The Acts of the Democracies
Years : ALL
Topic : Military Coup
49 Items Selected
Military coups occur in Bolivia and Thailand - both new governments are recognised and supported by the USA.
A military coup occurs in Cuba. The elected government of Carlos Prio Socorras is deposed by Fulgencio Batista.
The USA supports the new Cuban dictator who is a particularly brutal ruler. Under his regime, Cuba becomes a haven for drugs, gambling, vice and mobsters. USA business interests benefit.
Freedom of speech is curtailed and hundreds of teachers, lawyers and public officials are fired from their jobs. Death squads torture and kill thousands of "communists".
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the Shah (king) of Iran takes power in a coup planned and supported by the USA and UK secret services (Operation Ajax). He topples the flourishing and popular democracy of Mohammed Mossadeq.
Mossadeq had stated that the mineral wealth of the country should benefit its citizens. This did not please the Western oil companies. The parliament had nationalised UK oil concessions that were reaping 88% of the profits from the country's oil industry. Iran had offered the UK 25% of the profits. The UK responded by imposing a blockade on Iran and freezing Iranian assets.
After the coup, oil concessions are given to USA and UK companies - Anglo-Iranian Oil is renamed British Petroleum.
Internal dissent is crushed by the secret police. This brutal regime terrorises the country for 25 years and is eventually displaced by Ayatollah Khomeini's equally brutal regime in 1979.
The new regime is described by the USA newspaper, the New York Times (6 August) as "good news indeed" and sends out a chilling warning:
"Underdeveloped countries with rich resources now have an object lesson in the heavy cost that must be paid by one of their number which goes berserk with fanatical nationalism. It is perhaps too much to hope that Iran's experience will prevent the rise of Mossadeqs in other countries, but that experience may at least strengthen the hands of more reasonable and more far-seeing leaders."
In the above quote, fanatical nationalism means being independent economically of the USA while reasonable and far-seeing mean compliant.
The American CIA first uses the term Blowback. It is a metaphor for the unintended consequences of the USA government's international activities that have been kept secret from the American people. The term is coined during the Iranian coup. In Iran, a flourishing democracy is converted to a brutal dictatorship which becomes and anti-West theocracy (rule by religion).
The USA had laid the ground for the coup by paying for stories against Mohammed Mossadeq to be placed in friendly newspapers. According to Richard Cottam, one of the CIA operatives: "Any article I would write - it gave you something of a sense of power - would appear about instantly. They were designed to show Mossadegh as a Communist collaborator and a fanatic." He estimates that 80% of the leading newspapers in the capital, Tehran, were under CIA influence.
The USA organises a military coup in Guatemala to remove the president, Jacobo Arbenz. Arbenz was the successor to the popular and reforming president, Juan José Arévalo.
The country had been democratic since 1944; Arévalo had permitted free expression, legalized unions and diverse political parties. The USA Embassy had described the government as having "an unusual reputation for incorruptibility"; the Guatemalans had described the previous ten years as "Ten Years of Spring".
After the coup, and for the next 31 years, repressive governments would rule with USA support. The CIA gives the new government lists of people to be eliminated, identifying political and intellectual leaders as military targets. Arévalo is driven out of Guatemala and dies in exile. Peasant cooperatives are destroyed, unions and political parties crushed, and dissidents hunted down. Many indigenous villages are cleared leading to urban sprawl and poverty. Thousands are killed by government death squads and many more flee the country.
One of those fleeing is a young physician, Che Guevarra. His face would adorn posters for a generation in the 1960s.
Within a few years over 100,000 people, mostly the Maya, would be killed.
The USA declares that the reason for the coup was to stop a takeover by the USSR. In actual fact, the USSR had little interest in the country, not even maintaining an embassy. The real reason is economic - American companies (especially the United Fruit Comany in which CIA director, Allen Dulles, had an interest) would benefit from cheap labour, lax safety laws and a helpful government. The American company, Coca Cola, benefits when striking workers are killed by the military.
A USA document (US Policy Towards Latin America) admits that the major threat to USA interests is "nationalistic regimes [that implement] immediate improvement in the low living standards of the masses".
The Lao political party, Pathet Lao, always wins elections or wins enough support to be in any coalition. This party is disliked by the USA even though it has much popular support. In the next few years, the USA would engineer several coups to topple the Pathet Lao and would eventually an army of rebels to destabilise Laos.
