Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

More evidence of why the ONLY solution is to enforce The Plan against the traitorous N.W.O. Globalist mass-murder, inside-job perpetrators of 911 and the phoney War on Terror:-

Time is running out:-

All people of any nation accepting "aid" from the USA must read this ...

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man:

How the U.S. Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions

Tuesday, November 9th, 2004
We speak with John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community. In his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man he describes how as a highly paid professional, he helped the U.S. cheat poor countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and then take over their economies. [includes rush transcript]

John Perkins describes himself as a former economic hit man - a highly paid professional who cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars.
20 years ago Perkins began writing a book with the working title, "Conscience of an Economic Hit Man."

Perkins writes, "The book was to be dedicated to the presidents of two countries, men who had been his clients whom I respected and thought of as kindred spirits - Jaime Roldós, president of Ecuador, and Omar Torrijos, president of Panama. Both had just died in fiery crashes. Their deaths were not accidental. They were assassinated because they opposed that fraternity of corporate, government, and banking heads whose goal is global empire*. We Economic Hit Men failed to bring Roldós and Torrijos around, and the other type of hit men, the CIA-sanctioned jackals who were always right behind us, stepped in.

* ;

John Perkins goes on to write: "I was persuaded to stop writing that book. I started it four more times during the next twenty years. On each occasion, my decision to begin again was influenced by current world events: the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1980, the first Gulf War, Somalia, and the rise of Osama bin Laden. However, threats or bribes always convinced me to stop."

But now Perkins has finally published his story. The book is titled Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. John Perkins joins us now in our Firehouse studios.

  • John Perkins, from 1971 to 1981 he worked for the international consulting firm  of Chas T. Main where he was a self-described "economic hit man." He is the  author of the new book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

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AMY GOODMAN: John Perkins joins us now in our firehouse studio. Welcome to Democracy Now!

JOHN PERKINS: Thank you, Amy. It’s great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Okay, explain this term, “economic hit man,” e.h.m., as you call it.

JOHN PERKINS: Basically what we were trained to do and what our job is to do is to build up the American empire. To bring -- to create situations where as many resources as possible flow into this country, to our corporations, and our government, and in fact we’ve been very successful. We’ve built the largest empire in the history of the world. It's been done over the last 50 years since World War II with very little military might, actually. It's only in rare instances like Iraq where the military comes in as a last resort. This empire, unlike any other in the history of the world, has been built primarily through economic manipulation, through cheating, through fraud, through seducing people into our way of life, through the economic hit men. I was very much a part of that.

AMY GOODMAN: How did you become one? Who did you work for?

JOHN PERKINS: Well, I was initially recruited while I was in business school back in the late sixties by the National Security Agency, the nation's largest and least understood spy organization; but ultimately I worked for private corporations. The first real economic hit man was back in the early 1950's, Kermit Roosevelt, the grandson of Teddy, who overthrew the government of Iran, a democratically elected government, Mossadegh’s government who was Time magazine’s person of the year; and he was so successful at doing this without any bloodshed -- well, there was a little bloodshed, but no military intervention, just spending millions of dollars and replaced Mossadegh with the Shah of Iran. At that point, we understood that this idea of economic hit man was an extremely good one. We didn't have to worry about the threat of war with Russia when we did it this way. The problem with that was that Roosevelt was a C.I.A. agent. He was a government employee. Had he been caught, we would have been in a lot of trouble. It would have been very embarrassing. So, at that point, the decision was made to use organizations like the C.I.A. and the N.S.A. to recruit potential economic hit men like me and then send us to work for private consulting companies, engineering firms, construction companies, so that if we were caught, there would be no connection with the government.

AMY GOODMAN: Okay. Explain the company you worked for.

