Chapter 14: Junk Library Science

By Geoff Davidian and Project Censored Interns: Sean Arlt, Jacob Rich, Bridget Thornton, and Michele Salvail

____________________

Recommended reading for summer 2005*

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

By John Perkins

Intriguing autobiographical exposé of how Mr. Perkins assisted American intelligence agencies and multinational corporations to persuade other nations to take action to benefit narrow U.S. foreign policy and commercial objectives. Praised by some (mostly liberals) as an honest look at dubious U.S. actions that contribute to anti-Americanism abroad, condemned by others (mostly conservatives) as the rantings of an egomaniac.

* From the Social Sciences/Economics Department Web site at University of MichiganDearborn

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I. Introduction

The corporate media blending of news with entertainment – and its influence on how we see the world – has been a perennial concern of Project Censored. With the formation of media giants – and consolidation of local newspaper and broadcast ownership – TV, radio, cable and newspapers are less reliable or interested in proving or disproving the matters at issue in a democracy.

As the alternative, universities, independent publishers and libraries became bulwarks of relevance in a politicized, commercialized information world.

But as this year’s Project Censored Investigative Report suggests, these institutions may not be adequately separating non-fiction from fancy. In our team investigation into John Perkins’ best selling book, “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man,”[1] we found that none of the writer’s claims that were not previously known could be independently verified.

If this were just another thriller, a simple memoir alleging nothing consequential, no one would care whether the claims were fact or fiction.

But Perkins’ story goes to the heart of what America is; it paints presidents as economically tied to corporations, complicit in the subjugation of nations and personally benefiting.

Nevertheless, from the Library of Congress to community bookshops, universities to best-seller lists, “Hit Man” is cataloged as a “non-fiction” source under headings such as “Imperialism – History – 20th Century,” and “Corporations, American – Foreign countries.”

While libraries do research themselves in some cases, for the most part they simply copy publishers’ claims as to veracity of content, perpetuating the spin as they go in what amounts to Junk Library Science.

2. The issue

“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 running our biggest corporations, our government, and our banks. Like our counterparts in the Mafia, EHMs provide favors. These take the form of loans to develop infrastructure – electric generating plants, highways, ports, airports, or industrial parks. A 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 creditor), 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, then like the Mafia we demand our pound of flesh. This often includes one or more of the following: control over United Nations votes, the installation of military bases, or access to precious resources such as oil or the Panama Canal. Of course, the debtor still owes us the money -- and another country is added to our global empire.”

Excerpt from Confessions of an Economic Hit Man[2]

 

More than 100 years ago, philosopher William James asked us to consider a society in which millions were kept permanently happy on the one simple condition that a certain lost soul on the far-off edge of things should lead a life of lonely torture.[3]

“What except a specifical and independent sort of emotion can it be which would make us immediately feel, even though an impulse arose within us to clutch at the happiness so offered, how hideous a thing would be its enjoyment when deliberately accepted as the fruit of such a bargain.”

But John Perkins’ treatise on post WWII America portrays a world where a few are kept permanently happy on the one simple condition that millions of souls lead lives of economic misery and exploitation, through a system in which religious groups, corporations, dictators and U.S. policy converge wherever poor nations have resources US industry wants.

What makes Perkins’ story more chilling yet is that it is listed as non-fiction in libraries, book stores and even the New York Times’ best-seller list. And that classification ironically gives Perkins, who made his living by lying, a cult following among groups most disgusted by his story – environmentalists, social justice advocates and progressives.

At a standing-room-only appearance at the University of Michigan in February 2005, Perkins received a standing ovation after he went point by point through events he says he participated in that explain why terrorists would want to hit the United States. He was put up during that Michigan visit at an official university residence and spent a day with students telling them how exciting their lives would be, facing the problems of their times – problems he claims to have caused in many ways.

From Colombia and Ecuador to Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, Perkins posits his own observations to connect well-known dots, revealing, he writes, a pattern of deceit and fraud resulting in US “empire” that rewarded his ethical weakness with great wealth.

Domestically as well, Perkins writes he was paid as a consultant and expert witness to advance the fortunes of the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire – an undertaking that followed the same pattern of optimistic forecasts followed by economic disaster for those who bought into the sales pitch.

Perkins, 60, gives us a good insight into everything wrong with capitalism, and in doing so shows us an example of the kind of person who makes it all wrong.

