The AFL-CIO and Death Squads

By Jon Quaccia

America's labor unions have been taken over by the CIA and made
"team-players" in America's war against the world


In our recent article, "The Elites Want High Unemployment," we described the way that America's labor unions were anathematized by the churches and then emasculated by America's business community.

This article describes just how far the labor movement in the United States has been taken over by America's elites – and so much so that they have now become "team-players" with the business community and the CIA in the construction of America's New World Order System throughout the world; that America's trade union movement could have not only been emasculated, but actually taken over by America's elites gives one some idea as to how totally and completely America's political and economic system is dominated today by these same elites. [We urge you to see our article, "The Elite, Money and the End of Days."]


FEW TAXPAYERS ARE familiar with the National Endowment for Democracy, a publicly funded yet privately owned organization operating in at least forty countries. NED's mission? To help the United States set up capitalist economies around the world, backed by regimes that are friendly to U.S. big business.

With no interference from the public or congress, the NED is free to accomplish its goals by manipulating and buying elections, starting political as well as economic turmoil, funding counter-insurgency material to right-wing groups, and using other tactics that would be considered illegal in the United States.

Equally disturbing, yet more surprising, is the role that leaders of the U.S. labor federation, the AFL-CIO, play in carrying out the NED's dirty work. The AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center is at work in twenty-eight countries, discouraging radical organizing among workers and promoting privatization by assisting unions and labor groups that support private enterprise.

This is a photo of an undercover policeman kicking the head of a Kyrgyz demonstrator this week.

The National Endowment for Democracy and the Bush administration were proud of their role in the uprising that led to the current government taking power in Kyrgyzstan.

Maybe the Endowment's apologists will claim that the demonstrator is getting a pro-democracy kick in the head.

Kudos to Vladimir Pirogov, the brave Reuters photographer who got this shot. And triple kudos to the Kyrgyz people for stalwartly fighting an oppressive government.

A glimpse into this NED constituent's predecessor organization shows a history of collusion with Central Intelligence Agency terrorism since the early sixties.

The AFL-CIO Solidarity Center's predecessor, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), was one of the four government-funded labor institutes created during the cold war to prevent foreign countries from establishing independent economic systems. AIFLD was instrumental in the overthrow of democratically elected leftist governments in Guyana in 1963, Brazil in 1964, the Dominican Republic in 1965, and Chile in 1973.

By the late 1970s, the CIA was exposed for its sabotage of governments and labor movements around the world. Corrupt dictatorships in Central America, backed by local death squads armed and trained by the CIA, massacred hundreds of thousands of peasants during popular insurgencies in Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. [Please see our articles, "The Death Squads: Bringing in the Kingdom of God through Terror, Torture and Death" and "The Horror of John Dimitri Negroponte and Everything He Represents."]

America's trade unions partnering with the CIA to run
death squads throughout the "empire."

With these scandals fresh in the public's mind, the Reagan Administration created the National Endowment for Democracy in 1983 to take care of its unfinished business. As an NED founder, Allen Weinstein, stated in 1991, "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA."

Some of the NED's political accomplishments include the successful manipulation of elections in Nicaragua in 1990 and Mongolia in 1996, and the overthrow of democratically elected candidates in Bulgaria in 1990 and Albania in 1991-2. By indirectly contributing "soft money" to the campaigns of candidates friendly to U.S. business, the NED is able to successfully buy elections in poor countries with only a few hundred thousand dollars.

From 1983 to 1994, the NED was funded exclusively by congress, at which point it began accepting private donations. These sources include several oil companies and defense contractors—Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Texaco and Enron among its 2001 contributors. Its funding is a very controversial subject, and its opponents frequently cite the inherent contradiction of a publicly funded organization charged with executing foreign policy, while remaining exempt from nearly all political and administrative controls.

The AFL-CIO's partners in subverting democracy around the world.

Octopus Arms

The NED works through multiple constituencies: The International Republican Institute, The National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Center for International Private Enterprise, the Free Trade Union Institute, and American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), better known as the Solidarity Center.

