Archive for the Panama Category

Victory! Cuban 5 are reunited and free at last [Workers World]

Posted in CIA, Cuba, Honduras, Obama, Panama, US Agency for International Development, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on December 20, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Cheryl Labash

Dec. 18, 2014

Dec. 17 — The government of the United States has done what it repeatedly swore it would never do: It has freed the last of the Cuban 5. Today Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino and Gerardo Hernández were finally released from U.S. jails after more than 16 years of unjust imprisonment. René González and Fernando González had already served their full prison terms and returned to Cuba.

Those whom René González termed “the jury of millions” — who had organized, picketed, written letters, signed petitions, collected money for newspaper ads, investigated, inveighed on parliamentarians, climbed mountains, rode bicycles, tweeted, wrote poems, plays, songs and more in every corner of the globe — rejoiced. The steadfast Cuban people joyfully welcomed their heroes: the five men who sacrificed so much to protect them from terrorist attacks launched from U.S. territory during the 1990s.

We can only imagine the joy of their families. A Miami court and the U.S. government had expected Gerardo to die in prison after he was sentenced to two life terms plus 15 years.

Today, says the International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5, “Gerardo has now been reunited with Adriana, Ramón is back with Elizabeth and his three beautiful daughters, and Antonio is with his mother Mirta, the 84-year-old tireless inspiration of this struggle, who feared she would die before she saw her son back in Cuba.”

Workers World Party and many dedicated organizers in the U.S. share this awesome and joyous moment of victory.

Opening the prison doors for the Cuban heroes was only part of the top story today. In a broadcast speech, President Barack Obama outlined “charting a new course on Cuba,” and asserted, “Today, we are renewing our leadership in the Americas.” Washington has its eye on the April Summit of the Americas in Panama.

Yet a bill imposing sanctions on Bolivarian Venezuela is sitting on Obama’s desk. Will he veto it, as part of this new course? The Obama administration recognized the coup government in Honduras that has driven thousands of children to flee violent repression. Will it stop engineering coups and dictatorships in Latin America? What about the U.S. role in destroying the Mexican economy and turning it into a killing field? And, especially, will the U.S. end its blockade of Cuba?

For more than two years, the pressure for this moment has been building in the United States. Reflecting this pressure, seven New York Times editorials in recent months have advocated a change in U.S. policy toward Cuba. The Associated Press ran a series that exposed Alan Gross, the contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development — often used as a cover for CIA operations — who was convicted by a Cuban court of having secretly and illegally installed military-grade communications devices on the island in violation of Cuba’s sovereignty and laws.

Cuba released Gross as soon as the Five were returned home, citing humanitarian reasons.

The AP continued its investigation of failed U.S. regime-change antics, including the “Cuban” twitter site Zunzuneo — another USAID program — and the recent infiltration of Cuban hip hop artists in an attempt to use them as unknowing instruments to undermine Cuba’s self-determination.

Polls have shown that sentiment in Miami now favors changing U.S. policy toward Cuba even more strongly than in the rest of the U.S. Since 1992, the U.N. General Assembly has voted almost unanimously every year for the U.S. to end the blockade.

As Obama himself admitted in his speech, the U.S. for more than five decades has tried “to push Cuba toward collapse.” And, he testified, it didn’t work.

* Development despite imperialist hostility *

Development in the hemisphere has been moving forward despite the machinations of the U.S.

Latin America and the Caribbean, including Cuba, have forged many interlocking levels of continental unity through the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States and the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas. At the same time, the U.S. is still unable to recover from its 2007-2008 economic collapse, especially in regard to employment. Longshore union members report that the port of Tampa, Fla., is underutilized, while Cuba’s new automated container port in Mariel is ready to handle huge ships from Asia.

As long as the blockade is fully in place, it is U.S. trade with Cuba that suffers, while trade between Cuba and other countries continues, just 90 miles away. How long will European banks continue to pay U.S.-imposed fines for handling Cuban financial transactions? The old system of sanctions imposed by Washington has become untenable.

The people of the U.S. have also suffered from the blockade. They have been prevented from knowing the Cuban reality: that it is possible to do so much, even with scarce resources, when the power of the people is freed from capitalism.

In the U.S. a new militant movement led by Black and Brown youth is challenging the racism and repression embedded in capitalism. Don’t they want to learn how first-rate education and health care can be made available without throwing youth and workers into debt? They really want to see how a different world is possible. And couldn’t Detroit benefit from what Cuba has to offer?

The Cuban people, and particularly the Cuban Communist Party, are committed to socialism — making the goal of social production the needs and welfare of human beings, not profits for a few. They are well aware and capable of dealing with any challenges to come. Now there are five additional leaders, tested by long years of U.S. imprisonment, who can help chart this new future.

Volvieron! They have returned!

Cheryl LaBash has been an organizer with the International Committee to Free the Cuban 5 since 2006 and is a co-chair of the National Network on Cuba.

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Cooking the Books: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the China Lobby and Cold War Propaganda, 1950-1962 [Asia-Pacific Journal / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Afghanistan, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Anti-communism, Black propaganda, China, China-bashing, CIA, Colombia, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Cuba, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Karzai puppet regime corruption, Korean War, Law enforcement, Media smear campaign, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama, PLA, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on April 20, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 37, No. 1, September 14, 2013.

