[…] A rightward shift is afoot in Latin American politics. Triumphant socialist governments had once swept the region for much of the 21st century – from Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to land reform populist Manuel Zelaya in Honduras – championing new programs for the poor, nationalizing businesses, and challenging U.S. dominance in hemispheric affairs.
In recent years, however, leftist leaders have fallen one after another, sometimes in spectacular fashion. Zelaya was led from the presidential palace in his pajamas in a military coup; in Argentina, a real-estate baron swept to the presidency and Kirchner was indicted for corruption; and in Brazil, the ruling Workers’ Party, facing a growing corruption scandal and a mass protest movement, was swept out of office via impeachment over charges of budget chicanery.
This shift might appear as part of a larger regional rebalancing, merely economic circumstances taking hold. And yet the Atlas Network seems ever-present, a common thread nudging political developments along.
The story of the Atlas Network and its profound impact on ideology and political power has never been fully told. But business filings and records from three continents, along with interviews with libertarian leaders across the hemisphere, reveal the scope of its influential history. The libertarian network, which has reshaped political power in country after country, has also operated as a quiet extension of U.S. foreign policy, with Atlas-associated think tanks receiving quiet funding from the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy, a critical arm of American soft power.
Though recent investigations have shed light on the role of powerful conservative billionaires, such as the Koch brothers, in developing a business-friendly version of libertarian thought, the Atlas Network, which receives funding from Koch foundations, has recreated methods honed in the Western world for developing countries.
The network is expansive, currently boasting loose partnerships with 450 think tanks around the world. Atlas says it dispensed over $5 million to its partners in 2016 alone.
Over the years, Atlas and its affiliated charitable foundations have provided hundreds of grants to conservative and free-market think tanks in Latin America, including the libertarian network that supported the Free Brazil Movement and organizations behind a libertarian push in Argentina, including Fundación Pensar, the Atlas think tank that merged with the political party formed by Mauricio Macri, a businessman who now leads the country. The leaders of the Free Brazil Movement and the founder of Fundación Eléutera in Honduras, an influential post-coup neoliberal think tank, have received financial support from Atlas, and are among the next generation of political operatives that have gone through Atlas’s training seminars.
The Atlas Network spans dozens of other think tanks across the region, including prominent groups supporting right-wing forces behind the unfolding anti-government movement in Venezuela and the campaign of Sebastián Piñera, the right-of-center candidate leading the polls for this year’s presidential election in Chile.
Amy Goodman speaks with Lee Fang of The Intercept about the above piece on the Atlas Network’s involvement in Latin American politics (Democracy Now!)
[…] We have repeatedly reviewed evidence of Kissinger’s callousness. Some of it is as inexplicable as it is shocking. There is a macho swagger in some of Kissinger’s remarks. It could, perhaps, be explained away if he had never wielded power, like—thus far—the gratuitously offensive Presidential candidate Donald Trump. And one has an awareness that Kissinger, the longest-lasting and most iconic pariah figure in modern American history, is but one of a line of men held in fear and contempt for the immorality of their services rendered and yet protected by the political establishment in recognition of those same services. William Tecumseh Sherman, Curtis LeMay, Robert McNamara, and, more recently, Donald Rumsfeld all come to mind.
In Errol Morris’s remarkable 2003 documentary “The Fog of War,” we saw that McNamara, who was an octogenarian at the time, was a tormented man who was attempting to come to terms, unsuccessfully, with the immense moral burden of his actions as the U.S. defense secretary during Vietnam. McNamara had recently written a memoir in which he attempted to grapple with his legacy. Around that time, a journalist named Stephen Talbot interviewed McNamara, and then also secured an interview with Kissinger. As he later wrote about his initial meeting with Kissinger, “I told him I had just interviewed Robert McNamara in Washington. That got his attention. He stopped badgering me, and then he did an extraordinary thing. He began to cry. But no, not real tears. Before my eyes, Henry Kissinger was acting. ‘Boohoo, boohoo,’ Kissinger said, pretending to cry and rub his eyes. ‘He’s still beating his breast, right? Still feeling guilty.’ He spoke in a mocking, singsong voice and patted his heart for emphasis.”
