Even a cursory review of United States covert operations in Latin America makes certain conclusions inescapable. Witness statements and official records have long confirmed that the US participated in the violent coups that wracked the hemisphere, from Chile and Uruguay to Brazil to Central America.1 The evidence also confirms that the US closely collaborated with the repressive military regimes that rose to power during those coups.2 This reality hardly comes as news, especially to those who suffered the consequences. However, many US leaders now shrug off the events as matters of ancient history, requiring no reforms or reparations. This constitutes grave error. In the archives of the past lie inconvenient truths about the nature and scope of US participation in torture itself. Those truths, in turn, are crucial to a proper analysis of US torture practices today in the “war against terror.” Without that analysis, the global community cannot salvage its much-eroded legal network of human rights protections. If and when that network collapses, we risk unprecedented chaos. The truth is that the US intelligence networks, in particular the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), have spent decades developing certain torture techniques and other counterinsurgency methods, such as forcible disappearances, and teaching and practicing them in Latin America. In short, the CIA has long engaged in torture and other grave human rights crimes in the absence of any national security threat of any kind. The real motivation has always been the protection of US financial interests. Such interests, in turn, are inextricably intertwined with those of the wealthy oligarchies of South and Central America. The conjoined financial concerns have lead to devastating results, not only in terms of the final body counts, but also the obstruction of fundamental socioeconomic reforms long taken for granted by the citizens of other nations. The Latin American landed gentry or oligarchy classes are for the most part composed of the descendants of the conquistadors and other light-skinned Europeans. Their wealth and power are deeply rooted in, and utterly dependent upon, preservation of the skewed and near-feudal distribution of land and resources established in the early colonial era. The descendents of the first citizens of the hemisphere, the indigenous peoples, and the slaves dragged westwards from Africa, have been left to survive, if at all, as de facto serfs.3 Their terrible sufferings, from starvation, lack of basic medical care, and the denial of a survivable

minimum wage, have been repeatedly documented. Yet time and again their efforts to gain even minimal rights and protections have been crushed by the frightened oligarchies and their hired armies. Worse yet, as US corporations invested in the rich lands and natural resources of these countries, the convergence of financial interests brought with it the CIA and US military power.4