NOT A SINGLE USA NEWSPAPER REPORTED...
Only three english-speaking papers carried the AFP story, but many spanish and french papers did.
US authorites divert Air France flight carrying 'no-fly' journalist to Mexico
American authorities reportedly refused an Air France flight from Paris to Mexico entry into US airspace because a left-wing journalist writing a book on the CIA was on board.
By Henry Samuel in Paris
Last Updated: 11:35PM BST 24 Apr 2009
Hernando Calvo Ospina, who works for Le Monde Diplomatique and has written on revolutionary movements in Cuba and Colombia , figured on the US authorities' "no-fly list".
Air France said the April 18 flight was forced to divert to the French Caribbean island of Martinique before continuing its journey and that it might ask the US Transportation Security Administration for compensation
A spokesman for Mr Ospina's French publisher, Le Temps des Cerises, said: "Hernando, who was heading to Nicaragua to research a report, thus found out that he is on a 'no-fly list' that bans a number of people from flying to or even over the United States." Some 50,000 people are said to be on the list set up under George W. Bush, the former US president.
The publisher accused the Central Intelligence Agency of being behind Mr Ospina's blacklisting, pointing out that the journalist was currently researching a book about the spy agency. "It shows to what degree its paranoia (has reached)," it said.
Air France said that as the flight was not due to stop in a US airport, it had not sent US authorities the passenger manifest. However, it sent one to Mexico, which apparently sent the list on. The crew were informed of the ban as they approached US airspace.
Mr Ospina, who has written several books and contributes to Le Monde Diplomatique, the left-wing French political monthly, said that he was informed of the order to divert the flight by its co-pilot.
"I was speechless and my first reaction was to ask, 'Do you think I'm a terrorist?'," he said. "He replied 'no' and said that was why he told me about it, adding that it was extraordinary and the first time it had happened on an Air France plane."
Maurice Lemoine, editor in chief of Le Monde diplomatique, said: "Hernando Calvo Ospina is a Colombian political exile in France who writes a lot denouncing the government of (President) Alvaro Uribe and the role of the United States in Latin America, and as a journalist has had occasion to interview top members of the Farc (leftist guerillas in Colombia). That seems enough for him to be considered a terrorist."
Since the Sept 11, 2001 attacks, American officials have maintained a secret "terrorist watch list" of individuals forbidden to fly into or out of the US because they are thought to pose a security threat.
Critics claim that, instead of simply targeting known extremists who pose a potential danger in the "war against terror", it has been abusively extended to peaceful critics of US policy. People with similar names to suspected militants have also been listed
The book Chavez gave Obama
A few national security partisans realize now there.s more to worry about than guns, bombs and rogue states. That would be ideas, and last week, a book. It.s a .really dangerous one that can put the White House at risk,. warned a not-very-serious David Brooks, the Mexican daily La Jornada.s Washington correspondent. He was referring to the book Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave Barack Obama during the recent Summit of the Americas.
.Open Veins of Latin America,. written by Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano in 1971, is a famous, superbly written account of 500 years of Latin American distress under colonialism and imperialism. The notable Chilean author Isabel Allende writes that on going into exile following the 1973 Pinochet coup in her country, she took along clothes, family pictures, .a small bag of dirt from my garden, and two books: an old edition of the .Odes. by Pablo Neruda and the book with the yellow cover, .Open Veins of Latin America...
.That book has a power that scares many,. Brooks notes. One is Otto Reich, former State Department official under Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush. Quoted on Newsmax.com, Reich opined that the presidential staff .should not have put President Obama in that embarrassing situation because this is very much an anti-U.S. book. Anti-Europe as well.. Galeano is .a far-left Latin American, a very unknown author,. he claimed.
For Miami Herald columnist Andrés Oppenheimer, the book is .a diatribe whose underlying theme is that Latin America.s poverty is caused by U.S. imperialism.. And Obama showed misplaced appreciation for the gift .considering that Chávez. gesture was the equivalent of presenting Adolf Hitler.s .Mein Kampf. to an Israeli president..
Meanwhile, an Air France flight was proceeding from Paris to Mexico City. Writer Hernando Calvo Ospina was on board, citizen of Colombia and resident of France. Calvo Ospina was heading for Nicaragua on behalf of Le Monde Diplomatique. His books include .Bacardi: The Hidden War,. .The Cuban Exile Movement: Dissidents or Mercenaries. and most recently, .Colombia: Laboratorio de Embrujos. (Laboratory of Curses), which analyst James Petras sees as .the most important study of Colombian politics in recent decades..
