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Robert Baird at Digital Emunction writes:

For nearly four decades, there’s been an open ques­tion about the 1971 coup that brought dic­ta­tor Hugo Banzer Suárez to power in Bolivia: was the U.S. gov­ern­ment involved? Thanks to newly declas­si­fied doc­u­ments, we now have an answer.

Banzer was a dic­ta­tor of Bolivia from 1971-8 and a demo­c­ra­t­i­cally elected pres­i­dent from 1997-2001. His three-​day coup in August 1971 was sig­nif­i­cant not only for the fight­ing that accom­pa­nied it, which left 110 dead and 600 wounded, but for the seven-​year regime that fol­lowed, one of the most repres­sive in Bolivia’s his­tory. Under Banzer’s rule, more than 14,000 Boli­vians were arrested with­out a judi­cial order, more than 8,000 were tortured—with elec­tric­ity, water, beatings—and more than 200 were exe­cuted or dis­ap­peared. (I’m writ­ing a long arti­cle about the legacy of the regime for Nar­ra­tive Mag­a­zine. It will hope­fully be out by the end of the year.)

Amer­i­can sup­port for Banzer before and after the coup was never in doubt. He had trained at the School of the Amer­i­cas in Panama and the Armored Cav­alry School in Texas, and in the late 60s served as mil­i­tary attaché in Wash­ing­ton. In the five months after he ousted left-​wing dic­ta­tor Gen­eral Juan José Torres, Banzer was rewarded with $50 mil­lion in grants and aid from the Nixon Administration. ...

But while U.S. sup­port for Banzer during the coup has been widely assumed among Boli­vians and his­to­ri­ans of Latin Amer­ica, the only proof (until now) was a Wash­ing­ton Post report pub­lished a week after the event, which said that U.S. Air Force Major Robert J. Lundin had advised the plot­ters and lent them a long-​range radio. The report was never sub­stan­ti­ated, how­ever, and the State Depart­ment denied it imme­di­ately, assert­ing unequiv­o­cally that the U.S. played no part in the over­throw of Torres.

A col­lec­tion of declas­si­fied doc­u­ments recently released* by the same State Depart­ment proves that this denial was not only incor­rect, but a lie: the Nixon Admin­is­tra­tion, acting with the full knowl­edge of the State Depart­ment, autho­rized nearly half a mil­lion dollars—"coup money," accord­ing to the ambas­sador in La Paz—for the politi­cians and mil­i­tary offi­cers plot­ting against Torres. The CIA handed at least some of this money over to the coup’s lead­ers in the days lead­ing up to Banzer’s seizure of power.

Min­utes from a July 8, 1971 meet­ing of the 40 Com­mit­tee (an executive-​branch group chaired by Henry Kissinger and tasked with over­sight of covert oper­a­tions) included dis­cus­sion of a CIA pro­posal to give $410,000 to a group of oppo­si­tion politi­cians and mil­i­tary lead­ers, money that they knew would be used to over­throw Torres.

• • • • •

At Daily Kos on this date in 2008:

The Democrats don't need them. The 27% of dead-enders who think George W. Bush is doing a dandy job just got thrown to the wolves by John McCain in a speech that even Fox News panned.

In a setting that highlighted McCain's discomfort, with a venue that came across like a half-filled high school auditorium, John McCain pretended to the the candidate of change, and pretended that Barack Obama was the status quo candidate. That incompetence was the problem with the Bush administration. That he, McCain, is the green candidate with a green background. That John McCain will take the country in a new direction, different than where Republicans have gone before. And John McCain knew it all along.

• • • • •

The green diary rescue will appear Friday night in this time slot.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Jun 03, 2010 at 09:02 PM PDT.


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