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Friends of the Americas

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Friends of the Americas

Acronym/Code: FOA

Updated: 3/89

Principals: Louis "Woody" Jenkins (chair, co-founder), Diane Jenkins (exec dir, co-founder), Daniel V. Smith (vice pres). (1) Board of Directors: Woody Jenkins (chair), Sen. Daniel W. Richey (vice chair), Stephen Ridley. (22) Founding members in Guatemala: Gustavo Espina, Alvaro Contreras Velez, Guillermo Gonzalez, Harris Whitbeck, Arturo Bianchi, Jorge Serrano Elias, Walter Kotzoff, Alejandro Novielli, Enrique Tercero, and Arturo Soto. (19) Country directors: Jack Dyer (Hond), Olga Escalante (Guate). (6,8,22)

Categories:Service

Background: Founded in l984 by Louisiana State Representative Louis "Woody" Jenkins and his wife Diane, Friends of the Americas (FOA) is a nonprofit organization which now involves 80,000 U.S. citizens from all 50 states. (1,20) It was founded as a "non-political" organization to establish "people-to-people programs between the people of the United States and the people of Latin America" and to provide "humanitarian assistance to the people of Latin America suffering from poverty, natural disasters, or war."(1,22) Woody Jenkins has also said that he organized FOA "to aid the victims of communist aggression," and FOA’s relief efforts in Central America are "a strategic lever to help the forces of democracy in the region."(15) The group has become a major relief organization in Latin America, its most extensive operations found in Honduras along the Nicaraguan border. (20)

Woody Jenkins has been a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives since 1972 and has worked in television, radio, and the printed media as a journalist and publisher. His wife Diane is a former Assistant District Attorney and Assistant Attorney General in Louisiana. (1)

Funding: FOA receives much of its funding from donations from individuals, foundations, churches and corporations, but U.S. government support, especially through transportation and inkind donations, is also important (see Activities and Government Connections). (20,22) The group says that it "accepts no government funds."(1) In 1984, FOA’s first year of operation, the group reported an income of over $1. 3 million for its operations in Central America. Five percent of this went towards administrative costs. (45) In 1985, the group reported a budget of $5. 6 million. (39) The organization holds an Annual Christmas Gala Benefit to raise funds, and the Shoeboxes for Liberty and Christmas Boxes are donated by individuals. Some of FOA literature solicits donations in the $5000 to $25,000 range. (44)

Activities:

FOA has a number of different humanitarian aid projects. The organization’s literature describes its recipients as people in Latin America who "suffer from wars, natural disasters, economic catastrophes, or political persecution." In l988, FOA provided $4. 9 million in direct aid to more than 200,000 Latin Americans. It has more than 40 projects in 22 countries, including medical facilities, schools, and self-help projects. Its most important current work, according to the organization, is in Central America, especially Honduras and Guatemala. (22) One of FOA’s major projects is the distribution of "Shoeboxes for Liberty," donated by families in the United States. These are of two types, one containing gifts for an entire family and the other containing gifts for one child. Says Diane Jenkins,"They are little CARE packages with a pound of beef, rice, soap, vitamins, candles, and salt."(27) All liberty boxes include a U.S. flag. (1) A message from the sender, translated into Spanish, is included in the box: "We in the United States care about you and want you to live in peace and tranquility. We hope the small things in this box are useful in your struggle for liberty."(32) According to a unique rule, any relief supplies distributed by the organization must be handed to the recipient by either an FOA employee or by a U.S. citizen. (1) In 1986, FOA delivered 50,000 boxes of gifts to Miskito children in Honduras, as well as to children in Colombia, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. (19) Project "Lifeline" provides surgery in the U.S. for those who cannot afford it. Project "Forgotten Man" provides publicity for political prisoners. (22) The political prisoners highlighted have been from Nicaragua and Cuba. (54) FOA also has a child sponsorship program and provides assistance to orphanages and children’s homes. (1,22) After the earthquake in Mexico in 1985, FOA worked with the U.S. embassy and made a unique agreement with the Mexican government to allow FOA relief supplies to enter the country duty-free, by-passing Customs. (22) FOA says that the value of the assistance was over $300,000, or nearly ten percent of all U.S. aid to the country. An added benefit of the speedy U.S. assistance, according to the "Friends Report," was that it helped make Mexico "temper its opposition to President Reagan’s objectives in Central America" and "cool its once warm links with Cuba, Nicaragua, and the Salvadoran guerrillas."(46) Another duty-free and hassle-free customs arrangement was made after the volcano-mudslide disaster in Colombia in 1985. (22)