JOHN PERKINS: Well, the company I worked for was a company named Chas. T. Main in Boston, Massachusetts. We were about 2,000 employees, and I became its chief economist. I ended up having fifty people working for me. But my real job was deal-making. It was giving loans to other countries, huge loans, much bigger than they could possibly repay. One of the conditions of the loan–let's say a $1 billion to a country like Indonesia or Ecuador – and this country would then have to give ninety percent of that loan back to a U.S. company, or U.S. companies, to build the infrastructure – a Halliburton or a Bechtel. These were big ones. Those companies would then go in and build an electrical system or ports or highways, and these would basically serve just a few of the very wealthiest families in those countries. The poor people in those countries would be stuck ultimately with this amazing debt that they couldn’t possibly repay. A country today like Ecuador owes over fifty percent of its national budget just to pay down its debt. And it really can’t do it. So, we literally have them over a barrel. So, when we want more oil, we go to Ecuador and say, “Look, you're not able to repay your debts, therefore give our oil companies your Amazon rain forest, which are filled with oil.” And today we're going in and destroying Amazonian rain forests, forcing Ecuador to give them to us because they’ve accumulated all this debt. So we make this big loan, most of it comes back to the United States, the country is left with the debt plus lots of interest, and they basically become our servants, our slaves. It's an empire. There's no two ways about it. It’s a huge empire. It's been extremely successful.  

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. You say because of bribes and other reason you didn't write this book for a long time. What do you mean? Who tried to bribe you, or who -- what are the bribes you accepted?

JOHN PERKINS: Well, I accepted a half a million dollar bribe in the nineties not to write the book.


JOHN PERKINS: From a major construction engineering company.

AMY GOODMAN: Which one?

JOHN PERKINS: Legally speaking, it wasn't -- Stoner-Webster. Legally speaking it wasn't a bribe, it was -- I was being paid as a consultant. This is all very legal. But I essentially did nothing. It was a very understood, as I explained in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, that it was -- I was -- it was understood when I accepted this money as a consultant to them I wouldn't have to do much work, but I mustn't write any books about the subject, which they were aware that I was in the process of writing this book, which at the time I called “Conscience of an Economic Hit Man.” And I have to tell you, Amy, that, you know, it’s an extraordinary story from the standpoint of -- It's almost James Bondish, truly, and I mean--

AMY GOODMAN: Well that's certainly how the book reads.

JOHN PERKINS: Yeah, and it was, you know? And when the National Security Agency recruited me, they put me through a day of lie detector tests. They found out all my weaknesses and immediately seduced me. They used the strongest drugs in our culture, sex, power and money, to win me over. I come from a very old New England family, Calvinist, steeped in amazingly strong moral values. I think I, you know, I’m a good person overall, and I think my story really shows how this system and these powerful drugs of sex, money and power can seduce people, because I certainly was seduced. And if I hadn't lived this life as an economic hit man, I think I’d have a hard time believing that anybody does these things. And that's why I wrote the book, because our country really needs to understand, if people in this nation understood what our foreign policy is really about, what foreign aid is about, how our corporations work, where our tax money goes, I know we will demand change.

AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to John Perkins. In your book, you talk about how you helped to implement a secret scheme that funneled billions of dollars of Saudi Arabian petrol dollars back into the U.S. economy, and that further cemented the intimate relationship between the House of Saud and successive U.S. administrations. Explain.

JOHN PERKINS: Yes, it was a fascinating time. I remember well, you're probably too young to remember, but I remember well in the early seventies how OPEC exercised this power it had, and cut back on oil supplies. We had cars lined up at gas stations. The country was afraid that it was facing another 1929-type of crash–depression; and this was unacceptable. So, they -- the Treasury Department hired me and a few other economic hit men. We went to Saudi Arabia. We --

AMY GOODMAN: You're actually called economic hit men --e.h.m.’s?

