In ⇚ , in the 1980s, right-wing paramilitary groups, consulting with Israeli Mossad agents, liquidated the Union Patriotica (UP; Patriotic Union), a leftist political organization that included communists, union leaders, independents, and former guerrillas. Founded as part of 1985 peace negotiations with guerrillas, an estimated 6,000 were killed. After these organizations were outlawed in 1989, the military did not sever its ties. On the contrary, these ties are as strong as ever. , Indonesia invades East Timor in December 1975 and kills three hundred thousand people. in a civil war that saw 85,000 killed, 85% of the cases consisted of extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances by agents of the right-wing state, paramilitary groups allied to them, and their death squads. Central America’s biggest country and the site of the CIA’s first major “victory” in the hemisphere, back in 1954, normal people faced the largest bloodbath unleashed by the Cold War in the Western Hemisphere culminating in an anticommunist genocide. In the early 1960s, The Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) was the third-largest communist party in the world, the largest outside China and the Soviet Union, and its strategy of nonviolent, direct engagement with the masses had led to impressive results with three million card-carrying members. In 1965, A U.S. supported right-wing massacre kills hundreds of thousands becoming probably the largest political butchery in history. , the Islamic Republic executed supporters of the leftist People’s Mujahedin of Iran, as well as the Tudeh and Fedaian Organization. Amnesty International gives a range of 4,672–4,969. , during the country's “Dirty War,” security forces and the military eliminated individuals accused of being part of one of the dozens of groups of armed leftists operating in the country, and massacred protesters at Tlatelolco in 1968. Security forces collaborated with US officials, as well as with the Brazilian dictatorship. an anti-communist contra war of death squads organized, armed, trained, and funded by the United States government conducts a brutal terror campaign. Loose estimates are 10,000 for 1979-81 and 40,000 more for 1981-1989. , for almost fifty years, it was a crime to share what you are about to read. A crime punishable by beatings, torture, and long prison sentences. this happened in Palestine: , several countries, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay coordinated an international terrorist conspiracy against the Left. Supported by the United States government, "Operation Condor" killed tens of thousands of people. Argentina was the most violent offender, with an estimated 30,000 dead. The SCP itself recorded 37 state executions of Party members, but allows for more deaths from causes other than hanging, including among the 5,000 people detained, and those harmed outside the official legal structure. , right-wing forces there and in the United States believed for years that this small island would serve as a jumping off point for the retaking of mainland China after the 1948's communist revolution. While Taiwan has fundamental failed at this, it has succeeded as a base and refuge for some of the world's worst death squads and right-wing mercenaries to arm, train, and network for the last seventy years. the Red Drum massacre (or the Thang Daeng killings) in the early 1970s was only part of a pattern of widespread abuse of power by the army and enforcement agencies. Upwards of 3,000 are believed to have been killed, but this is too antiseptic. Let's tell the story of two teachers. , if we limit it only to the U.S.'s Phoenix Program, we still get to 50,000 killed. No, you dunce, it's fucking awesome. The workers control things, not the rich assholes.
On April 6, 1984, a group of men dressed in police uniforms arrived at the home of Milcíades Contento in the town of Viotá, Colombia. Contento was a peasant, communist and member of the Unión Patriótica (UP, Patriotic Union), a newly-formed experimental political party born out of the 1985 peace negotiations between the conservative President Belansio Betancourt and the guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The men seized Contento, tied him up and dragged him away. The next day, his corpse was found in a nearby village.
The murder of Milcíades Contento marked the beginning of a nearly two-decade extermination campaign. From 1984-2002, at least 4,153 UP members – including two presidential candidates, 14 parliamentarians, 15 mayors, nine mayoral candidates, three members of the House of Representatives and three senators – were murdered or disappeared, in what a Colombian court deemed was a “political genocide.”
In 1985, Colombian President Belisario Betancourt and the FARC rebels negotiated a peace accord to end nearly three decades of armed conflict. The agreement formalized the creation of the Patriotic Union and saw demilitarised ex-guerrillas (the FARC, the M-19 and the EPL) join with communists, trade unionists, communal action boards and leftwing intellectuals to form a party that would integrate the FARC into the electoral political system. As negotiations were underway, Patriotic Union members were being killed. In May 1986, Liberal Party leader Virgilio Barco won the presidency. Shortly after he took office, the pace of assassinations of UP members skyrocketed. A whopping 400 members were assassinated in the first 14 months of his term.
According to an investigation by renowned Colombian journalist Alberto Donadio, Barco secretly brought the veteran Mossad agent Rafi Eitan to Colombia on August 7, 1986, seeking advice on how to defeat the FARC. After an initial clandestine meeting in Colombia’s presidential palace, Eitan spent months touring the country with Colombian advisors, secretly funded by the Colombian energy giant Ecopetrol.
During the second meeting, President Barco explained Eitan’s recommendation to Secretary General Germán Montoya and a figure from the high military command present. Eitan even offered to preside over the killings himself in exchange for another honorarium, but the military commander rejected his offer, insisting that an all-Colombian force carry it out
According to data presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the purge claimed more than 6,000 victims through murders, disappearances, torture, forced displacement and other human rights violations. From May 1984 to December 2002, not a month passed without a murder or disappearance of a UP member. In the 2002 elections that brought Álvaro Uribe to power, the Patriotic Union had been so thoroughly wiped out that it failed to meet the electoral threshold and the government removed the party’s legal status.
The New Latin American Left: Utopia Reborn (specifically César Rodríguez-Garavito's chapters)
Systems of Violence by Nazih Richani
Dan Cohen's article "Israel & Colombia: Mercenary Allies"
The dictatorship in Portugal, which had ruled since 1933, had fell apart in 1975. The United States developed a “contingency plan” to invade parts of Portuguese territory if a government it considered communist took over. Lucky for the Portuguese, Washington allowed the elected left-wing (not communist) government to exist. The new Portuguese administration decided on a rapid withdrawal from what was left of its empire.
Suharto looked east, and he pulled out his old bag of tricks. Among Portugal’s newly freed colonies was the small nation of East Timor, which shared an island with Indonesian territory. When East Timor gained its independence, Suharto claimed he was threatened by communism on his borders.
