from the book
Cry of the People
The struggle for human rights
in Latin America
and the Catholic Church in conflict with US policy
by Penny Lernoux
Penguin Books, 1980, paper
According to a report by Amnesty International, one of seventeen
commonly used torture methods in Uruguay included burning the
prisoner alive in a barbecue pit or grill. "When the smell
of roasting meat is emitted, the victim is taken away," reported
Amnesty International. (Human Rights in Uruguay and Paraguay,
Hearings before the Subcommittee on International Organizations
of the Committee on International Relations, U. S. House of Representatives,
June 17, July 27 and 28, and Aug. 4, 1976, p. 50.
Whether the country is Brazil or Guatemala, more or less industrialized,
in South or Central America, the statistics are always the same:
a tiny minority, usually 1 to 4 percent of the population, owns
the majority of the arable land and takes an overwhelming share
of the nation's agricultural and industrial wealth. The great
majority, in the slums or impoverished rural villages, owns little
or no land, is undernourished, illiterate or semiliterate, and
unemployed or underemployed. One third of Latin America's 320
million people earn less in a year than a U.S. housewife spends
on groceries in a week. Conversely, the well-to-do in Latin America
usually live better than do the upper classes in the United States;
they have platoons of servants, enormous estates, limousines,
private airplanes, and yachts, and pay practically no taxes.
Stroessner [Paraguay] and the others, proclaimed their fealty
to the United States and their abhorrence of communism, Washington
was prepared to support them with military and economic aid. Unions,
political parties, housing developments, and agrarian reform were
all designed to advance the anti-communist crusade; as a result
they soon became political tools instead of vehicles for genuine
U.S. writer Thomas Sanders
"Latin America is underdeveloped
not just because it does not produce enough but because the people
do not participate in national life."
Brazil's Archbishop Helder Camara
"People with no reasons for living
will not find causes to die for."
Goulart's Planning Minister, Celso Furtado
... insisting that "development" was a myth invented
by the industrialized nations to con the Third World into footing
the bill for the American (and European) way of life. He based
his assertion on Latin America's experience in the 1960s, when
development meant essentially a series of foreign, mostly U.S.,
Ioans for industrial infrastructure and large inputs of foreign
investment. The loans have so burdened the Latin-American countries
that many are now spending an average 25 percent of their foreign
earnings just to service the debt. As for foreign investment,
far from creating the millions of new jobs promised by the advance
publicity, nearly half this money went to take over existing Latin-American
industries. By the end of the "decade of development,"
99 percent of the loans made by AID to Latin American countries
were being spent in the United States for products costing 30
to 40 percent more than the going world price.
Latin America [after WWII] ... was an important source of income
for corporations in the United States, of cheap labor for U.S.
export subsidiaries, and of small but extremely lucrative markets,
particularly for arms and capital equipment.
Without repression, it is impossible for the rich to increase
their income indefinitely at the expense of the mass of the people
who, for all their ignorance and lack of political organization,
have the advantage in numbers. These millions will not stay quietly
on the farms or in the slums unless they are terribly afraid.
As in Stroessner's Paraguay, the rich get richer only because
they have the guns.
A child born in the United States will consume thirty to fifty
times more goods of all descriptions in his or her lifetime than
one born in the impoverished highlands of Bolivia. A child born
to wealthy parents in the Bolivian capital of La Paz will equal
the consumption of the American. Consciously or not, both owe
their life-styles in some degree to the poverty of the highland
peasant child. A similar relationship exists between the economies
of Latin America and the United States. And that is what the "dependency"
theory of underdevelopment is all about-a mass of poor peasants
and slum dwellers supply the wants of a few rich people, and they
in turn satisfy the U.S. demand for raw materials and profit remittances.
Pope Paul. to a crowd in Bogata, Colombia. 1998
What can I say to you, men of the ruling
class? What is required of you is generosity. This means the ability
to detach yourselves from the stability of your position which
is, or seems to be, a position of privilege, in order to serve
those who need your wealth, your culture, your authority.... You,
lords of this world and sons of the Church, you must have the
genius for virtue that society needs. Your ears and your hearts
must be sensitive to the voices crying out for bread, concern,
justice, and a more active participation in the direction of society.
