USAID: arm of US imperialism

FRFI 213 February / March 2010

On 4 September 1961, US Congress passed the Foreign Assistance Act which established the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For the last half century, USAID has been working as a front organisation for the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to channel and filter funding and strategic political support to groups and individuals that support the US agenda abroad. Under the pretext of ‘promoting democracy’ it has awarded grants to counter-revolutionary and right-wing terrorist groups to aid ‘regime change’ wherever US imperialist interests have been challenged, from Afghanistan to Cuba, Venezuela to Vietnam.

Eva Golinger, in her blog, has recently analysed USAID and its latest international programmes. Golinger quotes former CIA officer Phillip Agee saying that USAID, along with Development Alternatives Inc and the National Endowment for Democracy ‘are instruments of the US Embassy and behind these three organisations is the CIA’ and that USAID representatives ‘maintain close collaboration with other embassy offices in identifying opportunities, selecting partners and ensuring the programme remains consistent with US foreign policy.’ Here are some examples of where USAID has recently been or is currently active:

• Cuba On 5 December 2009 an employee of Development Alternatives Inc, funded by USAID, was detained in Havana after being found distributing mobile phones, computers and sophisticated satellite communication to counter-revolutionaries and mercenary groups. Last year alone the US Congress approved $40 million for USAID to ‘promote transition to democracy’ in Cuba through infiltration, espionage and subversion.

• Venezuela  The Office for Transition Initiatives, a specialised branch of USAID, funds more than 533 organisations, political parties, programmes and projects, mainly in opposition to the progressive Chavez government, with a budget next year of nearly $15 million. The US is stepping up its attacks on Venezuela through USAID, funding groups and individuals involved in violent demonstrations, media warfare and other destabilisation attempts against President Chavez’s government.

• Bolivia In September 2009, President Evo Morales terminated an official agreement with USAID that had allowed it to operate in Bolivia, based on substantial evidence documenting the agency’s funding of violent separatist groups seeking to break up the country. USAID had spent huge sums of money on projects within Bolivia, $89 million in 2007 alone.

• Honduras USAID funds Hagamos Democracia, the electoral monitoring organisation which was hired by the Honduran coup regime for the recent sham elections.

• Haiti Much of USAID’s current work in Haiti is carried out as the Haiti Transition Initiative which supports the US-backed government by bankrolling violent repression of resistance. USAID’s intervention in Haiti can be expected to increase as resistance grows to the US troops that have been occupying Haiti since the earthquake.

• Afghanistan On 16 December 2009 five USAID workers died when their office was bombed by the Taliban. Following this a high-level USAID official confirmed the CIA uses USAID’s name to issue contracts and funding to third parties in order to provide cover for clandestine operations as part of the occupation of Afghanistan.

• Iraq After coalition forces invaded in 2003, USAID was central in exporting neo-liberalism to Iraq. It created a document for prospective contractors advising that main goals include privatising state-owned assets, including oil, and creating a world-class stock exchange.

Luke Lucas


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