McNamara died in 2009, at the same age Kissinger is today—ninety-three—but his belated public struggle with his conscience helped leaven his clouded reputation. Now that he is nearing the end of his life, Kissinger must wonder what his own legacy is to be. He can rest assured that, at the very least, his steadfast support for the American superpower project, no matter what the cost in lives, will be a major part of that legacy. Unlike McNamara, however, whose attempt to find a moral reckoning Kissinger held in such scorn, Kissinger has shown little in the way of a conscience. And because of that, it seems highly likely, history will not easily absolve him.
‘A member of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s brutal secret police who’s been accused of murder taught for more than a decade at the Pentagon’s premier university, despite repeated complaints by his colleagues about his past.
Jaime Garcia Covarrubias is charged in criminal court in Santiago with being the mastermind in the execution-style slayings of seven people in 1973, according to court documents. McClatchy also interviewed an accuser who identified Garcia Covarrubias as the person who sexually tortured him.
Despite knowing of the allegations, State and Defense department officials allowed Garcia Covarrubias to retain his visa and continue working at a school affiliated with the National Defense University until last year .’
- Former Pinochet Officer, Investigated for Torture and Murder, Taught at Pentagon
- Chilean 70’s torture survivor seeks justice
- Latin America has a few lessons for the US on torture
- The United States and Torture
- U.S. has a 45-year history of torture
- Operation Condor – Wikipedia
- The CIA in Latin America
‘Isabel Allende, the daughter of deposed Chilean president Salvador Allende, is “heading towards” running for leadership of the country’s socialist party, she said, a role that would put her in prime position for an eventual shot at the presidency.
Isabel Allende (not the well-known author, who is a more distant relative) is currently the head of the senate. That role ends next year, and she is holding talks as to whether she should put her name forward for the socialist party leadership contest in April, she told journalists on Friday.
[…] Allende’s name has appeared in local media in recent weeks as a possible candidate for the 2017 presidential elections, in which incumbent socialist President Michelle Bachelet is barred from running under Chile’s constitution.’
‘Chile was braced for unrest on Thursday as the country observed the anniversary of the 1973 coup by General Augusto Pinochet, days after a bomb exploded in a busy shopping mall, injuring at least 14 people.
A bus was set on fire in a Santiago suburb and a police vehicle was attacked in another part of the capital, as the protests that regularly mark the divisive date began to gather momentum.
The anniversary of the military coup on September 11, 1973 against leftist president Salvador Allende exposes the deep wounds from the dictatorship years that still linger in Chilean society. A festering antagonism between those who supported and those who opposed the brutal right-wing junta spills on to the streets and demonstrations often turn violent.’
- The fall of Allende
- The Other 9/11: remembering Chile’s descent into dictatorship
- Chile on high alert after 3 explosions in 3 days
- Chile Struggling To Figure Out Who Is Behind String Of Bombings In Santiago
- July: Chile invokes anti-terrorism laws after device explodes in subway
- Chilean Court Rules U.S. Had Role in Pinchoet Murders
- Documentary: Uncovering Pinochet’s Secret Death Camps
- John Pilger: In an Age of ‘Realists’ and Vigilantes
- Kissinger and Chile: The Declassified Record on Regime Change
- The Pinochet File: How U.S. Politicians, Banks and Corporations Aided Chilean Coup, Dictatorship
‘Santiago is generally regarded as one of the safest capital cities in Latin America, so it comes as something of a shock to visitors to find out that it has been hit by around 200 bomb attacks over the past decade.
[…] The bomb attacks started in 2005. Since then, around 200 devices have been planted across the capital.
Two-thirds have gone off while bomb disposal experts have defused the rest. A handful of bombs have also exploded in provincial Chilean cities.