In any organization the most intelligent, dynamic sectors tend
As history has repeatedly shown, totalitarian regimes soon treat
all critics as enemies of the state
The experience of repression, like the experience of living in
a slum or a backward village, almost always provides a radical
political education. Things that were taken for granted, such
as food or freedom, no longer exist, and inevitably one is forced
to ask, Why?
... the Church seriously began to question capitalism's model
of development in Brazil, with its anti-Christian "Doctrine
of National Security." A mixture of creole militarism, European
fascism, and U.S. McCarthyism, the doctrine is a compendium of
complex arguments that, when closely examined, turn out to be
an excuse for Manifest Destiny and a colonial society embellished
with the technological trimmings of an Orwellian state. Thomas
Hobbes, the seventeenth-century English philosopher, is generally
cited as the inventor of the doctrine's model of an all-powerful
state that guarantees national security in exchange for the people's
freedom. But Hitler's Nazism and Mussolini's corporate state,
modern refinements of Hobbes's theory, also contributed to the
doctrine's development, as did cold-war politics and the Pentagon's
promotion of the Latin-American military as "nation builders."
Once the permanence of world warfare is assumed, national security
becomes the first priority of geopolitics. Individual rights are
sacrificed to the power of the state, since only it can defend
and develop the nation. Critics of government policy are considered
traitors because in wartime opinions are weapons and everyone
is either a friend or a foe. Civilian politicians having proved
| inept in government, only the military can run the state and
press the war against international communism.
This view of the world, which could be
straight out of a Nazi primer, is shared by the governments of
Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, and, to
a lesser extent, Colombia and Peru.
Chilean theologian Segundo Galilea
"in the long run no government can
survive without some measure of popular support."
... a reign of terror ... has converted South America into a giant
concentration camp with some thirty thousand political prisoners,
and thousands more murdered or exiled. In previous times of military
dictatorship, there was at least somewhere to hide. Argentines
could find safety in Uruguay; Bolivians and Brazilians could flee
to Chile. But now, when all these countries are marching in step,
with a central pool of computerized data on political exiles and
open collaboration among the region's secret police, repression
is standardized and ubiquitous. Brazilian military officers taught
Chile's secret police the techniques of modern torture in the
weeks following the 1973 coup.
In earlier swings between democracy and dictatorship the latter
rarely lasted longer than a decade, but most of the new Latin-American
military regimes have fortified themselves to stay in power for
several generations, the better to wipe out any vestige of liberal
... increasing numbers of churchmen are denouncing U.S. capitalism
and militarism for abetting the repression. "The Americans
are killing us" is a cry repeated throughout Latin America,
often by once-loyal friends of the United States who were brought
up to believe that U.S. democracy is a "shining beacon for
the Free World." Between 1950 and 1975 the United States
trained 71,651 Latin-American military personnel, including 8
of the region's current dictators, and in addition supplied $2.5
billion worth of armaments. Such collaboration is the lifeblood
of the Doctrine of National Security.
... the "word 'communist' has been applied so liberally and
so loosely to revolutionary or radical regimes that any government
risks being so characterized if it adopts one or more of the following
policies that the State Department finds distasteful: nationalization
of private industry, particularly foreign-owned corporations;
radical land reform; autarchic trade policies; acceptance of Soviet
or Chinese aid; insistence upon following an anti-American or
nonaligned foreign ' ~ policy, among others." Or as theologian
Jose Comblin says: "Almost everything that happens in the
rest of the world is somehow made to appear related to U.S. national
security, whether it occurs in the heart of Africa or in Paraguay
or Bolivia. In such a concept, the American citizen is prompted
to feel threatened by economic, political, and even cultural changes
in the rest of the world."
While few of the guerrilla groups [in Latin America] that emerged
in the sixties were a serious menace to established governments,
the phantom of "communist revolution" gave U.S. governments
an excellent pretext to mold the political attitudes of two generations
of military men. These men learned the lessons so well that they
now see communists lurking in every doorway. Most of the techniques
of counterinsurgency, such as intelligence gathering, police work,
propaganda, and the skills to operate sophisticated equipment,
have since been turned against the civilian population, and long
after the last guerrilla has died, the bloodletting continues.
