The CIA in Latin America: From Coups to Torture and Preemptive Killings
Nil NIKANDROV | 22.01.2015 | OPINION

The CIA in Latin America: From Coups to Torture and Preemptive Killings

The observations made by the Venezuelan journalist José Vicente Rangel are generally regarded as well informed and accurate. For the television program Los Confidenciales («Reliable Sources») he recently reported on the work of the supplemental staff at CIA stations in Latin America. According to Rangel, at least 500 reinforcements have arrived at the US Embassy and other US headquarters in South America in order to help the other operatives escalate their subversive and espionage activities. 

Those agents are focusing on countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, and Cuba. But this does not mean that other governments are safe from imperial policing. However loyal the governments may seem that are springing up on the coattails of Washington’s policies, US intelligence agencies are systematically beefing up their undercover staff in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile, and other countries. Presidential and governmental offices are being deliberately infiltrated, as is the leadership of the armed forces and the national intelligence and counterintelligence agencies. The Americans are forging alliances so as to create a vanguard of accomplices to help them counter any potential enemy on that continent, especially within the «populist regimes.» 

The operational positions of US intelligence services in Latin America have branched out and are now capable of carrying out destabilizing operations. In recent years, such attempts have repeatedly been made in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Argentina, where the governments have resisted the Americans’ plans to assume global control of the Western Hemisphere under the guise of creating an all-American free trade zone. The CIA’s efforts to stage a «color revolution» in Venezuela in 2002-2003 came to naught: President Hugo Chavez not only survived, but moved successfully to unify Latin America. His successor, Nicolás Maduro, is remaining faithful to the principles of the Bolivarian Revolution while vigorously resisting US attempts to undermine its achievements by plotting an economic and financial conspiracy and encouraging provocation by the radical opposition. 

A similar strategy is being used by the CIA against the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina. In Bolivia and Ecuador, CIA stations have tried to destabilize the legitimately elected governments with the help of the police forces, the leaders of which have traditionally been under the sway of their American instructors. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa only narrowly escaped death when rebels surrounded the building in which his bodyguards were sheltering him while CIA-trained snipers fired at the windows of his refuge for many hours. A band of militants from Europe used by the CIA for terrorist acts were entrusted with the task of assassinating Bolivian President Evo Morales. According to Bolivian investigators, CIA stations in Ireland and Hungary assembled the groups. 

The CIA in Latin America is clearly preparing to exacerbate the situation. The NSA’s electronic surveillance, despite the revelations made by Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and others, continues with even greater intensity. The data obtained by the NSA is being distributed to specific services within the American intelligence community, depending on their area of specialization. The CIA is the main consumer of these materials, which it uses to plan «color revolutions,» as well as blackmail and recruitment, provocation, subversive propaganda campaigns, and so on. It should be noted that every US administration - from Bush to Obama - has focused on intelligence-gathering, a task that has been the responsibility of even the so-called «clean» employees of various agencies, especially the State Department. This has been motivated by the need to step up the fight against terrorism. 

In a memo originally signed back in the era of Condoleezza Rice but approved by her successors, US diplomats are charged to collect data on military facilities, communication systems used in their host countries, how political leaders are protected, where they live and park their cars, their email addresses, phone numbers, etc. One component of that task is particularly disturbing - assigning diplomats to garner information on the health status of the «targets,» including data on their mental stability. Mention is also made of the need to obtain visual materials, fingerprints, and «biological material» (the latter, according to experts, is for use in planning targeted killings using modern technology). Brazil and Venezuela, as well as China and Russia, are included in the State Department’s list of high-priorities for intelligence reports from diplomats in Latin America. Delegates from those countries are to be tracked nonstop, not only in Latin America but throughout the world. 

But the real hunt is for Russian citizens. To increase their effectiveness, US intelligence services employ a broad arsenal of provocation and duplicity. The pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was accused of drug trafficking, was snared in this type of trap. According to news agencies, a female staffer at the US Embassy in Colombia gave a secret recording device to a local citizen who was a DEA agent operating under the name of «Santiago.» After several meetings between the agent and the pilot, the resulting video and audio recordings of their conversations were edited and presented to a court in the United States, although a significant portion of their content had been deleted, which directly impacted the verdict. Citizens of Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Nicaragua and many other countries have been victimized by such special operations, and the implication is always the same: Latin Americans cannot evade cooperation with the CIA! 

However, the agency has a track record in Latin America that raises the hackles and eyebrows even of governments that are loyal to Washington. One ominous indication of the CIA’s Gestapo-style tactics was the creation at the US military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba of a camp for prisoners suspected of terrorist activities or of abetting the Taliban. In December 2005, Condoleezza Rice spoke out in defense of the camp, emphasizing the fact that in this way the CIA «has stopped terrorist attacks and saved innocent lives in Europe as well as in the United States and other countries.» In regard to the exposure of secret prisons, Rice arrogantly stated, «It is up to those governments and their citizens to decide if they wish to work with us to prevent terrorist attacks against their own country.» 

In December 2014, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence published a 500-page paper on the use of CIA torture to extract information from individuals suspected of terrorism. The full version of that investigation is almost 7,000 pages long and includes so many details of the «enhanced interrogation techniques» used by the CIA, that their disclosure was considered too dangerous because it could spark retaliation. The original document was redacted to remove the names of secret prisons in Europe and Asia, as well as the names of the CIA chiefs who sanctioned the torture of prisoners and the staff who carried it out. They were particularly carefully to delete information on the «advanced interrogation tactics» used at Guantanamo. 

US Secretary of State John Kerry also tried to expunge other facts from the document, claiming that its publication would endanger the lives of American diplomats abroad. Only the intervention of human-rights organizations quashed that attempt. Now Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other organizations are trying to obtain the names of those who created the secret prisons and introduced the practice of torture. But their efforts are being stonewalled by the leadership of John Brennan’s CIA. The same excuse is offered - that the publicity jeopardizes the lives of its employees. 

It is important to Brennan that he be able to retain his experienced employees after the major reforms in the CIA that he has devised. Information has been leaked to the media about the nature of the planned reorganization: instead of having specialized agency departments and a separate intelligence-analysis service, fusion centers will be created that will be responsible for specific regions and systemic threats to US security. Brennan feels specifically that because the CIA has for so long been focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the operations in North Africa and other remote regions, including Ukraine, those threats are now coming to a head in Latin America. Alliances being forged on that continent, and the formation and strengthening of regional organizations such as CELAC, UNASUR, MERCOSUR, ALBA, and others, have weakened the American position in the Western Hemisphere. Washington is concerned about inroads being made there by China and Russia, not only in trade and economics but also in military technology and space exploration. The construction of the Nicaragua Canal with the assistance of China, Russia, and Brazil is another sign of America’s geopolitical defeat. 

Given the Americans’ natural arrogance, they find failures of this magnitude hard to swallow. Thus they are plotting revenge by simultaneously destabilizing «populist» states and inciting civil war in Venezuela. The fresh troops arriving at the CIA stations are already diving into these new jobs.

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