Calling this a wild exaggeration would be generous. Neither China, the Soviet Union, nor Vietnam was backing the tiny country. The party that oversaw the Timorese declaration of independence, FRETILIN, did have a left wing, and some of its members used Marxist language, which was hardly surprising for a Portuguese-speaking national liberation movement at the time. But this was enough for Washington, which was convinced that East Timor could become a “Cuba in Asia”—even though Nixon had already re-established relations with the Communist Party in Beijing. He gave Suharto a “big wink,” and the Indonesian generals quickly drew up Operasi Seroja—Operation Lotus.
Indonesia invaded in December 1975. The people of East Timor did not want the Indonesian military there. FRETILIN radicalized, and launched a “people’s war” against the invaders. To put down the freedom fighters, the Indonesian Armed Forces killed up to three hundred thousand people. From 1975 to 1979, while both Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter sat in the White House, Washington’s closest ally in Southeast Asia annihilated up to a third of the population of East Timor, a higher percentage than those who died under Pol Pot in Cambodia.
Indonesian massacres of Timorese began on the first day of the landing. Dunn calls the assault on Dili “one of the most brutal operations of its kind in modern warfare. Hundreds of Timorese and Chinese were gunned down at random in the streets.” Within 24 hours of the invasion, the Bishop of Timor watched from his window as 150 people, including at least twenty women, were systematically shot on the town’s jetty. This shocking spectacle began with the execution of more than 20 women who, from various accounts, were selected at random. The women were led out to the edge of the jetty and shot one at a time, with the crowd of shocked onlookers being forced at gun-point to count out loud as each execution took place.
Five hundred Chinese were killed on December 8 alone. About forty unarmed Timorese men were murdered in the south of the capital on December 9. A priest reported that the invaders killed about 2,000 people in the first few days, including 700 Chinese. John Taylor reports many testimonies “of entire families being shot for displaying Fretilin flags on their houses, of groups being shot for refusing to hand over their personal possessions, of grenades being rolled into packed houses, and of Fretilin sympathizers singled out for immediate execution.” The latter included the wife of Vice President Nicolau Lobato, shot dead on the dock. Her sister saved their infant son at the last minute.
The massacres then spread to the coastal and hill towns. Australia's diplomat James Dunn: “When they finally forced Fretilin to withdraw from Aileu, Indonesian troops, in a brutal public spectacle, machine-gunned the remaining population of the town, except for children under the age of four, who were sent back to Dili in trucks.” The killings at Aileu even distressed Tomas Goncalves, son of the liurai of At- sabe, a leading supporter of integration with Indonesia. Citing Dunn, Taylor reports that “in the villages of Remexio and Aileu, south of Dili, everyone over the age of three was shot.” Taylor adds: ‘When Indonesian troops entered Aileu in February 1976, it contained 5,000 people. When a group of Indonesian relief workers visited it in September 1976, only 1,000 remained—they were told that the remainder had moved to the mountains.” A visitor found no Timorese in Ainaro in late 1975. Of Baucau’s population of 85,000, 32,000 met the arriving Indonesian troops on December 10, 1975, but by the end of February 1976 most had fled the exactions of the occupiers, leaving a population of only 9,646. In mid-1976, “When the towns of Liquica and Maubara were eventually wrested from Fretilin’s control the Indonesians put to death nearly all members of their Chinese communities.” Twenty-six people were executed in Liquica in May 1976 alone. Some survivors did remain in these towns, while many others fled to Fretilin-held mountain areas. But the Indonesian massacres took a heavy toll. A Timorese guide for a senior Indonesian officer told Dunn that “in the early months of the fighting, as the Indonesian forces moved into the central regions, they killed most Timorese they encountered.” Perhaps the worst massacre took place just inside Indonesian West Timor. At Lamaknan in June 1976, Dunn reports, “Indonesian troops who had been badly mauled by Fretilin units took their vengeance on a large refugee settlement which housed some 5,000 to 6,000 people.” After setting fire to several houses, the troops fired at the refugees for several hours, “shooting down men, women and children.” According to a Timorese truck driver for the Indonesian forces, about 2,000 people died.
An East Timorese man who was fighting on the Indonesian side gave the following account of killings that took place at a military head- quarters nearby:
When we arrived at the Kotis [military] headquarters, we saw lots of bodies without heads on the floor, in several lines. I couldn’t count them. Many civilians who had survived were summoned to the headquarters.They said that these people would be put in a helicopter, but this didn’t happen.They were shot dead with a machine gun and none survived.
The killing did not end in 1979: In a September 1981 massacre southeast of Dili, Indonesian troops reportedly killed 400 people. In August 1983, sixty men, women, and children were tied up and bulldozed to death at Malim Luro near the south coast. On August 21-22 1983, troops burned alive at least eighty people in the southern village of Kraras, and then made a “clean-sweep” of the neighboring area in which another five hundred died.
The Jakarta Method by Vincent Bevins
East Timor: The Price of Freedom by John Taylor
“The Demography of Genocide in Southeast Asia: The Death Tolls in Cambodia, 1975–79, and East Timor, 1975–80,” by Ben Kiernan, Critical Asian Studies 35, no. 4 (2003)
The Guatemalans had a small revolution. A series of strikes led to the overthrow of Jorge Ubico, a pro-Nazi dictator who had worked hand in hand with the landed aristocracy and foreign corporations for two decades to keep peasants in a system of forced labor—in other words, slavery. The left, including the Guatemalan communist party, called the Partido Guatemalteco del Trabajo, or PGT, had long been involved organizing workers in opposition to him. The revolution arrived in 1944, when the United States under FDR was in an alliance with the Soviet Union, and very busy fighting World War II. Perhaps for that reason, the new government didn’t ring many alarm bells for US politicians. From 1944 to 1951, popular schoolteacher Juan José Arévalo took control of the very young democracy in Central America’s largest country. But it was the election of Jacobo Árbenz, who took power in 1951, that really turned heads up North.