JOHN PERKINS: Yeah, it was a tongue-in-cheek term that we called ourselves. Officially, I was a chief economist. We called ourselves e.h.m.'s. It was tongue-in-cheek. It was like, nobody will believe us if we say this, you know? And, so, we went to Saudi Arabia in the early seventies. We knew Saudi Arabia was the key to dropping our dependency, or to controlling the situation. And we worked out this deal whereby the Royal House of Saud agreed to send most of their petro-dollars back to the United States and invest them in U.S. government securities. The Treasury Department would use the interest from these securities to hire U.S. companies to build Saudi Arabia – new cities, new infrastructure – which we’ve done. And the House of Saud would agree to maintain the price of oil within acceptable limits to us, which they’ve done all of these years, and we would agree to keep the House of Saud in power as long as they did this, which we’ve done, which is one of the reasons we went to war with Iraq in the first place. And in Iraq we tried to implement the same policy that was so successful in Saudi Arabia, but Saddam Hussein didn't buy. When the economic hit men fail in this scenario, the next step is what we call the jackals. Jackals are C.I.A.-sanctioned people that come in and try to foment a coup or revolution. If that doesn't work, they perform assassinations, or try to. In the case of Iraq, they weren't able to get through to Saddam Hussein. He had -- his bodyguards were too good. He had doubles. They couldn’t get through to him. So the third line of defense, if the economic hit men and the jackals fail, the next line of defense is our young men and women, who are sent in to die and kill, which is what we’ve obviously done in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you explain how Torrijos died?

JOHN PERKINS: Omar Torrijos, the President of Panama. Omar Torrijos had signed the Canal Treaty with Carter much -- and, you know, it passed our congress by only one vote. It was a highly contended issue. And Torrijos then also went ahead and negotiated with the Japanese to build a sea-level canal. The Japanese wanted to finance and construct a sea-level canal in Panama. Torrijos talked to them about this which very much upset Bechtel Corporation, whose president was George Schultz and senior council was Casper Weinberger. When Carter was thrown out (and that’s an interesting story – how that actually happened), when he lost the election, and Reagan came in and Schultz came in as Secretary of State from Bechtel, and Weinberger came from Bechtel to be Secretary of Defense, they were extremely angry at Torrijos -- tried to get him to renegotiate the Canal Treaty and not to talk to the Japanese. He adamantly refused. He was a very principled man. He had his problem, but he was a very principled man. He was an amazing man, Torrijos. And so, he died in a fiery airplane crash, which was connected to a tape recorder with explosives in it, which -- I was there. I had been working with him. I knew that we economic hit men had failed. I knew the jackals were closing in on him, and the next thing, his plane exploded with a tape recorder with a bomb in it. There's no question in my mind that it was C.I.A. sanctioned, and most -- many Latin American investigators have come to the same conclusion. Of course, we never heard about that in our country.

AMY GOODMAN: So, where -- when did your change of heart happen?

JOHN PERKINS: I felt guilty throughout the whole time, but I was seduced. The power of these drugs, sex, power, and money, was extremely strong for me. And, of course, I was doing things I was being patted on the back for. I was chief economist. I was doing things that Robert McNamara liked and so on.

AMY GOODMAN: How closely did you work with the World Bank?

JOHN PERKINS: Very, very closely with the World Bank. The World Bank provides most of the money that’s used by economic hit men, it and the I.M.F. But when 9/11 struck, I had a change of heart. I knew the story had to be told because what happened at 9/11 is a direct result of what the economic hit men are doing. And the only way that we're going to feel secure in this country again and that we're going to feel good about ourselves is if we use these systems we’ve put into place to create positive change around the world. I really believe we can do that. I believe the World Bank and other institutions can be turned around and do what they were originally intended to do, which is help reconstruct devastated parts of the world. Help -- genuinely help poor people. There are twenty-four thousand people starving to death every day. We can change that.

AMY GOODMAN: John Perkins, I want to thank you very much for being with us. John Perkins' book is called, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

To purchase an audio or video copy of this entire program, click here for our new online ordering <;show=2004-11-09>  or call 1 (800) 881-2359.

