In 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, leaving 3.4 million without electricity and fuel, and causing an estimated $50 Billion in damage. 55% of Puerto Ricans have no potable water, in one of the worst humanitarian crises in decades. In marked contrast to the initial relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, on September 22 the only signs of relief efforts were beleaguered Puerto Rican government employees. The US response has been dismal, leading many to believe that the US prefers a decapitalized Puerto Rico. On September 29, San Juan Mayor Cruz held a press conference to plead for aid and to highlight failures by FEMA, saying, «This is what we got last night. Four pallets of water, three pallets of meals, and 12 pallets of infant food — which, I gave them to the people of Comerío, where people are drinking off a creek. So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell.» Cruz continued. «So I am asking the members of the press, to send a mayday call all over the world. We are dying here… And if it doesn’t stop, and if we don’t get the food and the water into people’s hands, what we are going to see is something close to a genocide.» In response President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: «Such poor leadership ability by the Mayor of San Juan and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.» 1
Following a series of terrorist attacks against Cuba (such as the bombing of Cuban commercial flight 455, that originated from anti-Castro Cuban exile groups in the US, such as Alpha 66, the F4 Commandos, the Cuban American National Foundation, and Brothers to the Rescue), the Cuban government sent spies to infiltrate these insurgent groups operating in Miami. Afterwards, the Cuban government then provided 175 pages of documents to FBI agents investigating Posada Carriles’s (a former CIA operative) role in the 1997 terrorist bombings in Havana, but the FBI failed to use the evidence to follow up on Posada. Instead, they used it to uncover and imprison the Cuban spies, known as the Cuban Five. . The Cuban Five said they were spying on Miami’s Cuban exile community, not the US government. They were imprisoned from 1998, until their eventual release via a prisoner swap in 2014. The terrorist bomber Posada Carriles (who admitted to planning 6 bombings of Havana Hotels and Restaurants) lived in Miami and was safeguarded by the US government until his death in 2018. 2
In 2009, a coup in Honduras has led to severe repression and death squad murders of political opponents, union organizers and journalists. At the time of the coup, U.S. officials denied any role in the coup and used semantics to avoid cutting off U.S. military aid as required under U.S. law. But two Wikileaks cables revealed that the U.S. Embassy, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was the main power broker in managing the aftermath of the coup and forming a government that is now repressing and murdering its people, including popular leader Berta Cáceres. The two men who killed Berta Cáceres were trained in the US. A former soldier with the US-trained special forces units of the Honduran military asserted that Caceres’ name was included on a hitlist distributed to them months before her assassination. According to a February 2017 investigation by The Guardian, court papers purport to show that three of the eight people arrested in connection with the assassination are linked to the US-trained elite troops. Two of them, Maj Mariano Díaz and Lt Douglas Giovanny Bustillo, received military training in the US.1,2
In 1996, investigative journalist Gary Webb exposed a CIA-run business of selling cocaine produced in Nicaragua, to help fund the anti-communist Contras in their fight against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. These drugs were mostly sold to black communities in California, and helped spark the Crack epidemic. Several of the US dealers such as such as Ross and Oscar Danilo Blandon, were found to have CIA and DEA ties. Webb’s reports were suppressed in the news media. In 1997, Webb stated: «If we had met five years ago, you wouldn’t have found a more staunch defender of the newspaper industry than me … And then I wrote some stories that made me realize how sadly misplaced my bliss had been. The reason I’d enjoyed such smooth sailing for so long hadn’t been, as I’d assumed, because I was careful and diligent and good at my job … The truth was that, in all those years, I hadn’t written anything important enough to suppress.» In 2004, Webb was found dead in his home, shot in the back of the head twice. His death was ruled a suicide.
