Informative Round Table Meeting, “The United States and Terrorism in Latin America” held in the studios of Cuban television, June 3rd 2002, “Year of the Heroes Imprisoned by the Empire.”
(Stenographic version – Council of State)
Randy Alonso.- Good afternoon, viewers
and listeners. For decades Latin America has been the location of choice for
the aggressive and terrorist policies and the counterinsurgency of successive
provoking the death of hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans
and leaving a deep social scar across the countries of the region.
In this afternoon’s round table meeting, “The United States and terrorism in Latin America” I am accompanied by Arleen Rodríguez Derivet, editor of Tricontinental magazine; Rogelio Polanco, editor of the Juventud Rebelde newspaper; Lázaro Barredo, journalist from Trabajadores newspaper; Manuel Hevia, director of the Center for Historical Research on State Security; Nidia Díaz, journalist from Granma newspaper and head of its international page; and José Luis Méndez, researcher from the Center for Historical Research on State Security.
Also with us in the studio today are representatives of the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic, members of the National Special Brigade, members of the Special Committee and the National Committee of the Union of Young Communists.
In the speech our Commander-in-Chief gave in Sancti Spiritus he made it very clear that we would jointly respond to Mr. Bush’s statements.
Last Saturday the people of Holguin, Las Tunas and Granma gave a convincing reply to the American President. Under torrential rain more than 400 000 Cubans braved the inclement weather to speak out against Bush.
Arleen Rodríguez will now present the first commentary of this afternoon’s meeting on the historic event that took place in Major General Calixto García Square in Holguin.
Arleen Rodríguez.- Thank you Randy, and my greetings to all the guests, viewers and listeners.
I think that that speech will be remembered for many years, not just because of the storm that accompanied it but because of the resounding reply given by the inhabitants of the northeast of Cuba which, as Fidel mentioned, were amongst the poorest and most socially excluded before the triumph of the Revolution. This speech will be remembered above all, it seems to me, because it represents a beautiful lesson in history. A lesson given from the retrospective vision of a man who, even as a child, was impressed by the latent inequality that existed around him. He was fully aware of this even though he belonged to a privileged social class at that time.
Many other people from the area, including students, spoke at this magnificent event, but Fidel focused on responding to the lies pronounced by the American President on May 20th. Fidel also remembered the landscape of that region in the 1940s, decades before the triumph of the Revolution.
I particularly enjoyed this tour of Cuban history that Fidel made, the landscapes he took us through when he said that his father owned 10 000 hectares of land and was a latifundista, but that was nothing compared to the land owned by American companies there. What did the Cuban people have? Through his analysis Fidel demonstrates that the Cuban people had been stripped of practically all their property. Strange, therefore, that the American President builds his speech on the basis of the idea that private property must be handed over to the Cuban people. This is exactly what was stolen to be then handed over to American companies, to transnational corporations that made up the many tentacles of the transnational octopus in Latin America and to oligarchs from the Cuban bourgeoisie, just like those who joined President Bush in Miami on May 20th.
I think special attention must be paid to the fact that Fidel reminded us that property rights in Cuba before 1959 were only bestowed upon those large foreign companies and their allies amongst the Cuban oligarchy. At the same time the ownership of the large factories, of the essential public services, of the banks and even of the hospitals and schools belonged to a tiny privileged minority.
Fidel also pointed out that the Revolution has created more ownership than ever could have been created in any era before the 1959 triumph, both in the colonial and in the capitalist phases.
We have seen in previous round table meetings that hundreds of thousands of rural families were given rights over their land. This is one of the great successes of the Revolution and cannot be reduced merely to rights over the land but also the right to a home.
The rural inhabitants not only became the rightful owners of the land they worked but they were not forced to pay any tax on this, something that has never happened anywhere else in Latin America.
In the case of housing, all Cubans have their own home. Those who do not own their own home outright have are guaranteed future housing through payment of a minimal sum, tailored to their income level, made through credit facilities provided by the State. What is certain is that everyone is the owner of their own home, no one is in the situation where their home is owned by a ruthless landlord who could throw them onto the street tomorrow, as was quite usual in pre-Revolutionary Cuba.
In terms of the current situation, I would also like to remind you of what Fidel said after the triumph of the Revolution when he talked of the overwhelming need to go back to the grassroots and rediscover and revive everything for which our national heroes had fought. The fact is that from 1959 until the present day not one of the country’s leaders, not one single leader of the Revolution can be accused of possessing private bank accounts abroad or at home. Fidel said, and I quote: “No senior Cuban revolutionary leader has a dollar in a bank, or a personal bank account in hard currency in Cuba or anywhere else, nor stooges who hold these accounts in the leader’s name. None of them can be bribed. The hundreds of foreign companies doing business in Cuba today know that very well. None of our leaders is a millionaire like the President of the United States, whose monthly wage” and here we learn something new “is almost twice that of all the members of the State Council and the Council of Ministers in a year.”
Fidel also drew our attention to President Bush’s neoliberal friends, of who we are all familiar; the presidents of the second-hand democracies to be found in Latin America that fill their pockets and are the true champions of misappropriation and theft. This is the label Fidel gave them: “the few who do not steal from the public coffers and State taxes steal the surplus value from the poor and the hungry while killing hundreds of thousands of Latin American children every year...”
The truth they have tried to deny and keep from us is what we witness every day. Presidents who have sold their countries’ treasuries, that are denounced across the globe for their corruption and theft of national assets causing almost universalized famine and unemployment amongst their people, appear alongside the President of the United States in glossy international fashion and gossip magazines as important and famous people.
Then comes Fidel’s crucial comments that I believe will be present in all of our minds for many years. We now enjoy the rights won since 1959, but we must never forget, Randy, that there were places in Cuba where infant mortality was over 100 per 1000 live births, as Fidel stated when referring to those three provinces represented there and that now boast an infant mortality rate below that of the United States, at 5.9 per 1000 live births. In these same areas life expectancy at birth has risen from 57 to 76 and the number of doctors has increased from 344 to 10 334. As you can see, we are talking of huge differences.
There were 46 health centers before the triumph of the Revolution, for example, and now there are 4006, practically one hundred times more.
Hospital beds, primary school teachers, universities, of which there were none before and now there are 12 in these three regions. 40% of the population could not read or write, now this is only 0.2%.
Let me reiterate, this is a speech to be treasured, analyzed and above all enjoyed, as it forms part of the people’s response to the Revolution’s call to action; it forms part of the defense of the Cuban people’s most sacred victories. Underneath a torrential downpour all of these truths formed a clear denial of the outrageous statements made by the U.S. President in Miami on May 20th.
I believe that here, together with the speech made in Sancti Spiritus that was in many ways a message to the American people on what Cuba really means, what is being said is that we will defend ourselves even at the cost of our own lives. We have never neglected our defense preparations. These speeches make it very clear that the Revolution’s successes are the results of social justice, this being precisely Bush wants to change. He wants us to become part of that Latin American panorama of which we read or hear daily in the press, to join the long lines of hungry people and countries, such as Argentina, who were rich so long ago but have now become quintessential examples of Third World poverty.
Randy Alonso.- It was a truly impressive event, Arleen. Those of us who had the privilege of being present admired the mass of people from Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas. When the flags were lifted in their hands it really did seem to form a carpet or sea in the Calixto García Revolution Square. The most astounding thing was that, as you were saying, not one single person left in the middle of that downpour, everyone followed Fidel’s words carefully despite the fact that most people had nothing to protect themselves from the rain.
Arleen Rodríguez.- 400 000 people were reported to have attended. 300 000 more attended the event in Sancti Spiritus that we have mentioned. But is seems unbelievable that there were only 400 000; it seemed as if there were many more. As you said, it wasn’t simply the number of people but the enthusiasm and excitement in their faces at being able to share this speech with the leader of the Revolution; this transcendental message emitted from Cuba.
At the beginning of the speech Fidel reflected on the gulf between a man such as Roosevelt, faced with the growing threat from Nazism, and the thuggish style of the current President of the United States. He pointed to the difference between a country that faced specific threats at that time and the unipolar hegemony of today.
I once again repeat that aside from listening to and enjoying this speech it would reward closer study and analysis as a beautiful lesson in history.
Randy Alonso.- This was one of the most extraordinary fights waged in this battle of ideas at a time when our homeland faces severe danger; when Mr. W. – as our Commander-in-Chief has named him – has dared to throw every type of threat and lie against our country. This was a forceful reply from the Cuban people in a war in which the weapons are at the ready, but the ideas more important. Thank you, Arleen, for your comments.
One of the many inaccuracies and lies that dominated President Bush’s speeches of May 20th was his claim that only one country in this continent is not democratic.
He mentioned Latin American
democracies, the representative democracies that exist in our continent today
of which we could say much. What the American President did not mention was the
history of successive interventions in our region by different American
governments in an
attempt to eliminate the independence, sovereignty and democracy of our peoples
and every bid by leftists forces to fight for a better world for all our
The interventionist history of the United States in our region is long indeed, but I propose that Lázaro Barredo offer us a synopsis, mainly from the 1960s and 70s, of these terrible and painful memories.