December 19, 2004
Confessions of an Economic Hitman
Democracy Now! interviews John Perkins

The following interview originally appeared  on It is partically reprinted here .. John Perkins is the author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: How the US Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions. --ed

» Democracy Now: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man: How the U.S. Uses Globalization to Cheat Poor Countries Out of Trillions


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Book review
Westside Gazette
Originally posted 1/6/2005

Confessions of an Economic Hitman

Synopsis: In this riveting personal story, John Perkins tells of his own inner journey from willing servant of empire to impassioned advocate for the rights of oppressed people. Covertly recruited by the United States National Security Agency and on the payroll of an international consulting firm, he traveled the world-to Indonesia, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other strategically important countries. His job was to implement policies that promoted the interests of the U.S. corporatocracy (a coalition of government, banks, and corporations) while professing to alleviate poverty-policies that alienated many nations and ultimately led to September 11 and growing anti-Americanism. Perkins' story illuminates just how far he and his colleagues - self-described as economic hit men - were willing to go. He explains, for instance, how he helped to implement a secret scheme that funneled billions of Saudi Arabian petrodollars back into the U.S. economy, and that further cemented the intimate relationship between the Islamic fundamentalist House of Saud and a succession of American administrations. Perkins reveals the hidden mechanics of imperial control behind some of the most dramatic events in recent history, such as the fall of the Shah of Iran, the death of Panamanian president Omar Torrijos, and the U.S. invasions of Panama and Iraq. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, which many people warned Perkins not to write, exposes the little known inner workings of a system that fosters globalization and leads to the impoverishment of millions of people across the planet. It is a compelling story that also offers hope and a vision for realizing the American dream of a just and compassionate world that will bring us greater security.

If Confessions of an Economic Hitman is not the most important book to come out in recent memory, then it is possibly the most sincere. This book is a an absolute must read, not just for the ''converted'' or seasoned students of imperialism, but for the average U.S. citizen who generally understands so little about the world outside the United States that it is almost criminal. Fortunately the book is written in the best possible manner to foster understanding even for someone who knows and understands nothing about transnational banks, U.S. foreign policy, international politics, or international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Prior to writing this book Perkins worked for the United States National Security Agency and several international consulting firms. His job basically consisted of traveling the world and convincing the leaders of ''under-developed nations'' to accept loans from the IMF and World Bank. The official line was that the money would be used to expand the developing nations infrastructure of roads, railways, electrical power, and communications and, thereby, bring prosperity to these countries but the true aim was to generate lucrative contracts for multinational, mostly U.S.-based, construction companies and to lure nations into loans they could never repay. In the process a few politicians and well-connected families within those countries would become wealthy while the standard of living for most of the people would decline. As a corporate ''economist'' part of Perkin's job was to deliberately exaggerate the potential for economic return on these investments, which inevitably led to these situations. It was at this point that the lending agencies and foreign corporations would move in to take control of the nation's resources and government, and that, too, was part of the plan. In essence this is manner in which modern Capitalism and imperialism work, where conquest by the bomb has given way to conquest by the loan. It is only in the case where these institutions prove too slow or not persuasive enough that ''force'' enters the equation.

Category: Autobiography
Author: John Perkins
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
ISBN: 1576753018
Length: 250 pages
Release Date: November 2004

The Missing Link
“Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins
Reviewed by Thomas Kiely <>

Once in a while an important gap between our knowledge of the tortured extremes of American foreign policy and a thinking person’s darkest suspicion is suddenly filled in. The secret U.S. government documents discovered by author James Bamford uncovering what has become known as “Operation North Woods  are one such example. In his May 2001 book on the National Security Agency “Body of Secrets”>  Bamford discloses this chilling list of suggestions, developed in 1962 by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on ways to conduct terror operations  against the citizens of the United States which would then be falsely blamed on Cuba and used as a pretext for an invasion.

For those who have always wondered why, after so many decades of foreign aid, poverty still is so pervasive in the developing world, insider John Perkins comes forward and offers an explanation in his new book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.â€ï¿½ Perkins claims to have been recruited in the 1960’s through the National Security Agency to work at an American firm responsible for creating plans used to justify billions in economic development loans to developing countries (DCs). In the case of Perkins’s firm, the plans were to build massive infrastructure projects with the contracts invariably going to large U.S. corporations such as Bechtel and Halliburton. As a result most of the money never left the United States. For the most part the teams he worked on were populated by legitimate engineers with Perkins there to do the economic forecasting. But Perkins’s real function, unknown to his teammates, was to cook his forecasts so they would justify loans so large that the actual economic performance in the target DC could not possibly pay them back. The economic servitude stemming from the subsequent indebtedness, Perkins claims, forms the basis of a new American empire where the U.S. can then go in and make demands for such things as brutal economic reforms, rights for U.S. military bases or United Nations votes.

