The Little Golden Book of American Regime Changes


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EXCITED ABOUT YOUR FIRST REGIME CHANGE?

Let’s begin with Chile

Jon Jeter / Mint Press News

On September 11,1973, General Augusto Pinochet’s troops stormed Chile’s presidential palace. Organized by Henry Kissinger and the CIA, the coup targeted Chile’s popular socialist President Salvador Allende, who the Nixon administration feared was another Fidel Castro in-the-making. As the attack unfolded, workers in the basement of a Santiago publishing house shop were hard at work printing what was to be the military junta’s 500-page economic plan.

Villa Grimaldi: Chiles memorial to victims of torture

CHILE’S FACES OF TORTURE: Over 30,000 people were tortured by the CIA- sponsored Pinochet regime. (Villa Grimaldi Memorial)

 

Believing himself to be a messianic figure, Pinochet put his faith in a coterie of young Chilean advisers who had trained under Milton Friedman at the University of Chicago’s School of Economics, the academic vanguard of neo-classical economics. With his bloody crackdown on dissidents, artists, college students and union leaders, Pinochet’s repressive regime censored the press, banned labor unions and political opposition parties, murdered an estimated 5,000 leftists, tortured another 30,000 and handed the “Chicago Boys” – as they came to be known – a blank check to remake Allende’s nationalized economy, and return the country at South America’s southwestern edge into the Empire’s orbit.

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Nearly 15 years before economists coined the phrase “Washington consensus,” and a decade before Reagan’s trickle-down policies began dismantling the New Deal in the U.S., Chile was the guinea pig for anti-Keynesian macroeconomic policies designed to fatten corporations’ share of global wealth. Pinochet slashed duties on imports, from an average tariff rate of 94 percent in 1973 to 10 percent by 1979. He privatized all but two dozen of Chile’s 300 state-owned banks, as well as utilities and entitlements such as social security. By 1979, he had cut public spending almost in half and public investment by nearly 14 percent. He lowered taxes, restricted union activities and returned more than a third of the land seized under Allende’s land-reform program.

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Pinochet’s reforms worked like a fast-acting virus. A recession in 1975 caused Chile’s economy to shrink by 13 percent, its greatest decline since the Great Depression. The recovery that followed was fueled largely by foreign cash, which poured into the country as investors gobbled up utilities and stashed money in Chile’s currency markets. The prices of imports fell sharply; between 1975 and 1982 the number of foreign cars sold in Chile tripled. Domestic manufacturing shriveled by 30 percent. Domestic savings plummeted. Wages fell, and the income gap between rich and poor widened by a factor of 50.Monetary policy was liberalized on two important fronts. First, Pinochet allowed “hot money” — speculation on the currency market — to flow in and out of the country without obstacle. And in 1979 he fixed the exchange rate for Chile’s peso, requiring the central bank to keep $1 in reserve for every 39 pesos printed. This kept the bank from merely printing money to pay bills and curbed an inflation rate that had soared to nearly 400 percent annually under Allende.

By 1982, Chile had accumulated $16 billion in foreign debt — nearly $42 billion in today’s dollars — and foreign investment represented a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product. The money flowing into the country flowed out just as easily, to pay debts and bills for imported goods and through capital flight as investors soured on Chile’s currency market. The economy had overheated and was now in a meltdown.

With a third of the workforce unemployed and unrest growing, by 1984 Pinochet began to “reform the reforms,” the Chilean economist Ricardo Ffrench-Davis said in a 2003 interview.

Pinochet allowed the peso to float and reinstated restrictions on the movement of capital in and out of the country. He introduced banking legislation, and ratcheted up spending on research and development efforts through quasi-governmental institutions and other collaborations between the public and private sectors — creating, as one example, the billion-dollar salmon farming industry out of whole cloth.

 

 Penitenceria prison in Santiago

 

Still, Chile’s economic woes persisted. By 1989, real wages had declined by 40 percent from 1973, and the percentage of the population living in poverty had doubled to 40 percent. The number of Chileans without adequate housing had also climbed to 40 percent, up 13 percentage points from Allende’s final year in office. The country’s poor consumed 1,629 calories per-day-on average, compared to 2,019 in 1973.