Árbenz was a middle-class soldier who became a large landowner himself, and to the extent that he ever held any radical ideas, they were probably due to the influence of his California-educated Salvadoran wife, María Vilanova, a more complex and fascinating figure than he. A polyglot social campaigner shocked by inequality, she rejected Central American high society, read intensely and widely, and formed links with leftist figures from around Latin America. Árbenz accepted the small but well-organized PGT as a part of his ruling coalition. But Guatemala voted against the Soviet Union’s actions at the UN, and the new president made it clear in his inaugural speech that his goal was to “convert Guatemala with a predominantly feudal economy into a modern capitalist state.”
This was no small task. When his government passed a 1952 land reform, this effort ran up against very powerful interests. The government began to buy back large, unused land holdings and distribute them to indigenous people and peasants. Processes of these kind were seen by economists around the world as not only a way of benefiting regular people, but of putting the whole country to productive use and unleashing the forces of market enterprise. But the law stipulated that Guatemala would make payments based on the land’s official value, and the United Fruit Company—a US firm that basically controlled the country’s economy for decades—had been criminally undervaluing its holdings to avoid paying taxes.
The powerful company howled in protest. United Fruit was extremely well connected in the Eisenhower administration, and started a public relations campaign denouncing Árbenz as a communist in the US, and brought US journalists on press junkets, which were successful in getting deeply critical stories published in outlets like Time, U.S. News & World Report, and Newsweek.
Washington made three coup attempts, and it was the third one that worked. In November 1953, Eisenhower removed the ambassador in Guatemala City and sent in John Peurifoy, who had been in Athens since 1950 and had thrown together a right-wing government favorable to both Washington and the Greek monarchy. Leftists there called him the “Butcher of Greece.” In Guatemala, the North Americans did their best to create a pretext for intervention. The CIA planted boxes of rifles marked with communist hammers and sickles so they could be “discovered” as proof of Soviet infiltration. When the Guatemalan military, unable to find any other suppliers, did actually buy some weapons (that turned out to be worthless) from Czechoslovakia, Wisner’s boys were relieved. Now they had their excuse. Árbenz uncovered plans for the third coup attempt in January 1954, and had them published in the Guatemalan press. The CIA men were so confident that they kept going anyway, issuing denials to the US press. They organized a tiny rebel force around General Carlos Castillo Armas, an unimpressive man despised even by the conservative officers in the Guatemalan military. They began broadcasting false reports, on US-controlled radio stations, of a military rebellion marching toward victory, and dropped bombs on Guatemala City. This was psychological warfare, not a real invasion—the ragtag group over the border in Honduras and El Salvador had no chance of actually entering and defeating the real military, and the bombs that US pilots dropped on the capital became nicknamed sulfatos, or sulfate laxatives, because their job was not to do damage, but to make Árbenz and everyone around him so afraid they would fill their pants.
Miguel Ángel Albizures, nine years old, heard the bombs explode near him, and the shock seared a feeling of fear deep into his brain. He was having breakfast before school in the capital, at one of the public eateries set up by Árbenz, when it started. He was terrified—yes, so shocked, so afraid he felt like he could shit himself, exactly as intended—and ran to take cover under the pews in the closest Catholic church.
Árbenz, realizing that the US was determined to oust him, began to contemplate giving in. His government frantically offered to give United Fruit what it wanted. But it was too late for concessions. The communists and a few others urged Árbenz not to hand over power. Instead, the president resigned on June 27, 1954, and handed over power to Colonel Díaz, head of the Armed Forces. Díaz had met with Ambassador Peurifoy, and believed he would be an acceptable replacement to the United States. He told Árbenz he had an understanding with the North Americans, and that if he took power, at least they could avoid losing the country to the hated Castillo Armas, which helped persuade the president to step down.
That deal didn’t last long. Just a few days after Díaz took power, CIA station chief John Doherty and his deputy, Enno Hobbing—former Time bureau chief in Paris—sat him down. “Let me explain something to you,” said Hobbing. “You made a big mistake when you took over the government.” Hobbing paused, then made himself very clear. “Colonel, you’re just not convenient for the requirements of American foreign policy.”
Díaz was shocked. He asked to hear it from Peurifoy himself. According to Díaz, when Peurifoy came over, at four in the morning, he backed up Doherty and Hobbing. He also showed Díaz a long list of Guatemalans who would need to be shot immediately.
“But why?” Díaz asked. “Because they’re communists,” Peurifoy responded.
Castillo Armas, the US favorite, took over. Slavery returned to Guatemala. In the first few months of his government, Castillo Armas established Anticommunism Day, and rounded up and executed between three thousand and five thousand supporters of Árbenz.
Eisenhower was elated.
The People’s Daily paid very close attention to the events in the small country, half a world away. Day after day, the situation in Guatemala was at the top of the front page, and the headlines were clear and precise: “Amerika Menjerang Guatemala” (America threatens Guatemala), and then a long explanatory article, “This Is Guatemala,” featuring a map of the faraway region, and then referring to “American aggression.”
The US press covered it differently. The New York Times referred to the coup plotters as “rebels,” while calling the Árbenz government “reds” or a “Communist threat,” and saying that the US government was “helping” mediate peace talks, rather than organizing the whole thing. Most historians today would quickly recognize that this small Indonesian communist newspaper reported the events more accurately than the New York Times.
There is a reason for that. Sydney Gruson, an enterprising Times correspondent, was planning to launch an investigation of the “rebel” forces. Frank Wisner wanted him stopped. He asked his boss, Allen Dulles, to speak with the New York Times higher-ups, which he did. Believing he was performing a patriotic act, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger ordered Gruson to stay away.
Almost a decade after the CIA-engineered coup, Central America’s largest country was not doing well. Washington still had a Cold War ally in power there, and Guatemala was still tightly integrated with the US economy, but things had not exactly turned out as US officials had hoped.
For the rest of the 1950s, CIA agents watched the country sink back into “feudal repression” with some measure of regret. Then the Bay of Pigs invasion indirectly triggered a civil war, which would last for more than three decades.
