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[Washington Babylon]

A Trip Down Memory Lane: U.S. financed 1971 Bolivian coup



For nearly four decades, there’s been an open ques­tion about the 1971 coup that brought dic­ta­tor Hugo Banzer Suárez to power in Bolivia: was the U.S. gov­ern­ment involved? Thanks to newly declas­si­fied doc­u­ments, we now have an answer…

Banzer was a dic­ta­tor of Bolivia from 1971-8 and a demo­c­ra­t­i­cally elected pres­i­dent from 1997-2001. His three-?day coup in August 1971 was sig­nif­i­cant not only for the fight­ing that accom­pa­nied it, which left 110 dead and 600 wounded, but for the seven-?year regime that fol­lowed, one of the most repres­sive in Bolivia’s his­tory. Under Banzer’s rule, more than 14,000 Boli­vians were arrested with­out a judi­cial order, more than 8,000 were tortured—with elec­tric­ity, water, beatings—and more than 200 were exe­cuted or dis­ap­peared…

A col­lec­tion of declas­si­fied doc­u­ments recently released by the same State Depart­ment proves that…the Nixon Admin­is­tra­tion, acting with the full knowl­edge of the State Depart­ment, autho­rized nearly half a mil­lion dollars—”coup money,” accord­ing to the ambas­sador in La Paz—for the politi­cians and mil­i­tary offi­cers plot­ting against Torres. The CIA handed at least some of this money over to the coup’s lead­ers in the days lead­ing up to Banzer’s seizure of power.

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