Kill and tell

It is cheaper to kill them in a plane crash, a private plane crash, he said, rather cavalierly with a half smirk. There is no evidence, no smoking gun because the plane crashes, that is your smoking gun. He is John Perkins, retired Chief Economic Adviser and his interviewer, Patrick Bet-David, host of Valuetainment Episodes ( You Tube). The latter flashed on a screen two vintage newspapers, front pages with banner headlines about the deaths of President Jaime Roldos of Ecuador, considered left-wing by the USA, on 24 May 1981, followed by Head of State of Panama, Brig. Gen Omar Torrijos, on 31 July 1981, barely three months apart. Both were killed in plane crashes. The CIA’s Operation Condor assisted by Mossad deprived the Ecuadorians of a president with integrity ( word used by Perkins). Omar Torrijos, also according to Perkins, gathered his family together and warned them that he would be the next target because of the Panama Canal. Torrijos led a relentless campaign to regain control of the Panama Canal and its contiguous territories which were in the hands of the USA. He signed a treaty with Pres. J. Carter, but his crusade achieved its full meaning posthumously, in 1999. That was the legacy of Omar Torrijos. John Perkins described him as a charismatic leader.

I was stunned by that interview; even if I had harbored suspicions all along about those two enigmatic deaths, I never imagined that an American retiree of the National Security Agency could be so bold as to divulge what surely is classified information on national television and You Tube. John Perkins is the author of 3 recently published “ kiss and tell” books about his years of service as a Chief Economic Adviser of programs offered by the US government to countries “ with resources it needs.”

He calls himself an “economic hit man”, a veritable “ con man”. In the aughts, he worked for the Peace Corps where he spent years in Brazil and Latin America, learning Spanish and studying indigenous peoples. Then, as Chief Economic Adviser, he formed teams of the best and the brightest graduates of top US universities like Wharton and Harvard. Their task was to prepare lushly impressive economic studies that Perkins could present to presidents, ministers of finance, cabinet secretaries and prime ministers of target countries to lure them into accepting American programs focusing on infrastructure and extractive industries. The studies, graphs and charts prepared by his bright boys promised millions of jobs and progress for the host country, but, in fact, those were tissues of lies. Once the package is accepted by the officials, the government would be directed to get loans from the World Bank and other American financial institutions; however, the money would go directly to the American corporations and American banks specified in the project documents.

As “sweeteners”, Perkins the con man would offer scholarships to the best universities in the USA for the children of the local officials; enterprises belonging to the officials or their close family members received juicy contracts as suppliers of the projects. Everyone involved would get rich, Perkins said, but the debt is always paid by the host country which never reaches its development objectives. As for the scholarships, he would report these to the US Audit Office as donations to indigent youth. The con man admitted, not too sadly, that the country remained poor while the officials and the US corporations involved became enormously rich. It seems that those are the elements of what we call the “debt trap”.

How long has the USA been deploying OO7’s like John Perkins? Since when has the CIA been fomenting social unrest? Mr. Bet-David queried for the benefit of the audience. Since when has the USA been destabilizing duly -elected governments whose leaders did not toe the line? Mr. Perkins reminisced that he was assigned to Iran during the waning years of the Shah; his colleagues arrived with suitcases packed with cash to foment and pay thousands of anti-Shah rabble rousers and hysterically hostile media. The disenchantment with the Shah had something to do with oil supply and prices so he had to be thrown under the bus to bring in Ayatollah Khomeini who turned out to more popular, but infinitely more irascible. The list is long: Mohammad Mosaddegh of Iran, overthrown by the CIA in 1953; Patrice Lumumba, prime minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, assassinated in 1961, Gonzalo Arbenz , President of Guatemala overthrown for the sake of United Fruit in 1954; Socialist Salvador Allende President of Chile, who nationalized copper mines was overthrown and shot in 1973. Perkins mentioned Saddam Hussein of Iraq (1993) and Muammar al-Ghaddafi (2011)as well. I suddenly remembered our own President Ramón Magsaysay , who had “ outlived his usefulness”, according to political rumor mills in 1957.

Now that the USA is at a crucial crossroads, there has been a surfeit of tell -all, eye witness accounts by those who used to work in the CIA and other sensitive government agencies. Whatever the intentions of the authors are, I believe we should read their memoirs and confessions because these testimonies supply us with the missing details of what we already know but could not prove for lack of evidence. The colleagues of Mr. John Perkins should give the mansions of their memories a thorough Mari Kondo de-cluttering , there might be more to tell.