Jonathan Marshall

As influential contributors to national policy, intelligence professionals inevitably face strong political and bureaucratic pressures to shape their assessments to fit official or factional policy. In the modern era, such pressures have contributed to costly, even disastrous, escalations of the Vietnam War, the arms race, and, most notoriously, Washington’s conflict with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.2

Intelligence on the international narcotics menace has been particularly subject to such pressures ever since U.S. leaders vowed to wage “war” on the illicit drug trade more than a half century ago.3 In recent years, influential interest groups and policy makers have leveled epithets like “narco-terrorism” and “narco-communism” against targets such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Panama, Syria, the Taliban, and Venezuela to justify harsh policies ranging from economic sanctions to armed invasion, while ignoring or downplaying evidence implicating U.S. allies (the Nicaraguan Contras, the Afghan mujahedeen and Karzai administration, the Colombian military, and so forth).4 Given the stakes, critical scrutiny of such claims, and rigorous attention to de-politicizing intelligence on international narcotics matters, may be as vital to preventing foreign policy disasters as is ensuring sound intelligence on more traditional matters of national security.

To shed historical light on the dangers of turning international drug enforcement into a political weapon, this paper re-examines a classic case of alleged manipulation of narcotics intelligence: the vilification of Communist China by U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics Harry J. Anslinger at the height of the Cold War. His inflammatory rhetoric denouncing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as an evil purveyor of narcotics went largely unchallenged in the Western media during the 1950s and early 1960s, when Anslinger acted as America’s leading drug enforcement official and its official representative to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). As we shall see, his charges strongly reinforced Washington’s case for diplomatic isolation of China, including its exclusion from the United Nations.

In 1971, as relations between Washington and Beijing began to thaw, the official U.S. line on China’s responsibility for drug trafficking abruptly reversed. At about the same time, a young scholar named Alfred McCoy published an authoritative volume on the modern history of the international heroin trade, contesting Anslinger’s claims and pinning blame for much of the traffic on U.S. military allies in Southeast Asia.5 Since then a number of historians have endorsed McCoy’s conclusions and characterized Anslinger’s conduct as the work of a master bureaucrat (or ideologue) bent on augmenting his agency’s prestige and power by inflating Cold War stereotypes of the PRC.6

This paper reexamines and extends their work by asking the question made famous by Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker during the Watergate hearings: What did he know, and when did he know it? As Kevin F. Ryan has observed, “it is unclear how much the FBN actually knew about [China’s involvement in] the international narcotics trade (and how much was simply convenient rhetoric) . . .”7 McCoy and most subsequent historians have relied on ex post rejections of Anslinger’s claims by U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials in the aftermath of the opening to China. But can we be sure Anslinger had no evidence to support his charges? If so, did Anslinger simply invent his claims, or did other interested parties feed him misleading or false information? And, equally important, what did Anslinger know but choose to ignore about drug trafficking by American allies, including those covertly backed by the Central Intelligence Agency?

New evidence, including recently declassified files of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Central Intelligence Agency, along with overlooked public materials from that period, sheds important new light on the state of Anslinger’s knowledge and probable motives. The records, unavailable to or unused by previous historians, provide strong new confirmation of Anslinger’s manipulation of intelligence to serve both his agency’s bureaucratic interests and a militantly anti-Communist foreign policy agenda at the expense of genuine narcotics enforcement. They leave open the possibility that Chinese traffickers continued to smuggle opiates out of the mainland into the 1950s, but do not challenge what is widely accepted today about the communist government’s attempt to suppress cultivation and trafficking…

— Anslinger’s Questionable Sources: the SCAP Connection —

…In reassessing the credibility of Anslinger’s claims, one of the most striking facts to note is that Anslinger had no full-time agents stationed in the Far East until 1962.37 (The U.S. Customs service had jurisdiction over narcotics investigations in the region, with offices in Hong Kong and Japan.)38 He thus depended heavily on agents of friendly governments — and particularly on partisan intelligence sources connected with U.S. occupation forces in Japan (SCAP) and Nationalist China.

Anslinger acknowledged that SCAP intelligence provided among “the first reports we received about the Communist narcotic smuggling in the Far East.”39 He made a SCAP account of heroin trafficking in Japan the centerpiece of his first all-out assault against Communist China before the CND in May 1952.40 The report declared that “Investigations, arrests, and seizures in Japan during 1951 proved conclusively that communists are smuggling heroin from China to Japan, and are using the proceeds from the sale thereof to finance party activities and to obtain strategic materials for China.” In support of that strong claim, it [among other allegations] cited one seizure of heroin that carried the seals of a pharmaceutical laboratory in northern China. But more than a half dozen other cases cited in the document simply involved heroin smuggled into Japan from Hong Kong — typically by Chinese from Taiwan (“Formosans”). Evidently, for Anslinger, heroin carried from British-controlled Hong Kong by smugglers from Nationalist-controlled Taiwan was proof of a Communist conspiracy…

…neither SCAP intelligence nor its sources could ever be considered “reliable,” except politically…42