Over the North Atlantic, passengers heard the captain.s voice announcing their Mexico City arrival would be delayed five hours, because U.S. air space was off limits. One of their fellow passengers, he explained, .was not welcome because of national security reasons.. Calvo Ospina learned later from the co-pilot he was the offending party.
The airliner took on extra fuel in Martinique. Flight crew members said restrictions on over-flying the United States were new for Air France.
The traveler later caught a flight to Managua, after questioning by immigration officials in Mexico City. Asked about experience with weapons, Calvo Ospina, writing on Rebelion.org, indicated his .only weapon was writing, especially in denouncing the U.S. government which I regarded as terrorist.. His interrogator commented, .That weapon is often worse than rifles and bombs..
As if in confirmation, Amazon sales rankings of .Open Veins of Latin America. vaulted overnight from number 54,295 to second place.
April 24, 2009
Jet diverted over US no-fly list
PARIS - US AUTHORITIES ordered an Air France flight from Paris to Mexico to stay out of US airspace because a journalist on board figured on their 'no-fly list", the airline and his publisher said Friday.
Air France said the April 18 flight was forced to divert to the French Caribbean island of Martinique before continuing its journey and that it was considering asking the US Transportation Security Administration for compensation.
A spokesman for French publisher Le Temps des Cerises said the suspect passenger was Franco-Colombian journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina, who has written on revolutionary movements in Cuba and Colombia.
'Hernando, who was heading to Nicaragua to research a report, thus found out that he is on a 'no-fly list' that bans a number of people from flying to or even over the United States,' the publisher said in a statement.
It accused the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of being behind Ospina's blacklisting, and noted that the journalist was working on a book about the US spy agency.
Air France said that as the flight had not been headed to a US airport, it had not sent US authorities the passenger manifest, although one was sent to Mexico. The crew was informed of the ban as they approached US airspace.
Ospina, the author of several books and a contributor to the left-wing French political monthly Le Monde Diplomatique, told AFP that he was informed of the order to divert the flight by its co-pilot.
'I was speechless and my first reaction was to ask, 'Do you think I'm a terrorist?',' he said. 'He replied 'no' and said that was why he told me about it, adding that it was extraordinary and the first time it had happened on an Air France plane.'
Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, US officials have maintained a secret 'terrorist watch list' of individuals forbidden to fly into or out of the United States because they are presumed to pose a security threat.
It is a controversial tool in America's 'war on terror' arsenal, amid claims that, in addition to known extremists, peaceful critics of US policy and people with similar names to suspected militants have been listed. -- AFP
Bacardi: The Hidden War (Paperback)
by Hernando Calvo Ospina (Author)
The Bacardi rum company is one of the most successful and recognizable brands in the world. It spends millions on marketing itself as the spirit of youth and vitality. But behind its image as a party drink lies a very different story.
In this book, investigative journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina brings to light the commercial and political activities of the Bacardi empire to reveal its role in fostering the 40-year long confrontation between the United States and the revolutionary government of Cuba. Through meticulous research, Calvo Ospina reveals how directors and shareholders of the family-owned firm have aggressively worked to undermine the Castro government. He explores how they have been implicated in supporting paramilitary organizations that have carried out terrorists attacks, and reveals their links to the extreme right-wing Cuban-American Foundation that supported Ronald Regan's Contra war in Nicaragua.
"Bacardi: The Hidden War" explains the company's hand in promoting "special interest" legislation against its competitor, Havana Club Rum, which is manufactured in Cuba and promoted by the European company Pernod-Ricard. Calvo Ospina reveals the implications of Bacardi's involvement in this growing dispute that threatens to create a trade war between America and Europe. Exploring the Bacardi empire's links to the CIA, as well as its inside links with the Bush administration, this fascinating and readable account shows how multinational companies act for political as well as economic interests.
"Bacardi: The Hidden War" was first published in Spanish and has been translated into French, Dutch, German and Italian.
About the Author
Hernando Calvo Ospina is a Colombian investigative journalist who specialises in the anti-Castro movement. He is the author of Salsa, Havana Heat, Bronx Beat (Latin America Bureau, 1995) and co-author of The Cuban Exile Movement: Dissidents or Mercenaries? (Ocean Press, 2000). Bacardi: The Hidden War was first published in Spanish and has been translated into French, Dutch, German and Italian.
The CIA's Successors And Collaborators
August 10, 2007 By Hernando Calvo Ospina
When a scandal in the 1980s revealed the CIA's 35 years of international manipulations, President Ronald Reagan established the National Endowment for Democracy as a more discreet and less controversial instrument. It had the same purpose - to destabilise unfriendly governments by funding the opposition.
