OVERTHROWN

 

Instances of the United States overthrowing, attempting to overthrow,
or participating in the overthrow, of a foreign government,
since the Second World War.

source: author William Blum

China 1949 to early 1960s
Albania 1949-53
East Germany 1950s
Iran 1953 *
Guatemala 1954 *
Costa Rica mid-1950s
Syria 1956-7
Egypt 1957
Indonesia 1957-8
British Guiana 1953-64 *
Iraq 1963 *
North Vietnam 1945-73
Cambodia 1955-70 *
Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
Ecuador 1960-63 *
Congo 1960 *
France 1965
Brazil 1962-64 *
Dominican Republic 1963 *
Cuba 1959 to present
Bolivia 1964 *
Indonesia 1965 *
Ghana 1966 *
Chile 1964-73 *
Greece 1967 *
Costa Rica 1970-71
Bolivia 1971 *
Australia 1973-75 *
Angola 1975, 1980s
Zaire 1975
Portugal 1974-76 *
Jamaica 1976-80 *
Seychelles 1979-81
Chad 1981-82 *
Grenada 1983 *
South Yemen 1982-84
Suriname 1982-84
Fiji 1987 *
Libya 1980s
Nicaragua 1981-90 *
Panama 1989 *
Bulgaria 1990 *
Albania 1991 *
Iraq 1991
Afghanistan 1980s *
Somalia 1993
Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
Ecuador 2000 *
Afghanistan 2001 *
Venezuela 2002 *
Iraq 2003 *
Haiti 2004 *
Somalia 2007 to present
Libya 2011*
Syria 2012

(* indicates successful ouster of a government)

 

"Coups happen because very wealthy people want them and help to make them happen - people who are used to seeing the country as a money machine and suddenly see social legislation on behalf of the poor as a threat to their interests."

Robert White, former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and former president of the Center for International Polic

 

 

OVERTHROWN
(A PARTIAL LIST)

The United States has overthrown, supported the overthrow, or assassinated democratically-elected leaders, or political leaders who were supported by the majority of their populations. The result was that authoritarian repressive governments, that lacked popular support, came to power, and the countries and their people suffered as a result

 

BRAZIL
Joao Goulart - 1964

Joao Goulart was the left-leaning president of Brazil from 1961-1964.
Goulart pursued education reform which aimed to combat adult illiteracy, reform of the universities and a prohibition on the operation of private schools. He proposed that a 15% tax on income produced in Brazil be directed toward education. The income tax was reformed, and voting rights were extended. Non-productive properties larger than 600 hectares were to be expropriated and redistributed to the population by the government.
Goulart was not favorably viewed in Washington, because he took an independent stand in foreign policy, resumed relations with socialist countries and opposed sanctions against Cuba.
The United States encouraged senior Brazilian military officers to seize power and to back army chief of staff General Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco as coup leader. General Branco led an April 1964 coup of the constitutional government of President Goulart and was installed as first president of the military regime, immediately declaring a state of siege and arresting more than 50,000 political opponents within the first month of seizing power, while the US government expressed approval and re-instituted aid and investment in the country.
Goulart first sought political asylum in Uruguay and then went to live in Argentina, where he died in 1976.

 

CAMBODIA
Norodom Sihanouk - 1970

Norodom Sihanouk became king of Cambodia in 1941 and remained so amid the Japanese occupation during the Second World War. Post-war, Sihanouk secured Cambodian independence from France in 1953. In 1955, Sihanouk abdicated the throne and formed the political organization Sangkum, which won the 1955 general election. As Prime Minister, he governed Cambodia under one-party rule. Officially neutral in foreign relations, in practice he was closer to the communist bloc.
The bombing of Cambodia by the United States beginning in 1969, weakened Sihanouk and led to the 1970 military coup that ousted him from power.
The bombing from 1969 to 1972, left 600,000 civilians dead, millions of refugees, tens-of-thousands dying from disease and starvation, and the Cambodian economy and culture in ruins. The guerrilla army of the Khmer Rouge led by Pol Pot finally took power in 1975. Once in power, Pol Pot emptied the cities, forcing the people into the countryside. Virtually all educated people were killed and more than 1.5 million people perished in this genocide. Only when the Khmer Rouge was ousted by Vietnam in 1979, did the terror stop.

