Part II of Why Americans Should Closely Watch Unfolding Events in Guatemala
By Prof. Edward Curtin
Global Research, October 08, 2015
Who.What.Why. 7 October 2015
For the first part in this two-part series, go here.
Guatemala’s current situation and tragic history can be traced back to the CIA-led coup in 1954 that ousted the democratically elected government of President Jacobo Arbenz and installed the military dictator Carlos Armas. Arbenz was an advocate for land reform and was loved by the poor. The wealthy hated him. And when the CIA couldn’t bribe him, they ousted him in a most humiliating way. Even after he went into exile, the agency used constant disinformation to smear him in every way imaginable until his strange death in a bathtub in 1971.
Since the 1954 coup, and with the ongoing support of the CIA and the School of the Americas (SOA), the Guatemalan people have lived a nightmare. What follows should give you a sense of the CIA’s thinking behind the coup and its aftermath. It is a transcription of a CIA document released to The National Security Archive, a research institute, on May 23, 1997 under a Freedom of Information Act request.
A hammer, axe, wrench, screwdriver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice.” For an assassin using “edge weapons,” the manual notes in cold clinical terms, “puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached.
“A Study of Assassination,” unsigned, undated:
Among the documents found in the training files of Operation PBSUCCESS and declassified by the Agency is a “Study of Assassination.” A how-to guide book in the art of political killing, the 19-page manual offers detailed descriptions of the procedures, instruments, and implementation of assassination. “The simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination,” counsels the study. “A hammer, axe, wrench, screwdriver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice.” For an assassin using “edge weapons,” the manual notes in cold clinical terms, “puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached…. Absolute reliability is obtained by severing the spinal cord in the cervical region.” The manual also notes that to provide plausible denial, “no assassination instructions should ever be written or recorded.” Murder, the drafters state, “is not morally justifiable,” and “persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.”
No, this dirty work is not for the “morally squeamish.”
If one is searching for the truth about the coup, the document above is accurate and revealing. However, if one searched the web and discovered a posting at globalsecurty.org (see sidebar at the end of the article) one would be misled. That posting is nothing more than a summary of a Congressional Research Service report. It never mentions Guatemala, although it includes other Latin American countries — Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and Peru. A gullible reader might come away with the impression that the School of the Americas had nothing to do with Guatemala, when, in fact, it had a great deal to do with it. Why leave out this country in particular?
Could it be that GlobalSecurity.org is unfamiliar with documents such as the one described above? Is it one of those glib sites that posts articles that do not give the full picture, even if inadvertently? Or is it a site that presents disinformation? The web is filled with questionable information, so one must proceed skeptically.
Those interested in the truth must probe much deeper, but that is difficult as the following account of the propagandist Edward Bernays makes clear.
From PR to “The Engineering of Consent”
The 1954 coup d’etat was ably assisted by American Edward Bernays, Sigmund Freud’s nephew, who is often called the “father of public relations.” He is barely known to the general public and is part of our secret history. A war propagandist for the US during World War I, Bernays used his propaganda techniques — now called PR — to “engineer the consent” of the American people on behalf of the power elite.
Leading up to the 1954 coup, he was the chief propagandist for The United Fruit Company and in that capacity created a vast media campaign painting the Arbenz government as communist and in cahoots with the U.S.S.R.
This was the height of the Cold War, and the American government was consumed with using anti-communist and anti-Soviet rhetoric to defend its spheres of interest; for a long time the American government, in conjunction with American corporations, had considered Latin America and the Caribbean their de facto colonies.
The United Fruit Company — now Chiquita Brands International — was an American corporation that had controlled vast tracts of land and numerous businesses in Guatemala and throughout Latin America since the early 1900s. The company was known for its support of dictators and the exploitation of the people and the land.
Intimately linked to the power elite within the US government, United Fruit extracted huge profits and rejected any reforms that challenged its control of the land. It was the largest landholder and employer in Guatemala. It owned railroads and discouraged the building of highways. It had long controlled Guatemala’s politicians. It’s power was so extensive that one historian compares it to the Dutch East India Company in its influence. It’s shareholders and supporters were amply distributed throughout the foreign policy establishment in the US.
