Monday, September 13, 2010

Empire and Depopulation in the Land of Blood and Fire, Latin America

Rooted in conquest, the United States has a long history of imperial expansion. Even George Washington called the United States an “infant empire.” With increasing power, especially after World War II, imperial strategies by the US grew bolder, and high-level planners maintained that the US should “hold unquestioned power” in the chosen global order.

These ambitions pertained not only to the Western hemisphere, but also the former British Empire, the Far East, and Eurasia. These goals represented, and still do, the aspirations for “full spectrum” territorial holdings. As if from fiction, dyed by Machiavellian irony, the social Darwinism of a new empire danced upon civilization’s fulcrum. The American empire, as has been consistently noted by thinkers, seemed to almost pick up seamlessly from where the waning British Empire left off.

As was the America's policy with Native Americans, the British Empire pursued similar, if not the same, depopulation policies in lands the world over, such as in Ireland, as evidenced by the “Printed Book,” which outlined how Britain would turn Ireland into, in their words, a plantation. It might therefore be concluded, that policies of depopulation have been a keystone component to the expansion of the British Empire, and its descendent the Anglo-American Empire.

In the southern Hemisphere, these imperial yearnings rear themselves plainly.

In July 2009, the US and Colombia made public a secret deal to permit the US to use seven Colombian military bases. The official purpose is the prevention of narcotrafficking and, of course, terrorism, “but senior Colombian military and civilian officials familiar with negotiations told The Associated Press that the idea is to make Colombia a regional hub for Pentagon operations.”

Colombia has become the leading recipient of US military aid, despite a terrible human rights record in the hemisphere since the Central American wars of the 1980’s. The establishment of US military bases in Colombia represents steps towards restoring Washington’s capacity for military intervention in the region. Not only as US military aid increased to the region, but so too has the training of Latin American officers, whose focus is on light infantry tactics to combat “radical populism.” (Chomsky)

It is relevant to note that, in Latin America—as is so in Africa—rather progressive depopulation policies have been fully implemented and supported by Empire plenipotentiaries. In Brazil, in my personal experience, it is highly difficult to find a bottle of water devoid of a cocktail of added ingredients, such as the former rat-poison, sodium floride. This in, of all places, one of the more affluent regions of Latin America.

On Dec. 10, 1974, National Security Council under Henry Kissinger published, “National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.” The study posits population growth in “Lesser Developed Countries” (LDCs) as a sustained threat to U.S. national security. In November 1975, President Gerald Ford adopted the memorandum as official policy in the LDC’s through birth control, and also, implicitly, famine and war. Brent Scowcroft, who followed Kissinger as national security adviser, CIA Director George Bush, secretaries of state, treasury, defense, and agriculture were publicly tasked with the assignment.

Kissinger’s arguments were not original, since the Royal Commission on Population served as a major source. In that commission report, King George VI (1936-1951) considers “what measures should be taken in the national interest to influence the future trend of population.” It advanced the thesis that Britain was under great duress from population growth in its colonies, because “a populous country has decided advantages over a sparsely-populated one for industrial production.”

Increasing population and industrialization in her colonies “might be decisive in its effects on the prestige and influence of the West,” especially effecting “military strength and security.”

NSSM 200 singled out 13 “key countries” of “special political and strategic interest”: India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Turkey, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. Population growth in these states, according to the memorandum, was particularly troubling, since it would increase their relative political, economic, and military strength.

Not just military strength has been used against “third world” populations. Also, sophisticated methods of domination, such as divisive and developmentally torturous propaganda and covert tampering with food supplies in service of a eugenics philosophy; and tampering of overall environmental quality through technologies such as terraforming, whereby planes and jets of various types line the sky with aerial spray constituted with barium salts, aluminum, as well as other chemical-melanges.