Many of the victims of this repression charge, with good reason,
that the nation that led the fight against fascism in Europe has
contributed to its resurrection in Latin America.
That this could happen is due in large
part to the United States' historically contemptuous attitude
toward Latin America, which it has always looked upon as a purely
business venture. Whereas the atrocities committed by Hitler and
Mussolini outraged the American people, similar repression in
Latin America elicits little more than a yawn.
Were U.S. companies to behave in the United States as they do
in Latin America, with their bribes, double sets of books, tax
evasion, monopolies, and failure to observe even the minimum standards
for consumer protection, many of their executives would be behind
bars. In Latin America such matters are considered standard business
Many of the Latin-American Church's recent martyrs were killed
by people trained and armed by the United States.
Father Rutilio Grande of Colombia, 1970s
"I greatly fear that very soon the
Bible and the Gospel will not be allowed within the confines of
our country. Only the buildings will arrive, nothing else, because
all the pages are subversive- they are against sin. And if Jesus
were to cross the border . . . they would arrest him. They would
take him to many courts and accuse him of being unconstitutional
and subversive, a revolutionary, a foreign Jew, a concocter of
strange and bizarre ideas contrary to democracy, that is to say,
against the minority. They would crucify him again, because they
prefer a Christ of the sacristy or the cemetery, a silent Christ
with a muzzle on his mouth, a Christ made to our image and according
to our selfish interests.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
"Somoza may be a son-of-a-bitch,
but he's our son-of-a-bitch."
During Somoza's presidency, the Somoza family alone owned 8,260
square miles, or more than 5 million acres, an area approximately
the size of El Salvador. (The Somozas controlled an equally disproportionate
share of the country's industry; they owned Nicaragua's twenty-six
A rural teacher in Nicaragua in the 1970s, whose school had been
closed by the National Guard
"Teaching people to think is the
worst crime you can commit under the Somoza government."
Ex-President Somoza's father, Anastasio, Sr., who founded the
family dynasty in 1936
"I don't want educated people. I
According to conservative estimates, some thirty thousand Nicaraguans
died in the four decades prior to the 1978-79 civil war for opposing
the government of Anastasio Somoza and his sons Luis and Anastasio
II. Those who survived, including the sons and daughters of the
Nicaraguan aristocracy, were either bought off, forced into exile,
or caught up in the economic vise of the Somoza family, which
dominated Nicaragua's industry, agriculture, and banks.
What nobody wanted to admit was that the United States was directly
responsible for the popularity of the Sandinista guerrillas. Had
it not been for Washington's many years of economic and military
support of the Somozas, it is unlikely that conditions in Nicaragua
would have reached the point where conservative businessmen were
willing to treat with guerrillas. Or as Ernesto Cardenal put it:
"Fortunately for us, the United States has never learned
the lesson that in supporting cruel and corrupt dictatorships,
it only radicalizes the population, causing the very thing it
does not want-socialist governments."
"Fortunately for us, the United States
has never learned the lesson that in supporting cruel and corrupt
dictatorships, it only radicalizes the population, causing the
very thing it does not want-socialist governments."
Washington continued to prop up the [Nicaraguan] dictatorship
with loans. The Pentagon created, trained, and armed the National
Guard, and nearly all Guard officers spent their last year of
training in U.S. schools in the Panama Canal Zone.
During the 1960s and '70s, the Somoza family regularly cried wolf
at congressional aid hearings, falsely claiming that ... assistance
was needed to fight off a Castro-financed guerrilla invasion.
Although there were periodic flare-ups, just as there had been
in the thirties, forties, and fifties, guerrilla forces never
seriously threatened the government, and even as late as 1976
the Sandinista guerrillas numbered no more than fifty militants.
The money, the training, and the arms received from the United
States were used for something quite different: to repress the
poor people in the slums and rural areas by imprisonment, torture,
... neither communism nor Fidel Castro had anything to do with
the [Sandinista] guerrillas' success. It was Somoza's own doing
with the loyal help of the United States.
... in Washington money and influence count more than proof of
corruption and repression. No one should be surprised to learn,
then, that the Nicaraguan word for a Somoza bootlicker is "gringo."
