Rx for the People: Preventative Genocide in Latin America

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Rx for the People: Preventative Genocide in Latin America

by Bonnie Mass

‘Science for the People’ Vol. 5, No. 2, March 1973, p. 4 – 8

We of the Editorial Collective at first had reservations over the use of the term “Genocide” in the title of this article. However, in accord with the following statement from the United Nations Convention on Genocide we feel the word is most appropriate


IN THE PRESENT CONVENTION, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

a) Killing members of the group;
b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.



a) Genocide;
b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
d) Attempt to commit genocide;
e) Complicity in genocide.

Ratified by the United States in 1950.

1. Superstructure of the Population Panic.

Today, “explosive populations” are portrayed in the United States as one of the world’s most critical problems. The “population crisis” as it is commonly known, cannot be analyzed without an awareness of the background of the panic’s promoters. In cooperation with corporate expansion into the Third World, government agencies are now multiplying their efforts to develope preventive genocide […]1 “family planning” as a weapon against the revolt of the oppressed.

Within the […] State Department the Nixon Administration has established a population “office” which is now responsible for coordinating efforts of embassy officers, the Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps and the U.S. Information Agency to encourage less developed countries to focus on population matters. The State Department itself attributes all manifestations of misery in the world to numbers — “For the vast majority of families in the ‘less developed’ countries, the possibilities of improvement of the welfare of parents and children are submerged by sheet numbers”.

During the first four fiscal years, the State Department’s fund-giving arm, the Agency for International Development, has increased the budget for population control from $10.5 million to $[…] million.

In addition to dispensing population control dollars to dozens of governments, AND pumps money into a number of “philanthropic” organizations that operate throughout the world. One of the biggest recipients is the International Planned Parenthood Federation, whose trustees include Lammot duPont Copeland of the DuPont chemical Corporation, (Copeland recently gave $2 million to Harvard University for its Population Center), Eugene Black, former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, and George Kennan, Cold War theoretician.

During the 1960’s, the present IPPF president, Dr. Alan F. Guttmacher bluntly described his fears of Third World revolts:

Reckless population growth without parallel economic growth… makes for a constant lowering of the standard of living. Such a decline, with its concomitant mounting poverty and hunger inevitably delivers a population to some kind of -ism, whether it be communism, fascism, or Pan-Arabism and weans them away from democracy. 2

Similar ideas have been expressed by American presidents such as Eisenhower, who explained his own support for population control as follows:

Once, as President, I thought and said that birth control was not the business of our federal government. The facts have changed my mind. Today with former President Truman, I am honorary chairman of Planned Parenthood ( IPPF) because I have come to believe that the population explosion is the world’s most critical problem. 3

Later, Johnson would be more precise:

Let us act on the fact that less than 5 dollars invested in population control is worth a hundred dollars invested in economic growth. 4

Leading American industrialists, such as John D. Rockefeller III constantly evoke the “diminishing resources” theme as a justification for curbing population growth:

As the gap between the developed and underdeveloped world alarmingly widens, economists point out that the U S. with less than 6% of the world’s population, already consumes some 55% of the world’s raw materials. 5

These same interests have been vocally represented since 1944 by the Hugh Moore Fund. Moore, a wealth manufacturer, successfully brought the population issue into NATO and later founded the Population Crisis Committee, the Campaign to Check the Population Explosion, and the World Population Emergency Fund. Today, he is chairman of the Association for Voluntary Sterilization. Moore’s colleagues on the boards of these and other agencies include figures such as Eugene Black, General William H. Draper (former Secretary of the Army, present IPPF chairman), or Will Clayton (a former under secretary of state).

In recent years, both the American government and the “philanthropic” agencies such as IPPF, have exerted continual pressure upon Latin American nations to reduce birth rates. A celebrated case in 1969 was Bolivia, which had recently nationalized Gulf Oil’s holdings. When Bolivia, with a population density of less than four persons per kilometer, refused to institute “family planning” programs, the World Bank, under American pressure threatened to withhold all development loans.

