The Secret History Of American Wars For Big Business
The Greatest Victory of the West
1954 CIA: Banana Republicans
Memo to Guatemala: Do not mess with the United Fruit Company. When the Guatemalan president tried to transfer real estate held by United Fruit to landless peasants, the CIA struck back. Former agent E. Howard Hunt, who took part in carrying out the coup to overthrow President Arbenz, said the CIA gave the rebels lists of targets that included political activists and intellectuals, which caused a young physician named Ernesto Guevara to flee the country. (Bonus: the Dulles brothers were shareholders in United Fruit.)
1961 Bay of Pigs, Ship Of Fools
In one of the most daring and disastrous attacks in American history, the CIA recruited, trained and armed 1,500 Cuban exiles to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro. The United Fruit Company (back for more) was only too happy to lend the agency some of its ships for the invasion, but within three days of landing, the Cuban armed forces rebuffed the invaders and soon captured, tried and imprisoned nearly all of them. The phrase "Bay of Pigs" is now shorthand for "terrible idea."
1964 "Operation Uncle Sam"
Here's another example of what happens when you displease Washington. After limiting the amount of profits multinational corporations could extract from Brazil and nationalizing private oil refineries, President Goulart landed himself on DC's naughty list. A pro-industrialist junta unseated Goulart, unleashing 15 years of military rule that included torture, disappearances and executions. Lincoln Gordon, the American ambassador, described the coup as "the greatest victory of the West against communism."
1966 Ghana's President Flew the Coup
President Kwame Nkrumah, an anti-colonialist and pan-African activist, socialized his country and borrowed money for a hydroelectric plant, sinking the country deep into debt. But his worst crime may have been to ignore the will of the United States. While Nkrumah was abroad, his army officers staged a violent coup, killing eight of his Soviet advisors and installing themselves at the head of the government. In his 1969 account, Nkrumah wrote, "It has been one of the tasks of the CIA... to discover these potential quislings and traitors in our midst, and to encourage them... to destroy the constitutional government of their countries." Never to set foot in Ghana again, he died of skin cancer in Romania in 1972.