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Judi Lynn

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'Extreme Option: Overthrow Allende'

Briefing Books
Special Exhibits
Unredacted (Blog)

Published: Sep 15, 2020
Briefing Book #721
Edited by Peter Kornbluh

Nixon’s “Make the Economy Scream” Order issued 50 years ago

Genesis of Nixon’s Infamous Regime Change Directive on Chile Recorded in Declassified Documentation

Washington, D.C., September 15, 2020 – On September 15, 1970, during a twenty-minute meeting in the Oval Office between 3:25 pm and 3:45 pm, President Richard Nixon ordered the CIA to foment a military coup in Chile. According to handwritten notes taken by CIA Director Richard Helms, Nixon issued explicit instructions to prevent the newly elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, from being inaugurated in November—or to create conditions to overthrow him if he did assume the presidency. “1 in 10 chance, perhaps, but save Chile.” “Not concerned [about] risks involved,” Helms jotted in his notes as the President demanded regime change in the South American nation that had become the first in the world to freely elect a Socialist candidate. “Full time job—best men we have.” “Make the economy scream.”

Fifty years after it was written, Helm’s cryptic memorandum of conversation with Nixon remains the only known record of a U.S. president ordering the covert overthrow of a democratically elected leader abroad. Since the document was first declassified in 1975 as part of a major Senate investigation into CIA covert operations in Chile and elsewhere, Helms’s notes have become the iconic representation of U.S. intervention in Chile—and an enduring symbol of Washington’s hegemonic arrogance toward smaller nations.

To mark the 50th anniversary of Nixon's order to overthrow Allende, at precisely 3:25 pm – when the meeting began – the National Security Archive today posted a selection of previously declassified documents that traces the genesis of this consequential presidential directive and the historical circumstances in which it took place. The September 15, 1970, meeting, also attended by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Attorney General John Mitchell, is well known in the history of the U.S. role in Chile; the events that led to that meeting have received far less attention. “These documents provide a roadmap of U.S. coup-plotting and regime change,” notes Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Archive’s Chile project and is the author of The Pinochet File. “The September 15, 1970, Oval Office meeting marked the first major step in undermining Chilean democracy and supporting the advent of a military dictatorship."

Allende on the street
photo credit, Naul Ojeda

The Archive’s abbreviated historiography of Nixon’s September 15 orders reveals the following sequence of events:

** U.S. officials began to secretly explore a military coup as part of contingency planning for a possible Allende victory more than a month before Chileans went to the polls on September 4, 1970. The initial evaluation of the pros and cons of a potential coup took place after President Nixon requested, in late July, an “urgent review” of U.S. interests and options in Chile. Completed in mid-August, the review known as National Security Study Memorandum 97, contained a TOP SECRET annex titled “Extreme Option: Overthrow Allende,” which addressed the assumptions, advantages, and disadvantages of a military coup if Allende was elected.


Pompeo to make questionable visit to Guyana

Bert Wilkinson | 9/17/2020, midnight

Guyana’s government has confirmed the impending visit of American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to the Caribbean Community nation this week fueling widespread speculation that the visit is linked to protracted efforts by Washington to use the country as some kind of an operating base to deal with neighboring Venezuela.

Foreign Minister spokeswoman Audrey Waddell confirmed Pompeo’s visit for Sept. 17-18.

“We are indeed preparing for a visit sometime this week. You might have seen correspondence to that effect, but yes we are preparing for him,” she said as a plethora of organizations and critics have railed against the visit, calling Pompeo’s intentions sinister.

Pompeo had been very involved in Guyana’s recently concluded and greatly disputed general elections, as he had several times publicly displayed Washington’s preference for the Indo-dominate People’s Progressive Party, which appears to have mended its decades of poor relations with Washington in recent months. The result is that the U.S., Britain, Canada and the European Union all lined up behind the PPP’s campaign, demanding that former president David Granger stepped aside making way for the PPP. The PPP was eventually declared the winner of the general elections, five months after the Guyanese voted in the polls and after a series of court challenges and a 33 day recount of ballots.

