Beast of the Month - January 2001
Vladimiro Montesinos, Shadowy Peruvian Intelligence Chief
"I yam an anti-Christ..."
John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) of The Sex Pistols, "Anarchy in the UK"
Dan Russell, quoting a Peruvian general, in his book Drug War: Covert Money, Power, and Policy.
As the George W. Bush "election" swindle becomes official by ceremony this month, many observers of the shameless theft have commented that the United States appears to be nothing more than a glorified banana republic. That would be giving too much credit: after all, people in a banana republic have enough common sense to rebel.
Indeed, the year 2000 saw numerous examples of people doing the logical thing when faced with a leader whose actions leave little legitimacy to their political reign. Here are some of the highlights:
* In the Philippines, President Joseph Estrada faces an impeachment trial over widespread evidence of vast self-enrichment and charges of corruption and bribery, a trial brought on in the wake of mass protests.
* In Indonesia, Tommy Suharto, the billionaire youngest son of the former president, was found guilty of corruption and fraud. He faces imprisonment and symbolizes the final layers of the Suharto regime plunderers whose days in the sun are in their twilight.
* In Zimbabwe, calls for the resignation of President Robert Mugabe, in power for over 20 years, were heard even in Parliament, and the widespread dissatisfaction with his leadership has led to heated elections and cynical race-baiting policies by Mugabe against white farmers to defend his reign.
* In the Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, who became President in October after the ousting of military dictator General Guei, faced a legitimacy gap in his own right after the banning of rival political leader Alassane Ouattara from the elections, over official claims he is not an Ivorian national. Supporters of both parties clashed in battles taken to the streets.
* In both Colombia and Bolivia, guerrilla movements opposed to their respective government's crooked servitude to American korporations in betrayal of the public interest have received widespread support, and almost led to a revolution in Bolivia over a swindle involving water rights.
* In Yugoslavia, in what was the most publicized case of the year, President Slobodan Milosevic resigned from his post after a dubious political election left his claim of power in question (though the circumstances were less suspicious than those surrounding Shrub's "victory".)
Perhaps the clearest sign of victory against an illegitimate occupier of the throne was in Peru. On November 20, dictatorial President Alberto Fujimori resigned from the office he had held since 1990. The leader of one of the most brutal police states in Latin America (which is saying quite a bit) Fujimori declined to return home from a trip to Tokyo, fearing the wrath of his own people and political opponents. He had been clinging to power since April, when fraudulent elections left little claim of legitimacy in the eyes of the Peruvian public.
Fujimori's real downfall, however, appeared to be signaled on September 14 by the release of a videotape showing an opposition politician bribed $15,000 to support the president by Vladimiro Montesinos, Peru's Intelligence Chief and The Konformist Beast of the Month. The revelation led to mass outrage and widespread protests. Montesinos went into hiding two days later amid demands for his arrest.
It's hard to sympathize with someone like Fujimori, whose reign is most noted for over 4,000 "disappearances" of workers, peasants and students due to military massacres and torture during its bloody campaigns against the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru guerrilla movements. Yet what emerges from the events in Peru is a picture of a figurehead puppet, a smiling cover face for the real power behind the throne in Montesinos, a longtime servant of the Central Intelligence Agency who has been described as "the most reviled man in Peru." If Fujimori is like G.W. Bush, then Montesinos is Shrub's creepy father, a well-connected tool to the American korporate and intelligence establishment.
Fujimori's election in 1990 (on a platform of authoritarian populism) was courtesy the backing of Montesinos, head of the CIA-created National Intelligence Service (SIN) and a graduate of the CIA's notorious School of the Americas. Montesinos had gained power by defending Peruvian and Colombian drug kingpins in court, as well as sabotaging prosecutions of military massacres during its bloody war. He quickly became Fujimori's most trusted right hand man.
In 1991, Montesinos banished the DEA from Peru with the backing of the CIA, and created a unit within the SIN to deal with the "Drug War". Why the CIA would be so interested in having a foreign intelligence unit they helped create take over the interdiction against drugs should be rather obvious.
What followed should be even more obvious. While Montesinos and the SIN tried to wipe out competing traffickers, he quickly used his position and vast resources to enter the lucrative market himself, increasing both his personal wealth and political power. He is alleged to have also entered the arms smuggling market as well, supposedly supplying Colombian guerrillas with assault rifles for profits. In 1992, Montesinos and Fujimori staged a coup in order to suspend the constitution, and used the state of emergency as an excuse to eliminate political enemies. The mockery of legitimate government, the gross violations of human rights by savage death squads, and the blatant evidence of complicity in drug operations led two American Senators to demand the CIA cut its ties to Montesinos, but to no avail. In fact, despite the widespread evidence of Peruvian narco-corruption, US Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey met with Montesinos in October 1996 and publicly lauded him.
Now the tables have turned, and the disgraced Montesinos remains in hiding. The only question which remains is why he was ousted in the first place. Perhaps the tale of Manuel Noriega gives a clue. It certainly is in the interest of American foreign policy to align with vicious dictatorial thugs: an authoritarian state is easier to control and exploit. The problem comes when Third World tyrants begin questioning the edicts of their superiors and threaten to spill the beans.
Fujimori and Montesinos may have sealed lips (at least so far), but it is clear that they were suddenly showing attitude to Western interests. In particular, Fujimori (and by extension, Montesinos) was publicly opposed to Plan Colombia and the request of the United States to use Peruvian land in the operation. Perhaps Montesinos was afraid the operation (which appears to be either the next Vietnam or the next Nicaragua in American foreign policy history) would hurt their own interests. In any case, Preston Peet of Disinformation and High Times has made the powerful case that the ouster of Fujimori is due to unwillingness to submit to the Pentagon plan.
No surprise that this is the case. In fact, if you scratch the surface of what is happening in the Phillipines, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, the Ivory Coast and, of course, Yugoslavia, what is the underlining link is leaders who have become uppity to IMF interests. That being the case, perhaps Shrub Bush is a bit safer than his fellow banana republic leaders: while being a dim bulb, he is smart enough to know his place.
Apparently, Montesinos isn't that smart. That said, maybe the supposed links he has to Colombian guerrillas is a hoax, part of a concerted attempt by the CIA to smear him in reaction to his refusal to play ball. If so, it appears to have worked.
In any case, we salute Vladimiro Montesinos as Beast of the Month. Congratulations, and keep up the great work, Vlad!!!
A Peruvian Spy Chief Stumbles?
Occidental Petroleum v The U'wa Indians: The Ooze Surrounding Al Gore
Peruvian Dictator Resigns: the Fall of Fujimori
Bill Vann, 22 November 2000
Peru: the Disintegration of the Fujimori Regime
Bill Vann, 21 September 2000
Vladimir Montesinos: the Rise and Fall of "Our Man in Lima"
Bill Vann, 21 September 2000
Much thanks to Preston Peet for excellent background material on the Peruvian crisis.
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