Among its strongest U.S. supporters is the Heritage Foundation, a right wing think tank which has been very influential in policy issues. Each constituent is given almost five million dollars, which they issue as grants to organizations or political parties all over the world. The remainder of the NED's budget is also given out as grants.

In her study of the NED, Barbara Conry, associate policy analyst for the free-market advocacy CATO Institute, states: "NED, which has a history of corruption and financial mismanagement, is superfluous as best and often destructive. Through the Endowment, the American taxpayer has paid for special-interest groups to harass the duly elected governments of friendly countries, interfere in foreign elections, and foster the corruption of democratic movements..."

The National Endowment for Democracy and its constituents call their actions "supporting democracy," but the governments and movements they target know them as "destabilization."

One Empire, One Development Model

U.S. business could not destabilize or overthrow as many foreign governments as it does without the cover and aid of conservative, "old-guard" unions and labor groups who disorient, counter, and generally undermine radical unions and militant labor leaders. Union leaders, in turn, couldn't enjoy six figure salaries without an approval of capitalism, without seeing labor and business along with government as "partners" in political and economic development.

President Salvador Allende

On September 11, 1973, Chilean President Salvador Allende, along with thousands of Chilean workers, students and political activists were killed in a particularly bloody military coup that ended a brief experiment in democratic socialism. It was the culmination of a campaign by the Nixon Administration, working covertly with ITT, Kennecott Cooper, and other U.S. multinational corporations to destroy the Chilean economy and punish Allende for nationalizing industries in which U.S. corporations held major stakes. The goal, in Nixon's unforgettable words, was to "make the economy scream."

While no direct link exists between the AIFLD and the CIA's actions in Chile, the AIFLD's program was synchronized closely with the CIA's plan to create social unrest by sowing divisions within the labor movement and financing middle-class and professional organizations leading the opposition to Allende's populist program.

Unable to divide and weaken Chile's largest labor federation, the one-million-member, communist led, Central Unica de Trabajadores (CUT), the AIFLD channeled millions of dollars into right-wing unions and political parties that opposed CUT and Allende's socialist agenda as a whole.

Student members of Central Unica de Trabajadores (CUT) who were "disappeared (killed) by General Pinochet's violent coup - a coup that was supported by America's compromised trade union movement.

In the fall of 1973, widespread social unrest and a paralyzed economy provided the pretext for General Pinochet's violent coup, and justification for his seventeen-year dictatorship. Pinochet saw all unions, not just leftist, as the enemy, and one of his first acts after seizing power was to outlaw CUT. In the months that followed September 11th, hundreds of trade unionists, including some who had worked with AIFLD, were rounded up, many never to be heard from again.

From 1971 until the mid-eighties, the AFL-CIO, despite its pledge never to support government controlled unions, financed and supported the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU), with full knowledge of the government's penetration. A government puppet, the FKTU's activities were restricted by law, leaving it no real power.

In the late seventies, human rights organizations began calling attention to the appalling treatment of South Korean workers. They were particularly concerned with the brutality directed at young women laborers in the textile and garment industry, and the lack of response by the FKTU.

Suppression of labor in South Korea, aided and abetted by the AFL-CIO

Rather than denouncing the repression in South Korea, or severing its ties with the FKTU, the AFL-CIO tried to whitewash the violence, blaming it on "differing ethnic standards of Koreans," amongst other things.

When Korean industrial workers finally organized the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions as an alternative to the FKTU, it wasn't officially recognized by the AFL-CIO until 1997. Just recently, pilots represented by KCTU protested its government's decision to deploy 3,000 troops to Iraq by refusing to transport any troops or equipment there, and engaged in street demonstrations against the war.

ACILS: Reforming Or Restructuring?

AFL-CIO: Targeting Hugo Chavez the way it targeted Salvador Allende

In 1995, John Sweeney was elected AFL-CIO president with the support of a broad coalition of union leaders who broke with the former president, Lane Kirkland, over foreign policy. In particular, they disagreed with the AIFLD's support for U.S. policy in Central America and hoped to get rid of what they believed was a cold war relic, a pro-corporate anti-communist extension of the McCarthyism still dominating U.S. foreign policy.