Granger’s coalition had publicly said that the U.S. had favored the governing People’s Progressive Party more than the coalition because it turned down a request from the Trump administration to have a stepped up American military presence in Guyana as well as rejected a request for the Voice of America to establish a radio station in Guyana’s northwestern region to broadcast propaganda messages to neighboring Venezuela.


Why Colombia Reports suspended the news

by Adriaan Alsema September 17, 2020

Colombia Reports suspended the daily news because of security concerns that need to be dealt with first.

This requires a clarification as “security concerns” are vague and I’m not worried about getting assassinated like my Colombian colleague Abelardo Liz last month.

Assassinating foreigners draws too much attention, so more subtle techniques must be applied to make sure foreign reporters don’t inform you on all the really interesting stuff.

In my case, for example, a Medellin prosecution official filled in a non-existent ID number on my protection request last year after I reported a death threat.

I caught the official and made sure he filed a valid request after which the National Protection Unit sent my protection kit — a bulletproof vest and a panic button — to Bogota. Twice.

I got the hint after the Medellin Police Department lost the third request and I let it go after two days had gone to waste.


Bolivia government abusing justice system against Morales and allies - report

Human Rights Watch report accuses administration of Jeanine Áñez of overseeing legal offensive against people linked to Morales

Tom Phillips Latin America correspondent

Fri 11 Sep 2020 13.33 EDT

Bolivia’s rightwing caretaker government is abusing the justice system to wage a politically motivated witch-hunt against former president Evo Morales and his allies, a new report by Human Rights Watch claims.

The report accuses the US-backed administration of Jeanine Áñez – who became interim leader after Morales was forced into exile last November – of overseeing a legal offensive against more than 100 people linked to Bolivia’s first indigenous president.

The group claimed prosecutors had charged some Morales backers with terrorism for simply speaking to him on the phone.

Morales, who now lives in Argentina, himself faces terrorism charges relating to an alleged phone call in November 2019 in which authorities claim he urged protesters to blockade Bolivia’s de facto capital, La Paz.

José Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch’s Americas director, said Áñez’s government was trying to give a facade of legality to a campaign against political foes.

“The interim government is using the justice system as a weapon against Morales for political reasons,” he said.


No Land in Paraguay

The preservation of indigenous peoples’ territories in Paraguay has a vital role in maintaining spiritual, cultural, and communal well­being. Despite this important reality, many indigenous communities’ bonds with their land have been shattered.

By William Costa

Members of the Tekoha Sauce community, one of 38 Ava Guaraní communities displaced during the construction of the enormous Itaipú Dam. They have undertaken a long legal struggle for reparations. Photograph by William Costa

March 10

Paraguay’s nineteen indigenous groups abound in diversity. From the Paĩ Tavyterã communities of the subtropical northeast to the Ayoreo tribes in the far reaches of the arid Chaco region in the west, they each have unique cultural and linguistic heritage. In spite of these differences, they all face similar challenges as a result of negligence and discrimination from the Paraguayan state. While the government’s department of tourism adorns its information offices in Asunción—the capital—with indigenous crafts, other state institutions continue to pursue a development model benefitting an economic elite while robbing indigenous people of their land, culture, and the most basic of public services. Urgent measures must be taken by the state to protect indigenous rights and begin to repair the social, cultural, and economic damage dealt by a history of destructive policies.

The approximately 117,000 people self-identifying as indigenous in Paraguay— roughly 2 percent of the population— face extreme hardship: they are the sector with the country’s lowest living standards. A 2015 report by the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples reveals that 75 percent live in poverty. Notably, while on average across Paraguay 26 percent of under-fives live in extreme poverty (households with less than $1.90 per day per person), this figure stands at 63 percent for the indigenous population. The report mentions that indigenous people have low access to electricity and running water and that 40 percent are illiterate compared to 5.1 percent of the non-indigenous population.

