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Where there is grass, the Peruvian Andes Indian eats it”and also the sheep he
kills when it gets so hungry that it begins tearing another sheep's wool off for its
food. The peons who work the land of the whites average one sol (4 cents) a day,
and ... labor from sunup to sundown.6




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During this period, a movement led by Hugo Blanco organized peasants into
unions, staged strikes and seized land. The movement engaged in little which could be
termed guerrilla warfare, using its meagre arms to defend the squatters, and was easily
and brutally put down by the police and army, apparently without significant American
assistance other than the "routine" arming and training of such forces.
By 1965, however, several guerrilla groups had evolved in the eastern slopes of
the Andes, cognizant of the bare truth that organizing peasants was, by itself, painfully
inadequate; some would say suicidal. Inspired by the Cuban revolution, impressed with
the social gains which had followed, and, in some cases, trained by the Cubans, these
sons of the middle class met in May to plan a common strategy. Guerrilla warfare began
in earnest the following month. By the end of the year, however, a joint Peruvian-
American counter-insurgency operation had broken the back of three rebel groups, two
of them in less than two months. Those guerrillas who remained alive and active were
reduced to futile and impotent skirmishes over the next year or so.7
The role of the CIA in this definitive military mop-up has been concisely depicted
by the former high official of the Agency, Victor Marchetti:

Green Berets participated ... in what was the CIA's single large-scale Latin
American intervention of the post-Bay of Pigs era. This occurred in the mid-1960s,
when the agency secretly came to the aid of the Peruvian government, then plagued
by guerrilla troubles in its remote eastern regions. Unable to cope adequately with
the insurgent movement, Lima had turned to the U.S. government for aid, which
was immediately and covertly forthcoming.
The agency financed the construction of what one experienced observer described
as "a miniature Fort Bragg" in the troubled Peruvian jungle region, complete with
mess halls, classrooms, barracks, administrative buildings, parachute jump towers,
amphibious landing facilities, and all the other accoutrements of paramilitary
operations. Helicopters were furnished under cover of official military aid
programs, and the CIA flew in arms and other combat equipment. Training was
provided by the agency's Special Operations Division personnel and by Green
Beret instructors on loan from the Army.8

In February 1966, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara summed up this effort
in a Senate hearing: "In Peru, the Government has already made good progress against
guerrilla concentrations, and U.S. trained and supported Peruvian army and air force
units have played prominent roles in this counter-guerrilla campaign."9
Typically, and ironically, such training would have included instilling in the
Peruvian officers the motivation for doing battle with the insurgents in the first place.
As US military affairs scholar Michael Klare has pointed out:

Many Latin American military officers would rather command elite units like jet
fighter squadrons, naval flotillas, or armored brigades than slug it out with the
guerrillas in long, unspectacular jungle campaigns. U.S. training programs are
designed, therefore, to emphasize the importance of counterguerrilla operations
(and to suggest, thereby, that the United States will reward those officers who make
a good showing at this kind of warfare).10

The extent to which American military personnel engaged directly in combat is
not known. They did, however, set up their headquarters in the center of an area of
heavy fighting, in the village of Mazanari, and in September 1965 the New York Times
reported that when the Peruvian army opened a major drive against the guerrillas, "At
least one United States Army counter-insurgency expert was said to have helped plan
and direct the attack."11



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In the urban areas a concurrent round-up of guerrilla supporters was carried out,
based materially on CIA intelligence: the list of "subversives" regularly compiled by
Agency stations throughout the world for just such occasions.12 The CIA is usually in a
much better position to collect this information than the host government, due to its
superior experience in the field, funds available for hiring informants, technical
equipment for eavesdropping, and greater motivation.
While this was taking place the war in Vietnam and the militant protest against it
had already captured the front pages of American newspapers, and the isolated New
York Times dispatch referred to above easily passed into oblivion. Yet, the American
objective in Peru”to crush a movement aimed at genuine land reform and the social
and political changes inevitably stemming from such”was identical to its objective in
Vietnam. And the methods employed were similar: burning down peasants' huts and
villages to punish support for the guerrillas, defoliating the countryside to eliminate
guerrilla sanctuaries, saturation bombing with napalm and high explosives, even
throwing prisoners out of helicopters. 13
The essential difference, one which spelled disaster for the Peruvian insurgents,
was that their ranks were not augmented in any appreciable number by the Indian
peasants, a group with little revolutionary consciousness and even less daring; four
centuries of dehu-manization had robbed them of virtually all hope and the sense of a
right to revolt; and when this sense stirred even faintly, such as under Hugo Blanco, it
was met head-on by the brick wall of official violence.
As common in the Third World as it is ludicrous, the bulk of the armed forces
employed to keep the peasants pacified were soldiers of peasant stock themselves. It is a
measure of the ultimate cynicism of the Peruvian and American military authorities that
soldiers were stationed outside their home areas to lessen their resistance when the order
was given to shoot.14
But it all worked. It worked so well that more than a decade was to pass before
desperate men took to arms again in Peru.