Two years after taking office, Sweeney reorganized the four labor foreign policy institutes into a single organization, the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS), better known as the Solidarity Center ...

While many union leaders are hopeful about the reforms in U.S. labor's foreign policy, as well as its accomplishments to date, a great deal of skepticism remains. Much of this skepticism revolves around the Solidarity Center's funding; three quarters of its $18 million budget still comes from government sources. It receives annual grants from the State Department, the Agency for International Development, the Labor Department, and the NED.

Requests for a complete list of donors, including private foundations, and the amount of their contributions have been repeatedly denied by the AFL-CIO. While Congress no longer dictates the Center's policies, a lack of independent funding makes a truly autonomous global labor movement impossible.

Meddling in Venezuela

 Critics also point to the Solidarity Center's recent operations in Venezuela, which they feel are dangerously reminiscent of the AIFLD's actions in Chile. In Venezuela, the world's fifth largest oil producer, the Solidarity Center funds a corrupt union amalgam, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV). CTV organizes destabilizing strikes and works with oil company management, the Catholic Church, and right-wing military officers to create opposition to the populist elected president Hugo Chavez. How the Center's largest, $150,000 contribution to the CTV was spent is unclear. Stan Gacek, assistant director for the AFL-CIO's International Affairs Department, says it was for internal union elections, but the CTV's Institute director, Jesus Urbieta, says the money was used for conducting training courses. In 2001 the Solidarity Center invited CTV leader Carlos Ortega to Washington, to discuss strategies to oust Chavez with U.S. government officials and representatives of the State Department.

A series of widespread strikes orchestrated by the CTV paved the way for an insurrection on April 11th, 2002, that killed over a dozen citizens and injured hundreds more. Pedro Carmona, a pro-U.S. businessman, was selected to run the country. He immediately dissolved the National Assembly, but only two days later Chavez was swept back into power by the military and a flood of support from working people and the poor, much to the shame of the Solidarity Center, the State Department and the White House. Not surprisingly, the NED tripled its annual Venezuela budget to almost $900,000 in the weeks and months leading up to the attempted coup.

While the CTV was disbanded after the attempted coup and replaced by the leftist Unione Nationale Trajabadores, Chavez's opposition hasn't given up. The NED is currently handing out grants totaling more than a million dollars to organizations it feels can be useful in getting rid of Chavez. From September 2002 to March 2004, the Endowment contributed $116,000 to the Solidarity Center every three months for this purpose.

Between September 2003 and September 2004, Sumate, a Venezuelan company that worked to organize a referendum to recall President Chavez, was granted over $50,000 from the NED. Sumate released a poll just before the vote claiming Chavez was sure to lose. To the chagrin of Sumate and the NED, Chavez won 59% of the vote.

L. Paul Bremer, the elite's man in Iraq: Working hand-in-glove with the AFL-CIO to destroy trade unions in Iraq.

Iraq and Beyond

On November 6, 2003, President Bush gave a speech commemorating the NED on its 20th anniversary, and placing it at the center of the "democratization" of Iraq. For the Bush Administration, the NED and the Solidarity Center, democratization is synonymous with privatization, as is evidenced in their attempts to hold the largest state liquidation sale since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 A key strategic aim of U.S. imperialism in the Middle East is to break state control over oil production and reserves and open them up to the direct control of U.S. based energy conglomerates. The first act of L. Paul Bremer, who led the U.S. occupation of Iraq from May 2, 2003 until his early departure on June 28, 2004, was to fire 500,000 state workers including teachers, doctors, nurses, publishers and printers.

Next he opened Iraq's borders to unrestricted imports, declaring it "open for business." Enacting a radical set of laws unprecedented in their generosity to multinational corporations, Bremer allowed foreign companies to own 100 percent of Iraqi assets outside the natural resource sector, and to take all of these profits out of the country tax free with no obligation to reinvest in Iraq. The only remnant from Saddam Hussein's economic policy was—a law restricting trade unions and collective bargaining!