Fewer People, More Soy
In recent years, the crisis affecting indigenous groups has become increasingly visible to urban Paraguayans, who have historically been geographically and culturally removed from the trials of native groups in the country. Paraguay’s media shows increasing numbers of indigenous people, especially children and the youth, to be living in squalid conditions on the streets of Asunción. Something is clearly not working for Paraguay’s indigenous population.

At the problem’s core is the issue of land access. The preservation of indigenous territories has a vital role in maintaining spiritual, cultural, and communal well­being as well as providing subsistence through hunting and gathering. Despite this important reality, many indigenous communities’ bonds with their land have been shattered. The 2015 UN report states that 134 of Paraguay’s almost five hundred communities are landless and a further 145 are facing land possession issues, such as ownership disputes with private entities.

This directly violates Paraguayan law, which recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples, including guaranteeing them access to land. It also represents a failure to uphold international conventions on the rights of indigenous peoples of which the state is a signatory. Far from remedying this situation, the Paraguayan state’s actions inflict further damage.

The land access issue seems an unlikely problem in Paraguay, given its low population density: just eighteen people per square kilometer, half that of the United States. However, a long history of policies favoring accumulation by a wealthy few has made Paraguay the country with the world’s highest inequality of land distribution according to the World Bank. In a country where agriculture is the main source of wealth, 2.5 percent of landowners control at least 85 percent of the arable surface area and have devoted most of it to cattle ranching and growing soybeans for export. The state has historically favored the elite while causing enormous hardship for indigenous and small-scale farming groups.


This picture of a small group is worth far more than a thousand words. It tells you everything about what has happened to native people in this tragically abused Western Hemisphere. History is very much all around us, in spite of evil efforts to conceal it.

Alfredo Stroessner, US supported genocidal Paraguayan dictator


Alfredo Stroessner Matiauda (Spanish: [alˈfɾeðo estɾozˈneɾ]; November 3, 1912 – August 16, 2006) was a Paraguayan Army officer who served as dictator of Paraguay from 1954 to 1989. He ascended to the position after leading an army coup in 1954. His 35-year-long rule, marked by an uninterrupted period of repression in his country, is the longest in modern South American history.

In 1954, he ousted Federico Chávez, becoming president after winning an election in which he was the sole candidate. As an anti-communist, Stroessner had the backing of the United States for most of his time in power. His supporters packed the legislature and ran the courts, and he ruthlessly suppressed all opposition. He kept his country in what he called a constant "state of siege" that overruled civil liberties, enforced a cult of personality, and tortured and killed political opponents. Membership in his Colorado Party was a prerequisite for job promotion, free medical care and other services. The constitution had to be modified in 1967 and 1977 to legitimize his six consecutive elections to the presidency. Stroessner provided exile for Nazi war criminals (including Josef Mengele) as well as overthrown dictators, such as Argentina's Juan Perón and Nicaragua's Anastasio Somoza Debayle (later assassinated in Paraguay).

. . .

Soon after taking office, Stroessner declared a state of siege, which allowed him to suspend civil liberties. The state-of-siege provisions allowed the government to arrest and detain anyone indefinitely without trial, as well as forbid public meetings and demonstrations. It was renewed every 90 days until 1987, except for a brief period in 1959. Although it technically only applied to Asunción after 1970, the courts ruled that anyone charged with security offenses could be brought to the capital and charged under the state-of-siege provisions—even if the offense took place outside the capital.[2][3] Apart from one 24-hour period on election days, Stroessner ruled under what amounted to martial law for nearly all of his tenure. A devoted anti-communist who brought Paraguay into the World Anti-Communist League, he justified his repression as a necessary measure to protect the country.

. . .