As US Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler made clear in 1935, the US military was used to deal with any resistance to American corporations’ business interests overseas. Guatemala is a case study in this regard. President Arbenz’s land reform act of 1952 — Decree 900 — expropriated rural farm land, 70 per cent of which was in the hands of 2 percent of the landowners, including vast acreage controlled by United Fruit but, significantly, only land not under cultivation by the company. The land was redistributed to poor peasants. The owners ( who included Arbenz himself) were to be compensated at fair market value.
But this arrangement was not acceptable to United Fruit or their backers in Washington. The American Ambassador to Guatemala, John Peurifoy (CIA Director Allen Dulles’s handpicked man), then tried to bribe Arbenz with a $2 million payoff to terminate the land reforms.
Arbenz refused, and his overthrow was set in motion by the CIA. Bernays was called upon to present the land redistribution as a communist takeover and a threat to US national security. His media propaganda campaign, presenting Arbenz as a communist in league with the USSR, together with the CIA’s additional propaganda, created the justification for the CIA-led coup.
What wasn’t revealed at the time was that the Eisenhower administration had intimate ties to United Fruit. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles had represented United Fruit at his law firm Sullivan and Cromwell, and his brother, Allen Dulles, the CIA chief in charge of the 1954 coup, once sat on United Fruit’s board of directors and had also done legal work for them. Both brothers had large financial stakes in the company. Such clear-cut conflicts of interest were not an anomaly within the Eisenhower administration. Many other administration officials were connected in one way or another to United Fruit. Bernays’s propaganda, using anti-communist rhetoric, served perfectly the interests of his conjoined clients — United Fruit and the CIA. As a result of Dulles’s and Bernays’s machinations, hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans were eventually massacred
The excellent documentary by Adam Curtis, The Century of Self, documents Bernays’s profound and largely pernicious influence on American life with a section specifically devoted to his propaganda efforts on behalf of the 1954 coup. Today’s “mainstream media” has learned a lot from Bernays, so if one wishes to see through the vast amount of propaganda and dissimulation in current news coverage, learning about Bernays is crucial.
The recent arrest of Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina on corruption charges cannot be understood except within the larger context of US interference in Latin American countries going back more than a century. And that record of US meddling in Central and South America has been largely left out of official histories of the United States.
The rise of the CIA to virtually unchallenged supremacy in Washington’s power structure is but one part of this backstory. Peter Dale Scott, who has written voluminously on the subject, calls this phenomenon of a de facto shadow government hidden behind the public facade while serving corporate interests, “the deep state.” This secretive power elite, through its decades-long support of coups and death squads in Guatemala, has linked that country’s fate inextricably to US interests and policies.
Sometimes even when the mind knows and assents, the heart stays frozen. But music, like poetry, can often break the ice within. Here is the acclaimed singer and former Panamanian reform presidential candidate Ruben Blades, singing a song from his album, Nothing but the Truth. The song is called “In Salvador,” but his words could apply to what goes on in many Latin American countries. The “regular guys” of Ruben’s song are often death squad killers, “made in America” at the “School of the Assassins.”
[translated from Russian]
Below, we publish a translation of a statement made by Rada deputy, Elena Bondarenko, on September 10, 2014 . The statement was originally published on her facebook page, but went largely ignored at the time. The recent spate of assassinations in Ukraine has given the statement a new, grizzly relevance, and it is for this reason that we are publishing a translation of it at this late date.
I, Elena Bondarenko, a deputy of Partiya Regionov [Party of the Regions –ed.], which is in opposition to the governing party in Ukraine, would like to make a statement about the fact that the government is directly threatening with assault opposition politicians, depriving them of freedom of speech in the parliament and in other places, as well as conniving in the crimes against opposition leaders and their children.