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) was created in 1983, ostensibly as a non-profit-making organisation to promote human rights and democracy. In 1991 its first president, the historian Allen Weinstein, confessed to The Washington Post: "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA" (1).
Long before the NED was created, the same newspaper had revealed in 1967 how the CIA funded foreign trade unions, cultural organisations, media, and prominent intellectuals. As Philip Agee, a former operative with the Company told me in an interview in 2005: "The CIA used known American foundations, as well as other custom-made entities that existed only on paper."
Under pressure, President Lyndon Johnson ordered an investigation, although he was aware that the CIA had been mandated to carry out such activities since its creation in 1947. Agee said: "In the aftermath of World War II, faced with threats to our democratic allies and without any mechanism to channel political assistance, US policy makers resorted to covert means, secretly sending advisers, equipment and funds to support newspapers and parties under siege in Europe" (2). They had to counter the Soviet Union's ideological influence at the start of the cold war.
The funded organisations sometimes managed to weaken and even eliminate opposition to friendly governments, while creating a climate favourable to US interests. There were coups, such as the one in Brazil in 1964 that overthrew President Joí£o Goulart. The coup against Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973 showed that the US government had not abandoned such methods. Agee claimed: "To prepare the ground for the military, we funded and channelled the forces of leading organisations in civil society and the media. It was an improved version of the coup in Brazil."
The battle of ideas
In 1975 the CIA was investigated by the Senate, particularly its involvement in plots against political leaders throughout the world, including Patrice Lumumba, Allende and Fidel Castro. The success of revolutionary movements in Africa and Latin America forced the US to recognise that although the strategy of infiltrating social organisations remained crucial, the tactics were counter-productive. So, "to wage the battle of ideas, the Johnson administration recommended the establishment of a public-private mechanism to fund overseas activities openly" (3).
The American Political Foundation (APF), established in 1979, was a coalition of the Democratic and Republican parties, union leaders and employers, conservative academics and institutions relating to foreign policy. It was based on a model developed in West Germany, where the four major political parties had set up government-funded foundations as a response to the cold war. The most important of these was the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, linked to the Christian Democratic Union (4).
In January 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed the secret directive NSDD-77 (5), the result of what he described in a speech to the British parliament as a process designed "to foster the infrastructure of democracy" and "to determine how the United States can best contribute... to the global campaign for democracy" (6). The directive called for "close collaboration with foreign policy efforts - diplomatic, economic, military - as well as a close relationship with sectors of the American society - labour, business, universities, philanthropy, political parties, press."
Reagan kept quiet about the directive when he presented an APF proposal, the Democracy Programme, to Congress. An act of 23 November 1983 ratified the creation of the NED. At a ceremony at the White House in December he announced: "This programme will not be hidden in shadows. It'll stand proudly in the spotlight. And, of course, it will be consistent with our own national interests" (7).
The NED consisted of four core organisations responsible for its management. One already existed: the Free Trade Union Institute was a branch of the AFL-CIO trade union federation and was later incorporated into the American Centre for International Labour Solidarity. The others were the Centre for International Private Enterprise, an affiliate of the US Chamber of Commerce; the National Republican Institute for International Affairs; and the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
Although legally an NGO, the NED was funded from the State Department budget, subject to congressional approval. As well as allowing the government to disclaim any formal responsibility, this offered a further strategic advantage. As former State Department official William Blum said: "Notice the non-governmental - this helps to maintain a certain credibility abroad that an official US government agency might not have."
In October 1986 the Reagan administration was shaken by the revelation that it had illegally funded the insurgency against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, using money from cocaine trafficking. By coincidence, the operation, coordinated by Colonel Oliver North and authorised by the National Security Council (NSC), was called the Democracy Programme. The NED played a key role. But the investigation was more interested in the funding of the Nicaraguan counter-revolutionaries, the Contras, than in the involvement of this "NGO", although the NED was supervised from its creation until 1987 by Walter Raymond, a senior CIA officer and a member of the NSC's intelligence directorate.
The Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) was an extremist anti-Castro organisation set up by the NSC at the same time as the NED. The foundation's president, Jorge Mas Canosa, said: "The NED inherited Ronald Reagan's Democracy Programme and provided funding to many Latin-American groups, including the CANF." Convinced that the road to Cuban freedom lay through Nicaragua, the CANF committed itself to the anti-Sandinista struggle. Mas Canosa said: "This collaboration began when Theodore Shackley, the CIA's former deputy director of operations and head of its covert operations section, asked members of the foundation to support Central American policy."