In 1990 in Haiti, Competing against 10 comparatively wealthy white candidates, leftist priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide captures 68 percent of the vote. A few months later, the CIA-backed military deposes him in a coup. More military dictators brutalize the country, as thousands of Haitian refugees escape the turmoil in barely seaworthy boats. The CIA «paid key members of the coup regime forces, identified as drug traffickers, for information from the mid-1980s at least until the coup.»1 Coup leaders Cédras and François had received military training in the United States. As popular opinion calls for Aristide’s return, the CIA begins a disinformation campaign painting the courageous priest as mentally unstable.1
In 1989, the U.S. invades Panama with 26k troops to overthrow a dictator of its own making, General Manuel Noriega, with the stated goal of «Defending democracy and human rights in Panama». Noriega had been on the CIA’s payroll since 1966, collecting at least $100,000 per year from the U.S. Treasury. As he rose to be the de facto ruler of Panama, he became even more valuable to the CIA, reporting on meetings with Fidel Castro and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and supporting U.S. covert wars in Central America, and had been transporting drugs with the CIA’s knowledge since 1972. By the late 80s, Noriega’s growing independence and intransigence had angered Washington. The UN human rights commission estimates that around 4,000 people were killed by US troops (The US claims only 250 people). 1 The US military bombed urban neighborhoods, executed hundreds of civilians, and even tested new experimental weapons. The Panama invasion violates both the UN and OAS charter, which prohibits the invasions of a sovereign country or their territorial integrity, as well as the Geneva conventions. All the major US media supported the invasion: the New York Times, Wallstreet Journal, The Washington Post, the LA times, CBS, and NBC. Michael Parenti observes in his observation of media complicity with the invasion: «The media is not favorable to corporate america, they are corporate america.» The UN voted on Dec 29th 1989 overwhelming to condemn the invasion as a «flagrant violation of international law». No US soldier or general has been tried for these war crimes, despite the UN commission, or the dozens of eyewitness accounts by Panamanians. These atrocities are chronicled in the documentary The Panama Deception.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the U.S. supplied military equipment and substantial aid for the Columbian government in their civil war to fight against FARC, known as Plan Columbia. The weapons, ostensibly delivered for use against narcotics traffickers, was being used by the Colombian military to commit abuses in the name of “counter-insurgency.” One estimate is that 67,000 deaths have occurred from the 1960s to recent years due to support by the U.S. of Colombian state terrorism. Another 1994 Amnesty International report, stated that more than 20,000 people were killed for political reasons in Colombia since 1986, mainly by the military and its paramilitary allies.
In 1987, the former CIA Station Chief in Angola in 1976, John Stockwell, testified to Congress and told a grisly tale of US involvement on behalf of business interests in Latin America. He cited covert operations in Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba. Over the course of his testimony, he estimated that given the bombings of water supplies and other essential infrastructure, the invasions, the coups, that the United States, on its quest for empire, has been responsible for 6,000,000 deaths. The CIA retaliated by suing him into bankruptcy. 1
From 1982-89, The U.S. government attempted to topple the government of Nicaragua by secretly arming, training and funding the Contras, a terrorist group based in Honduras that was created to sabotage Nicaragua and to destabilize the Nicaraguan government.As part of the training, the CIA distributed a detailed «terror manual» entitled «Psychological Operations in Guerrilla War,» which instructed the Contras, among other things, on how to blow up public buildings, to assassinate judges, to create martyrs, and to blackmail ordinary citizens. In 1986, the Nicaraguan government under the Sandinistas shoots down a C-123 transport plane carrying military supplies to the Contras. The lone survivor, Eugene Hasenfus, turns out to be a CIA employee, as are the two dead pilots, contradicting Reagan’s claims that the US was not aiding the contras. 1
In the 1980s the CIA supported Battalion 316, a torture/assassination squad in Honduras, which kidnapped, tortured and killed hundreds of its citizens. Battalion 316 used shock and suffocation devices in interrogations , and prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves. Declassified documents and other sources show that the CIA and the U.S. Embassy knew of numerous crimes, including murder and torture, yet continued to support Battalion 316 and collaborate with its leaders. These constitute war crimes.1
In 1980, In El Salvador, The Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero, pleads with President Carter to stop aiding the military government slaughtering his people. Carter refuses. Right-wing leader Roberto D’Aubuisson has Romero shot through the heart while saying Mass. The country soon dissolves into civil war, with the peasants in the hills fighting against the military government. The CIA and U.S. Armed Forces supply the government with overwhelming military and intelligence superiority, as well as over 3000 tons of US made bombs, training death squads to roam the countryside, committing atrocities like that of El Mozote in 1982, where 800 civilians were massacred. By 1992, some 63,000 Salvadorans were killed. Back then Salvador was controlled by a mafia of 13 families who owned 50% of the land and wealth. The 13 families were heavily linked with the United States. CIA provided weapons and military training to the Salvadorean Army, as well as $6B in aid, and US military training in Panama. As soon as the CIA discovered the priests were indoctrinating the masses, they began killing them.
