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America, has noted that US "Military advisers and CIA personnel moved across the
border into Thailand, where they were flown in every day [to Laos] like commuters by
Ait America, whose entire helicopter operation was based in Udorn [Thailand]."34 Air
America, by the early 1970s, had no less than 4,000 employees in Thailand.35
Thus it was that the fighting dragged on, though only sporadically. In April
1964, the coalition government, such as it was, was overthrown by the right wing, with
the CIA's man Phoumi Nosavan emerging as part of a rightist government headed by
the perennial survivor Souvanna Phouma to give it a neutralist fig leaf.36 The Pathet Lao
were once again left out in the cold. For them it was the very last straw. The fighting
greatly intensified, the skirmishes were now war, and the Pathet Lao offensive soon
scored significant advances. Then the American bombing began.

Between 1965 and 1973, more than two million tons of bombs rained down
upon the people of Laos,37 considerably mote than the US had dropped on both
Germany and Japan during the Second World War, albeit for a shorter period. For the
first few years, the bombing was directed primarily at the provinces controlled by the
Pathet Lao. Of the bombing, Fred Branfman, a former American community worker in
Laos, wrote: "village after village was leveled, countless people buried alive by high
explosives, or burnt alive by napalm and white phosphorous, or riddled by anti-
personnel bomb pellets"38 ... "The United States has undertaken," said a Senate report,
"... a large-scale ait war over Laos to destroy the physical and social infrastructure of
Pathet Lao held areas and to interdict North Vietnamese infiltration ... throughout ail
this there has been a policy of subterfuge and secrecy ... through such things as
saturation bombing and the forced evacuation of population from enemy held or
threatened areas”we have helped to create untold agony for hundreds of thousands of
The American military, however, kept proper records. AID could report to
Congress that wounds suffered by civilian war casualties were as follows:

1. Type: Soft tissue, 39 percent. Compound fracture, 30 percent. Amputation, 12
percent. Intra-abdominai, 10 percent. Intra-thoracic, 3 percent. Intra-cranial, 1
2. Location: Lower extremities, 60 percent. Upper extremities, 15 percent. Trunk,
18 percent. Head, 7 percent.40

There was no happy way out for the Laotian people. In October 1971, one could
read in The Guardian of London ...

although US officials deny it vehemently, ample evidence exists to confirm charges that
the Meo villages that do try to find their own way out of the war”even if it is simply by
staying neutral and refusing to send their 13-year-olds to fight in the CIA army”are
immediately denied American rice and transport, and ultimately bombed by the US Air

The fledgling society that the United States was trying to make extinct”the CIA
dropped millions of dollars in forged Pathet Lao currency as well, in an attempt to
wreck the economy42”was one which Fred Branfman described thus:

The Pathet Lao rule over the Plain of Jars begun in May 1964 brought its people
into a post-colonial era. For the first time they were taught pride in their country
and people, instead of admiration for a foreign culture; schooling and massive adult
literacy campaigns were conducted in Laotian instead of French; and mild but
thorough social revolution”ranging from land reform to greater equality for
women”was instituted.43

Following on the heels of events in Vietnam, a ceasefire was arrived at in Laos
in 1973, and yet another attempt at coalition government was undertaken. (This one
lasted until 1975 when, after renewed fighting, the Pathet Lao took over full control of
the country.) Laos had become a land of nomads, without villages, without farms; a
generation of refugees; hundreds of thousands dead, many more maimed. When the US
Air Force closed down its radio station, it signed off with the message: "Good-by and
see you next war."44

Thus it was that the worst of Washington's fears had come to pass: All of
Indochina” Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos”had fallen to the Communists. During the

initial period of US involvement in Indochina in the 1950s, John Foster Dulles, Dwight
Eisenhower and other American officials regularly issued doomsday pronouncements of
the type known as the "Domino Theory", warning that if Indochina should fall, other
nations in Asia would topple over as well. In one instance, President Eisenhower listed
no less than Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Indonesia amongst the
anticipated "falling dominos".45

Such warnings were repeated periodically over the next decade by succeeding
administrations and other supporters of US policy in Indochina as a key argument in
defense of such policy. The fact that these ominous predictions turned out to have no
basis in reality did not deter Washington officialdom from promulgating the same
dogma up until the 1990s about almost each new world "trouble-spot", testimony to
their unshakable faith in the existence and inter-workings of the International
Communist Conspiracy.

22. Haiti 1959-1963
The Marines land, again
"Duvalier has performed an economic miracle," remarked a Haitian of his country's
dictator. "He has taught us to live without money ... to eat without food ... to live
without life."1
And when Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier's voodoo magic wore thin, he could
always count on the US Marines to continue his people's education.