Persistent threats, an undeclared ban on opposition parties appearing in the majority of Ukrainian mass media, purposeful baiting—these are everyday things in the life of the opposition in Ukraine. Everybody who calls for peace in Ukraine immediately becomes an enemy to the regime as it was, for instance, in 30-40’s Germany or in the USA during the McCarthyite era.
A few days ago the Ukrainian Internal Affairs Minister, Arsen Avakov, said: “When Elena Bondarenko ascends the parliamentary tribune, I want to reach for my gun.”
I emphasise the fact that those are the words of the person who has the main authority over the police in the country. Exactly a week ago the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Alexander Turchinov, banned me from the parliamentary tribune as a representative of the opposition Party of the Regions. It was done solely because of my words, that “a regime that sends its army to bomb peaceful cities is criminal.” After that, he kindly allowed the parliamentary radicals to call for the shooting of the opposition .
I remember last year, when Kiev was flooded with extremists, my car was shot at. I reported this fact to the police. I take such threats to myself very seriously. I also would like to inform everyone who is not aware yet, that the regime protects the criminals who dared to raise their hand against the son of another opposition politician—Vladimir Oleynik. Ruslan Oleynik, a district public prosecutor, was beaten up in his work place, putting his life and health under threat. Instead of investigating the attack and threats against the politician and his family, the regime fired the prosecutor. My colleagues complain weekly about their assistants being beaten up, their supporters’ offices being searched, their lives, health and possessions threatened.
Ukrainian cyberspace is almost totally censored of this information, and ordinary Ukrainian citizens have no idea of the criminal fight against the opposition and of the fact that the constitutional right to freedom of speech is suppressed in many ways. The mass media who tell the truth in spite of their fear constantly get attacked by nationalist groups, and hooligans who assault publishing offices are never prosecuted, even when they are identified by video and photographic proof of their involvement is available.
I call upon international organisations who proclaim their democratic principles to not only pay attention to these facts but also to join the fight for democratic rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens. The methods used by the Junta in their struggle for power in Ukraine have nothing to do with democracy. Inactivity of the international community towards these outrageous facts looks like complicity and silent approval of all the crimes being committed in Ukraine. The free world is losing another outpost—Ukraine. All those who fight for democracy, peoples rights and freedoms, can bring about many changes together. Only together can we stop the Junta and the fratricidal war in Ukraine!
People’s deputy of Ukraine, Elena BONDARENKO.
The translation of the article from La Repubblica follows this analysis.
From Sputnik News
by Daniele Pozzati
Italy’s second largest newspaper La Repubblica has broken western media’s silence over the latest wave of political murders in Ukraine.
In an unusual for mainstream western media frank assessment of Kiev’s post-Maidan regime, La Repubblica has denounced “a ruthless sweeping away of every form of political opposition taking place in Kiev”. The paper was reacting to yet another assassination in Ukraine — this time of a popular journalist Oles Buzina.
The captions describe Oles Buzina as a “journalist and writer very well known in the Ukrainian capital” and his murder as an “execution on his door step”.
“Somebody is systematically killing all those opposed to the Ukrainian government borne from last year’s ‘revolution’.”
Noteworthy here are the inverted commas into which the Italian newspaper puts the word ‘revolution’, thereby putting in doubt the democratic nature of the regime change in Kiev.
The article then quotes President Putin as saying that this is “one of the many crimes of the new Ukraine”.
One would be hard pressed to find, anywhere in western mainstream media, other articles like this, which report Putin’s statements without the slightest attempt of casting his words in a somewhat negative or misleading way.
Coverage of the Ukraine crisis by La Repubblica has been so far little better than those of its British and American counterparts. The editorial line was usually biased against Russia.
In a departure from this bias the article says that murders in Ukraine are taking place “within the silence of many western media”.
More importantly, Buzina’s assassination is set in a context of a series of political homicides with the assassins described as “organized commandos” and “professional hit men” — implying an instigator.