In 1979, The CIA began to destabilize Grenada after Maurice Bishop became president, for his marxist, pro-cuba, anti-racism, and anti-apartheid stances. The previous leader, Eric Gairy, was a British/US puppet who furthered imperialist interests in the region, sacked the treasury, presided over 47% unenemployment, and a 200% cost of living increase. His right wing gang / secret police, the Mongoose gang, ruthlessly tortured Leftists, sending his police to Pinochet’s Argentina to learn torture techniques, and even murdered Maurice’s father. Under Bishop’s leadership, Women were given equal pay and paid maternity leave, and sex discrimination was made illegal. Organisations for education (Center for Popular Education), health care, and youth affairs (National Youth Organization) were also established, as well as free education and health care. A literacy campaign lowered it to less than 5% in 3 years. The campaign against him resulted in his overthrow and the invasion by the U.S. of Grenada on October 25, 1983, with about 277 people dying.
In 1979, the US-backed dictator Anastasios Samoza II falls, beginning the popular Nicaraguan Revolution. Remnants of his Guard will become the Contras, who fight a CIA-backed guerilla war against the left-wing Sandinista government throughout the 1980s, with Reagan authorizing covert support to anti-Sandinista forces. 1
In 1976, several CIA-linked anti-Castro Cuban exiles and members of the Venezuelan secret police DISIP were responsible for a terrorist bomb attack on Cuban flight 455, killing 73 people. CIA venezuelan operative Luis Posada Carriles, one of the bombers, fled and was granted amnesty in the US in 2007. 1
In 1976, The CIA backed an overthrow of Argentinan leader Isabel Martínez de Perón by right wing anti-communist dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. In 1983, two years after the return of a representative democratic government, he was prosecuted in the Trial of the Juntas for large-scale human rights abuses and crimes against humanity that took place under his rule, including kidnappings or forced disappearance, widespread torture and extrajudicial murder of activists, and political opponents as well as their families at secret concentration camps, and harboring nazis. An estimated 13,000 -30,000 political dissidents vanished during this period. Videla was also convicted of the theft of many babies born during the captivity of their mothers at the illegal detention centres and passing them on for illegal adoption by associates of the regime. In his defence, Videla maintains the female guerrilla detainees allowed themselves to fall pregnant in the belief they wouldn’t be tortured or executed. 1
On 11 September 1973, The CIA backed a military coup to remove democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende, in favor of right-wing dictator Augusto Pinochet. His US-supported regime was characterized by the systematic suppression of political parties and the persecution of dissidents to an extent that was unprecedented in the history of Chile, backed by the neoliberal free-market economic policies of the Chicago Boys. Over-all, the regime left over 3,000 dead or «dissappeared», tortured thousands of prisoners, and forced 200,000 Chileans into exile. He’s known for the Villa Grimaldi, a torture complex, and his Caravan of Death, a Chilean Army death squad guilty of countless atrocities, including dropping pregnant women and teenagers out of helicopters in the ocean, and executions where prisoners were shot by parts, over extended periods of time. Pinochet’s forces are conservatively estimated to have killed over 11,000 people in his first year in power. 1, 2
In 1971 in Bolivia, after half a decade of CIA-inspired political turmoil, a CIA-backed military coup overthrows the leftist President Juan Jose Torres, eventually being kidnapped and murdered by CIA backed right wing death squads, as part of Operation Condor. In the next two years, dictator Hugo Banzer will have over 2,000 political opponents arrested without trial, then tortured, raped and executed. Banzer wwas trained at the U.S.-operated School of the Americas in Panama and later at Fort Hood, Texas. A few years later the Catholic Church denounced an army massacre of striking tin workers in 1975, Banzer, assisted by information provided by the CIA, was able to target and locate leftist priests and nuns. His anti-clergy strategy, known as the Banzer Plan, was adopted by nine other Latin American dictatorships in 1977.
In 1971, A CIA operative told a reporter he delivered a strain of the African Swine Fever virus from an army base in the Canal Zone to anti-Castro Cubans. An outbreak of the disease then occurred in Cuba, resulting in the slaughter of 500,000 pigs to prevent a nationwide animal epidemic. It was labeled the «most alarming event» of 1971 by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.1
Starting in the 1970s, a CIA-backed coalition of right wing governments in Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil, began Operation Condor, a campaign of political repression and state terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents, with the stated aim of «eliminating Marxist subversion.» Victims included dissidents and leftists, union and peasant leaders, priests and nuns, students and teachers, intellectuals and suspected guerillas. An estimated 30,000 to 80,000 leftists or sympathizers were killed. 1
In 1969, amid a collapsing economy, labor and student strikes in Uruguay, CIA operative Dan Mitrione initiates a campaign of torture and violence against the left-wing student group Tuparamos. Former Uruguayan police officials and CIA operatives stated Mitrione had taught torture techniques to Uruguayan police, including the use of electrical shocks delivered to his victims’ mouths and genitals. It has been alleged that he used homeless people for training purposes, who were executed once they had served their purpose.1
In 1968, a CIA-organized military operation in Bolivia led by cuban exile and CIA agent Félix Rodríguez captures legendary guerilla Che Guevara, defeating the Ñancahuazú Guerrilla. The Bolivian president ordered his immediate execution to prevent worldwide calls for clemency, and the drama of a trial. Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie aka «The Butcher of Lyon», advised and possibly helped the CIA orchestrate Guevara’s eventual capture.1
In 1964, A CIA-backed military coup in Brazil overthrows the democratically elected government of Joao Goulart. The junta that replaces it will, in the next two decades, become one of the most bloodthirsty in history. General Castelo Branco creates Latin America’s first death squads, or bands of secret police who hunt down communists and political opponents for torture, interrogation and murder. Later it is revealed that the CIA trained the death squads. Thousands were tortured, and hundreds were killed.