–Anslinger and the China Lobby–

Many of Anslinger’s detailed allegations about large opium-growing regions in China, heroin laboratories in Chinese cities, and smuggling directives by Chinese government agencies originated from Nationalist China, whose representative to the CND issued grandiose allegations against the mainland’s new Communist masters.55 In 1951 Nationalist China provided the CND laboratory with its only “authenticated” samples of opium from the mainland. These samples were in turn used to implicate the PRC whenever the lab found a chemical match with opium seized by a member nation, including the United States. This stunning conflict of interest — perhaps fraud is not too strong a word — was uncovered only in 1963 following an inquiry by the Polish representative to the CND.56

Anslinger’s uncritical reliance on intelligence from Nationalist China was all the more irresponsible because he knew all about that regime’s own sordid history of profiting from the drug trade. Throughout much of the 1930s, a senior Treasury agent based in China sent Anslinger voluminous, detailed reports implicating senior government officials in opium trafficking. Indeed, history Chiang Kai-shek rise to power was smoothed by the muscle and financial support of China’s most infamous criminal syndicate, the Green Gang.57

In the 1950s, Anslinger collaborated closely with the “China Lobby,” a network of Nationalist Chinese officials and American supporters who sought to maintain high levels of aid to Taiwan while denying diplomatic recognition to the PRC…

…Anslinger helped the China Lobby in another key respect — by delegitimizing serious charges that some of its own personnel were tainted by the illegal drug trade. In 1960, Anslinger helped the Taiwan regime suppress publication of the first scholarly study of the China Lobby, because it contained the sensational claim:

There is . . . considerable evidence that a number of [Nationalist] Chinese officials engaged in the illegal smuggling of narcotics into the United States with the full knowledge and connivance of the Nationalist Chinese Government. The evidence indicates that several prominent Americans have participated in and profited from these transactions. It indicates further that the narcotics business has been an important factor in the activities and permutations of the China Lobby…61

–The FBI, Customs and CIA v. Anslinger–

Most Americans were in no position to question Anslinger’s assertions about China. Out of public view, however, many official experts in the U.S. and allied governments rejected his claims—including some in his own bureau.

The British Foreign Office, for example, dismissed his sources, which included Nationalist Chinese press accounts and claims by arrested traffickers in Japan, as “very dubious.” British Home Office official John Henry Walker privately derided Anslinger’s “annual onslaughts on Red China” as largely unsubstantiated and speculated that Anslinger sought to grab headlines because he was “under pressure in Washington and having to fight to keep his job…”70

–What the FBN Knew about the CIA and the Golden Triangle Drug Trade–

[I’ve excerpted this particularly sensational section which is quite long, but highly recommend reading it in its entirely – Zuo Shou]

It is notable that the single biggest redaction from the 1956 CIA study, when it was quietly declassified several decades later, concerns Thailand. For it was the CIA’s assets in Thailand who bore more responsibility than any other group in the “Golden Triangle” for the resurgence of the opium trade after the Communist victory in China in 1949. It is thus critical to explore what Anslinger must have known but chose not to disclose about the CIA’s drug-trafficking allies in the region.

Several excellent studies of the Golden Triangle in the 1950s provide rich background — without necessarily answering the question of what Anslinger knew.79 In brief, by January 1950, the People’s Liberation Army had driven thousands of Chinese Nationalist soldiers from the Eighth and Twenty-Sixth armies out of Yunnan province into Burma and French Indochina. In northeast Burma, more than 10,000 men under the command of General Li Mi found sanctuary in the wild hill country settled by minority peoples, many of whom cultivated opium as a traditional cash crop. Having themselves profited from opium for many years in Yunnan, the KMT forces — named for the Kuomintang party that ruled Nationalist China — began trafficking once again from Burma, both to make ends meet and to finance their schemes to reconquer China.

Washington’s interest in using Li Mi’s forces to contain the Chinese Communists soared after the start of the Korean War. By direction from President Truman in December 1950, the CIA secretly began supplying the KMT by air and with ground caravans through Thailand.80 Security was provided by the CIA-backed Thai national police, who in turn were eager to market the KMT’s opium to the legal Thai national opium monopoly and to international traffickers.

After several hapless forays by the KMT into southern China in 1951 and early 1952, Washington gave up serious hope of using them to roll back Communism in China. Meanwhile, as the CIA’s “covert” mission became widely known, U.S. relations with Burma worsened and Washington grew alarmed at the possibility of a retaliatory invasion by Communist China.81 The United States tried in vain to persuade the KMT forces to decamp for Taiwan, but the Chinese insisted on staying put — and in the words of one U.S. ambassador, “continuing nefarious operations in Burma and Thailand including opium smuggling racket.”82 Tabling preparations for war, they focused instead on building a drug empire that helped boost the region’s opium exports from an estimated 40 tons before World War II to more than three hundred tons by 1962.

Washington’s role in this trade was much more than incidental.83 As U.S. officials understood early on,84 the Thai national police, under the ruthless and brutal General Phao Sriyanon, “had become the largest opium-trafficking syndicate in Thailand,” in McCoy’s words. He adds:

CIA support for Phao and the KMT seems to have sparked . . . a ‘takeoff’ in the Burma-Thailand opium trade during the 1950s: modern aircraft replaced mules, naval vessels replaced sampans, and well-trained military organizations expropriated the traffic from bands of illiterate mountain traders.