Another type of pressure has been conducted by the “Food for Peace” programs. Since 1968, five percent of all “food assistance” must be consecrated to programs for reducing population. The Foreign Assistance Act now authorizes American presidents to “consider the extent to which the recipient country is… carrying out voluntary programs in population control.” 6

The efforts of the State Department are reinforced by such pillars of corporate “charity” as the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, which operate their own population control programs throughout the Third World. Between 1952 and 1968 the Ford Foundation had distributed $115 million, more than any other public or private agency. In 1968 alone, the Rockefeller Foundation distributed $18 million or almost twice as much as the State Department’s population control outlays.

The interconnections between agencies indicate the pitfalls of attempts to examine “family planning” within a vacuum. Just as the most powerful businessmen in the U.S. and the leadership of such agencies as AID and the CIA have developed complex strategies for keeping the world’s future population within “acceptable limits” in order to forestall the crisis that a multi-national system of exploitation will surely produce.

Robert S. McNamara, current World Bank president, and former Secretary of Defense, has been a trustee of the Ford Foundation and president of Ford Motors: On behalf of his money-grubbing class, he explained:

All activity (concerning population matters) arises out of the concern of the bank for the way in which the rapid growth of population has become a major obstacle to social and economic development in many of our member states. Family planning programs are less costly than conventional development projects and the pattern of expenditures involved is normally very different. At the same time, we are conscious of the fact that successful programs of this kind will yield very high economic returns.7

Today, McNamara’s statement is paralleled by American policy. “Costly development projects” have been drastically reduced in the last seven years as population allocations have multiplied. Between 1966 and 1969 AID’s population control appropriations rose from $11 million to $18 million but in education and manpower training, funds were reduced by almost $6 million. Health programs were cut by $49 million.

2. Hunger and Profits.

Imperialist strategists such as McNamara, when they expound the neo-Malthusian theory of numbers as an obstacle to economic development, conveniently omit the rape of the Third World by foreign capital. Large portions of each year’s exports are funneled out as profits on foreign investment or interest on foreign loans. In this way “developing countries” are continually deprived of funds that could be used for domestic capital expansion. In Latin America, where foreign exploitation goes back a hundred years, North American capitalists have consistently maintained staggering profit rates. During the 1950-60 period, they directly invested $3.8 billion, but were able to withdraw $11.5 billion.

Since 1960 and the initiation of the so-called “Alliance for Progress,” food production in Latin America has fallen incredibly, instead of rising. For example, in Argentina, where beef exports have continually risen, the Argentinian people’s consumption of beef has dropped 50% in the past ten years. While the supply of animal protein increased 12% in the world as a whole, it fell 18% in Latin America.8

Despite the Latin American food crisis provoked by American super-exploitation, the world-wide picture sharply contradicts neo-Malthusian cries of alarm. According to the U.N., “the food problem in the near future is more likely to be surpluses than starvation.” General Boerm, former Food and Agricultural director (FAO) warned that “excess supplies of cereals, butter, and dry skimmed milk reached proportions that led to serious problems in the commodity markets.” Only 1/10 of the world’s total land area is under cultivation according to the U.N. report.

“More dramatic still are what new techniques, food strains and fertilizers can do; one ton of nitrogen equals in production the worth of 14 arable acres. Food production has been growing one and three quarters times as fast as population since the mid-1950’s.”9

Mass starvation does not result from insufficient quantities of food, but from the inequalities of capitalist distribution. A case in point is the American colony of Puerto Rico, where investors obtain a 28 percent return on invested captial (twice as high as in the U.S.), while the average wage of a Puerto Rican industrial worker is 1/2 to 1/3 lower than the North American level. At the same time the cost of living in Puerto Rico is 25% higher. The island is agriculturally very rich, producing sugar, fish, pineapples, tomatoes, lettuce, but re-importing these same food-stuffs for local consumption at greater cost. Fourteen percent unemployment, at different periods has caused emigration to the U.S. to reach forty thousand yearly.

As early as 1936, the United States decided upon a strategy of reducing the island’s potentially rebellious population. Since then, the Family Planning Association of Puerto Rico, an affiliate of IPPF has operated clinics throughout the island. By 1954, one sixth of all women of child-bearing age had been sterilized, and by 1965, one third. Paul Hatt, a U.S. expert on sterilization in Puerto Rico, described the situation:

Sterilization is so popular that local politicians dispense the necessary bed space in return for political allegiance. What explains this phenomenal popularity? Sterilization is effective and relatively easy. Another reason is that sterilization is usually performed in the hospital postpartum, thus removing some of the onus and embarrassment of a special trip and a special examination. 10

According to the Population Council, contraceptives with dangerous side effects were tested in Puerto Rico for three years at the Humacao clinic before the facts were revealed. Joe Sumner, a midwestern tycoon and inventor, developed new devices and a new chemical himself to prevent births. He spent hundreds of thousands on “pilot” projects in Puerto Rico to learn if an operational formula could be found for other areas.

