Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
by John Perkins
Plume, 2005, paperback, 280 pp., $15.00 but much
cheaper at ABEBOOKS. used

The Billionaire CEOs need this cash
Sorry, Bolivia, you'll just have to get
used to 10,000% annual inflation.

"Economic hit men," John Perkins writes, "are highly paid professionals
who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. Their
tools include fraudulent financial reports, rigged elections, payoffs,
extortion, sex, and murder."

John Perkins should know—he was an economic hit man for an international
consulting firm that worked to convince developing countries to accept
enormous loans and to funnel that money to U.S.corporations. Once these
countries were saddled with huge debts, the American government and
international aid agencies were able to request their “pound of flesh”
in favors, including access to natural resources, military cooperation,
and political support.

Praise for Confessions of an Economic Hitman "A bombshell. One of those
rare instances in which someone deeply entrenched in our
governmental/corporate imperialist structure has come forward to reveal
in unequivocal terms its inner workings. A work of great insight and
moral courage."—John E. Mack, Harvard professor

“Here are the real-life details—nasty, manipulative, plain evil—of
international corporate skullduggery spun into a tale rivaling the
darkest espionage thriller.” —Greg Palast, author of The Best Democracy
Money Can Buy

Quotes from Confessions of an Economic Hitman Prologue Quito, Ecuador's
capital, stretches across a volcanic valley high in the Andes, at an
altitude of nine thousand feet. Residents of this city, which was
founded long before Columbus arrived in the Americas, are accustomed to
seeing snow on the surrounding peaks, despite the fact that they live
just a few miles south of the equator. The city of Shell, a frontier
outpost and military base hacked out of Ecuador's Amazon jungle to
service the oil company whose name it bears, is nearly eight thousand
feet lower than Quito. A steaming city, it is inhabited mostly by
soldiers, oil workers, and the indigenous people from the Shuar and
Kichwa tribes who work for them as prostitutes and laborers.

To journey from one city to the other, you must travel a road that is
both tortuous and breathtaking. Local people will tell you that during
the trip you experience all four seasons in a single day. Although I
have driven this road many times, I never tire of the spectacular
scenery. Sheer cliffs, punctuated by cascading waterfalls and brilliant
bromeliads, rise up one side. On the other side, the earth drops
abruptly into a deep abyss where the Pastaza River, a headwater of the
Amazon, snakes its way down the Andes. The Pastaza carries water from
the glaciers of Cotopaxi, one of the world's highest active volcanoes
and a deity in the time of the Incas, to the Atlantic Ocean over three
thousand miles away.

In 2003, I departed Quito in a Subaru Outback and headed for Shell on a
mission that was like no other I had ever accepted. I was hoping to end
a war I had helped create. As is the case with so many things we EHMs
must take responsibility for, it is a war that is virtually unknown
anywhere outside the country where it is fought. I was on my way to meet
with the Shuars, the Kichwas, and their neighbors the Achuars, the
Zaparos, and the Shiwiars—tribes determined to prevent our oil companies
from destroying their homes, families, and lands, even if it means they
must die in the process. For them, this is a war about the survival of
their children and cultures, while for us it is about power, money, and
natural resources. It is one part of the struggle for world domination
and the dream of a few greedy men, global empire.

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.

Driving from Quito toward Shell on this sunny day in 2003, I thought
back thirty-five years to the first time I arrived in this part of the
world. I had read that although Ecuador is only about the size of
Nevada, it has more than thirty active volcanoes, over 15 percent of the
world's bird species, and thousands of as-yet-unclassified plants, and
that it is a land of diverse cultures where nearly as many people speak
ancient indigenous languages as speak Spanish. I found it fascinating
and certainly exotic; yet, the words that kept coming to mind back then
were pure, untouched, and innocent. Much has changed in thirty-five

At the time of my first visit in 1968, Texaco had only just discovered
petroleum in Ecuador's Amazon region. Today, oil accounts for nearly
half the country's exports. A trans-Andean pipeline built shortly after
my first visit has since leaked over a half million barrels of oil into
the fragile rain forest—more than twice the amount spilled by the Exxon
Valdez. Today, a new $1.3 billion, three hundred-mile pipeline
constructed by an EHM-organized consortium promises to make Ecuador one
of the world's top ten suppliers of oil to the United States. Vast areas
of rain forest have fallen, macaws and jaguars have all but vanished,
three Ecuadorian indigenous cultures have been driven to the verge of
collapse, and pristine rivers have been transformed into flaming