Never before had [Burma’s] Shan States encountered smugglers with the discipline, technology, and ruthlessness of the KMT. Under General Phao’s leadership Thailand had changed from an opium-consuming nation to the world’s most important opium distribution center. The Golden Triangle’s opium production approached its present scale . . .85

The Golden Triangle would remain the world’s largest exporter of opiates until supplanted in the 1980s by a new set of CIA allies in South Asia, the Afghan mujahedeen and Pakistani military intelligence.86

All of this was top secret—so much so that the very existence of the operation to support the KMT guerrillas was kept from the CIA’s deputy director for intelligence, most or all top State Department officials, and the U.S. ambassadors to Burma and Thailand.87 The CIA went to especially great lengths to hush up the drug-related murder of one agent and widespread opium trafficking under its auspices.88 So is it fair in retrospect to hold Anslinger responsible for ignoring or underplaying the U.S.-Thailand drug connection?

Washington’s lies fooled no one on the scene and could not have fooled Anslinger. A review of the often-overlooked public record shows that Anslinger must have known more than to sound the alarm about the emergence of the KMT and its U.S.-supported Thai allies as one of the world’s largest narcotics-trafficking syndicates. Ignorance was simply not a credible excuse.

As early as May 1950, the New York Times reported on the presence in Northeast Burma of “an aggregation of refugee Nationalist troops” who “operate pretty much as a law unto themselves” and “have been engaging extensively in opium dealing.” The story noted that the United States planned to open a consulate “at the little northern Thailand city of Chiangmai to watch American interests in an area of increasing importance in Southeast Asia,” a tip that U.S. authorities were in touch with the KMT.89

Less than two years later, the respected London Observer accused “certain Americans” of joining Thai officials and KMT officers in “making large profits” from the “guns for opium trade.” The story pointed to the large quantities of American-made weapons and ammunition flown to General Li Mi “from a certain trading company in Bangkok in which Americans have an interest.” (As we will see, that was a reference to the CIA’s Sea Supply Company.) Amazingly, the American embassy in Bangkok confirmed the allegation. “It cannot be denied that we are in the opium trade,” one U.S. diplomat told the reporter.90 In case Anslinger missed the story, the Washington Post made it the subject of an editorial: “It is somewhat startling to read the allegation that in supporting the Chinese Nationalist effort in northeastern Burma to harass the Chinese Communists, Americans have gone into the opium business!…”91

…Anslinger could hardly deny the obvious any more. The narcotics commissioner now acknowledged publicly that, “More opium moves to and around Chiengrai in northern Thailand than any other place in the world in illicit traffic.” But he still blamed Red China, choosing not to draw attention to the pro-American parties responsible for bringing the drugs to the world market.101 “By an accident of history,” wrote one journalist friendly with Anslinger who nonetheless appreciated the irony, “the middlemen between Yunnan and Thailand are anticommunist Chinese. . . . They grow opium and add it to the supplies they get from China and neighboring tribal villages of Laos and Burma…”102


Anslinger’s sweeping rhetoric against “Red China” today strikes most historians—rightly so—as an anachronistic product of the McCarthy era. But the long litany of arrests, interrogation reports and statistics that Anslinger cited to back up his claims sounded authoritative and proved persuasive to Westerners all through the 1950s and into the 1960s…

…Anslinger, however, went far beyond…limited claims [of PRC involvement in illegal narcotics trade] to condemn the Beijing regime as a uniquely grand and evil purveyor of narcotics. Such strong charges demanded equally strong evidence. Anslinger never provided it and almost certainly never had it. With the opening of FBN records, we now know that its Communist China files hold no credible reports implicating the Maoist regime in drug smuggling. Furthermore, other U.S. and British officials privately called Anslinger on the matter at the time, savaging the credibility of his sources. The CIA’s definitive study of the question in 1956 demonstrates that Anslinger pushed his incendiary charges at the United Nations and in the media despite clear intelligence to the contrary. At the same time, Anslinger ignored or downplayed readily available public and private evidence that America’s allies — and its own officials — were contributing far more than Communist China to the growth of the Far East drug trade and the expansion of the world heroin market.

Clearly, the FBN chief chose to put anti-communism, national security [sic], and bureaucratic self-interest ahead of his agency’s declared mission. These disparate values meshed seamlessly. By serving up a steady supply of lurid claims to feed the propaganda mills of professional Cold Warriors and China Lobbyists, Anslinger bought protection against budget cuts, premature retirement, loss of authority to rival agencies, and any weakening of the nation’s drug laws. Today one must agree with the British Home Office official who concluded disparagingly in 1954 that Anslinger had “strong motives for emphasizing the responsibilities of other countries for illicit traffic in the United States and for attributing this traffic to Communist sources.”129 Anslinger’s deplorable record should remind us today of the need for critical scrutiny of claims related to drug trafficking to avoid letting our own era’s propaganda warriors generate fear and revulsion to escalate international conflicts.