Costa Rica: Christmas gifts provided by FOA were distributed by the U.S. Navy during a Civic Action on January 24, 1987. (6) FOA also operates the Lifeline Project, the Christmas Box Project, and refugee assistance programs in Costa Rica. (22) In 1986, the U.S. ambassador to Costa Rica requested that FOA start a boat clinic in the eastern portion of the country. And FOA "received at least six or seven calls from high-ranking officials at the Embassy in San Jose strongly urging us to start a program in Costa Rica because of the desperate conditions of some of the refugees there."(18) At the time, FOA turned down the requests due to lack of funding. (18) Later, however, FOA reported that it operated a boat clinic in the country. (59) FOA’s 1988 Report indicated refugee assistance activities in the country, however specific activities and projects were not identified. (22)

El Salvador: Within 48 hours of the devastating earthquake of 1986, a team of FOA medical personnel from Guatemala arrived in the country. (6) They treated 1600 persons and 5000 pounds of Christmas Boxes were sent via the Denton Amendment to the U.S. embassy in San Salvador. (6,56) FOA was later recognized by the Salvadoran government and the U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador, Edwin Corr, for these relief efforts. (6)

Guatemala: FOA’s work in Guatemala began in l986. The organization now has two main projects in the country: a mobile medical clinic and "Shoeboxes for Liberty."(8) The entire Jenkins family drove the van for the mobile clinic from their Louisiana home 2500 miles to Guatemala City. (22) The mobile clinic was designed to "serve 50 isolated Indians towns in the mountains; 100,000 orphans in these areas, their parents killed by Communist guerrillas and the army; none of these towns currently have any kind of medical facilities."(49) Olga Escalante, the current country director, admitted that FOA works mostly in the capital city. (8) FOA literature quotes Mayor Alvaro Arzu of Guatemala City thanking FOA for its care to "tens of thousands of people in the poorest areas of our city."(22) Other FOA projects in Guatemala include the Lifeline Project, disaster assistance, assistance to orphanages, and the Christmas Box Project. (22) In 1986, Diane Jenkins and Gustavo Espina (director of the newly formed Guatemala FOA group) gave presents and cash donations to the children’s homes Mi Casa and Mi Hogar in Zones 10 and 7 in Guatemala City. (19) The FOA Guatemala Chapter gives money monthly to homes for handicapped children. (19) The "Shoeboxes for Liberty" and "Christmas Boxes" are brought to the country without charge on the Guatemalan airline Aviateca. (8)