There have been hints of these latter programs in pop-music. Off the album “Modern Guilt,” presented by Beck, the song “Chemtrails” highlights that which is officially known as “terraforming”:

I can't believe what we've seen outside
You and me watching the jets go by
You and me watching a sky full of chemtrails
That's where we belong

And with the “third world” sneaking into places like Troy, New York, whose mostly black residents paid little attention to the 2008 Presidential campaign—since it would minutely affect, if at all, their personal plights, no matter the color of the President—it is rather obvious that this military operation is, and will continue to be, a globalizing phenomenon.

In his book, Listen, Yankee, published early on in the Cold War, U.S. sociologist C. Wright Mills wrote in the voice of Cubans, who felt threatened by US hubris. The book was highly sympathetic to the violent Cuban Revolution.

“We Cubans are part of Latin America—not of North America. We speak Spanish, we are mainly rural, and we are poor. Our history is not like your history; it is part of Latin American history. And Latin America is 180,000,000 people, growing faster than you are growing, and scattered over a territory more than twice as large as the U.S.A.”

John F. Kennedy saw the relationship between Latin America and the United States differently. In his 1961 Alliance for Progress speech, he said:

“Our continents are bound together by a common history, the endless exploration of new frontiers. Our nations are the product of a common struggle, the revolt from colonial rule. And our people share a common heritage, the quest for the dignity and freedom of man…”

A quick review of who has, historically, owned what in the former colonies—say, for instance, central banks, military dictatorships, and agriculture—ought to quickly dispel any notions that there are many places in Latin America—in the world, upon further research—that have lastingly escaped from under the boot of the British Empire.

In the post-World War II world, the United States armed forces acquired an expansive know-how about the methods of military operations effective against guerrilla armies, mostly by way of US military operations in Latin America, and, in particular, southeast Asia. Virtually every Latin American country, by 1967, had a U.S. Military Group (MILGRP in Pentagonese) to invoke US military assistance to Latin American military forces. The groups were under the command of the United States Southern Command.

Along the way, the “economic medicine” (the catchall phrase for the process of “structural adjustment” or “austerity measures”) of the keystone global financial institutions, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, helped to exacerbate the problems, while furthering the interests of the Anglo-American rulers.

Upon taking office, Richard M. Nixon instructed one of his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York, to travel to Latin America and advise police recommendations for the new administration.

Protest met Rockefeller most everywhere he went. Peru, Chile, and Venezuela requested he not come.

In “The Rockefeller Report,” Rockefeller laid out a convincing case that Latin America and the United States faced friction in their historical interrelationship. He suggested that a new accord ought to bond the regions together thereafter. Included in this new deal, would be entailed a discriminatory lenience by the United States for authoritarian rule in Latin America. By the late 1960’s, indeed, Rockefeller championed the claim that “no one country today can effectively protects its own internal security by itself,” hinting of a future regionalism in which entire continents would share a singular system of finance and governance. In Rockefeller's episteme, what would be needed was an ideology supportive of the axiom that “only through hemisphere cooperation can these problems, which so vitally affect internal security, be adequately dealt with.” Not only was the power of the US, Britain and Europe to be fused together, but so too were the remnants of colonial rule which kept Latin America moving forward , in an orderly manner, towards progress.

February 1946 saw F. Kennan, the US State Departments former lead expert on the Soviet Union, send the famous “Long Telegram” to the state department from the US embassy in Moscow. The Long Telegram embodies his version of realist views regarding US-Soviet relations during the Cold War. Needed, in his view, was a “long-term, patient, but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies…the military significance to us of the Latin American countries lies today rather in the extent to which we may be dependent upon them for materials essential to the prosecution of a war, and more importantly in the extent to which the attitudes of the Latin American peoples may influence the general political trend in the international community…”

He is a near hopeless cynic, stating that “it seems to me unlikely that there could be any other region of the earth in which nature and human behavior could have combined to produce a more unhappy and hopeless background for the conduct of human life than in Latin America.” (Holden & Zolov)
The United States Central Intelligence Agency, since its inception in 1948, has been a key tool for high-level policy planners in its projects and programs throughout the world. The Doolittle Commission Report, published in 1954, outlined as an official policy of the United States to deter and stop Communism.