As Perkins explains it, at the end of the Second World War the same economic aid programs that successfully helped rebuild Europe and Japan were then aimed at their prewar colonial possessions in an effort to keep them from taking help from the Soviets during their post war struggles for independence. Due to the Cold War military standoff, overt military action could have provoked global war so new and innovative ways had to be found to ensure the extraction of vital resources from these countries. Perkins tells us that a watershed moment occurs in 1953 when the United States needed to secure the continued flow of inexpensive Iranian oil. This was achieved through regime change in Iran  by replacing the legitimately elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh with the young Shah, not by overt military action but covertly, on the cheap, through the newly-created CIA. While this model served to bring down other governments, Perkins states that this method was ultimately refined through the introduction of planned indebtedness.

The book details Perkins’s exploits beginning in Indonesia and continuing on a personal odyssey through South and Central America and the Middle East where he participates in the massive effort to modernize Saudi Arabia then flush with petrodollars from the 1970’s oil embargos. Perkins says he continually struggled with the perfidy of his deeds. He details encounters with patriots in the countries he seeks to subvert, each one adding impetus to his desire to get out and eventually expose what he’s so successfully helped to create. Most interesting of these encounters are the ones with populist leaders in target countries such as Omar Torrejos in Panama and Jamie Roldos of Ecuador. Perkins tells us that these leaders posed special problems. They were men, he says, who were incorruptible and demanded that the game be used to actually facilitate the betterment of their people. According to Perkins, the determination of such men escalates the situation beyond the capabilities of the economic hit men (EHM) and brings forth the second tier of American imperial enforcement known as the “Jackals.â€ï¿½ Always circling in the background, covert operations experts (read CIA) and their networks of local enforcers can be tapped to brush obstinate populists aside clearing the way for more pliable figureheads. Within three months of each other in 1981 both leaders died in small aircraft crashes. Reforms implemented by Roldos, and deemed unacceptable by international oil companies, are quickly rolled back. In Panama Torrejos is replaced by an ambitious, School of the Americas groomed, officer named Manuel Noriega.

While the idealists are easily dispatched by the Jackals, some of those who work their way to the top in this milieu are streetwise survivors who insulate themselves with a phalanx of loyal security guards and body doubles. When the Jackals are thwarted in this way Perkins says that the only recourse left is to call in the third tier of American empire enforcement and a military invasion takes place. Interestingly the latest examples of this are the two preemptive wars started by both Bush presidencies. In the case of George H.W. it was against Manuel Noriega and in the case of George W., against Saddam Hussein. Perkins told me that for some reason Hussein “would not buyâ€ï¿½ into the EHMs plans to use the revenue from the oil under Iraq. As we all know his assassination was impossible and now our military has been called into action. In both cases thugs who used to do the bidding of American empire eventually exhibited too much independence and had to be removed from the scene at any cost. To illustrate this point myself, during the run up to the first Gulf War, I devised a political cartoon showing an irate George H.W. Bush yelling at Saddam Hussein over the phone saying “No Saddam! Your instructions were invade Iran and then TO WAIT!â€ï¿½

Having resisted the EHM and evaded the Jackals, including a 1953 vintage Iranian-style rent-a-revolution, Perkins says Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has received a temporary stay due to the invasion of Iraq.

Throughout the book Perkins describes his own personal back and forth between the seduction of this powerful profession and his own desire to come clean with humanity. He describes several attempts at starting this book and says that at one point he is bought off of this quest by a lucrative consulting contract which required very little work but carried the implicit understanding that there would be no tell all books about the duties of the EHM.

