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Latin America and Caribbean

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US Military Expansion and Intervention



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Militarization of Central America and the Caribbean: The US Military Moves into Costa Rica (July 19, 2010)

In early July, the Costa Rican Congress approved a plan to bring a large US military presence into their country: roughly 7,000 troops, 200 helicopters and 46 warships.  The US justified its proposal on the grounds that the force deployment would help fight the "war on drugs." Some in Costa Rica have declared that the agreement with the US is a violation of their sovereignty and their constitution, and many are concerned about what this move indicates about US foreign policy toward Latin America. (Global Research)

Muscling Latin America (January 21, 2010)

The US increased its military presence in Latin American when Columbia granted Washington the use of seven military bases, along with an unlimited number of 'facilities and locations'. The US insists that the agreement formalizes existing "military cooperation" under Plan Colombia and will not increase the offensive capabilities' of the US Southern Command.  However in its 2009 budget the Pentagon requested funds to upgrade one of the Colombian bases to "conduct a full spectrum of operations through South America to counter, among other threats, anti-US governments and to expand expeditionary warfare capabilities". (The Nation)


Blueprint for an American Empire (September 27, 2006)

In Greg Grandin's book "Empire's Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism," the author discusses the methods used by the Reagan administration during the 1980's to rally domestic support and counter "anti-imperialist" opposition to its policies in Nicaragua. This AlterNet article comments on the attempts by government officials to convince US citizens to support the rebel Nicaraguan group, the Contras. The Reagan administration used the media to distribute government-authored information to justify the Contras" activities against the Sandinista government. The article concludes that US interventions in Latin America throughout the 1980's laid the procedural groundwork for future "imperial" ambitions.

How the United States Continues to Manipulate Nicaragua's Economic and Political Future (June 22, 2006)

US interference in Nicaraguan affairs has ranged from meddlesome and internally destabilizing proxy wars, to US-funded media outlets and US-sponsored political candidates. Mainstream US media has replaced communism with Latin American "radical populism" as an impending threat and source of fear, unjustly lending support for such interference. This Council on Hemispheric Affairs article follows US political and economic manipulation as it impedes Nicaragua's self-determination.

The Latin American Roots of US Imperialism (May 8, 2006)

New York University Professor Greg Gandin argues that past US interventions in Latin America shaped the Bush administration's model of intervention in the Middle East. US interventions in Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala in the 1970s and 80s taught US officials how to manipulate US media and push through destructive neoliberal policies on countries, Gandin says. (Mother Jones)

Mixed US Signals Helped Tilt Haiti toward Chaos (January 29, 2006)

The Bush administration's policy of "spreading democracy" worldwide contradicts its actions in Haiti. Washington supported a coup to overthrow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically-elected leader on the island after two centuries of military interventions. This New York Times report offers detailed information about the US involvement in the coup including the names of Washington-financed organizations and State Department officials.


Ghosts of the 1915 US Invasion Still Haunt Haiti's People (July 25, 2005)

The Miami Herald looks back at the 1915 US invasion of Haiti, and warns Iraqis that it takes a long time for a nation to recover from occupation. Detailing the little known nineteen years of US occupation in Haiti, followed by many years of economic control, the author shows how the imperial aggression of 90 years ago contributed to the bloodshed and instability of more recent times.

Autumn of the Revolutionary: Another Look at Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista Struggle (May 7/8, 2005)

President Reagan's illegal war against the people of Nicaragua has had a lasting and devastating impact. A lethal combination of CIA financed insurgency and economic strangulation destroyed the popular revolution of the Sandinista government and with it all advances towards social justice . CounterPunch re-examines the US intervention, and explores its legacy for Nicaragua's political turmoil today.

Intervention Spin Cycle (April 26, 2005)

The 1965 US intervention in the Dominican Republic paved the way for future interventions in Panama, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam "many of which the US government based on flimsy excuses and "imperial arrogance," says this Baltimore Sun article. Sadly, the scenario of a "disingenuous administration and a deferential press corps" remains the case today, and the public continues to buy into the glorified US military and its role in the world.



US and Others Gave Millions to Pinochet (December 7, 2004)

A US Senate committee investigation uncovered documents showing multimillion-dollar payments to former Chilean Dictator Augusto Pinochet from the US and other countries, under the guise of "commissions from service and travel abroad." The US payments date from 1976, when the assassination of Chilean Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier in Washington DC caused critics to raise several questions about US relations with the Chilean dictatorship. (New York Times)

The Other Regime Change (July 16, 2004)

The International Republican Institute (IRI) was created by the United States Congress with the stated mission of "promot[ing] the practice of democracy" abroad. It continues to receive millions of dollars annually in government funds through agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy. Yet the IRI has a history of destabilizing elected governments while supporting violent and anti-democratic opposition figures. It played a key role in the recent overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. (Salon)

The Truth About Jimmy Carter (July 8, 2004)