Rather than creating an economic boom, these policies instead fueled a resistance that has ultimately made reconstruction impossible. Labor relations reached a bloody peak under Bremer's occupation; faced with job loss, workers feared starvation, and managers in turn feared their workers, making privatization far more complicated than the Bush Administration anticipated.

Violent protests have kept investors out, and forced Bremer to abandon many of his central economic policies. Several state companies have been offered up for lease, and thousands of the state workers fired by Bremer have been rehired.

Nonetheless, the Bush Administration's plans to "democratize" Iraq are still underway. In January, 2004, Bush requested to double the NED's Middle East budget, putting it at $40 million. According to Abd al-Wahhab al Kabsi, the NED's program officer for the Middle East, the NED's involvement is "expanding and we expect it to continue to expand."

In the months before the Bush Administration invaded Iraq, the AFL-CIO for the first time in its history openly challenged a U.S. decision to go to war. However, once the invasion began, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney shifted his antiwar stance, declaring that the federation would "support fully" the Bush Administration's war goals.

Within two days of Bush's request for an increased NED budget in the Middle East, Sweeney said that "training and other kinds of support from the international trade union movement should be encouraged" in Iraq. Since then, he has applied for $3-5 million in grants from the NED. The money will be used to counter independent labor organizing by leftist groups like Union of the Unemployed in Iraq (UUI), which has sponsored and supported strikes and demonstrations for jobs and against U.S. occupation.

The NED and Solidarity Center have chosen to support the General Federation of Trade Unions in Iraq, a discredited Ba'athist union formation sitting on the U.S. appointed Iraqi Governing Council. According to the UUI, its history "is as gloomy and bloody as the history of the Ba'athist regime."



Tom Hayden

The effort by the elites to "buy off" the American labor movement and subvert it to its own interests is nothing new; it has been going on for years; consider the following examples, some of which extend backwards thirty or forty years:

Does this surprise you? It probably does; but, America's corporate elites think they can buy anyone and anything – AND THEY CAN! Professor Daniel Brandt made that case some years ago when he wrote:

"The ruling elite are experts at manipulating their own interests; they know how to divide and conquer, which is why they continue to rule."


Ramparts Magazine

Christians are playing a very dangerous game indeed when they take money from elite sources. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that if the same elite money that is funding your activities is essentially the same money that is funding the activities of your enemies, then something is wrong.

Initially, the instrument the elite used to funnel money to the Left was the CIA, but when Ramparts blew the whistle on the CIA's domestic cultural activities in 1967, President Johnson appointed a committee consisting of elitists Nicholas Katzenbach (Rhodes scholar and former Ford Foundation fellow), OSS old-boy John Gardner (Carnegie Corporation president, 1955-1965), and CIA director Richard Helms to study the problem.

It was clear to Katzenback et. al. that they could no longer DIRECTLY use a government agency like the CIA to buy the Left. They needed a new cover - and they found that cover in the plethora of new elite institutions and foundations that began to surface after the Second World War - growing from about 2,200 in 1955 to more than 18,000 in 1967. It was to these institutions that Katzenbach turned for help in subverting the Ideological Left. In doing so, Katzenbach created a "public-private mechanism" [the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)] which mixed public and private funds - and so much so that by now it has become all but impossible to distinguish among the complicated overlapping networks of CIA funding, NED funding, and funding by foundations such as Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller. The same people are behind all three sources (i.e., the CIA, the NED, and private elite foundations and institutions).

Buying up the Left in the interest of America's business elites.

The same elite money that was flowing into "black nationalism" in Africa in order to promote the murderous regimes that had taken hold in Nigeria, the Congo, etc. (regimes which the corporate elites, nonetheless, could count on to promote access by the West's multination lists to the riches of Africa) - was also flowing into radical black groups in the United States in order to "buy them off" for capitalism and "free trade"

Consider, for example, the way these funding sources - all of them using elite money - have funded the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) which was funded initially by the CIA - and after that was exposed (i.e., that the money behind the CCF was CIA money) - by the Ford Foundation. CCF created magazines, published books, and conducted conferences throughout the world encouraging multicultural and "diversity" programs that are anathema to the Religious Right, but which - at the same time - encouraged "lefties" in Europe to embrace Western capitalism and economic globalism. (Please see Peter Coleman, The Liberal Conspiracy: The Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Struggle for the Mind of Postwar Europe (New York: Free Press, 1989).