Lázaro Barredo.- American intervention has been truly catastrophic for the region with estimates suggesting more than 200 U.S. interventions throughout the world, with a significant number of these occurring in our region. This led one infamous politician to paint the history of his country with a grimly fatalist brush: "So far from God and so close to the United States."
United States intervened militarily more than 40 times in countries in our
region. At the end of the 19th century the United States was
preoccupied with internal issues, such as the civilization and occupation of
the West. This led to the dominance of isolationism and the desire to avoid
direct conflict with the Great Powers. It was fundamentally the intervention in
Cuba at the end of that century that led to the sketching of U.S. expansionist
policy whose ultimate expression is contained in the Monroe Doctrine and the
Doctrine of Manifest Destiny.
We are talking about a policy of permanent intervention - more than forty such interventions in the 20th century, as I said - and not merely into neighboring countries but also deep into South America where the expressions used to justify such "civilizing" mission are truly incredible.
In 1905, for example, when the U.S. intervened in the Dominican Republic merely to oversee that country's customs, President Theodore Roosevelt (who had been the Chief of the New York police, which perhaps helps to explain his behavior) wrote to the Head of the Navy: "In terms of the Santo Domingo question, tell Admiral Branford to suppress all types of revolution. I propose to maintain the status quo on the island until the Senate has had time to make its decision on the Treaty and to consider all revolutionary movements as attempts to disrupt the modus vivendi."
One year later, in the first 20th century American intervention in Cuba on September 14th 1906, President Rossevelt wrote to his friend Henry White.
Randy Alonso.- Are we talking about Teddy Roosevelet?
Lázaro Barredo.- Yes, the distant cousin of Franklin Delaney Roosevelt who would also become American President, in the middle of the 20th century.
Randy Alonso.- To whom Fidel referred in his speech?
Lázaro Barredo.- That’s right.
This same Teddy Roosevelt led on of the expeditionary forces that landed at Santiago de Cuba in an earlier American intervention.
President Teddy Roosevelt wrote to his friend: “Right now” - this was written on September 13th 1906 - “I am so furious with that tiny infernal Republic of Cuba that I would like to erase its people off the face of the Earth.”
This is the same attitude that characterized American interventionist
policy throughout the 20th century. This is the guardian of freedom and
democracy; who, in the space of just a few years, would intervene eight times
in Honduras, several times in Cuba, Panama and the Dominican Republic and in
many other countries. This interventionist tendency was
even further by the triumph of the Cuban
Revolution in 1959.
The Americans got their sums completely wrong in 1958, when they were already attempting to thwart the Revolution. In my opinion, and we have discussed this in other meetings, the Americans believed they could continue to dominate the situation. They were quite wrong, were faced with solid Cuban nationalist feeling and effectively shot themselves in the foot. From that moment, the United States was obliged to shift its strategy from the entrenched idea of continental defense to a more localized approach were individual Latin American countries were held responsible for their own internal security. This is where the coup d’état and Plan Condor really took off, projecting a terrifying fascist reality on the entire continent.
It was Cuba's example that provoked this shift in American policy. In 1962 they began to take concrete steps to totally isolate our country, to expel it from the OAS and all other institutions and to force all Latin American countries, with the noble exception at that time of Mexico, to sever links with Cuba. They were successful. This is what came to characterize the entire process. 1965 marked a sui generis page in this long history that defines the United States' interventionist role throughout the entire 20th century. A coup took place in the Dominican Republic to oust the democratically elected President, Juan Bosch, but a progressive nationalist faction from within the armed forces led by Francisco Caamaño attempted to re-establish Bosch's legitimate government. In the interim, under various pretexts and with OAS support, a bloody invasion took place in 1965.
Randy Alonso.- Under one
of the U.S
pretexts in our region: the need to protect American citizens overseas.
Lázaro Barredo.- This is
the same pretext used later to destroy the small Caribbean island of Gr
anada with only 110
000 inhabitants. To allegedly protect some American students that were already
close to the airport that Cuban workers were constructing, the U.S. produced the internal
led to the assassination of Maurice Bishop and all that we have
already mentioned. The U.S. forces were returning from the Lebanon where they
had been soundly defeated and they opportunistically abused the situation to intervene
in Gr anada
Randy Alonso.- I think
there are several interesting elements in the Dominican example, Lázaro,
firstly because it was the prelude to other military coups in our region that
would be openly
by the United States. Venezuela would be a good example of
important element is the U.S. manipulation of the OAS. Despite the general
outcry throughout Latin America as a response to the intervention in the
Dominican Republic and the looting of several Latin American embassies and
despite the protests that arose across our region, the U.S. manipulated the OAS
for its own ends. It chose four puppet governments that would support the
intervention, four dictatorships in effect: the Brazilian coup leaders, Somoza's
dictatorship in Nicaragua, Stroessner in Paraguay and the Honduran government,
to present a supposedly international face. This tactic was repeated in many
other interventions. For this reason the intervention in the Dominican Republic
is highly symbolic. Tactics were tested that would be used again later in U.S.
intervention throughout the world. Lyndon Johnson even remarked in his
throw-away fashion: "I realized that there was no time to talk, discuss or
delay, the American nations cannot, should not and will not allow the
establishment of another communist government in the
western hemisphere." won the respect of
the entire continent. He maintained a respectful and friendly position towards
Cuba and was thrown out of office with the support of the United States who
also murdered Caamaño and his followers.
Randy Alonso.- Thank you, Lázaro for your comments.
Military intervention was not Washington's only preferred method by which to impose its desires and designs on our continent. Throughout the 1960s and '70s it also supported and implanted military dictatorships throughout the continent, particularly in the southern countries. Nidia Díaz will tell us more.
Nidia Díaz.- Lázaro has
already talked to us about the U.S.
innate vocation for intervention, coup d'état and state terrorism. It was in the 1970's
in South America that this terrible vocation reached its peak, leading to the
bloodiest dictatorships our continent has ever known.
Casting our memories back I'm sure everyone will remember the coup in Bolivia in 1971 led by Hugo Bánzer, Pinochet's coup against the Popular Unity government in Chile in 1973 and the beginning of the Uruguayan dictatorship in the same year after Juan María Bordaberry closed his country's Parliament.
In 1976, the death of Domingo Perón and the political instability in Argentina produced one of the bloodiest dictatorships of the entire period. These were dictatorships given to us by the United States. This is not merely my opinion, the State Department itself, at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the '70s had instructed its Embassies in Latin America to create two separate task forces: one to provoke instability within Latin American society and spread the germ of political unrest amongst every government of the region, and the second group to search for potential coup leaders for future military uprisings.
How was this done? We don't need to go back in time to answer this question, we are seeing it happen right now in Venezuela. By paying journalists who have no objection to falsifying events; by buying and financing the mass media to create a climate of instability and to broadcast lies and deceit against the national government and by searching for coup leaders.
What is Carmona if he is not a businessman chosen by the U.S. Embassy itself and American right-wing interests to lead the coup against Hugo Chávez. The methods the U.S. uses have not changed since the 1970s.
Obviously, in the 1970s there were certain conditions that favored military coups.
Firstly, the politics of the Cold War in the global context produced an almost pathological anti-communism in certain sectors of society, particularly in Latin American. This is indisputable.
second place, the example offered by the Cuban Revolution which, as Lázaro has
already mentioned, the United States was determined to crush, and the very
survival of the Revolution into the 1970s with all the social justice it had
bestowed upon its people, was a powerful example to be
imitated by every country
in our region.
we must add the deep economic crisis of the 1970s that we all probably remember
as it received so much media attention. This
crisis was caused by nothing less than world capitalism's growing difficulty in
reinvesting surplus value in new capital. What was needed, therefore, were
economic policies that would violently and aggressively cast aside the welfare
state policies that dominated the globe at that time. This would never come
from the welfare
states in power at the
time but only from the hands of dictatorships.
The Latin American dictatorships were therefore implanted by the United States to counterpoise the example of the Cuban Revolution and all revolutionary, progressive and nationalistic ideals that could emerge in our continent and to keep the anticommunist flame alive. Above all, these dictatorships were designed to develop and enforce the neoliberal policies that were seen as the solution to the economic crisis afflicting capitalism at the beginning of the 1970s.
What did these dictatorships bring? More than 50 000 murders, 400 000 imprisoned and 30 000 "disappeared", almost all of these within Argentina itself. Perhaps the most tragic statistic is that 3 000 children were amongst those people disappeared by the Latin American dictatorships.
This is the United States' true vocation of which Lázaro spoke. This is the vocation they practice even today in their attempts to impede democratic and national governments; governments that may bring social justice to our region, even where they are neither communist or socialist; governments that may bring comfort to our wounded American lands.
Randy Alonso.- This implantation of dictatorships in Latin America, as you said Nidia, is part of the U.S. vision towards Latin America that found a focus in the known as the American Counterinsurgency Plan or the alleged defense of U.S. national security. We must remember that for the U.S. the phrase "America for the Americans" was still valid in the 1960s and '70s leading them to seek to protect their national security in Latin America.