In 1987, during the Contra scandal, the NED funded a front of anti-Sandinista organisations, including the permanent human rights commission of Nicaragua. This support helped Violeta Chamorro, Washington's preferred candidate and the owner of the "independent" newspaper La Prensa, to win the presidency in 1990.
A non-governmental crusade
The NED's talent for channelling money, establishing NGOs, electoral manipulation and media brainwashing owed much to the long experience of the CIA, the State Department's foreign aid agency USAID, and members of the conservative elite associated with US foreign policy (including John Negroponte, Jeane Kirkpatrick and Francis Fukuyama). Terrorism apart, the Reagan administration used the same methods in eastern Europe, where it conducted "a non-governmental crusade for human rights and democracy which avoided accusations of imperialism by presenting itself as a direct response to the needs of dissidents and reformers worldwide" (8). Here the gap between rulers and ruled made it easier for the NED and its network of organisations to use money and advertising to manufacture thousands of supposed dissidents. After regime change, most of these individuals and the groups to which they had belonged evaporated.
One of the most historic victories was in Poland. As early as 1984 the NED was distributing direct aid to set up trade unions, newspapers and human rights groups, all "independent". For the 1989 parliamentary elections, the NED handed $2.5m to the Solidarity movement, whose leader Lech Walesa, a powerful ally of the US, was elected president in 1990.
The collapse of the Soviet Union was a prelude to the NED's global expansion. It mobilised its money and expertise to intervene in the social, economic and political affairs of 90 countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and eastern Europe. As Gerald Sussman pointed out, "electoral interventions are critically important to US global policy objectives". "Democracy building" by the NED and other US organisations has been refined: "Compared to the surreptitious and nakedly aggressive manner in which the CIA typically carried out its destabilising forays from the late 1940s through to the mid-1970s, current forms of electoral manipulation are conducted largely as spectacles of spin and moral drama" (9).
During the 1990 elections in Haiti, the NED invested $36m in the candidacy of Marc Bazin, a former World Bank official. Despite this, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected, only to be overthrown in 1991 after a media campaign funded by the NED and USAID.
In its first 10 years, the NED distributed $200m among 1,500 projects to support friends of the US (10). Since 1988 it has taken a significant interest in Venezuela. Philip Agee said: "There was a quiet operation against the Bolivarian revolution. It began under President Clinton and intensified under George Bush Jr. It's like the campaign against the Sandinistas, but so far without the terrorism or the economic embargo: promote democracy, keep an eye on elections and support public life." The US lawyer Eva Golinger discovered from official documents that between 2001 and 2006 the NED and USAID gave more than $20m to Venezuelan opposition groups and private media (11). On 25 April 2002 The New York Times revealed that Congress had ordered a quadrupling of the NED budget for Venezuela just a few months before the failed coup against President Hugo Chávez.
The campaign against Cuba
But the NED's most consistent campaign has been against the government of Cuba, where it is believed to have invested some $20m over 20 years in an attempt to promote a "democratic transition"; $65m more has been contributed by USAID since 1996. Despite continued insistence upon the supreme necessity of democratic elections, official documents clearly specify that those elected must be to US governmental liking. Almost all the funds are in the hands of organisations based in the US and Europe. The governments of Poland, Romania and the Czech Republic receive a significant proportion of it in return for leading international pressure on Cuba. According to Laura Wides-Munoz (Associated Press, 29 December 2006), the NED paid them $2.4m in 2005.
Washington's idea of democracy is elections and business walking hand in hand. In his January 2004 State of the Union address, President Bush announced that he would be asking Congress "to double the budget of the National Endowment for Democracy, and to focus its new work on the development of free elections, and free markets, free press, and free labour unions in the Middle East"; ideological work would accompany military action. Hitherto the NED's involvement in the region had been minimal. It moved into Afghanistan in 2003. According to its website, it decided "to establish and strengthen business associations inside Afghanistan to ensure a more sustained and diversified effort to build democracy and market economy". It funded emerging NGOs.
NGOs in occupied Iraq were funded with similar objectives, particularly in the north. Local organisations were supported by - and quickly became dependent upon - the NED. Under the banner of the struggle for democracy, they worked for a system whose interests seldom coincided with those of local people.