Ill-fed, and ill-housed, Chileans began to refer to the cadre of advisers not as the Chicago Boys but as Si, Cago; Voy — which translates to “Yes, I shit; I go.”

FILE- A man lights a candle at the National Stadium, that served as a detention center in the early years of the military dictatorship, during a vigil marking the 42nd anniversary of the military coup that ousted the late President Salvador Allende, in Santiago, Chile.
 A man lights a candle at the National Stadium, that served as a detention center in the early years of the military dictatorship, during a vigil marking the 42nd anniversary of the military coupA plebiscite in 1989 ended Pinochet’s rule and Chileans gradually began to reorganize their economy. Since 1990, it has consistently been Latin America’s strongest performer. But in its violent, fascist crackdown on the left and its fealty to Wall Street bankers, Chile under Pinochet presaged the entirety of the United States’ global class war against workers — in Argentina and Zambia; Flint and Venezuela; Philadelphia to Greece; Haiti, Iraq, Ukraine, Honduras; Russia in its post-Cold war transitional period, and South Africa after the collapse of apartheid.

POLITICS Pinochet protest /Lords Stock Photo

The two 9/11s twenty-eight years apart bracket the United States’ descent into madness. Much like the vintner’s abolition of the dop, the downing of the Twin Towers should’ve triggered some soul-searching in the United States, and an examination of our accumulation of stuff through the dispossession of other human beings. As we mourn the losses on that Indian-summer day in 2001, what we need to contemplate is redemption, not revenge — and how we might begin to rejoin a human community that we’ve wronged, again and again and again.

Image result for Pinochet regime prisonsFamilies and supporters of victims of the Pinochet regime demonstrate in Santiago in remembrance

God Bless America. . and everyone else too.

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NOTE: The introductory paragraphs of this article by Mint Press News writer Jon Jeter were omitted for length, and all photos/caps were added. To see the original post, as well as links to Jon Jeter’s impressive body of work, click on his name at the top of the screen.

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VIENTOS DE PUEBLO (WINDS OF THE PEOPLE)  Victor Jara

Once more, they want to stain my country with workers’ blood.

I want to live now with my child and my friend, to go together toward the springtime we’re building each day.

You masters of misery can’t scare me with your threats;

The star of hope continues to be ours!

Winds of the people bear me, carry me, blow through

my throat so that I can go on singing even when death takes me,

down the roads of the people.

EXCERPT 

 

EXCLUSIVE FROM CUBA !

 

22 photos géniales qui nous ont fortement impressionnés

Enterprising Cubans are training replacements  ( pictured above) to serve on the nation’s local chapters of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution.  Government complaints that the new comrades are overly conscientious have been greeted with national hilarity.   President Raul Castro recently announced that he is sending the one hundred top new Defenders to the U.S in a historic gesture of goodwill to Cuba’s thousands of Miami Relatives. Miami has reportedly asked the CIA how many small planes and automatic weapons it will trade in exchange for 100 highly trained communists.

The Cuban public was not impressed.

“Big deal,” said  several of the  23 doctors who happened to stroll by during Electrica’s fifteen minute  man-in-the-street interview in downtown Havana. “Cuba is full of highly trained communists. ”

The remaining 20 physicians either snorted or laughed, as did the 47 world class musicians,  32 internationally famous dancers, 12 poets, 83 artists, seven engineers, 15 craftsmen, six cigar makers,  several rum experts, ten winning Olympic athletes and a small crowd of laughing Rastafarians.

Also, an old man selling bananas illegally from a wheelbarrow

“We know there will be changes in Cuba’s future “, pronounced a popular and handsome orchestra leader, who sat on the front steps of a crumbling old mansion divided into fourteen tiny apartments.  He laughed loudly and added, ” But anyone who shows up from Miami whining about getting his grandfather’s land  back will be immediately shipped to North Korea.”

Leonardo Oña / Havana Times

 

Havana Times photo

Meanwhile,  Raul has strictly prohibited all canine members of the Committee  for the Defense of the Revolution from sniffing any Party member in public.