From Iran in the 1950s to Iraq today, Perkins suggests that the United States has plundered countries and killed or removed leaders who balk at doing business at the end of a gun in an extension of global empire. In Panama, Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos both got in our way, says Perkins, so Torrijos was killed and Noriega arrested and imprisoned in the US. Meanwhile, Ecuador’s President, Jaime Roldós, who stood up to American oil companies, died in a helicopter crash.

“And we wonder why terrorists attack us?” he writes.

The Project Censored team set out with the goal of proving John Perkins was telling the truth by dividing up the countries and assignments to check the facts for ourselves.

If Perkins’ story was true, if the US government and corporations intentionally schemed to suck the marrow from the people of the world most in need of help, why weren’t the governments of Ecuador and Colombia speaking out? Why weren’t the folks in New Hampshire up in arms? Why isn’t the New Hampshire attorney general investigating this billion-dollar boondoggle?

Many on the left applaud Perkins’ work because it fits nicely into critical understandings of US global empire. Yet, without documentation and verifiable content his book lacks the necessary prerequisites for academic scholarship and become just another tale of greed and corruption. — muckraking without the muck.

And whether or not Perkins was lying – again making money off unwitting consumers – why were students, environmentalists and anti-nuclear groups rallying around him after the greed, drunkenness and ethical lapses he details?

Gary McCool, interim director of the Lamson Library at New Hampshire’s Plymouth State University, tells Project Censored that “everything that is not ‘fiction’ is not necessarily ‘fact.’”

Autobiographies and memoirs, for example, may be the writer’s best recollection rather than an attempt to mislead.

Libraries don’t want to impose regulation or judgment, he said. Categorizing is, however, the heart of what a librarian does, and has been since ancient Alexandria, built by the Greek architect Dinocrates in the 3rd century BC. The library there held 400,000 to 700,000 scrolls in its heyday.

Of course, McCool noted, libraries have not always classified by the categories now used. In fact, he said, some libraries maintained their collections based on the color of the covers.

In some smaller libraries today, the staff may not have the type of collection that requires careful examination of every acquisition.

But research libraries are different: their collections are not driven by popularity and the librarian does not decide on the quality of the content without having it in hand.

You would think McCool would be the perfect source for analyzing the historical value of Hit Man, having spent 10 of his 61 years fighting the Seabrook funding scheme that Perkins was paid to lie about. But he has not read the book and his library does not possess it.

Here is what a librarian, with a copy of the book in hand, would face trying to determine whether to catalog it fiction or history:

3. Seabrook

“My job was to justify, under oath, the economic feasibility of the highly controversial Seabrook nuclear power plant,” Perkins writes.[4]

In a pattern not different from Perkins’ explanation, the people of New Hampshire were stuck with a massive project that they neither wanted nor needed, based on false promises and a campaign of misinformation.

“Part of my job on the Seabrook case was to convince the New Hampshire Public Service Commission that nuclear power was the best and most economical choice for generating electricity in the state. Unfortunately, the longer I studied the issue, the more I began to doubt the validity of my own arguments. The literature was constantly changing at that time, reflecting a growth in research, and the evidence increasingly indicated that many alternative forms of energy were technically superior and more economical than nuclear power.

“The balance also was beginning to shift away from the old theory that nuclear power was safe. Serious questions were being raised about the integrity of backup systems, the training of operators, the human tendency to make mistakes, equipment fatigue, and the inadequacy of nuclear waste disposal. I personally became uncomfortable with the position I was expected to take — was paid to take – under oath in what amounted to a court of law.” [5]

In 1981, the directors of the New Hampshire Electric Co-op agreed to buy a 25 megawatt share, or two-percent ownership, of the Seabrook project at a time when Public Service of New Hampshire was desperate for money.

Librarian Gary McCool  along with other members sued the co-op to stop the deal.

“If things increased in cost, it would mean ever-increasing debt with only the members to pay,” McCool said.

Arguing pro se before the state supreme court, McCool prevailed at five of eight oral arguments. But because so much already had been sunk into the project – $75 million or more – the court required that any alternative project to the twin nuclear plants planned for Seabrook include a savings of the existing outlay.

Meanwhile, the folks Perkins says paid him were putting out the message, “You will freeze in the dark if you don’t build Seabrook. If you want to bathe and turn on lights, you need Seabrook.”

After the Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH) began building the Seabrook nuclear power plant, the New Hampshire legislature passed the "anti-CWIP" statute, which prohibited any recovery in rates for construction costs expended by a utility in construction of a plant until such plant was actually on line. When it became apparent that PSNH would not recover its investment, it created “a factual background which must be unique in the annals of public utility financing.”