I would like to ask Lázaro Barredo to comment on this Counterinsurgency Plan.
Lázaro Barredo-. The
triumph of the Cuban Revolution caused a shock wave in the Latin American
sphere and, as we have already explained, traumatized many U.S.
From that moment on the situation in Latin America began to grow more complex with the dominance of problems of which today's generations are the heirs: poverty, social marginalization, and other critical political, economic and social situations. Amongst many leaders of the time there existed a certain degree of nationalism in the economic sphere and other manifestations which, after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, the U.S. leaders were quick to classify within the context of the Cold War as a pretext for possible communist infiltration in the region.
the terror of communism that motivates, the irrational fear of the
"bogeyman" of the Cuban Revolution that offers the driving force
behind that era. It is in that climate that John F.
Kennedy's preventative measures emerged addressing the need to implement a
policy offering a certain degree of differentiated assistance to Latin American
countries. This gave rise to the key strategy used in opposition to the Cuban
revolution: the so-called Alliance for Progress. $20 000 million was offered - a
truly massive sum at that time - in aid for the development of Latin America.
This was the figure suggested, but full
payment was never made.
Within the desire to contain communism, coordination began to emerge between the Pentagon and Latin American armed forces in counterinsurgency. Military-strategic foci were slightly adjusted in terms of attention to Latin America's bellicose problems. This is where the OAS played the leading role we have already mentioned as the shield behind which American plans to isolate Cuba continued apace. This came to a certain culmination in 1962 with the departure of Cuba from the OAS.
same year Operation
Mongoose was being planned. This is the largest operation ever planned or
implemented by an American administration. After Operation Mongoose, American policy towards
our country has changed very little; just more of the same. The failure of this
operation in 1962, after the
Crisis, left the United States with thousands of agents well-trained in covert operations
and specialized activities within the security agencies. The United States
therefore decided to employ these agents in Latin America; to penetrate
security bodies, police groups, political bodies and make close ties with the
regimes of certain countries.
The military coups began in 1961. A military junta seized power in El Salvador in 1961, only to be replaced by another coup led by President Ydígoras Fuentes.
Villegas in Honduras was accused of weakness before the threat of communist
subversion and was overthrown in October 1963. In South America
n the coup against
President Joao Goulart in Brazil began a new wave of military uprisings: the
coup in Bolivia in 1964, in Peru in 1962, the coup led by the Ecuadorian
President Otto Arosemena in July 1963 and General Onganía's coup in Argentina in
This is the chief characteristic, as a result of the military strategy devised by the Pentagon-Latin American armed forces conspiracy, of the 1960s and '70s. In order to understand Operation Condor we must first examine Operation Camelot that was widely implemented by the CIA in Chile in 1965. This succeeded in identifying the major tendencies of the different political classes but went underground as a result of the popular protest against this shameless interference. In the same period, the Tupamaros movement emerged in Uruguay, the Revolutionary People's Army and the leftists Peronist Montoneros arose in Argentina and Che unleashed his guerilla war in Bolivia after Hugo Bánzer came to power in a coup after bloody conflict with the leftists populists led by General Juan Torres. In short, this was a period of feverish activity that led to ever more repression and ever more torture.
the most notorious examples of this counterinsurgency is the role played by the
well-known torturer, Dan Mitreoni. Mitreoni was a police official trained by
the Americans and sent first to Brazil and then to Uruguay where he employed
and entrenched the most hideous forms of torture that rivaling even the Nazi's
cruelty. Dan Mitreoni coined a popular phrase whilst working for the Uruguayan
security services that will give our viewers some idea of what this man was and
the policy he represented: "The
correct pain, in
place, for the correct
amount of time to obtain the desired effect."
Randy Alonso.- Thank you, Lázaro for your comments on U.S. counterinsurgency policies in our region.
These were policies of aggression and terror towards our people and any attempt on their part to rise up and defend their sovereignty, their integrity as nations and the rights of each and every one of them. A classic example of the scars these American policies left in our continent is the dictatorship in Argentina, ever-present in the minds of our entire continent and very close to the history of our own people.
I would like to ask Arleen Rodriguez to talk to us today about the military dictatorship in Argentina, the terror it sowed in that country and the consequences whose repercussions are still felt in modern-day Argentina.
Arleen Rodríguez.- Thank you, Randy. What is more, whilst we discuss this coup, that began on March 24th 1976, I would like the viewers, the listeners and our guests in the studio to think of today's Argentina, the culmination of many long years of imperialism.
like to mention something that always captures my attention when we analyze
Latin America. Before all these dictatorships came to Latin American countries,
before they were invaded, etc, Cuba had passed through the same history. Cuba
was a trial run for what would occur later across the continent: we suffered a
terrorism was everywhere, young people “disappeared” or were murdered and an
incredibly widespread privatization process and neoliberalism in the making
were imposed. The late Regino Boti, an expert in these issues, suggested that
the implantation of primitive neoliberalism in Cuba was so brutal that it gave
rise to its own nemesis; the Cuban Revolution.
I make this point because we often hear the excuse that Cuban communism had spread and the influence of the Cuban Revolution was present everywhere. Even when the Cuban Revolution did not yet exist, however, the Americans were still using the same tactics against us - this was Cuba's fate along with the rest. Cuba would have been left with even more dead, even more disappeared people. We would have been a country, not like Argentina, but more like the impoverished Haiti of today.
I will now refer to the specific case of Argentina. At the time of the military coup, in March 1976, the United States had learned from what had occurred in Chile. It had the Chilean precedent and according to some experts, such as Petras, Washington had realized that the only way to re-establish its hegemony in the region was through state terrorism. The conditions in Argentina were such, with Perón now dead and María Estela Martínez in power, that corruption was widespread, the government inefficient and the death squads such as the infamous triple A (the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance) beginning to emerge. I also remember the BRAC (Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities) and many other things that were tried and tested in Cuba before being applied throughout Latin America.
It was said at that time that the military junta led by Videla would impose order. What it actually imposed was a toll of 30 000 disappeared, thousands dead and 368 concentration camps where people were tortured, murdered and disappeared. As this history reluctantly emerges we gradually learn of the methods used to disappear people, such as throwing them alive into the sea.
this term is born the terrible label of "disappeared". Aside from the
state terrorism and
panic, a terrible psychological legacy was sown in the minds of the survivors
in modern-day Argentina. Everyone knew the ultimate fate of the disappeared but
none of the relatives have been able to bury their dead or even know where they
died. We will never forget the terrible tales of children torn from their
mother's wombs, or born in captivity to parents who were later murdered, to be
then adopted by their parent's killers. Only after many years did these
children discover that the family they had grown up with were in fact the
killers of their natural parents.
In our own profession, for example, there were more than 100 journalists either murdered or disappeared in Argentina under the total censorship. The word "disappeared" did not exist for example, and was utterly banned from all press even though everyone was aware of the practice. The numbers seeking asylum, mainly in Europe, increased dramatically, but people also talked of internal exile; the enforced silence of a people too terrorized to speak.
It was amidst this situation that movements such as the ‘Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo’ began to emerge. We must remember, however, that when they began searching for their disappeared children, knocking on all doors, including those of the church, they were known as the "crazy women of May". When we examine the facts, however, we see that it was the soldiers themselves, who ordered the women to walk in pairs, because it was illegal for three people to meet together. These were dictatorships praised, applauded and supported by the American governments of the era.
In a study made by international experts this dictatorship is credited with having left more than 30 000 Argentineans dead or disappeared; with destroying the social fabric of the nation; with killing thousands of activists and popular leaders and with undermining much of the resistance movement for ever. Practically the whole left-wing was destroyed, erased from the map, murdered and disappeared. This dictatorship also left a legacy that we can see being honored in today’s political panorama in Argentina, as I was saying.
According to the same American political scientist, Petras, Argentina passed logically from the state of terror implanted by the Military Junta to a so-called democracy and has finally entered a period of recolonization. This whole process is finalized with the dollarization of the economy, the sale of Argentine public assets to transnationals and complete subjection to the formulas of the usual international financial bodies.
In this process the Argentinean bourgeoisie participates in the destruction of the popular foundations and worker’s power and in the construction of the neoliberal Argentinean economy.
The fourth aspect of Petras’ theory of the importance of the March 1976 coup is the transformation of Peronism from a national movement that responded to the needs and demands of the people into a new neoliberal party. He goes on to talk of the taming of intellectual thought through repression. There are but a few remaining examples of revolutionaries –many were disappeared almost immediately, as is the case of Rodolfo Walsh. Walsh was an Argentinean journalist and intellectual who left a vast legacy of denouncements and was murdered in cold blood with no attempt to cover up the fact as as soon as he published an open letter to the Military Junta.
This is the legacy of this whole military coup that destroyed all the myths of the possibility of independent development in Latin America. This is the legacy to modern-day Argentina which, although one of the richest countries in the continent, as we have already said, has over 20% unemployment and more than 50% of its population living in hunger and desperation. Many commentators, including Jorge Venten, believe that “there is only one possible way out; a true internal revolution”.