In November 1960, a group of junior officers led a small rebellion against President Miguel Ydígoras Fuentes, who had won an entirely fraudulent election after the general hand-picked by Washington in 1954 was assassinated. The junior officers were very broadly left-leaning, and shocked by the regime’s levels of corruption and incompetence. But the spark for the revolt was the fact that the president had granted a base for CIA-backed Cuban exiles to prepare for their invasion of Cuba without asking them. The Cuban exiles were wealthy and reckless, driving impressive cars around the country. This was not only an insult to the military and its hierarchy; it was theft, because the president pocketed all the money the US paid him.
The revolt failed. But some of the officers formed a guerrilla group, the Movimiento Revolucionario 13 de Noviembre (MR-13), to openly rebel against the government. Another officer formed a rival group, Fuerzas Armadas Rebeldes (FAR), and began collaborating with the underground Communist Party (PGT), which had been nonviolent since its founding.
By 1964, the United States and its local military partners, frustrated by their inability to contain the rebellion, changed tactics. They began a series of counterinsurgency actions in Eastern Guatemala. They were assisted by a right-wing terror organization called the White Hand (La Mano Blanca), but victory was elusive. Totally undemocratic and governing a society that offered regular people no chance for advancement, the state had a very hard time establishing legitimacy. Its leaders pursued a different solution. They brought in two Americans from Southeast Asia, as violence continued to roil Indonesia: in September 1965, a man named John Gordon Mein was appointed US ambassador to Guatemala, and soon after, Mein requested the services of John P. Longan, a former Border Patrol officer in the US who had worked with the CIA, in Thailand and elsewhere. Longan, pictured, had worked for the same Bangkok office that had authorized the supply of weapons to the Indonesian military during the killings.
Soon after Longan arrived from Venezuela, he formed death squads. Within three months they carried out Operation Cleanup, or Operación Limpieza, which kidnapped, tortured, and executed thirty prominent left-wing figures in March 1966. They didn’t just kill them, though—they kidnapped and then disappeared them, murdering them without informing anyone what had happened. Historians who study violence in Latin America believe that 1966 in Guatemala was the first time the region suffered from disappearances as a tactic of state terror.
In Guatemala, the terror that started in 1954, and accelerated in 1965 after the arrival of John Gordon Mein and John P. Longan, had never stopped. The year those two men arrived, 1965, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama came together to formalize military links and intelligence sharing within El Consejo de Defensa Centroamericana (CONDECA), a kind of proto-alliance to put down the guerrilla threat. That threat was real. Mein himself was killed in 1968 by the FAR.
The violence unleashed by the Guatemalan dictatorship during the civil war that followed was indiscriminate. Right-wing terror groups like La Mano Blanca, the New Anticommunist Organization, and the Anticommunist Council of Guatemala started their own massacres, with the support of US Green Berets, and these death squads were eventually incorporated into the state.
The 1970s and 1980s
In the 1970s, the Guatemalan government began to kill indigenous people en masse simply because of their ethnic background. Entire ethnicities, whole tribes, complete villages were marked as either communist or liable to become communist. They were often people who had only a vague idea of what Marxism or the guerrilla groups were. This was new, different from the urban terror tactics, in which government forces kidnapped individual people. For the Mayans and other indigenous groups, the Army would come and simply kill every single one of them.
The small community of Ilom is nestled between misty mountains in northwest Guatemala, closer to the Mexican border than to the capital. The people are Mayan, and speak Ixil, not Spanish, and for decades they had been either subsistence farming or working for pennies on a nearby ranch. That ranch was owned by rich white men— and sat on the land taken from the Mayans centuries ago— and over the years, it kept getting bigger and bigger.
Ilom is too far from Guatemala City to have been affected by Jacobo Árbenz’s incipient land reform program in 1954. Residents barely heard about the reforms that were snuffed out by the CIA.
In 1981, however, global politics arrived in the village.
First, the EGP, the Ejército Guerrillero de los Pobres, came to visit. Speaking Spanish, the guerrillas explained that they were on the Mayans’ side, that they were building a revolution that would help them get their land back, and they were fighting for them.
Josefa Sanchez Del Barrio, who was sixteen at the time, remembers that most of the villagers were politely receptive to this message, if a bit puzzled about the specifics. Few of them spoke Spanish. It wasn’t quite clear what these thirty to forty revolutionaries in green fatigues planned to do, or how the villagers were supposed to help them. But the villagers thanked them, gave them the customary hospitality of thick corn tortillas and some kind words, and waved goodbye.
Not long after, the Army sent in men pretending to be guerrillas. It didn’t take long for the villagers to figure out what was going on. The men’s costumes were shoddy—one even wore a cheap fake beard. And they were acting all wrong, asking too many questions and treating the villagers aggressively. The guerrillas hadn’t acted that way at all when they came. This was not a sophisticated undercover operation. They were clearly just some young military men trying to figure out who was most sympathetic to the rebels.
In January 1982, the military men came back. This time, they were in their Army uniforms, but with black paint on their faces. They burst into Josefa’s home. It didn’t surprise her that her family was on their list. Her father had been part of a small group that tried, back in the ’70s, to ask the local government down in the nearest city to save their land. They dragged away her husband’s father. They smashed Josefa in the head with a rock. Then several men shoved a napkin into her mouth and raped her.
All in all, thirty people were taken that day, never to return. A few days later, the soldiers came back and took Josefa’s father and brother.
In February, the soldiers came again. Josefa’s other brother was working in the field, and they lobbed a grenade at him, and killed him. They took more people away that day, and this time they burned down the empty houses as they left.
Antonio Caba Caba, a young boy, realized something was wrong that day when he came back from working in the fields. As he approached his home, he saw his mother standing in the doorway, wearing the long red skirt worn by Mayan women in the region, staring blankly into the distance. What’s wrong, he asked her. She told him about the fires. The soldiers had burned an old woman alive in her home as they left.
Some people began to discuss running—but there was nowhere to go except into the mountains, where they’d soon run out of food. This was the worst violence their community had ever experienced; they came to the conclusion that finally, it must be over.
They were wrong.
On March 23, the soldiers came back at five in the morning and woke up every single person in Ilom. They were wearing black paint again.
“Come on, there is a town meeting, you are going,” they told Antonio, and Josefa, and everyone else. They walked the villagers to the tiny town square. They sent the men into the little church behind the plaza and the women into the tiny courthouse next door.
