The Atlas Network Against Latin America

The Latin American Freedom Forum, took place in 2017 in Buenos Aires with the participation of President Mauricio Macri and Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa. It discussed a strategy to defeat socialism at all levels, with tactics ranging from camp battles on university campuses to nationwide mobilization to force the removal of a constitutional government as occurred in Brazil shortly thereafter.

The pseudo-academic capitalist offensive was initiated by the capitalist international, an extreme right-wing libertarian movement operating as a conglomerate of centers and societies united by almost undetectable threads, in which the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, or Atlas Network, stands out.

Several of the leaders linked to the Atlas Network are ministers of the conservative Argentine government, ultra-right-wing senators from Bolivia and leaders of the Movimento Brasil Livre (MBL) who helped overthrow constitutional president Dilma Rousseff, and who have recently gained notoriety for their predatory actions.

The network functions as a tacit extension of Washington’s foreign policy. The think tanks associated with Atlas are funded by the State Department and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). They are a crucial arm of the U.S. soft-power strategy sponsored by the powerful ultraconservative multi-millionaires Koch brothers: Charles and David.

The NED and the State Department have public entities that function as centers of operation and deployment of lines and funds such as the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), Freedom House and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). They are the main actors that distribute directives and resources in exchange for concrete results in the asymmetric war against the peoples of Latin America.

The Atlas Network comprises 450 foundations, NGOs and think tanks with an operating budget of some US $5 million, contributed by their associated “non-profit charitable foundations”. It has served to support, among others, the MBL in Brazil and organizations that participated in the offensive against Argentina. Among these are the Crecer y Pensar foundation, an Atlas think tank that joined the Republican Proposal Party (PRO) created by Mauricio Macri, as well as opposition forces in Venezuela and Sebastián Piñera, a right-wing candidate in the Chilean presidential elections.

Atlas has 13 affiliates in Brazil, 12 in Argentina, 8 in Chile and Peru, 5 in Mexico and Costa Rica, 4 in Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia and Guatemala, 2 in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador and El Salvador, and 1 in Colombia, Panama, Bahamas, Jamaica and Honduras.

The MBL and the Eléutera Foundation (a formation of neoliberal experts that was very influential in Honduras after the coup) received payments from Atlas and are part of the new generation of political actors trained in the United States.

The “new” extreme right is the libertarian movement that has now been assimilated into the US Republican Party. It bases its actions on a deliberate strategy of misinforming the masses and imposing its plutocratic policies. It has in the Atlas Network its main propellant in Latin America.

A key promoter of this movement is the multimillionaire Charles G. Koch (one of the two famous brothers who adopted the thesis of James McGill Buchanan, an economist from the University of Chicago and Nobel Prize winner. It was designed to disarm the state with an operational strategy in defense of “sacrosanct private property rights” with the slogan: “for capitalism to thrive, democracy must be put in chains”.

Koch funds some 15 major organizations, plus 60 from the U.S. Policy Network (SPN).

The International Private Enterprise (CIPE), a foundation affiliated with the NED, was created by the U.S. government to advance Washington’s foreign policy objectives. It funds political organizations in the Third World and was established by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the largest lobbying organization in the country. 96% of its funding comes from the State Department and USAID.

CIPE plays a key role in funding the Atlas network and is the main force in its ongoing strengthening. Since 1991, the Atlas Network has been run by Alejandro Chaufen, an Argentinean apologist for the then bloody Argentine dictatorship.

With data from Aram Aharonian and Álvaro Verzi Rangel, Co-Directors of the Observatory on Communication and Democracy (OCD) and the Latin American Centre for Strategic Analysis (CLAE).

This article originally appeared in Spanish in the newspaper POR ESTO.

A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.

Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.