During the night of 12-13 August 1959, a boat landed on the northern coast of
Haiti with a reported 30 men, Haitians and Cubans and perhaps others aboard. The men
had set sail from Cuba some 50 miles away. Their purpose was to overthrow the
tyrannical Haitian government, a regime whose secret police, it was said, outnumbered
its army.
In short order, the raiding party, equipped with heavy weapons, captured a small
army post and began to recruit and arm villagers for the cause.2 The government
reported that about 200 persons had joined them.3 Haitian exiles in Venezuela, in an
apparently coordinated effort, broadcast appeals to their countrymen to aid the invaders.
They set at 120 the number of men who had landed in Haiti, although this appears to be
an exaggeration.4
The initial reaction of the Duvalier government was one of panic, and the
police began rounding up opposition sympathizers.5 It was at this point that the
US military mission, in Haiti to train Duvalier's forces, stepped in. The
Americans instituted an air and sea reconnaissance to locate the rebels. Haitian
soldiers, accompanied by US Marines, were airlifted to the area and went into
the field to do battle with them.6 Two other US Navy planes and
a helicopter arrived from Puerto Rico.7
According to their commander, Col- Robert Debs Heinl, Jr., the American
Marines took part in the fighting, which lasted until 22 August.8 The outcome was a
complete rout of the rebel forces.
Information about the men who came from Cuba derives almost exclusively from
the Haitian government and the American military mission. These sources claim that the
raiding party was composed of about 30 men and that, with the exception of one or two

Haitians who led them, they were all Cubans. Another report, referred to in the New
York Times, stated that there were ten Haitians and two Venezuelans amongst the 30
invaders.9 The latter ratio is probably closer to the truth, for there was a considerable
number of Haitian exiles living in Cuba, many of whom had gained military experience
during the recent Cuban revolution; for obvious reasons of international politics and
fighting incentive, such men were the most likely candidates to be part of an invasion of
their homeland.
The Castro government readily admitted that the raiding party had come from
Cuba but denied that the government had known or approved of it. This claim would
seem rather suspect were it not for the fact that the Cuban coast guard had thwarted a
similar undertaking in April.10
The first members of the American military mission had arrived in Haiti in
January, largely in response to another invasion attempt the previous July (originating
probably in the Dominican Republic). Regardless of all the horror stories about the
Haitian regime” such as the one Col. Heinl tells of his 12-year-old son being arrested
when he was overheard expressing sympathy for a group of hungry peasants he saw”
Duvalier was Washington's man. After all was said and done, he could be counted upon
to keep his Black nation, which was usually accorded the honor of being Latin
America's poorest, from turning Red. Heinl has recounted the instructions he received
from a State Department Under Secretary in January:

Colonel, the most important way you can support our objectives in Haiti is to help keep Duvalier in power so
he can serve out his full term in office, and maybe a little longer than that if everything works out."

The Kennedy administration, which came to power in January 1961, had little use
for Papa Doc, and supported his overthrow as well as his possible assassination.
According to the later testimony of CIA official Walter Elder before a Senate
investigating committee, the Agency furnished arms to Haitian dissidents seeking to
topple the dictator. Elder added that while the assassination of Duvalier was not
contemplated, the arms were provided "to help [the dissidents] take what measures were
deemed necessary to replace the government," and it was realized, he said, that Duvalier
might be killed in the course of the overthrow.12
But as Cuba increasingly became the United States' bete noire, the CIA's great
obsession, Washington's policy changed. Haiti's cooperation was needed for the success
of US efforts to have Cuba expelled from the Organization of American States in 1963.
From that point on, Duvalier enjoyed the full diplomatic and economic support of the
US. When the Haitian leader died on 12 April 1971, the American Ambassador Clinton
Knox was the only diplomat present at the midnight swearing-in of 19-year-old Jean-
Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier as the new President for Life, who was to receive the same
economic, political and military support as had "Papa Doc", with only the occasional
hiccup of a protest from Washington when the level of repression became difficult to

23. Guatemala 1960
One good coup deserves another
In November 1960, as John F. Kennedy was preparing to succeed Dwight
Eisenhower, the obsessive priority of American foreign policy”to invade Cuba”