The motives behind the assassinations are clearly explained:
“Yesterday evening [Wednesday], again in the Ukrainian capital, a commando killed Sergey Sukhobok, owner of an internet site and of a small newspaper which contests government policy and puts forward the reasons of the people in rebel Donbass.
“Earlier still, in the afternoon, other hit men had carried on an identical mission near the home of Oleg Kalashnikov, former MP of the pro-Russian Party of the Regions, and considered a great opponent to the movements that protested last year in Kiev’s Maidan and that now run the country.”
Giving readers a taste of Ukraine’s new political climate, the article says that “several oligarchs, politicians and celebrities made creepy statements filled with ‘at last’, ‘he deserved it’, ‘an enemy gone’,” upon hearing news of Kalashnikov’s murder.
The Ukrainian ministry of Interior itself is quoted describing the slain Buzina as “the notorious journalist”.
“Neo-Nazi ‘Pravy Sector’ [Right Sector] movement is probably behind these murders, at least as far as their material execution is concerned,” says the article, again leaving open the possibility of there being an instigator behind such “systematic killings”.
But after a year of seeing the ‘Pravy Sector’ movement dismissed by western media to the tone of “oh, you’ve got some Nazi lunatics everywhere, not just in Ukraine,” it is refreshing to read La Repubblica’s article pointing out that:
“Pravy Sector heavily influences the choices of both government and president Poroshenko, boycotting every attempt to search for a peaceful solution and sending punitive expeditions against anyone who dares to dissent from the new hyper nationalistic and patriotic line”.
Having quoted President Putin’s firm assurances that “there will never be an open war between Russia and Ukraine,” the article concludes that in Ukraine itself “the beginning of a new wave of uncontrollable terror does not bode well”.
Copyright by Daniele Pozzati April 17, 2015
From La Repubblica:
Ukraine, pro-Russian journalist killed in Kiev. It is the third political murder in 24 hours. The outrage of Putin
Oles Buzina, journalist and writer well known in the Ukrainian capital, was executed below the house. Russian President: “one of the many crimes of the New Ukraine”
April 16, 2015
from our correspondent NICOLA LOMBARDOZZI
MOSCOW – Someone is systematically killing all the opponents of the Ukrainian government born of the “Revolution” a year ago. This morning it happened to a very well-known in Kiev, Oles Buzina, journalist and writer, the great protagonist of the television talk shows, and deployed positions openly pro Russian. They waited below the house and have him executed according to the precise script for a crime designed and executed by professionals. Vladimir Putin, who announced live while he was participating in the telethon usual spring and answering questions from the audience, called the murder “one of the many crimes of the New Ukraine”.
In fact, in the silence of many Western media, in Kiev and in the Democratic race to join Europe, is taking place a ruthless operation clean sweep of all forms of opposition. Even last night, always in the Ukrainian capital, a commando killed Sergei Sukhobok, owner of a website and a small newspaper that opposes the government’s policy and supports the rationale of the people of Donbass rebellious. Earlier in the afternoon, other killers had made an identical mission under house Oleg Kalashnikov, former deputy of the pro-Russian Party of Regions and considered a great opponent of the movements that have protested last year on Majdan of Kiev and now lead the country.
Three political murders in less than 24 hours, which inevitably raises the indignation concerned Putin and the Russian press. But it is disturbing the climate of hatred and desire for revenge that reigns at this time in Ukraine. After the news of the killing of former deputy many oligarchs, politicians and popular in Ukraine have released gruesome statements peppered with “finally”, “deserved it”, “eliminated an enemy.”
Even earlier, immediately after the assassination of the writer Buzina, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry has published the news, calling it “the notorious journalist”.
Probability that the killings, at least for the execution, are connected to the most extreme fringe of the “revolutionaries” of Ukraine, the neo-Nazi movement Pravj Sektor who handled the most violent phase of the tilt in power and now participates with its paramilitary units to the repression of the pro-Russian uprising in East Ukraine. Since the beginning of the great turning point of Kiev, Pravj Sektor seriously affects the choices of the government and the President Poroshenko, boycotting any attempt to seek a peaceful solution and preparing punitive expeditions against anyone who dissents from the hyper nationalist and patriotic new line.
