By Nan and Nora McCurdy (LA Progressive 18 July 2021)
Operation Condor was a US-directed secret intelligence system that operated in the 70s and part of the 80s in six South American US-backed dictatorships that cooperated to assassinate progressive forces including priests and nuns. Thousands of people were disappeared during Condor. President Morales is denouncing the 2019 coup against him and the recent assassination of Haiti’s president as part of a new US Plan Condor.
“The sending of war materials by the former presidents of Ecuador, (Moreno), and Argentina, (Macri), and the letter of thanks from General Terceros are further evidence that, together with the assassination of the President of Haiti, by former Colombian military personnel, show the execution of a second Condor Plan under U.S. direction.
We alert the Latin America social movements about #PlanCóndor2 and the need to strengthen the struggle for peace with social justice and democracy to preserve the sovereignty and independence of our States and the dignity of the people.
In the face of the Bolivian right wing and its US-paid media that lie and do not show a single piece of evidence of the alleged fraud [2019 elections], more evidence continues to appear about those who participated in the 2019 coup d’état and the support given by anti-popular governments with war material and money.
We reaffirm that #PlanCóndor2 is underway and we must agree on measures so that the right-wing governments of Latin America do not continue to participate in coups d’état under the leadership of the United States, causing mourning and pain to our peoples.
We warn the people, militants, sympathizers, patriotic military and professionals committed to their country: We are in the sights of the U.S. because we recovered our natural resources, nationalized strategic companies and closed the military base in Chimoré. They do not forgive us.”
Cuba: On the new Condor hit list
On June 23 of this year, 184 countries of the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of an end to the US embargo on Cuba. It was the 29th consecutive year where virtually all countries, except the US and Israel made this demand.
US elites and their regional allies are desperate to impose a new Plan Condor in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In recent years the Cuban media has denounced millions of dollars of US funding, through organizations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to create and fund opposition media and the organization of and “teaching” of youth. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez on July 11 rejected the smear campaigns of the US media hegemony in the midst of the Covid pandemic with the intensification of the illegal economic, financial and commercial blockade imposed by the United States.
“In a subtle, cowardly and opportunistic manner, those who have maintained the blockade and those who have been used as mercenaries and lackeys of the empire, appear with humanitarian doctrines to strengthen the criterion that the Cuban government is not capable of dealing with this situation; if they are worried about the people of Cuba, they need to end the blockade,” said the Cuban president. The US is intensifying the blockade hoping to cause an internal implosion. “They want to suffocate us and try to put an end to the Revolution…I am giving this information to ratify that the streets belong to the Revolution; that the party and the Government have all the disposition to debate and help,” said President Díaz-Canel.
The President called on the base of the Revolution to go into the streets to face the provocations of manipulators who promote protests and support illegal sanctions against their own country; “we know that there are revolutionary masses facing small anti-revolutionary groups, we are not going to let any mercenary of the US empire provoke destabilization.” he added.
The head of state emphasized that the provocations of small groups intend to create a scenario so that the US can justify an invasion.
“In the second half of 2019 we explained to our people that we were going through a difficult juncture, from the signs that the US was giving against Cuba,” he recalled. “The financial, economic, commercial and energy persecution increased, they [Washington] want to provoke internal social problems in Cuba in order to call for humanitarian missions that translate into military invasions and interference,” denounced President Díaz-Canel. The president recalled that Cuba was included in the infamous list as sponsors of terrorism, “a unilateral list; they believe they are emperors of the world,” he added.
Peru: From old Condor to new
Peru was one of the target countries for the original Operation Condor. In June 1980, Peruvian President General Enrique Morales Bermudez (1975-1980) collaborated with Argentine security forces in hunting down Argentine leftists in Peru who were tortured and “disappeared.”
Peru has served as a haven for the Peruvian wealthy and for transnational corporations going back at least 40 years. In the June 6 elections Pedro Castillo, a teacher and candidate of the Free Peru Party, won in the second round. But his opponent Keiko Fujimori refused to concede. Daughter of former Peruvian dictator Alberto Fujimori and a member of Peru’s wealthy elite, she has the support of the country’s oligarchy and corporations. With 100% of the votes counted Castillo won 50.127% of the vote (8.84 million votes), beating Fujimori of the Fuerza Popular Party, who received 49.873% (8.79 million votes).