“Public Service Company of New Hampshire (PSNH or company) is the owner of an approximately 35% interest in the Seabrook Unit I nuclear generating station, which for practical purposes had its construction phase completed on or about October 31, 1986, at a cost to PSNH of $1.77billion. The total project cost, we were told at argument, has, since the completion date, been increasing at the rate of $50 million per month. Because its final licensing proceeding is yet to be complete, the plant is producing neither electricity nor income, and the likelihood and timing of either event are matters of speculation and uncertainty.”[6]

Of little consolation, McCool was right. Within a short time, both the co-op and the Public Service Company of New Hampshire were bankrupt.

“The bottom line is they built the plant,” McCool said. It cost the members $185 million to buy in, and millions in legal fees and costs out of our pockets. “And New Hampshire was saddled with the highest electric rates in the nation for years to come.”

Some of the costs were caused by anti-nuclear protestors who tied up the project, keeping the utility from gaining revenue through the production of electricity, McCool acknowledges, “but the definitive study of that has not been done, although that’s a common discussion around here.”

Whether Perkins is telling the truth could be an issue in the push to build a new generation of nuclear plants. If he is telling the truth, it is bad for the contractors and utilities. If he is lying, it is good for them.

“I never had faith in the bureaucratic process,” says Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Watchdog Project for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. NIRS is the national information and networking center for citizens and environmental activists concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation and sustainable energy issues, which initiates large-scale organizing and public education campaigns on specific issues.

“I was chaining myself to the gates by that time,” said Gunter, who was part of the Clamshell Alliance, formed in 1976 to protest the construction of the nuclear reactor in Seabrook.

The Alliance consisted of a loosely-knit coalition of anti-nuclear groups, mostly from New England, organized around a central office which served to disseminate information between groups and to coordinate group activities. The Alliance organized a number of direct, non-violent actions at Seabrook to voice their concerns between 1976 and the late ‘80s.[7]

But the Alliance was up against big guns: McCool, who was put on the co-op board after the bankruptcy, says rural co-ops were manipulated into participating in the nuclear “upgrade” by the offer of cheap loans from the Rural Electrification Agency. It was a sort of federal money laundering, he said.

One thing McCool and Gunter have in common: They were in the middle of the action, and they never heard of John Perkins.

What’s a librarian to do?

4. Saudi Arabia

The United States’ plan was to get Saudi Arabia to hire American engineering and construction companies with petrodollars to build infrastructure and to get the American and Saudi economy more intertwined. The results were used to convince other countries that, with loans, their countries could modernize.[8]

But Saudi Arabia didn't have the debts these other countries would end up with.

Saudi Arabia is different than other countries, the World Bank or the IMF weren't involved.

The information that Perkins gives on Saudi Arabia does not reveal anything that can't be found through other research, and none of our research reveals Perkins’ presence or involvement in these Saudi transactions

 For example, Perkins writes that engineering companies were awarded huge contracts – information that can be found with a simple Google search of “Bechtel” and “Saudi Arabia.”

"Jubail Industrial City is the largest civil engineering project in the world today. It also is one of Bechtel's most remarkable achievements — a megaproject that has required vast resources and logistical planning on an unprecedented scale.

“Bechtel has managed the project since it began, and last year, the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu asked the company to manage Jubail II, a $3.8 billion expansion of the city's industrial and residential areas.

“Before the early 1970s, Saudi natural gas deposits were considered more of a nuisance than an asset. Gas from oil wells was typically flared off. The challenge was to put this wasted energy to productive use by powering Saudi industrial development.” [9]

Perkins’ book is informative but he doesn't get into details, like the "extremely profitable contract" MAIN was awarded in Saudi Arabia; he doesn't specify what the project was. For example, in the notes Perkins credits Thomas W. Lippman among others.[10] In fact, Perkins repeatedly cites a Lippman book published in 2004, the year Hit Man was published.

Perkins writes about the United States – Saudi Arabian Joint Economic Commission, known as JECOR, and what does he say? "JECOR embodied an innovative concept that was the opposite of traditional foreign aid programs: it relied on Saudi money to hire American firms to build up Saudi Arabia"[11] – basically the information that Lippman gives.

If Perkins is using his skills as a liar to put himself into the picture, he provides enough info to help his book sell, but nothing new.

What’s a librarian to do?