The result is to tighten even further the relations with Russia and complicate any possible mediation. Yesterday, talking about Ukraine, Putin has continued to accuse the West of “support a government of the extreme right” and denied again that on the territory of Ukraine there are Russian troops deployed as claimed by Kiev and many average Americans. “Rest assured, I do not think it will ever be an open war between Russia and Ukraine,” said Russian citizens worried. But the beginning of a new wave of uncontrollable terror in Ukraine does not promise anything good.
Articles from Telesur
February 15, 2015:
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro added that a U.S. Embassy advisor drafted the script that the coup plotters read in video they planned to air.
In a televised address Saturday night, Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro revealed new information on the foiled coup attempt against his government, including accusations that the country’s opposition leaders were aware of the plans.
“Almost all of the MUD leaders knew about this plan, this ambush, almost all of them, including the four-time losing candidate,” said the Venezuelan leader, referring to opposition presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski.
“I’m not saying all of them were actively involved. But it was a rumor circulating amongst them, that something was about to happen,” Maduro explained.
Maduro also said that those detained have confessed to the plot and have provided new information which authorities are investigating.
In addition to attempting to bribe officials and politicians with cash and visas to enter the United States, the Venezuelan president expanded on the role played by the U.S. Embassy in the country, saying that the script read by coup plotters in a video they planned to air once the plan had been initiated was crafted by an advisor at the Embassy.
Maduro called on U.S. president Barack Obama to stop his officials from meddling in Venezuelan affairs.
“In your name, they are organizing coup plots against democratically-elected government, such as Venezuela,” Maduro said.
According to Venezuelan intelligence and testimonies, the coup was set have taken place on Feb. 12, one day after opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machada and Antonio Ledezma published a “Transition” program which outlined measures including the privatization of oil, deregulation of the economy and agreements with International Monetary Fund..
The plan included targetted assassinations and bombing a series of targets – including teleSUR’s headquarters in Caracas – while opposition activists staged violent protests in the streets to mark one year since the start of opposition-led protests that claimed 43 lives.
February 14, 2015
Evidence Reveals Canada, UK Involvement in Venezuela Coup Plot
Evidence presented on Venezuelan TV showed a video of the coup plotters, as well as the 10-year U.S. visa granted to one of the accused.
February 14, 2015 “ICH” – “Telesur” – The president of Venezuela’s national assembly, Diosdado Cabello, presented further evidence of the right-wing plot to overthrow the Bolivarian government Friday evening.
Cabello presented evidence of the foiled plans, including a video showing members of the military prior to recording a message announcing that the military no longer recognized the government.
The video, which was set to be aired after planned attacks had been carried out, was to have been televised by a station in Venezuela or Miami.
Cabello also showed a 10-year U.S. visa given to one of the detained, days before the plan was to be implemented.
Cabello also said that a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and a member of the U.K. diplomatic core in Venezuela, had been involved in plans, including seeking information on airport capacity in case of emergencies.
According to Venezuelan intelligence, the computers seized to military detractors revealed maps from the places where the opposition was plotting to carry out attacks, including the Miraflores presidential palace, and the headquarters of teleSUR in Caracas.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro announced Thursday that the government had thwarted a coup attempt which was being coordinated by Venezuela’s right-wing opposition with the support of the U.S. government.
During the televised presentation, Cabello pointed to a recent interview given by U.S. president Barack Obama, in which he stated that “American leadership at times entails twisting the arms of states which don’t do what we need them to do.”
The plans were to take place exactly one year after opposition-led acts of violence rocked the country, claiming 43 lives and billions in damage.
On Wednesday, opposition leaders Leopoldo Lopez, Maria Corina Machado and Antonio Ledezma released a “transition plan” which involved privatization of the country’s oil, deregulation of the economy and accords with “international financial institutions” including the International Monetary Fund.
La nueva Televisión del Sur C.A.