“It’s times like this that the president  misses his brother most,” confided Venezuelan leader Nicholas Madura, as he arrived in Havana to lend his support to Raul. The Cuban president greeted  the former bus driver abrubtly, as Madero  stumbled over several of the CIA agents who had been underfoot throughout Venezuela for at least six or seven years.  Castro aimed a swift, well-placed kick at a senior agent as he stamped out of Jose Marti airport, followed by his presidential comrade, who had faced down  American intelligence to be democratically elected.   Castro had just snubbed Vladimir Putin’s offer to poison six rude Cuban bloggers and was in no mood for Russian or American mobsters, frivolous dissent, or ambitious dogs , regardless of breed.  Well, as Fidel had famously said, a revolution is no bed of roses.

Castro stopped, turned to face a crowd of Granma reporters and addressed the nation.

“Be  like  Che!”   he ordered, “Now, sit!”

Hundreds of good dogs immediately sat.

No further word from Havana at press time.

 

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Thank-you to Paul Siemering for sending me the great photo of the Committee in Defense of the Revolution that appears at the top of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I go to Cuba now? Now? Okay, now?

 

What about tomorrow? May I go to Cuba tomorrow?  What time tomorrow?

? Manana? Sabado? Lunes?

 

Mieracoles!!

!Berta Caceres Vive!

“ In our worldview, we are beings who come from the Earth, from the water, and from corn. The Lenca people are ancestral guardians of the rivers, in turn protected by the spirits of young girls, who teach us that giving our lives in various ways for the protection of the rivers is giving our lives for the well-being of humanity and of this planet… Let us wake up! We’re out of time. WE must shake our conscience free of the rapacious capitalism, racism and patriarchy that will only assure our own self-destruction. Our Mother Earth – militarized, fenced-in, poisoned, a place where basic rights are systematically violated – demands that we take action.” 

Berta Caceres

 

Berta funereal

Berta Cáceres, a prominent leader in the Indigenous movement in Honduras against one of Central America’s largest hydropower projects, four enormous dams known as “Agua Zarca” in the Gualcarque river basin, was murdered in her sleep last week.

Gunmen burst through her door and shot her to death in an internationally-recognized political assassination.

 

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The Indigenous group Cáceres founded, Civil Council for Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), has so far been successful in preventing the project from moving forward.

Throughout Honduras,  deep grief and outrage have driven thousands to the streets, and numerous nations have called upon the Honduran government and the United States for justice.

Hondurans vow that Berta’s death will not be in vain.

!Que nuestros corazones ser lo más valerosa como el suyo! Nunca le olvidaremos, Berta!

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“After the military /U.S./CIA/ coup, Berta Caceres knew they could kill her at any time- and would. Nobody would have blamed her if she went into exile – but nobody then, or now can 
imagine Berta leaving a fight, and she dug in her heels and stayed and fought for her people and justice and the planet.”
 
 
Paul Seimering

 

WHEN EVERYONE’S A FASCIST, NO ONE’S A FASCIST

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BY CLAIRE O’BRIEN

Social media in recent years has been increasingly punctuated by accusations of “fascist!” and “Nazi!”, hurled back and forth with remarkable recklessness. Considering that we can’t define Republicanism (big R) or “middle-class”, its clear that as a nation, we’ve never had much of a political vocabulary to begin with.

Americans also don’t have a clear sense of history, and this lack becomes frighteningly important the more we toss historically vital connections around as if they are up for grabs. This is particularly true of Russia.

Neither Russia nor the former Soviet Union were/are fascist states, although the USSR came close under Stalin. The USSR’s most historically significant connection to facism is the 50 million lives it lost defending the Eastern Front (by itself) against real fascists during World War Two.

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Above: Real Nazis

The other Allies began planning to betray the Russians well before the victory that would not have possible without them – and every agreement made with the USSR was broken soon after the war’s end.

Trump is not a fascist either. He is an unfettered capitalist, representing an economic system directly responsible for many of the world’s bloodiest, most repressive dictatorships. Let’s not obscure the nature of capitalism by labeling it’s crimes and champions fascist.