During this same period, the indigenous cultures began fighting back.
For instance, on May 7, 2003, a group of American lawyers representing
more than thirty thousand indigenous Ecuadorian people filed a $1
billion lawsuit against ChevronTexaco Corp. The suit asserts that
between 1971 and 1992 the oil giant dumped into open holes and rivers
over four million gallons per day of toxic wastewater contaminated with
oil, heavy metals, and carcinogens, and that the company left behind
nearly 350 uncovered waste pits that continue to kill both people and

Outside the window of my Outback, great clouds of mist rolled in from
the forests and up the Pastaza's canyons. Sweat soaked my shirt, and my
stomach began to churn, but not just from the intense tropical heat and
the serpentine twists in the road. Knowing the part I had played in
destroying this beautiful country was once again taking its toll.
Because of my fellow EHMs and me, Ecuador is in far worse shape today
than she was before we introduced her to the miracles of modern
economics, banking, and engineering. Since 1970, during this period
known euphemistically as the Oil Boom, the official poverty level grew
from 50 to 70 percent, under- or unemployment increased from 15 to 70
percent, and public debt increased from $240 million to $16 billion.
Meanwhile, the share of national resources allocated to the poorest
segments of the population declined from 20 to 6 percent.

Unfortunately, Ecuador is not the exception. Nearly every country we
EHMs have brought under the global empire's umbrella has suffered a
similar fate. Third world debt has grown to more than $2.5 trillion, and
the cost of servicing it—over $375 billion per year as of 2004—is more
than all third world spending on health and education, and twenty times
what developing countries receive annually in foreign aid. Over half the
people in the world survive on less than two dollars per day, which is
roughly the same amount they received in the early 1970s. Meanwhile, the
top 1 percent of third world households accounts for 70 to 90 percent of
all private financial wealth and real estate ownership in their country;
the actual percentage depends on the specific country.

The Subaru slowed as it meandered through the streets of the beautiful
resort town of Banos, famous for the hot baths created by underground
volcanic rivers that flow from the highly active Mount Tungurahgua.
Children ran along beside us, waving and trying to sell us gum and
cookies. Then we left Banos behind. The spectacular scenery ended
abruptly as the Subaru sped out of paradise and into a modern vision of
Dante's Inferno A gigantic monster reared up from the river, a mammoth
gray wall. Its dripping concrete was totally out of place, completely
unnatural and incompatible with the landscape. Of course, seeing it
there should not have surprised me. I knew all along that it would be
waiting in ambush. I had encountered it many times before and in the
past had praised it as a symbol of EHM accomplishments. Even so, it made
my skin crawl.

That hideous, incongruous wall is a dam that blocks the rushing Pastaza
River, diverts its waters through huge tunnels bored into the mountain,
and converts the energy to electricity. This is the 156- megawatt Agoyan
hydroelectric project. It fuels the industries that make a handful of
Ecuadorian families wealthy, and it has been the source of untold
suffering for the farmers and indigenous people who live along the
river. This hydroelectric plant is just one of many projects developed
through my efforts and those of other EHMs. Such projects are the reason
Ecuador is now a member of the global empire, and the reason why the
Shuars and Kichwas and their neighbors threaten war against our oil

Because of EHM projects, Ecuador is awash in foreign debt and must
devote an inordinate share of its national budget to paying this off,
instead of using its capital to help the millions of its citizens
officially classified as dangerously impoverished. The only way Ecuador
can buy down its foreign obligations is by selling its rain forests to
the oil companies. Indeed, one of the reasons the EHMs set their sights
on Ecuador in the first place was because the sea of oil beneath its
Amazon region is believed to rival the oil fields of the Middle East.
The global empire demands its pound of flesh in the form of oil

These demands became especially urgent after September 11, 2001, when
Washington feared that Middle Eastern supplies might cease. On top of
that, Venezuela, our third-largest oil supplier, had recently elected a
populist president, Hugo Chavez, who took a strong stand against what he
referred to as U.S. imperialism; he threatened to cut off oil sales to
the United States. The EHMs had failed in Iraq and Venezuela, but we had
succeeded in Ecuador; now we would milk it for all it is worth.

Ecuador is typical of countries around the world that EHMs have brought
into the economic-political fold. For every $100 of crude taken out of
the Ecuadorian rain forests, the oil companies receive $75. Of the
remaining $25, three-quarters must go to paying off the foreign debt.
Most of the remainder covers military and other government
expenses—which leaves about $2.50 for health, education, and programs
aimed at helping the poor. Thus, out of every $100 worth of oil torn
from the Amazon, less than $3 goes to the people who need the money
most, those whose lives have been so adversely impacted by the dams, the
drilling, and the pipelines, and who are dying from lack of edible food
and potable water.