Antonio heard one of them fidgeting on the radio, talking to a superior.
“We’re gonna kill the guerrillas,” he said.
One by one, then two by two, they brought men out of the church, stood them in front of the schoolhouse, and shot them. Everyone could see each murder. That was clearly the point. After about a hundred were dead, they stopped.
“We’re only killing the ones that look guilty. The ones that look afraid,” one of the soldiers said.
Other villages weren’t so lucky. In many parts of this region, the military simply killed every man, woman, and child. The government had decided that the Ixil were intrinsically communist, or at least very likely to become communist. It was anticommunist genocide.
On March 23, 1982, General Efraín Ríos Montt took power in Guatemala in a military coup. He was an Evangelical Christian—which made him a special favorite of Ronald Reagan—and continued the genocide in a slightly different fashion. Some indigenous people from ethnically suspect communities were herded into state-built aldeas modelos, “model villages” built to help indigenous people start new lives in suitably noncommunist fashion, which often amounted to little more than deadly concentration camps. For many others, the massacres simply continued apace. As was the case in Indonesia, and Brazil and Argentina, Montt’s religious zeal gave the anticommunist violence a theological justification. “They are communists and therefore atheists and therefore they are demons and therefore you can kill them” is how one civil war victim, now the head of one of Guatemala’s most prominent research organizations, summarizes the logic.57 The vast majority of the murdered were practitioners of traditional Mayan religions.
The remaining residents of Ilom were forced into slavery, but this time, they had to work for the military. Antonio was forced to join a militia and grew up “fighting” the guerrillas for the rest of the 1980s. They rebelled quietly, by intentionally missing when shooting at the “enemy.” Josefa quickly married—if she had not, she would have been forced to “marry” one of the soldiers watching over the aldea modelo, forced into sexual slavery like so many of her friends. Their village was liquidated and burned to the ground.
This was all part of Ríos Montt’s new strategy for fighting communism. “The guerrilla is the fish. The people are the sea,” he said. “If you cannot catch the fish, you have to drain the sea.”
From 1978 to 1983, the Guatemalan military killed more than two hundred thousand people.59 Around a third of these were taken away and “disappeared,” largely in urban areas. Most of the rest were indigenous Mayans massacred in the open air of the fields and mountains where their families had lived for generations.
The Jakarta Method by Vincent Bevins
Bridge of Courage: Life Stories of the Guatemalan Companeros and Companeras by Jennifer Harbury
The Map of Blood and Fire
In 1958 US Secretary of State, John Foster
Dulles, informed the National Security Council that Indonesia was one of three major world crises, along with Algeria and the Middle East. He emphasized that there was no Soviet role in any of these cases, with the "vociferous" agreement of President Eisenhower. The main problem in Indonesia was the Communist party (PKI), which
was winning "widespread support not as a revolutionary party but as an organization
defending the interests of the poor within the existing system," developing a "mass
base among the peasantry" through its "vigor in defending the interests of the ...
poor." The US embassy in Jakarta reported that it might not be possible to overcome the PKI" by ordinary democratic means," so that "elimination" by police and military
might be undertaken.
As Vincent Bevins makes plain: "US strategy since the 1950s had been to try to find a way to destroy the Indonesian Communist Party, not because it was seizing power undemocratically, but because it was popular."
The Joint Chiefs of Staff urged that "action must be taken, including overt measures as required, to ensure either the success of the dissidents or the suppression of the pro-communist elements of the Sukarno government."
The "dissidents" were the leaders of a rebellion in the outer islands, the site of most of Indonesia's oil and US investments. US support for the secessionist movement was "by far the largest, and to this day the least known, of the Eisenhower administration's covert militarized interventions," two leading Southeast Asia specialists conclude in a revealing study. When the rebellion collapsed, after bringing down the last residue of parliamentary institutions, the US turned to other means to "eliminate"the country's major political force.
This goal was achieved when Suharto took power in 1965, with Washington's strong support and assistance. Army-led massacres wiped out the PKI and devastated its mass base in "one of the worst mass murders of the twentieth century,"comparable to the atrocities of Hitler, the CIA reported, judging "the Indonesian coup" to be "certainly one of the most significant events of the twentieth century." Perhaps half a million or more were killed within a few months.
It wasn’t only US government officials who handed over kill lists to the Army. Managers of US-owned plantations furnished them with the names of “troublesome” communists and union organizers, who were then murdered.
The prime responsibility for the massacres and concentration camps lies with the Indonesian military. We still do not know if the method employed—disappearance and mass extermination—was planned well before October 1965, perhaps inspired by other cases around the world, or planned under foreign direction, or if it emerged as a solution as events unfolded. But Washington shares guilt for every death. The United States was part and parcel of the operation at every stage, starting well before the killing started, until the last body dropped and the last political prisoner emerged from jail, decades later, tortured, scarred, and bewildered. At several points that we know of—and perhaps some we don’t—Washington was the prime mover, and provided crucial pressure for the operation to move forward or expand.
The events were greeted with undisguised euphoria. The New York Times described the "staggering mass slaughter" as "a gleam of light in Asia," praising Washington for keeping its own role quiet so as not to embarrass the "Indonesian moderates" who were cleansing their society, then rewarding them with generous aid Time praised the "quietly determined" leader Suharto with his "scrupulously constitutional" procedures "based on law, not on mere power" as he presided over a "boiling bloodbath" that was "the West's best news for years in Asia."
The reaction was near-uniform. The World Bank restored Indonesia to favor. Western governments and corporations flocked to Suharto's "paradise for investors," impeded only by the rapacity of the ruling family. For more than twenty years, Suharto was hailed as a "moderate" who is "at heart benign" (The Economist) as he compiled a record of slaughter, terror, and corruption that has few counterparts in post-war history.
The Story of Francisca and Zain
Francisca kept working in the days after October 1, 1965. Zain stopped working after The People’s Daily was closed down by the military. But Francisca kept going to the Afro-Asian Journalist Association office every day, and the staff continued working on preparations for their next edition, and for the Tricontinental Conference planned for Havana in 1966. Despite everything that was happening, Sukarno and a senior Communist Party leader, Nyoto, had managed to convene a conference in Jakarta in protest of US military bases around the world, and Francisca had helped Afro-Asian Journalist cover it in October.