The United States’ strategy of using a reign of terror which they themselves sponsored, encouraged, developed and blessed, therefore (including the Schools of the Americas and the torture teachers including Dan Mitreoni in Uruguay as Lázaro has told us, and everything else that was tried and tested in Latin America), did not solve a single one of the continent’s critical problems. Instead, these problems were compounded and Latin America was made hostage to transnational policies, to the policies of the IMF and the economic policy of the U.S. Today, Latin America is in the hands of the Empire and the only option remaining them is social revolution.
We must now wait and see how the social fabric that those military coups rent asunder will be repaired. What is certain is that the people continue to fight to change the established order where the U.S. policy of terror has not yet succeeded; the example they sought to spread throughout the Southern Cone and even more barbarically in Central America is still bravely resisted.
Randy Alonso.- 30 000 people disappeared, as you were saying Arleen. This left a deep scar indeed in the minds of a generation of Argentineans and is still felt by the young people of today. This tragedy lives on in the moribund neoliberal model, in the memory of parents separated from their children, the loss of so many and the use of such barbaric methods as the throwing of live human beings into the sea from helicopters.
Arleen Rodríguez.- And the use of the electric cattle prod.
What we must remember is that most of the victims of the Latin American dictatorships were young, this is undeniable. Hence the radicalization of groups such as the mothers and children, the heirs to all that happened. What is certain is that they exterminated an entire generation; a generation that was fully aware of the problems in their countries.
Hebe de Bonatine posed a question in the event to mark the anniversary of the ‘Plaza de Mayo mothers’ movement: what had their children done to make them the enemies of power? They had quite simply dared to imagine that they could change the status quo which the military portrayed as part of a highly economically efficient world. This efficiency in fact sowed the seeds of the Argentinean economy’s destruction. In those days there were already poverty belts and rapidly growing shanty towns and the young people were conscious of this. We must not forget that they could look towards Cuba in the process of building a fairer and more just society. These young people were not fighting in the streets, however, neither were they forming guerrilla groups, the murdered and disappeared of Latin America, and in Argentina in particular, were simply people who wanted to peacefully alter the established order. These young people and students were disappeared. Our generation is deeply affected by those disappearances and killings.
Lázaro Barredo.- That was when the death squads began to emerge.
Randy Alonso.- Death squads were introduced then and have become widespread throughout Latin America, even today. The Argentinean dictatorship was undoubtedly the most bloody of the entire continent, but it was preceded, as Arleen said, by the guiding example of the military dictatorship in Chile. The coup against the constitutionally elected president, Salvador Allende, is something we Cubans shall never forget.
I would like to ask Nidia Díaz to talk to us about that dictatorship and terror implanted in a Latin American country with the collusion of the American authorities.
Nidia Díaz.- Well, we have already mentioned Operation Camelot, launched against the entire Chilean population by the American intelligence services to determine who was who and with whom they allied themselves.
By 1969 the State Department was convinced, on the basis of information collected by both the intelligence services and the Department itself, that a left-wing candidate would be victorious in the 1970 presidential elections. The situation that had arisen in Chile and the left-wing alliances that had been formed in the months running up to the election convinced them of a leftist victory and convinced them also of the need to halt what they saw as Chilean communism.
By 1969, therefore, the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon had mutually decided that everything must be done to prevent the leftist candidate, Salvador Allende, from assuming the presidency. The State Department put all its weight behind an alternative candidate, Jorge Alessandri. Their plan failed, however, and Allende won the election on September 4th with 37 % of the vote, followed by Alessandri with 35 %.
In 1969, four American generals met with four of their Chilean counterparts for lunch on the outskirts of Washington. They talked of the political situation in Chile and, over dessert, the Chileans were asked how their army would react to a leftist victory in the elections: the victory of the Popular Unity Party and Salvador Allende.
Carlos Toro, one of those high Chilean officials based in Washington at the time answered immediately: “ We would seize the Presidential Palace in half and hour and we would burn it to the ground without hesitation if we had to.” This was almost a premonition on the part of this Chilean airforce General as this was precisely what happened three years later, with the participation of American troops and even American pilots who had received visas in 1973 to enter Chile to practice aerial maneuvers.
Randy Alonso.- It is even said that on that September 11th, as happened recently in Venezuela, Yankee warships just happened to off the Chilean coast conducting Unitas exercises. Everything had been prepared for the September 11th coup d’état.
Nidia Díaz.- Everything was such a coincidence. Just as the U.S. Ambassador coincidentally flew to Washington on the 10th to receive final instructions for the overthrow of President Allende.
We must remember, as I was saying a moment ago, that the U.S. State Department planned to create internal instability that would lead to a coup. In the case of Chile, this coup was even justified amongst certain social sectors as a means of alleviating the instability and shortages that had arisen, as even the internal Chilean market had been stripped of provisions.
We Cubans remember, as first-hand witnesses to the months leading up to the coup of September 11th 1973, the task-forces based in the American Embassy, destabilizing the country with assistance from the Chilean right.
El Mercurio newspaper –we have already mentioned the role of this type of press in preparing a coup- propagated fear of instability amongst important sectors of Chilean society such as the middle class, women and immigrants. The policies to create instability reached their crescendo with the truckers’ strike.
It has been proved that the State Department funded the truckers’ strike. They paid both the strikers and those who did not strike. If five were to strike, three turned out but the pay of the other two went to the transport union, allowing this corrupt union bureaucracy to also benefit from the instability.
The Chilean case is very vivid for Cubans because President Allende was very close to our hearts and we will never forget the bonds of solidarity between the two peoples. By August, some loyal Chilean generals began to abandon their posts, as was the case of General Prattt who was replaced by Pinochet on August 23rd for obvious reasons. On September 9th, in an address to the Chilean nation, President Allende himself reported that “we only have grain reserves for three months”. The reserves had all been depleted to add to the internal chaos.
came the bombing of the Presidential Palace and the ultimate bloody fascistic
coup of September 11th with its corresponding repression and
This was followed by the national stadium massacres and the death squads that
went in search of those that were somehow linked to the Popular Unity
government, even close or distant relatives of party activists. All were hunted
down and murdered in the first months of the coup that caused, according to the
Truth Commission statistics, more than 3 000 disappearances and a still unknown
number of deaths in Chile.
We will always remember the hands of Victor Jara and many other gruesome episodes; we will always remember the Cuban people’s solidarity with our Chilean brothers and sisters before, during and after the coup. And we will always remember how in those early days after the Popular Unity victory the mass media linked to the North American and Latin American right ran the headlines “Communism in Chile triumphant”, “Chile; another Cuba” and so fomented a press campaign against the democratic and constitutional government of Salvador Allende.
This is the same story that is now repeated in Venezuela, and that will surely be repeated again. As Lázaro said, and as is clearly recorded in CIA, Pentagon and White House documents, they will never allow another Cuba in Latin America or anywhere in the world as long as the hegemonic and now unipolar policy of the U.S. government prevails.
Randy Alonso.- The American administration had given the CIA express orders to act without delay in Chile, organizing all necessary plans and paying all necessary costs to overthrow Salvador Allende.
These were the precise instructions of the American administration to the Central Intelligence Agency: to support every fascist policy implanted by Pinochet in Chile throughout the dictatorship. These same policies were also supported by the Israeli Intelligence services. And it was these policies of terror and violence that Pinochet imposed on his own country enabling the grafting of the neoliberal economic model that would supposedly make Chile a shining example of neoliberal success in Latin America.
One of Chile’s most outstanding writers, Eduardo Galeano, was prompted to declare: “the thousands killed and tortured under Pinochet’s dictatorship were called ‘excesses’, and one of the most unequal societies on the planet was labeled “the Chilean miracle”.
“At the beginning of 1998, just a little while ago” Galeano remarks “the liberal newspaper The New York Times celebrated the 25th anniversary of the coup d’état thanks to which Chile was converted from a ‘banana republic’ into the economic star of Latin America”.
“Despite the ‘excesses” Galeano continues “Pinochet’s model was touted as a universal panacea”
Nidia Díaz.- An important point that I forgot to mention Randy, is that where the State Department had instructed all its Embassies to sow instability in every Latin American country in the 1970’s, in Chile it exceeded itself.
In Chile’s the U.S. National Security Council created a special group charged with destabilizing the country and overthrowing Allende. This group was led by Henry Kissinger. I think this is important to bear in mind because it shows that interference in Chile was on a different scale.
Randy Alonso.- Yes, Kissinger is certainly the quintessential figure of intervention in the 1960’s and 70’s and undoubtedly warrants some comment in today’s meeting.
It was not only Chile and Argentina that suffered from American intervention, although they could be described as the classic examples of the reign of a policy of terror in Latin America. Other Southern Cone countries also saw military dictatorships rise to power; also saw terror become the order of the day; also saw their people murdered or imprisoned or scarred for life by terror and violence.
I’d like to ask Rogelio Polanco to comment.
Rogelio Polanco.- Yes, we are talking about various countries in which there was always a constant: they all suffered shameless open intervention by the United States designed to impose regimes favorable to U.S. foreign policy.