 

CHILE
Salvador Allende - 1973

Augusto Pinochet assumed power in Chile following a United States-backed coup in 1973 that overthrew the democratically-elected socialist government of President Salvador Allende and ended 150 years of civilian rule.
Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger made the Chilean economy "scream" in their attempt to remove Allende, but he remained in office with overwhelming popular support until the bloody CIA-orchestrated coup, during which Allende took his own life.
Tens of thousands of Chileans were tortured, killed, and exiled during Pinochet's rule. Despite Chile's human rights record, the U.S. government continued to support Pinochet. Even the state-sponsored assassination of Chile's former Ambassador to the U.S., Orlando Letelier, in the United States, did not convince the U.S. to break with Pinochet.
Pinochet's military government implemented economic liberalization, banned trade unions and privatized social security and hundreds of state-owned enterprises. Economic inequality dramatically increased. His fortune grew considerably during his years in power through dozens of bank accounts secretly held abroad and a fortune in real estate. He was later prosecuted for embezzlement and tax fraud.
In a 1988 plebiscite, Pinochet was defeated, leading to democratic elections. After stepping down in 1990, Pinochet continued to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Army until 10 March 1998, when he retired and became a senator-for-life.

 

CONGO
(DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO/ZAIRE)
Patrice Lumumba - 1960

Patrice Lumumba was a Congolese politician and independence leader who served as the first Prime Minister of the independent Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Republic of the Congo) from June until September 1960. He played a significant role in the transformation of the Congo from a colony of Belgium into an independent republic. Ideologically he was an African nationalist and a Pan-Africanist.
At the onset of his premiership Lumumba had two main goals: to ensure that independence would bring a legitimate improvement in the quality of life for the Congolese, and to unify the country in a centralized state by eliminating tribalism and regionalism. In eliminating all notions of tribalism and regionalism in the Congo Lumumba was heavily inspired by of Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana.
When Lumumba embraced socialism, US companies feared they might lose control of Congo's precious cobalt, copper, and diamonds.
A Belgian Commission report in 2001 states that there had been earlier U.S. and Belgian plots to kill Lumumba. Among them was a Central Intelligence Agency-sponsored attempt to poison him, which came on orders from U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. CIA chemist Sidney Gottlieb devised a poison resembling toothpaste. In September 1960, Gottlieb brought a vial of the poison to the Congo with plans to place it on Lumumba's toothbrush. However, the plot was later abandoned.
Finally, the CIA deposed Lumumba in July 1960 and replaced him with Mobutu Sese Seko who completed the job for the United States, assassinating Lumumba by firing squad in September 1960, three months after he was overthrown in the CIA-directed coup.
The inauguration of John F. Kennedy in January 1961 caused fear among Mobutu's faction and within the CIA that the incoming administration would shift its favor to the imprisoned Lumumba. While awaiting his presidential inauguration, Kennedy had come to believe that Lumumba should be released from custody, though not be allowed to return to power. Lumumba was killed three days before Kennedy's inauguration on 20 January, though Kennedy would not learn of the killing until 13 February.
Mobutu changed the DRCongo's name to Zaire, and as the United States' main man in Central Africa, Mobutu amassed a multi-billion personal fortune at his nation's expense. In the name of anti-communism, he imprisoned and tortured, often without trial, anyone who threatened his power base.
DRCongo's short lived attempt at popular democracy failed when Patrice Lumumba was assassinated with the active participation of the United States.

 