About a third of the bombs have been placed outside banks but other targets have included police stations, army barracks, churches, embassies, the headquarters of political parties, company offices, courthouses and government buildings.
Most have been timed to go off at night when the streets are largely empty, and only a handful of passers-by have been injured, none seriously.’
‘The Chilean government said on Tuesday it will invoke anti-terrorist laws in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the explosion of a homemade device on a Santiago subway train late Sunday night. The incendiary device, which had been placed inside a backpack, caused minor damage and no injuries. No one has claimed responsibility.
Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said on Tuesday that the government has decided the attack was serious and subject to the anti-terrorism laws. “We think the intention was to hurt innocent people,” he said. The laws, which date from the 1973-90 rule of dictator Augusto Pinochet, give prosecutors more powers and allow for harsher sentencing. The government has been criticized for using them in a long-running and often violent struggle with indigenous Mapuche activists over land rights in southern Chile.’
‘The United States military intelligence services played a pivotal role in setting up the murders of two American citizens in 1973, providing the Chilean military with the information that led to their deaths, a court here has ruled.
The recent court decision found that an American naval officer, Ray E. Davis, alerted Chilean officials to the activities of two Americans, Charles Horman, 31, a filmmaker, and Frank Teruggi, 24, a student and an antiwar activist, which led to their arrests and executions.
The murders were part of an American-supported coup that ousted the leftist government of President Salvador Allende. The killing of the two men was portrayed in the 1982 film “Missing.”’
‘An activist in Chile has burnt documents representing $500 million (£300 million) worth of student debt during a protest at Universidad del Mar. Francisco Tapia, who is also known as “Papas Fritas”, claimed that he had “freed” the students by setting fire to the debt papers or “pagarés”. Mr Tapia has justified his actions in a video he posted on YouTube on Monday 12 May, which has since gone viral and garnered over 55,000 views.
In the five-minute video the artist and activist, translated by the Chilean news site Santiago Times, he passionately says: “You don’t have to pay another peso [of your student loan debt]. We have to lose our fear, our fear of being thought of as criminals because we’re poor. I am just like you, living a s**tty life, and I live it day by day — this is my act of love for you.” He confessed he destroyed the papers without the knowledge of the students during a takeover at the university demanding free higher education.’
The World Bank’s Office of the Compliance Adviser/Ombudsman (CAO) determined on January 10 that the Bank’s private-sector lending arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), violated “its own ethical standards” when it “lent millions of dollars to a Honduran palm oil company [Dinant Corporation] accused of links to assassinations and forced evictions,” Nina Lakhani reported in the Guardian. Were this true—had the Bank really acted against its principles, displayed over decades of consistent action—then the appropriate response would be global celebration. But the IFC-Dinant incident is just the latest chapter in a miserable story.
Consider, for example, Honduras in the ’90s, when a “paradigm promoted by the World Bank” spurred “a massive re-concentration of land in the Aguán”—the valley where Dinant operates—“into the hands of a few influential elites,” Tanya Kerssen writes in Grabbing Power, her superb study. These land barons, particularly Dinant’s owner Miguel Facussé, thrived as “the Aguán cooperative sector was decimated,” some three-quarters of its land seized. Campesinos, suddenly dispossessed, first sought legal recourse, which failed. They subsequently “protested and occupied disputed land,” Rights Action’s Annie Bird writes in a crucial report, prompting government authorities to review the legitimacy of Bank-assisted territorial transfer. But the June 2009 coup ended this appraisal. Four School of the Americas (SOA) graduates directed Manuel Zelaya’s removal from power—“a crime,” a top Honduran military lawyer, himself an SOA alumnus, admitted, and proof “that the Obama administration had as weak a commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law as the preceding U.S. presidency,” British scholar Julia Buxton explained. Since then, Bird observes, Honduras’ 15th Battalion, Washington-aided “since at least 2008,” has “consistently been identified as initiating acts of violence against campesino movements,” with police forces and Dinant’s security guards getting in on the kills. The CAO paper puts the number of peasant murders since January 2010 at over 100.
