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Photo: Stephany Torres/Remezcla
The U.S.'s treatment of Latin America was on full display on Jan. 6. Photo: Stephany Torres/Remezcla

The U.S. got a taste of its own medicine amid the Capitol riots

Many Americans reacted with shock and awe to the events of Jan. 6, but in Latin America, such events were business as usual for the U.S.

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As politicians and news anchors were reacting to the pro-Trump, white supremacist attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, insulting references were made to political issues in Latin America. 

Former President George W. Bush said in a statement that he and Laura watched the scenes unfold in disbelief and dismay. 

“This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic, not our democratic republic,” he wrote. 

Meanwhile, CNN anchor Jake Tapper said he felt like he was talking to a correspondent “from, you know, Bogotá,” while he processed the incident live on air. 

This kind of thing happens all too often. 

People refer to countries like Haiti, Guatemala or Colombia as “lawless” nations, insinuating that chaos is somehow inherently built into their communities. But these references miserably fail to acknowledge that much of the political and economic issues in those countries are a direct result of U.S. intervention and colonialism. 

In response, Minneapolis photographer, Celisia Stanton, took to Twitter and Instagram to express her frustration with the derogatory way in which people have contextualized the Capitol riots.

“I know I can’t be the only one finding it ironic that folks are shocked and appalled about this coup as if the U.S. government hasn’t been organizing and bankrolling coups abroad for the last couple centuries,” she wrote. 

Stanton focused specifically on Honduras, her family’s country of origin. Stanton’s grandfather told her that he came to this country not because he was eager to be an American, but because the U.S left his country with nothing. 

“In the 15 years surrounding the time my grandfather left Honduras, the country experienced three separate coups. And we are not talking coup ‘attempts,’ we are talking bloody and successful coups, each which installed new leaders,” she added.  

Stanton then posted a reading list for her followers to learn more about the shameful history of U.S intervention in Latin America. 

A long history of forced intervention

U.S intervention in Latin America dates back as far as the early 19th century. 

In 1914, U.S troops occupied the Mexican port of Veracruz for seven months in an attempt to sway developments in the Mexican Revolution.

In 1954, the CIA backed a coup that overthrew Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. A decade later, President John F. Kennedy backed a coup against leftist president Joao Goulart of Brazil, which led to an installment of a military government that lasted until the 1980s. 

In 1970, following the election of Chilean President Salvador Allende, who had ties to the Cuban Castro government, President Richard Nixon ordered an economic war against Chile

Allende died by suicide as troops surrounded his palace, but many insist that he was shot by the troops. The death of Allende ushered in more than 15 years of oppressive military dictatorship by General Augusto Pinochet. 

Most recently, in November 2019, President Trump supported a coup in Bolivia, which overthrew Latin America’s only Indigenous President, Evo Morales, and a white Evangelical Christian, Jeanine Aries replaced him as interim president. 

In the past five decades, the U.S has repeatedly used all sorts of deceptive practices to overthrow democratically elected governments in Latin America and beyond. 

Although Biden said that “this isn’t who we are” in response to the assault on the Capitol, American investigative journalist Allan Nairn argues that it is very much on brand for the U.S.

“The assault on the Capitol is really nothing by comparison to what U.S operations have done in Latin America, in Asia, in the Middle East, to other democratic movements and elected governments over the years,” Nairn said.

For many Latin Americans like Celisia Stanton, this country has never been a “beacon of democracy,” but rather, a beacon of destruction. 

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