Uniquely for an NGO, the NED's president must appear before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee every year to account for its activities. In June 2006 Carl Gershman (president of the NED since April 1984) made an emergency appeal for more funds to support democracy. He claimed that NGOs in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Venezuela and Egypt needed more to confront "semi-authoritarian" governments. He later made an identical speech to the European parliament during the conference, "Democracy Promotion: the European Way".
According to William Blum, the NED's basic philosophy is that societies "are best served under a system of free enterprise, class cooperation... [and] minimal government intervention in the economy. A free-market economy is equated with democracy, reform and growth, and the merits of foreign investment are emphasised. NED's reports carry on endlessly about democracy, but at best it's a modest measure of mechanical political democracy they have in mind, not economic democracy; nothing that aims to threaten the powers that be."
A weapon of global war
Addressing the UN General Assembly in September 1989, President George Bush Sr asserted that the challenge facing the world of freedom was to consolidate the foundations of freedom. In 1988, the Canadian parliament, encouraged by the US, had set up an NED clone, Rights and Democracy. In 1992 the British parliament established the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. Sweden followed with the Swedish International Liberal Centre, the Netherlands with the Alfred Mozer Foundation, and France with the Robert Schuman Foundation and the Jean Jaurí¨s Foundation (linked to the Socialist Party).
As its network spread, the NED set up the Democracy Projects Database to coordinate 6,000 projects worldwide. It also created the Network of Democracy Research Institutes to bring together "independent institutions, university-based study centres, and research programs affiliated with political parties, labour unions, and democracy and human rights movements to facilitate contacts among democracy scholars and activists" (12). The NED hosts the Centre for International Media Assistance, which "brings together a broad range of media experts with the objective of strengthening support of free and independent media throughout the world" (13).
On the State Department's official website, Carl Gershman declared that all these foundations, people and organisations were contributing to "building a worldwide movement for democracy", a network of networks with the NED at its centre. Other foundations fell into step: the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Germany; the Olof Palme International Centre in Sweden; the Renner Institute in Austria; and the Pablo Iglesias Foundation, linked to the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party.
In 1996, to justify increasing the NED's budget, an enlightening report was submitted to Congress: "The US cannot afford to discard such an effective instrument of foreign policy at a time when American interests and values are under sustained ideological attack from a wide variety of anti-democratic forces around the world... [They] remain threatened by deeply entrenched communist regimes, neo-communists, aggressive dictatorships, radical nationalists, and Islamic fundamentalists. Given this reality, the US cannot afford to surrender the ideological battlefield to these enemies of a free and open society." (14). Three years later, Benjamin Gilman, the president of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, took the same line.
As Blum put it: "What was done was to shift many of the awful things [done by the CIA] to a new organisation, with a nice sounding name. The creation of the NED was a masterpiece. Of politics, of public relations, and of cynicism." ________________________________________________________
Hernando Calvo Ospina is a journalist and the author of Bacardi: the Hidden War (Pluto Press, London, 2002)
(1) The Washington Post, 22 September 1991.
(2) www.ned.org/about/nedhistory.html. On the CIA's use of intellectuals see Frances Stonor Saunders, Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War (Granta Books, London, 2000).
(4) The others were the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (Social Democratic Party), the Hanns Seidel Foundation (Christian Social Union) and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (Free Democratic Party).
(8) Nicolas Guilhot,"Le National Endowment for Democracy", Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 139, Paris, September 2001.
(9) Gerald Sussman,"The Myths of`Democracy Assistance': US Political Intervention in Post-Soviet Eastern Europe", Monthly Review, vol 58, no 7, New York, December 2006.
(10) Guilhot, op cit.
(11) Eva Golinger, The Chávez Code: Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela (Pluto Press, London, 2006).
(14) James A Phillips and Kim R Holmes, "The National Endowment in Democracy: A Prudent Investment in the Future", The Heritage Foundation, Executive memorandum 461, Washington DC, 13 September 1996.
Translated by Donald Hounam
When the country sold part of itself
By Hernando Calvo Ospina, Le Monde diplomatique, December 2003
PANAMA was part of Colombia, then called New Granada, at the time of Colombian independence in 1821. But this did not deter the European powers from plans to build a canal linking the oceans on either side of the isthmus. The project officially began in 1835: four Frenchmen succeeded each other in charge of it, each falling victim to mosquitoes and tropical diseases.
The Colombian and United States governments signed a treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation in 1846, granting US companies the right to carry goods across Panama with little formality. In 1849 Colombia granted the US a concession for the construction and exploitation of a transcontinental railway to facilitate the transport of Californian gold to New York. In return, as a buffer against British and French interest in the territory, article 35 of the treaty stated that the US would positively and effect ively guarantee the total neutrality of the isthmus and guarantee the rights of sovereignty and property held by Colombia over the territory (1).