Honduran Lieutenant Colonel Mario Maldonado
"Agrarian reform is not communist.
It is opposed simply because it affects the traditional privileges
of the few wealthy people."
The more industrially advanced the country, the more sophisticated
the form of torture and death: in Ecuador, a horse bridle, in
Honduras, a bread oven; in Brazil, computerized terror, truth
serum, and electric shock. So systematized is torture that it
has become a way of life in many Latin-American countries.
The sickness that has engulfed Latin America, that endorses torture
and assassination as Y routine in most of these countries, was
to a significant extent bred in the boardrooms and military institutes
of the United-States.
... the Pentagon's courses for Latin-American military officers
were instrumental in formulating the Doctrine of National Security,
and it was this doctrine that gave rise to totalitarianism in
eleven Latin-American countries.
Reported RAND [Corporation]
"United States preconceptions about
the seriousness of the Communist threat and about the subsequent
need for counterinsurgency and civic action for the Latin-American
military are producing undesired results. Paradoxically, U.S.
policies appear simultaneously to encourage authoritarian regimes
and to antagonize the military who lead them." (Luigi R.
Einaudi, Richard L. Maullin, and Alfred C. Stephan III, "Latin-American
Security Issues" [Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation,
Apr. 1969], p. v.)]
United Brands' [had a] long history of corruption of Central American
governments. United Brands did not itself put the peasants in
the Honduran bread oven, but it helped create the political conditions
necessary for such atrocities.
A United Fruit (Brands) manager wrote
a company lawyer about Honduras
"We must produce a disembowelment of the incipient economy
of the country in order to increase and help our aims. We have
to prolong its tragic, tormented, and revolutionary life; the
wind must blow only on our sails and the water must only wet our
keel." (Richard J. Barnet and Ronald E. Muller, Global Reach
[New York: Simon and Schuster, 1974], p. 87.)
Certain ideals, such as freedom and respect for the individual's
rights, form part of the United States' heritage, but how is anyone
to respect that heritage when Americans say one thing at home
and do another in the poorer countries?
Archbishop Peter L. Gerety, of Newark, New Jersey.
"In the face of the facts, it must
be said that our recent performance has been high on rhetoric
but poor in real terms. Whether the case cited is the Soviet Union,
Korea, Chile, South Africa or Rhodesia, the actual influence of
human-rights considerations in U.S. policy-making does not appear
to be substantial or sustained."
Ever since 1823, when the Monroe Doctrine became the cornerstone
of U.S. policy for Latin America, Washington has befriended dictators.
Washington supported Latin-American dictators who claimed to be
anti-communist, as in the case of General Stroessner in Paraguay.
But the result of this preoccupation with communism was the revival
of another monster: a creole version of European fascism.
A latent force in several of the most
important South-American countries, fascism - particularly Mussolini's
corporate state-had long attracted certain military and civilian
sectors. During the 1930s it was also popular within an influential
wing of the Catholic Church because of its virulent anti-communism
and emphasis on "God, Fatherland, and Family." Called
"integralism" in South America, this creole brand of
European fascism made its greatest impact on Argentina, although
the Brazilian populist dictator Getulio Vargas (president 1930-45,
1951-S4) also flirted with integralism, especially after 1937,
when he seized total power and established his Estado Novo. Chile
and Paraguay were also influenced by fascism.
Based on a rigid hierarchical society
in which people are departmentalized according to social class
and productive function, the integralist corporate state was well
suited to Latin America's older feudal order and also accommodated
economic and political changes brought about by industrialization.
While all sectors of society theoretically have equal political
representation in a corporate state, integralism as it evolved
in Latin America essentially meant that the military, large landowners,
and industrialists tightened their control over the government
and the economy.
The feudal aspects of integralism particularly appealed to these
men, who were convinced that God had ordained an obedient, hierarchical
society in which everyone knew his place. It was natural that
they should think so, for many of these values, particularly obedience
and loyalty to the chain of command, formed part of the military
mentality. Ongania's notion of an elite corps of rulers called
by God to serve and save the nation was totally out of step with
a modern Argentine society searching for more democratic forms
of government, and popular discontent eventually forced the military
to replace him with a less dogmatic ruler. Nevertheless, many
ideas survived and thrived in the right wing of the Argentine
armed forces, particularly among the hard-liners in the Army and
the Navy because these men had been influenced by U.S. counterinsurgency
courses that polarized the world forever between Western capitalism
and Eastern communism.
