The Open Veins of Latin America


I’ve not had chance to write anything today so instead I’m just going to post the notes I made regarding the book Open Veins of Latin America which exposes the hidden side of Capitalism and Imperialism. The book was first published in 1971 and was written by Eduardo Galeano.

For its foreign masters and for our commission-agent bourgeoisie, who have sold their souls to the devil for a price that would have shamed Faust, the system is perfectly rational; but for no one else, since the more it develops, the greater its disequilibrium, its tensions and its contradictions- Page 4

The demand for sugar produced the plantation, an enterprise motivated by its owners desire for profit and placed at the service of the international market Europe was developing- Page 60

I think about the Francisco Sugar Company (in which Allan Dulles was a director)- Page 74

US concerns took over lands, customs houses, treasuries and governments; marines landed here, there and everywhere to “protect the lives and interests of US citizens”. To cite but one example the US occupied Haiti for 20 years and, in that black country  that had been the scene of the first victorious slave revolt, introduced racial segregation and forced labour, killed 1500 workers in one of its repressive operations (according to a US Senate investigation in 1922) and when the local government refused to turn the Banco Nacional into a branch of New York’s National City Bank, suspended the salaries of the president and his ministers so that they might think again- Page 108

In 1845 the United States had annexed the Mexican territories of Texas and California, where it restored slavery in the name of civilisation. Mexico also lost the present states of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah- more than half the country. The stolen territory was equal in size to present day Argentina. After the invasion, the rest of Mexico’s mutilated territory suffered from US investments in copper, petroleum, rubber, sugar, banking and transportation. Far from guiltless in the extermination of the Maya and Yaqui Indians on Yucatan henequen plantations- concentration camps where men, women and children were bought and sold like mules- was the Standard Oil affiliate American Cordage Trust, which bought more than half the henequen and could sell it at a handsome profit- Page 121

Standard Oil and Shell seat and unseat kings and presidents, finance palace plots and coup d’etat, have innumerable generals, minsters and James Bonds at their command, and make decisions about war and peace in every field and every language. Standard Oil of New Jersey (now Exxon) is the capitalist world’s biggest industrial enterprise; outside the United States no industrial enterprise has more power than Royal Dutch/Shell. Prices are manipulated on a world wide scale to keep taxes low and profits high; the crude petroleum gets constantly cheaper, the refined constantly more expensive- Page 157

The cartel was born in 1928 in a castle wreathed in Scottish mists, when Standard Oil of New Jersey, Shell and Anglo-Iranian (now known as BP) agreed to divide up the planet. Standard Oil of New York (now Mobil), Standard Oil of California, Gulf and Texaco joined later. Founded by Rockefeller in 1870 Standard Oil had split in 1911 into thirty five different firms under the requirements of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act; the first of the teeming Standard family as we now know it is the Standard Oil of New Jersey. Today its petroleum sales, added to those of Standard Oil of New York and Standard Oil of California amount to half the cartel’s entire sales. The Rockefeller group of oil concerns is so vast that it accounts for one-third of all profits earned throughout the world by all US corporations- Page 158

The euphoria began in the 1920s. Around 1917 oil co-existed in Venezuela with traditional latifundos those enormous extensions of thinly populated or idle land where hacendados kept up production by whipping their peons or burying them alive up to the waist. At the end of 1922 the La Rosa well started gushing, 100,000 barrels a day, and the petroleum orgy was on. Lake Maracaibo sprouted rigs and derricks and was invaded by helmeted men; peasants swarmed in to build plank and oilcan huts on the bubbling ground and offer their muscles to petroleum- Page 168

The petroleum law of 1922 was drafted by representatives of three US firms. The oilfields were fenced off and had their own police. No one could enter without a company pass, and even the roads on which the oil was transported to the ports was barred to other traffic. When Gomez died in 1935, oil workers cut the barbed wire surrounding the camps and proclaimed a strike. The following years were dangerously explosive- Page 168

The fall of Romulo Gallegos government in 1948 ended three years of reform. The victorious military brass rapidly cut state participation in the petroleum extracted by cartel affiliates. Tax cuts in 1954 afforded Standard Oil  $300 million in additional profits. When Marcos Perez Jimenez was overthrown in 1958, Venezuela was one huge oil well, surrounded by jails and torture chambers and importing everything from the United States. In 1957 the biggest Rockefeller enterprises, Creole, had declared profits equalling almost half its total investment- Page 168

The Woes of the Paraguayans stem from a war of extermination which was the most infamous chapter of South American history; the War of the Triple Alliance they called it. Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay joined in committing the genocide. The left no stone unturned, nor male inhabitants among the ruins. Although Britain took no direct part in the ghastly deed, it was in the pockets of British merchants, bankers and industrialists that the loot ended up. The invasion was financed from start to finish by the Bank of London, Baring Brothers and the Rothschild bank, in loans at exorbitant interest rates which mortgaged the fate of the victorious countries- Page 188

The victors, ruined by enormous costs of the crime, fell back into the arms of the British bankers who financed the adventure- Page 193

Of the £1 million loan that the Buenos Aires government negotiated with Baring Brothers in 1824, Argentina received only £570,000 and that not in gold (as stipulated) but in paper. The loan consisted of drafts on orders sent to British business men in Buenos Aires, who had no gold to pay with since their real mission was to send all the precious metals that came their way back to London. So Argentina received paper but was required to pay in gold; it was not until the early 20th century that Argentina cancelled the debt, which successive refinancing had inflated to £4 million. The use of debt as an instrument of blackmail is not, as we can see, a recent US invention. Such usurious operations put bars around free nations- Page 198

“The United States,” announced a group led by David Rockefeller in 1963, “will arrange its economic aid programme in countries showing the greatest inclination to favour the investment climate, and will withdraw aid from other countries not showing a satisfactory performance”- Page 232

Three world bank chairmen are stars in the Rockefeller constellation. John J. McCloy, who presided from 1947 to 1949, moved on into a director’s chair at Chase Manhattan Bank. His successor, Black, crossed the road in the opposite direction, coming from the Chase Manhattan Board. Black was succeeded in 1963 by another Rockefeller man, George D. Woods.

This article is authored by Lee Cooper

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4 thoughts on “The Open Veins of Latin America

  1. Pingback: Working 9-5, What a Boring Way to Make a Living- 29/06/2014 | wakeuppromotions

  2. Pingback: Working 9-5, What a Boring Way to Make a Living - Fly The Coop

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