5 GENERAL HUMBERTO BRANCO
President of Brazil
In 1961, Time magazine called Brazil's domestic politics "confused" and said the country was "also adrift in foreign affairs". What Time seemed to mean was that Brazilian President Jaao Goulart's policies were unacceptable to the U.S. Goulart sought to trade with communist nations, supported the labor movement, and had limited the profits muftinationals could take out of the country. Although high ranking U.S. intelligence personnel such as Defense Attache (and later Deputy Director of the CIA) Vernon Walters, deny the U.S. took part in the 1964 overthrow of Goulart by General Humberto de Alencar Castello Branco, there is evidence to the contrary. For example, right before the coup, U.S. officials cabled Washington a request for oil for Branco's soldiers in case Goulart's troops blew up the refineries.
Branco's regime was short but brutal. Labor unions were banned, criticism of the President became unlawful, and thousands of "suspected communists" (including children) were arrested and tortured. As in Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia (see cards 12, 8, and 6), land was stolen from native Indians and their culture was destroyed. Drug dealers, many of them government officials, were given protection because they maintained "national security interests". Brazil formed ties with WACL (see card 17) and assisted General Videla in his takeover of Argentina (see card 8). When Branco stepped down in 1967, he left behind a constitution with greatly increased military and executve powers, crippling Brazil's efforts to restore democracy.
6 COLONEL HUGO BANZER
President of Bolivia
In 1964, the New York Times wrote of Bolivia: "No country in the Western Hemisphere is more dependent on Washington's aid and nowhere has the United States Embassy played a more obtrusive role in establishing that fact." So in 1970, when President Juan Jose Torres nationalized Gulf Oil properties and tin mines owned by U.S. interests and tried to establish friendly relations with Cuba and the Soviet Union, he was playing with fire. The coup to overthrow Torres, led by U.S. trained officer and Gulf Oil beneficiary Hugo Banzer, had direct support from Washington. When Banzer's forces had a breakdown in radio communications, U.S. Air Force Major Robert Lundin placed the U.S. Air Force radio at their disposal.
Once in power, Banzer began a reign of terror. Schools were shut down as hotbeds of "political subversive agitation provoked by anarchists opposed to the new institutional order," the Soviet Embassy was closed, and Banzer raised a foreign loan to pay Gulf Oil compensation. Within two years, 2,000 people were arrested and tortured without trial. As in Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil (see cards 12, 8, and 5), the native Indians were forced off their land and deprived of tribal identity. Tens of thousands of white South Africans were enticed to immigrate with promises of the land stolen from the Indians. Migration Under-Secretary Guido Strauss told the U.N. the goal was to create a "white Bolivia." When Catholic clergy tried to aid the Indians, the regime, with CIA help, launched terrorist attacks against them, and this "Banzer Plan" became a model for similar anti-Catholic actions throughout Latin America.
8 GENERAL JORGE RAFAEL VIDELA
President of Argentina
Soon after the coup that brought him to power in 1976, General Jorge Rafael Videla began Argentina's dirty war. All political and union activities were suspended, wages were reduced by 60%, and dissidents were tortured by Nazi and U.S. trained military and police. Survivors say the torture rooms contained swastikas and pictures of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco. One year after Videla's coup, Amnesty International estimated 15,000 people had disappeared and many were in secret detention camps, but although the U.S. press admitted human rights abuses occurred in Argentina, Videla was often described as a "moderate" who revitalized his nation's troubled economy. Videla had a good public relations firm in the U.S., Deaver and Hannalord, the same firm used by Ronad Reagan, Taiwan, and Guatemala. Not surprisingly, his Economics Minister, Jose Martinez do Hoz, spoke, at Deaver's request, on one of President Reagan's national broadcasts in order to upgrade Argentina's reputation.
Videla also received aid from WACL, the World Anti-Communist League (see card 17), through its affiliale, CAL (Confederation Anticomunista Latinoamericana). CAL sent millions of dollars to Argentina from sources such as the Italo-Argentine Masonic Lodge P-2, an outgrowth of old U.S. anti-communist alliances with the Italian drug malia. As part of its WACL affiliation, Argentina trained Nicaraguan contras for the U.S. Videla left office in 1981, and aftar the Falklands Crisis of 1982 he and his cohorts were tried for human rights abuses by the new government.
12 ALFREDO STROESSNER
President-for-Life of Paraguay
Alfredo Stroessner came to power in 1954, but European correspondents who visited Paraguay during his rule used the term the "poor man's Nazi regime" to describe the Paraguayan government. The parallels may have been more than a coincidence, for many Nazi war criminals, such as Joseph Mengele, had settled there with Stroessner's blessing.
From the Nazis the Paraguayan military leamed the art of genocide. The native Ache Indians were in the way of progress, progress represented by American and European corporations who planned to exploit the nation's forests, mines, and grazing lands. The Indians were hunted down, parents killed, and children sold into slavery. Survivors were herded into reservations headed by American fundamentalist missionaries , some of whom had participated in the hunts.
Between 1962 and 1975, Paraguay received $146 million in U.S. aid. Paraguayan officials seemingly wanted more, however, for in 1971, high ranking members of the regime were implicated in the Marseilles drug ring, with Paraguay their transfer point for shipments from France to the U.S. In the 1980s America finally condemned Paraguayan civil rights abuses and drug trafficking. Stroessner still looked as if he'd be dictator for life but in 1988 one of his closest generals, Andres Rodriguez, a known drug dealer, took over after a coup. Rodriguez promised to restore democracy, and President Bush called the 1989 elections "a democratic opening," but opponents declared them "a massive fraud." Rodriguez's Colorado party won 74% of the vote.
13 GENERAL AUGUSTO PINOCHET
President of Chile
On July 2, 1986, 18 year old Carmen Gloria Quintana was walking through a Santiago slum when she and photographer Rodrigo Rojas were confronted by government security forces. According to eyewitnesses, the two were set ablaze by soldiers and beaten while they burned. Their bodies were then wrapped in blankets and dumped in a ditch miles away. Witnesses who spoke out about what they saw were beaten and arrested. Such events are not unusual since "Captain General" Augusto Pinochet seized power from democratically elected President Salvador Allende in 1973, and buried Chile's 150 year old democracy. "Democracy is the breeding ground of communism," says Pinochet.
The bloody coup, in which Allende was assassinated, was carefully managed by the CIA and ITT, according to the Church Committee report. Tens of thousands of Chileans have been tortured, killed, and exiled since then, according to Amnesty Intemational. A U.S. congressional delegation was told by inmates at San Miguel Prison that they had been tortured by "the application of electric shock, simultaneous blows to the ears, cigarette burns, and simulated executions by firing squads." Despite Chile's bad human rights record, the U.S. government continued to support Pinochet with international loans. Even the state-sponsored car-bomb assassination of Chile's former Ambassador to the U.S., Orlando Letelier, did not convince the U.S. to break with Pinochet. Chileans called for his removal in a 1988 election, but he clung to the presidency until 1990, and remains the commander of Chile's army.