But Francisca knew people were being arrested all around the capital. Some of her colleagues, especially the journalists, stopped showing up for work. Still there was almost no reliable information as to what was going on. Everyone was keeping to themselves. No one knew whom they could trust. Every night, Francisca took the car straight back from the office, to her home with Zain in Menteng. She had lived two months like this, as the world of left-wing intellectuals in Jakarta was getting smaller and smaller.
At four in the morning on December 13, three men knocked on their door, and took them both away. Francisca and Zain went peacefully, into police custody. The officers told Francisca she was only being brought in for questioning, and that she would be home very soon, then loaded her and Zain into a Land Rover and drove to Independence Square. The kids were left alone in the house.
Soon after they got there, the men took Zain into a different room. Francisca saw a man begin to undo his belt as he entered another door. She was left with a military officer in an interrogation room. He pulled out a gun and put it on the table in front of her. She lost contact with her senses. She was certain she was going to die.
Somehow, she made it through. The interrogation was over. It might have lasted an hour, or several. She was in a daze. They brought her to the office of the military doctor, the one who treated the wives of the officers. Why was she there? Maybe to be killed in a different way? Then they brought Zain in. It became apparent he was there to say goodbye. It was also apparent he had been tortured. She could see cigarette burns up and down his arms. How many, she didn’t know. Too hard to count. Then he was gone, and she was alone in the doctor’s office.
The Jakarta Method by Vincent Bevins
"Indonesia, Master Card in Washington's Hand" by Noam Chomsky
The Act of Killing (film)
The National Security law and Jeju Island
The National Security Law was enacted on December 1, 1948, just three and a half months after the establishment of the Republic of Korea. Japan's defeat in World War II only a few years prior had resulted in the end of almost four decades of Japanese rule in Korea. By 1946, political unrest had increased, and conflicts between right-wing anti-communists and the left-wing People's Committees erupted throughout the country, especially in the south. Jeju Island, for example, located off the southern coast of Korea, had a de facto government run largely by the leftwing People's Committee.' In the ensuing battle by the government to suppress this left-wing insurgency, as many as sixty thousand people were killed (In addition, almost 40,000 homes were destroyed, as well as more than half the villages on the island). Shortly thereafter, in October 1948, a rebellion in the southern coastal city of Yosu resulted in the deaths of more than one thousand people Newly elected President Syngman Rhee responded by arresting members of the left.' To aid the president in suppressing the leftist threat to the government, the National Assembly proposed an anti-treason law, which it ultimately passed as the National Security Law. By 1949, President Rhee had imprisoned thirty thousand people accused of being communists, and 80 percent of all court cases involved charges against suspected communists.
The stated purpose of the National Security Law is to prevent anti-state acts from threatening the security of South Korea." "Anti-State groups" are defined in the law as "domestic or foreign organizations or groups whose intentions are to conduct or assist infiltration of the Government or to cause national disturbances.' The second chapter of the law details specific crimes and their punishments. Chief instigators or organizers of anti-state groups are sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Leaders are sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of death, and lesser members and those who encourage others to join an anti-state group receive a minimum of two years in prison. Further, Article 5 punishes those who voluntarily aid anti-state groups, and it prescribes up to seven years in prison for "accepting valuables from anti-state groups."' Probably the most-criticized section of the National Security Law is Article 7, which punishes those praising or sympathizing with an anti-state group. Those who "praise, encourage, disseminate or cooperate" with an anti-state group will be imprisoned up to seven years, while anyone who organizes or joins a group that intends to do any of those acts will receive a minimum of one year in prison. Those who "create or spread false information which may disturb national order" will be imprisoned for a minimum of two years. Those who "create, import, duplicate, possess, transport, disseminate, sell, or acquire documents, arts or other publications" in order to violate Article 7 will be punished according to the article violated. Finally, under Article 9, those who "knowingly provide valuables or other monetary benefits or facilities for hiding, meeting, communicating, and contacting or provide other conveniences to persons who have committed or plan to commit" anti-state acts will be sentenced up to ten years in prison," and under Article 10, anyone who fails to inform on those who have committed anti-state acts can receive up to five years in prison. The stated purpose of the National Security Law is to prevent anti-state acts from threatening the security of South Korea." "Anti-State groups" are defined in the law as "domestic or foreign organizations or groups whose intentions are to conduct For almost fifty years after the uprising, it was a crime punishable by beatings, torture and a lengthy prison sentence if any South Korean even mentioned the events of the Jeju uprising.
The Bodo League Massacre
Immediately after the start of the Korean War, between the end of June and the beginning of July 1950, the Korean government arrested, detained, and executed members of the Bodo League. The year prior, in June 1949, the Korean government organized the Bodo League with the intention of encouraging those associated with the leftists to turn themselves in so that they could be loyal ROK citizens. Around 300,000 people across the nation applied for membership at this time. The Korean government set a target quota for recruitment in each region, which led to many people applying for membership without ever having had any relations with leftists or leftist activities. With the start of the Korean War however, the government began arresting and killing Bodo League members, fearing that they may collaborate with the North.
The Bodo League massacres were the largest mass killings during the Korean War period. Most of the Bodo League massacres occurred simultaneously across the nation. According to the Commission’s investigation result to date, each incident seemed similar in terms of the procedures and the chain of command. For this reason, the Commission investigated the massacres to determine whether the government was involved in the systematic and intentional massacre of civilians. The scale, planning, and organization of the massacres reveal the Korean government’s systematic policy to remove Bodo League members, potential enemies' life.
In regards to the Ulsan Bodo League massacre Incident, on January 14, 2008, President Roh Moo-Hyun, on behalf of the nation and in accordance with the Commission’s recommendation, apologized for the illegal acts committed by the government during the Korean War. For the Goyang Geumjeong Cave and Naju Dongbakguljae cases, the local police commissioner and police chiefs participated in the memorial services and expressed deep regret and offered apologies.