The Prime Minister and two of his ministers are executed. A new constitution is prepared giving the military and increased role in politics.
In recent history, Turkey has been run by military regimes which violate the rights of dissidents and of the large Kurdish minority. Even speaking the Kurdish language is forbidden until the early 1990s.
As a member of NATO, Turkey's abuses are tolerated by the West and are generally unreported in Western media.
UK government papers later declassified would indicate that the coup was backed by the USA and UK. One UK Foreign Office official writes the "such harshness may well be necessary as a short term expedient" and that the new regime "have shown courage and steadfastness in hatching and executing their plot" and should be "somewhat friendlier to the West". According to Roger Allen, the UK ambassador reported that the new regime "suits our interests pretty well".
Kassem had helped found the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in an attempt to curtail Western control of Arab oil. He had been planning to nationalise the Iraq Petroleum Company in which the USA had an interest. Iraq had also disapproved when Kuwait had been given independence by the UK with a pro-west emir (king) and oil concessions to Western companies.
A few days before the coup, the French newspaper La Monde had reported that Kassem had been warned by the USA government to change his country's economic policies or face sanctions.
The new government promises not to nationalise American oil interests and renounces its claim to Kuwait. A brutal offensive is launched against the minority Kurdish population who were seeking autonomy. The UK supplies 18,000 rockets to the Iraqi air force and large amounts of ammunition, mortar bombs, machine guns and helicopters. Kurdish villages are demolished with equipment supplied by the UK and bombed by UK supplied Hawker Hunter aircraft. Poison gas is also used while the West turns a blind eye. The USA recognises and praises the new government.
Juan Bosch had become the first democratically elected president of the country since 1924. His program included land reform, affordable housing, the avoidance of exploitative foreign investment, civil liberties, and nationalisation.
After the coup, USA marines are sent in to look after American business interests and support the new regime.
The USA, shaken because the immolation had been televised around the world, gives approval for a military coup that topples Ngo Dinh Diem (whom they had put into power in 1955). The ousted leaders are killed in cold blood. The South Vietnamese do not get a chance to vote for their leader.
Seven more monks commit suicide in the ancient Vietnamese capital, Hue.
The new regime does not hold elections.
The previous president João Goulart had traded with communist nations, maintained diplomatic relations with Cuba, supported the labour movement, and limited the profits multinational companies could take out of the country.
After the coup, labour and trade unions are banned, criticism of the President becomes unlawful. Thousands of suspected communists (including children) are arrested and tortured. Land is stolen from indigenous people and their culture destroyed. The region's first death squads are set up and trained by the USA CIA. Over 70,000 would die between 1964 and 1985.
Drug dealers, many of them government officials, are given protection because they maintain national security interests.
The West recognises the new regime and trades with it. There would not be a civilian government in Brazil until 1985.
The new, USA backed, ruler is Mobutu Sese Seko who allows USA companies access to the country's cobalt, copper, and diamonds. In the coming years, Mobutu amasses a personal fortune of over $ 5,000 million. Every foreign company setting up in the country has to pay a "tribute" to the president.
Mobutu would rule brutally for 30 years during which time the Zairian people would become impoverished despite the country's huge natural wealth.
France supports this regime because of concessions in mining the huge Uranium deposits. South Africa and the USA loan money to the government.
According to a CIA internal memo dated 25 February 1966 (declassified in 1977) the CIA and Ghana's military leaders had been plotting the coup for over a year.
The coup had been planned by the Greek monarchy, the Greek military, the American military stationed in Greece and the USA CIA.
During the first month of the new regime 8,000 people are imprisoned and tortured. Greece is expelled from the European Commission on Human Rights, but continues to receive aid from the USA in return for housing American military bases. The country continues to be part of NATO and trade with the West.
Amnesty International would later report that "American policy on the torture question as expressed in official statements and official testimony has been to deny it where possible and minimize it where denial was not possible. This policy flowed naturally from general support for the military regime".
The USA writer James Becket describes many victims being told by Basil Lambrou, one of the chief interrogators: "Behind me there is the government, behind the government is NATO, behind NATO is the USA. You can't fight us, we are Americans".
Greece would not return to democratic government until 1974.