CUBA
Fidel Castro - 1959-2008

Fidel Castro adopted leftist anti-imperialist politics while studying law at the University of Havana. After participating in rebellions against right-wing governments in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, he planned the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. In 1954 in Mexico Castro formed a revolutionary group, the '26th of July Movement' with his brother Raúl Castro and Che Guevara. Returning to Cuba, Castro took a key role in the Cuban Revolution by leading the Movement in a guerrilla war against Batista's forces. After Batista's overthrow in 1959, Castro assumed military and political power as Cuba's Prime Minister.
The United States came to oppose Castro's government and unsuccessfully attempted to remove him by assassination, economic blockade and counter-revolution, including the Bay of Pigs Invasion of 1961. Countering these threats, Castro formed an alliance with the Soviet Union and allowed the Soviets to place nuclear weapons in Cuba, sparking the Cuban Missile Crisis ­ a defining incident of the Cold War ­ in 1962.
Castro converted Cuba into a one-party, socialist state under Communist Party rule, the first in the Western Hemisphere. Policies introducing central economic planning and expanding healthcare and education were accompanied by state control of the press and the suppression of internal dissent. Abroad, Castro supported anti-imperialist revolutionary groups, backing the establishment of Marxist governments in Chile, Nicaragua and Grenada, as well as sending troops to aid allies in the Yom Kippur, Ogaden, and Angolan Civil War. These actions, coupled with Castro's leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement from 1979 to 1983 and Cuba's medical internationalism, increased Cuba's profile on the world stage.
Following the Soviet Union's dissolution in 1991, Castro led Cuba through the economic downturn, embracing environmentalist and anti-globalization ideas. In the 2000s, Castro forged alliances in the Latin American "pink tide" ­ namely with Hugo Chávez's Venezuela ­ and signed Cuba up to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas.
In 2006, Castro transferred his responsibilities to Vice President Raúl Castro, who was elected to the presidency by the National Assembly in 2008. Fidel Castro died in 2016 at the age of 90.
Castro polarized world opinion. His supporters view him as a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism whose revolutionary regime advanced economic and social justice while securing Cuba's independence from American imperialism. Critics view him as a dictator whose administration oversaw human-rights abuses, the exodus of a large number of Cubans and the impoverishment of the country's economy. Castro was decorated with various international awards and significantly influenced individuals and groups across the world.

 

ECUADOR
Jaime Roldos - 1981

Jaime Roldos ran for president of Ecuador in 1978 on a populist platform. During his first year as President he reduced the workweek to 40 hours and doubled the minimum wage.
Roldós' most important accomplishment was his policy in support of human rights, in an era in which most Latin American countries were military dictatorships, Roldós met with the democratically elected presidents of the Andean region (Venezuela, Colombia, and Peru), proposed the signing of a Charter of Conduct, in which the principles of universal justice and human rights were re-affirmed, signaling protection of human rights as an important principle.
His stance on human-rights led him to clash with right-wing Latin American leaders.
This policy was questioned by American conservatives, who considered it an excuse to justify Soviet meddling in the region. The United States condemned the "Roldós doctrine", as they did that of Panamanian Omar Torrijos, who also died in a plane crash several months later. Following the 1980 U.S. presidential election of Ronald Reagan, bilateral relations with the USA became strained.
Shortly after sending his legislative package on the oil sector reform, in early 1981, Roldós warned foreign interests that if they wouldn't contribute to the progress of the Ecuadorean people, they would have to leave the country. Additionally, the pact on human rights reached with Colombia and Peru was seen by the Reagan Administration as a tilt toward the Soviet Union.
On May 24, 1981, a plane carrying the Roldos crashed in the mountains of Ecuador, killing Roldos and his entourage.
American author John Perkins, in his book 'Confessions of an Economic Hit Man', concludes that Roldós was assassinated, because his plan to reorganize the hydrocarbon sector would have threatened U.S. oil interests, which had engaged in a lobbying and public relations campaign against Roldós' government.
Just months after Roldós died, another Latin American leader who had been at odds with U.S. interests in the control of the Panama Canal, Panama's Omar Torrijos, also died in a plane crash, which some believe was a CIA-conducted assassination.

 

GHANA
Kwame Nkrumah - 1966

Kwame Nkrumah was the first prime minister and president of Ghana, having led it to independence from Britain in 1957. An influential advocate of Pan-Africanism, Nkrumah was a founding member of the Organization of African Unity.
He became prime minister in 1952 and retained this position when Ghana declared independence from Britain in 1957. In 1960, Ghanaians approved a new constitution and elected Nkrumah president.
His administration was both socialist and nationalist. It funded national industrial and energy projects, developed a strong national education system, and promoted a national (and pan-African) culture. Under Nkrumah, Ghana played a leading role in African international relations during the decolonization period.
In 1965, the U.S. ambassador to Ghana met with the CIA Director to discuss the coup that was being planned by the Acting Police Commissioner and two Generals.
John Stockwell elaborated on the coup in his memoir 'In Search of Enemies: A CIA Story':
"The Accra station was encouraged by CIA headquarters to maintain contact with dissidents of the Ghanaian army for the purpose of gathering intelligence on their activities. It was given a generous budget, and maintained intimate contact with the plotters as a coup was hatched."
After the coup, the once wealthy nation of Ghana was milked dry by international financial organizations that privatized many of the country's state corporations. Nkrumah fled into exile in Guinea never to return to his home country. After 19 years of prosperity under Nkrumah, Ghana slid back into the dark ages.
After the coup, the people of Ghana got one military coup after another (7 total).
In the 1950s, the world had celebrated Kwame Nkrumah and Ghana. After the coup, the American propaganda machine painted the country and its leader as corrupt, savage, and unstable. Kwame Nkrumah's organization - the Organization of African Unity - was hijacked by the United Nations, and is now a tool used to expand the program of African exploitation.