A Chilean football club has sparked debate over its new jerseys, in which the number “1” is replaced by an outline of pre-1948 Palestine, angering Israel which demanded the uniform’s removal, local media reported.
Club Deportivo Palestino, a first division football club created in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants, revealed on Saturday its 2014 uniform, on which the geographical outline of Palestine can be seen.
Chilean newspaper La Nacion reported on Tuesday that the Israeli foreign ministry had contacted the Chilean embassy to express its discontent over the football club’s move.
Chile’s once and future leader Michelle Bachelet easily won Sunday’s presidential runoff, returning center-left parties to power by promising profound social changes in response to years of street protests.
Bachelet won 62 percent of the vote, the most decisive victory in eight decades of Chilean elections. Her conservative rival, Evelyn Matthei only got 37 percent of the vote and conceded defeat in the worst performance for the right in two decades.
Bachelet needs the momentum of her resounding victory to strengthen her mandate and try to overcome congressional opposition to fulfill her promises.
The 62-year old pediatrician ended her 2006-2010 presidency with 84 percent approval ratings despite failing to achieve any major changes. This time however, activists are vowing to hold her to her promises, which include raising corporate taxes to 25 percent from 20 percent to help fund an education overhaul and changing the dictatorship-era constitution, a difficult goal given congressional opposition.
[…] Many Chileans complain that policies imposed by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 dictatorship have kept wealth and power in few hands. Pinochet effectively ended land reform by selling off the nation’s water, and he preserved the best educations for elites by ending the central control and funding of public schools.
The most important anniversary of the year was the 40th anniversary of 11 September 1973 – the crushing of the democratic government of Chile by General Augusto Pinochet and Henry Kissinger, then US secretary of state. The National Security Archive in Washington has posted new documents that reveal much about Kissinger’s role in an atrocity that cost thousands of lives.
In declassified tapes, Kissinger is heard planning with President Richard Nixon the overthrow of President Salvador Allende. They sound like Mafiosi thugs. Kissinger warns that the “model effect” of Allende’s reformist democracy “can be insidious”. He tells CIA director Richard Helms: “We will not let Chile go down the drain”, to which Helms replies: “I am with you.” With the slaughter under way, Kissinger dismisses a warning by his senior officials of the scale of the repression. Secretly, he tells Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West.”
I have known many of Pinochet’s and Kissinger’s victims. Sara De Witt, a student at the time, showed me the place where she was beaten, assaulted and electrocuted. On a wintry day in the suburbs of Santiago, we walked through a former torture centre known as Villa Grimaldi, where hundreds like her suffered terribly and were murdered or “disappeared”.
Understanding Kissinger’s criminality is vital when trying to fathom what the US calls its “foreign policy”. Kissinger remains an influential voice in Washington, admired and consulted by Barack Obama. When Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain commit crimes with US collusion and weapons, their impunity and Obama’s hypocrisy are pure Kissinger. Syria must not have chemical weapons, but Israel can have them and use them. Iran must not have a nuclear programme, but Israel can have more nuclear weapons than Britain. This is known as “realism” or realpolitik by Anglo-American academics and think-tanks that claim expertise in “counter-terrorism” and “national security”, which are Orwellian terms meaning the opposite.
Henry Kissinger urged President Richard Nixon to overthrow the democratically elected Allende government in Chile because his “‘model’ effect can be insidious,” according to documents posted today by the National Security Archive. The coup against Allende occurred on this date [Sept 11th] 40 years ago. The posted records spotlight Kissinger’s role as the principal policy architect of U.S. efforts to oust the Chilean leader, and assist in the consolidation of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.
The documents, which include transcripts of Kissinger’s “telcons” — telephone conversations — that were never shown to the special Senate Committee chaired by Senator Frank Church in the mid 1970s, provide key details about the arguments, decisions, and operations Kissinger made and supervised during his tenure as national security adviser and secretary of state.