In 1878 Lucien Bonaparte Wyse from France obtained exclusive privileges over the execution and exploitation of the mooted canal for 99 years. He persuaded a compatriot, Ferdinand de Lesseps, already famous for building the Suez Canal, to take charge of the works. Their Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interocéanique won not only official backing but also financial support from more than 100,000 French backers who bought state bonds in the project.
The US was not pleased by these developments. The Franco-Colombian agreement was only two years old when the US president, Rutherford Birchard Hayes, publicly opposed it: "Our commercial interest is greater than that of any other country, likewise the strength of the canal's relationship to our power and prosperity as a nation, and the US has the right and the duty to affirm and maintain its right of intervention on any kind of transoceanic canal across the isthmus." Work began in January 1882. De Lesseps mistakenly attempted to build at sea level, failing to take into account the mountainous terrain. By July 1885 only a tenth of the route had been dug. Faced with this, the company replaced de Lesseps with Gustave Eiffel (he of the Parisian tower), who decided to use a system of locks. But corruption and theft of capital, rife among executives in Paris and Panama, scuppered the project. Construction was suspended in 1889. In the ensuing scandal, the Compagnie Universelle's assets were taken over by the courts.
In 1893 the Colombian government signed another contract with the French to resume construction. The Compagnie Nouvelle du Canal de Panama took over the project, and the French appointed the American lawyer and lobbyist William Nelson Cromwell as a counsellor. Work resumed in 1894. A shareholder, Philippe Bunau-Varilla, decided to stake his all on it and planted articles aimed at encouraging investment in the French press, especially in the newspaper Le Matin, which he owned.
With the support of a French minister, Casimir Perier, Bunau-Varilla travelled to Russia, convinced that he would find financial backing there. But the bid was undermined by a political crisis that led to the resignation of the entire French cabinet in May 1894. The chances of saving the project fell away. The Compagnie Nouvelle had either to give up or sell up. In December 1901, without consulting either the Colombian government or the terms of its agreement with the French, the shareholders of the Compagnie Nouvelle authorised the sale of its shares to the US.
Washington favoured Nicaragua as the best site for a canal, having examined possibilities there since 1886. Bunau-Varilla and Cromwell set about convincing the US Congress that the Panamanian plan was better. They distributed $60,000 among members of the Republican party (2). On 29 June 1902 Congress ratified President Theodore Roosevelt's decision to buy the shares of the Compagnie Nouvelle for $40m, instead of the $109m asking price. At no point was Colombia consulted, although that country was also a shareholder and, more importantly, the territory's sovereign power.
The decision was welcomed by Panama's small oligarchy, engaged in maritime trade and other tertiary industries. The combination of French incapacity to build the canal, with attendant corruption, and Colombia's thousand-day war between ruling conservatives and insurgent liberals (3) had led to an economic crisis. At the best of times, Panama had no major source of revenue, since US controllers of its transcontinental railway sent all profits to New York. "Build the canal or emigrate to the US" became the slogan of the oligarchs.
Colombia's conservative government was indebted to the US for keeping it in place during the war and had been presented with a fait accompli. Its representative in Washington signed an agreement with the secretary of state, John Hay, legalising the Franco-American project. In January 1903 a treaty was signed authorising the French to hand over their rights to the US and giving the US near-sovereign control of the canal and areas either side of it for 100 years.
The Colombian Congress rejected the last point in August 1903, not so much because the agreement encroached upon national sovereignty as because the fee offered to Colombia was only $10m, with $250,000 a year in compensation. The interested parties, French, Americans and Panamanian separatists, began to pull their weight. The US ambassador in Bogota had already threatened that if the treaty were not ratified, friendly relations between the countries would be so gravely compromised that the US Congress could have to take measures that "any friend of Colombia would regret".
If the US did not obtain the land for building the canal through negotiation, wrote Bunau- Varilla in his newspaper, President Roosevelt planned to use force against Colombia and no one would stand against him. The audacious Frenchman met a Panamanian separatist representative, Manuel Amador Guerrero, and paid him $100,000 to lead an independence movement that, he promised, was assured of US and French recognition. Bunau-Varilla handed Guerrero a declaration of independence and a flag similar to that of the US, designed by his wife, possibly to be adopted by the future republic of Panama. In exchange, Bunau-Varilla gained a plenipotentiary ministerial post in the new republic's government, with special responsibility for negotiating the canal treaty with the US.
