Mandela’s Death or Other Dramatic Developments…

CIA Thought ANC Leader Would Die in Jail

Prison yard at Robben Island. Mandela’s cell has an open window. Photo: BKP, Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 3.0

Declassified US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents from the 1980s reveal that the Agency expected that Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), future President of South Africa, would die in prison. The CIA hoped that the Ronald Reagan administration (1981-89) would be able to co-opt the African National Congress (ANC), of which Mandela was a leading figure, and nudge the organization closer to elite US interests. In reality, Mandela survived three more decades and went on to lead the country out of its formal Apartheid system. The documents also discuss the inevitability of the end of Apartheid and seek ways to work with black South African politicians to achieve US planners’ foreign policy goals.

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T. J. Coles is director of the Plymouth Institute for Peace Research and the author of several books, including Voices for Peace (with Noam Chomsky and others) and  Fire and Fury: How the US Isolates North Korea, Encircles China and Risks Nuclear War in Asia (both Clairview Books).

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