 

GREECE
Georgios Papandreou - 1967

In 1961, Georgios Papandreou revived Greek liberalism by founding the Center Union Party. His party won the elections of November 1963 and those of 1964, the second with a landslide majority.
His progressive policies as premier aroused much opposition in conservative circles.
Greek King Constantine II openly opposed Papandreou's government, and there were frequent ultra-rightist plots in the Army, which destabilized the government. Finally the King engineered a split in the Centre Union and in July 1965, he dismissed the government following a dispute over control of the Ministry of Defense.
In April 1967, a military coup led by a Colonels' junta led by George Papadopoulos, overthrew Papandreou, who was arrested.
Papadopoulos' regime imposed martial law, the press was subjected to harsh censorship and thousands of the regime's political opponents were thrown into prison or exiled. Torture of political prisoners in general, and communists in particular, was carried on.
The regime was supported by the United States because of its staunchly anti-communist stance.
Papandreou died under house arrest in November 1968.

 

GUATEMALA
Jacobo Arbenz - 1954

In 1944 several civilian groups and progressive military factions led by Jacabo Árbenz and Francisco Arana rebelled against the Guatemalan government's repressive policies. In the elections that followed, Juan José Arévalo was elected president, and began a highly popular program of social reform. Árbenz was appointed Minister of Defense.
After the death of Arana, Árbenz contested the presidential elections that were held in 1950, won the election, and continued social reform policies, including an expanded right to vote, the ability of workers to organize, legitimizing political parties, and allowing public debate.
The centerpiece of his policy was an agrarian reform law under which uncultivated portions of large land-holdings were expropriated in return for compensation and redistributed to poverty-stricken agricultural laborers. Approximately 500,000 people benefited from the decree. The majority of them were indigenous people, whose forebears had been dispossessed after the Spanish invasion.
Because his policies ran afoul of the United Fruit Company, the single largest land owner in Guatemala, United Fruit lobbied the United States government to have him overthrown.
The U.S. was also concerned by the presence of communists in the Guatemalan government.
Árbenz was ousted in a 1954 coup d'état engineered by the US Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency. John Foster Dulles, President Dwight Eisenhower's Secretary of State at the time was on the Board of United Fruit.
Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas replaced Arbenz as president. Árbenz went into exile through several countries, where his family gradually fell apart. His daughter committed suicide, and he died in Mexico in 1971.
The coup ended a brief period of popular democratic government in Guatemala, and resulted in a series of brutal right-wing dictators that have ruled the country ever since.

 

HAITI
Jean-Bertrand Aristide - 1991 and 2004

Unspeakable crimes have been done to Haiti. At one time it was a rich country, but it was stripped of its wealth by France. Then United States backed dictatorships that terrorized Haiti for decades. The Haitian people lived on the brink of survival. Even though there wasn't much left to exploit, the US continued to back repressive regimes that have plundered the country to this day.
Under the barbaric rule of Francois 'Papa Doc' and his son Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier, the US provided massive military and intelligence aid - with the help of Israel. And after Baby Doc Duvalier was brought down by a popular uprising, the US continued to back the Duvaliers' vicious paramilitary force - the Tonton Macoutes.
Starting around 1989, the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) encouraged the formation of FRAPH - government-supported paramilitary gangsters - that terrorized Haitians for years.
Then, for a brief period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Haitian majority organized, put together a popular movement that brought down 'Baby Doc' Duvalier, and elected former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide to the Presidency in 1990. Aristide tried to push a popular platform that would raise the minimum wage and redistribute some of Haiti's the wealth to the poor.
In response, George H W Bush supported a coup that ousted Aristide from power in 1991 and installed a military dictatorship. Bill Clinton continued to support the coup dictatorship.
Aristide was allowed to return to Haiti in 1994 to finish his term, under the condition that he agree to abandon the economic program of the popular movement that got him elected, and instead accept an economically-destructive World Bank-IMF program, which redistributed Haiti's wealth from the poor to the rich.
Following popular unrest in Haiti, the U.S. allowed Aristide to run for office again in 2001, but he was cut off from the popular movement that had elected him, and the economy suffered under the restrictive IMF/World Bank structural adjustment programs.
In 2004, Aristide was again ousted from power in a U.S.-supported paramilitary coup, was kidnapped at gunpoint, and was flown against his will, on a U.S. military plane, to the Central African Republic. He later moved to South Africa, until he was finally allowed to return to Haiti in 2011, but was barred from politics. (The U.S. had allowed the former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude 'Baby Doc' Duvalier to return to Haiti from exile France earlier that year).
When Aristide was forced from office in 2004, the very brief period of popularly-elected democratic government in Haiti came to an end.