In the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously agreed that a full-scale nuclear attack and invasion was the only solution, nearly plunging the world into nuclear war. 1
From 1961 onward, The US School of Americas, a US Department of Defense institute in Fort Benning, Georgia, was assigned the specific goal of teaching «anti-communist counterinsurgency training,» to CIA-supported right wing paramilitaries. It trained more than 19,000 students from 36 countries in the western hemisphere, including several Latin American dictators, and, during the 1980s, included torture in its curriculum. 1
In 1961, in Ecuador, the CIA-backed military forces the democratically elected President José María Velasco Ibarra to resign. Vice President Carlos Arosemana replaces him; the CIA fills the now vacant vice presidency with its own man. 1
In 1961, the CIA assassinated Rafael Trujillo, a murderous dictator responsible for the deaths of more than 50,000 people, who Washington had supported since 1930. Trujillo’s business interests had grown so large (about 60 percent of the economy) that they had begun competing with American business interests. The US later provided troops on the side of the loyalists in the 1965 Dominican civil war, to ensure US interests. 1
After the Failed bay of pigs invasion, the CIA began Operation Mongoose, a series of covert operations to disrupt and destabilize Cuba. The operation included economic warfare, including an embargo against Cuba, “to induce failure of the Communist regime to supply Cuba’s economic needs,” a diplomatic initiative to isolate Cuba, and psychological operations “to turn the peoples’ resentment increasingly against the regime.” The economic warfare prong of the operation also included the infiltration by the CIA of operatives to carry out many acts of sabotage against civilian targets, such as a railway bridge, a molasses storage facilities, an electric power plant, and the sugar harvest, notwithstanding Cuba’s repeated requests to the United States government to cease its terrorist operations. In addition, the CIA orchestrated a number of assassination attempts against Fidel Castro, head of government of Cuba, including attempts that entailed CIA collaboration with the American mafia. 1
In 1961, the CIA sent 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Castro’s Cuba in the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion. B26 bombers attacked cuban airfields, providing initial air support. The planners had imagined that the invasion would spark a popular uprising against Castro -– which never happened. Several hundred were killed in the action. Castro’s government returned the captured invaders for medical supplies. 1
In 1959, following the US occupation of Haiti, The U.S. military helps «Papa Doc» Duvalier become dictator of Haiti. He creates his own private police force, the Tonton Macoutes, who terrorize the population with machetes. They kill over 100,000 during the Duvalier family reign. The U.S. does not protest their dismal human rights record.
In 1958, The United States supported the Batista dictatorship in Cuba. Batista aligned with the wealthiest landowners who owned the largest sugar plantations, and presided over a stagnating economy that widened the gap between rich and poor Cubans. Eventually most of the sugar industry was in U.S. hands, and foreigners owned 70% of the arable land. As such, Batista’s increasingly corrupt and repressive government then began to systematically profit from the exploitation of Cuba’s commercial interests, by negotiating lucrative relationships with both the American Mafia, who controlled the drug, gambling, and prostitution businesses in Havana, and with large U.S.-based multinational companies who were awarded lucrative contracts. To quell the growing discontent amongst the populace—which was subsequently displayed through frequent student riots and demonstrations—Batista established tighter censorship of the media, while also utilizing his Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities secret police to carry out wide-scale violence, torture and public executions; ultimately killing anywhere from hundreds to 20,000 people. After the Cuban revolution, the CIA launched a long campaign of terrorism against Cuba, training Cuban exiles in Florida, Central America and the Dominican Republic to commit assassinations and sabotage in Cuba. These include the cuban embargo, and over 638 failed assasination attempts on fidel castro. 1
In 1954, the CIA overthrows the democratically elected Guatemalen Jacobo Árbenz in a military coup in operation PBSucess. Arbenz threatened to nationalize the Rockefeller-owned United Fruit Company, in which CIA Director Allen Dulles also owns stock. Arbenz is replaced with a series of US-backed right-wing dictators whose bloodthirsty policies will kill over 100,000 Guatemalans in the next 40 years, until 1996. The coup has been described as the definitive deathblow to democracy in Guatemala.1
In 1953, A 2011 release of British intelligence files revealed that US and British MI5 forces overthrew the government of Cheddi Jagan, the elected leader of British Guyana. They showed how British spies kept up intense scrutiny on Cheddi Jagan and his wife Janet, who together founded the People’s Progressive party (PPP) to campaign for workers’ rights and independence from British rule for the sugar-producing colony in northern South America. Churchill and the US feared that the Jagans were communists, although MI5 found no foreign ties. Churchill dispatched a warship, HMS Superb, and brought hundreds of troops by air and sea to secure key sites. An outraged Cheddi Jagan appealed by telegram to Britain’s opposition Labour party for help. Leader Clement Attlee replied curtly: «Regret impossible to intervene.»