For Perkins the straw that broke the came's back was September 11, 2001. The dangerous, simplistic bromides being peddled as the causes of this terrible event, such as "They hate our freedom" serve in Perkins’s view to distract, perhaps by design, from the deep resentment built up in the world as a result of the work he and his fellow EHM have done. While not excusing the terrible violence committed on that day he tells us that in much of the world Osama Bin Laden is looked upon as a kind of Robin Hood who is standing up to the rigged game Perkins helped perpetrate. Out of concern for the world that he passes onto his 22 year old daughter, Perkins now joins the ranks of those who look for the deeper causes of 9/11. This he does despite the withering fire ready to shut down any such introspection by tarring it as “Blame America First."

While it is ground breaking in it’s premise, Perkins’ story is too much personal odyssey and not enough “Pentagon Papers." To the casual reader of the exploits of the “Evil Empire"this is an interesting narrative that will impart more awareness than knowledge. For those, however, who rely on the intense factual spadework of journalists like Robert Parry <>  or Seymour Hirsh, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man"will inspire more questions than answers. A critical examination of the invasion of Panama, for instance, reveals the need to get rid of an increasingly cocky Manuel Noriega whose sense of invincibility stems from his participation in the highly secret and illegal guns for cocaine"  trafficking scheme. These activities were used to support the Contras with contacts for this operation leading to the White House itself. The Perkins version mentions drugs but without the important Contra/White House context and relies also on his contention that the first President Bush could use the invasion to shake a perceived “wimp factor"which was exacerbated by Noriega’s refusal to grant a fifteen year extension to the U.S. Army’s infamous School of the Americas.

The audacious claims in “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man"  mark it as an important book to read but it may become known more for the additional confessions it elicits and investigations it spawns than for the details it reveals. Indeed Perkins says he has already been contacted by some of his fellow EHM who agree that world reaction to their game has entered a new and dangerous phase indicating that it may be time for them to come forward as well.

Thomas Kiely is an executive producer of the INN World Report> , an independent news and information television program on the Dish Network channel Free Speech TV <> .


