August 27, 2015
Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460
Washington, D.C.- In 2013, Secretary of State Kerry announced that the Monroe Doctrine era of U.S. intervention in Latin America’s internal affairs was “over.” A review of much of the major media coverage that followed the release of thousands of U.S. State Department cables by WikiLeaks appears to confirm this assertion, with numerous articles noting the supposedly benign nature of the U.S. diplomatic activities described in the cables. In The WikiLeaks Files, a new Verso anthology published in collaboration with WikiLeaks, three CEPR analysts look more carefully at what the leaked cables reveal about U.S. government activities in the Western Hemisphere and find that the cables provide ample evidence that “US interference in Latin American countries’ internal political affairs remains, in fact, alive and well in the twenty-first century.”
The co-authors of the book’s two chapters on Latin America and the Caribbean – CEPR International Communications Director Dan Beeton, CEPR Senior Associate Alexander Main and CEPR Research Associate Jake Johnston – focus on cables related to countries with left governments, including Bolivia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras and Venezuela – as well as Haiti, where the U.S. has a long track record of aggressive internal intervention.
“The cables provide an extremely troubling but useful picture of the 21st century arsenal of political intervention employed by U.S. diplomats in Latin America,” said Alexander Main, lead author on the “Latin America and the Caribbean” chapter. “A better understanding of these methods and their impact is particularly relevant today, given the current political turmoil unfolding in a number of countries with left governments today.”
In “Latin America and the Caribbean,” the authors describe a variety of soft and hard methods used by U.S. diplomats to try to influence the outcome of elections, force governments to modify their policies and undermine left governments and candidates. In “Venezuela,” the authors show how the U.S. State Department, under both George W. Bush and the early part of the Obama administration covered in the leaked cables, focuses obsessively on the alleged Bolivarian “threat” to U.S. interests in the region, with Venezuela effectively replacing the Soviet Union and Cuba as the new regional bugbear. The chapter also describes how numerous cables show the constant, close coordination that exists between the U.S. embassy in Caracas and the Venezuelan opposition, with constant attempts to unite opposition factions and divide and/or co-opt pro-government groups.
“The WikiLeaks cables give the lie to official claims that the U.S. doesn’t interfere in Venezuela’s internal politics,” said Dan Beeton, lead author of the “Venezuela” chapter. “In fact, the cables reveal how, over the past 15 years, undermining the government of Venezuela internally, and isolating it regionally, have been key priorities for the U.S. government in the hemisphere.”
As NSA whistleblower Edward J. Snowden wrote of the book, “Long after the debate over the publication of these cables has been forgotten, the documents themselves will remain a valuable archive for scholars and students of US foreign policy. The essays that make up The WikiLeaks Files shed critical light on a once secret history.”