Honduras: In Honduras, FOA has numerous facilities, most of them concentrated along the Nicaraguan border–an area it calls the most strategic place in the world. (1) It has been operating in Honduras since l984, shortly after the organization was founded. (42) Now its projects include a jungle hospital, several clinics and schools, mobile medical clinics, and giveaway programs. (1,21,23) FOA has a staff pilot for emergency medical evacuations. (18) The group has six nutrition centers (four of them open) which provide milk, oil, rice, and flour. The food comes from the U.S. government (PL480) via the Honduran Ministry of Health and also from CARE. (9,10) The elite Catholic lay organization Knights of Malta is also a major supplier for FOA in the country. (11) Much of FOA’s supplies have been transported to Honduras by the U.S. military through the provisions of the Denton Amendment. For example, 100,000 pounds of relief supplies (food, clothing, medicine, hospital equipment, and Shoeboxes for Liberty worth $400,000) were trucked to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for transport to the country in 1986. (18) In La Mosquitia, FOA is based in Rus Rus, about l2 kilometers from the Nicaraguan border, where it has a 20-acre complex for its refugee center, hospital, and landing strip. (6,21) From this base, the organization serves 27 settlements along the border, most of them, like Rus Rus itself, populated by Miskito Indians and other Nicaraguan nationals. In the border area of DanliTrojes where the Nicaraguan contras have been based, FOA maintains extensive operations. It works there with Nicaraguan refugees and Hondurans who have been displaced as a side effect of the contra war in Nicaragua. Calling the displaced Hondurans political dynamite, FOA asserts that it is trying to keep the dynamite from exploding by starting child-sponsorship programs, distributing Shoeboxes for Liberty, and handing out AID-donated seeds, food, and tools. (21) In "Friends of the America’s Food for Work program," which sounds distinctly like AID’s food for work program, FOA has distributed about 100,000 pounds of food to the Miskitos. The program is described in "Friends Report" as a project in which "refugee villages contribute work, primarily on self-help projects, such as latrines, schools and roads, in exchange for emergency food."(45) FOA is committed to the contra cause. Fundraising letters talk about Nicaraguan atrocities while embracing the contra "freedom fighters." Its clinic in Las Trojes, only l00 yards from the Nicaraguan border, is described by FOA as being "the only U.S. presence along the strategic Honduran-Nicaraguan border… on the fringe of the Soviet Empire."(22) FOA has made education of Miskito Indian children a top priority because "when the Sandinistas are ousted from Nicaragua, hundreds of thousands of refugees will return to their homes in Nicaragua and attempt to rebuild their war-torn nation. So if Nicaragua is to become once again a free country, the young people must be educated and understand democratic values."(22) In 1987, FOA reported that over 700 children attend its 11 schools. (22)

There have been allegations that FOA has assisted the Nicaraguan contra forces more directly. Key contra leaders identified CAUSA (associated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church) and FOA as the principal sources of their supplies in 1984. (28) "Food distributed to the refugees in exchange for work or other goods trickles down to them [contras] and their families are occasionally treated free at the Friends of the Americas clinic."(35) Verne Chaney, director of the Thomas A. Dooley Foundation, said in a 1985 interview that his group "has given aid to the contras through Friends of the Americas."(4) Steadman Fagoth said his Indian contra group, MISURA, received two tons of FOA supplies for his army in July of 1984. (13,14,15) Fagoth told a reporter that FOA’s food, medicine, and clothing has allowed his contra troops to "concentrate on the war" against the Sandinistas. (15) According to relief workers and a North American missionary working in Honduras, FOA personnel distributed watches, cameras, shoes, and tape decks to MISURA members. The contras then gave the goods to Miskito refugees as an incentive to enter the MISURA forces. At least two FOA employees are/were MISURA. (13,23) In 1985, an associate of investigative journalist Jack Anderson accompanied FOA’s Woody Jenkins on a plane full of supplies to La Mosquitia. Anderson reported,"It became clear that the Friends of the Americas contingent, which included an assistant to [Sen. Jeremiah] Denton, was involved with more than simple refugee relief. Uniformed MISURA guerrillas with rifles slung on their backs stood guard at the airstrip as the DC-3’s cargo was unloaded. Rebel jeeps shuttled the supplies to refugee camps located in the vicinity of the MISURA military camps."(15) MISURA has also used FOA’s radios and airplanes. (12) In 1984, Mario Calero, a representative of the FDN contra forces and brother of FDN leader Adolfo Calero, said on a TV program that "there are a lot of people who support us… one support that I am especially fond of… is support given us by Friends of the Americas."(30) FOA has used a former FDN safehouse for storage in Tegucigalpa. (14) A confidential source familiar with FOA operations said that it was "hard not to be associated with the contras, since they’re right there."(23) The Autumn 1984 "Friends Report" requested the following items for its operations: a large airplane, new or used four-wheel drive vehicles and pick-up trucks, generators, boats and outboard motors, shortwave radios, walkie-talkies, battery-operated radios, and a satellite dish. (3,13) Dedria Evans, the media director for FOA, in 1985 told Vicki Kemper of Sojourners that those items were needed to communicate with staff and to travel to remote villages on the river."These are things we would like to have to do our job."(13) Coincidentally, MISURA leader Steadman Fagoth had also mentioned at a press conference that year that his contra army needed outboard motors for military strikes and for medical evacuation. (13)