Excerpted; full article (with notes) link:

DPRK FM Spokesman Urges Panamanian Authorities Let Apprehended Crewmen, Ship of DPRK Leave [KCNA]

Posted in Cuba, DPR Korea, Media smear campaign, Panama on July 18, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Pyongyang, July 17 (KCNA) — A spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry gave the following answer to a question put by KCNA on Wednesday as regards the case of the DPRK trading ship Chongchongang apprehended in Panama:

There occurred an abnormal case in which the DPRK trading ship Chongchongang was apprehended by the Panamanian investigation authorities on suspicion of “drug transport,” a fiction, before passing through Panama canal after leaving Havana Port recently.

The Panamanian investigation authorities rashly attacked and detained the captain and crewmen of the ship on the plea of “drug investigation” and searched its cargo but did not discover any drug. Yet, they are justifying their violent action, taking issue with other kind of cargo aboard the ship.

This cargo is nothing but aging weapons which are to send back to Cuba after overhauling them according to a legitimate contract.

The Panamanian authorities should take a step to let the apprehended crewmen and ship leave without delay. -0-

KCNA homepage:

Also see: “Cuba says seized DPRK ship carries obsolete weapons” [Xinhua] –

Former U.S. puppet convicted of genocide in Guatemala [Workers World]

Posted in CIA, Genocide, Guatemala, Panama, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on May 29, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Gene Clancy on May 22, 2013

BULLETIN: On May 20, Guatemala’s highest court threw out Rios Montt’s conviction. Appeals are being filed.

On Dec. 4, 1982, President Ronald Reagan met Guatemalan President Efrain Rios Montt in Honduras. It was a useful meeting for both. Reagan declared Montt to be “a man of great personal integrity and commitment.” Reagan said, “I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice.” (North American Congress on Latin America, Spring 2012)

The next day, one of Rios Montt’s elite platoons entered the village of Dos Erres and killed more than 200 of its inhabitants, 67 of them children. Soldiers grabbed babies and toddlers by their legs, swung them in the air and smashed their heads against walls. They forced older children and adults to kneel at the edge of a well, and then with a single sledgehammer blow sent them plummeting below. The platoon raped many women and girls, and then threw the women into a well and filled it with dirt, burying some alive. (This American Life, Radio WBEZ, May 25, 2012)

On May 10, after decades of delay, obstruction and coverups, mass-murderer Rios Montt was finally convicted of genocide and crimes against humanity in a Guatemalan court. “We are completely convinced of the intent to destroy the Ixil ethnic group,” said Judge Yasmin Barrios, as she read the hour-long summary of a three-judge panel’s ruling. For five weeks, the tribunal heard more than 100 witnesses, including psychologists, military experts and Ixil Mayan survivors who told how Rios Montt’s soldiers had killed their families and wiped out their villages. (New York Times, May 10)

The packed courtroom was quiet for much of Judge Barrios’ reading. Then cries of “¡Justicia! ¡Justicia!” erupted when she pronounced the 80-year sentence and ordered Ríos Montt to begin serving it immediately.

Antonioi Caba, an Ixil leader of the Mayan survivors’ group that first brought the case more than 10 years ago, wiped his eyes and said the sentence had “broken impunity and achieved justice,” reported the Times.

– A U.S.-backed criminal –

Many other criminals who participated in the genocide and assisted Rios Montt were not convicted — and were not even present in the courtroom. Chief among these were U.S. CIA officials and several past U.S. presidents.

The campaign of genocide against Mayan peoples killed more than 200,000 and was roundly condemned at the time. Two investigations, one by the Guatemalan Council of Catholic Bishops and another by the United Nations Human Rights Commission, excoriated the Rios Montt regime in Guatemala. Secret detailed CIA cables have come to light, which show that the U.S. government was fully aware of the atrocities and purposely suppressed this information for decades.

Rios Montt had a long and bloody career as a U.S puppet. In 1951, at age 25, he attended the infamous School of the Americas then located in Panama. In 1954, he played a key role in the successful CIA-organized coup against the democratically elected president of Guatemala, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman. In 1970, under President General Carlof Manuel Arana Osorio’s military regime, Rios Montt became a brigadier general and chief of staff for the Guatemalan army.

In 1978, Rios Montt left the Roman Catholic Church and became a minister in the California-based Evangelical Church of the Word. Since then, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, two notorious leaders of the religious right in the United States, have been his friends. (Dissident Voice, July 17, 2003)

In March 1982, Rios Montt seized power in a bloody coup d’etat that was quietly backed by the CIA and the Reagan White House. He and his generals unleashed a scorched-earth attack on the nation’s Mayan population that, according to a U.N. commission, resulted in the annihilation of nearly 600 villages.

As many as 1 million more Guatemalans, many of them Mayan peasants, were uprooted from their homes. Many of them were forced to live in concentration camps enclosed with barbed wire and patrolled by armed guards. Many were later forced to work in the fields of wealthy land barons.

Rios Montt scorned charges that his scorched-earth policy violated human rights: “We don’t have a policy of scorched earth. We have a policy of scorched Communists,” he sneered, the Dissident Voice reports.

If not for the United States, Rios Montt would not have escaped justice until he was 86 years old. Progressives around the world must see to it that all of his many accomplices, including those culpable within the U.S., are also punished for their crimes.