And it wasn't just in Europe that the CIA was running "new Left" programs that were abhorrent to conservative Christians, it was also busy in Africa. In an article entitled "The CIA as an Equal Opportunity Employer" that first appeared in 1969 in Ramparts and was reprinted in the Black Panther Newspaper and elsewhere, members from the Africa Research Group presented convincing evidence that "the CIA has promoted black cultural nationalism to reinforce neo-colonialism (i.e., economic globalism) in Africa." In the introduction to their article, the Africa Research Group added that "activists in the black colony within the United States can easily see the relevance to their own situation; in many cases the same techniques and occasionally the same individuals are used to control the political implications of Afro-American culture." [Please see Dan Schechter, Michael Ansara, and David Kolodney, "The CIA as an Equal Opportunity Employer," Ramparts, June 1969, pp. 25-33. Reprinted with an introduction in Ellen Ray, William Schaap, Karl van Meter, and Louis Wolf, eds., Dirty Work 2: The CIA in Africa (Secaucus NJ: Lyle Stuart, 1979).

In other words, elite money - the same elite money that was flowing into "black nationalism" in Africa in order to promote the murderous regimes that had taken hold in Nigeria, the Congo, etc. (regimes which the corporate elites, nonetheless, could count on to promote access by the West's multi-nationalist corporations to the riches of Africa) - was also flowing into radical black groups in the United States in order to "buy them off" for capitalism and "free trade" in the same way it was buying off black nationalists in Africa. THE FRUITS OF THIS DECEITFUL AND HIDEOUS "TRADE-OFF" CAN BE SEEN IN THE STRANGE SILENCE OF LEADING BLACK GROUPS THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES ON ISSUES LIKE NAFTA, THE WTO, THE WORLD BANK, ETC. - ISSUES THAT ADVERSELY IMPACT THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN THE UNITED STATES FAR MORE THAN THEY DO THE WHITE COMMUNITY.

The truth is, the business elites have bought almost all of the Left's leadership off. Indeed, since 1947, the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations, all in cooperation with the CIA, have been funding liberal-left cultural programs at major U.S. universities such as Harvard, MIT, and Columbia for this EXACT purpose (i.e., "buying off" the Left insofar as the corporate elites economic agenda is concerned). [Please see Sigmund (not Sara) Diamond, Compromised Campus: The Collaboration of Universities with the Intelligence Community, 1945-1955 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 371 pages; please also see David Horowitz, "Sinews of Empire," Ramparts, October 1969, pp. 32-42.]

Take another example: the schizophrenic history of the Ford Foundation insofar as "Right / Left" politics are concerned. The Ford Foundation began supporting feminist groups and women's studies programs in the late '60s and early '70s - just about the same time they were busy training Indonesian elites (using supposedly liberal-left Berkeley professors as instructors) to impose a military dictatorship on Indonesia - a take-over of Indonesia (led by the CIA and supported by Christian missionaries) that led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands. Do the folks at the Ford Foundation suffer from "split personality?" - or were they pushing the same battle (i.e., economic globalization) on another front? It would appear to be the latter. The elite knows exactly what it's doing, and it is remarkably consistent - keeping both the Left and the Right off balance while it pursues its own selfish economic policies, policies which have been having a profound impact not only on the Left, but also on "Christian America."

Christians in chains - but not so much to Christ as to America's business elites.


Put in a way that Christians should be able to understand, they should ask themselves, Who's really responsible for the "Death of Morality" in this country? - the gays and lesbians, the militant feminists, etc., or the globalist elites who have forced mothers into the work place leaving their children to the "tender mercies" of the streets. The fact is, more American women are working just to keep the family going than they are to advance themselves in a career - and the reason for this can be laid directly at the doorstep of the free trade, anti-union policies the elite has been championing for the past thirty years.