In response to the allegations of contra links, the former FOA country director for Honduras, Carmen Winkler, said,"We don’t help freedom fighters, only refugees. I’m not a political person. I help the families. All the people that are there are the families to the freedom fighters."(42) Woody Jenkins put it this way: "To me [the contras] are refugees just the same as anyone else. To me they deserve more support. I’m all for the freedom fighters. I want the Sandinistas kicked out of Nicaragua. That’s one of the main motivations of my work. But our role is to help the refugees, not to get involved with combatants."(14) He has also said,"With the exception of the freedom fighters themselves, no work related to Central America is more important than the work of Friends of the Americas."(18) FDN’s Mario Calero has made the distinction between refugee and combatant fuzzy: "Some of the refugees are freedom fighters. I consider myself a refugee."(13) A January 1986 FOA newsletter outlines the criteria for all projects. Each project must meet several "tests," among them are the following: "1) The project is a people-to-people effort designed primarily to aid children, and never governments or paramilitary groups; 2) The project serves people who are not receiving significant aid from anyone else; 3) The project serves the strategic interests of the United States and helps people friendly to the United States."(49) A fundraising letter from Woody Jenkins, dated June 1986, listed virtually the same criteria ("part humanitarian, part strategic"), except that where it indicated that assistance projects were designed to aid children the words "and never governments or paramilitary groups" had been dropped. (49,51) In fact, the letter says,"We intend to start bringing medical care and relief supplies to more than 20,000 refugees who are immediate family members of the soldiers of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force (FDN)… These refugees probably deserve assistance more than anyone else in Central America today, because their husbands, sons and fathers are the ones on the front lines fighting and dying to free Nicaragua from the Communists."(51) Several times they are referred to as "FDN refugees" in the "forbidden zone" near Las Trojes. (51) After columnist Jack Anderson wrote an article critical of FOA’s contra links, Diane Jenkins wrote him an "impassioned letter." She told him that the supplies were delivered by rebel jeeps because that is the only means available."We never set foot in the military camps," she said. (16) Jenkins compared FOA to World Relief, which has operated the U. N. refugee camps in Honduras."We help all civilian refugees, regardless of whom they are related to. Also like World Relief, our only concern is that they themselves are civilians, not combatants."(16) A major distinction between World Relief and FOA is that the World Relief refugee camps are intentionally located at least 50 kilometers from the Honduras-Nicaragua border to avoid being involved in the conflict. Officials from the U.S. embassy and international relief organizations estimate that the majority of the refugees (17,000 Miskito Indians) live in these U. N. refugee camps, and that there are only about 3000 refugees in the border areas. (15,16) Yet, FOA uses inflated numbers in its fundraising appeals: "The sad fact is that Friends of the Americas is bearing a tremendous burden right now. For more than 60,000 of the Nicaraguan refugees in Honduras, Friends is the only hope."(18) An article written by Woody Jenkins puts the number at 100,000. (37) FOA says that its medical clinic in Las Trojes "provides the only medical care for 8000 displaced Hondurans and 25,000 Nicaraguan refugees in the surrounding mountains… They receive no [other] help from the outside world."(37,43,45) FOA has been criticized for having a cure-oriented approach which does not focus enough on or carry out prevention or development projects. It has also been criticized for using misleading or false information in its newsletter, for instance asserting that there had been bullet wounds and casualties among refugees leaving Nicaragua when in fact there had been only such typical problems as malaria, diarrhea, and upper respiratory infections. (23) Another example of FOA’s use of distorted facts can be found in the group’s reports of how the FOA clinics were working to save Miskito children from kwashiorkor, or severe malnutrition. (37,45) In an interview, FOA’s own doctor in Rus Rus said,"Nutrition isn’t a problem here."(57) An epidemiologist from the U.S. Center for Disease Control visited the FOA sites in 1984 and agreed, saying,"The health situation is probably typical of any isolated area" in a developing country. He discouraged further large-scale food distribution and said abdominal swelling was due to parasites, not kwashiorkor, a disease which he said was "virtually unknown" in the region. (58) Another example of FOA’s exaggerations was a statement in several press releases and "Friends Reports" in 1985. These sources said that FOA Executive Director Diane Jenkins "spends nearly half of her time in Honduras."(34,37,45) This was refuted by a confidential source close to FOA who called the statement "absolute bullshit."(23)