Quito, Ecuador’s capital, stretches across a volcanic valley high in the Andes, at an altitude of nine thousand feet. Residents of this city, which was founded long before Columbus arrived in the Americas, are accustomed to seeing snow on the surrounding peaks, despite the fact that they live just a few miles south of the Equator.
The city of Shell, a frontier outpost and military base hacked out of Ecuador’s Amazon jungle to service the oil company whose name it bears, is nearly eight thousand feet lower than Quito. A steaming city, it is inhabited mostly by soldiers, oil workers, and the indigenous people from the Shuar and Kichwa tribes who work for them as prostitutes and laborers.
To journey from one city to the other, you must travel a road that is both tortuous and breathtaking. Local people will tell you that during the trip you experience all four seasons in a single day.
Although I have driven this road many times, I never tire of the spectacular scenery. Sheer cliffs punctuated by cascading waterfalls and brilliant bromeliads, rise up one side. On the other side, the earth drops abruptly into a deep abyss where the Pastaza River, a headwater of the Amazon, snakes its way down the Andes. The Pastaza carries water from the glaciers of Cotopaxi, one of the world’s highest active volcanoes, and a deity in the time of the Incas, to the Atlantic Ocean more than three thousand miles away.
In 2003, I left Quito in a Subaru Outback and headed for Shell on a mission that was like no other I had ever accepted. I was hoping to end a war I had helped create. As is the case with so many things we EHMs must take responsibility for, it is a war that is virtually unknown anywhere outside the country where it is fought. I was on my way to meet with the Shuar, the Kichwa, and their neighbors, the Achuar, Zaparos, the Shiwiars—tribes determined to prevent our oil companies from destroying their homes, families, and lands, even if it means they must die in the process. This is a war that for them is about the survival of their children and cultures, while for us it is about power, money, and natural resources. It is one part of the struggle for world domination and the dream of a few greedy men—global empire.
That is what we EHMs do best: we build a global empire. We are an elite group of men and women who utilize international financial organizations to foment conditions that make other nations subservient to the corporatocracy that runs our biggest corporations, our government, and our banks. Like our counterparts in the Mafia, we provide favors. These take the form of loans to develop infrastructure—electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. One condition of such loans is that engineering and construction companies from our own country must build all these projects. In essence, most of the money never leaves the United States; it is simply transferred from banking offices in Washington to engineering offices in New York, Houston, or San Francisco.
Despite the fact that the money is returned almost immediately to corporations that are members of the corporatocracy (the creditors), the recipient country is required to pay it all back, principal plus interest. If an EHM is completely successful, the loans are so large that the debtor is forced to default on its payments after a few years. When this happens, like the Mafia, we demand our pound of flesh, which often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installations of military bases, or access to precious resources, like oil or the Panama Canal. Of course, the debtor still owes us the money—and another country is added to our global empire.
Driving from Quito toward Shell on this sunny day in 2003, I thought back thirty-five years to the first time I arrived in this part of the world. I had read that although Ecuador is only about the size of Nevada, it has more than thirty active volcanoes, over 15 percent of the world’s bird species, and thousands of as-yet unclassified plants, and that it is a land of diverse cultures where nearly as many people speak ancient indigenous languages as speak Spanish. I found it to be fascinating and certainly exotic; yet, the words that kept coming to mind back then were pure, untouched, and innocent.
Much has changed in thirty-five years.
At the time of my first visit in 1968, Texaco had only just discovered petroleum in Ecuador’s Amazon region. Today, oil accounts for nearly half the country’s exports. A trans-Andean pipeline, built shortly after my first visit has since leaked over a half million barrels of oil into the fragile rain forest—more than twice the amount spilled by the Exxon Valdez. Today, a new $1.3 billion, 300-mile pipeline constructed by an EHM-organized consortium promises to make Ecuador one of the world’s top ten suppliers of oil to the United States. Vast areas of rain forest have fallen, macaws and jaguars have all but vanished, three Ecuadorian indigenous cultures have been driven to the verge of collapse, and pristine rivers have been transformed into flaming cesspools.
During this same period, the indigenous cultures began fighting back. As one result, on May 7, 2003, a group of American lawyers representing more than thirty thousand indigenous Ecuadorian people filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Chevron Texaco Corp. The suit asserts that between 1971 and 1992 the oil giant dumped into open holes and rivers over four million gallons per day of toxic wastewater, contaminated with oil, heavy metals, and carcinogens, and that the company left behind nearly 350 uncovered waste pits that continue to kill both people and animals.
Outside the window of my Outback, great clouds of mist rolled in from the forests and up the Pastaza’s canyons. Sweat soaked my shirt and my stomach began to churn, but not just from the intense tropical heat and the serpentine twists in the road. Knowing the part I had played in destroying this beautiful country was once again taking its toll. Because of me and my fellow EHMs, Ecuador is in far worse shape today than before we introduced her to the miracles of modern economics, banking, and engineering. Since 1970—during this period known euphemistically as the oil Boom—the official poverty level grew from 50 to 70 percent, under- or unemployment increased from 15 to 70 percent, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion. Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest segments of the population declined from 20 to 6 percent.