Like Hitler, Brazil's generals view Catholicism as a useful weapon
to control the masses, but they neither expect nor accept active
participation by the Church in the field of social action or human
rights. As in Argentina, however, the Brazilian branch of TFP
was a useful ally of the military, particularly during the period
leading up to the coup against President Joao Goulart.
Because of Peron's lasting influence, fascism never died in Argentina
and could be revived with little or no outside prompting; in Brazil
it was reborn thanks largely to Brazil's "greatest friend,"
the United States. And today Brazil, not Argentina, calls the
shots in Latin America.
President Eisenhower's Draper Committee, 1959
"There is no single aspect of the
military assistance program that produced more useful returns
for the dollars expended than these training programs," the
committee found, adding that the relations developed with Latin-American
military officers would help instill in them a sense of U.S. priorities
Defense Secretary Robert McNamara explained to a House Appropriations
"Probably the greatest return on
our military-assistance investment comes from the training of
selected officers and key specialists at our military schools
and training centers in the United States and overseas. These
students are hand-picked by their countries to become instructors
when they return , home. They are the coming leaders, the men
who will have \ the know-how and impart it to their forces. I
need not dwell ' upon the value of having in positions of leadership
men who | have firsthand knowledge of how Americans do things
and l how they think. It is beyond price to us to make friends
of such men."
[Admiral] LaRocque's successor, Air Force General Kermit C. Kaericher
told President Stroessner that he had
"never been to a place where the
people were so poor and looked so happy. (Jeffrey Stein, "Grad
School for Juntas," The Nation [May 21, 1977], pp. 621-24.)]
... the Pentagon's strongest motive for
pushing its idea of nation building was its reliance on the military
as the "guardian of national security" in the ongoing
crusade against communism. Almost all the courses, whether in
ballistics or communications, were, and still are, heavily laden
with pro-United States, anti-communist propaganda that encourages
the Latin Americans to abhor as subversive anything that seems
to run counter to U.S. interests.
Among the subjects taught Brazilian officers in U.S. military
courses, according to information supplied to a U. S. Senate Committee,
were the following:
... censorship, checkpoint systems, chemical
and biological operations, briefings on the CIA, civic action
and civil affairs, clandestine operations, counter-guerrilla operations,
cryptography, defoliation, dissent in the United States, electronic
intelligence, electronic warfare and countermeasures, the use
of informants, insurgency, intelligence, counterintelligence,
subversion, counter-subversion, espionage, counterespionage, interrogation
of prisoners and suspects, handling mass rallies and meetings,
nuclear weapons effects, intelligence photography, polygraphs,
populace and resources control, psychological operations, raids
and searches, riots, special warfare, surveillance, terror, and
Belgian theologian Jose Comlin
"Not merely do [the Latin-American
elites] reject the genuine origins of their nations - African,
Indian, and Iberian - but they regret that they themselves are
not French, English or North American: this is alienation of a
kind to be found nowhere else.''
80 percent of the officers who carried out the 1964 coup against
President Goulart [Brazil] had been trained by the United States.
[Henry] Kissinger in Brazil in 1976 during the inhumane dictatorship
of Castelo Branco, who the US helped put in power in 1964 with
the coup against democratically elected Goulart
" ... there are no two peoples whose
concern for human dignity and for the basic values of man is more
pronounced in the day-to-day lives of their people than Brazil
and the United States."
U.S. ambassador to Brazil, William M Roundtree
"The dedication of the Brazilian
leaders, with the support of the Brazilian people, to this program
of progress, is really very impressive. Their progress is being
made under a free enterprise system that I think serves as a very
good example to others who might be considering other forms of
economic systems for the achievement of their objectives."
The development promoted by such foreign aid programs as the Alliance
for Progress was as much a farce as the periodic elections staged
by the Brazilian military. The rich local elites refused to accept
change, and Washington was unwilling to do anything that might
adversely affect U.S. corporate interests.