Today, Puerto Rico is used by the U.S. as an artificial showcase of capitalist development. While it is pretended that “Operation Bootstrap” (1945-1955) industrialized the island, it is also pretended that “family planning” since 1936 brought prosperity. In 1964, the Fourth Western Hemisphere Conference was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. One of its many themes was how to win support or “tolerance” from the Catholic hierarchies. It was widely advertised that priests in El Salvador and Uruguay had publicly endorsed “family planning.” Heavy emphasis was placed upon individual governments’ cooperation with the family planning programs of the Organization of American States.

3. Christian Conscience and Responsible Parenthood.

In order to convince Latin Americans that “family planning” agencies have the interests of the people at heart, the confidence of the masses must be won. North American Protestant organizatiOns had long been a willing instrument in promoting necessary trust for widespread acceptance of U.S. programs. The Church World Service with support from AID and other agencies, has initiated “family planning” programs on a world-wide scale. Its activities particularly emphasize selection of “leaders” through training conferences and seminars for public officials. Another specialty of the CWS is creation of “experimental” programs in villages and urban slums, often through Latin American universities. Guatamala has had its own national CWS program. 11

The American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), well known in the U.S. for support of the black civil rights movement and opposition to the Indochina war, has operated population programs in conjunction with IPPF and UNESCO. In Mexico, the AFSC has sponsored international training programs for medical personnel and teachers at all educational levels. In 1971, 239 professionals were trained. In Colombia, the AFSC. has been proud to claim 100 monthly IUD insertions in […]12

The Mennonites and Unitarians, working in the poverty-stricken areas of Haiti, Trinidad, Guatemala, Colombia and Peru, preach “Christian consciousness and responsible parenthood” in order to make genocidal schemes more palatable.

The intertwining of church programs and more overtly imperialist programs, such as those of AID, Population Council, or the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations make it clear that in Latin America, “Protestant benefactors” have long ago made their choices with regard to “explosive populations.”

4. In the Field.

Another major international agency created to mobilize private wealth and power for shaping public policies is the exclusively ruling class Population Council, which was initially established by the Rockefeller family. Today its leaders include such industrial magnates as Henry Ford II, Richard Mellon, and Stewart Mott. The Population Council serves mainly to finance research into such topics as attitudes of poor women in El Salvador toward contraception or the study of male attitudes towards fertility control by the school of Politics at University Sao Paulo in Brazil. In Trinidad, the Population Council has supported programs for clinically testing the IUD. In 1953, Ford Foundation appropriated fourteen million dollars for expansion of the Council’s bio-medical laboratories used in fertility research.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), organ of the World Health Organization of the U.N., helps furnish existing programs with medical knowledge and necessary materials. PAHO has assisted government programs in Trinidad and clinics in the small towns and rural villages of Costa Rica, as well as other Latin American countries. Although under U.N. auspices, PAHO is also supported by Ford, Rockefeller, Population Council and others.

One of the largest centers for training “family planning” personnel and processing data has been CELADE (the Latin American Demographic Center) in Chile. CELADE had instituted the famous KAP surveys (Knowledge, Attitude and Practice) which “demonstrate the demand for goods and services, in this case, birth control.” The project was initiated at the International Population Program Center at Cornell University in New York. Interviews are conducted with questions concerning health, fear of infidelity, effects of contraception on pleasure and the effects on male authority. CELADE has also engaged in projects in the Central Valley of Chile, demonstrating the IUD. There are smaller sub-centers of CELADE such as CESPO in Costa Rica. In Nicaragua, with a population density of less than 10 persons per square mile, CELADE has supported fertility control efforts of the social welfare offices. 13

Hundreds of family planning clinics throughout Latin America carry the title Associacion Pro Bienestar de la Familia—IPPF affiliates. AID not only funds these clinics, but maintains many of its 14 Jamaica there are 122, and in Honduras, with one of the lowest population densities in the Western Hemisphere, there are 60 clinics.