The US and the Peruvian oligarchy as well as Fujimori and her army of lawyers are using the model of an electoral coup to try to keep Castillo from the presidency because he is calling for a constituent assemby and appears to favor far-reaching reforms that would improve the lives of the inpoverished majority and diminish the power of the country’s elites as well as corporations. Just six weeks before the election the US sent a new ambassador to Peru, Lisa Kenna. Kenna was an adviser to former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a nine-year veteran at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and a US secretary of state official in Iraq.
Haiti: Assassination Condor-style
On June 30, just a week before the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, William Burns, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency arrived in Colombia to participate in a “sensitive” security mission. The Colombian ambassador in Washington, Francisco Santos, reported on the CIA director’s trip to Colombia, but said he did not want to give further details about Director Burns’ visit to Bogota. “I prefer not to tell you, it is a delicate mission, an important intelligence mission that we were able to coordinate,” responded Santos when questioned about the mission.
The US has seven military bases in Colombia and a history of support for the narcotics dealing paramilitary forces that are the political base of right wing President Ivan Duque and his sinister narco-terror implicated mentor former president Álvaro Uribe. So it makes sense that Colombians may well have been part of the commando that killed President Jovenel Moise. There has been a lot of disinformation given about the assassination of Moise to try to confuse people, but it is not difficult to surmise which country is most likely behind the assassination.
In a March interview, former US ambassador to Haiti, Pamela White talked about a plan to “put aside” President Jovenel Moise leaving power in the hands of an interim Prime Minister. All this to avoid democratic elections which the population have been calling for since early 2020. How do you “put aside” a president? The US government has a long record in the region of assassinating popular presidents and leaders or supporting coups to overthrow elected governments, as it did in Haiti in 2004 to remove President Aristide.
In 2020 when Moïse should have stepped down and when the most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas was calling for elections, the US backed him staying in power. Polls show that the progressive party Lavalas is very popular and if the US were to allow fair elections, they would very likely win. Whoever murdered President Moïse and for whatever immediate reason, the principal medium term result is continued chaos for Haiti’s people, including possibly another military intervention, putting a stable political settlement further out of reach than ever.
Nicaragua: The US Contra war continues
In Nicaragua, U.S. policies under the new Condor show great continuity from the era of the 1980s Contra War.
With careful direction and millions of dollars from US agencies and foundations a coup was attempted in 2018 against Nicaragua’s government which won the 2016 elections with over 72% of the vote. The failed coup attempt left over 260 people dead including 24 police. Along with executions, hundreds of Sandinista supporters and government workers were kidnapped and tortured. With destruction of government and private buildings, vehicles and equipment, loss of 130,000 jobs and business closures Finance Minister Ivan Acosta calculates the cost to the economy of more than a billion dollars – more than the combined losses caused by the Covid pandemic and the two devastating hurricanes of November 2020.
A new destabilization plan called RAIN, Responsive Action in Nicaragua, managed and financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was leaked from the US embassy in July 2020. Many more millions have been given by the US to their agents and proxy organizations in Nicaragua to carry out RAIN’s operational program which openly calls for an unconstitutional “transition” and for promoting “transition-related activities.” These activities violate Nicaragua’s Constitution, the country’s 2007 criminal code, national security legislation and money laundering laws in compliance with international standards, as well as the law relating to non-profits.
The current US administration has maintained president Trump’s designation of Nicaragua as an “extraordinary and unusual threat to the US national security and foreign policy.” This means that Nicaraguans accepting money from the US government and participating in US programs to promote a “democratic transition” are actively collaborating with a hostile foreign power. Since June this year over twenty Nicaraguans involved in these unlawful and potentially treasonous activities have come under investigation.
The offences they are accused of involve not only possible treason for organizing, financing and participating in a coup d’état, requesting foreign economic and even military aggression, and promoting coercive measures against the government and individual citizens. Additionally, some are under investigation for money laundering, financial fraud relating to abuse of non-profits, and the law on registration and financial reporting as foreign agents, similar to the US FARA legislation. Moreover among the detained are people who, by engaging in this broad range of law breaking, violated the terms of the Amnesty Law from which they benefited in 2019.
Venezuela: The US with help from Colombia tries to end the Bolivarian revolution
The incredibly harsh US sanctions, blockade and continuous attacks against Venezuela have everything to do with their having the greatest oil reserves in the world. President Nicolas Maduro, on July 12 at a dialogue with National Assembly law-makers denounced two assassination attempts against his life in the last two weeks.
