U.S. Policy / Latin America

Agee, Philip. Inside the Company: CIA Diary. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1975. 640 pages.

In 1968 Philip Agee was finally disgusted with his dirty work as a CIA officer in Ecuador, Uruguay, and Mexico. He submitted a letter of resignation and immediately slipped into Cuba, then went to France and Britain. As he wrote his memoirs while scraping by on handouts, he frequently wondered if some of the people who were helping him could be trusted. The answer was "no" -- a typewriter that one friend loaned him was discovered to contain a homing transmitter. Finally his book "Inside the Company" was published in 1975, launching his career as history's most celebrated anti-CIA activist. The CIA kept harassing Agee, even though he retains his U.S. citizenship and has never been charged with a crime. He was expelled from Britain, France, and Holland, and his U.S. passport was revoked in 1979. Today he lives in Germany, is still trying to get his passport back, and does speaking tours on U.S. college campuses.
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"Inside the Company" became an instant international bestseller, with many printings in many languages. It is universally regarded as accurate and reliable, and is still widely available. Essentially a reconstructed month-by-month diary of his CIA work, it names the people he worked with and provides a disgusting chronicle of the dirty tricks used by the CIA to keep American interests secure.


Black, Jan Knippers. United States Penetration of Brazil. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977. 313 pages.

Jan Black was a Peace Corp volunteer in Chile when a coup in Brazil toppled the government of Joao Goulart in April, 1964. Her Chilean friends suggested that the coup was supported by the CIA, but Black thought they were being paranoid. Twelve years later, much more information about the CIA was available. Black, then a professor at the University of New Mexico, began extensive research on U.S. covert and overt involvement in Brazil, and put it in this book. As of 1999 Professor Black is at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, and her book endures as the best we've seen on U.S. policy in Brazil during the 1960s.

Unlike its role in Chile from 1970 to 1973, the U.S. role in Brazil in 1964 was more subtle. The U.S. Air Force was ready with six C-135 transports and 110 tons of small arms and ammunition, and a "fast" Carrier Task Group was ordered to take positions off the Brazilian coast. They weren't needed because the U.S. had been subverting labor groups, reform-minded populists, and big media for many months, while pumping up the police and military. The coup was almost bloodless since everyone knew it was unstoppable; the military took over and Goulart fled to Uruguay. Most of the blood came later -- by the time this book appeared, Brazil had a well-deserved reputation for political repression and torture.


Colby, Gerard with Dennett, Charlotte. Thy Will Be Done -- The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil. New York: HarperCollins, 1995. 960 pages.

This book began when the authors traveled to the Amazon in 1976 to gather material on the Summer Institute of Linguistics, also known as the Wycliffe Bible Translators. SIL, founded in the 1930s by William Cameron (Cam) Townsend, was known throughout the Cold War for its pioneering linguistics and missionary work in remote places. Five years after their trip, the authors decided to put Nelson Rockefeller in the book. Rocky was involved with an Amazon development plan during World War II, when he was Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs. This position gave Rocky, with the help of Hoover's FBI, jurisdiction over all U.S. intelligence in Latin America. Rocky's spook credentials proved useful throughout his career.

The authors ended up with two books in one, as they weave between SIL and Rocky, using this as a literary hook to describe how American religious and economic imperialism conquered the Amazon. There are some loose funding connections between SIL and Rocky, but the major link is their willingness to encourage exploitive U.S. aid, including CIA covert actions, to keep the world safe for Jesus and Big Oil. In addition to the Amazon (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia), some attention is paid to other places where SIL was active, such as Guatemala, Mexico, and Southeast Asia.


Golinger, Eva. The Chavez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela. Foreword by Saul Landau. Northampton, Massachusetts: Interlink Publishing Group (Oliver Branch Press), 2006. 224 pages.

