Masters of War: Latin American and U.S. Aggression from the Cuban Revolution through the Clinton Years
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  • Paperback
  • 640
  • March 2003
  • 9781583225455

Masters of War: Latin American and U.S. Aggression from the Cuban Revolution through the Clinton Years

Clara Nieto

Foreword by Howard Zinn

Translated by Chris Brandt

In Masters of War, Clara Nieto adeptly presents the parallel histories of the countries of Latin America, histories which are intertwined, each reflecting the United States' "coherent policy of intervention set into motion by the Monroe Doctrine." As the value of this continued policy comes increasingly into question, Nieto argues for the need to evaluate the alarming precedent set in Latin America: the institution of client dictatorships, the roles played by the interests of U.S. corporations, the enormous tolls taken on civilian populations, and the irreversible disruption of regional stability.

Clara Nieto's Masters of War first appeared in Colombia, where it became a national best-seller. Available here for the first time in English, it has been revised and expanded to address new developments in U.S. and Latin American politics such as the conflicts in the Middle East, the U.S. rejection of the International Criminal Court, recent controversies over globalization, and the new governments of Chavez and Uribe in Venezuela and Colombia.

Drawing from an impressive array of documents and sources as well as from her unique first-hand insights as a participant in crucial meetings and negotiations in the region from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s, Nieto chronicles the Cuban Revolution, the CIA-sponsored coup against popularly elected President Allende in Chile, the U.S. invasions of Panama and Grenada, U.S. support for the cultivation and training of paramilitary death squads in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Colombia, as well as similarly severe but less well-known situations in other countries such as Uruguay, Venezuela, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Nieto shows how movements for social change and economic progress among the farmers and factory workers of South and Central America raised alarms in Washington as manifestations of the threat of Communism while the brutality used to suppress these movements was actively supported by the U.S. as an instrument of freedom and democracy. She introduces us to the presidents, government advisors, generals, guerrilla leaders, and intelligence officials who kept the region ablaze with political turmoil and bitter armed conflicts.

Masters of War is powerful in many respects: it offers, from an informed perspective, perhaps for the first time, a distanced, objective analysis of recent Latin American history, and the book revisits this history at a crucial moment. Developments in U.S. foreign policy are drawing sharp criticism from all over the world for espousing double standards, unilateralism, and unprecedented displays of military force as appropriate means to further its own interests. Clara Nieto's depth of knowledge and understanding is an invaluable resource at a time when the media is seen as unapologetically aligned with the interests of major corporations and policymakers, and the American public has reached a new height of apprehension regarding the intentions behind and consequences of its governments policies.


"This book, by the distinguished Latin American writer Clara Nieto, is exactly what is needed to supply the missing context for the superficial stories we find in the mass media, and for the paltry treatment of Latin America we get in our educational system. We in the United States need badly to hear a Latin American point of view, and here we have it from a scholar of international repute. Ms. Nieto provides us with a sweeping history of U.S. relations with Latin America. She begins and ends with Cuba, giving it special attention, but also displays her solid knowledge of the rest of the continent. Her account, based on meticulous research and presented with clarity and grace, will be enormously useful for a long time to come." —Howard Zinn, from the foreword

"The study of U.S. interactions with Latin America is indispensable if we hope to pursue the wise counsel to 'know thyself.' Clara Nieto's comprehensive and illuminating study provides an unusual and valuable guide, from a Latin American perspective, focused on Cuba but ranging widely and drawing from rich literature and personal knowledge." —Noam Chomsky

"With great clarity, ample information and first-hand experience, Clara Nieto analyzes and demonstrates the immense impact of the Cuban phenomenon in the difficult and contradictory ties between Washington and the continent." —Juan Tokatlián, Former Director Center of International Research

About Clara Nieto

CLARA NIETO was a career diplomat who served in the Colombian mission to the United Nations from 1960-1967; was head of the Colombian Delegation at UNESCO, Paris, from 1967–1970; was Colombian Chargé d'Affairs in Yugoslavia form 1970 to 1976; was Colombian Ambassador to Cuba from 1977–1980; and from 1984–1986 was Director of UNESCO's regional office for Latin America and the Caribbean in Havana. Her writing has appeared in many Colombian newspapers including El Tiempo, El Espectador, El Mundo, and NACLA in the United States. Nieto lives in New York City and Bogotà, Colombia.

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