5. Panama

The historical politics in the Hit Man are well documented and closely follow the economic theories of leftists and academia.

It seems, however, that the story of the man John Perkins could be almost entirely made up. Furthermore, why would a writer take the time to document well-know facts so well, yet manage to leave out any direct references to MAIN or his most important conversations and decisions? Without independent confirmation, Perkins is unable to substantiate these claims.

FACT OR FICTION: A big problem in verifying his story on Panama comes from the conversation between Omar Torrijos and Perkins.[12] He gives neither a specific time (sometime in 1972) nor place (one of the Generals villas) and lists no witnesses. How is a librarian to determine this?

Still, there was the off chance that imprisoned former Panamanian President Manuel Noriega, who was taken from his country by force and tried in the United States, could verify Perkins had met with Torrijos. We attempted to contact Noriega at the federal facility in Florida where he is said to be held incommunicado.

But one month after Perkins’ book was published, Noriega was said to have suffered a minor stroke.

Noriega's attorney's office referred Project Censored to the correctional facility where Noriega was held, but officials said he could only communicate through letters.

Noriega’s lawyer, Frank Rubino, would not comment on anything to do with Noriega or Panama. And no, they would not speak to us about his medical status.

What’s a librarian to do?

6. Colombia

Notes related to the research, see Endnote[i]

Perkins claims his job “was to present the case for exceedingly large loans . . . . I felt I had no choice but to develop inflated economic and electric load forecasts.”[13]

The contracts were for “hydroelectric facilities and distribution systems to transport electricity from deep in the jungle to cities high in the mountains.”[14]

Despite the vivid recollection and dialogue in the story,[15] we found no confirmation that Colombian rebels attacked the plant’s engineer, Manuel Torres.

However, from 1976-1983, there were several news stories reporting guerilla violence and wars between the state and indigenous communities in the jungles and mountains, according to the LexisNexis database.

After Perkins left in 1980, things went downhill for the South American nation.

The Colombian president who was previously against foreign investment did a quick turn around and became a big supporter of President Ronald Reagan. Again, this is three years after Perkins left Colombia and the same year he left Chas. T. Main, Inc. altogether. While he MAY have had a hand in the debt situation, there is no documentation of it. For one thing, there was little press coverage in the United States of Colombia in 1977.

Despite the size of Colombia’s debt and its relations with the United States and the U.N., there is no evidence that John Perkins or Chas. T. Main, Inc. had a direct influence on the economic situation in the country. Perkins does not present enough facts to substantiate his claim. Furthermore, Project Censored found no IMF, World Bank or the Inter American Development Bank records of contracts awarded to Chas. T. Main, Inc., from 1976-1981.

What’s a librarian to do?

See the endnote.[ii]

CONCLUSION

“If Perkins truly cared about exposing these injustices, he would take a more academic approach to the book. He would craft it to withstand strong scrutiny. He would cite many sources, give precise illustrations. He would make his book appealing to those with the power to change it or amend it. Instead, he sensationalizes the content. He appeals to the leftist, as we all agree. He wrote a book that is so unbelievable, that it cannot be used to incite serious, scholarly debate. Could it be that he wrote this book at the behest of 'the other side' to which he still may belong? He describes the entire system as too complex to penetrate, too difficult to topple.

“I felt from the beginning of the project that if he could be bribed as many times as he had, why not this time too?”

Bridget Thornton, 2005 Project Censored Investigative team

Einar Greve, a former Chas. T. Main, Inc. vice-president who hired Perkins in 1971, is quoted in The Business: “The basic theory is wrong.” Developing countries "were not purposely put into hock."[16]

Professors in ivory towers came up with the idea of doing a Marshall Plan for the underdeveloped world. But the Third World did not have the education and industrial background of Europe and the plan failed for decades.

That these countries were saddled with big debts they couldn't pay definitely took place, but it was because of poor planning,’ he said. ‘There were also many projects that should never have been built, but it was largely because of incompetence, not by design.

In New Hampshire, Gary McCool says library databases make more information available than ever. For example, founded in 1967, OCLC Online Computer Library Center is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service used by more than 53,548 libraries in 96 countries and territories to “locate, acquire, catalog, lend and preserve library materials,” according to its Web site. “Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it.”

McCool said that in addition to what the publishers say about their products, online services provide access to other analyses of materials, including such sources as Amazon.com’s reader review. But, he concedes, it is possible for a publisher to post its own reviews, all favorable to the work.