These dictatorships came to power with the consent, complicity, consultation and financial support of the United States. This is very important to recall because I am going to talk of one of the longest and bloodiest dictatorships in Latin America: Stroessner’s dictatorship in Paraguay from 1956 to 1989, only comparable with Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, the Duvalier family in Haiti and the Somoza family in Nicaragua, all of which also lasted for decades.
In 1979 the House of Representatives held that ritual and farcical debate on human rights with a view to presenting the Paraguayan theme before a Subcommittee of International Human Rights Organizations and the U.S. Foreign Policy. We are all aware that the Paraguayan dictatorship provoked the death and disappearance of countless people, but at that time the U.S. Joint Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, affirmed that the human rights situation in Latin America was O.K.
“Even in Paraguay?” the audience asked him. “The situation in Paraguay” Christopher declared, ”has improved. The tendency is towards positive development. In a word: we have decided to grant new American loans to Paraguay”.
This has also been a constant: throughout this entire period the Latin American military dictatorships have not only received American advice by also American funding and the presence of American transnationals who were welcomed with open arms into all those countries.
Randy Alonso.- There were no blockades, no economic restrictions?
Rogelio Polanco.- Exactly
Randy Alonso.- Completely the opposite in other words: funding, aid, assistance in the hunt for credit from international bodies.
Rogelio Polanco.- All markets and all companies were open to American transnational capital at that time.
Let us look at Uruguay. The Uruguayan dictatorship lasted from 1973 to 1985 – 12 years. On June 27th 1973, President Bordaberry and the armed forces launched a coup d’état through the dissolution of Parliament and the formation of a civil-military government. There is considerable evidence of American participation in Uruguay and CIA participation on the orders of the American government;
More than 100 000 people were interrogated and tortured In Uruguay; around 500 000 Uruguayans were forced into exile. One in every six was forced to flee their country. Various torture centers, or punishment centers as they were called, with names like ‘Hell’ or ‘Green Hell’ existed. These employed the most barbaric torture methods learned, of course in the Schools of the Americas from their U.S. teachers.
There was also electoral fraud in Uruguay at this time, carried out by the United States itself. There has recently been important revelations in this respect and I would like to link this with what was happening in Brazil at the time.
In Brazil, as we know, there was also a coup d’état. This occurred in 1964 and established a military government under General Castillo Branco.
The armed forces overthrew President Goulart on March 31st 1964 and assumed total control of the country.
President Johnson do in reply? He rushed to send his warmest greetings to the
military, on April 2nd, adding that, “the
people have watched the political difficulties experienced in your great nation
with some anxiety. We admire the firm conviction of the Brazilian community to
resolve these difficulties within the framework of constitutional democracy”.
This was President Johnson’s reaction to the military coup in Brazil.
of the Brazilian military were expressed throughout the following years in the
repression of the anti-dictatorial movements and parties right up until 1983.
What I want to say concerning the Uruguay-Brazil link is very interesting. It only emerged a few weeks ago, as is always the case with documents the U.S. attempts to hide to prevent the truth emerging on the role it played in those tragic years for Latin America.
These documents have now been declassified by the National Archives Administration and were published at the beginning of May. One of these, registered by the AP news agency, declares that: “the dictatorial government in Brazil was the United States’ best ally in South America against the communism of 30-years ago,” – history has demonstrated this - “in that it impeded a leftist electoral victory in Uruguay, as related in U.S. presidential documents of the time”. This was denounced at the time by Uruguayan political parties and new documents have emerged to confirm their claims.
is a good counterbalance”, President Richard Nixon told the German Chancellor
Willy Brandt in a meeting in the Presidential Residence on
Cayo Vizcaíno, Florida on December 29th,
“Six days before, Nixon had confided to Edward Heath in Bermuda that “U.S. opposition to the flourishing leftist movement is backed in Brazil. Brazil is, after all, the key to the future” Nixon said.
Nixon’s comments appear amongst almost 110 000 pages of presidential documents mainly concerning national security that have been published this week.
on to say “the Brazil of that time was governed by Garrastazú Médici, a general
imposed by the military apparatus. His government was characterized by severe
political repression and censorship, but its merit for Washington was that it
had brought about a 12% growth among
This is how we now discover what was happening in the 1970’s.
The cable goes on to say: “The United States and Brazil oppose, and will continue to oppose Castro”, this is what Nixon was saying at the time ”until he ceases the difficulties he is causing his Latin American neighbors”.
He also said that “although Brazil was a counterbalance, its government does not meet our democratic guidelines” –see how he expresses himself “ he added, however; “the Brazilian leader has been good for Brazil and we wish to maintain that. Provided he takes no foreign policy decisions against us, whatever he does will be acceptable to us. The Brazilians helped us to alter the Uruguayan election” Nixon said to Heath.
These are revelations of U.S. interference and intervention and of the support given to various Latin American dictatorships, particularly in the Southern Cone, throughout this period. It is only now that we are discovering the full truth.
Randy Alonso.- Thank you,
Polanco, for your comments. In the speech where Bush attempted to give a
democratic lesson to our people he completely failed to mention the military
dictatorships imposed in our region with the support and funding of the United
States. Neither did he mention what those dictatorships did during those
decades that came to be known as
the “international terror” or the
so-called ‘Condor Plan’. This plan, in which the U.S. played a central role, is
still being unraveled by journalists and researchers.
I’d like to ask Nidia Díaz for her comments.
Nidia Díaz.- The “international
as you called it, was the name given to the ‘Condor Plan’ in the 1970’s. This
was nothing other than the coordination of the intelligence services of the
South American dictatorships to hunt down, ‘disappear’ and murder their
opponents; opponents which then and now they have labeled terrorists; be they
communists, socialists, revolutionaries, guerillas or any citizen that had the
morality and courage to stand up to the military dictatorships of the time.
The Condor Plan was born in 1974. The Chilean coup came in 1973 and by February 1974 a new organization had been established under the control of Colonel Manuel Contreras: the National Intelligence Office.
Manuel Contreras hatched this dreadful plan. He, along with Pinochet, was one of the most notorious killers of the Chilean regime. It aimed to join forces with Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil, and later, around 1978, with Peru and Ecuador to coordinate efforts to hunt down every single potential adversary to those dictatorships.
Comrade Hevia has already mentioned the Death Caravan that began in Chile but extended as far as Washington with the murder of Letelier. This grizzly Caravan was instigated in Chile but extended to third, fourth and fifth countries, right into U.S. territory itself. This was the Condor Plan.
Each country had its own Condor Plan: Condor I, Condor II, Condor III. This even troubled the U.S., the Pentagon and the State Department at the outset as they feared they would be unable to decode who belonged to which plan.
I, of course was Chile, Pinochet and Manuel Contreras. It was there that
Operation Condor was launched in 1974 as an example to the rest of the
continent. In November 1975 Contreras invited intelligence chiefs and some
high-ranking military officials from other Southern Cone countries to Santiago
de Chile to an all-expenses paid meeting that was know as the First Working Meeting of National
Intelligence. With this handy euphemism they plotted the mass murders and
episodes of the 1970’s.
1976, and even before, according to CIA and State Department declassified
information, the CIA had issued a document to its Latin American bases which
contained text from the meeting held between November 25th to
December 1st 1975 to
entrench the Condor Plan: “ It was reported that Colonel Manuel Contreras, head
of the DINA, initiated a program of cooperation” - take note of the word - “
intelligence services of various South American countries, that was baptized
the Condor Plan”.
“On August 18th 1976, the State Department issued a document” – this coincides with the assassination of Orlando Letelier a month before in Washington - “revealing that ex-Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger and officials from his department had been warned of “rumors” claiming that Operation Condor included plans for assassinations of subversive politicians and prominent figure both within the national territory as well as in Southern Cone countries and beyond”.
month later, in September 1976, the Pentagon reported in a recently
declassified document that: “Condor is the code word given to the persecution
of leftists, communists and Marxists in the Southern Cone. Cooperation
between the intelligence
services of those countries has recently been established to examine active
Marxists in the member countries. Chile is the reported center of these
in this same State Department document, a 1978 cable from the U.S. Ambassador
in Paraguay, Robert White, to the Department itself affirms: “ the
Head of the
General staff of the Paraguayan dictator , Alfredo
had remarked that the U.S. installation in the canal zone was being used to coordinate the
activities of those offic ials participating
in Operation Condor”; the same
Operation that counted on logistic support, visas, false documents and
entry and exit visas to any country for its participants, who were, obviously,
Randy Alonso.- Persecuting people whenever they went.
Nidia Díaz.- That’s right, they had all kinds of logistic support, hotels, etc.
Let me repeat, Operation Condor led to more than 50 000 deaths, 30 000 arrests and countless incarcerations. Nevertheless, we must now ask ourselves: Has Operation Condor truly finished? Did it really die with the military dictatorships? Is there not another Operation Condor now, under a different name and the banner of the war against terrorism, in which the current U.S. emperor convokes all countries to be either with him or against him?
not terrorist laws that are being passed in Great Britain, France and the
United States and many other countries that support this dirty war? This is
what we are living now –a faceless and nameless war. Is this not merely an
extension of Operation Condor, known
of and permitted by the United States,
because what the U.S. did not permit those Latin American dictatorships to do,
they did not do?
