U.S. Offensive in Latin America: Coups, Retreats, and Radicalization

by James Petras Tuesday, Aug. 06, 2002 at 10:29 PM

The most powerful and organized challenge to the satellite building project of the empire is in Colombia.

Monthly Review, 2002

U.S. Offensive in Latin America: Coups, Retreats, and Radicalization

By James Petras


The worldwide U.S. military-political offensive is manifest in multiple contexts in Latin America. The U.S. offensive aims to prop up decaying client regimes, destabilize independent regimes, pressure the center-left to move to the right, and destroy or isolate the burgeoning popular movements challenging the U.S. empire and its clients. We will discuss the particular forms of the U.S. offensive in each country, and then explore the specific and general reasons for the offensive in contemporary Latin America. In the concluding section we will discuss the political alternatives in the context of the U.S. offensive.

Military-Political Offensive: Diverse Approaches, Singular Goal

The most striking aspect of the U.S. military-political offensive in Latin America is the diverse tactics utilized to establish or consolidate client regimes and defeat popular socio-political movements opposed to imperial domination.

The focus of high intensity U.S. intervention is in Colombia and Venezuela. In both countries, Washington has high stakes, involving political, economic, and ideological interests, as well as geopolitical considerations. Each country faces both the Caribbean and the Andean countries, as well as Brazil. The emergence of a revolutionary regime in Colombia or the stabilization of a nationalist regime in Venezuela could inspire similar transformations in the adjoining regions and undermine U.S. control via its client regimes. Moreover, significant political changes could affect U.S. control over oil production and supply, not only in Venezuela and Colombia, but also in Mexico and Ecuador, where pressure might build against the privatization process. Washington, at all costs, wants to maintain a secure supply of oil in the current period of undeclared war against the Gulf Oil producers