we remember that Obama declared Venezuela to be a national security threat to the US of A. Perhaps, but not for the reasons he supposes. ;-)
“In August 2009, Venezuela was rocked by violent opposition protests (as has occurred a number of times under both Chávez and his successor Nicolas Maduro). One secret cable from August 27 cites USAID/OTI contractor Development Alternatives, Incorporated (DAI) referring to “all” the people protesting Chávez at the time as “our grantees”… (cable language, then more) [snip]
“In Venezuela, where a dysfunctional currency control system has generated high inflation, violent right-wing student protests seriously destabilized the country. The odds are extremely high that some of these protestors have received funding and/or training from USAID or NED, which saw its Venezuela budget increase 80 percent from 2012 to 2014.”
The authors note that:
“Largely as a result of these governments, from 2002-2013 the poverty rate for the region fell from 44 to 28 percent after actually worsening over the prior two decades. These successes, and the willingness of left leaders to take risks in order to break free of the neoliberal diktat, should be an inspiration for Europe’s new anti-austerity left today.” Unfortunately, their link goes to a pdf on how NAFTA screws everyday Mexicans.
I’d hoped the authors would have shown cables concerning Honduras, especially, but it seems not, and I know I’d seen some of them, so I let my fingers do the walking.
From commondreams.com: ‘Wikileaks Honduras: State Dept. Busted on Support of Coup’
Here is the gist of it, my bolds:
“By July 24, 2009, the U.S. government was totally clear about the basic facts of what took place in Honduras on June 28, 2009. The U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa sent a cable to Washington with subject: “Open and Shut: The Case of the Honduran Coup,” asserting that “there is no doubt” that the events of June 28 “constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup.” The Embassy listed arguments being made by supporters of the coup to claim its legality, and dismissed them thus: “none … has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution.” The Honduran military clearly had no legal authority to remove President Zelaya from office or from Honduras, the Embassy said, and their action – the Embassy described it as an “abduction” and “kidnapping” – was clearly unconstitutional.
It is inconceivable that any top U.S. official responsible for U.S. policy in Honduras was not familiar with the contents of the July 24 cable, which summarized the assessment of the U.S. Embassy in Honduras on key facts that were politically disputed by supporters of the coup regime. The cable was addressed to Tom Shannon, then Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; Harold Koh, the State Department’s Legal Adviser; and Dan Restrepo, Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the National Security Council. The cable was sent to the White House and to Secretary of State Clinton.
But despite the fact that the U.S. government was crystal clear on what had transpired, the U.S. did not immediately cut off all aid to Honduras except “democracy assistance,” as required by U.S. law.
Instead, a month after this cable was sent, the State Department, in its public pronouncements, pretended that the events of June 28 – in particular, “who did what to whom” and the constitutionality of these actions – were murky and needed further study by State Department lawyers, despite the fact that the State Department’s top lawyer, Harold Koh, knew exactly “who did what to whom” and that these actions were unconstitutional at least one month earlier. The State Department, to justify its delay in carrying out U.S. law, invented a legal distinction between a “coup” and a “military coup,” claiming that the State Department’s lawyers had to determine whether a “military coup” took place, because only that determination would meet the legal threshold for the aid cutoff.”
Naiman calls bullshit on that parsing of course, but reasons the differences between this illegal coup and others as: because our backyard, plus:
“The U.S. moved to support elections under the coup regime which were not recognized by the rest of the hemisphere, and today the U.S. is lobbying for the government created by that disputed election to be readmitted to the Organization of American States, in opposition to most of the rest of the hemisphere, despite ongoing, major violations of human rights in Honduras, about which the U.S. is doing essentially nothing.”
‘Hillary Clinton’s Emails and the Honduras Coup’, by Alexander Main at CEPR.
“One of the first big issues to hit Clinton’s desk was the June 2009 coup d’etat in Honduras that forced democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya into exile. Officially the U.S. joined the rest of the hemisphere in opposing the coup, but Zelaya—who had grown close to radical social movements at home and signed cooperation agreements with Venezuela—wasn’t in the administration’s good books.
The released emails provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes view of how Clinton pursued a contradictory policy of appearing to back the restoration of democracy in Honduras while actually undermining efforts to get Zelaya back into power.
A number of Clinton emails show how, starting shortly after the coup, HRC and her team shifted the deliberations on Honduras from the Organization of American States (OAS)—where Zelaya could benefit from the strong support of left-wing allies throughout the region—to the San José negotiation process in Costa Rica. There, representatives of the coup regime were placed on an equal footing with representatives of Zelaya’s constitutional government, and Costa Rican president Oscar Arias (a close U.S. ally) as mediator. Unsurprisingly, the negotiation process only succeeded in one thing: keeping Zelaya out of office for the rest of his constitutional mandate.”
(substitute ‘the coup against Zelaya’ for ‘Benghazi’)
From telesur.net/english ‘Bolivia to Investigate Alleged US Plot to Kill Evo Morales’.
“Bolivia is calling for investigations into cables leaked by WikiLeaks that reveal the U.S. had plans in 2008 to either topple the government of Evo Morales, or allow his assassination. “This requires an in-depth investigation.” said Bolivia’s minister of the presidency, Juan Ramon Quintana, “We need to do an investigation to subsequently take decisions with regard to the United States government.”.
It includes the DEA kinda calling Evo a narco-barren; Evo twiddles his middle fingers…once again, and says ‘Nope’.
And last, but certainly not least: ‘Socialism is the Radical Transformation of Democracy,’ Says Bolivian Vice President, telesurtv.net
The gist, and there are more related stories on the right sidebar, as well.
“Vice president says Latin America does not want to follow the model of the “false democracies of the North.”
Democracy is in need of a major overhaul and the socialist movements of Latin America are the ones to deliver it, Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Meeting for Latin American Progressives conference in Quito, Ecuador, the Bolivian leader criticized the way democracies operate in the world today.
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The vice president listed two main areas of concern: a lack of citizen participation in decision making processes and the monopolization of power by elites.
“In many societies, not even 2 percent of the population participate in making decisions,” said Garcia Linera. These include the “false democracies of the North … and it is not a model we want to imitate or follow,” he added.
In his two hour talk, the vice president “assessed” the last 15 years of governance in Latin America, praising the socialist revolutions in places like Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina, which have all taken major steps in eradicating poverty, increasing access to education and healthcare, and improving infrastructure in the region.”
And that’s just it: socialism should be about equally shared political power, not some theoretical textbook economic system or other. And of course capitalism creates a class system, and the higher an elected official rises and sees what wealth and power the oligarchs command, well…most are willing to sell out wholesale. The US is now a banana republic, in which the oligarchy rules, and even seems to decide which way, and how high, our military jumps (with a few notable exceptions at times.)
But I’d laughed when a commenter under one of these Telesur stories claimed that socialism doesn’t work in a democracy.
‘We must all learn to live together as brothers or we will all perish together as fools. We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.’
~ Martin Luther King
Yes, and even around the globe. Playing For Change – Lean on Me | The Art of Saving a Life