When The Coup Is At Home, A Look At American Interventionism in Foreign Countries

US Interventionism BeLatina Latinx
Soldiers supporting the coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet take cover as bombs are dropped on the Presidential Palace of La Moneda in Sept. 11, 1973. (AP Photo/Enrique Aracena)

Last week, the United States witnessed what in other geopolitical contexts we’d call a ‘self-coup.’ 

What some call a riot or an insurrection, is what so many other countries outside our borders have experienced in their own flesh, and in much greater dimensions.

The irony is that in most of these circumstances it has been the United States itself who has sponsored the violence, often in behind-the-scenes deals.

During the mid-20th century, Latin America underwent a progressive and violent change in regime backed by the United States. The North American country was in support of the instauration of dictatorships through coups d’etat using the military to replace liberal, socialist-leaning leaders with alt-right heads of state.

Argentina, for example, faced a coup in 1976 to remove President Isabel Peron and appoint dictator General Jorge Rafael Videla, backed by the U.S. government, and whose rule resulted in about 30,000 disappearances. Similarly, the U.S. got involved in overthrowing President Juan Jose Torres in Bolivia in 1971.

This also happened in Brazil, Cuba with the first and second occupation as well as the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba; the assassination of Salvador Allende in Chile, and in other countries like Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua, Panama… and most recently in Venezuela with a failed coup attempt in 2002.

However, the scope of U.S. interventionism has not been reduced on this side of the Atlantic. Between 1960 and 1961, while the social crisis in the Congo was making the front pages of mainstream American media, the real suffering of those protesting in the streets was kept out of focus, in what many have interpreted as anti-communist censorship.

Although many have speculated that the assassination of Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese prime minister at the time, was in the hands of the Dwight D. Eisenhower government, there is no evidence of this in the declassified official documents.

But five years later, in 1966, the US military did help carry out the coup d’état to remove Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah. The ironic argument of the American government was the fear of a “neo-colonial” regime.

According to declassified government documents, while there was a plan to overthrow Nkrumah, there was no official order from the US president.

Now, and in coherence with the karmic saying that ‘all that goes up must come down,’ last January 6th was the day that the United States tasted a spoonful of its own medicine, when a mob of violent protesters fanned by President Trump attempted to violate the constitution and attack the bastion of so-called representative democracy in the Western world.

In an Op-Ed for Politico, Fiona Hill explained how the events at the Capitol were nothing less than a failed coup attempt by Donald Trump. Hill described how the attack marked every box in such an event from controlling militias through social media to controlling the Senate, to mobilizing support groups through rallies.

Finally, and although it was a failure, what counts is the intent behind the crude presidential maneuver that seems to close with a flourish the four darkest years in the history of the U.S. presidency.