Quite simply, Operation Condor was a mass slaughter of Latin American peoples carried out under the protection, knowledge and support of the United States that has now been extended in the supposed war against modern-day terrorism. These terrorists are often the anti-globalization demonstrators, those marginalized and excluded sections of Argentinean, Brazilian and Uruguayan societies, all those who are no longer victims of military dictatorships but rather of the neoliberal policies they implanted during their reigns of terror in the 1970’s and 80’s. This must be analyzed later, perhaps even in this very meeting.
Randy Alonso.- Quite
right, Nidia. Eduardo Galeano, the writer, also synthesized what the Condor
Plan represented to him when he said: “soldiers and policemen moved across the
entire region like it was their own backyard. Frontiers did not exist for them.
This Latin American common market, the market of death is the only common
market that has actually worked
Up until 20 years ago, people were kidnapped anywhere, whatever the nationality of the kidnappers and the kidnapped. All were tortured with an eye on whom, but never on where.”
This explains, therefore, why Buenos Aires has been a slaughter house for thousands of Argentineans and for many Latin American exiles from various countries. This is true of the Chilean general Carlos Pratts, who had been an Allende minister; of Juan José Torres the ex-President of Bolivia, of Celmar Miquelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, the Uruguayan members of parliament and of many Spaniards and Italians, some French, Swedes, Swiss and people from many other countries, all killed as a result of Operation Condor, permitted and encouraged by the United States. The crucial role this country, and one individual in particular, played is only emerging recently. We are talking of a well-known figure in several U.S. administrations, someone who even won the Nobel Peace Prize, this after killing so many Vietnamese. We are talking of non other than Henry Kissinger.
Arleen Rodríguez, would you like to comment?
Arleen Rodríguez.- Yes, thank you, Randy.
As Nidia was saying, they undoubtedly knew about Operation Condor; they knew so much that the State Department now protects Kissinger to prevent him talking. Despite the many accusation and law suits filed against him he says nothing and nothing happens to him.
Kissinger is now 78. He was the National Security advisor under Nixon in 1969 and 1973 and Secretary of State between 1973 and 1977, under both Nixon and Ford.
Today he is a personality who even boasts a Nobel Peace Prize as you said, perhaps the most shameful Peace Prize ever awarded. There are other cases, but this is undoubtedly one of the most notorious – a Peace Prize given to a man accused of being the intellectual author and of promoting and covering up crimes in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, East Timor, Chile and Argentina.
He is also reputed to be one of the leading figures in the genocide of the Vietnamese people, using every kind of weapon imaginable and leaving more than 4 million Vietnamese dead.
I would like to point out Randy, whilst we are talking of Kissinger as the brains behind the foreign policy of that era, that we must not forget that not one single high-ranking political or military official responsible for that war has ever stood before a war crimes tribunal for crimes against humanity, as the law suits leveled against them demand.
Rigoberta Menchú is amongst those filing suits against Kissinger as it is also claimed that the policy of the then-Secretary of State was directly involved in the Guatemalan genocide of which Rigoberta’s family were victims.
Kissinger is certainly one of the most scandalous cases of public figures with so much alleged academic prestige. He today charges six-figure fees to give conferences and talks around the world on international politics. The number of places where he is welcome, however, has reduced somewhat.
Last year, for example, he had to flee France after he was called as a witness, not even as the suspect, by a French lawyer investigating the deaths of French citizens in Chile. Kissinger simply disappeared overnight from the hotel where he was staying.
Currently, one of the world’s bestsellers is the book The Trial of Henry Kissinger by the British journalist Christopher Jenkins. This book contains the famous conversation between Kissinger and Pinochet that has been circulated by the alternative press. This is only a fraction of all that was said, however.
In 1976, Kissinger gave all the transcripts of his telephone conversations as Secretary of State to the Congress library, under the strict condition that they would not be made public until five years after his death. Recently, these 10 000 documents were handed over to the U.S. Congress but still no-one knows anything of their content.
Christopher Jenkins’ book contained the famous conversation between Kissinger and Pinochet that took place on June 8th 1976. Here Kissinger classes Pinochet as a victim of leftist groups around the world and expresses his desire that the Chilean dictator remain firm, offering the possibility of every kind of military and economic aid to Pinochet. This was the hypocritical world of: “Please, try and make a small human rights gesture, so no-one questions the aid we give you, and I will be able to sell you some fighters”.
is also involved in ITT, one of the most influential
in Allende’s downfall, and with
Lockheed Martin, responsible for the sale of those fighters to Chile.
Not forgetting of course, that in this conversation of June 8th 1976, Pinochet complained of the activities of Orlando Letelier in Washington, of his using his access to Congress to denounce the atrocities committed in Chile. Coincidentally, Letelier was assassinated a few months later in Washington DC. Yet another example of the involvement of other figures associated with Kissinger’s sinister passage through the U.S. State Department.
This was also the conversation where Kissinger admitted that he had personally promoted Chile as the host of the OAS conference in order to improve the public image and prestige of the Southern Cone country. The possibility was also discussed; Pinochet asked permission, to take action against Peru which, according to the Chilean had a strong Cuban influence at that time. It was here that Pinochet declared: “Well, if there is Cuban influence and we can prove it, we are fully prepared to intervene”. These are the exact words of that conversation.
As we said, Kissinger has claimed the right to silence, not even responding to the written questionnaires sent him or the law suits presented against him. Various accusations were leveled against him last year, when judge Roger Leroy requested his testimony on May 29th 2001, provoking his quick exit from France.
A law suit was presented against him on June 1st 2001 in Buenos Aires for his role in Operation Condor and the disappearances in Argentina.
On July 31st 2001 the Chilean judge, Juan Guzmán, sent a request that Kissinger appear as a witness in the investigation of the execution of the American, Charles Horman, in September 1973. Kissinger never replied.
The Argentinean judge, Rodolfo Canicobas, sent a request to Washington asking Kissinger to give his opinion and any information on Operation Condor and the events mentioned in the indictment. Once again, Kissinger did not respond. These are the general facts.
There are also the victims from the Rigoberta Menchú Foundation and the American Jurists Association. Many are laying blame before Kissinger who is, as we have seen, a consultant to around 30 multinationals, including ITT and Lockheed Martin, both involved in the Chilean coup and other companies linked to all the events we have mentioned.
quite simply like to ask why, after so many years, does Kissinger hold onto his
impunity when even people like Pinochet are taken to trial, although we all
know the outcome of that process? Why is this man so untouchable? I believe
that it is because Kissinger rose to fame thanks to the help of various figures
including Oriana Falachi
for example. This individual in now known as a militant fascist journalist,
clearly demonstrated in her opinions on world events. Nevertheless, Kissinger
did attain a certain status and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Most
importantly, he holds a dossier of crimes against humanity; he is the thread
that could tie all these crimes, particularly in Latin America, to the force
that has always been behind such evil: the United States Government. This is
why, then and now, this figure has enjoyed the protection of the U.S. State
Department. This explains the silence of such an important participant in all
the heinous crimes committed in our continent which, as Nidia said,
have not yet
Randy Alonso.- Indeed, the roots of those criminals have survived to this day in those who continue to meet with today’s terrorists. They are merely the continuity of those officials who harbored and supported the worst of Latin American terrorism. Aside from so many murders in our continent, they can also be held responsible for the millions who died in the Vietnam war.
Thank you Arleen for your comments.
Where did those killer thugs come from; those criminals that implanted terror in Latin America and left tens of thousands dead or disappeared in the Southern Cone during the 1960’s and 70’s? Where did they learn their trade and their torture methods? Nowhere other than the murderers’ school, the so-called School of the Americas. I’d like to ask Rogelio Polanco to comment.
Rogelio Polanco.- Of
course. The teachers were American Military Officers. This is well-known and
there is new evidence all the time on the role this murder academy played in
the training of Latin America’s leading dictators. This academy was first
located in Fort Amador, in the Panamanian
canal zone in 1946 as the Latin American land supply
center. Then it was moved to Fort Gulick, where it came to be
known as the Caribbean School of the United States Army. Its true importance
came about in 1961 however, when President John F. Kennedy outlined its
mission: “to prepare the armed forces to combat the communist threat,
co-operate with the implementation of a counteroffensive against the growing
Cuban and Soviet influence in the formation of guerilla groups”. In a word:
counterinsurgency. We have already mentioned this term and we already know it
was used to justify military dictatorships in Latin America in the 1960’s, 70’s
current name was first used in 1963: the School of the Americas, and it was
finally moved to Fort Benning
Georgia in 1984.
Throughout its history it has been repeatedly accused by organizations within the U.S. itself for the human rights violations, anti-democratic and repressive actions that were promoted from within this academy.