On 3 November, through a spontaneous rebellion, separatists declared Panama independent from Colombia, with the backing of US troops. Panama's only home-grown army was drawn from its fire brigade (4). When Colombian armed forces heard the news, they attempted to invade but the US warships lined up along the coast had no difficulty in holding them back. On 7 November, the US officially recognised the new republic. France followed suit a few days later. Britain refrained from protesting, not wishing to jeopard ise the US support it needed for its Far Eastern colonial expansion.
On 18 November 1903 the Hay/Bunau-Varilla Treaty, making Panama a protectorate, was signed in New York. Bunau-Varilla used two seals belonging to the US secretary of state to authenticate his signature on the document in Panama's name: the seal of shame, some called it (5). Fearing that the provisional junta might not ratify the treaty, Bunau-Varilla immediately cabled to say that Panama risked being re-conquered by Colombia if approval of the treaty were delayed. His argument had the desired effect: on 2 December the junta ratified the text without even having it translated into Spanish.
The US received full, indefinite sovereignty over 10 miles either side of the canal's route. It was also granted a permanent right of intervention in internal Panamanian affairs, with the option of military intervention in the case of public order disturbances. This clause became law when it was included in the Panamanian constitution, drafted with the participation of the US consul William Buchanan and validated on 20 February 1904 (6). The canal opened on 15 August 1914. The US got what it wanted: to retain control over the canal and 916 square miles of Panama until the end of the 20th century.
When the Colombian president, José Maria Marroquín, finally replied to all the insults he received for allowing an important part of his country to break away and sell itself to foreigners (7), he joked: "What are Colombians complaining about? They gave me one country, I gave back two!"
But the name of Bunau-Varilla disgusts Panamanians even today. And whenever the Hay/ Bunau-Varilla treaty is mentioned people always add "which no Panamanian signed" (8).
(1) Gregorio Selser, Diplomacia, Garote y Dolares en América Latina, Editorial Palestra, Buenos Aires, 1962. See also Eduardo Lemaître, Panama y su Separación de Colombia, Ediciones Corralito de Piedra, Bogotá, 1972.
(2) Samuel Eliot Morisson and Henry Steele Commager, The Growth of the American Republic, Oxford University Press, New York, 1940.
(3) Officially there were 23 civil wars in Colombia in the 19th century; respected historians say there were more than 60.
(4) Claude Julien, America's Empire, Pantheon, New York, 1974.
(5) Jorge E Illeca, 7 Septiembre de 1977 in El Panamá América, Panama City, 3 September 2001.
(6) Patricia Pizarro and Celestino Araúz, La Actuación de la Junta Provisional de Gobierno y la Constitución de 1904, Editoria Panamericana, Panama.
(7) Colombia recognised the Republic of Panama in 1921 and received $21m from the US.
(8) José Quintero de León, Lo uno y lo otro en la historia del Canal, La Prensa, Panama City, 15 December 1999.
* Hernando Calvo Ospina is a journalist and author of Bacardi: The Hidden War, (Pluto Press, London/Sterling, VA, 2002)
Translated by Gulliver Cragg
From MacMillan Books:
Hernando Calvo Ospina is a Colombian investigative journalist who specialises in the anti-Castro movement. He is the author of Salsa, Havana Heat, Bronx Beat (Latin America Bureau, 1995) and co-author of The Cuban Exile Movement: Dissidents or Mercenaries? (Ocean Press, 2000). Bacardi: The Hidden War was first published in Spanish and has been translated into French, Dutch, German and Italian. He lives in Brussels.
The Bacardí rum company is one of the most successful and recognisable brands in the world. It spends millions on marketing itself as the spirit of youth and vitality. But behind its image as a party drink lies a very different story.In this book, investigative journalist Hernando Calvo Ospina brings to light the commercial and political activities of the Bacardí empire to reveal its role in fostering the 40-year long confrontation between the United States and the revolutionary government of Cuba. Through meticulous research, Ospina reveals how directors and shareholders of the family-owned firm have aggressively worked to undermine the Castro government. He explores how they have been implicated in supporting paramilitary organisations that have carried out terrorist attacks, and reveals their links to the extreme right-wing Cuban-American Foundation that supported Ronald Reagan's Contra war in Nicaragua.Bacardí: The Hidden War explains the company's hand in promoting 'special interest' legislation against its competitor, Havana Club Rum, which is manufactured in Cuba and promoted by the European company Pernod-Ricard. Ospina reveals the implications of Bacardí's involvement in this growing dispute that threatens to create a trade war between America and Europe. Exploring the Bacardí empire's links to the CIA, as well as its inside links with the Bush administration, this fascinating account shows how multinational companies act for political as well as economic interests.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Foreword by James Petras
By Way Of Introduction
1: The Bacardi-Bouteiller company
2: Expansion and prelude to departure
3: Bacardi leaves before the Revolution
4: The CIA, the businessman and the terrorists
5: From violence to the lobby
6: Reagan breeds a monster
7: CANF and The Shareholders
8: Two wars and their accomplices
9: The Torricelli-Graham Act
10: The Absurd: The Helms-Burton Act
11: 'The Bacardi Claims Act'
12: Market 'wars'
13: More than a rum war'
14: Cuba's transition and 'reconstruction'
The book can be read online at Google Books:
The CIA, the Businessman and the Terrorists THE BUSINESSMAN AND THE BOMBARDMENT In the mid- Bacardi's top boss decided to bomb the newly nationalised ....