Nicaragua: The Lifeline, Christmas Box, and Forgotten Man projects are carried out in Nicaragua. (22)

Government Connections: In each of the countries in which FOA has operations, the organization maintains close relations with the U.S. embassy. (20) U.S. ambassadors in Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela, have distributed Christmas boxes for FOA. (22,48,53) In Bolivia and the Dominican Republic, the wives of the U.S. ambassadors helped out. (53) The Ambassador to Colombia, Charles A. Gillespie, Jr. , helped distribute Shoeboxes for Liberty to children who survived the volcano-mudslide in Colombia. (31) FOA says that it worked closely with USAID with this project. (50)

The U.S. Ambassador to Ecuador helped deliver FOA’s relief supplies and Shoeboxes for Liberty by helicopter. (54) The group ships supplies free of charge on U.S. military transport through the space available provisions of the Denton Amendment, but even before such assistance was available FOA used the Air National Guard in Mississippi and Louisiana to transport supplies. (17) The first of those flights, in May of 1984, was arranged by Sen. Jeremiah Denton and Conservative Caucus director Andy Messing. Such flights were illegal at the time except in the case of severe national disasters. (28) The Pentagon called this shipment "a direct by-product of aircrew and system readiness training… to meet dire needs of refugees in Honduras."(29) The supplies on that flight were unloaded at Puerto Lempira, at an airfield constructed by the Pentagon and used by contra and CIA personnel. (29) FOA reported that six U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard C-130 flights had taken place between March and July of 1985, transporting more than 114,000 pounds of FOA supplies for Nicaraguan refugees in Honduras. (44) Some of FOA’s supplies were airlifted from Kelly Air Force base in Texas in March, 1986. (18) Other relief supplies were carried by the U.S. Air Force from Howard AFB in Panama. (54) At the Nicaraguan Refugee Fund dinner of 1985, Ronald Reagan gave Diane Jenkins the First Annual Ronald Reagan Humanitarian Award. (13,34) The award is a 24-inch tall bronze sculpture of the President in his horseback riding outfit. (34) On the front cover of its l988 report on its activities in Latin America, FOA quotes President Reagan: "What Friends of the Americas is doing in Latin America is in the finest tradition of American voluntarism… People like you are America at its best!"(22) President Reagan appointed Woody Jenkins to the offical U.S. delegation to observe the 1985 elections in Honduras. (47) Board member Stephen D. Ridley, a lawyer who specializes in labor laws, is a leader in promoting the Caribbean Basin Initiative. (52)

Costa Rica: When Lewis Tambs–later implicated in the IranContra scandal–was U.S. Ambassador to this country, he acted as FOA’s Christmas Box country chairman. (22,48) His wife Phyllis Tambs coordinated a group called "Government Wives" to provide "womanpower" to the project. (50) In 1985, the Tambs’ attended the First Annual Christmas Gala Benefit ($500 per couple) held at the Jenkins’ home "Great Oaks." Also present was Ambassadorat-large of the United States for Refugee Affairs, H. Eugene Douglas. (46)

Guatemala: FOA distributes CARE PL480 food and works with AID health and agricultural programs through the Ministry of Health. It also distributes seeds and tools to farm projects which are supported by AID. Alberto Piedra, former U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala (l984-l987), acted as chairperson of FOA’s Christmas Box Project and, according to FOA, worked closely with the group on many occasions. (48,55) After the 1986 earthquake, FOA gave some 4000 Shoeboxes for Liberty to the U.S. embassy for delivery in El Quiche. According to country director Olga Escalante,"the wife of the ambassador has handed out the boxes."(8) As a result of his support, FOA named Piedra their "Man of the Year" in 1986, and Jenkins stated: "This able leader worked closely with Guatemalans at all levels to insure a smooth transition to democratic rule."(55) Before becoming ambassador, Piedra, a Cuban-American, wrote a book–Guatemala: A Promise in Peril-which defended U.S. participation in the l954 coup which ousted the democratically-elected government of Jacobo Arbenz. (20) In a 1986 article in the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre, FOA’s Olga Escalante said that the FOA mobile clinic worth $50,000 was donated to the Comite de Reconstruccion Nacional (CRN). The CRN is closely controlled by the Guatemalan army. Woody Jenkins posed for a photograph in front of the van with CRN executive director Gen. Federico Fuentes Corado. Escalante said "the mobile clinic’s work will be coordinated by the committee [CRN]."(40)

