While USAID claims that it provides international assistance to “strengthen democratic governance” in “support of American foreign policy,” the historical record reveals that it has been used to finance opposition groups and regime-change attempts in countries that challenge Washington’s foreign policy interest. Researcher Peter Hallward documented how USAID funds were used to fund anti-government civil society fronts in Haiti after Aristide’s landslide election in 2000. This followed a cut in funding to Haiti immediately following Aristide’s victory. The understanding that the NED and USAID serve as tools for U.S. imperialism is more widely accepted these days.
On April 13, US Ambassador to Peru Lisa Kenna posted a photo with the Peruvian Attorney General Patricia Benavides on her personal Twitter account. She added that the two had a meeting to discuss “the importance of moving forward with investigations of incidents of violence and human rights cases in recent months”. This tweet is further evidence to not only the role played by the US embassy in the coup d’état against President Pedro Castillo Terrones on December 7, 2022, but also a long history of US interventionism in the justice system of our country. It also shows that today, in a period of multi-polar transition, is extremely strategic for the US to take care of its “Backyard” and give continuity to the Monroe Doctrine.
The president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, asked his US counterpart, Joe Biden, to stop his government from funding organizations that are “openly opposed to the legal and legitimate government” of Mexico, since “it is clearly an act of interventionism, contrary to international law and the respect that should prevail among independent and sovereign states.” During his morning press conference on Wednesday, May 3, in response to a question by journalist Nancy Flores of Contralínea, AMLO showed the letter he had sent to Biden the day before, asking the US president to stop the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from funding opposition parties and associated NGOs, such as Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI) and Article 19 that are trying to destabilize the government of Mexico.
In the late 1980s, after the Feb. 7, 1986 fall of Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Washington began to implement in earnest its neo-liberal “structural adjustment” of Haiti. “Structural adjustment” is simply an economist’s euphemism for crushing austerity cuts, comprised of firing thousands of state workers, sale and closure of state enterprises, the dramatic lowering of tariffs, and the slashing of social programs. Journalist Michael Massing deftly described the havoc that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID or simply AID) brought to Haiti in late 1987 in the New York Review of Books.
The U.S. Agency for International Development was established by executive order under the Kennedy administration in 1961, tasked with the stated mission of administering humanitarian assistance or international development abroad. But make no mistake: USAID serves as a tool of U.S. capitalist and imperialist interests — it exists solely to direct the money and resources of the Global South into the pockets of the U.S. capitalist class. USAID now operates in 100 countries worldwide, mostly in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, and has an annual budget of nearly $30 billion to spend on its global development programs.
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The United States has perfected the art of regime change operations. The US is the largest empire in world history with more than 1,000 military bases and troops operating throughout the world. In addition to military force, the US uses the soft power of regime change, often through 'Color Revolutions.' The US has been building its empire since the Civil War era, but it has been in the post-World War II-time period that it has perfected regime change operations.US military presence around the world Have the people of the United States been the victims of regime change operations at home? Have the wealthiest and the security state created a government that serves them, rather than the people? To answer these questions, we begin by examining how regime change works and then look at whether those ingredients are being used domestically.
During the 21st century, the US, working with corporate elites, traditional oligarchies, military, and corporate media, has continually attempted coups against Latin American governments which place the needs of their people over US corporate interests. US organized coups in Latin American countries is hardly a 20th century phenomenon. However, this century the US rulers have turned to a new coup strategy, relying on soft coups, a significant change from the notoriously brutal military hard coups in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and other countries in the 1970s. One central US concern in these new coups has been to maintain a legal and democratic facade as much as possible. The US superpower recognizes successful soft coups depend on mobilizing popular forces in anti-government marches and protests.
Nicaragua has an election to choose their president and national assembly on November 7. According to polls, the Sandinista Front (FSLN) currently in government is expected to win the presidency and a majority of seats in the assembly. At the same time, the Sandinista government is intensely disliked by Washington and there has been a steady stream of negative news and accusations. One theme of accusations concerns the indigenous peoples. In October 2020, PBS Newshour broadcast an episode claiming the US is importing “conflict beef” from the indigenous regions of Nicaragua. This story relied on an Oakland Institute report which alleges rampant violence against indigenous communities and a complicit Nicaraguan government.