proceeded without pause. On the beaches and in the jungles of Guatemala, Nicaragua
and Florida, the Bay of Pigs invasion was being rehearsed.
On the 13th of the month, five days after Kennedy's victory, Guatemalan military
personnel broke out in armed rebellion against the government of General Miguel
Ydigoras Fuentes, seizing two military bases and the port city of Puerto Barrios.
Reports of the number of officers involved in the uprising vary from 45 to 120, the latter
figure representing almost half the Guatemalan Army's officer corps. The officers
commanded as many as 3,000 troops, a significant percentage of the armed forces. Their
goals, it later developed, were more nationalistic than ideological. The officers were fed
up with the corruption in the Ydigotas regime and in the army, and were particularly
incensed about the use of their country by a foreign power as a springboard for an
invasion of Cuba, some of them being admirers of Fidel Castro for his nationalist
policies. One of the dissident officers later characterized the American training base in
Guatemala as "a shameful violation of our national sovereignty. And why was it
permitted? Because our government is a puppet."1
The rebellion was crushed within a matter of days, reportedly by the sole power
of the Guatemalan Air Force. Some years later, a different picture was to emerge.
The rebels were a force to be reckoned with. The ease with which they had taken
over the two garrisons and the real possibility of their mutiny spreading to other bases
set alarms ringing at the CIA base, a large coffee plantation in a remote corner of
southwestern Guatemala, where the Agency and the US Air Force were training the
army of Cuban exiles who were to launch the attack upon their homeland. The CIA
feared, and rightly so, that a new regime would send them, the Cubans, and the whole
operation packing.
In Washington, President Eisenhower ordered US naval and air units to patrol the
Caribbean coast and "shoot if necessary" to prevent any "communist-led" invasion of
Guatemala or Nicaragua.2 Eisenhower, like Ydigoras, saw the hand of international
communism, particularly Cuba, behind the uprising, although no evidence of this was
ever presented.3 It was all most ironic in light of the fact that it was the conspiracy of
the two leaders to overthrow Cuba that was one of the reasons for the uprising; and that
the US naval fleet ordered into action was deployed from Guantanamo Naval Base in
Cuba, an American military installation present in that country against the vociferous
objections of the Cuban government.
In Guatemala, meanwhile, the CIA decided upon a solution to the dilemma that
was both remarkably simple and close at hand: American and Cuban pilots took off
from their training ground and bombed and strafed rebel headquarters outside
Guatemala City, and bombed the town and airfield of Puerto Barrios. Caught
completely by surprise, and defenseless against this superior force, the rebels'
insurrection collapsed.4
Back at the coffee plantation, the CIA resumed the function which had been so
rudely interrupted, the preparation for the overthrow of the Cuban government.
No announcement about the bombings was made in Washington, nor did a report
appear in the American press.
The CIA actions were probably not widely known about in Guatemala either, but
it became public knowledge that President Ydigoras had asked Washington for the naval
and air support, and had even instructed the Guatemalan Ambassador in Washington to
"Get in touch immediately with [Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs]
Thomas Mann to coordinate your action."5 Thus it was that the Guatemalan president,
needing afterward to distance himself a little from so much Yanqui protection, was

moved to state that countries like Guatemala are at a disadvantage because "Cuba is a
satellite of powerful Russia", but "we are not a satellite of the United States."6
The final irony was that some of the dissident officers who went into hiding
became more radicalized by their experience. During their revolt they had spurned
offers of support from some of the peasants”though this would necessarily have been
very limited in any case”because fighting for social change was not at all what the
officers had in mind at the time. But as fugitives, thrown into greater contact with the
peasants, they eventually came to be moved by the peasants' pressing need for land and
for a way out of their wretched existence.7 In 1962, several of the officers were to
emerge as leaders of a guerrilla movement which incorporated "November Thirteen" as
part of its name. In their opening statement, the guerrillas declared:

Democracy vanished from our country long ago. No people can live in a country
where there is no democracy. That is why the demand for changes is mounting in
our country. We can no longer carry on in this way. We must overthrow the
Ydigoras government and set up a government which represents human rights,
seeks ways and means to save our country from its hardships, and pursues a serious
self-respecting foreign policy.8

A simple sentiment, stated even simpler, but, as we shall see, a movement fated to
come up against the wishes of the United States. For if Washington could casually do
away with an elected government in Guatemala, as it had in 1954, it could be moved by
a guerrilla army only as rocks by waves or the moon by howling wolves.

24. France/Algeria 1960s
L'etat, c'est la CIA
When John F. Kennedy assumed office in January 1961, he was confronted with a
CIA at the zenith of its power and credibility. In the Agency's first 14 years, no formal
congressional investigation of it had taken place, nor had any "watchdog" committee
been established; four investigations of the CIA by independent task forces during this
period had ensured that everything relating to things covert remained just that; with the
exception of the U-2 incident the year before, no page-one embarrassments, scandals, or
known failures; what had received a measure of publicity”the coups in Guatemala and
Iran”were widely regarded as CIA success stories. White House denials and a
compliant media had kept the Agency's misadventure in Indonesia in 1958 from the
public scrutiny it deserved.
It is probable that the CIA had more staff officers overseas, under official and
unofficial covers, than the State Department, and this in addition to its countless paid
agents. Often the CIA Chief of Station had been in a particular country longer than the


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