Honduras: As in Guatemala, the organization works closely with U.S. government health and agriculture programs in Honduras, distributing PL480 food and USAID tools and seeds to AIDsupported farm projects. (9,10) It has been involved in planning AID’s refugee relief programs in La Mosquitia where projects target Miskito families, most of whom are contras or contra supporters. AID is currently considering a new FOA funding proposal to expand its clinic and schools in Rus Rus and other parts of La Mosquitia. In the Danli-Trojes area, Honduran health workers paid by AID accompany FOA’s Rural Health Corps on visits to refugee settlements, driving vehicles marked by the AID emblem. (21) At one time, FOA’s liaison with the Honduran Army doubled as the Army’s liaison with the largest contra force, the FDN. FOA has also flown supplies on the CIA-created air transportation company SETCO. (14) Before the Denton Amendment was passed, FOA supplies were shipped by Air National Guard units of Mississippi and Louisiana. (60) The organization is given favored treatment by the Honduran government and army and is allowed land and air access to border areas that are off limits to reporters and other NGOs. (21) At one time, the wife of the U.S. ambassador helped to distribute FOA boxes. She looked for private women’s clubs which could help with the distribution. (24) In 1984, Diana Negroponte, wife of then U.S. Ambassador to Honduras, John Negroponte, helped arrange the transfer of a malnourished baby to the United States for hospitalization. (33) In 1985, Mrs. Sue Ferch, wife of U.S. Ambassador to Honduras John Ferch, cut the ribbon at the opening ceremonies for the new clinic in Danli. (36) The First Lady of Honduras, Miriam Azcona, has said,"Since my husband was elected President of Honduras, I have worked closely with Friends’ wonderful staff here in Honduras."(22)

Private Connections: Woody Jenkins was introduced to the contra cause by Dr. Alton Oschner, head of the Caribbean Commission. According to author Sara Diamond, it was Oschner who suggested Jenkins start FOA. Oschner’s father was a prominant white supremicist. (60) Woody Jenkins has been a member of the Caribbean Commission. (32) FOA is a Caribbean Commission spinoff. (3) Through Woody Jenkins’ membership, FOA is also linked to the Council on National Policy. Jenkins was the Executive Director of that group in 1982-83, and in 1987. (2,41) Joseph Coors, Mrs. Holly Coors, Pat Robertson, Pat Boone, Nelson Bunker Hunt, Tim LaHaye, Gen. John Singlaub, and Oliver North are fellow CNP members. (2,27,41)

FOA has received supplies from the Thomas A. Dooley Foundation for distribution to the contras, and in late 1988 received medical equipment worth $75,000 for its operations in Honduras. (4,25,26) Christian Broadcasting Network gives aid to FOA, as does the rightwing Catholic lay organization Knights of Malta. (5,11) Gen. John Singlaub, head of the World Anti-Communist League and the U.S. chapter, the United States Council for World Freedom, said that he has helped raise funds for FOA. (27) Woody Jenkins was an official with the Nicaraguan Refugee Fund, which held a fundraising dinner for the contras in 1985, at a cost of $250 a plate. At the dinner, Pat Robertson gave the invocation and led the Pledge of Allegiance; President Reagan gave a speech. A key participant at the dinner, Woody Jenkins told the assembled contra supporters that they should "support President Reagan’s policies in Central America" to stop the flow of refugees. He said,"One of the few groups helping [the refugees through Friends of the Americas] is Pat Robertson and CBN." And, directing himself to Robertson, he said,"Thank you."(13) Despite the success of the dinner, the Nicaraguan Refugee Fund was forced to reject an FOA request for $50,000 to build a clinic because "regretably, the Fund is still paying the expenses from the dinner." The Nicaraguan Refugee Fund has been linked to the FDN contra force. (13)