The executive branch is not only responsible for enforcing the
institutional acts; it also has the power to ensure that the Brazilian
people "think correctly" in Orwellian fashion. Under
the Moral and Civic Education Program created in 1969, for example,
all schoolchildren spend two hours a week studying courses designed
to "promote a regard for obedience to law, fealty to work,
adjustment to the community, and the responsibility of every Brazilian
for national security." Children are encouraged to "denounce
enemies of the fatherland," with specific instruction on
how to identify and report such traitors, including their parents.
Religion's importance is instilled, in a step-by-step progression,
from a correct "scale of values" to the legitimization
of the military government and its "present development effort"
and "Brazil's membership in the Western bloc." Any teacher
who refuses to sign a written agreement to support the goals of
this indoctrination program can be barred from teaching.
In that repressive a society, atrocities proliferate. The "dragon
chair," for example, is a device invented in the Rio military
police barracks whereby the prisoner receives electric shocks
while a dentist's drill shatters his or her teeth; after which,
if the prisoner is a man, he is held upside down while his testicles
are crushed. Parents are tortured in front of their children,
or vice versa, as in the case of a three-month-old baby who was
tortured to death by police in Sao Paulo's notorious Tiradentes
Prison. After a while, reported U.S. Methodist missionary Fred
Morris, who himself was tortured for seventeen days at Recife
in northeastern Brazil, such horrors become routine. "These
people had a nine-to-five job, except that their job was to torture
for a living." (Chilean prisoners described a similar attitude,
their inquisitors calling for a prisoner with the phrase "It's
time to go to work.") According to one European psychiatrist,
Brazil's hierarchical, authoritarian order is eminently suited
to attract the type of mentality that can be developed into an
efficient torturer, one who seeks and accepts authority and obeys
orders without question, who is fanatically patriotic and self-righteous
but unbalanced and vindictive toward anyone who does not share
After reading case after nauseating case of the atrocities committed
in the name of national security, and after recognizing the United
States' involvement in the creation of military, police, and paramilitary
agencies responsible for these horrors in El Salvador, Honduras,
Guatemala, Brazil, Chile, Bolivia-seventeen Latin-American countries
in all-one comes to the conclusion either that the Americans who
helped to establish and run these military and police training
programs were deranged or that they never considered the predictable
results of their work-possibly didn't want to consider them. For
any normal person, the idea of torturing a three-month-old baby
to death or putting a human being through the torments of the
"dragon chair" is so appalling that it does not bear
All the Latin-American Presidents overthrown with U.S. help in
recent years represented constituted governments: Arbenz in Guatemala
(1954), Goulart in Brazil (1964), Allende in Chile (1973). It
mattered not whether the perceived threat was a democratically
elected government or a guerrilla group; it was a dangerous precedent
to be eliminated by military force. As General Maxwell Taylor
told Third World police graduates of AlD's International Police
Academy in Washington:
The outstanding lesson of the Indochina
conflict] is that we should never let another Vietnam-type situation
arise again. We were too late in recognizing the extent of the
subversive threat. We appreciate now that every young, emerging
country must be constantly on the alert, watching for those symptoms
which, if allowed to develop unrestrained, may eventually grow
into a disastrous situation such as that in South Vietnam. We
have learned the need for a strong police force and a strong police
intelligence organization to assist in identifying early the symptoms
of an incipient subversive situation.
Because it was beyond the capacity of the Pentagon's counterinsurgency
strategists to grasp the real causes of popular discontent in
Latin America-and because Washington would not have sanctioned
meaningful social change if they had-every potential disturbance
had to be met with military and police tactics.
... for every peasant shot by guerrillas, at least fifteen were
killed by U.S.-supported government forces [in Latin America].
I. F. Stone
"In reading the military literature
on guerrilla warfare now so fashionable at the Pentagon, one feels
that these writers are like men watching a dance from outside
through heavy plate glass windows. They see the motions but they
can't hear the music. They put the mechanical gestures down on
paper with pendantic fidelity. But what rarely comes through to
them are the injured racial feelings, the misery, the rankling
slights. So they do not really understand what leads men to abandon
wife, children, home, career, friends, to take to the bush and
live gun in hand like a hunted animal; to challenge overwhelming
military odds rather than acquiesce any longer in humiliation,
injustice, or poverty...."
