Guatemala’s Labor Day Uprising

2015 Central America (94) Chichicastenango - CementeryAs Americans celebrate Labor Day with parades and picnics, the Guatemalan left is spending the early part of this weekend celebrating the resignation and incarceration of President Otto Molina Perez, who stepped down on Friday in a huge victory for the tens of thousands of workers who have been protesting for months and calling for his ouster.

Molina – owner of Gallo Breweries, the largest in Guatemala – is in military lockup and faces corruption and customs fraud charges. Just four months earlier Vice-President Roxana Baldetti had been forced from office due to her involvement in the same customs scandal.

But the celebration was short-lived. On Sunday, Guatemaltecos went to the polls to vote for the nation’s next President, in a regularly scheduled election which saw every rock, tree trunk and bridge painted in the hue of some political party.

Comedian Jimmy Morales won the first round with 24%, not enough to avoid an October runoff. The second-place winner, who will face Morales in the runoff, will be either right-wing businessman Manuel Baldizon or former first lady and business woman Sandra Torres.

But to most Guatemaltecos they all look the same. They come from the infamous seven- family oligarchy which has lorded over their nation since its inception.

So it was only fitting that the mostly Mayan population heard this on Telesur Sunday night as they awaited election results:

“Current presidential candidate Jimmy Morales, from the National Convergence Front (FCN), is closely linked with Edgar Justino Ovalle, a former general during the country’s horrific period of genocide of the 1980s.

Ovalle, who is responsible for having placed actor and comedian Jimmy Morales as presidential candidate, was identified as a high-ranking commander over a specialized military unit in Guatemala´s Quiche region, according to declassified documents from the National Security Archive.

During the one year period from 1981-1982 that Ovalle headed military operations, the government carried out 77 massacres in the region of Quiche, the declassified documents reported.”

 “http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Guatemalan-Presidential-Candidate-Linked-with-War-Criminal—20150906-0023.html”.  

As Manfredo Marroquin, president of Citizen Action, stated, “The people are rejecting this political system, the mafia takeover of democracy. They feel like voting is simply selecting the next person who will loot the country. They are not rejecting democracy. What they’re demanding is to reset, run an anti-virus and start over from scratch.”

(Excerpted from Chapter 11: Noriega of Panama: Big Oil & Their Bankers…)

Guatemalan Genocide

The CIA planted that “virus” in 1954 when they overthrew nationalist Jacobo Arbenz and replaced him with a dictatorship led by General Castillo Armas – the first in a series of brutal military governments beholden to United Brands and its cocaine syndicate.

The generals ruled Guatemala for an eerie 33 years while Arbenz loyalists fought a guerrilla war against the various juntas from the altiplano provinces bordering Mexico.  Their UNRG (Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity) ranks consisted of Qechua, Ketchikel and Mam Indians, who make up the majority of Guatemala’s population.  GARP (Guerrilla Army of the Poor) was their urban guerrilla component.

To counter the rebels the CIA worked closely with Israeli Mossad and Taiwanese advisers in creating “model villages”, patterned after the strategic hamlets which were employed during the Vietnam War.  Part of the program was Guatemalan President Efrain Rios Montt‘s 1980’s Beans for Rifles effort, though which highland villagers received food via the USAID in containers displaying US flags and pro-US slogans.

In return, the villagers were expected to take up arms against the Guatemala rebels.  USAID funded the construction of roads into rebel-held areas in Alta Verapaz province, enabling the Guatemalan Army to reach remote villages where it interrogated, tortured and killed over 100,000 Guatemalan Indians who refused to demur to CIA counterinsurgency efforts during the 1980’s and 1990’s.  The Guatemalan military spawned right-wing death squads who ran Columbian cocaine north, utilizing export processing zones run by US multinationals like United Brands.

On September 14, 1996 Guatemalan police captured the head of the largest of these narco-death squads- Alfredo Moreno Molina.  Moreno started talking and Guatemalan oligarchy, which owns 85% of the country’s arable land, began to tremble.  Among Moreno’s cohorts were President Efrain Rios Montt who claimed to be an Evangelical Christian, ex-Presidential candidates Alfonso Portilla and Zury Rios and scores of right-wing Congressmen from Frente Republicano Guatemalteco.  In early 1997 as UNRG rebels were signing an historic peace accord with the government, the Guatemala periodical Ameroteca published a series of articles implicating the CIA in Moreno’s death squad and drug trafficking activities.