Another front for AID’s enormous expenditures is the Pathfinder Fund, which supports IUD experimentation and helps supply almost every country in Latin America with free or low cost contraceptives. Pathfinder is known for “pilot” projects such as the series of “simplified medicine” experiments carried out in a rural area near Caracas.15

As shown previously, private foundations were the early backbond of “field-testing” and general propaganda in the “family planning” field. Ford Foundation has contributed generously to such projects as the study of side-effects of contraceptives in Puerto Rico (one (million dollars), and to Mexico for international training in Culdoscopy, a quick and inexpensive method of sterilization.

In Colombia, the Rockefeller Foundation has put large sums into the ACFM programs (Association of Colombian Faculties of Medicine) for its population center, concentrating work at the University Del Valle, The Catholic newspaper, El Sigle, wrote in a 1965 article that 40 thousand Colombian women had been sterilized under the ACFM program. Small money payments, promises of free medical services, and free lipstick, artificial pearls were offered. 16

In Bogota, the headquarters of the Population Reference Bureau is also supported by the Rockefellers and other business magnates. For forty years, it has been concerned with distribution of educational information, focusing on elementary textbooks, high school publications and regular bulletins. Trustees include Frank Abrams (Jersey Standard) and Lawrence Wilkinson (Continental Can). The Bureau has organized “population dialogues” for high level officials, newspaper editors, wealthy industrialists, and labor leaders.

5. Conclusion

From the level of propaganda aimed at lower class women to the highest government discussions of population, the alleged connection between poverty and population is continually stressed. Demographic explanations of poverty have provided the giant capitalists with a smokescreen to mask their own role in creating misery.

U.S. imperialism is now manipulating the essential right of every woman to birth control so as to carry out preventive genocide against the women of the Third World.

Revolutionary Cuba regards birth control as a matter of individual choice. Fidel Castro explains that with socialist economic development, Cuba could support a considerably larger population:

The Cuban Revolution is not blindly against birth control. The size of the family is the individual decision of the husband and wife as part of their human rights. It is the duty of the State to furnish them with the adequate means for having as many or as few children as they want. The Revolution is not scared by population increases and is not worried by a temporary drop in the birth rate. . . . There are some countries that pretend that birth control is the solution, but the only ones who are saying this are the capitalists, the exploiters, because no one who understands what humanity can achieve through science and technology sets out to impose limits upon the number that can exist on the earth. This would be especially out of place in a country like ours where there is enough land to take care of a much greater number of people. 17

(A case study follows.)


>>  Back to Vol. 5, No. 2  <<



  1. Archive editors’ note: […] denotes areas of text that were covered by images in the original text.
  2. Joseph Hansen. “The Population Explosion”, reprint of “Too Many Babies?” (1960), (New York, 1970), citation of Dr. Allen F. Guttmacher, p. 9.
  3. The Victor-Bostrom Fund for the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Report No. 10 (Fall, 1968), p. 24.
  4. Laurence Lader, Breeding Ourselves to Death, New York, p. 27.
  5. “Population Program Assistance” (Agency for International Development publication, October, 1969. Bureau of Technical Assistance, Office of Population, Washington, D.C.) p. 25.
  6. Ibid., p. 14.
  7. E.K. Hawkins, “Statement on Behalf of World Bank Group”, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (Washington, D.C.)
  8. Andre Gunder Frank, “The Development of Underdevelopment,” reprinted in Readings in Development, Toronto, 1969, section 1, p. 78.
  9. The Economist, December 20, 1969.
  10. Stycos, Human Fertility in Latin America (Ithaca, N.Y., 1968), p. 78.
  11. “Population Program Assistance”, p. 56.
  12. “Confidential Report”, American Friends Service Committee, October, 1968. International Service Division family planning programs for Mexico. The AFSC requests that no written publicity be given to its family planning programs in Mexico.
  13. Stycos, op. cit., p. 77.
  14. Archive Editor: Original scan has a smudge and is not legible here
  15. “Population Program Assistance,” p. 112.
  16. “Colombia Tackles Her Population Problems”, newspaper clippings, September 1–December 31, 1966.
  17. Fidel Castro, cited in “Pata Saber Cuanta Gente Somos”, Cuba, n.d.