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How to Start a War: The American Use of War Pretext Incidents [ / Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade]

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Anti-communism, CIA, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, Historical myths of the US, Iraq, Korean War, Libya, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, Mexico, Pakistan, Panama, Red Scare, Somalia, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy, Spain, Syria, US "War on Terror", US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, USSR, Vietnam, World War II, Yugoslavia - former FRY on January 17, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Richard Sanders

January 5, 2012

The following article by Richard Sanders published in May 2002, prior to the onslaught of the Iraq war, carefully documents the History of War Pretext Incidents.

This historical review raises an important issue: Is the Pentagon seeking to trigger military confrontation in the Persian Gulf with a view to providing a pretext and a justification to waging an all out war on the Islamic Republic of Iran?

As documented by Richard Sanders, this strategy has been used throughout American military history.

With regard to the confrontation in the Persian Gulf, is the Obama administration prepared to sacrifice the Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain with a view to triggering public support for a war on Iran on the grounds of self-defense.

Those opposed to war must address the issue of the “pretext”and “justification” to wage war.

Of relevance, the “Responsibility to Protect under a NATO “humanitarian” mandate has also been used as a thematic pretext to wage war (Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria),

The 911 Attacks and the “Global War on Terrorism” (Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan,…) not to mention the alleged “Weapons of Mass Destruction” (Iraq) have also been used to justify military intervention. Both 9/11 and WMD are being heralded as a justification for waging war on Iran, based on allegation that Iran was behind the 9/11 attacks and that Iran possesses nuclear weapons.

In the words of Richard Sanders [2002]:

“It is vitally important to expose this latest attempt [9/11] to fraudulently conceal the largely economic and geostrategic purposes of war. By asking who benefits from war, we can unmask its pretense and expose the true grounds for instigating it. By throwing light on repeated historical patterns of deception, we can promote skepticism about the government and media yarns that have been spun to encourage this war.

The historical knowledge of how war planners have tricked people into supporting past wars, is like a vaccine. We can use this understanding of history to inoculate the public with healthy doses of distrust for official war pretext narratives and other deceptive stratagems. Through such immunization programs we may help to counter our society’s susceptibility to “war fever.” ”

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, January 9, 2012

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive!” Sir Walter Scott, Marmion. Canto vi. Stanza 17

Pretext n. [Latin praetextum, pp. of praetextere, to weave before, pretend, disguise; prae-, before + texere, to weave], a false reason or motive put forth to hide the real one; excuse.

Stratagem [Gr. Strategema, device or act of a general; stratos, army + agein, to lead], a trick, scheme or device used for deceiving an enemy in war.

Throughout history, war planners have used various forms of deception to trick their enemies. Because public support is so crucial to the process of initiating and waging war, the home population is also subject to deceitful stratagems. The creation of false excuses to justify going to war is a major first step in constructing public support for such deadly ventures. Perhaps the most common pretext for war is an apparently unprovoked enemy attack. Such attacks, however, are often fabricated, incited or deliberately allowed to occur. They are then exploited to arouse widespread public sympathy for the victims, demonize the attackers and build mass support for military “retaliation.”

Like schoolyard bullies who shout ‘He hit me first!’, war planners know that it is irrelevant whether the opponent really did ‘throw the first punch.’ As long as it can be made to appear that the attack was unprovoked, the bully receives license to ‘respond’ with force. Bullies and war planners are experts at taunting, teasing and threatening their opponents. If the enemy cannot be goaded into ‘firing the first shot,’ it is easy enough to lie about what happened. Sometimes, that is sufficient to rationalize a schoolyard beating or a genocidal war.

Such trickery has probably been employed by every military power throughout history. During the Roman empire, the causes of war — cassus belli — were often invented to conceal the real reasons for war. Over the millennia, although weapons and battle strategies have changed greatly, the deceitful strategem of using pretext incidents to ignite war has remained remarkably consistent.

Pretext incidents, in themselves, are not sufficient to spark wars. Rumors and allegations about the tragic events must first spread throughout the target population. Constant repetition of the official version of what happened, spawns dramatic narratives that are lodged into public consciousness. The stories become accepted without question and legends are fostered. The corporate media is central to the success of such ‘psychological operations.’ Politicians rally people around the flag, lending their special oratory skills to the call for a military “response.” Demands for “retaliation” then ring out across the land, war hysteria mounts and, finally, a war is born.

Every time the US has gone to war, pretext incidents have been used . Upon later examination, the conventional perception of these events is always challenged and eventually exposed as untrue. Historians, investigative journalists and many others, have cited eyewitness accounts, declassified documents and statements made by the perpetrators themselves to demonstrate that the provocative incidents were used as stratagems to stage-manage the march to war.

Here are a few particularly blatant examples of this phenomenon.