Nicaragua has been under heavy fire from the corporate-owned media lately. The government of Daniel Ortega has arrested several opposition figures in the midst of an upcoming election. The US government and corporate media have been expressing their outrage about what they consider to be the growing dictatorial nature of the Ortega ‘regime’. But there is more to the story than they let on. A deeper investigation shows that the situation is not as clear-cut as they make out. And as is so often the case with Latin America, it falls to independent media to add some nuance and balance to the flagrantly right-leaning and pro-Washington coverage of the corporate-owned press.
We have had a good many people to write us and ask us what in the world is going on in Nicaragua as they read all the international reporting. This is our attempt at trying to put the recent arrests in a way that people living in the United States might better understand. We are finding that if we do comparisons, that other people can maybe get a feeling of what this little nation that we love so much is doing. First let us explain some before we get to the comparisons between Nicaragua and the U.S. USAID and other U.S. government entities have sent astronomical sums of money to NGOs in Nicaragua, a poor country of only 6.5 million people. A comparison of the wealth of the two countries makes the figures even more outrageous. Nicaragua’s GDP is around $12 billion, while the GDP of the US is around $21 trillion—that makes the U.S. economy more than 1,750 times larger than Nicaragua’s. We multiplied the figures of money sent to Nicaragua by 1,750 to show what an equivalent sum would mean in the U.S. in the comparisons below.
Since the Sandinistas won the 2006 election their anti-poverty policies have had enormous success. The country is 90% self-sufficient in food. 99% of the population have electricity in their homes that is now generated with 70+% green energy; International financial Institutions including the World Bank, the International Development Bank and The Central American Bank for Economic Integration praise Nicaragua for its excellent, efficient project execution. it has one of the best health systems in Latin America praised by the International Monetary Fund, with 20 new state of the art hospitals since 2007 achieving one of the lowest Covid mortality rates in the world. Poverty, extreme poverty, maternal, child and infant mortality have all been cut at least in half. Nicaragua is number one in the world in both women in politics and women in ministerial positions and it is fifth in gender equity behind the Nordic nations.
The first and most important element of context is that Nicaragua is a country under attack. Since the 2018 coup attempt, documents have come to light indicating that the leaders of the violence were receiving tens of millions of dollars from such CIA front groups as USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) through programs to “promote democracy” and “facilitate transition”—code words for regime change. Additionally, as revealed in August 2020, there is an ongoing USAID coup plot called Responsive Assistance in Nicaragua (RAIN) which seeks to ensure that this year’s election results in a government to the liking of the U.S. The document even admits that the FSLN is likely to win in a fair election, in which case a “sudden, unanticipated transition” may be necessary.
The US government has spent years cultivating a ring of right-wing media outlets in Nicaragua that played a central role in a violent 2018 coup attempt. This network is now being investigated by the Nicaraguan government on allegations of money laundering. These publications are an integral part of a political opposition that Washington has carefully managed, trained, and funded with millions of dollars over the past decade. While relentlessly accusing Nicaragua’s leftist government of corruption, they have been suspiciously obscure with their own finances and record-keeping. The institution at the heart of the US-backed influence network is called the Fundación Violeta Barrios de Chamorro para la Reconciliación y la Democracia, or Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation for Reconciliation and Democracy – often referred to simply as the Chamorro Foundation.
On Tuesday, May 19, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, decried that the US government “is already taking too long” to respond to the diplomatic note sent to the US Embassy in Mexico, last May 6. The aforementioned note, sent by the government of Mexico, sought explanation regarding the financing of the NGO Mexicans against Corruption and Impunity (MCCI), as well as funding of other political groups disguised as civil associations.
Red Lines host Anya Parampil explores a new report issued by USAID's Office of the Inspector General which admits the agency's policy on Venezuela was driven by the State Department and National Security Council's push for regime change. The report specifically investigated USAID's attempt to use the US military to force aid through Venezuela's border with Colombia on February 23, 2019. Anya highlights the most interesting findings in the audit, including that USAID failed to put proper fraud controls in place in order to appease US officials seeking to overthrow Venezuela's elected government.