John Perkins, an economist and shaman who recently visited Nosara to lead a seminar at the Blue Spirit Retreat Center, says he was an ‘economic hit man’ who persuaded leaders in Latin America and other developing countries to take on large international loans, with terms that kept them under the thumb of the U.S. government and its major corporations.
Following a talk he gave at Nosara’s Yoga House which was focused on his experiences with shamanism, the Voice of Nosara asked the best-selling author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man” to comment on events effecting Costa Rica.
Perkins says his experience in Latin America began as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Amazon in the 1960s , where he was taught the skills of shamanism. Although, he says, his later career, taught him how to corrupt governments by persuading their leaders to take on large amounts of debt. Perkins said that loans such as those made by the World Bank and the U.S. Agency for International Development were typically unaffordable and benefited only the rich, leaving the Latin American dictators who accepted them at the mercy of the U.S. government and the corporations which had economic interests in their natural resources.
However, he offered a more nuanced view when discussing Costa Rica’s plans to borrow $800 million from the Inter-American Development Bank to pave the local coastal road, as well as other projects. “If it’s a democratically elected government…roads can be a good investment…. You have to be very careful about the terms. Will it help the poor people? Will the road create enough income to pay it off?”
Although not familiar with the specific situation in Costa Rica, he said, “Roads can be a very good investment, especially small roads, and roads that can help farmers get to market. In each case you have to ask if it’s going to help the poor, the middle class.” Putting it into perspective, he adds, “The only way my grandson is going to inherit a good world is if we get rid of poverty. Every project has to be evaluated on that goal.”
Perkins was not familiar with the current border dispute with Nicaragua, but offered some perspective based on his travels there. He said many Nicaraguans resent Costa Rica for its alleged support of the U.S. anti-Sandinista forces in the 1980s.
He continued, “The CIA loves conflict, it opens the door for more exploitation. It opens the doors for corporations to go in and exploit everything. The promotion of conflict is a major policy of clandestine operations.”
On a somewhat different issue, he reflected on the recent controversy regarding Costa Rica’s renewal last July of its agreement to give U.S. navy the right to bring up to 45 warships to Costa Rican waters.
“Costa Rica is in a key point for all of Central and South America. I’m always amused when I hear that Costa Rica doesn’t have a standing army. It doesn’t have to, it has the U.S. army. This new agreement substantiates that. Ecuador just threw the U.S. out of the biggest military base in South America, so they’re looking around. Costa Rica and Mexico are the only Latin American countries that haven’t been invaded by the U.S. at some point. The U.S. 7th fleet that patrols the Caribbean had been mothballed but has now been brought back out. So Costa Rica is a very convenient place for it to lay up.”
Another controversial project is the proposed gold mine at Las Crucitas, which has been temporarily blocked by a Costa Rican court. Perkins noted that gold mines are particularly polluting and workers are often exploited.
“On the other hand, if the mine is set up with safety and environmental safeguards, and protection for the workers, it can be good. But there almost always has to be some ownership by the workers. It can be a good thing, but there are all these trade offs. You have to look very carefully at these things,” said the economist.
Interview with John Perkins, author of best-seller
“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”
“The people are taking back our power”
By Fritz Elmendorf
While the world’s attention may be on the democracy movement in Egypt, Latin America has also experienced a major move toward democracy in the wake of diminished power of the United States, according to bestselling author John Perkins.
Perkins, an economist and a shaman who recently lead a seminar at the Blue Spirit Retreat Center, provided an insider’s perspective on the political changes taking place in this region, in an interview with Voice of Nosara. He says he is a repentant former ‘economic hit-man’ -- his job as a consulting economist for the World Bank was to help arrange legal bribes for U.S. supported dictators that kept them in power and suppressed democratic opposition.
His insider’s view is detailed in his 2004 best selling book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which describes how Latin American dictators were enticed to take on unaffordable loans from the World Bank and other lenders, whose terms kept them under the thumb of the U.S. government.
Leaders who resisted this economic corruption typically became the victims of assassinations or coups instigated by the CIA, Perkins said.But this began to change in the past decade following the failure to depose Venezuelan President Hugh Chavez in a 2002 coup orchestrated by the CIA, he said. “That changed everything. The U.S. was shown to be a paper tiger,” Perkins told VON.
Latin American leaders and populations had been intimated by the U.S. and there was “a huge undercurrent of resentment. The intelligence community was very successful in installing dictatorships and keeping them in power,” but that began to fall apart with Chavez’ open defiance and survival.
The U.S. didn’t follow up against Chavez, Perkins says, because the Administration was so committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in addition felt they would need Venezuelan oil.The groundswell grew, and Perkins said there are now 10 Latin American countries with new democracies replacing dictatorships. He says they are exemplified by leaders such as Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador.
He said that although the CIA successfully instigated a coup against President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, who had advocated a raise in the minimum wage and land reform, thus threatening U.S. corporations there, the CIA bungled a coup against Correa in Ecuador.
“Correa is a huge problem for the U.S., he has a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Chicago -- you can’t call him an anti-capitalist,” Perkins said and noted that he is a leader in the ‘don’t pay the debt’ movement, and didn’t renew the lease for the U.S. military base there. He has also advocated changing the currency from the U.S. dollar to its own currency.
Moreover, the indigenous populations of Ecuador and Bolivia have also become very active and influential, he added, and have been able to shut down the countries with strikes to protest their impoverishment.
According to a recent blog posting by Perkins, “Current events in the Middle East are indicative of this new era when we the people are taking back our power. It started in Latin America where 10 countries – that for many years had been ruled by CIA-supported dictators – elected presidents who are standing up to the corporatocracy. Now a similar movement is seeding itself in the Middle East.”
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