The author of this book is Doug Stokes; Noam Chomsky writes the Forward to it.
The author shows that the bugaboo about Soviet expansionism during the Cold War was designed to cover efforts to roll back threats to the domination of the third world masses by third world elites and U.S. corporations. For instance, the case of Guatemala whose democratic government was overthrown in a elaborate CIA backed coup in 1954 based on U.S. allegations that it was an agent of Soviet expanisionism. However a secret paper by State Department official Charles Burrows in 1953 stated that the Arbenz government in Guatemala threatened the stability of other Latin American nations by the fact that its agrarian reform program was inspiring the suffering masses in other countries to political action against oppression by U.S. corporations and indigenous elites. Similarly in January 1961, special Assistant to President Kennedy, Arthur Schlesinger reported to the President that in Latin America the "poor and unprivileged stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent living." The U.S. worked to cut off all aid and sources of convertible currency for Cuba in the Western world and thus Castro turned to the Russians.
While weak tiny Nicaragua was publicly being parroted by the Reaganites as a Soviet tool about to swallow up Texas,according to a 1984 State Dpeartment document quoted by the author the Soviet role in Nicaragua was rather modest. In its early years, the Sandinistas won Nicaragua awards from the World Health Organization and the UN literacy program. The author shows how the U.S. attempted to make the Sandinistas dependent on the Soviet block, so they could have an excuse of destroying them, in such ways as blocking arms sales to Nicaragua from France as the U.S. backed Contra terrorists gained in strength. George Schultz threatened the Inter American Development Bank in 1985 with a withdraw of U.S. support for it if it gave a major loan for private sector agriculture in Nicaragua. Refering to other methods of subversion the author notes U.S. efforts against Chavez in Venezuela. He also notes the international investor draining of currency from Brazil in the year before the anticipated election of the ostensibly radical leftist Lula De Silva as President in Oct. 2002, and the IMF loan agreement signed by outgoing President Cardoso in August 2002--all of which have set Lula on virtually the same neoliberal economic course of his predecessors.
The author quotes a U.S. counterinsurgency manual which explains that Latin American militaries can discover communist subversion within their country by such signs as worker strikes, increased letters to newspapers criticizing governments, increased petitions sent to the government for redress of grievances....i.e. real democracy not communism was the real threat.
The focus of this book is on Colombia, a country extraordinarily rich in natural resources but most of whose wealth is controlled by a wealthy few and Western corporations who have kept the masses in extreme squalor by robbery and extreme violence over the centuries. The U.S.State Department admits that right wing paramilitaries are responsible for most of the human rights violations in Colombia. 8000 people were killed there for political reasons in 2002.Most of the union activists murdered in the world are in Colombia (370 in 2001-02). Almost 3 million Colombians have been driven from their homes. Major Colombian and International human rights organizations have consistently shown that the paramilitaries are under the firm control and direction of the Colombian military and political leadership. The U.S. government pretends otherwise, of course. Noam Chomsky notes in the Forward that one of the rare investigations into a military massacre in Colombia was in 1990 after 60 peasants in the village of Trujillo were cut to pieces with chain saws. A government pointed out the military commanders overseeing the massacre but no one was brought to justice.
The most recent paramilitary groups have their basis in the early 80's as assassins funded by rural ranchers, mining owners, drug growers and others, who murdered demobilized soldiers of the FARC guerillas, peasant activists, priests, etc. A 1983 report of the Colombian Procurator General discovered many Colombian military officers involved in one major death squad funded by the Medellin cartel. The members included General Gil Bermudez, who gave an address to students at his alma matter, the School of Americas at Fort Benning GA in 1988. In 1986, a left wing political party, the Patriotic Union (UP) won, in spite of massive terror against it and lack of resources, five percent of the seats in Colombia's congress and won a number of local mayorships. Over the next decade, the death squads would assasinate two UP presidential candidates and about 3000 UP party activists.
One of the most important points raised by this book is the issue of the FARC guerillas and the U.S. inspired talking point that they are "narcoguerillas." However the author quotes declassified a 1992 CIA report and a 1994 DEA report which state that the FARC's involvement with drugs has been relatively limited. The leader of the largest death squad, the AUC, Carlos Castano was a leader of secret group put together by the Colombian military with aid from the CIA, DEA, DIA, etc. and funds from the Cali Cartel called Los Pepes. Los Pepes engineered the killing of Medellin Cartel leader Pablo Escobar in May 1993. The CIA has refused Amnesty International's demand that it turn over documents related to the U.S. relationship to the Castano family and Los Pepes. Castano has admitted on Colombian TV that his group has recieved 70 percent of its income from drugs.
The Justice Department has engaged in the quite meaningless gesture of indicting Castano and two of his associates for drug trafficking. Of course, U.S. military aid and planning to Colombia targets the FARC guerillas in Southern Colombia on anti-drug grounds. Of course it does not target the right wing death squads like the AUC who dominate the East, West and North of the country and who protect the drug organizations in those areas according to former DEA administrators quoted by Stokes, and who are backed by the Colombian military and who export drugs to the United States. Meanwhile private U.S. mercenary firms have taken over some functions of U.S. military aid such as the horrible anti-drug fumigation program.. The author shows that the drug war in Colombia is merely a pretext to intervene to protect U.S. corporate control of its resources such as oil.
Meanwhile President Alvaro Uribe, backed by the Bush administration, has formed civil defense patrols whose members seem to be substantially made up of the ostensibly disbanding paramilitaries. Uribe came to power in 2002 in an election that had only 38 percent of Colombian voters participating. There were reports of the death squads threatening peasants with violence if they didn't vote for him.