Moreno’s ring included the Vice-Minister of Defense, Captain of the Guatemalan Navy, Inspector General of the Guardia de Haciendas, Inspector General of the National Police, Joint Guardia/Police Operations Officer, Chief of Motorized Police, Director General of Customs and many high-ranking generals, colonels, customs officials and police chiefs. [470]  These same death squads presided over a rash of kidnappings that engulfed Guatemala during the mid-1990’s.  The three high-ranking generals who oversaw the kidnapping ring were Luis Ortega, Manuel Callejas and Edgar Godoy.  The ring was so powerful and included so many Guatemalan officials that it would never have been exposed had the UNRG rebels not spilled the beans during peace talks.  Indictments were slow to come, with oligarch Attorney General Hector Perez working to stall the investigation. [471]

The CIA and Mossad presided over death squads and massacres, training the Guatemalan military in the finer arts of terrorism.  They recruited mercenaries at US Army Sergeant Barry Sadler’s Europa bar in Guatemala City, a spook den where British and Israeli commandos mingled with Argentine and Chilean mercenaries and Guatemalan death squad leaders.  Prostitution and gambling were rife.

The Guatemalan genocide only gained media attention when US citizens became targets of the death squads.  In March 1995, Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) announced that a US hotel owner living in Guatemala named Michael Devine was killed by a right-wing death squad directed by a Guatemalan Colonel on CIA payroll.  Devine ran a guest house near Poptun in eastern Guatemala.  In 1990 his wife opened the door to find a paper bag containing her husband’s head.  Julio Roberto Alpirez, the CIA goon who ordered Devine’s brutal murder, also oversaw the murder of Efrain Bamaca, a UNRG rebel commander.

Bamaca’s wife, US lawyer Jennifer Harbury, staged hunger strikes in both Washington and Guatemala City to protest the lack of cooperation by both governments in investigating her husband’s death.  The CIA knew about the killing as soon as it happened, but failed to even contact Harbury.  Joining her hunger strike was Sister Diana Ortiz, an Ursuline nun from New Mexico who was repeatedly raped and tortured with cigarette butts by a Guatemalan death squad in 1989.  Ortiz says the person overseeing her ordeal was a man named Alejandro whom she thinks was an American.

After Torricelli made his allegations an NSA staffer sent him a note stating that NSC and the US Army had been directly involved in both Devine and Bamaca assassinations, as advisers to an elite G-2 secret unit within the Guatemalan military.  Guatemalan scholar Alan Nairn says CIA worked closely with G-2, whose primary mission was the elimination of political opposition through death squads.  After news of Devine’s death surfaced, Congress cut off military aid to Guatemala, but the CIA secretly retained a $5 million annual budget for Guatemalan operations.  Army Colonel Julio Alpirez was paid $44,000 by the CIA after the Company knew he was involved in Devine’s death. [472]  Torricelli said the American people were about to hear things about their own intelligence agencies that would horrify them.  Even Senator Arlen Spector, the Warren Commission lackey, was forced to admit that the CIA had withheld information from Torricelli’s investigation.

President Clinton was so shocked by the revelations that he sent FBI agents to the NSA to investigate Torricelli’s allegations. NSA was now busy shredding documents regarding Guatemala.  It was the first time in US history that a president used the FBI to investigate NSA.  In June 1996 the Senate Intelligence Oversight Board released a 53-page document which stated, “Several CIA agents were credibly alleged to have ordered, planned or participated in serious human rights violations such as assassinations, extra-judicial executions, torture or kidnapping…the CIA was contemporaneously aware of many of the allegations”.  Torricelli was later subject to a phony political scandal which forced him to abandon his 2002 bid for re-election.

Feliz Dia del Trabajo!

Dean Henderson is the author of five books:Big Oil & Their Bankers in the Persian Gulf: Four Horsemen, Eight Families & Their Global Intelligence, Narcotics & Terror Network, The Grateful Unrich: Revolution in 50 Countries, Das Kartell der Federal Reserve,Stickin’ it to the Matrix & The Federal Reserve Cartel.  You can subscribe free to his weekly Left Hook column @www.hendersonlefthook.wordpress.com

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