2009 Truth and Reconciliation Report of the Republic of Korea
South Korea's National Security Law: A Tool of Oppression in an Insecure World by Diane Kraft (2006)
Palestine content here
In the wake of the Second World War, as the Nationalist forces of Jiang Jieshi retreated to the island of Taiwan, off the southeastern coast of mainland China, Jiang’s supporters in the United States quickly began working to legitimize his regime and shift international opinion, particularly that of U.S. policymakers, away from communist China. This was a difficult task, despite most Ameri- cans’ disdain for Mao Zedong and the Communist Party of China. During the Chinese Civil War, Jiang had earned a reputation for brutality, duplicity, and mismanagement, all of which became even clearer after his forces, known as the Guomindang (GMD), forced the Japanese from the island of Taiwan in 1945. As the GMD took over, food shortages and runaway inflation led to mounting frustration among workers and farmers. On February 28, 1947, this anger exploded, as thousands of people took the streets of Taipei in protest. The GMD responded with mass arrests and the murder of more than 10,000 civilians—actions that established a pattern of rule for the following years.
Writing for The Nation, Peggy Durdin described what started the massacre:
On February 27 a policeman of the Taiwan (Formosa) Monopoly Bureau saw a woman selling smuggled cigarettes on the streets of the capital, Taipei. When he tried to seize her tray and money, she pulled away, and he struck her a crashing blow on the head with his revolver butt. She died at his feet. An angry mob gathered, and the police shot into the crowd, killing one person and wounding others. Forthwith a year and a half of gathering hatred for an inefficient, autocratic, corrupt administration exploded into unarmed demonstrations against the mainland Chinese.
China put down the revolt with brutal repression, terror, and massacre. Mainland soldiers and police fired first killing thousands indiscriminately; then, more selectively, hunted down and jailed or slaughtered students, intellectuals, prominent business men, and civic leaders. Foreigners estimate that at least five thousand Taiwanese were killed and executions are still going on.
Governor General Chen Yi has turned a movement against bad government into one against any Chinese government. Nanking has again demonstrated that its chief solution for political and economic crisis is force. In spite of a curtain of censorship and official misrepresentation, the tragic events that took place in Formosa in March are well known here.
The Chinese government owns, controls, and operates -- for government profit and personal squeeze -- almost the entire economy of Taiwan. one of the articles whose importation and sale are rigidly controlled is tobacco. Many Taiwanese street venders sell smuggled cigarettes. It was in the course of a campaign against the sale of smuggled goods that the woman was killed in Taipei.
The rioting which followed was not consciously revolutionary but was against the hated monopoly police which symbolized for the people the government's exploitation of their island.
Tillman Durdin filed this report for the New York Times:
Foreigners who have just returned to China from Formosa corroborate reports of wholesale slaughter by Chinese troops and police during anti-Government demonstrations a month ago.
These witnesses estimate that 10,000 Formosans were killed by the Chinese armed forces. The killings were described as "completely unjustified" in view of the nature of the demonstrations.
The anti-Government demonstrations were said to have been by unarmed persons whose intentions were peaceful. Every foreign report to Nanking denies charges that Communists or Japanese inspired or organized the parades.
Foreigners who left Formosa a few days ago say that an uneasy peace had been established almost everywhere, but executions and arrests continued. Many Formosans were said to have fled to the hills fearing they would be killed if they returned to their homes.
****** Three Days of Slaughter ******
An American who had just arrived in China from Taihoku said that troops from the mainland arrived there March 7 and indulged in three days of indiscriminate killing and looting. For a time everyone seen on the streets was shot at, homes were broken into and occupants killed. In the poorer sections the streets were said to have been littered with dead.
There were instances of beheadings and mutilation of bodies, and women were raped, the American said.
Two foreign women, who were near at Pingtung near Takao, called the actions of the Chinese soldiers there a "massacre." They said unarmed Formosans took over the administration of the town peacefully on March 4 and used the local radio station to caution against violence.
Chinese were well received and invited to lunch with the Formosan leaders. Later a bigger group of soldiers came and launched a sweep through the streets.
The people were machine gunned. Groups were rounded up and executed.
The man who had served as the town's spokesman was killed. His body was left for a day in a park and no one was permitted to remove it.
A Briton described similar events at Takao, where unarmed Formosans had taken over the running of the city. He said that after several days Chinese soldiers from an outlying fort deployed through the streets killing hundreds with machine-guns and rifles and raping and looting. Formosan leaders were thrown into prison, many bound with thin wire that cut deep into the flesh.
****** Leaflets Trapped Many ******
The foreign witnesses reported that leaflets signed with the name of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek promising leniency, and urging all who had fled to return, were dropped from airplanes. As a result many came back to be imprisoned or executed. "There seemed to be a policy of killing off all the best people," one foreigner asserted.
The foreigners' stories are fully supported by reports of every important foreign embassy or legation in Nanking.
Formosans are reported to be seeking United Nations' action on their case. Some have approached foreign consuls to ask that Formosa be put under the jurisdiction of Allied Supreme Command or be made an American protectorate. Formosan hostility to the mainland Chinese has deepened.
Two women who described events at Pingtung said that when Formosans assembled to take over the administration of the town they sang "The Star Spangled Banner."
On August 7, 1972, Lim Phaosen, a teacher in Phatthalung province, was taken from his home and never returned. Teacher Lim left the house in the morning to go observe a school in another district as part of his work as the acting head teacher in his village. While he was out, an army soldier came looking for him. His mother-in-law, Kloy Ketsang, said he was not home and told the soldier to come back later. The soldier searched and found Teacher Lim in the other district and forced him to come with him. He took Teacher Lim home and asked him to change his clothes, as he was wearing a sarong, and then took him to a nearby army camp to meet his superiors. Chaweewan, Teacher Lim's eight-year-old daughter, was home from school while this series of events occurred and pleaded with the soldier not to take her father away. Chaweewan and her grandmother cried and asked the soldier to let them come to the camp too, but he refused. When Khruawan, Teacher Lim's wife, arrived home in the evening, she became immediately concerned. Teacher Lim suffered from chronic illness and had not taken his medication with him. But the soldier had not given Kloy or Chaweewan information on where precisely he was taking Teacher Lim.