The King had refused USA requests to participate in the Vietnam-USA War. The new leader immediately commits troops to this conflict. This unpopular policy strengthens minor movements like the Khmer Rouge, who would eventually become powerful enough to cause chaos in the country.
The previous president (Juan Jose Torres) had nationalised Gulf Oil properties and tin mines owned by USA companies.
Within two years, 2,000 people are arrested and tortured without trial. The native Aymara and Quechua people are ordered off their land and deprived of tribal identity. Tens of thousands of white South Africans are enticed to immigrate with promises of the land stolen from the indigenous people. Catholic clergy who aid the victims are harassed and killed.
The West continues trading and supporting this country. The USA uses Thailand as a "rest and recreation" centre for its soldiers serving in Vietnam. This helps make Thailand into a major destination for sex tourists.
The Israeli attaché, Colonel Rar-Lev, spends the day of the coup advising the new dictator. Eric le Tocq, of the UK Foreign Office, writes "Our prospects in Uganda have no boubt been considerably enhanced".
Amin had been running British concentration camps in Kenya during the independence movement in the 1950s, where he earned the title of "The Strangler".
He begins one of Africa's most brutal reigns of terror killing his friends, the clergy, soldiers, and ordinary citizens. His first state visits are to UK and Israel, who sell him arms. The West continues to finance his regime until 1979.
This is the end of 150 years of democracy in the country. According to Pinochet: "Democracy is the breeding ground of communism".
During the coup, hundreds are herded into a football stadium where many are executed by the military. At least 5,000 people are killed, tens of thousands are tortured, over 9,000 are exiled and around 250,000 are interred in concentration camps. Specially trained dogs are used to sexually molest female prisoners. Women are stopped in the street and have their trousers slit by soldiers: "In Chile women wear dresses". Many books are burned.
The political singer, Victor Jara, is tortured and shot, his body dumped in the street. Even nationals of other countries are victims including citizens of the UK, Spain and even the USA (Charles Horman and Frank Terruggi). These events are shown in the USA made film, Missing.
The USA and most Western governments recognise, praise and trade with the new regime that rules with terror for the next 17 years. The coup is the culmination of three years of USA planning. In 1970, the USA Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, had commented on the results of the elections in Chile that had brought Allende to power:
"I don't see why we have to stand by and watch a country go communist because of the irresponsibility of its own people."
During this period, the director of the CIA, Richard Helms, informed his staff that:
"President Nixon [has] decided that an Allende regime in Chile was not acceptable to the United States. The President asked the Agency to prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him."
The CIA had planted news articles around the world about "Chile's peril". The articles were part of a covert propaganda campaign which, the CIA boasted, resulted in at least 726 stories, broadcasts and editorials against an Allende presidency. The USA began planning to remove Allende in secret. A CIA memo states:
"Dr. Kissinger discussed his desire that the word of our encouragement to the Chilean military in recent weeks be kept as secret as possible."
A cable from CIA headquarters to Henry Hecksher, the CIA station chief in Santiago, revealed:
"It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup ... prior to October 24, but efforts in this regard will continue vigorously beyond this date. We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end utilizing every appropriate resource.... It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the [USA government] and American hand be well hidden. Please review all your present and possibly new activities to include propaganda, black operations, surfacing of intelligence or disinformation, personal contacts, or anything else your imagination can conjure which will permit you to continue to press forward toward our [deleted] objective."
Economic pressure was put onto the new regime. At the World Bank, USA officials worked behind the scenes to ensure that Chile would be disqualified for a pending $ 21,000,000 livestock improvement credit as well as future loans.
The mix of economic sabotage, political propaganda and army prodding works. Allende finds himself confronted by growing disorder and soaring inflation. At every turn, his policies encounter well-funded adversaries. On 11 September 1973, amid the mounting chaos, Chile's military strike. In a classic coup d'etat, the army seizes control of strategic sites throughout the country and corners Allende in his presidential offices. He dies in a fire-fight, apparently shooting himself in the head to avoid capture.
A report written by the USA's Marine Lt. Col. Patrick Ryan in Valparaiso asserts that "Chile's coup de etat was close to perfect". A few years later, Kissinger would assure Pinochet that "In the United States, as you know, we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do here... We wish your government well".
Three weeks after the coup, the USA's President Nixon authorises $ 24,000,000 in commodity credits to buy wheat. A second $ 24,000,000 in commodity credits to Chile for feed corn is authorised. Two destroyers are transferred to the Chilean navy.