Latin American Group,
for example, revealed the existence of six manuals
and a total of 1169
pages known as the Cold War manuals. These contain specialized guidelines on
spying, blackmail, infiltrating civil groups, crushing armed uprisings and
legitimate opposition, neutralizing – the terminology they prefer – opponents,
illegally detaining enemies and operating outside of all laws and democratic
systems. The Pentagon was forced to open an investigation on those manuals that
dated from between 1982 and 1991. They claimed that the text actually dated
from the 1960’s and the so-called ‘Project X’ and the U.S. military’s Program
of External Intelligence Assistance. The Pentagon reached the conclusion that
no-one could be held responsible because those teachers who had used the
manuals in their classrooms were not aware that they were acting in contrary to
what their country defended.
The control strategies outlined in those manuals, however, coincide with others employed by the CIA which specifically accept forms of torture remarkably similar to those used later in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay.
Amongst other things, these manuals recommend creating black lists of people whose capture and detention is of importance to the military. They recommend neutralizing members of opposition parties and teach that participants in an uprising do not have the same legal rights as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. These are just some of the many ways they taught their students to abuse human rights.
just like to finish this first brief appraisal of the School of the Americas,
of which we may talk again later, by saying that it should cause eternal shame
to the government of the United States to know that 60 000 soldiers passed
through that school, including 10 Latin American presidents, 38 defense
Ministers and 71 commanders in chief of the armed forces of various Latin
American countries. 496 soldiers
that school were later accused of human rights
abuses and some sadly notorious names can be found amongst the role of honor:
Argentine coup leaders Viola, Videla and Galtieri; the dictators Pinochet,
Somoza, Hugo Banzer, Stroessner, Juan Melgarcastro, Policarpio Paz García in
Honduras and Carlos Humberto Romero in El Salvador.
How can President Bush talk of human rights and torture in relation to Cuba when his own country is stained forever with that black shame?
Randy Alonso.- The School of the Americas: a training center for torturers and murderers in our continent; an institution with a long criminal history that we must analyze further in our meetings. Thank you Polanco for your comments.
Just as in every criminal policy that attacks the people, American policy in South America was supported by the local bourgeoisie, right-wing military factions and mercenaries of Cuban origin who were always in the front row in the fight against liberation movements and leftist forces in our continent. These terrorists were trained in local CIA posts under Operation Mongoose and played an important part in Operation Condor and U.S. counterinsurgency in Latin America.
I would like to ask Manuel Hevia for his comments.
Manuel Hevia.- After the
revolutionary victory in
the Bay of Pigs the U.S. Administration used hundreds of
terrorists of Cuban origin in counterinsurgency across the globe. They were
sent as mercenaries to the Congo, they were involved in the attacks on the
Dominican Republic and Vietnam and many went into the U.S. programs of
violence in South America. This counterinsurgency was extremely potent
throughout the 1960’s and 70’s and even prevailed into the 1980’s, whilst
terrorist activities against our Revolution continued.
My center has studied the careers of some of these mercenaries that stained our Latin American soil with blood and I think it would be interesting to elucidate a few so our people can have some idea of the role of these hired mercenaries who today walk free along the streets of Miami.
The first is the case of Félix Rodríguez Mendigutía, one of those who participated in the May 20th farce along with President Bush according to reports in the Miami press the following day. He was recruited in 1959 by the CIA and participated in numerous anti-Cuban activities as a member of the “infiltration teams” organized by the American Government at that time.
Between 1963 and 1964, now a fully-fledged terrorist, Mendigutía carried out various missions against Cuba from a base in Nicaragua controlled by American Special Forces.
In 1967 he was sent by the U
government to Bolivia as a CIA agent to advise the anti-guerilla forces. Here
he participated in the murder of Commander Ernesto Guevara and was amongst the
repressive forces of that country who were the last to interview el Che.
He was involved in the Vietnam war between 1970 and 1972 as a counterinsurgency consultant, participating directly in the detention, interrogation and murder of Vietnamese guerillas. He received military decorations for his services to the U.S. government.
He then worked as an operational advisor to the U.S. special forces as part of the counterinsurgency program in Latin America: in Ecuador in 1968; in Peru in 1968, ’69 and ‘70; in Argentina in 1973 and 1974; in Nicaragua in 1979. From this moment he has a long service record throughout the 1980s and participated directly in assassination attempts against our Commander-in-Chief in the 1990s.
This individual is bound by strong ties of gratitude to his protege, Luis Posada Carriles and to other notorious terrorists and ex-officials of the Republican administration.
Luis Posada Carriles himself was trained in Fort Benning and was sent in 1967 to organize repressive organs such as the so-called DIGEPOL and later DISIP in Venezuela. He carried out various criminal missions in different Latin American countries in the early 1960’s.
Villafaña Martínez, army offic
ial in Batista’s dictatorship and head
of the mercenary forces at the Bay of Pigs was involved with the CIA’s crack
troops, the so-called ‘Mambís commandos’ in numerous infiltrations of Cuban
territory during Operation Mongoose. Later, just like the rest, he followed a similar
mercenary career being transferred to Colombia in 1966 behind the cover of a
business called ‘Galerías Preciado’ to advise the repressive sectors in that
Moisés Hernández Rojo, a leading CIA agent, carried out various missions in Brazil,
also under a cover provided by the American Intelligence Service. It was
formed the terrorist commando group as the owner of the Esperanza in the failed assassination
attempt against our Commander-in-Chief on Margarita island in October 1997.
Gustavo Villoldo Sampera is another terrorist of Cuban origin trained in Fort Benning. He also participated in the murder of our Commander Ernest Che Guevara in Bolivia in 1967 and later joined Félix Rodíguez in various U.S. counterinsurgency missions in Ecuador.
Veciana Blanck is another individual known for his terrorist attacks against
Cuba. He was sent to Bolivia by the American Special Forces in 1967, he was
also involved in the plan to kill Fidel Castro during his visit
to the Popular
Unity government in Chile.
Ricardo Morales Navarrete was trained in Fort Jackson. He was sent to the Congo in 1965 with other terrorist elements of Cuban origin. He worked alongside Posada Carriles in Venezuela in 1967 and ‘68.
It is important to point out that Morales Navarrette later admitted that he supplied the explosives used in the brutal attack against the Cubana airplane in Barbados when he was in charge of 51st Division of the Venezuelan DISIP.
By the 1970’s, many terrorists of Cuban origin had assumed executives positions in Operation Condor. Here they were responsible for planting bombs, kidnapping and murder.
A close association was therefore engendered between the repressive authorities of those countries in support of their military regimes and terrorists of Cuban origin. I will mention two of these groups: the Nationalist Cuban Movement of Felipe Rivero and Cuban Action of Orlando Bosch.
Why did this association arise? Quite simply because the Cuban terrorists wanted to further their counter-revolutionary activities using those Latin American countries as their bases and taking advantages of the guns and explosives offered by those military regimes. In exchange, after 1974 they offered these military regimes their long terrorist experience and training acquired in the Florida camps and in their attacks on Cuba.
Who were these terrorists? We can mention a few: Orlando Bosch Avila, Felipe Rivero, Ignacio and Guillermo Novo Sampoll, Gaspar Jiménez Escobedo – the last two are now in prison in Panama for the plan to assassinate our Commander-in-Chief at the Panamanian summit in 2000 -; Virgilio Paz Romero; José Dionisio Suárez Esquivel; Alvin Ross Díaz; Pablo Sardui and many other counter-revolutionaries.
in a number of attempts of which we can mention a few: the assassination of the
Chilean general Carlos Pratts and his wife (Cuban terrorists were involved in
this crime); the murder of Orlando Letelier,
where a group of Cuban terrorists were directly implicated along
with the American collaborator Ronnie Moffitt; the wounding of the Christian
Democrat, Bernard Leighton and his wife in Rome in another terrorist attack in
which individuals of Cuban origin were involved.
other events connected to these terrorists: Orlando Bosch collaborated with
Pinochet’s DINA using an official Chilean passport with the name Héctor Dabanza
Sintolezi; he later traveled to Costa Rica for other terrorist activities
Alvin Ross Díaz, a mercenary in the Bay of Pigs attack and member of Omega-7 was detained in 1978 in the U.S. along with the Novo Sampoll brothers accused of making explosives, but was directly involved in the murder of the Chilean ex-Chancellor, Orlando Letelier and the attack on the Cuban Ambassador to the UN, Raúl Roa Kourí, in 1980.
Guillermo Novo Sampoll – a member of the 2506 Brigade and CORU, was involved in the attempt against the Nicaraguan Secretary of State in 1980 and is currently imprisoned in Panama.
Rolando Otero Hernández, another Bay of Pigs invader who was linked to the bombings of federal buildings in Miami and worked under Posada Carriles in Venezuela in the 1970’s.
Virgilio Paz Romero was also involved in the murder of Orlando Letelier and suspected of the murder of Carlos Muñiz Varela. He was also involved in the attempt against Bernard Leighton and is the presumed killer of the thug, Masferrer. He was also a member of the DINA’s Exterminator Squad, together with the American mercenary, Michael Townley, and carried out attacks on the revolutionary movements in Mexico, Italy and the United States.
