Subvertng Brazil and Cuba

When declassified documents appear and show how Washington overthrew elected governments in Iran, Guatemala, Brazil, Chile etc… the media and government officials act as if this material relates only to unfortunate errors of the Cold War. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have a major media source simply admit: “hey, we’re the world’s biggest empire; we offer the world our version of democracy and freedom and if rogue nations reject it, we’ll shove up it up their…”

Documents emerging from the national security classification cellar show the US helping to overthrow the elected Brazilian government of Joao Goulart in 1964 and supporting a military dictatorship in its place. Since Goulart’s nationalistic economic policies lacked US approval, U.S. ambassador Lincoln Gordon sent top secret cables to national security heavies in Washington pleading for “a clandestine delivery of arms” for military coup plotters.

On March 29, 1964, Ambassador Gordon recommended secretly “pre-positioning” the armaments to be used by “friendly military.” President Johnson had authorized CIA covert operations to support anti-Goulart military and political forces.

This new material also contains an audio tape of President Johnson receiving a Brazil briefing by phone at his Texas ranch, as general and admirals mobilized against Brazil’s elected government. “I’d put everybody that had any imagination or ingenuity…[CIA Director John] McCone…[Secretary of Defense Robert] McNamara” on ensuring the coup’s success, Johnson instructs undersecretary of State George Ball. “We just can’t take this one,” Johnson says. “I’d get right on top of it and stick my neck out a little.”

Shocking? The nation of democracy and freedom, the place where revolution received its first justification – “when in the course of human events” – also became the bastion of counterrevolution, the exporter of dictatorship, the grand interventionist in the affairs of less powerful nations whose leaders refuse to abide by US dictates. Few nations have borne as much US wrath over their insubordination as Cuba. Indeed, the island has become a perpetual target.

On March 31, with the false claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction still fresh in the public mind, John Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, offered Congress 35 pages of written testimony that Cuba “remains a terrorist and [biological weapons] threat to the United States.”

Bolton didn’t even use discredited exile sources – like those who fed false information to the Administration on Iraq – to support his contention. Acting without fear of replicating the baseless WMD charges that became the casus belli for Bush’s war against Iraq, Bolton asserted in his fact-free belief that “the case for the existence of a developmental Cuba [biological weapons research and development] effort is strong.”

Bolton first made these charges on May 2002, but almost two years later he has still not gathered a fact to support them.

The Cuban government denied the accusation and invited US scientists to inspect the labs to which Bolton referred. Just as Bolton’s boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell, has made public his unhappiness with the shoddy intelligence delivered to him on Iraq, Bolton uses imprudent charges that could become the basis for war with Cuba.

One of Powell’s more prudent subordinates, Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research Carl Ford, told Congress on June 5, 2002 that the US had no evidence of a full-fledged biological weapons “program.” He did say that the administration was “worried” about Havana’s capabilities.

Cuba’s biotech industry produces medicines and vaccines, as the world knows, and therefore theoretically has the ability to create weapons as well. But Fidel Castro knows that such a move would amount to suicide and he has shown no tendency to self destruct during his 45 year rule.

I detect evidence, however, that Cuba may have employed some of its sophisticated biological weapons here in the United States. Observe the strange behavior of Lincoln Diaz Balart, (R-FL) – called “Low IQ Lincoln” by some of his colleagues. In March, Diaz Balart called on the President to assassinate Fidel Castro. Sources in the national security apparatus said they had not carried out any tests on Diaz-Balart’s cerebral cortex to determine whether he might have succumbed to some sophisticated bio-brain vapor that Cuban covert operatives had managed to slip into his breakfast cereal. His colleagues found it otherwise difficult to explain how a Member of Congress could otherwise be so oblivious to the law and to the implications of advocating such actions.

That neither the media nor Congress responded in shock to Diaz Balart’s remarks, or Bolton’s unfounded charges, attests to the state of imperial denial under Emperor Bush. On the one hand, the national security apparatus has again insinuated assassination into the foreign policy play book, thanks not only to Israel’s example of blatantly targeting Palestinians, but also because of the mystification process that has obscured the nature of the “terrorist enemy.”

Indeed, Bush’s rival, John Kerry, has not decried the policy and has tried to show he would act even more aggressively against Castro.

The problem is that people, like Iraqis, resist conquest and occupation. Does denying the existence of empire naturally lead imperial rulers to practice denial?

SAUL LANDAU’s new film, SYRIA: BETWEEN IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE is distributed by Cinema Guild (800-723-5522). His new book is THE PRE-EMPTIVE EPIRE: A GUIDE TO BUSH’S KINGDOM. He teaches at Cal Poly Pomona University and is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.

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SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

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