Armando Fernandez Larios (responsible for killing 72 political prisoners) later moves to the USA where his extradition to a democratic Chile is refused.
In 2005, a film biography of Allende would have senior CIA operatives saying he was "an exceptionally civilised man". His warning about multinational companies at the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 has been proved correct. He warned of "a coming conflict between multinationals and democratic governments. They operate without assuming their responsibilities. They share no instinct for the common interest. The political system of the world is weakening as a result."
The new government bans all political parties. For 8 years, the government conducts a "dirty war" against opponents. 9,000 people disappear never to be seen again. Later, it is admitted that many were tortured, drugged and dropped from aircraft into the sea.
Pregnant women are kept alive until the birth of their child and then killed. The child is farmed out to orphanages to be adopted by military families and supporters of the regime. Up to 500 children are kidnapped in this way; many being raised by their mothers' killers.
One victim is Silvia Quintela, a doctor who attends to the sick in shanty towns around Buenos Aires. Quintela is abducted off a street by military authorities because of her political leanings. At the time, she and her agronomist husband Abel Madariaga are expecting their first child.
Quintela is held at a military base called Campo de Mayo, where she gives birth to a baby boy. The infant is separated from the mother. Quintela is transferred to a nearby airfield. There, victims are stripped naked, shackled in groups and dragged aboard military planes. The planes then fly out over the Rio de la Plata where soldiers push the victims out of the planes and into the water to drown.
The government is supported by the West until the invasion of the Falklands / Malvinas Islands in 1983.
Relatives of the regime's victims still march every Thursday at the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires looking for justice.
Jorge Enrico, one of the notorious torturers, later moved to the USA (Hawaii).
During most of Thailand's recent history, the country has been ruled by the military. The USA has several large bases in the country at Udorn, Takli, Korat, and Ubon.
General Zia Ul-Haq takes power and deposes the Prime Minister, Zulfikir Bhutto (who is executed in 1979). Martial Law lasts until 1985. The new government continues to receive aid and arms from the USA.
The country continues to receive aid from the West and is part of NATO.
According the USA newspaper, Chicago Tribune (22 August 1990), in an article by Howard Witt entitled "US Fingerprints - Not Heart - Are All Over Liberia", a USA official admits that "Our strategic interests are more important than democracy".
Witt describes Doe as a "brutish, nearly illiterate army sergent" who seized power "after disemboweling the previous president in his bed".
The USA gives the new regime military and economic aid. USA companies Firestone and B F Goodrich prosper under the new regime.
The USA vetoes a United Nations resolution condemning the attempt and naming South Africa as the agent.
Habré's regime would kill tens of thousands of people and torture over 200,000. Many dissidents would simply disappear. In 2000, Habré would be tried for his crimes in Senegal.
According to Witness for Peace, nearly 400 indigenous people, most of them women and children, have been murdered in the area of the Chixoy Dam in a series of massacres since 1980. The people had opposed the resettlement necessary to make way for the dam.
The dam project is financed by the World Bank, which states in a memo that it did not know that the residents of the resettlement community of Rio Negro had been massacred prior to approval of a second loan for the Chixoy Dam. The memo does not address the question of why the World Bank continues lending to a government it knows is carrying out a "scorched earth" policy.
32 days after this victory, Dr. Bavadra is overthrown by the pro-nuclear General Sitiveni Rabuka, with the help of the USA. For the first time in the history of the country, cases of illegal detention and torture are reported by Amnesty International.
The coup was greeted by a Pentagon source in the USA who told the Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald: "We're kinda delighted... All of a sudden our ships couldn't go to Fiji, and now all of a sudden they can".
In 1972 when a previous Fijian government had attempted to bar nuclear ships, the USA ambassador, William Bodde, had stated that: "a nuclear free zone would be unacceptable to the USA given our strategic needs... The USA must do everything possible to counter this movement".
The USA had funded the opponents of Aristide.
The USA newspaper, The New York Times, reports that senior USA administration officials had met the business and military leaders behind the coup several times and had expressed an interest in Chavez being removed. Chavez had offended the USA by establishing good relations with Iraq and Cuba and by expressing sympathy with dissidents in Colombia who are being targeted by a USA backed military offensive.