I could go on Randy but I think that is sufficient to demonstrate the nature and history of these elements and the participation of individuals of Cuban origin in the terrorism advocated by the U.S. for the last 40 years.
Randy Alonso.- It was at this stage that the United States took advantage of those agents it had trained to offer support to the military dictatorships in Latin America, whilst at the same time those Mafia killers were using all available services in their attacks on our country. The links between the Chilean DINA and the intelligence services of other military dictatorships to the attacks on our country are well known.
This same terrorist Mafia that the U.S. had trained and funded did not just go to the aid of the dicatorships' intelligence services in the repression of their people, they also undertook missions around the world against Latin American countries.
I would like to invite Comrade José Luis to talk to us on this theme and thereby close today's meeting.
José L. Méndez.- I will first comment on how those terrorists of Cuban origin carried out activities against the interests of Latin American countries from within the U.S. itself. Ten countries were affected by the actions of those Cuban terrorists, mainly Mexico and Venezuela. These same criminals worked from within Latin America itself. In the 20 years were are studying, 209 attacks were carried out in this continent: 35 in Puerto Rico, 34 in Mexico, 26 in Bahamas, 18 in Panama, 17 in Peru, 14 in Venezuela and many more.
By geographical area, the Caribbean was worst hit with 78 attacks (37%), followed by South America with 64 (32%) and Mexico with 34 (17%).
Those 20 years witnessed a total of 256 terrorist attacks by counter-revolutionary groups against Cuban interests and the interests of the 21 other Latin American countries.
We could also study the attacks by year in that between 1959 and 1979 the actions of these anti-Cuban terrorists remained constant. Between 1972 and 1979 127 attacks were carried out, principally between 1973 and 1979, the peak of terrorist activity in Latin America.
By country, I will cite just a few
examples. In 1960, Cuban mercenaries that
were been trained in Guatemala
participated in the military uprising in Puerto Barrios in that country. During the American invasion of the Dominican Republic, the
CIA cruiser Venus, on which Luis
Posada Carriles was serving, prepared a car bomb that was detonated in a public
meeting where the nationalist Francisco Caamaño Deñó was speaking. This bomb
was actually prepared by the terrorist of Cuban origin, Adolis Cobo Ricardo.
In 1961 alone, 13 terrorist
attacks were carried out against the Cuban Embassy in Panama.
On October 19th of the same year a huge shipment of arms was discovered whilst en route between Colonel Rex Applegate, head of U.S. insurgency in Mexico, and the Cuban terrorists.
On November 19th Cuban
terrorists threw five bombs against the Cuban Embassy in Mexico. During that 20
On March 21st 1963 two Cuban diplomats died when the plane in which they were travelling exploded in mid-flight near to the foothills of the Tocora in Peru.
On September 15th 1964, a
terrorist commando group attacked the Sierra
On October 12th 196
4 the terrorist group led
by Orlando Bosch Avila blew up one English and one Spanish boat in Puerto Rico.
On June 21st 1968, the Cuban Power group, also led by Orlando Bosch, threatened to kill the Mexican President on a visit to the United States.
During the initial phases of what
was known as the "war for the ways of the world" between 1972 and
1979, 127 terrorist attacks affecting 14 countries were carried out: in
Jamaica, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Bahamas, Peru, Puerto Rico, Ecuador,
In August 1976, the CORU group, also led by Bosch, sent two letter bombs in Venezuela, one to the Cuban Embassy and another to a travel agency in Caracas. Luis Posada Carriles also participated in this attack along with some Cuban DISIP officials such as José Pepe Vázquez Blanco, Ricardo Morales Navarrete and other terrorists based in Venezuela such as Héctor Carbonel Arenas, Francisco Pimentel, Nelly Rojas and Salvador Romaní Orúe, the same man who incited the mob against the Cuban Embassy in Venezuela during last April's coup against President Chávez.
The most notorious crimes were the
kidnapping and murder of two Cuban officials in Argentina,
Gaspar Jiménez Escobedo, now imprisoned in Panama, was directly involved; the
attempt on the life of the Cuban Ambassador in Argentina in 1974; the murder of
a Cuban fishing official in Merida, Mexico; a bomb in the hold of a Cuban civil
aircraft in Jamaica; a bomb placed in a restaurant in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico that killed two people;
two bombs planted in the offices of Prensa
Latina in Panama and the most heinous act committed by Orlando Bosch, the
planting of a bomb on a Cuban civil aircraft which blew-up in mid-flight
causing 73 deaths.
Attacks were made against Cuban diplomatic missions, but also against those of the Soviet Union, Panama, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Bolivia. The actions of the Cuban terrorists in Latin America and the Caribbean is therefore indelibly recorded in history.
I think, Randy, that we must also make some reference to the fallacious claim made that Cuba sponsors terrorism.
On February 15th
In the same vein Randy, the American government and the CIA have carried out a study of terrorism from January 1968 to December 1975. Aside from the injustice of Cuba's inclusion on the terrorist list, we must also point out that long before the fight against terrorism became the watchword in the United States, Cuba was already carrying our its own ruthless war against these criminals, signing later anti-terrorist agreements with Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Canada in 1973 and 1974.
The report "Diagnostic and predictions on international and transnational terrorism" (P.R. 76 10030), carried out by the CIA in April 1976 referred, on page 26, to international anti-terrorist cooperation in Latin America: "With the exception of a number of agreements, such as the Memorandum of Understanding related to the hijacking of planes and boats signed by the United States and Cuba in 1973 for the swift extradition of specific categories of terrorist, the international response to terrorism has been relatively weak and ineffectual." In other words, that report, made after eight years of study by the American intelligence service, recognized that the most forceful and effective measure implemented in all those years was the agreement signed between Cuba and the U.S. related to marine and air piracy and terrorism.
I would like to show the document to which I am referring on the screen. On page three we see: "The most useful and outstanding bilateral agreement was that signed between Cuba and the U.S. in 1973." What is more, Randy, this same study analyzed the presence of terrorist organizations in Latin America and the United States during the same eight-year period and discovered that of the five most belligerent groups at that time, four were composed of terrorists of Cuban origin. We can already see, therefore, who were the most important, the most publicized, the most active terrorists. They only record 44 attacks whereas we can point to 127 carried out by the same organizations.
Which were these organizations?
led by Orlando Bosch Avila; Cuban Power, also led by Bosch and the
Cuban National Liberation Front, with
which Bosch had close ties. This same individual is now at liberty in Miami, as
we have denounced on numerous occasions, and yet he led the terrorist
I think this is just another example of the injustice of including Cuba on a list of countries allegedly sponsoring terrorism. This was once more confirmed, as we have suggested in this meeting, on May 21st.
That is all I have to say today, Randy.
Randy Alonso.- Very well. I think this is another facet of the historic link between the United States, the military dictatorships and the Cuban-American terrorist Mafia. Reports declassified by the FBI on April 29th, 1986 tell of a meeting between the Cuban exiles - that is how they like to call them - and Pinochet on March 17th 1975. Here the Chilean dictator offered these terrorists economic aid on the condition that the leaders of the different anti-Castro groups joined forces. He also promised to present their case before the Paraguayan and Uruguayan leaders, both cruel dictators themselves.
Another FBI document, this time of December 17th 1974, reveals that Chile offered paramilitary training to Cuban counter-revolutionaries and the Chilean government offered a passport and all the necessary facilities to Orlando Bosch allowing him to carry out terrorist activities and then seek protection under Pinochet's dictatorship. Who, according to those documents, were the intermediaries between the terrorists and the Chilean dictator? None other than Jorge Mas Canosa and Ramiro Fe, another of the counter-revolutionaries who has worked against our country and attacked many other Latin American countries.
It is with these chilling facts that we close today's meeting. I would like to thank the panelists who have accompanied me and our studio guests today.
The terrorism of American
served not only as a criminal weapon against the Cuban revolution but also as
the preferred method of domination and control over many Latin American
Ruthless invasions against various
countries in the region, coup d'état and the implantation of military
dictatorships, the implementation of the Condo Plan as an international
and the tens of thousands of disappeared and dead are the results of the
American political domination in our region during the 1960s and 70s as a
response to the widespread euphoria caused by the triumph of the Cuban
From the bowels of the School of the Americas, an official American institution, a string of killers emerged charged with sowing the seeds of terror and death in Latin America. The U.S. government trained them to wreak genocide on our people in the name of American national security.
To commit these heinous acts that brought mourning and pain to our people and have left a deep scar in the consciousness of our entire region, the United States sent their protégés from the anti-Cuban terrorist Mafia as specialist mercenaries. Once again this scum put their names to the most base designs of the Empire against the people of the world.
The 1980s and '90s continued in the prodigious vein of invasions, military coup, genocide and military training in the School of the Americas. We will talk more on this theme in our next meeting.
The scandalous omission of this terrible reality from the "democratic lesson"
Bush attempted to give us on May 20th is an offense against human intelligence and the historic memory of the people of our continent.
The fight will continue!