Unfortunately, Ecuador is not the exception. Nearly every country we EHMs have brought under the global empire’s umbrella has suffered a similar fate.
The Subaru slowed as it meandered through the streets of the beautiful resort town of Baños, famous for the hot baths created by underground volcanic rivers that flow from the highly active Mount Tungurahgua. Children ran along beside us, waving and trying to sell us gum and cookies. Then we left Baños behind. The spectacular scenery ended abruptly. The Subaru sped out of paradise and into a modern vision of Dante's Inferno.
A gigantic monster reared up from the river, a mammoth gray wall. Its dripping concrete was totally out of place, completely unnatural and incompatible with the landscape. Of course, seeing it there should not have surprised me. I knew all along that it would be waiting in ambush. I had encountered it many times before and in the past had praised it as a symbol of EHM accomplishments. Even so, it made my skin crawl.
That hideous, incongruous wall is a dam that blocks the rushing Pastaza River, diverts its waters through huge tunnels bored into the mountain, and converts their energy to electricity. This is the 156-megawatt Agoyan Hydroelectric Project. It fuels the industries that make a handful of Ecuadorian families wealthy, and it has been the source of untold suffering for the farmers and indigenous people who live along the river. This hydroelectric plant is just one of many projects developed through my efforts and those of other EHMs. Such projects are the reason Ecuador is now a member of the global empire, and also the reason why the Shuar, the Kichwa, and their neighbors have declared war on our oil companies.
Because of EHM projects, Ecuador is awash in foreign debt and must devote an inordinate share of its national budget to paying this off, instead of using its capital to help the millions of its citizens officially classified as dangerously impoverished. The only way Ecuador can buy down its foreign obligations is by selling its rain forests to the oil companies. Indeed, one of the reasons the EHMs set their sights on Ecuador in the first place was because the sea of oil beneath its Amazon region is believed to rival the oil fields of the Middle East. The global empire demands its pound of flesh in the form of oil concessions.
These demands became especially urgent after September 11, 2001, when Washington feared that Middle Eastern supplies might cease. On top of that, Venezuela, our third-largest oil supplier, had elected a populist president, Hugo Chavez, who took a strong stand against what he referred to as U.S. imperialism; he threatened to cut off oil sales to the United States. The EHMs had failed in Iraq and Venezuela. But we had succeeded in Ecuador; now we would milk it for all it is worth.
Ecuador is typical of countries around the world that EHMs have brought into the economic-political fold. For every $100 of crude taken out of the Ecuadorian rain forests, the oil companies receive $75. Of the remaining $25, three quarters must go to paying off the foreign debt. Most of the remainder covers military and other government expenses— which leaves about $2.50 for health, education, and programs aimed at helping the poor. Thus, out of every $100 worth of oil torn from the Amazon, less than $3 goes to the people who need the money most, whose lives have been so adversely impacted by the dams, the drilling, and the pipelines, and who are dying from lack of edible food and drinkable water.
Every one of those people—millions in Ecuador, billions around the planet—is a potential terrorist. Not because they believe in communism or the tenets of anarchism, nor because they are intrinsically evil, but simply because they are desperate. Looking at this dam, I wondered—as I have so often in so many places around the world—when these people would take action, like the Americans against England in the 1770s or Latin Americans against Spain in the early 1800s.
The subtlety of this modern empire-building puts the Roman centurions, the Spanish conquistadors, and the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European colonial powers to shame. We EHMs are crafty; we learned from history. Today we do not carry swords. We do not wear armor or clothes that set us apart. In countries like Ecuador, Nigeria, and Indonesia, we dress like local schoolteachers and shop owners. In Washington and Paris, we look like government bureaucrats and bankers. We appear humble, normal. We visit project sites and stroll through impoverished villages. We profess altruism, talk with local papers about the wonderful humanitarian things we are doing. We cover the conference tables of government committees with our spreadsheets and financial projections, and we lecture at the Harvard Business School about the miracles of macroeconomics. We are on the record, in the open. Or so we portray ourselves, and so are we accepted. It is how the system works. We seldom resort to anything illegal because the system itself is built on subterfuge, and the system is by definition legitimate.
However—and this is a very large caveat—if we fail, an even more sinister breed steps in, ones we EHMs refer to as the jackals, men who trace their heritage directly to those earlier empires. The jackals are always there, lurking in the shadows. When they emerge, heads of state are overthrown or die in violent “accidents.” And if by chance the jackals fail, as they failed in Afghanistan and Iraq, then the old models resurface. When the jackals fail, young Americans are sent in to kill and die.
As I passed the monster, that hulking mammoth wall of gray concrete rising from the river, I was very conscious of the sweat that soaked my clothes and the tightening of my intestines. I headed on down into the jungle to meet with the indigenous people who are determined to fight to the last man in order to stop this empire I helped create, and I was overwhelmed with feelings guilt.
How, I asked myself, did a nice kid from rural New Hampshire ever get into such a dirty business?