As leader of the Colorado Party, Stroessner exercised nearly complete control over the nation's political scene. Although opposition parties were nominally permitted after 1962 (the Colorado Party had been the only legal party in the country since 1947), Paraguay remained for all intents and purposes a one-party state. Elections were so heavily rigged in favor of the Colorados that the opposition had no realistic chance of winning, and opposition figures were subjected to varying degrees of harassment. Furthermore, Stroessner's Paraguay became a haven for Nazi war criminals, including Josef Mengele,[13][14] and non-communist peaceful opposition was crushed. Given Stroessner's affinity for Nazism and harboring of Nazi war criminals, foreign press often referred to his government as the "poor man's Nazi regime".[7]

Stroessner's rule brought more stability than most of the country's living residents had previously known. From 1927 to 1954, the country had had 22 presidents, including six from 1948 to 1954 alone.[15] However, it came at a high cost. Corruption was rampant (Stroessner himself did not dispute charges of corruption at some levels in his government) and Paraguay's human rights record was considered one of the poorest in South America.[16] During Stroessner's regime, an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 people were murdered, 400 to 500 more "disappeared," and thousands more imprisoned and tortured.[17][18]

. . .

Under Stroessner, egregious human rights violations were committed against the Aché Indian population of Paraguay's eastern districts, largely as the result of U.S. and European corporations wanting access to the country's forests, mines and grazing lands.[31][7] The Aché Indians resided on land that was coveted and had resisted relocation attempts by the Paraguayan army. The government retaliated with massacres and forced many Aché into slavery. In 1974 the UN accused Paraguay of slavery and genocide. Only a few hundred Aché remained alive by the late 1970s.[7] The Stroessner regime financed this genocide with U.S. aid.[7]


Kidnappers release former Paraguay vice-president

Óscar Denis was taken by Paraguayan People’s Army days after military killed two 11-year-old girls in unclear circumstances

William Costa in Asunción

Tue 15 Sep 2020 02.15 EDT

Violence has intensified in Paraguay in the conflict between security forces and the Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP) – a communist guerrilla movement active in the country’s north-east.

A former vice-president was kidnapped by rebels days after the military killed two 11-year-old girls in unclear circumstances during an operation against the EPP, which human rights organisations described as a possible “state crime”.

Óscar Denis, Paraguayan vice-president from 2012 to 2013, was kidnapped from his ranch in the Amambay department on 9 September alongside employee Adelio Mendoza, who belongs to the Paĩ Tavyterã indigenous people.

Notes found in Denis’s abandoned vehicle attributed the kidnapping to the EPP, considered a criminal organisation by the Paraguayan state estimated to have 20-50 members. Since emerging in 2008, it has been linked to multiple kidnappings and more than 60 deaths.

While the EPP’s political discourse has focused on the great needs of Paraguay’s poor, they are widely repudiated for employing violence and extortion.


Fire in Pantanal Threatens Region with Largest Concentration of Jaguars in World

In August, flames already awakened devastated the world's largest refuge of macaws

Sep.11.2020 2:01PM

Pablo Rodrigo

The flames that destroyed the Pantanal in the state of Mato Grosso over the last month have reached more than 45% of the Encontro das Águas State Park. The region concentrates the largest number of jaguars in the world, located between the municipalities of Poconé and Barão de Melgaço, south of Cuiabá.

Of the nearly 109 thousand hectares of the park created in 2004, approximately 51 thousand hectares have already been affected by the flames.

. . .

The Fire Department says it has reinforced, since last week, actions to contain the spread of the flames inside the park. The biggest concern is controlling the fire to prevent it from advancing to the east of the park, which is the jaguars' refuge.

Last month, Fazenda São Francisco do Perigara, considered the world's largest refuge for the macaw, lost at least 70% of its approximately 25,000 hectares, almost all of which are native vegetation.


Jaguar brothers in the Pantanal

Hyacynth Macaws in the Pantanal

Scarlet Macaws

Also posted in Environment and energy:

The story of the enslaved Black man who became king in Venezuela in 1552

MILDRED EUROPA TAYLOR Sep 12, 2020 at 09:00am

Miguel I de Buría, also known as King Miguel and Miguel the Black

His reign was shortlived, but his resistance and that of his followers in what would be one of the first challenges to Spanish colonial rule in Venezuela and the rest of Latin America inspired thousands of slave revolts over the next three hundred years. That is the story of Miguel de Buria, who is believed to be the first and only king of African descent in Venezuela.