As former US president Jimmy Carter embarks on a mission as "neutral observer" of Venezuel's presidential referendum, Counterpunch presents this surprising portrait of the man. The author charges that contrary to Carter's reputation as champion of human rights and democracy, he has "deliberately and systematically worked over the past quarter of a century to undermine progressive regimes and candidates" and promote their pro-US opponents. (Counterpunch)

Guatemala and the Forgotten Anniversary (June 18, 2004)

In June 1954, the US overthrew the democratically elected government of Guatemala, installing a despotic regime and bringing an era "of torture, repression and state terrorism that has taken the lives of close to two hundred thousand Guatemalans." This crime was committed largely to protect the commercial interests of the United Fruit Company, which had close financial ties with the US Secretary of State and the head of the CIA. (Common Dreams)

Feels Like the Third Time (June 11, 2004)

The publication of graphic photographs showing US soldiers torturing Iraqis caused a scandal, but the torture itself was nothing new. The US used torture in Vietnam, and the US Army School of the Americas trained genocidal dictators and death squad leaders from Latin America in brutal interrogation techniques. (American Prospect)

Who Removed Aristide? (April 15, 2004)

Harvard physician Paul Farmer describes a century of US military, political and economic intervention in Haiti, culminating in the overthrow of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In addition to military occupation and support for the anti-Aristide opposition, the US imposed "de facto economic sanctions" by withholding aid from the indebted and impoverished country. (London Review of Books)

Brazil: Documents Shed New Light on US Support for 1964 Coup (March 31, 2004)

US President Lyndon Johnson personally authorized overt military assistance for the 1964 overthrow of Brazilian President Joao Goulart. The US feared Goulart's populist rhetoric and alleged Communist ties, though he repeatedly tried to reassure them that he had no radical designs for his country. General Castello Branco, who replaced Goulart following the coup, was close friends with Washington's chief military attache in Brazil at the time. (Inter Press Service)

Latin America: Washington's Near-Abroad (January 19, 2004)

The article traces the history of US intervention in Latin America and outlines the present and predicted course of US foreign policy in the region. (Power and Interest News Report)



Transcript: US OK'd "Dirty War" (December 4, 2003)

A declassified document proves that Washington supported the Argentine military in its 1975-83 campaign against leftists. It also approved of the junta's harsh tactics which led to the deaths or "disappearances" of approximately 30,000 people. (Miami Herald)

The Other 9/11: The United States and Chile, 1973 (November/December 2003)

With the help of a National Security Archives campaign to release secret government documents, Peter Kornbluh wrote a book about the US role in the coup to bring down Chilean President Salvador Allende and install dictator Augusto Pinochet in power. This book review of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability builds the case against former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and criticizes "the effort he resources committed, the risks taken, and the skullduggery employed" to bring a Latin American democracy down, and the meager efforts since to build democracy back up." (Foreign Affairs)

Revisiting Cold War Coups and Finding Them Costly (November 30, 2003)

The US overthrew the governments in Iran in 1953 and in Guatemala in 1954 for economic and political reasons. Iran was in a progress toward democracy and more "free" than at any time before or since. The Guatemalan intervention set the precedent for later US intervention in Latin America. (New York Times)

The US Invasion of Grenada: A Twenty Year Retrospective (October 2003)

Foreign Policy in Focus offers a precedent for "'regime change' through US military intervention." The official motives for the US invasion of Grenada were "either highly debatable or demonstrably false."

Powell Regrets 1973 US Actions in Chile (April 16, 2003)

As 11 residents of Chile filed a complaint against former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the US government seeking damages for deaths and other rights abuses, Secretary of State Colin Powell says that the 1973 military coup in Chile "is not a part of American history that we are proud of." (Associated Press)

Counterinsurgency, Coups, and Coercion (April 2, 2003)

According to this article, US foreign policy in Latin America during the Cold War was driven by imperial concerns and not by a fear of Soviet expansionism. Znet's Doug Stokes reviews the history of US intervention in the region, and argues that the objectives of the US "continue to be the preservation and defence of a neo-liberal international order and the destruction of social forces considered inimical to this order."


The Case Against Henry Kissinger - The Making of a War Criminal (February 2001)

Christopher Hitchens argues that this former US Secretary of State should be indicted for war crimes from his complicity and involvement in numerous atrocities commited against humanity. (Harper's Magazine)



Year 501: The Tragedy of Haiti (1993)

Noam Chomsky argues that even while former US President Woodrow Wilson was defending the notion of self-determination under his famous Fourteen Points, the US continued intervening in Haiti, and did so for decades during the 20th century. Mainstream media in the US supported these interventions, claiming that they were bringing "energetic Anglo-Saxon influence' to the island. Some US government officials called Haitians "inferior people, unable"¦ to develop any capacity of self government." Chomsky, in this essay, relates the US military interventions in Haiti to Haiti's colonial roots and Washington's perception of the islanders. (



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