Continental Airlines and Cargo Development Group helped transport an FOA relief shipment of Christmas boxes and Shoeboxes for Liberty. (6,48) For the shipment of 4,000 Shoeboxes to Colombia, Eastern Airlines provided transport at no cost to FOA. (31,48) Other airlines which have carried FOA Shoeboxes without charge include Aviateca, LACSA, and Ecuatoriana Airlines. (8,48,54) In Honduras, United Brands and Standard Fruit help transport FOA donations on their banana boats. (21) In December 1984, the California-based organization Inter-Aid flew supplies for FOA on three occasions as part of an AID program. (13) The Junior League in Mexico and Colombia helped to distribute FOA relief supplies after the natural disasters in those countries. (22,46) The Colombian-American Chamber of Commerce also helped with the distribution of Liberty boxes, and received a check for $5000 from FOA. (22,38)

In 1986, FOA delivered a check to the president of the Guatemalan private voluntary organization, COPRONIHUAC, from Family Foundation Inc. Gustavo Espina, the first director of the Guatemala chapter of FOA, is an advisor to COPRONIHUAC. Alvaro Contreras Velez, one of the founding members of the Guatemalan FOA, is the director and part-owner of the Prensa Libre and president of COPRONIHUAC. Another board member, Jorge Serrano, was a contender for the presidency in 1985. (19,50) Another check for $1000 was delivered to the Rotary Club of Guatemala. (50) In Honduras, Agua del Pueblo and Red Cross give FOA milk that comes from PL480. (24) FOA’s nutrition centers also distribute CARE food. (9) Larry Abraham, of Abraham Financial Corporation, donated a four-wheel drive truck to FOA, which was transported to Honduras on a C-130 under the Denton Amendment. (44,47) FOA’s pilot is John Baldwin, president of an organization called Mercy Flight (Los Angeles, CA), and his Cessna airplane was provided by Wings of Hope (St. Louis, MO). (45)

Misc: USA Today named Diane Jenkins one of America’s "Most Valuable People of 1985."(50) In 1986, the treasurer of FOA was charged with felony theft. Francisco Lara, a naturalized citizen from El Salvador, had skimmed from $34,000 to $100,000 from the organization over the preceding year. (39) Woody Jenkins has said,"If we do not wake up soon, all of Latin America will be a Soviet colony and the United States will be isolated and alone."(55)

Comments:U.S. Address: 912 North Foster Drive, Baton Rouge LA 70806. Phone: (504-926-5707)

Sources:1. FOA Fact Sheet, March, 1987.

2. Council on National Policy Officer list, 1982-1983. 3. Cindy Buhl,"Covert War: Private Aid to the `Contras’," published by the Coalition for a New Foreign and Military Policy, Washington DC, not dated, appears to be from 1985.

4. Russ Bellant,"The Politics of Giving," The Metro Times, October 9-15, 1985.

5."Christians Oppose TV Evangelist’s Aid to Right-Wing Groups in Central America," Synapses Press Release, April 13, 1985.

6. Friend’s Report, March 11, 1987.

7. U.S. News and World Report, Dec 15, 1986.

8. Interview with Olga Escalante, Guatemala director, January 15, 1986.

9. Interview with Alex (last name not given), FOA worker in Rus Rus, Honduras, December 18, 1985.

10. Interview with Michael Reinhard, AID contract worker, Honduras, December 18, 1985.

11. Interview with Francois de Peirecave, Knights of Malta Charge d’Affaires, Honduras, December 20, 1985.

12. Interview with U. N. High Commission on Refugees employee in Honduras, December 17, 1985.

13. Vicki Kemper,"In the Name of Relief," Sojourners, October 1985.

14. John Dillon and Jon Lee Anderson,"Who’s Behind the Aid to the Contras," The Nation, October 6, 1984.

15. Jack Anderson,"Private Aid to the Contras," Washington Post, February 17, 1985.

16. Jack Anderson,"Group Aids Miskitos the U. N. Bypasses," Washington Post, March 23, 1985.

17. Alfonso Chardy,"Private Aid Fuels Contras in Nicaragua," Miami Herald, September 9, 1984.

18. Rep. Louis (Woody) Jenkins, FOA fundraising letter, April14, 1986.

19."Donativa a COPRONIHUAC," Prensa Libre (Guatemala), January 17, 1986.