 

HONDURAS
Manuel Zelaya - 2009

Manuel Zelaya was the popularly-elected President of Honduras from January 27, 2006 until June 28, 2009.
On Jun2 28, 2009, the Honduran Army followed orders from the Honduran Supreme Court to oust President Zelaya and send him into exile.
The crisis was prompted when Zelaya attempted to schedule a non-binding poll on holding a referendum to rewrite the constitution, a move that trade unions, indigenous groups, and social activist organizations had long been lobbying for. The constitution had been written by the Honduran military in 1982, and the one-term presidential limit allowed the generals to dominate the politics of the country.
After Zelaya refused to comply with court orders to cease, the Honduran Supreme Court issued a secret warrant for his arrest. Two days later, Honduran soldiers stormed the president's house in the middle of the night and detained him. Instead of bringing him to trial, the army put him on a military plane and flew him into exile in Costa Rica.

International reaction to the 2009 Honduran coup d'état was widespread. The United Nations, the Organization of American States (OAS), and the European Union condemned the removal of Zelaya as a military coup. On 5 July 2009, all member states of the OAS voted by acclamation to suspend Honduras from the organization.
In July 2011, Honduras's Truth Commission concluded that Zelaya's removal from office was illegal and a coup. The Commission found Congress' designation of Roberto Micheletti as interim president as unconstitutional.

The United States was involved in the coup through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that contribute to right-wing organizations that supported the coup, including the Peace and Democracy Movement and the Civil Democratic Union.
Many of the officers that took Zelaya into exile were trained at the "School for the Americas" that has seen torturers and coup leaders from all over Latin America pass through its doors.
The aircraft that carried Zelaya the night of his abduction landed at a U.S. military base in Honduras, before continuing to its final destination in Costa Rica.
When Zelaya journeyed to the Honduran-Nicaragua border after the coup, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced him for being 'provocative', however, the State Department said nothing about a report by the Committee of Disappeared Detainees in Honduras charging 1,100 human rights violations by the coup regime, including detentions, assaults, and murder.
In the old days, when the United States routinely overthrew governments that displeased it, the Marines would have gone in, as they did in Guatemala and Nicaragua, or the CIA would have engineered a coup by the local elites. But the fingerprints of U.S. institutions like the NED, USAID, and School for the Americas, plus powerful corporations and dedicated Cold War warriors, were all over the Zelaya coup.

 

INDONESIA
General Sukarno - 1967

Sukarno was the first President of Indonesia, serving in office from 1945 to 1967.
Sukarno was the leader of his country's struggle for Independence from the Netherlands. He was a prominent leader of Indonesia's nationalist movement during the Dutch colonial period, and spent over a decade under Dutch detention until released by the invading Japanese forces. Upon Japanese surrender, Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta declared Indonesian independence on 1945, and Sukarno was appointed as first president. He led Indonesians in resisting Dutch re-colonization efforts via diplomatic and military means until the Dutch acknowledgement of Indonesian independence in 1949.
After a chaotic period of parliamentary democracy, Sukarno established an autocratic system in 1957 that successfully ended instability and rebellions which were threatening the survival of the country. The early 1960s saw Sukarno moving Indonesia to the left by providing support and protection to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
In 1965, Sukarno was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup by General Muhammad Suharto and other senior military officers. Indonesian government forces with collaboration of some civilians perpetrated mass killings over many months. The CIA acknowledged that the massacres ranked as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th Century. Estimates of the number of civilians killed range from a half million to three million. The US had detailed, ongoing knowledge of the mass killings, and provided the Indonesian army with thousands of names of Sukarno PKI supporters and other leftists, which US officials checked off from their lists those who had been murdered.