This book appeared in four editions in Spanish (two of which were published in Cuba) and one in German in 2005. It is based on the author's self-funded investigative efforts in Venezuela, as well as Freedom of Information Act requests following U.S. support for the brief coup in Venezuela in April 2002. Some of the documents she obtained are found in a 66-page appendix, as well as on her website at www.venezuelafoia.info.

For those who are familiar with the interventions of U.S. agencies and big banks in Chile prior to the coup in 1973, in concert with media denunciations of populist policies there, the situation in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez was inaugurated in 1999 seems eerily familiar. In both cases, certain labor, civic, and media organizations were funded by the U.S. so that they could increase agitation against the elected government. Today the funding comes mainly from the National Endowment for Democracy, established by Congress and infested by the CIA, which amounts to the same thing. One difference now is that Venezuela expects trouble and is on the lookout. Another difference is that Venezuela doesn't need the U.S. to buy its oil. Hopefully Washington will someday grow tired of doing the wrong thing, and leave the people of Latin America alone.


Hirsch, Fred. An Analysis of Our AFL-CIO Role in Latin America or Under the Covers with the CIA. San Jose CA, 1974. 57 pages.

This is a brief history of how the AFL-CIO has covertly served the objectives of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America and elsewhere. The primary vehicle for this collusion since the 1960s has been the American Institute for Free Labor Development. The basic premise of AIFLD's international program was that all solutions would come to working people through collective bargaining, but only if they vigorously oppose communism in collaboration with management and government.

A recurring theme of this booklet is the role of the AIFLD and its many front labor organizations as vehicles of the CIA in various countries of Latin America, such as in Chile before the 1973 coup. The function of the AFL and CIO in domestic anticommunism, before and after their merger, is also discussed. Irving Brown, Jay Lovestone, and George Meany are among those who promoted the AIFLD; Brown and Lovestone also aided the CIA in suppressing leftist unions in Italy and France after World War II. In "Cold Warrior" (1991), author Tom Mangold revealed that since 1955 Lovestone had been reporting directly to CIA counterintelligence chief James Angleton. -- William Blum


Langguth, A.J. Hidden Terrors. New York: Pantheon Books, 1978. 345 pages.

This is a one-of-a-kind book about American foreign policy in Brazil and Uruguay in the 1960s and early 1970s. It is written from a personalized point of view, rather than as straight historical narrative or political- science analysis. Langguth uses biographical information and dialogue to recount the involvements of a number of American diplomats and covert operators in the affairs of the two countries. In Brazil, destabilization by the U.S. led to the 1964 coup against Goulart, followed by a reign of official terror and torture.

The book's main character and journalistic "hook" is Dan Mitrione, an employee of the Office of Public Safety (a division of the Agency for International Development), which provided foreign police with equipment and training to make them more effective in suppressing dissent. Mitrione was alleged to have conducted training in torture techniques in Brazil and Uruguay. In 1970 in Uruguay he was abducted and later executed by the flamboyant urban guerrillas known as the Tupamaros. His story was portrayed in the 1972 film "State of Siege" by Costa-Gavras. This was the final nail in the Office of Public Safety's coffin, as OPS was already known to have provided cover for CIA dirty work in Vietnam. It was finally abolished by Congress in the mid-1970s. -- William Blum


Lernoux, Penny. Cry of the People: The Struggle for Human Rights in Latin America -- The Catholic Church in Conflict with U.S. Policy. New York: Penguin Books, 1982. 535 pages.

Penny Lernoux was a practicing Catholic and prize-winning journalist who lived in Bogota until shortly before her death from lung cancer in October, 1989 at the age of 49. She moved to Latin America in 1962, first working for the U.S. Information Agency and then as a bureau chief and correspondent for Copley News Service. In 1974 she began free-lancing; her work has appeared in Newsweek, The Nation, Harper's, Atlantic Monthly, Business Week, and the National Catholic Reporter.