29. Dominican Republic 1960-1966
Saving democracy from communism by getting rid of democracy

On the night of 30 May 1961, Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo, mass murderer,
torturer par excellence, absolute dictator, was shot to death on a highway in the outskirts
of the capital city, Ciudad Trujillo.
The assassination set off a chain of events over the next five years which
featured sustained and remarkably gross intervention into the internal affairs of the
Dominican Republic by the United States, the likes of which had not been seen in Latin
America since the heyday of American gunboat diplomacy.
The United States had been an accomplice in the assassination itself of the man
it had helped to climb to power and to endure for some 30 years. It marked one of the
rare occasions that the US government acted to overthrow a right-wing despot, albeit
anti-commu-nism was still the motivating force.
Whatever repugnance individual Washington policy makers may have felt
toward Trujillo's incredible violations of human rights over the years, his fervent
adherence to American policies, his repression of the left, and, as a consequence, the
vigorous support he enjoyed in Congress (where Trujillo's money was no stranger| and


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in other influential American circles, were enough to keep successive United States
administrations looking the other way.
When, in January 1959, Fulgencio Batista fell before the forces of Fidel Castro
in nearby Cuba, a reconsideration of this policy was thrust upon Washington's agenda.
This historic event seemed to suggest that support of right-wing governments might no
longer be the best way of checking the rise of revolutionary movements in Latin
America, but rather might be fostering them. Indeed, in June a force of Dominican
exiles launched an invasion of their homeland from Cuba. Although the invasion was a
complete failure, it could only serve to heighten Washington's concern about who was
swimming around in "The American Lake".
"'Batista is to Castro as Trujillo is to ___' was the implicit assumption, and
Washington wanted to ensure that it could help fill in the blank," is the way one
analysis formulated the problem. "As a result, the United States began to cast about for
a way to get rid of Trujillo and at the same time to ensure a responsible successor."1
Ironically, it was to Trujillo's Dominican Republic that Batista had fled.
The decision to topple Trujillo was reinforced in early 1960 when the United
States sought to organize hemispheric opposition to the Castro regime. This policy ran
head-on into the familiar accusation that the United States opposed only leftist
governments, never those of the right, no matter how tyrannical. The close association
with Trujillo, widely regarded as Washington's "protege", was proving increasingly to
be an embarrassment. The circumstances were such that President Eisenhower was led
to observe that "It's certain that American public opinion won't condemn Castro until we
have moved against Trujillo."2 (The president's apparent belief in the independence of
the American mind may have been overly generous, for Washington was supporting
right-wing dictatorships in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Haiti and elsewhere before and after
Trujillo's assassination, yet the American public fell readily into line in condemning
Castro.)
As early as 1958, the then-CIA chief of station in the Dominican Republic, Lear
Reed, along with several Dominicans, had plotted an assassination of Trujillo, one
which never got off the ground.3 What the Agency's motivation was, and whether it was
acting on its own or at the behest of higher echelons in Washington, is not known.
However, in February 1960 the National Security Council's Special Group in
Washington gave consideration to a program of covert aid to anti-Trujillo Dominicans.4
Two months later, Eisenhower approved a contingency plan which provided, in part,
that if the situation deteriorated still further: "the United States would immediately take
political action to remove Trujillo from the Dominican Republic as soon as a suitable
successor regime can be induced to take over with the assurance of U.S. political,
economic, and”if necessary”military support."5
Seemingly unaware of the currents swirling about him, Trujillo continued to live
up to his gangster reputation. In June, his henchmen blew up a car carrying Venezuelan
President Romulo Betancourt, an outspoken critic of the Dominican dictator. As a
result, Washington came under renewed pressure from several of the more democratic
Caribbean countries for action against Trujillo. Betancourt, who had survived the blast,
told US Secretary of State Christian Herter: "If you don't eliminate him, we will
invade."6
For a full year, the dissidents and various American officials played cloak-and-
dagger games: There were meetings in New York and Washington, in Ciudad Trujillo
and Venezuela; Americans living in the Dominican Republic were enlisted for the cause
by the CIA; schemes to overthrow Trujillo were drawn up at different times by the State
Department, the CIA, and the dissidents, some approved by the Special Group. A