Fascism is a specific political ideology with its own history and body of theory. It has maintained itself as such since its development in 1920s Italy, periodically emerging during periods of crisis. Because the current global crisis represents an ideal climate for fascism’s development, it’s crucial that we stop throwing the word around. If every oppressive voice/interest is fascist, the term will lose its meaning – just when the need to recognize real fascism is more acute than it has been since the only real Nazis were defeated in 1945.

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  Mussolini reviewing troops

 

Vowing ‘Merciless Response’ France Bombs Raqqa

A French fighter jet prepares to launch from an airbase in the United Arab Emirates. (Photo: AFP/Getty)

As the French government launches a major retaliatory bombing campaign against the ISIS-held Syrian city of Raqqa, observers warn that President François Hollande is taking a page from the widely discredited playbook of former American President George W. Bush.

“France is at war,” Hollande declared Monday in an address to Parliament, in which he called for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the series of attacks Friday in Paris that killed at least 129 people.

The statement came just hours after France—assisted by the United States—launched its largest-yet bombing campaign against Raqqa, which is home to an estimated 200,000 people. The French Defense Ministry said its aircraft dropped 20 bombs on what it described as military targets. However, the Syrian organization Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, which documents the brutality of ISIS, reported that France has also bombed a soccer stadium, hospital, museum, and government building.

“The French air strikes are targeting a crowded, large city,” said Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, in an interview with Common Dreams. “The fact that ISIS has claimed it as its capital does not change the fact that this is a city of ordinary people. It is hard to imagine that there can be this kind of heavy duty bombing and not have significant casualties and destruction of the city.”

Raqqa residents have already endured bombings by the U.S., Russian, Syrian, and French air forces, as well as the brutality of the Islamic State. Khaled al-Homsi, a Palmyra-based activist and nephew of the Syrian archaeologist Khalid al-Asaad who was beheaded by ISIS in August, turned to social media to call for the protection of civilians.

Hollande’s government has been bombing territories in Iraq since September 2014, and over the past two months has launched a handful of airstrikes in Syria, including a smaller attack in Raqqa on October. But Sunday night’s bombing appears to be France’s most extensive yet since it joined the U.S.-led coalition.

Both U.S. and French officials said that American forces backed Sunday’s attack by helping them identify alleged targets, in what are euphemistically referred to as “strike packages.” Meanwhile, President Barack Obama appears to be encouraging France to take military action, vowing cooperation and calling the Paris massacre an “attack on the civilized world.”

ISIS is claiming responsibility for Friday’s attacks in Paris, as well as for another deadly bombing of a Beirut neighborhood that killed at least 43 people. And in Baghdad on Friday, a suicide bomber killed at least 18 people at a funeral, with no immediate claim of responsibility.

In the wake of the Paris attack, Hollande vowed to be “merciless” in going after those responsible. “What happened last night in Paris, and in Saint Denis by the Stade de France, is an act of war,” he said on Saturday. “France, because it was attacked cowardly, shamelessly, violently, France will be merciless against the barbarians of Daesh.”

However, numerous experts, including Vijay Prashad, a professor of international studies at Trinity College, say this kind of rhetoric—and the escalation it threatens—is incredibly dangerous.

“There is a call to do ‘something’ and there is a need to be ‘strong’—otherwise one will lose electoral support,” Prashad told Common Dreams. “But this something and this strong are clichés—in that, the same action is taken each time, namely bombing runs against some part of the world.”

“We all know that these bombing runs, over the past fifteen years, have not been able to undermine the forces of al-Qaeda and later ISIS, but they have created instability which advantages ISIS, and—because of civilian casualties—given ISIS the kind of propaganda coup it requires to attract new recruits,” Prashad continued.

Bennis agreed, warning: “The French seem to be channeling George W. Bush in how to respond to terrorists, taking the position that this is an act of war, and we will have ‘merciless’ war. But terrorism survives wars.”

Many within French civil society are sounding the alarm, including the social movement organization Attac.

“‘France is at war,’ we are told,” the group declared in a statement released Sunday. “But this is not our war: after the American disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan, the current French interventions in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Mali, Chad, Niger, Central African Republic, contribute to destabilizing these regions and trigger the departure of migrants who face Fortress Europe and whose bodies are washed up on our beaches.”