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  • Writer's pictureFred Guerin

Operation Condor for a New Century

Updated: May 31, 2020

After wreaking as much havoc as humanly possible in Afganistan and the Middle-East, America is back talking regime change in what remains of the left in Central and South America.

Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Bolivia--just a few of the countries that the US has done violence to in the past because the latter were not compliant enough to American corporate interests and acted instead topreserve their sovereignty and lift citizens out of poverty.

So, who is the next target of the American neoliberal right? Nicaragua. Nicaragua has been branded a threat to US national security--i.e. they are one of the few remaining socially progressive countries in Central and South America.

After successive right-wing governments from 1990 to 2007 it became clear that Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega believed he could both institute a number mild reforms to the country’s social security programs while wooing the powerful and moneyed interests of the ruling class and the IMF. He is the last person one would consider a genuine threat to the US, even if he did maintain good relations with Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia. Then again, there is a history to consider.

Let's begin with 'Operation Condor'(1975-7), the Cold War-era campaign to violently overthrow socially progressive regimes and install right-wing dictatorships in Central and South America. Back in those days the US-backed campaign of political repression and state terror involved funding and training military regimes in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile and Argentina to round up thousands of people suspected of having affiliations with leftist movements and put them in concentration camps and secret detention centers. Many were "disappeared"--tortured, interrogated, executed and secretly buried.

Back in 1979, the Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua overthrew the US-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. (Samoza's father was the guy that Franklin Roosevelt famously described as "a son-of-a-bitch, but...our son-of-a-bitch.”) The Somoza dictatorship was overthrown by the left Sandinistas in July 1979. Enter Ronald Reagan and the funding of right-wing rebel groups (contras) to take down the Sandinista government. The contras, notorious for killing thousands of civilians, for human rights violations and terrorist tactics were dubbed by Reagan 'Freedom Fighters'.

They would go on to murder thousands in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador. After the revolution that overthrew Samoza, Ortega began funding education and health care, increased literacy and reduced child mortality rates. Socialism! That was enough--the US has been covertly organizing opposition groups in Nicaragua against Daniel Ortega for years.

A day after the US-backed far-right coup in Bolivia, Trump released a statement applauding the military and in effect announcing that Venezuela and Nicaragua would be next. "The days of socialism and communism are numbered not only in Venezuela but in Nicaragua and in Cuba as well", Trump said. He might also have added Mexico's wildly popular leftist leader Obrador to the American hit-list of undesirables.

The Mexican people elected Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) as president in a landslide victory. When Obrador said that “the neoliberal economic model has been a disaster, a calamity for the public life of the country,” and that "the child of neoliberalism is corruption” you could almost hear Elliot Abrams and the Pentagon's Foreign Policy war hawks raging and screaming for money to begin funding far-right counter-insurgency paramilitary groups.

The first thing Trump did was designate a bad guy--this time it's those Mexican Drug Cartels. Remember them? They were the guys originally trained in counterinsurgency tactics by the US military--and the drug money that came from narcotics smuggling in the U.S. helped to fund right-wing anti-Sandinista mercenaries. But like Saddam Hussein, they've fallen out of favour--no doubt because of the election of a left-wing president.

AMLO's Mexico and Mexican drug cartels represent a 'threat' to US national security. However, Obrador is not being scared off. He remains defiant. In fact, he declared that any sort of coup in Mexico is ridiculous and brazenly speaks positively of other leftist leaders: Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, Argentina’s Alberto Fernández. Then he had the outright audacity to invite Cuban President Díaz-Canel to visit.

As you might guess, for Trump and American neo-liberals, this sort of talk is simply not to be tolerated. So...

Get ready for more violence in Central and South America...and, God forbid, Mexico.

A new and improved Operation Condor is coming.

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