[Every war in the following list is thoroughly analyzed by CONTEXT, PRETEXT, RESPONSE, and REAL REASONS; and can be referenced at the original article (see bottom of post for link) – Zuo Shou]

1846: The Mexican-American War…

1898: The Spanish-American War…

1915: World War I…

1941: World War II…

1950: The Korean War…

1964: The Vietnam War…

1983: The Invasion of Grenada…

1989: The Invasion of Panama…


There are dozens of other examples from US history besides those summarized here. The “Cold War” was characterized by dozens of covert and overt wars throughout the Third World. Although each had its specific pretexts, the eradication of communism was the generally-used backdrop for all rationales.100

Since the Soviet Union’s demise, US war planners have continued to use spectacular pretext incidents to spawn wars. Examples include Iraq (1991), Somalia (1992), Haiti (1994), Bosnia (1995) and Yugoslavia (1999).

Throughout this time, the US “War on Drugs” has been fought on many fronts. Lurking behind the excuse to squash illicit drug trafficking, are the actual reasons for financing, training and arming right-wing, US-backed regimes, whose officials have so often profited from this illegal trade. The CIA has used this trade to finance many of its covert wars.101 The “War on Drugs” has targeted numerous countries to strengthen counter-insurgency operations aimed at destroying opposition groups that oppose US corporate rule.

Military plotters know that the majority would never support their wars, if it were generally known why they were really being fought. Over the millennia, a special martial art has been deliberately developed to weave elaborate webs of deceit to create the appearance that wars are fought for “just” or “humanitarian” reasons.

If asked to support a war so a small, wealthy elite could shamelessly profit by ruthlessly exploiting and plundering the natural and human resources in far away lands, people would ‘just say no.’

We now face another broad thematic pretext for war, the so-called “War Against Terrorism.” We are told it will be waged in many countries and may continue for generations. It is vitally important to expose this latest attempt to fraudulently conceal the largely economic and geostrategic purposes of war. By asking who benefits from war, we can unmask its pretense and expose the true grounds for instigating it. By throwing light on repeated historical patterns of deception, we can promote skepticism about the government and media yarns that have been spun to encourage this war.

The historical knowledge of how war planners have tricked people into supporting past wars, is like a vaccine. We can use this understanding of history to inoculate the public with healthy doses of distrust for official war pretext narratives and other deceptive stratagems. Through such immunization programs we may help to counter our society’s susceptibility to “war fever.”

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

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Colombian guerrillas: capitulation or further fighting? [Strategic Culture Foundation]

Posted in Brazil, CIA, Colombia, DEA, Ecuador, FARC, FBI, Mossad, Panama, Pentagon, US imperialism, USA on December 15, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Nil NIKANDROV | 01.12.2011 |

Media reports about the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are often accompanied with a photograph which depicts a guerrilla column marching. They are several thousand of armed men, all wearing camouflage uniform[s], with armbands featuring the Colombian national colors. Also on the photo is Manuel Marulanda, Commander of the FARC guerrilla army during four decades of insurgency against the Colombian state. To stage such kind of a ‘show’ march would be impossible. The FARC army is being attacked from all possible sides. The guerrillas have to consider all their actions to avoid clashes with numerous soldiers of the Colombian army.

Marulanda died of a heart attack in March, 2008, aged 77, and was buried – according to his will – in the forest, not to surrender to enemies even after his death. The 55-year-old Sanez Guillermo Varfas, better known as ‘Alfonso Cano’, became Marulanda`s successor. Cano faced a very challenging task to help the guerrillas maintain the fighting spirit, ensure stable supplies of arms, food and medicines to the army. After being attacked by the Colombian army and US security forces commanded by Raúl Reyes, FARC rebels no longer have an opportunity to have a break in the areas bordering Colombia`s neighboring countries and discuss their further strategy. Some FARC and ELN (National Liberation Army) rebels had already been arrested in Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador and Panama.

In the past three years FARC has suffered big losses. The deaths of Reyes, Ivan Rios, Briceno Suarez and other comandantes could not but have affected the success of the guerrilla army. As President Juan Manuel Santos put it, “the killing of Alfonso Cano has become the greatest blow to the FARC in the entire 40-year history of its existence”.

This all proves that the Colombian army and intelligence forces have become much more sophisticated. Analysts say that FARC is being closely watched by the CIA, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), as well as Mossad agents. The killing of Cano would not have become a reality without their participation. The above mentioned organizations have used all means, including threats to family members, to learn as much information about FARC as possible.

In July, 2010, the US managed to locate Cano`s guerrilla camp, shared the information with Colombia, and its army attempted to assassinate Cano. The operation resulted in the death of Cano`s 10 security guards, but the commander himself survived. A second attempt, coded Operation ‘Odyssey’, took place on November 4, 2011, in south-eastern department of Cauca, and was successful: Alfonso Cano was killed. Inspired by the results, Santos urged FARC rebels to surrender, saying that they had no other alternative but stop resistance if they did not want to be killed or jailed.

Santos offers a tough policy towards FARC: no negotiations, no compromise, the enemy must surrender arms and capitulate. The country`s army has been implementing a large-scale anti-guerrilla campaign, haunting rebels in the most distant areas, including those FARC camps which had been earlier considered impossible to reach. The army provides daily updates on FARC and any suspects who could be linked to the guerrilla group. They also regularly discover the guerrillas` arms caches. Last month the army shut down the main radio station operated by the FARC rebels, ‘Voice of Resistance’.

