The FBI in Latin America: The Ecuador Files.

Author:Leonard, Thomas M.
Position:LATIN AMERICA - Book review

Becker, Marc. The FBI in Latin America: The Ecuador Files. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2017.

Marc Becker, a professor of Latin American studies at Missouri's Truman State University, is a widely published scholar of Latin America's indigenous movements, particularly in Ecuador. In The FBI in Latin America: The Ecuador Files, Becker concludes that both local elite and foreign investors exploited the country's indigenous people for their own political and economic advantage. In so doing, they contributed to the rise of Ecuador's Communist Party as a natural response to their exploitation.

Becker's well-written work is based upon a wide range of primary sources, including the State Departments decimal files on Ecuadoran politics and communism located in the US National Archives and published US documents and those available on the internet. Becker augments these sources with a plethora of secondary sources that leads him to conclude that policymakers in Washington, DC used US intelligence efforts in Ecuador to sustain US imperial interests in that country. For Becker, the FBI became an integral part of this larger scheme, an assertion he repeats throughout the monograph.

In the mid-1930s the US concern with Axis influence in the western hemisphere, particularly that of Germany, became an important issue in diplomatic and military circles. On June 24, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt added the FBI to the military intelligence officials who were assigned to the FBI's Special Intelligence Service (SIS). Its agents were dispatched to all Central and South American countries. Forty-two SIS agents, including the legal attache assigned to the US embassy in Quito, were stationed in Ecuador for various time periods throughout World War II. Not all SIS agents, who were sent as private citizens, were known at the embassy and oftentimes they sent their reports directly to the FBI headquarters in Washington, where Hoover's staff synthesized all reports that became part of his memorandums sent to the State Department. At the State Department, regional specialists analyzed the reports of the FBI, the embassy, the Army's Military Intelligence Division, and Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) in order to understand Ecuador's internal dynamics and to contribute to the making of overall US policy toward Latin America in general and Ecuador in particular.

The FBI's original mission was to examine the extent of Axis, primarily German, activity in...

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