"Cry of the People" won the Sidney Hillman Foundation Book Award, Columbia University's Maria Moors Cabot Award, and was cited by the NYT Book Review as one of the most notable nonfiction books of 1980. The emphasis is on the struggle for human rights in Latin America in the context of U.S. counterinsurgency and development policy, multinational corporations, and the CIA. A microcosm of this struggle is seen in conflict between progressive Catholics and reactionary cults such as Tradition, Family, and Property, which was linked with the CIA in the overthrow of Goulart in Brazil in 1964 and Allende in Chile in 1973. As they say in Latin America, "The CIA goes to church but not to pray."


MacEoin, Gary. Revolution Next Door: Latin America in the 1970s. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971. 242 pages.

The notion that Latin America has reason to revolt against U.S. neo- colonialism deserves barely a yawn today, but back in 1971 it was noteworthy. With some exceptions (such as the North American Congress on Latin America), the New Left had burned out over its exclusive focus on Vietnam. Leftists were broadly familiar with the CIA in Guatemala in 1954 and Cuba in 1961, and Johnson's invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965, but little was known about CIA involvement in Brazil's coup in 1964, the organizing by radical Catholic priests, or U.S. neocolonial instruments such as the American Institute for Free Labor Development and the Agency for International Development. This was two years before the CIA's coup in Chile, four years before the Church Committee hearings and Philip Agee's revelations, and seven years before the revolution in Nicaragua. Author Gary MacEoin saw it coming and tried to announce it in this book.

In the mid-1980s, by contrast, all attention was focused on Central America. But just as the U.S. left was finally able to place a politically- correct roll on the "r" in "Nicaragua" without sounding silly, they got blown away again by Bush's war against Iraq. With some exceptions -- such as the Middle East Research and Information Project -- no one knew much about the Gulf. By 1994 it looks like the U.S. left is down for the count.


Neuberger, Guenter and Opperskalski, Michael. CIA in Mittelamerika. Goettingen, Germany: Lamuv Verlag Gmbh, 1983. 206 pages.

As Reagan geared up in Nicaragua in 1981, the handful of anti-CIA researchers in the U.S. saw the writing on the wall and began to curtail their practice of publishing the names of CIA officers posted abroad. But West German journalist Guenter Neuberger was beyond the reach of the law that made naming names illegal, and his research continued. At a press conference in Costa Rica he released the names of more than 200 alleged CIA officers in Central America, with career summaries compiled from State Department Biographic Registers and various diplomatic and foreign service lists. This research format was in the tradition of "Dirty Work" (covering Western Europe) and "Dirty Work 2" (Africa) by U.S. researchers, each of which named many hundreds of CIA officers in the late 1970s.

In 1983 Neuberger expanded his list with another 100 names and placed them all in an appendix to "CIA in Mittelamerika." The bulk of the book consists of essays on U.S. intervention in various Central American countries, but most of these are based on research that first appeared in English publications already in NameBase. For this reason -- and also because our German is rusty -- we restricted our inputting to the appendix.


Tarasov, Konstantin and Zubenko, Vyacheslav. The CIA in Latin America. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1984. 280 pages.

Two Soviet specialists wrote this detailed description of U.S. interventions in Latin America, particularly in Chile, Cuba, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. The authors cite a variety of sources, primarily from the United States (including Congressional reports) and Latin America. However, much of the material, including many of the more intriguing items concerning assassinations, torture, and conspiracies of various kinds, is not referenced. Some of this information can be found in American publications, but the rest probably comes from KGB files. The book also provides details about the CIA's use of religion, the Peace Corps, multinationals, and labor movements.

The presentation of the material is sometimes sloppy, if not erroneous, and the authors frequently jump to debatable conclusions as a result of their knee-jerk anti-imperialism. However, the work overall is impressive, and would surprise and enlighten the vast majority of Americans. Since the institutions that produced books like this no longer exist, the case they make is seldom heard as passionately today.

-- William Blum


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