Needed was “an aggressive, covert, psychological, political and paramilitary organization more effective, more unique and, if necessary, more ruthless than that employed by the enemy. No one should be permitted to stand in the way of the prompt, efficient and secure accomplishment of this mission.” In their song Washington Bullets (album: Sandinista!), The Clash work the covert action of the CIA into their lyrics:

And in the Bay of Pigs in 1961,
Havana fought the playboy in the Cuban sun,
For Castro is a colour,
Is a redder than red,
Those Washington bullets want Castro dead
For Castro is the colour...
...That will earn you a spray of lead

When Bolivia was defeated by Paraguay in the Chaco War of the 1930’s, a government perceived by the people to be loyal only to the upper class had lost much of its legitimacy. There was widespread dissatisfaction amongst the working class and farmers of Bolivia. The loss of territory and lives had discredited the ruling class, whilst participation in the armed forces had given farmers a political consciousness. From the end of war until the Revolution of 1952, new ideologies stirred amongst the working classes and their demands became more audible.
The Nationalist Revolutionary Movement (MNR) grew to be a party with a broad and more useful base of support. Denied victory in the president election of 1951, the party thereafter succeeded in coming to power the following year through revolution, which began with a hunger march through La Paz that was supported by most sectors of civil society.

The military was demoralized and calls by the high-command for unity in the armed forces, against the revolutionary movement, failed. Many officers, in fact, either went abroad during the period, charged each other with coup attempts, or deserted.

By the onset of 1952, the MRN attempted to gain power by force, plotting with General Antonio Seleme, the junta member in charge of the internal administration and the national police. The party, on April 9, seized arsenals and distributed them to civilians. Armed miners marched on La Paz, successfully blocking troop access to the city. At the close of three days fighting, the army had surrendered, and Paz Estenssoro assumed the Presidency on April 16, 1952. (Global Security)

Many referred to the multiclass MNR as “reluctant revolutionaries.” The party did not look to the Soviet Union for a model of government, but, instead, to Mexico. During the first year of Estenssoro’s presidency, however, the more radical faction in the party compelled MNR to carry about high-frequency reform. And so therefore, universal suffrrage was established in July 1952, and the party quickly purged officers from the armed forces considered to be sympathetic with Conservative Parties, reduced troop size and military budget. Plagued by infighting, the party eventually dissolved in 1964, leaving Bolivia in chaos.

The U.S. government responded to the Bolivian Revolution of 1952 with massive economic assistance, despite that the country was one of the weakest in Latin America. By the end of the 1950’s, Bolivia was the largest recipient of U.S. aid in Latin America. By 1958, one-third of the Bolivian national budget was aid from the U.S. government. The aid funded highways construction, food imports, health and educational services and the country’s military forces. The U.S. received Bolivia’s cooperation in blocking or moderating some of the social and economic reforms embarked upon by the radical wing of the revolutionary movement.

The implementation of economic stabilization measures was carried out based on demands from Washington, and further U.S. aid was a condition of the nation’s success. In 1956, put in charge of the stabilization effort in Bolivia was U.S. lawyer George Jackson Eder, a stark monetarist, who deemed the only way in which inflation could be controlled was through the cutting of government spending; cuts in government spending, as a rule, hit social services first. These are the sorts of policies vehemently pursued by keystone global financial institutions, the IMF and World Bank. (Holden & Zolov)

In Cuba, revolution brewed at the end of the 1950’s, when Fidel Castro led an insurgent army of eighty two guerrilla fighters into Cuba on Dec. 2 1956. This attempted revolution was a failure. But, the small guerillas force received a boost when senior staff writer at the New York Times, Herbert L. Mathews, published a number of articles on the movement. Having been taken to Castro’s camp, in order to interview the revolutionary leader, Mathews secured for the times—and Castro and his men—not only articles in the Times, but, also, a picture of the armed leader, along with his signature. This demonstrated that Castro was, indeed, alive and active. The articles represented a sensational coup of sorts for the Times, a la classical American-style yellow journalism of the early twentieth century. Years later, at the tail-end of the 1970’s, Castro boasted how he had tricked Mathews into believing his force was much larger than it had, in reality, been. In his article, Mathews wrote: “General Batista cannot possibly hope to suppress the Castro revolt… Havana does not and cannot know that thousands of men and women are heart and soul with Fidel Castro…it does not know that hundreds of highly respected citizens are helping senor Castro, that bombs and sabotage are constant.”