Ultimately, it is up to the reader to sift the facts.

And with consolidation of media ownership coupled with integrated production and marketing, that task is no less difficult for the reader than for the librarian.

Even with access to critical trade publications, the publisher’s description trumps the professional reviewer.

For example, Publisher’s Weekly[17] reviewed Perkins’ work, but had no impact on the non-fiction classification at most libraries:

“The story as presented is implausible to say the least, offering so few details that Perkins often seems paranoid, and the simplistic political analysis doesn't enhance his credibility. Despite the claim that his work left him wracked with guilt, the artless prose is emotionally flat and generally comes across as a personal crisis of conscience blown up to monstrous proportions, casting Perkins as a victim not only of his own neuroses over class and money but of dark forces beyond his control. His claim to have assisted the House of Saud in strengthening its ties to American power brokers may be timely enough to attract some attention, but the yarn he spins is ultimately unconvincing, except perhaps to conspiracy buffs.”

Is it possible that the existing system of classification needs reform; that the fiction/non-fiction division should offer more gray area? Some additional classifications might include, “Memoir – Unsubstantiated,” or “History – documented.”

And Economic Hit Man, who says it was his lies that ate up 10 years of McCool’s life; his lies that brought nuclear power to New Hampshire over protestors who chained themselves to plant gates; his lies that led to the subjugation of millions in the Third World, might be a classification “Capitalism – worst-case scenario.”

EPILOGUE

Following its success with Hit Man, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., has taken a bold step to market its stock to people who have bought its books. But don’t consider this opportunity “an offer to sell, nor a solicitation of an offer to buy these securities.”

“We are pleased to announce the first-ever Direct Public Offering of Berrett-Koehler stock. This is an Offering of 125,000 shares of Common Stock of The Berrett-Koehler Group, Inc. (which is the parent company of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.). The price of the shares is $8.00 per share. The minimum number of shares offered to any one investor is 100 shares. Thus, the minimum investment is $800.00. The shares are being sold on a first-come, first-served basis.”

“This Direct Public Offering has been registered for offer and sale in California, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, and Wisconsin. Only persons residing in these states and district are eligible to purchase stock in this Offering, unless there is an applicable exemption from registration in a particular state or the prospective investor resides outside of the United States.

“This announcement is neither an offer to sell nor a solicitation of an offer to buy these securities. The offer is made only by means of the Direct Public Offering Circular. Copies of the Circular may be obtained only from The Berrett-Koehler Group, Inc.”

 

 

 



[1] Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, (2004, San Francisco, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 250 pp., $24.95).

 

[2] Ibid, p. 154.

[3] The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life, William James. An address to the Yale Philosophical Club, published in the International Journal of Ethics, April 1891.Online at http://www.philosophy.uncc.edu/mleldrid/American/mp&ml.htm

 

[4] Hit Man, p. 154.

[5] Ibid, p. 163.

[6] Petition of Public Service Company of New Hampshire (New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission) No. 87-311 SUPREME COURT OF NEW HAMPSHIRE 130 N.H. 265; 539 A.2d 263; 1988 January 26, 1988

 

[7] See the Clamshell Alliance Papers at http://www.izaak.unh.edu/specoll/mancoll/clamshell.htm

[8] Hit Man, chapters 15-16, p. 81-98.

 

[9] See Bechtel Web site, http://www.bechtel.com/spjubail.htm

[10] Hit Man, p. 233

[11] Ibid. p. 84.

[12] Ibid. p.71 et seq.

[13] Hit Man, p. 122.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid. p. 124.

 

[16] Joe Lauria, Controversial book raises doubts over US aid policy, The Business, March 13, 2005, online at http://thebusinessonline.com/33260/Read

[17]  Publisher’s Weekly used the classification “Biography & Autobiography | Business; Political Science | Conspiracy & Scandal Investigations; Business & Economics | Government & Business” in a Nov. 8, 2004 review online at http://reviews.publishersweekly.com/bd.aspx?isbn=1576753018&pub=pw

 



[i] Notes related to Estimated Amounts:

  1. The disbursed and outstanding loan/credit balances upon which computations of interests/charges are based exclude any principal overdue amounts.
  2. These projections require an estimate of future disbursement of loans/credits still disbursing. Future disbursements are estimated on pro-rating the undisbursed balance from the reporting date to the specific loan/credit closing date.
  3. For IBRD loans, charges include commitment fee plus interest.
  4. For IBRD loans, rates for charges are applied as follows:

a. Commitment: estimates apply the current commitment rate less any applicable waiver.

b.  Interest: estimates are based on the current interest rates and do not include any applicable waiver.