“These documents provide the verdict of history on Kissinger’s singular contribution to the denouement of democracy and rise of dictatorship in Chile,” said Peter Kornbluh who directs the Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. “They are the evidence of his accountability for the events of forty years ago.”
Today’s posting includes a Kissinger “telcon” with Nixon that records their first conversation after the coup. During the conversation Kissinger tells Nixon that the U.S. had “helped” the coup. “[Word omitted] created the conditions as best as possible.” When Nixon complained about the “liberal crap” in the media about Allende’s overthrow, Kissinger advised him: “In the Eisenhower period, we would be heroes.”
- “Make the Economy Scream”: Secret Documents Show Nixon, Kissinger Role Backing 1973 Chile Coup (Democracy NOW!)
- Uncovering Britain’s secret role in protecting Chile’s 1973 coup (Guardian)
- Allende’s legacy strong 40 years after Chile coup (AP)
- Allende Aide Juan Garcés on How He Brought Pinochet to Justice (Democracy NOW!)
- Clashes erupt as police fire tear gas at massive Pinochet victims march in Chile (RT)
- Was U.S. Journalist Charles Horman Killed by Chile’s Coup Regime With Aid of His Own Government? (Democracy NOW!)
- Family of Slain Singer Victor Jara Sues Alleged Killer in U.S. Court (Democracy NOW!)
US allies Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Chile have joined other Latin American nations in demanding answers from Washington over spying allegations.
Brazilian media reported earlier this week that the US had seized web traffic and phone calls across the region.
Spying targets included oil and energy firms, Venezuela’s military purchases and information on Mexico’s drug wars.
The U.S. National Security Agency has targeted most Latin American countries in its spying programs, with Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico ranking among those of highest priority for the U.S. intelligence agency, a leading Brazilian newspaper reported on Tuesday.
Citing documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the fugitive former American intelligence contractor, O Globo newspaper said the NSA programs went beyond military affairs to what it termed “commercial secrets.”
These included petroleum in Venezuela and energy in Mexico, according to a graphic O Globo identified as being from the NSA and dated February of this year.
Also swept up in what O Globo termed as U.S. spying were Argentina, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Chile, Peru and El Salvador.
by Martin Pengelly
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an editorial entitled “After the Coup in Cairo”. Its final paragraph contained these words:
Egyptians would be lucky if their new ruling generals turn out to be in the mold of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet, who took over power amid chaos but hired free-market reformers and midwifed a transition to democracy.
Presumably, this means that those who speak for the Wall Street Journal – the editorial was unsigned – think Egypt should think itself lucky if its ruling generals now preside over a 17-year reign of terror. I also take it the WSJ means us to associate two governments removed by generals – the one led by Salvador Allende in Chile and the one led by Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. Islamist, socialist … elected, legitimate … who cares?
Presumably, the WSJ thinks the Egyptians now have 17 years in which to think themselves lucky when any who dissent are tortured with electricity, raped, thrown from planes or – if they’re really lucky – just shot.That’s what happened in Chile after 1973, causing the deaths of between 1,000 and 3,000 people. Around 30,000 were tortured.
Presumably, the WSJ hopes a general in the mold of Pinochet (or generals, as they didn’t break the mold when they made him) will preside over all this with the assistance of Britain and America. Perhaps he (or they) will return the favour by helping one of them win a small war.
Presumably, eventually, the Egyptian general or generals – and we should let them have a junta if they want one, so long as it isn’t like that beastly example in Argentina – will willingly relinquish power. After all, democracy cannot “midwife” itself. Presumably, the WSJ is sure a transition to elected government will follow, as it did in Chile. (Although, in 15 years’ time the Argentinian writer Ariel Dorfman’s words will, presumably, ring as true as they do now: “Saying Pinochet brought democracy to Chile is like saying Margaret Thatcher brought socialism to Britain.” More of her later.)