Chom Kaewpong, another man from Teacher Lim's village, was taken on August 7, 1972, as well, but he was released a few days later. Chom told Khruawan that he had seen Teacher Lim at the camp where he was held. She quickly prepared a supply of medicine for Teacher Lim and rushed to the stated camp. When she arrived at the army camp where Chom had been held and released, the soldiers told her that they had not arrested Teacher Lim and that he was not there. Khruawan then went from camp to camp in Phatthalung but did not find Teacher Lim or any- one who had information about him. She went to neighboring Songkhla and Pattani provinces but was still unable to find her husband. Finally, she learned from a survivor of Thachiet camp that he had been burned in a thang daeng. The same person told her that Teacher Lim had been killed because he opposed the corrupt dealings of a locally influential person who wanted a contract to build a new school. Teacher Lim had been a civil servant for over ten years, but Khruawan was unable to obtain his death benefit or even his last month's salary. The reason: there was no body, no death certificate.
Ploy Prap-in, age thirty-nine, was a teacher who narrowly escaped the thang dang in Phatthalung. On August 10, 1972, he was taken and stuffed with others from his village into a GMC truck and transported to Thachiet army camp. In language reminiscent of earlier and later periods of extrajudicial detention, Teacher Ploy was told that he was not being arrested but was "invited" (choen) to the camp. Once one is arrested (chap), certain procedures and record-keeping mechanisms must be followed under Thai law. "Invitation" is a slippery linguistic trick of obfuscation. If Teacher Ploy was "invited" it was an invitation without the possibility of refusal.
Upon arrival at Thachiet, officials accused Teacher Ploy of working with his colleague Teacher Lim to foment unrest. They were allegedly going to make Xeroxes of tracts from the Peoples' Liberation Army of Phatthalung to distribute in the market. Then they were going to burn government buildings, including a health center, and kill army soldiers and Village Defense Volunteers. At the close of this interrogation, Teacher Ploy was told that if he did not confess to these crimes, then he would be killed in a thang daeng. A soldier took Teacher Ploy to a large tent at the edge of the camp. He saw blood staining the ground near the tent. When he entered the tent, he saw over sixty villagers, many of them with obvious marks of torture on their bodies. Teacher Ploy was interrogated every day while at Thachiet. His fellow villagers told him that if you were called for interrogation at night, then you were going to be killed. The villagers told Teacher Ploy that even though the soldiers guarding the tent told those who left at night that they were being released, this was not true. Instead, people were forced to sign a statement confirming that they were being released, and then they were killed. Every night those inside the tent saw the fires as the oil and bodies in the thang daeng burned.
On his fifth night in the tent, Teacher Ploy was taken to be interrogated. He was forced to sign a paper stating he had been released. Then, a high-ranking officer came into the room and said that he was innocent and to take him back to the tent. Teacher Ploy was held for seven more days. During those days, he underwent "training" (kan fuek obrom) in the camp. He was very surprised to see himself in documents distributed by trainers from the Communist Suppression Operations Command (CSOC). Apparently he and Teacher Lim had turned themselves into the CSOC and confessed to planning to distribute communist documents and destroy government property. He had neither turned himself in nor confessed. After his release, Teacher Ploy remained afraid but felt lucky to be alive and returned to work.
State Violence in East Asia (2013), specifically Tyrell Haberkorn's work.
In Vietnam in the late 1960s, the Phoenix Program—a CIA-led counterinsurgency operation using assassination, terror, and psychological warfare—was decimating civilian sympathizers of the Vietnamese insurgents. Much of the “dirty work” was done by paramilitary hunter-killer squads and criminal thugs drawn from the ranks of South Vietnamese officers and civilians, while U.S. personnel provided lists of suspects, participated in interrogations, and supervised, controlled, and financed the program. There was no due process, and tens of thousands of civilians were tortured and killed. U.S. soldiers in the Phoenix Program were sworn to secrecy; they were warned that revealing the classified operation to unauthorized persons would result, at minimum, in a $10,000 fine and ten years in prison.
In 1971, CIA officer William Colby, the director of Phoenix, was asked by a congressman: "Are you certain that we know a member of the Vietcong infrastructure (VCI) from a loyal member of the South Vietnam citizenry?"
"No, Mr. Congressman," replied Colby, "I am not."
Phoenix was a coordinated effort of the United States and South Vietnam to wipe out this infrastructure. Under the program, Vietnamese citizens were rounded up and jailed, often in tiger cages, often tortured, often killed, either in the process of being arrested or subsequently. By Colby's records, during the period between early 1968 and May 1971, 20,587 alleged Vietcong cadres met their death as a result of the Phoenix Program. A similar program, under different names, had existed since 1965 and been run by the United States alone. A former US military-intelligence officer in Vietnam, K. Barton Osborn, testified before a House Committee that suspects caught by Phoenix were interrogated in helicopters and sometimes pushed out. He also spoke of the use of electric shock torture and the insertion into the ear of a six-inch dowel which was tapped through the brain until the victim died. Osborn's colleague, Michael J. Uhl, testified that most suspects were captured during sweeping tactical raids and that all persons detained were classified as Vietcong. None of those held for questioning, said Osborn, had ever lived through the process.
Joseph Blair, a retired major and former Phoenix operative who taught at the SOA for three years, said that the author of the SOA and CIA “torture manuals,” declassified in the mid-1990s, drew from intelligence materials used during the Vietnam War that advocated assassination, torture, extortion, and other “techniques.” The manuals were drawn from the U.S. Army’s Project X. Project X was part of the U.S. Army’s Foreign Intelligence Assistance Program, first developed in 1965–66 at the U.S. Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird, Maryland. One U.S. counterintelligence officer said that Project X materials were based on lessons drawn from the Phoenix Program, and the U.S. Army Intelligence School taught a course on Phoenix at the same time as the Project X manuals were being written. An army intelligence officer involved in producing the manuals said Project X “was a program to develop an exportable foreign intelligence training package to provide counterinsurgency techniques learned in Vietnam to Latin American countries.” The manuals were used until 1976, when the Carter administration halted the training for fear that it contributed to human rights abuses. The training was reintroduced in 1982 under the Reagan administration.
The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World by Douglas Valentine
Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America by J. Patrice McSherry
Killing Hope by William Blum