  1. PPFs are not included in this report.
  2. For FSL and FSCL the repayments have not been projected for undisbursed amounts.(For IBRD products, FSL and FSCLs only)
  3. For FSL and FSCL, the interest rate used is the weighted average interest rate of the loan subtranches/tranches.
  4. Debt relief being provided to HIPCs is not included in these projections. Questions should be directed to the Loan Client & Financial Services Group (Email: loanclientservices@worldbank.org, tel 202 458 8330, fax 202 522 1654).

Media Search

Lexis Search:

Colombia and United States 1976-1980 Nothing pertaining to hydroelectric contracts using the following searches: Colombia and United States Colombia and Hydroelectric contracts Colombia and foreign investment Colombia and Chas T. Main

Most of the articles pertained to guerilla fighting, hijacked planes, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and the coffee industry.

Factiva No news with “chas t. main”, 1976-1980 No news with “hydroelectric contracts”, 1976-1980 No news about Colombia business contracts.

 

[ii] Colombian Political/Economic Environment (1960’s to 1987)

Source: U.S. Library of Congress http://countrystudies.us/colombia/28.htm

    • Colombia became one of the largest recipients of United States assistance in Latin America during the 1960s and early 1970s.
    • Many Colombian policy makers had become disenchanted with the Alliance for Progress – a program, conceived during the administration of President John F. Kennedy, which called for extensive United States financial assistance to Latin America as well as Latin American support for social change measures, such as agrarian reform--and with United States economic assistance in general. Many felt that Colombia's economic dependence on the United States had only increased.
  • Mid to late 1970’s: U.S. aid under the Michelson and Turbay governments Allied with Cuba Joined Andean alliance in support of Sandinistas Support for Panama and new canal treaty
  • Bilateral Extradition Treaty between Colombia and the United States, signed by both countries in 1979, and US$26 million in United States aid helped to produce what Washington considered to be a model anti-narcotics program, Betancur initially refused to extradite Colombians as a matter of principle.
  • 1981: reversed alliance with Cuba and Sandinista support under the Turbay government.) Realigned with the U.S.: fervently denounced communism
  • 1982: Falklands War, the Turbay government, along with the United States, abstained on the key OAS vote to invoke the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty). After the war, Colombia remained one of the few Latin American countries still willing to participate with the United States in joint naval maneuvers in the Caribbean. Colombia also sent troops to the Sinai in 1982 as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force required by the 1979 Treaty of Peace Between Egypt and Israel.
  • 1982: Betancur steered Colombia away from support of the Reagan administration's Latin American policies and toward a nonaligned stance. Betancur reversed Turbay's anti-Argentine position on the South Atlantic War and called for greater solidarity between Latin America and the Third World. In 1983 Colombia, with the sponsorship of Cuba and Panama, joined the Nonaligned Movement, then headed by Castro.
  • 1985: Betancur abandoned his nationalistic rhetoric on the debt and drug issues, promoted fiscal austerity policies to address Colombia’s economic crisis, and cooperated with the United States in an anti-drug trafficking campaign. As a result, the United States supported Colombia's debt negotiations with the IMF and the World Bank.
  • May 1984: following the murder of Betancur, an opponent of the drug cartels, a "war without quarter" against the Medellin cartel ensued and Colombia extradited drug traffickers to the United States. During November 1984 to June 1987, Colombia extradited thirteen nationals -- including cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder Rivas-- and three foreigners to the United States
  • Under the National Front governments, Colombia enjoyed a windfall of international investment, including loans and grants from the IDB, IMF, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and International Labour Organisation (ILO). Colombia preferred to handle security and global matters through the international forums provided by the UN General Assembly and Security Council. Pursuing a somewhat independent course, Colombia became a respected voice in the General Assembly and other international arenas on matters of international law.
  • Enforcing Contracts 2004 (Source: World Bank, Snapshot of Business Environment – Colombia) The ease or difficulty of enforcing commercial contracts in Colombia is measured below, using three indicators: the number of procedures counted from the moment the plaintiff files a lawsuit until actual payment, the associated time, and the cost (in court and attorney fees), expressed as a percentage of debt value. In Colombia, the cost of enforcing contracts is 18.6, compared with the regional average of 23.3 and OECD average of 10.8.