In 1941, the US used its contacts in the Panama National Guard, which the U.S. had earlier trained, to have the government of Panama overthrown in a bloodless coup. The U.S. had requested that the government of Panama allow it to build over 130 new military installations inside and outside of the Panama Canal Zone, and the government of Panama refused this request at the price suggested by the U.S.
In Smedley Butler’s (A former US general and medal of honor recipient) 1935 pamphlet, War is a Racket, he recounted his experience as being an agent of American Imperialism: “I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”1
In 1928, the Columbian army killed ~800-3000 striking workers in Cienaga, Columbia, after the US threatened to invade with U.S. Marine Corps troops if the Colombian government did not act to protect the United Fruit Company‘s interests, in the Banana Massacre. The banana plantation workers were demanding written contracts, eight-hour work days, six-day work weeks and the elimination of food coupons. The troops set up their machine guns on the roofs of the low buildings at the corners of the main square, closed off the access streets, and after a five-minute warning opened fire into a dense Sunday crowd of workers and their wives and children who had gathered, after Sunday Mass, to wait for an anticipated address from the governor. 1
From 1915–34, Haiti was occupied by the US, which led to the creation of a new Haitian constitution in 1917 that instituted changes that included an end to the prior ban on land ownership by non-Haitians. Including the First and Second Caco Wars. At least 15,000 Haitians were killed. 1
In 1914, the US military invaded Veracruz, Mexico, after US sailors were arrested by the Mexican government for entering off-limits areas, in the Tampico Affair. Over 200 were killed in the invasion.
In 1912, the US military invaded Nicaragua after intermittent landings and naval bombardments in the previous decades. It was occupied by the U.S. almost continuously from 1912 through 1933. With the onset of the Great Depression and Augusto C. Sandino‘s Nicaraguan guerrilla troops fighting back against U.S. troops, it became too costly for the U.S. government and a withdrawal was ordered in 1933.
In 1903 the US backed its puppet state Panama’s secession from Columbia, for Columbia’s refusal to allow the US military presence there. The Panama Canal was under construction by then, and the Panama Canal Zone, under United States sovereignty, was then created, and under control by the US military for 100 years, until 2000.1
From 1895-1917, the Banana Wars refers to the military intervention on behalf of US business interests in Central America and the Caribbean (8 countries in total) after the Spanish American War. In Honduras, for example, the United Fruit Company and Standard Fruit Company dominated the country’s key banana export sector and associated land holdings and railways, and saw insertion of American troops in 1903, 1907, 1911, 1912, 1919, 1924 and 1925. 1
In 1896, the US fought the Spanish-American War largely over economic interests in the Caribbean, primarily Cuba. Historian Eric Foner writes: «Even before the Spanish flag was down in Cuba, U.S. business interests set out to make their influence felt. Merchants, real estate agents, stock speculators, reckless adventurers, and promoters of all kinds of get-rich schemes flocked to Cuba by the thousands. Seven syndicates battled each other for control of the franchises for the Havana Street Railway, which were finally won by Percival Farquhar, representing the Wall Street interests of New York. Thus, simultaneously with the military occupation began . . . commercial occupation.» 1
In 1846, the US sent a small force into Mexico with the aim of bringing about a war, and started the Mexican-American War. The US prevailed, expanding its territory far into Mexico, and killed ~25,000 mexicans in the process, as part of an ideological goal of white supremacy in north america called manifest destiny. The shift in the Mexico-U.S. border left many Mexican citizens separated from their national government. For the indigenous peoples who had never accepted Mexican rule, the change in border meant conflicts with a new outside power.1