... was Jose Ignacio Rasco, chosen by the CIA to lead the government (as a front) that would have assumed power if the Bay of Pigs operation had triumphed.....
The training was carried out in the CIA base at Fort Benning, which specialised in courses on propaganda, covert actions, communications, espionage and ...
In 1985, the FBI handed over a declassified document to members of Congress which revealed that the CIA station in Miami gave RECE money in order to ...
Congress carried out into the murder of President Kennedy and CIA plans to murder political leaders of other countries, in cahoots with the underworld, ...
Point eight of the report to the CIA director reads: In late May 1964, a prominent Cuban exile who spoke with Jose 'Pepin' Bosch reported that Teofilo ...
... to Proctor Jones, assistant to Senator Richard Russell, in which he says that the CIA 'could do much to contribute to an uprising inside the island, ...
Approved by the CIA, a replacement tactic took shape: terrorism pure and simple. A few men and less than $10000 could be more effective than an entire ...
On the verge of losing control of these, the CIA pressured the most radical factions to meet in the Dominican Republic in the summer of 1976. ...
From 1981 onwards, several directors and shareholders of Bacardi, old leaders of RECE and several operatives of the CIA got together and built a ...
The NED grew and gradually became the favoured instrument of US intervention policy, taking on tasks that, until then, had been carried out by the CIA in a ...
'Not initially/ he says, 'but after you've been burned two or three times by the machinations of the CIA and the US government, you get skeptical. ...
Many were linked in one way or another to US counter-espionage services, mainly the CIA. In addition, the potential influence that this group could wield ...
Their principal public figurehead was Jeanne Kirkpatrick.5 The terrorist Posada Carriles, adviser to the mercenary forces, observed that, The CIA, ...
10 Let's not forget that according to declassified FBI documents, it was the CIA base in Miami, under Shackley, that maintained relations with and delivered ...
... he was implicated in the assassination of Che Guevara after having helped to capture him in Bolivia in 1967 on the orders of the CIA. ...
mainly by the CIA. It had a clearly defined strategy: roll back the MPLA in order to exacerbate political, social and ethnic divisions, thus triggering a ...
Form a Task Force to systematise links with the National Security Council (NSC), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Federal Bureau of ...
Basulto founded the organisation Brothers to the Rescue (Hermanos al Rescate - HAR), together with Bill Schuss, another CIA veteran with expertise in ...
... close collaboration with RECE, the Cuban Representation in Exile, the paramilitary group created by the CIA and the Bacardi magnate, Jose Pepin Bosch. ...
... was Frank Calzon who, as has been shown earlier in this book, arrived on the scene via terrorist organisations backed up and controlled by the CIA. ...
... Cubana plane bombing - Later to be allied to CANF 1 Liberation Front and Madrid) Relations - CIA - The Cosa Nostra - Terrorist organisations: * Alpha 66 ...
National Security Adviser, the Director of the CIA, three White House advisers and the Attorney-General. 7. Bardach, Ann Louise, 'Cuba: The Beginning of the ...
John Stockwell was the figure that the CIA placed at the head of the Angolan Task Force to direct the secret war. Years later Stockwell would admit that ...
Montaner, a Cuban exile resident in Spain, is a CIA agent according to the Cuban authorities. 12. Ibid. 13. See the diagram in the Appendix. 14. ...
Among its most important directors are the highly placed Bacardi executive Juan Prado and the ex-CIA and Pentagon employee Nestor Sanchez who was implicated ...
Exploring the Bacardi empire's links to the CIA, as well as its inside links with the Bush administration, this fascinating and readable account shows how ...