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training camp was set up in Venezuela for Dominican exiles flown there from the
United States and Puerto Rico by the CIA; the dissidents made numerous requests for
weapons, from sniper rifles to remote-control detonating devices, for the understood
purpose of assassinating Trujillo and other key members of his regime. Several of the
requests were approved by the State Department or the CIA; support for the dissidents
was regularly reiterated at high levels of the US government ... yet, after all was said
and done, none of the ambitious plans was even attempted (the actual assassination was
essentially a spur-of-the-moment improvised affair), only three pistols and three
carbines were ever passed to the anti-Trujillistas, and it is not certain that any of these
guns were used in the assassination.'
In the final analysis, the most significant aid received by the dissidents from the
United States was the assurance that the "Colossus to the North" would not intervene
militarily to prevent the assassination and would support them afterwards if they set up
a "suitable" government. In Latin America this is virtually a sine qua non for such
undertakings, notably in the Dominican Republic where American marines have landed
on four separate occasions in this century, the last intervention having created a
centralized Dominican National Guard which the US placed under the control of a
young officer it had trained named Rafael Trujillo.
The gap between the word and the deed of the American government concerning
the assassination appears to have been the consequence of a growing uncertainty in
Washington about what would actually cake place in the wake of Trujillo's demise”
would a pro-Castro regime emerge from the chaos? A secondary consideration, perhaps,
was a reluctance to engage in political assassination, both as a matter of policy and as a
desire to avoid, as one State Department official put it, "further tarnishing in the eyes of
the world" of the "U.S. moral posture".8 This was particularly the expressed feeling of
President John Kennedy and others in his administration who had assumed office in
January 1961, although they were later to undertake several assassination attempts
against Castro.
The dismal failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion in April further dampened the
enthusiasm of Washington officials for Caribbean adventures (except against Cuba in
revenge) and induced them to request a postponement of the assassination. The plotters,
however, were well past the point of no return.
The Dominicans who pulled the triggers and their fellow conspirators were in no
way revolutionaries. They came from the ranks of the conservative, privileged sectors of
Dominican society and were bound together primarily by an intense loathing of Trujillo,
a personal vendetta”each of them, or someone close to them, had suffered a deep
humiliation at the hands of the diabolical dictator, if not torture or murder.
Their plan as to what would follow the elimination of Trujillo was only half-
baked, and even this fell apart completely. As matters turned out, the day after the
assassination, Rafael ("Ramfis") Trujillo, Jr. rushed home from his playboy's life in
Paris to take over the reins of government. Little had been resolved, either in the
Dominican Republic or in Washington. The Kennedy administration was confronted
with the same ideological questions which had caused them so much indecision before
the assassination, as they had the Eisenhower administration. To wit: What is the best
way of preventing the establishment of left-wing governments intent upon radical social
change? The traditional iron fist of right-wing dictatorship, or a more democratic
society capable of meeting many of the legitimate demands of the populace? How much
democracy? Would too much open the door for even greater, and unacceptable,
demands and provide the left with a legal platform from which TO sway ("dupe",



177
Washington would call it) the public? And if it is a dictatorship that is to be supported,
how are liberal American leaders to explain this to the world and to their own citizens?
John F. Kennedy and his men from Harvard tended to treat such policy questions
in a manner more contemplative than American political figures are usually inclined to
do: on occasion, it might be said, they even agonized over such questions. But in the
end, their Latin American policy was scarcely distinguishable from that of conservative
Republican administrations. A leader who imposed "order" with at least the facade of
democracy, who kept the left submerged without being notoriously brutal about it; in
short, the anti-communist liberal, still appeared to be the safest ally for the United
States.
"There are three possibilities," Kennedy said, "in descending order of
preference: a decent democratic regime, a continuation of the Trujillo regime or a
Castro regime. We ought to aim at the first but we really can't renounce the second until
we are sure we can avoid the third."9
Rafael Trujillo, Jr. was clearly not ideal. Besides bearing the inescapable stigma
of his name and family, he proceeded to carry out a bloodbath of revenge over the next
six months.10 But, unlike his father in his last years, Ramfis could be prodded by
Washington into making a few token reforms, and both parties might have been content
to continue in this fashion indefinitely had not many people of the Dominican Republic
felt terribly cheated by the turn of events. Their elation over the assassination had
soured in the face of business-as-usual.
Resentment spilled over into the streets. By October, the protests were occurring
daily and were being put down by tanks; students were shot dead by government troops.
The United States began to make moves, for the situation in the streets and high places
of the government was anarchic enough, Washington feared, to provide an opening for
the proverbial (and seemingly magical) "communist takeover", although, in fact, the left
in the Dominican Republic was manifestly insignificant from years of repression.
American diplomats met in the capital city with the Trujillo clan and Dominican
military leaders and bluntly told them that US military power would, if necessary, be
used to compel the formation of a provisional government headed by Joaquin Balaguer
until elections could be held. Balaguer had been closely tied to the Trujillo family for
decades, was serving as president under Trujillo at the time of the assassination, and had
remained in the same capacity under Ramfis, but he was not regarded as a threat to
continue the tyranny. As Kennedy put it: "Balaguer is our only tool. The anticommunist
liberals aren't strong enough. We must use our influence to take Balaguer along the road
to democracy."11 Just how committed John F. Kennedy was to democracy in the
Dominican Republic we shall presently see.
To make certain that the Dominicans got the message, a US naval task force of
eight ships with 1,800 Marines aboard appeared off the Dominican coast on 19
November, just outside the three-mile limit but in plain sight of Ciudad Trujillo.
Spanish-language broadcasts from the offshore ships warned that the Marines were
prepared to come ashore; while overhead, American jet fighters streaked along the
coastline. Brigadier General Pedro Rodriguez Echevarría, a key military figure, was
persuaded by the United States to put aside any plans for a coup he may have been
harboring and to support the American action. Rodriguez proceeded”whether of his
own initiative is not clear”to order the bombing of the air base outside the capital

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