Any attempt to get at the real historical, sociological, or economic
causes of poverty and injustice in Latin America is judged "subversive."
AID's Matthew Harvey
"I stood there watching the flames
consume the bus. It was, I guess, the moment of truth. What did
a busload of burning people have to do with freedom? What right
did I have, in the name of democracy and the CIA, to decide that
random victims should die?" (As quoted in Victor Marchetti
and John D. Marks, The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence [New York:
Dell Publishing Co., 1974], p. 125.)
As a result of mounting evidence linking the public safety program
to such terror squads, the U. S. Congress voted to phase out the
program in 1974. Military grants to purchase arms met a similar
fate, but the training programs were continued. By this time,
however, there was less need for such assistance, because Brazil
had taken over many of the United States' functions as regional
policeman in training and arming its neighbors.
A Brazilian bishop
"Were it not for the guns, for the
torture, and the terror, Brazil's military regime could not survive.
And were it not for this regime, foreign corporations could not
continue to make enormous profits at the expense of the people.
The government has all the legal instruments necessary to control
these companies, and so has the United States."
... just as the Defense Department's counterinsurgency courses
became ends in themselves, corporate growth is used to justify
every kind of villainy, including military dictatorship.
Between 1958 and 1970 ... the real wages of Brazilian workers
declined by 64.5 percent. Whatever U.S. taxpayers may have believed,
the Alliance for Progress was an excuse for business to gouge
Uncle Sam as well as the Latin-American treasuries.
Senator Frank Church
"The present foreign aid program
has been turned into a grotesque money tree, sheltering the foreign
investments of our biggest corporations and furnishing aid and
comfort to repressive governments all over the world."
Senator Hubert Humphry
"I have heard . . . that people may
become dependent on us for food. I know that was not supposed
to be good news. To me that was good news, because before people
can do anything they have got to eat. And if you am looking for
a way to get people to lean on you and to be dependent on you,
in terms of their co-operation with you, it seems to me that food
dependence would be terrific."
President Jimmy Carter about US bank loans to the US-supported
Pinochet dictatorship of Chile
"The American business community
... support[s] completely a commitment of our nation to human
3.1 percent of the landowners control 80 percent of the arable
land, and the multinational corporations are establishing ranches
of 500,000 acres and more in the Amazon.
... if a Christian acknowledges a code of moral behavior, it cannot
condone, even by default, the unethical practices of U.S. executives
or government officials in the poorer countries that are most
in need of justice and real charity-not handouts, but an attempt
Vatican's Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, in a letter
of support to the Church for its opposition to the [Chilean] military
regime's ruthless free-market economic policies.
"We are not denying the legitimate
right to property. But it must be clearly understood that property
rights are subject to the needs of the community and that it is
not possible to accept a society divided between a selfish, privileged
minority and a mass of people deprived of life's essentials."
During the cold war, U.S. missionaries routinely collaborated
with the CIA
John D. Marks, a former State Department intelligence analyst
and co-author of the controversial The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence.
Marks also reported a retired CIA agent as stating:
"Hell, I'd use anybody if it was
to the furtherance of an objective. I've used Buddhist monks,
Catholic priests, and even a Catholic bishop.''
After President Ford announced his approval of illegal U.S. intervention
in the internal affairs of the Latin-American countries, sixteen
officials of Catholic and Protestant mission agencies wrote him:
"Contrary to what you would have
us believe, CIA covert actions in the Third World frequently support
undemocratic governments that trample on the rights of their own
people. We missionaries have felt first-hand the effects of such
interventions, which are certainly not in 'the best interests'
of the majority of the citizens of those countries.... Nor do
such actions, which are prohibited by international law and by
Article 6 of our own Constitution, serve 'our best interests,'
as you stated. Gangster methods undermine world order and promote
widespread hatred of the United States."
New World Outlook, published by agencies of the United Methodist
and United Presbyterian churches
"... it is our money and our government
that pay for the regimes that do the killing."
