Washington keeps meddling in the affairs of ‘its hemisphere’ and deploying propaganda to paint its interventions as benevolent
In his 2005 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Harold Pinter spent a good deal of his time detailing the crimes of the US in the world, but especially in Latin America. He spoke about how most people have been lulled into forgetting about these crimes, if they ever knew about them at all, thanks to Washington’s sophisticated propaganda machine:
“The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.
Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.
It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening, it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”
Of course, the people who suffered from the relentless US attacks have not forgotten them. And as might be expected, these attacks have not stopped, or even slowed down, with the US supporting right-wing coups in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years – for example, in Honduras in 2009; Bolivia in 2019; and most recently the ongoing unrest in Peru. The US also helped instigate a very violent coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018, though it ultimately failed. Moreover, in addition to forcibly kidnapping Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and flying him to the Central African Republic in 2004, it appears that the US had some role in the recent murder of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.
Meanwhile, Washington is leading NATO’s expansion of its forward-operating capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to Popular Resistance, at the end of 2022, the US had “12 military bases in Panama, 12 in Puerto Rico, 9 in Colombia, 8 in Peru, 3 in Honduras, 2 in Paraguay, as well as installations of this type in Aruba, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Cuba (Guantanamo), and Peru among other countries.” Washington is seeking to control the entire “land and maritime surface of the region”, including a network of NATO bases on islands in Argentina’s territorial waters “usurped by the United Kingdom.”
In light of all this activity and history, the people of Latin America and the Caribbean can be forgiven for doubting the claims that the US is helping to spread democracy, peace and truth in the region. The people of this region are simply tired of being bullied by the US, and they are equally tired of being blatantly lied to by the US government and its corporate media mouthpieces. As such, it should come as little surprise to anyone paying attention that the people of this region are increasingly looking to non-US sources like Russia’s RT to get their information, much to the chagrin of the US.
As CNN laments, “Russian propaganda has long exploited simmering resentments against the West’s imperialistic past and recent foreign policy interventions, now promoting the view that Ukraine is a puppet of the West. The narrative is particularly powerful in Latin America, where Kremlin-controlled media outlets such as RT have big audiences.” Similarly, POLITICO complains, “When it comes to Russian state media, the Kremlin’s Spanish-language services – most notably RT en Español – are a juggernaut, particularly in Latin America. Its glitzy television studios, anti-gringo editorial line and ability to tap into locals’ desire for outside news sources have made the outlet by far the largest proponent of Moscow’s talking points.”
There is much to unpack in these alarmist statements. First of all, in its very assertion about “Russian propaganda,” CNN itself engages in its own, quite typical pro-US propaganda, attempting to claim that the West’s imperialism is in the “past” and reducing its recent, anti-constitutional coups in Latin America to mere “foreign policy interventions.” For its part, POLITICO acknowledges that the appeal of RT to Latin American viewers is its “anti-gringoeditorial line” without explaining why Latin Americans would be attracted to that – that is, without acknowledging it is the cruel US actions which have driven Latin Americans away from American sources and towards those like RT.
Of course, the problem is that the US government and its compliant propaganda outlets like CNN and POLITICO have gotten high on their own supply. They believe their own line about the nature of US imperialism in the region and cannot seem to fathom that they themselves are some of the biggest purveyors of false news in the world, including about Washington’s role in the world.
Again, the people of Latin America and the Caribbean, forced to endure the brutality of the US in their daily lives, are not so fooled, and they are quite understandably looking elsewhere for their news, and even for help. Thus, people protesting US intervention in such countries as Haiti and Peru are even waving Russian flags and asking for Russian help against this intervention.
There is an easy solution to this. If the US wants the people of the region to look to it and its media outlets for news and information, it might be honest about its interventionist past and present conduct in this hemisphere, and it can start treating the people of this hemisphere and their countries with respect and as equals. As long as the US continues to treat Latin America and the Caribbean as its “backyard” in which it is free to meddle for its own gain, it will only continue to alienate the people and to push them towards Russia and other points eastward. This should be an obvious point, but it seems to be lost on those policymakers in the US who seem incapable of seeing past their own self-interest, all the while believing that they are somehow the good guys.
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