As soon as Fidel’s July 26 movement succeeded in January 1959, relations between Cuba and the U.S. took a certain downturn. In question were the sweeping economic reforms carried out by Cuba, which were taken by Washington as signs of a communist takeover. In early 1960, Cuba re-embarked on diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, eventually sovietizing the Cuban political system in the 1970’s.

In March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower began the process that would, eventually, manifest into the Bay of Pigs, for which President John F. Kennedy would take the blame. Eisenhower secretly authorized the CIA to develop an invasion force of anti-Castro exiles. As the new Cuban government expropriated ever more property owned by U.S. investors, tensions mounted. Washington responded with an economic embargo on October 13, a mere two weeks before the U.S. presidential election. Both Kennedy and Nixon made statements in favor of U.S. government backing of an exile invasion force; this after both candidates had been briefed on the situation by the CIA. Nixon even spoke of “cutting off the significant items that the Cuban regime needs in order to survive, by cutting off trade…”
Operation Zapata, a U.S. sponsored invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, was only one of myriad covert operations conducted by and on behalf of U.S. state-enterprise interests against the Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The CIA, with Eisenhower’s authorization, had trained 1,300 Cubans. On April 17, 1961, the exile force invaded Cuba with the belief that its arrival would spark a revolution, but, on the other hand, the force was easily suppressed by the regime and people. The failure worked against the United States, helping to legitimize Castros' control, for his regime had, after all, defeated the imperial United States. Kennedy would have to admit the operations' incipience was of origin in the United States. (Holden & Zolov)

In 1973, the CIA, with the help of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, engineered the overthrow and assassination of democratically elected leader Salvadore Allende in Chile. Allende had engaged in a campaign to nationalize American-owned firms and land. The CIA enabled General Augusto Pinochet to replace Allende, who then tortured and murdered thousands of Chileans in a brutal domestic purge. To ensure Allende would never come to power, before having to resort to “jackals,” the United States, through the CIA, spent three million dollars campaigning against him, mostly through radio and print social marketing. Allende had a warm relationship with Cuba and had openly criticized the invasion of the Bay of Pigs.

This all was in line with the earlier outlined U.S. policy which invoked control of Latin American countries as key to U.S. primacy. In 1971, Nixon’s National Security Council articulated, that if the U.S. could not control Latin America, then how could it expect “to achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world?” (Nimmo)

The expense of control meant depopulation towards a more manageable level. The weapons in this war are, by no means, merely economic and military, but technological in the highest sense of the word. To be sure, just as lengthy an article could be dedicated to the “radical populism” igniting many peoples across Latin America.

1. Holden, H. Robert. (2002) Latin America and the United States: A documentary History. New York: Oxford University Press, doc. No. 71 A Realist Views Latin America George F Kennan.

2. Holden, H. Robert. (2002) Latin America and the United States: A documentary History. New York: Oxford University Press, doc. No.68 A Charter for Covert Action? The Congress of the United States and the Doolittle Commission.

3. _____. Bolivian Revolution, 1952, Global Security 2010.
Accessed at:

4. Holden, H. Robert. (2002) Latin America and the United States: A documentary History. New York: Oxford University Press, doc. No. 77 Taming a Revolution in Bolivia George Jackson Eder.

5. Holden, H. Robert. (2002) Latin America and the United States: A documentary History. New York: Oxford University Press, doc. No. 78, 81,84 With Castro in the Sierra Maestra Herbert L. Mathews, Debating Cuba and Castro, Lessons of the Bay of Pigs John F. Kennedy.

6. Nimmo, Kurt. CIA Assasination Program Revealed: Nothing New Under the Sun, Infowars.

Accessed at:

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