... the Chilean branch of a right-wing Catholic movement known
as Tradition, Family, and Property (TFP). Founded in the early
1960s by the Brazilian philosopher Plinio Correa de Oliveira,
TFP has followers in most Latin American countries, including
Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and l Brazil. While akin in some respects
to twentieth-century fascism, particularly to Mussolini's corporate
state, TFP is really a throwback to eighteenth-century Europe,
as yet untouched by the French Revolution, when the Catholic Church
defended aristocratic privilege as a divine right. Indeed, TFP's
insignia is a medieval lion. Most of its members are from the
wealthy, propertied classes and yearn for an earlier time when
the Latin-American Church upheld the right of a few patrones to
rule a mass of peons.
TFP's first commandment is the utter sanctity
of private property, and in countries with progressive bishops,
such as Chile and Brazil, this has forced it into repeated clashes
with the hierarchy on the issue of agrarian reform.
In Chile and Brazil the evidence points to both financial and
political links between TFP and the CIA in plotting the overthrow
of the Allende and Goulart governments.
The "institutionalization" of violence in Brazil was
rationalized by both Washington and corporate industry as an unpleasant
but necessary corollary of development, the theory being that
only a strong government could drag Brazil into the twentieth
century. As long as Brazil's gross national product could show
a reasonable growth, and as long as the regime's representatives
spoke piously about human rights and democracy in international
forums, the rest of the world would look the other way.
Not so with Argentina. Unlike Brazil,
whose dictatorship was dressed up with military doctrines and
economic miracles, Argentina in the late 1970s was a land of sheer,
open terror. Nothing in Latin America, not even Pinochet's Chile,
could equal the levels of violence that followed the military
coup of March 1976. Indeed, the only regime to create a state
of fear approximating that m Argentina was Hitler's Germany.
Argentine general 1970s
"No one can be neutral or ambivalent.
Some will succumb for being indifferent. Others will be shot as
General Benjamin Menendez, commander of the Army III Corps in
Cordoba and its notorious concentration camps:
"While [President] Videla governs,
Jesuit magazine Mensaje
"Anyone who was not a trusted ally,
anyone who did not have a 'good-conduct pass,' was suspect as
an undercover agent who somehow was or might be in league with
the enemy, and who therefore had to be destroyed or neutralized.''
Comment of one CIA agent
"If you think the Brazilian police's
torture methods are bad, you should see what goes on in Argentine
Unlike Brazil or Argentina ... the Mexican Government did not
have to institute a reign of terror to support its development
model. The people's apathy and fatalism, the lack of national
leaders, and the enduring magic of the Mexican Revolution combined
to give the country a veneer of social stability and democracy.
Brazilian government official
"There are one hundred million of
us Brazilians. Fifty million are no more than poor, ignorant slobs
whom the other fifty million must civilize. And even of those
others, forty million are incapable of civilizing anyone. That
leaves an elite of ten million whose job-and right-is to rule
the other ninety million.''
C. Ellis Nelson of the Union Theological Seminary
"Liberation theology is new in our
time because its object is the transformation of society rather
than purifying-and forming the faith for the Church. This stance
makes a radical difference in how the Church is understood. The
Church is not a colony of heaven; it is not a neutral institution
in society. The Church is part of society, and if it does not
speak against social injustice, it silently supports the oppressors.
The task of liberation theology is to analyze and criticize the
role of the Church in order to help the Church use its institutional
power to change society.
Dom Helder Camara
"We have no objection to private
property, provided that each person can own it."
.. by the end of the century more than half the world's Catholics
will live in Latin America, and by far the largest number will
be in Brazil, which also has the continent's most progressive
El Paso's Bishop Flores
"Some say the system is not perfect,
but that it is the best ever devised by man. Well, it is not perfect.
Man must do better, or the large corporation, managed by men shielded
from public control, will otherwise be the imperialism of the
El Paso's Bishop Flores
"Examples like this abound throughout
the United States. Education in the West has become a handmaiden
of corporate production, of a bourgeois society, of a society
bent on acquisition. Western education imprisons the affluent
in a psychology of acquisitiveness and exclusivity of moral vision,
and at the same time perpetuates the dominance of the affluent
over the poor."
of the People