“They had prepared an attack against me on June 24 in the bicentennial of Carabobo this year. Another attack with drones, we dispelled it, we knocked it down, we neutralized it. First time I say it, because the investigation is still ongoing until we get to the person behind everything. They had prepared a desperate attack against me on July 5 in the middle of the parade…”
referring to the July 5th Independence Day civic-military parade. Those are just two of the numerous attempts on President Maduro’s life in recent years, including an attack by drones carrying explosives in 2019. In May 2020, a large group of US-funded terrorists, including two US citizens, after training in Colombia entered Venezuela by boat, hoping to kidnap or assassinate President Maduro. Their presence was quickly reported by local fishing workers and the group was intercepted by the Venezuelan authorities.
US Southern Command has long openly proposed plans and advocated measures to facilitate the overthrow of Venezuela’s elected government. Recently, Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro, has again denounced that the US Southern Command and the Central Intelligence Agency are elaborating plans from Colombian territory to attack Venezuela. He again accused the CIA of planning to assassinate him. President Maduro alerted the Venezuelan people and urged them to be prepared “to respond forcefully to any destabilization plan in perfect civil-military union.”
Maduro’s statement comes in relation to the arrival in Colombia of the commander of the Southern Command, Craig Faller, and the director of the CIA, William Joseph Burns whose visit, as the Colombian ambassador to the US explained was a “delicate mission,” taking place right before criminal attacks in Haiti and Venezuela. President Maduro noted, “We have received Information … they are behind plans to continue threatening and attacking peace and democracy, the institutions and the leadership of our country.”
The Venezuelan government’s warnings about the continuing conspiracies, violence and preparation of mercenary groups in Colombia to attack Venezuela were borne out recently by attacks in Venezuela’s capital. Various criminal gangs staged attacks in different parts of Caracas including one on an important police center. The attacks were clearly coordinated to create a climate of fear and uncertainty during a visit by a European Union Delegation to assess the possibility of EU observers monitoring the important elections scheduled for later this year. The Venezuelan security forces took action to control the areas under attack and dismantled the criminal gangs responsible.
As Evo Morales made clear, the US elites and their regional allies are desperate to impose a new Plan Condor in Latin America and the Caribbean. Of course, historically they have always sought to suppress regional emancipation in the form of progressive movements and governments. But in a global context, they now also fear the growth of the region’s economic links with Asia, especially China. Despite their enormous political influence, economic power and military presence the US and its allies face a losing battle, just as Spain did 200 years ago.
One model of US and allied control is the kind of antidemocratic intervention developed in Haiti and Honduras by the US, Canada and Western Europe. This model ensures a neutered, corrupt central government and neocolonial rule via international agencies and Western NGOs. But the collapse of Haiti and Honduras into neocolonial subjugation is still mostly an exception in the region. Apart from Haiti, the other Caribbean nations have proven to be very resilient against US pressure, consistently blocking moves against Venezuela by the US and Canada in the Organization of American States for example.
Also Nicaragua’s decisive 2012 legal victory regaining over 90,000 km2 of Caribbean maritime territory, usurped by Colombia for decades, has meant that Nicaragua has joined Cuba and like-minded progressive Caribbean island nations in regional bodies, reinforcing the presence of revolutionary influence in those forums. In practice, that means promotion of development policies focused on people rather than on corporate profit. From Mexico and the Caribbean to Chile and Argentina, despite the aggressive offensive against Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, it is the right-wing allies of the US that are in crisis, precisely because the mean, bitter, sterile Western vision of capitalist development condemns people to misery and despair.
So it is no surprise that widespread popular protests have arisen with varying levels of intensity in Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Guatemala, Panama, Paraguay and Brazil. Guillermo Lasso’s right wing government in Ecuador will soon face the inevitable consequences of implementing repressive neoliberal economic measures. While the US and its allies managed to destabilize Argentina thanks to its elites looting the country under Mauricio Macri and taking on debilitating foreign debt, the country’s foreign policy remains an important force for progressive regional integration against US wishes. The same is true of Mexico.
Despite economic, diplomatic and military power, the intense, well-coordinated US and allied efforts to destabilize Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua and the region generally are failing. China’s influence is growing as that of the US declines. Haiti and Honduras may for now have become tragic showcases of what the US and its allies want to impose on Latin America and the Caribbean but Bolivia’s heroic people showed that even a successful right-wing coup can be reversed. The current US-led Plan Condor may not be the Monroe Doctrine’s swan song in Latin America. But in any case, the writing is very much there on the wall for anyone who cares to see.