The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 53.0°F | A Few Clouds

Question the CIA's activities

[mk1]To the Editor:

Several letters to the Friday Tech indicate that further explanation of the student protests against the CIA are necessary.

In particular, Paul Sherer '87 ["Survival is only determined by might and not by right," Oct. 18] tells us that we should support the actions of the actions of the CIA, because "survival is determined by might, not right," and that "America stands for democracy and human rights." I suppose this means that we somehow symbolize these ideals while actively destroying them in tiny Third World countries whose absorption into the monolith of world communism will bring about the demise of our vulnerable republic.

Only the ignorance of the American public has allowed this convenient government claim to remain largely accepted. Only the violence on the scale of the Vietnam War seems capable of breaking through this wall of ignorance. Here are some examples of how the CIA has protected us from the Soviet Union:

Very few Americans are aware that in 1954, after eight years of democratic rule, the government claim of Guatemala was overthrown by the CIA and local fascists. Our government didn't like the left-leaning tendencies of the president of this small Central-American country, but Guatemala's real sin was expropriating the "unprofitable" land that United Fruit Company was keeping in reserve at a time when thousands of Guatemalans were starving. The government could put up virtually no armed resistance because they had virtually no external (ie. Soviet) support. The legacy of our intervention has been thirty years of military rule that has murdered at least seventy-thousand civilians -- and the people are still malnourished.

Chile's threat to the United States was its demonstration that a socialist president could legitimately be elected president. Kissinger was particularly worried that European countries such as Italy might be so impressed by Chile's example thay they, too, would succumb to this threat of democracy. The only choice was to use the CIA to secretly do all it could to destabilize the country. When the military finally struck, with tacit US approval, it replaced decades of parliamentary democracy with a totalitarian military dicatorship that whithered the freedom and respect for human rights that persisted under the Socialists.

To complete this sampler of CIA activities (only a fraction of their many tricks around the world), we come to Nicaragua. In 1979, where were the "freedom fighters" the CIA brought together in 1982 to attack their own country from bases in Honduras? They were in the National Guard, protecting Somoza from just about everybody else in the country. Why use Guardsmen, so widely hated in Nicaragua, to attack the regime? According to CIA testimony, they were "the only ones who wanted to fight" [The Washington Post, 5/8/83].

That groups such as the Political Science Committee on Central America seek to educate the American public about the crimes that are being committed in our name does not mean we are in favor of similar Soviet actions. On the contrary, we must always fight this assumption that every place on earth must be owned by one of the two superpowers. Until the KGB begin to recruit on campus or MIT students tell me that the Russions must fight US imperialism in Poland, it seems more relevant to try to influence the actions of our own government. For forty years the Soviet Union and the United States have used each other as excuses to control smaller countries (though five years before the Russian Revolution were invading Nicaragua to protect it from "Mexican Bolshevism"). In reality actions such as those I have described have little to do with a Soviet threat per se, but with an erosion of US influence in countries which wish to assert their own sovereignty.

The people of Central America are not pawns to be moved around by the big countries. They are people with enough problems without the United States screaming at them about the Russian threat when with our moeny and guns and our bombs we are their main threat. I invite everyone to future Committee on Central America events -- lectures, movies, debates, etc. Come to listen, to argue. But do not out of ignorance condone the suffering our government is causing just because it waves the flag. In a society that prides itself on being ruled by the people, that would be irresponsible -- and dangerous.

Barry Klinger '85->