 

IRAN
Mohammad Mossadegh - 1953

Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown in 1953 in a coup orchestrated by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Britain's Secret Intelligence Service MI6.
An author, administrator, lawyer, and prominent parliamentarian, Mosaddegh's administration introduced a range of social and political actions such as social security and land reforms. His government's most notable policy was the seizure by nationalization of the Iranian oil industry, which had been established by the British since 1913 through the Anglo-Persian Oil Company (later British Petroleum/BP).
The coup is commonly referred to in the West as Operation Ajax after its CIA cryptonym.
Mosaddegh was imprisoned for three years, then put under house arrest until his death, and was buried in his own home so as to prevent a political furor.
The coup saw Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi return to power as an absolute dictator who relied heavily on United States' government support to hold on to power until his own overthrow in February 1979.
Many Iranians regard Mosaddegh as the leading champion of secular democracy and resistance to foreign domination in Iran's modern history.

 

LIBYA
Muammar Gaddafi - 2011

Muammar Gaddafi, was a Libyan military leader, revolutionary and politician.
He had founded a revolutionary cell which deposed the Western-backed monarchy of King Idris in a 1969 coup. Having taken power, Gaddafi converted Libya into a republic governed by his Revolutionary Command Council. Ruling by decree, he ejected Western military bases from Libya while strengthening ties to Arab nationalist governments. He nationalized the oil industry and used the state revenues to bolster the military, fund foreign revolutionaries and implement social programs emphasizing house-building, healthcare and education projects.
Libya's alleged responsibility for the Lockerbie bombing in Scotland in 1988 left it increasingly isolated on the world stage. A particularly hostile relationship developed with the United States and Europe when Gaddafi nationalized the country's oil resources, much of which were owned by foreign oil companies.
During the 2011 Arab Spring, protests broke out in eastern Libya. The situation descended into civil war, in which NATO intervened militarily on the side of the anti-Gaddafi forces.
When the government was finally overthrown in 2011 after a savage eight-month bombing campaign, Gaddafi was tracked down and brutally murdered - on camera.
Before the war in 2011 the World Health Organization recorded that the country was providing comprehensive health care to all citizens free of charge, and the CIA World Factbook noted that Libya had a literacy rate of 94.2%. According to the UN, life expectancy was 75 years.
The US and NATO war prosecuted against Libya in 2011, left the once-thriving country a catastrophic shambles and a 'failed state'.

 

PANAMA
Omar Torrijos - 1981

Omar Torrijos, was the Commander of the Panamanian and National Guard. He took power in a coup. While never officially the president, he ruled Panama from 1968 to 1981. Torrijos instituted a number of social reforms and his regime was considered progressive.
Torrijos was regarded by his supporters as the first Panamanian leader to represent the majority population of Panama, which is poor, Spanish-speaking, and of mixed heritage, as opposed to the light-skinned social elite, who had long dominated the commerce and political life of the country.
He opened many schools and created new job opportunities for those less fortunate. Torrijos instituted a range of social and economic reforms to improve the lot of the poor, redistributed agricultural land and persecuted the richest and most powerful families in the country. The reforms were accompanied by an ambitious public works program.
In 1978, Torrijos stepped down as head of the government, but remained de facto ruler of the country while another one of his followers, Aristides Royo was a figurehead president.
Torrijos is best known for negotiating the 1977 Torrijos­Carter Treaties that eventually gave Panama full sovereignty over the Panama Canal.
Torrijos died at the age of 52 when his aircraft crashed in Panama. His suspicious death generated charges and speculation that he was the victim of an assassination plot.
John Perkins author of the book 'Confessions of an Economic Hit Man' said that Torrijos was assassinated by American interests, who had a bomb planted aboard his aircraft by CIA-organized operatives. The alleged motive was that American business leaders and politicians strongly opposed the negotiations between Torrijos and a group of Japanese businessmen who were promoting the idea of a new, larger, sea-level canal for Panama whose construction would exclude American firms.