20. Private Organizations with U.S. Connections in Guatemala, The Resource Center, l988.

21. Private Organizations with U.S. Connections in Honduras, The Resource Center, l988.

22. l988 Friends of the Americas Program of Service in Latin America.

23. Interview with an intl health doctoral student, September 4, l987.

24. Interview with Sida Alvarez, Friends of the Americas, Honduras, March 8, l988.

25. Letter from Scott Ewing, Feb 7, 1989.

26. Phone Conversation with Scott Ewing, Feb 7, 1989.

27. Peter H. Stone,"Private Groups Step Up Aid to Contras," The Washington Post, May 3, 1985.

28. Jack Anderson,"Covert War on Sandinistas Changing Hands," The Washington Post, September 14, 1984.

29. John Kelly,"Extracurricular Aid to the Contras," manuscript, February 14, 1985.

30. Fred Clarkson,"`Privatizing’ the War," Covert Action Information Bulletin, Fall 1984.

31."Fiesta `Gringa’ para Ninos Sobrevivientes de Armero," Diario 5 p. m. (Bogota), March 20, 1986.

32. Laurie Smith,"Boxes for Refugees Filled with Care," StateTimes (Baton Rouge), April 16, 1984.

33."Jenkins Group Flies Baby to U.S. for Treatment," UPI, July 14, 1984.

34."An Address by President Ronald Reagan" press release, Friends of the Americas, April 15, 1985.

35. Andrew Selsky,"Nicaragua Indians Continue Rebellion Despite Arms, Food Shortages," Albuquerque Journal, July 4, 1985.

36. News clippings from Honduras dated September 11, 1985, provided by Friends of the Americas.

37. Hon. Woody Jenkins,"The True Story of Carmen and her Miracle Baby," Conservative Digest, November 1985.

38. CAMCOLAM Informa, February 4, 1986.

39."Refugee Aid Group Official Charged in Theft of Funds," Miami Herald, May 9, 1986.

40."Amigos de las Americas Dara Ayuda en Caso de Desatres Naturales," Prensa Libre, August 11, 1986.

41. Michael O’Brien,"At the NRB Convention: The Christian Underground," Covert Action Information Bulletin, No. 27, Spring 1987.

42. Interview with Carmen Winkler, then Friends of the Americas country director for Honduras, December 16, 1985.

43. Woody Jenkins, letter and five "postcards," October 27, 1986.

44. Friends Report, No. 1, July 17, 1985.

45. Friends Report, Summer 1985.

46. Friends Report, No. 6, October 30, 1985.

47. Friends Report, No. 7, November 27, 1985.

48. Letter from Friends of the Americas to accompany a Christmas Box, in Spanish, January 1986.

49. Friends Report, Special Edition, January 15, 1986.

50. Friends Report, No. 9, January 15, 1986.

51. Rep. Louis (Woody) Jenkins, fundraising letter, June 3, 1986.

52. Friends Report, No. 17, September 3, 1986.

53. Friends Report, No. 20, December 10, 1986.

54. Friends Report, No. 24, May 20, 1987.

55. Friends Report, No. 25, September 1987.

56. List of Denton Amendment users and recipients, U.S. Embassy in El Salvador, September 25, 1987.

57. Interview with Dr. Oscar Otero, Rus Rus, Honduras, December 18, 1985.

58. Dr. Phillip Neiburg,"International Trip Report: Nicaraguan Indian Refugees in Honduras," U.S. Center for Disease Control, Department of Health and Human Services, October 12, 1984.

59. Friends of the Americas map of projects in Central America, 1986.

60. Sara Diamond, Spiritual Warfare (Boston, MA: South End Press, 1989).

The underlying cites for this profile are now kept at Political Research Associates, (617) 666-5300. www.irc-online.org.

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