History says that in the 16th century, enslaved men and women were transported all over the New World, and in Venezuela particularly, around 100,000 slaves were imported from Africa to work on sugar and indigo plantations, as well as mines that were being managed by the Spanish crown. Those mines included the popular Real de Minas de San Felipe de Buria, where both African slaves and indigenous Jirajara natives extracted valuable minerals from the earth.

Among those workers was Miguel. Born around 1510 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miguel was brought to Venezuela by slaveowner Damian del Barrio before he was later inherited by his son, Pedro del Barrio. While working on the Real de Minas de San Felipe de Buria in the province of Yaracuy, Miguel, who had then gained fame as a rebellious slave, resisted an attempt by a Spanish foreman, Diego Hernandez de Serpa, to punish him.

An account states that Miguel grabbed a sword from the foreman and fought him before escaping to the nearby Cordillera de Merida mountains. It was from his base in the mountains that Miguel started a maroon colony and ultimately led a rebellion of enslaved workers in the San Felipe Mines. Miguel’s forces included freed Africans, mulattoes, Zambos, and Jirajara indigenous Americans — numbering 1,500. It is not known the exact location of his maroon colony which eventually became known as the kingdom of Buria, but what is known is that Miguel was made king of the colony in 1552 while his wife and son became the queen and prince.

With his weapons and followers, Miguel was able to attack Spanish guards at the San Felipe Mines. He captured many of them and killed those who had been so cruel to the enslaved workers. Miguel and his followers then attacked other plantations and mines across the Yaracuy province, and in the midst of the raids, he freed enslaved workers and brought them to his colony, where some became administrators, governors and military officers.


Chile's Far Right Is Taking Up Arms

After last October’s popular revolt, Chileans are due to vote on a new constitution to replace the current Pinochet-era document. But far-right forces are mobilising to prevent any change – threatening deadly violence.

Octavio García Soto


In Chile, riots normally mean tear gas, water cannons, and police violence. This is especially true in the Southern Araucanía region, where overwhelming police presence enforces a century-old repression against the disenfranchised Mapuche people. Add quarantine and a military curfew, and you’ve got a stew going.

But there was a rather different scene on August 1, as over a hundred civilians armed with sticks surrounded the municipal buildings in the southern towns of Curacauitín, Victoria, Ercilla, and Traiguén. They risked a $2,500 fine for breaking the curfew (or $12,500 if one of them was COVID-19 positive). Fires and street fights filled the night, notwithstanding a heavy police presence: nice and armoured, both the police and the army stood by and did nothing.

The repression of the popular revolt in October 2019 — leaving 36 dead and over 11,000 wounded — showed that Carabineros de Chile are not shy about rough play. So, what happened, here — had the beast been tamed?

Or is it just that they’re racists? Because these particular demonstrators weren’t demanding a fair redistribution of wealth, a new constitution or an end to police brutality. They were chanting “away with the indios” or “el que no salta es Mapuche” (If you don’t jump, you’re Mapuche). Their protests were directed at municipalities occupied by Mapuche activists, who were demanding the liberation of twenty-eight Mapuche prisoners. The inmates were imprisoned in the context of their struggle to recover at least some of the 9.5 million acres taken from them by the Chilean state, out of the 10 million they originally had.

. . .

Riled-up reactionaries

After 40 years of a neoliberal constitution inherited from Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, the national referendum on a new constitution is finally drawing near. And many right-wingers are starting to dust off their — or their parents’ — old military paraphernalia.

Before the pandemic brought the country to a halt, there had already been violence at demonstrations in support of Pinochet’s constitution. Armed with sticks, helmets, and tailor-made shields (some even had Confederate flags), demonstrators charged not only counter-protesters, but even mere bystanders. The police stood and watched, or sometimes even actively defended them from counterattacks.

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