U.S. Imperialism, Hands Off Latin America!

March 31, 2016

Buenos AiresMarch 24 photo: Argentinian masses protest Obama in Buenos Aires, Argentina. 40 years ago a U.S.-backed coup placed a military junta in power. What followed was an anti-communist, anti-people crusade which resulted in years of massacres and disappearances involving 10s of thousands of families.

For more than 100 years, U.S. imperialism has imposed a series of fascist, military regimes on the peoples in Latin America and has been in a permanent state of war against the continent.

A partial list since the 1950’s includes:

– in 1954 CIA-trained U.S. troops invaded Guatemala to carry out a coup against the Arbenz government and reverse the country’s agrarian reform which went against the economic interests of United Fruit;

– in 1959 the U.S. began widescale covert intervention against Cuba after the revolutionary government undertook land reform and the nationalization of certain U.S.-owned enterprises. Over the years, U.S. intervention has resulted in the murder of hundreds of Cuban activists, workers, peasants, and students by U.S. covert operatives. In 1961 the U.S. launched the “Bay of Pigs” invasion, and later Kennedy threatened Cuba with nuclear war, etc.;

– in 1965, some 50,000 U.S. troops invaded the Dominican Republic;

– in 1973 the CIA-organized a coup in Chile which overthrew the elected government and resulted in the murder, imprisonment and exiling of tens of thousands of Chileans;

– in the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s, U.S. advisers on the ground directed the counter-insurgency war in El Salvador which resulted in 80,000 killed and 1.5 million Salvadorans exiled;

– in the 1980’s, the CIA directed the “contra war” against Nicaragua which claimed the lives of 30,000 people;

– the 1983 invasion of Grenada by 30,000 troops in 1983;

– in 1985 invasion of Panama.

Of course, behind all this military intervention are the economic interests of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.

Everyone knows that in Latin America whole countries have been turned into plantations – banana plantations, coffee plantations, sugar plantations, rubber plantations, etc. – owned by U.S. agri-businesses.

The fertile soil of Latin America has not been used to feed its people but turned into profits for the U.S. capitalists. Thus for example El Salvador has lost its self-sufficiency in food as its land has been used to grow and export coffee for the U.S. capitalists. And along with pillaging the land, U.S. imperialism – in alliance with the local oligarchy and fascist regimes – expropriated, by force of arms, the land of the peasants, abolished their communal and other indigenous ownership systems, and deprived millions of people of their livelihood. This same story, repeated in different forms all across the continent, is one of the root causes of today’s war in the Colombian countryside, where for 100 years peasants have been fighting to keep their land and livelihood from armed expropriation by landlords in alliance with U.S. imperialism.

So too the mineral wealth of the soil, the patrimony of the peoples, has literally been drained and carted out of Latin America. Just as the conquistadors looted the gold of the indigenous peoples, the U.S. capitalists have grabbed billions of dollars in wealth by taking the copper of Chile, the tin of Bolivia, the oil of Venezuela and Mexico, the bauxite of Haiti, etc., etc.

While grabbing the raw materials and mineral wealth, the U.S. multinational corporations have set up branch plants across Latin America in order to exploit the working class. Under the thumb of U.S.-imposed governments, Latin American workers are super-exploited and often prevented from exercising such elementary rights as the right to unionize. Today, for example, after U.S. imperialism drained Haiti of its huge bauxite reserves, robbing the national patrimony of the people, 150 U.S. companies have set up shop in the country, paying workers as little as $1.60/day.

During the last several years, under the signboard of “neo-liberal economics,” U.S. imperialism has been intensifying its economic penetration and superexploitation of Latin America. Through military, economic and political pressure, through bilateral and multilateral agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, the Free Trade Area of the Americas, etc., through the IMF and other international financial institutions, imperialism is directly dictating the budget of Latin American countries, forcing the privatization of state-owned industries, grabbing control of virtually the entire economic infrastructure. The goal is the virtual annexation of the continent by U.S. capital.

By the turn of the century, the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean owed $787 billion to U.S. and international bankers and were paying more than $150 billion/year in debt service (see U.S Commerce Department’s “Survey of Current Business,” September 2002).

This huge debt in turn is used by imperialism as a lever to further open up the economies of Latin America to imperialist penetration and take-over.

For example, from 1982 to the early 1990’s Mexico was forced to privatize 886 state enterprises out of a total of 1,155 with U.S. monopolies gaining control over telecommunications, airlines, banking, mining, steel and other sectors. Similarly in Chile, the Pinochet regime (installed through a CIA coup) privatized 160 state corporations, 16 banks and thousands of mines and agricultural enterprises from 1975 through 1989.

Today, U.S. imperialism is demanding that literally all the wealth and labor of Latin America be put at its disposal. Various U.S.-dictated treaties are turning even the water resources over to U.S. multinational corporations and forbidding Latin American governments from protecting even such sectors as health care, education, or the national forests from foreign ownership. U.S. imperialism aims at nothing less than the virtual annexation of the continent.

As U.S. imperialism spreads its net across Latin America, the apologists for capitalism portray this process as the road to “economic opportunity, freedom and development.”

But, this is just economic doublespeak. The only “freedom” aimed at is the “freedom” of the U.S. monopolies to rob the wealth and exploit the peoples.

Why is it that Latin America remains economically underdeveloped and so many of the people live in poverty and hardship? The continent has fabulously rich soil and vast mineral wealth. And only the racist filth of imperialism could claim that the people don't work and create new values.

The real problem is precisely that the values created by the labor of the people leaves their countries and goes to Wall Street and Washington, D.C. to fill the pockets of the U.S. capitalists. The labor of the people does not go to insure their well-being or the economic independence and development of the Latin American countries, it is, instead, poured into the foundations of U.S. imperialism’s empire.

So just as the path to genuine democracy in Latin America can only be the path of struggle against U.S. intervention, so too, the path of economic development and social progress can only be the path of struggle against the exploiting, colonial relations imposed on Latin America by U.S. capitalist-imperialism. This is the path of cancelling the debt, the path of putting the handcuffs on the multinational corporations, the path of nationalizing the economic infrastructure and putting the economic resources of Latin America in the hands of the peoples themselves.

Looking into the economic basis of U.S. intervention again teaches the people in the U.S. that our struggle against U.S. militarism and colonialism in Latin America must strike against the very foundations of the capitalist-imperialist system. In political terms it means that the struggle against U.S. intervention must be directed against the parties of monopoly capital and imperialism – against the Republicans and Democrats.