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Diego Rivera Revolutionary Artist

William Kelly

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Diego Rivera's "Glorious Victory" – OPERATION PBSUCCESS

For most of his CIA career, Paul Linebarger served with the Office of Training, however for awhile he did go operationally in 1952, working in Mexico City with one of his former students, E. Howard Hunt.

After his death, it became known that Paul Linebarger was also the author of science fiction novels under the name Cordwainer Smith.

Linebarger's daughter later wrote about her father, and mentions her memory of visiting Diego Rivera murals in Mexico City. That was the first reference I had to Diego Rivera, the revolutionary artist who said "All art is propaganda."

Rivera was commissioned by Rockefeller to do a mural for the RCA building at Rockefeller Center in NYC but after he accepted payment, Rockefeller fired Rivera because he had included Lenin in the mural, which was then reportedly destroyed.

Diego Rivera welcomed Trotski to Mexico City and carried on with a number of Russian women, one of whom he married.

So it was with interest I read that in 1952, E.H. Hunt's CIA sidekick in Mexico City took his visiting daughter to see revolutionary murals by Diego Rivara, whose name would come up again.


In "A Daughter's Memories," Paul Linebarger's daughter wrote:

"The first year, we went to Mexico. My father's tales overwhelmed me when he talked about the young maidens sacrificed in the well at Chichen Itza, or when he showed us the murals of Diego Rivera in Mexico City, huge walls full of agony and suffering. From that summer onward, the themes of suffering and human cruelty became central issues in my own life — inevitably separating me from my "normal" suburban friends."

"My father was very much a cold warrior. During that Mexican summer of 1952, he wasn't just on a family jaunt. I didn't know until Genevieve told me after he died that he had also been working for the CIA on the side, that summer and through many of the years that he was a professor at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C."

"So in 1952, he was working in Mexico City with Howard Hunt, later of Watergate fame. The Russian embassy was having a party, and Daddy (I suppose Hunt too) got a hold of an invitation. They had many extra copies made and distributed, so that far too many people arrived at the party, and the Russians were embarrassed. A little-known facet of the cold war."

As the author of the textbook "Psychological Warfare" and subterranean professor of espionage tradecraft and covert operations with the CIA Office of Training, Linebarger was also responsible for writing much of the curriculum material in the CIA assassination manuals used in Guatemala, Panama and Nicaragua.

As the National Security Archives bring out in the records they obtained and released, Linebarger's "psychological warfare" ploys played a major role in Operation PBSUCCESS, the Guatemala operation in 1954.


The NSA reports that:

Among the documents found in the training files of Operation PBSUCCESS and declassified by the Agency is a "Study of Assassination." A how-to guide book in the art of political killing, the 19-page manual offers detailed descriptions of the procedures, instruments, and implementation of assassination. "The simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination," counsels the study. "A hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice." For an assassin using "edge weapons," the manual notes in cold clinical terms, "puncture wounds of the body cavity may not be reliable unless the heart is reached....Absolute reliability is obtained by severing the spinal cord in the cervical region." The manual also notes that to provide plausible denial, "no assassination instructions should ever be written or recorded." Murder, the drafters state, "is not morally justifiable," and "persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it."

While PBSUCCESS was looked upon as a great CIA success story, closer examination by Nicholas Cullather, of the CIA historical office, shows that the report to Eisenhower that the coup resulted in only one death was a deliberate lie. Cullather's report also indicates that the success of the operation shielded many of its faults, which were then applied to Cuba, and contributed to the failure at the Bay of Pigs.


Document 5, "Operation PBSUCCESS: The United States and Guatemala, 1952- 1954", CIA History Staff document by Nicholas Cullather, 1994. Excerpt.

"A narrative history of the CIA's role in planning, organizing and executing the coup that toppled Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán on June 27, 1954. Cullather, now a diplomatic historian at the University of Indiana, worked on contract for one year with the CIA, where he was given access to thousands of agency records and secret operational files in order to produce this overview. The result is a surprisingly critical study of the agency's first covert operation in Latin America. Beginning with a review of the political, economic and social forces that led to Arbenz's presidency in 1951, the document is an intimate account of how cold war concerns convinced President Eisenhower to order the removal of the democratically-elected leader by force. It also provides countless new details of a covert mission plagued by disastrous military planning and failed security measures: according to Cullather, Operation Success barely succeeded. The CIA scrambled to convince the White House that it was an unqualified and all but bloodless victory, however. After Arbenz resigned, Eisenhower called the Director of Central Intelligence, Allan W. Dulles, and his senior covert planners into a formal briefing of the operation. Cullather's account now reveals that the agency lied to the president, telling him that only one of the rebels it had backed was killed. "Incredible," said the president. And it was. At least four dozen were dead, according to the CIA's own records. Thus did the Guatemala coup enter agency lore as an 'unblemished triumph,' Cullather explains, and become the model for future CIA activities in Latin America."