All of those people—millions in Ecuador, billions around the planet—are
potential terrorists. Not because they believe in communism or anarchism
or are intrinsically evil, but simply because they are desperate.
Looking at this dam, I wondered—as I have so often in so many places
around the world—when these people would take action, like the Americans
against England in the 1770s or Latin Americans against Spain in the
early 1800s.

The subtlety of this modern empire building puts the Roman centurions,
the Spanish conquistadors, and the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century
European colonial powers to shame. We EHMs are crafty; we learned from
history. Today we do not carry swords. We do not wear armor or clothes
that set us apart. In countries like Ecuador, Nigeria, and Indonesia, we
dress like local schoolteachers and shop owners. In Washington and
Paris, we look like government bureaucrats and bankers. We appear
humble, normal. We visit project sites and stroll through impoverished
villages. We profess altruism, talk with local papers about the
wonderful humanitarian things we are doing. We cover the conference
tables of government committees with our spreadsheets and financial
projections, and we lecture at the Harvard Business School about the
miracles of macroeconomics. We are on the record, in the open. Or so we
portray ourselves and so are we accepted. It is how the system works. We
seldom resort to anything illegal because the system itself is built on
subterfuge, and the system is by definition legitimate.

However—and this is a very large caveat—if we fail, an even more
sinister breed steps in, ones we EHMs refer to as the jackals, men who
trace their heritage directly to those earlier empires. The jackals are
always there, lurking in the shadows. When they emerge, heads of state
are overthrown or die in violent "accidents." And if by chance the
jackals fail, as they failed in Afghanistan and Iraq, then the old
models resurface. When the jackals fail, young Americans are sent in to
kill and to die.

As I passed the monster, that hulking mammoth wall of gray concrete
rising from the river, I was very conscious of the sweat that soaked my
clothes and of the tightening in my intestines. I headed on down into
the jungle to meet with the indigenous people who are determined to
fight to the last man in order to stop this empire I helped create, and
I was overwhelmed with feelings of guilt. How, I asked myself, did a
nice kid from rural New Hampshire ever get into such a dirty business?

Copyright 2006 John Perkins
Table of Contents of Confessions of an Economic Hitman
PART I: 1963-71
1: An Economic Hit Man Is Born
2: "In for Life"
3: Indonesia: Lessons for an EHM
4: Saving a Country from Communism
5: Selling My Soul
PART II: 1972-74
6: My Role as Inquisitor
7: Civilization on Trial
8: Jesus - Seen Differently
9: Opportunity of a Lifetime
10: Panama: the President and Hero
11: Pirates in the Canal Zone
12: Soldiers and Prostitutes
13: Conversations with the General
14: Meeting the Novelist Graham Greene
PART III: 1974 - 81
15: Entering a New and Sinister Period in Economic History
16: The Saudi Arabian Money-laundering Affair
17: Financing Osama Bin Laden
18: Panama Canal Treaty Negotiations
19: Iran's King of Kings
20: Confessions of a Tortured Man
21: The Fall of a King
22: Colombia: Keystone to Latin America
23: American Democracy Vs. Global Empire
24: Ecuador's President Battles Big Oil
25: I Quit
Part IV: 1982 - Present
26: Ecuador: Presidential death - CIA Assassination?
27: Panama: Another Presidential death - CIA Assassination?
28: My Own Energy Company, Enron, and G. W. Bush
29: A New Breed of EHM
30: U.S. Invades Panama
31: Venezuela: Another EHM Failure
32: Ecuador Revisited

About John Perkins JOHN PERKINS was recruited by the National Security
Agency during his last year at Boston University's School of Business
Administration, 1968. He spent the next three years in the Peace Corps
in South America and then in 1971 joined the international consulting
firm of Chas. T. Main, a Boston-based company of 2000 employees that
kept a very low profile. As Chief Economist and Director of Economics
and Regional Planning at MAIN, his primary job was to convince Less
Developed Countries (LDCs) around the world to accept multibillion
dollar loans for infrastructure projects and to see to it that most of
this money ended up at MAIN, Bechtel, Halliburton, Brown and Root, and
other U.S. engineering/construction companies. The loans left the
recipient countries wallowing in debt and highly vulnerable to outside
political and commercial interests.

Perkins resigned his position at MAIN in 1981. He founded and became CEO
of Independent Power Systems, pioneering technologies that promoted the
use of "waste" power plant heat in hydroponic greenhouses and other
cogeneration applications. In 1990, he sold IPS and founded a nonprofit
organization, Dream Change Coalition, which works closely with Amazonian
and other indigenous people to help preserve their environments and

John began writing Confessions of an Economic Hit Man several times
during the past two decades. He was persuaded to stop by lucrative
business offers that were contingent on his silence. "Now," he says, "we
have entered the new millennium. Nine-eleven happened. My daughter has
grown up and left home. The time has come. . ."