Santos has made it clear that he would stop fighting only in case all guerrillas surrender. Otherwise, the resistance will get even stronger in the coming years, with a $4 billion budget approved to meet these goal[s]. In his recent address to officers, Santos said that ”a final day of this 50-year-long conflict will become closer if we remain as persistent as we`ve been in the past years.” He added that no less than 250,000 troops and 190,000 police officers would be taking part in the anti-FARC campaign. ”Peace will arrive in Colombia, this way or another,”- said Santos.

Reprisal against any leftist groups, including guerrillas, has never stopped in Colombia. Although several commanders of the right-wing United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) group faced trial, the Santos government still favors secret operations which result in the killings of guerrillas and their accomplices without taking them to trial. ‘Paramilitares’ (illegal armed groups) are always ready to compromise the guerrillas by organizing explosions in residential areas, and placing bombs in the offices occupied by newspaper journalists and TV staff. Throwing FARC leaflets at the scene of the attack is often enough to make people believe that FARC rebels are not ready for an open dialog. In fact, all peace initiatives submitted by the FARC, including the release of hostages, had been rejected by both the Uribe government and that led by Santos.

Although the FARC has repeatedly said that guerrillas are banned from taking any part in the production of drugs, not to mention their trafficking, the drug problem is often used by the army to compromise the guerrilla group. There are many drug cartels in Colombia, and their owners enjoy active support from local authorities, farmers, bankers and, of course, the US security services as maintaining control of drug trafficking from Colombia is a strategic task for Washington.

In a statement released on Alfonso Cano`s death, the FARC Secretariat says that ‘peace will come to Colombia only after all problems which had forced people to begin the uprising are solved’. These problems are the following: social inequality, unemployment, clashes between peasants and farmers over lands, and many more. This all has already force[d] at least 4 million Colombians to flee their homes and settle in camps for the replaced in Ecuador, Venezuela and other countries.

Several days after Cano`s death, the FARC had appointed its third commander-in-chief, Rodrigo Londoño Echeverry, aka “Timoshenko”. A member of the FARC since 1982, he received military and political training in Cuba and Russia before he was appointed to the FARC’s ruling body, the Secretariat, in the 1990s. He took his pseudonym in honor of Semyon Timoshenko, a famous Soviet General. When Santos demanded the FARC`s capitulation, Timoshenko said: “FARC are thousands and thousands of revolutionaries,” Timoshenko wrote, “and they brave the hardest conditions because they believe in their cause.” Since Cano`s death the rebels have already carried out some successful operations: attacked a garrison in Cauca, threw grenades into a car column, and blew up an oil pipe in Norte de Santander.

The current number of FARC and ELN rebels in Colombia stands at about 11,000. Among its major principles the group names the realization of a socialist society, fighting oligarchy and forcing US military bases out of the country.

Evidently, President Santos has no intention to sit down for talks with the guerrillas. The US is neither interested in ending the military confrontation for it is the only way to keep its presence on the border with Venezuela, which is a source of numerous problems for the Pentagon. The FARC Secretariat knows this quite well, and believes that sooner or later the US will attack the Bolivarian regime of Hugo Chavez. And this when the guerrilla movement might get a second wind. So, today the FARC`s only task is to withstand at all cost!

Edited by Zuo Shou

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“‘Free trade’ imperialism” – Editorial [Workers World]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Colombia, Engels, Marx, Mexico, Panama, south Korea on October 30, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Oct 23, 2011

That the U.S. Senate took four years to endorse the “free trade” accords between U.S. imperialism and its vassals in Panama, Colombia and south Korea is no sign there was anything good about these agreements for working people in any of the countries.

A Free Trade Act sounds so harmless. It isn’t. It is not an agreement between peoples to work for their mutual benefit. It’s an agreement among the ruling classes in the countries signing the accord to better exploit the laboring masses, that is, the working class and the individual farmers. It enriches the 1 percent — or maybe the 1 percent of that richest 1 percent — who control areas of trade and finance at the expense of everyone else.

The biggest advantage from these agreements usually goes to the ruling class in the imperialist countries, who gain a commanding foothold in the “developing” countries that they never give up.

Some 163 years ago in the Communist Manifesto Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels called attention to the ability of the capitalist ruling class to use the “cheap prices of commodities” they produce with their developed technology as “the heavy artillery with which it batters down all Chinese walls” to penetrate any country.

In the current situation, U.S. agricultural technology — agribusiness — can produce many foodstuffs more cheaply than individual peasant farmers can. That’s one reason the south Korean farmers’ organizations have been fighting against the FTA. They know what happened in Mexico after the North American FTA went into effect in 1994. Within a few years the peasants growing corn in Mexico were undersold by U.S. corn and a million farmers were driven off the land.

Desperate to earn a living, many migrated north despite the dangers of the border, where the Senators who voted for NAFTA and for this new law could then insult them, persecute them and oppress them for daring to cross the border to stay alive.

Under the capitalist system — and especially during a capitalist crisis — these FTAs destroy jobs in both the imperialist and the oppressed countries. They drive workers and peasants to despair while a handful of people grow fabulously rich. They are everything that the occupiers of Wall Street are fighting against. And we join with the Occupy forces here as well as the movements in south Korea, Colombia and Panama that condemn this new round of FTAs.

Solidarity between the workers and farmers of all countries! Down with the FTAs!

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