"In Guatemala, of course, Operation Success had a deadly aftermath. After a small insurgency developed in the wake of the coup, Guatemala's military leaders developed and refined, with U.S. assistance, a massive counterinsurgency campaign that left tens of thousands massacred, maimed or missing."

Most interesting, is the part of Cullather's report that includes a copy of a mural by Diego Rivera that was completed in 1954, the year of the coup, derisively called "Glorious Victory," which includes such characters as John Foster Dulles and John Foster Dulles.

Further inquiry has revealed that this mural went missing in USSR and has more recently surfaced there.''


Does anyone know where to find a clear copy of Diego Rivera's "Glorious Victory"?



The Case of the Missing Murals Two missing Mexican wall paintings allegedly found in Moscow

AP 8:31 a.m. ET (1331 GMT) March 5, 2000

By John Rice

MEXICO CITY - There was nothing mysterious about the two large paintings by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera: they were bluntly polemical, portraying U.S. officials as bloodthirsty villains and communist leaders Josef Stalin and Mao Tse-tung as seekers of peace.

But for more than 40 years, art historians have puzzled over their fate. Both vanished in Europe in the 1950s. The Diego Rivera Museum in Mexico lists both as missing. And even a report Thursday the murals were found in a Moscow warehouse seemed clouded in uncertainty.

The daily Mexican newspaper La Jornada ran a photo of one of the murals on its front page, announcing that the painting "Nightmare of War, Dream of Peace" had been found in a warehouse of the Pushkin Museum. The source for that report, art historian Raquel Tibol, told The Associated Press that a second major Rivera painting, "Glorious Victory," also had been found - though she said both may have been in a warehouse unconnected with the Pushkin.

The woman who reportedly found the paintings in 1996 or 1997, art curator Christina Burrus, was reluctant to speak when contacted by The Associated Press in Paris. "I know where they are, but I have nothing to say," she said, though she indicated that she might publish something about the matter later this year.

The Pushkin Museum's administrator for acquisitions, Maria Osinenko, said word of the discovery of "Nightmare of War" was "clearly false." But she confirmed that the museum has had "Glorious Victory" since 1958. Both paintings are still listed as missing by the Diego Rivera Museum, according to its deputy director, Josefina Ramirez. Tibol admitted she was "betraying my friend Christina Burrus" by reporting the discovery to the media, but complained that Mexican officials had not done anything to recover the paintings, which could be Mexican property.

The Mexico City newspaper Reforma reported today that the director of Mexico's National Institute of Fine Arts, Gerardo Estrada, said Burrus had told the agency about the paintings and that it had contacted the Pushkin Museum to seek their return - with no response.

Both paintings were apparently commissioned by the Institute of Fine Arts in the early 1950s. "Nightmare of War" portrays Stalin and Mao holding out a dove of peace to decadent-appearing figures representing the United States, Britain and France, alongside scenes of the Korean War and of prominent Mexicans collecting signatures demanding its end.

The satirically titled "Glorious Victory" shows U.S. officials proudly standing amid slain victims of the CIA-planned coup in Guatemala in 1954.

Tibol called "Nightmare of War" - almost 39 feet long - an important work, partly for illustrating a Stalinist phase in Rivera's wandering political odyssey and also because it was one of the few large, transportable murals he painted. Most of his murals were applied to wall slabs. It also includes the figure of his former wife, Frida Kahlo, and Tibol said it was the last time she appeared in a mural by Rivera. She died in 1954 and he in 1958.

Both murals were painted at a time when Rivera was trying to win readmission to the Stalinist Mexican Communist Party, from which he had long been separated due to his admiration for communist renegade Leon Trotsky in the 1930s. "Nightmare of War" was so polemical that Mexican officials refused to display it after it was finished in 1952, and the work was either given or sold - accounts vary - to China. But Tibol said it apparently vanished in Czechoslovakia and never reached China.

"Glorious Victory," painted in 1954, apparently was part of an exhibition of Mexican art in Europe. But Tibol said it was missing when the rest of the paintings returned to Mexico. She said another missing work, "The Wounded Table" by Kahlo, was in the Pushkin warehouse.

Edited by William Kelly
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