 

VENEZUELA
Hugo Chavez - 2002 and 2013

Hugo Chavez was President of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013
He was elected President of Venezuela in 1998, 2000, 2006 and 2012.
In 1974 Chávez, while a military officer, visited Panama, where he met with Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos, and was impressed with his land reform program that was designed to benefit the peasants. Influenced by Torrijos, he saw the potential for military officers to seize control of a government when the civilian authorities were perceived as serving the interests of only the wealthy elites. Chávez became highly critical of Augusto Pinochet, the right-wing general who had recently seized control in Chile with the aid of the United States' CIA.
In 1981, Chávez, a captain in the Army, was assigned to teach at the military academy where he had formerly trained. Here he introduced new students to his "Bolivarian" ideals and recruited some of them.
In 1989, Carlos Andrés Pérez was elected President of Venezuela, and though he had promised to oppose the United States government's Washington Consensus and the International Monetary Fund's policies, he opposed neither once he got into office, following instead neoliberal economic policies supported by the United States and the IMF, angering the public.
Chávez prepared and led a military coup in 1992, which was unsuccessful. Chávez gave himself up to the government and appeared on television, in uniform, to call on the remaining coup members to lay down their arms.
Venezuelans, particularly poor ones, began seeing him as someone who stood up against government corruption and kleptocracy.
Following the coup attempt, Chávez was arrested and imprisoned in a military stockade. After his release from prison, Chavez traveled around Latin America in search of foreign support for his new Bolivarian movement, visiting Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, and finally Cuba, where he met Fidel Castro and became friends with him.

In 2002, a group of high-ranking anti-Chávez military officers launch a coup against Chávez. Chavez was taken and detained. Business leader Pedro Carmona declared himself president of an interim government, abolished the 1999 constitution and appointed a small governing committee to run the country.
The U.S. government was quick to recognize the de facto government of Carmona, calling it a "transitional civilian government" while failing to mention that Chavez had in fact been kidnapped and that the coup government was in power only as the result of a military intervention.
What neither the coup plotters nor U.S. intelligence anticipated was the dramatic response of the Venezuelan people and their determination to defend their duly-elected president.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets, demanding the return of Chavez, which inspired the loyal sections of the Venezuelan military to act and rescue Chavez.
On April 13, the coup collapsed, and Chávez was returned to power.

There is evidence the U.S. not only knew about the coup plot but actively supported it.
U.S. intelligence knew of the intimate details of the plot well in advance without informing the Venezuelan government.
The coup-plotters had met with senior U.S. officials. At a minimum, the U.S. was an accessory.
Otto Reich was appointed by U.S. President George W. Bush as his point man on Latin America. According to the Observer newspaper, Reich, a fervently anti-Castro right-wing Cuban-American, met with the coup plotters just months before the events of April 2002. The plotters would also meet with Elliot Abrams, a senior figure during the presidency of Ronald Reagan and a senior director at the National Security Council in Bush's administration.
The coup-plotters also allegedly met with John Negroponte, then-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

In 2011, Hugo Chavez announced that he had cancer, and underwent treatment. July 9, 2012, Chávez declared that he had recovered from the cancer, just before the 2012 presidential election, which he won, securing a fourth term as president. In November 2012, Chávez announced plans to travel to Cuba for more medical treatment.
On December 2012, Chávez announced he would undergo cancer surgery in Cuba. He suffered a postoperative respiratory infection which was treated. Suffering a recurrence of the colon cancer, Chavez was given chemotherapy, but his health deteriorated.
Hugo Chávez died in Caracas, Venezuela on March 5, 2013 at the age of 58.

Alfredo Molero, then Minister of Defense, alleged that Chávez was poisoned or infected with a cancer virus by the U.S. government. A spokesman for the U.S State Department dismissed the claim as "absurd".

U.S. interference in Venezuelan affairs did not end with the 2002 coup. The Venezuelan political opposition would seek the oust Chavez later in 2002 through an oil-sector strike that nearly destroyed the Venezuelan economy and again through a recall referendum in 2004, both of which failed.
Despite commitments from U.S. President Barack Obama early in his presidency that the era of U.S. interference in Latin America was over, the policy of the U.S. government remains the same as it was during the Bush years. To this day the U.S. continues to finance the political opposition in Venezuela to the tune of millions of U.S. dollars a year, with a high-ranking official from the National Endowment for Democracy traveling to Venezuela in March 2015 to meet with politicians from the right-wing opposition.

 

 

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