This proj ect began rather serendipitously with an invitation in November 2013
from the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar (uasb) in Quito, Ec uador to
pres ent at a colloquium on the seventieth anniversary of the May 28, 1944,
revolution. In research for my previous book, Indians and Leftists in the Mak-
ing of Ec uador’s Modern Indigenous Movements, I had searched without suc-
cess at the National Archives and Rec ords Administration (nara) in College
Park, Mary land, for information on rural participation in this mass upris-
ing. Along with many other Latin American historians, I had discovered that
the U.S. State Department cables in Rec ord Group 59 Central Decimal Files
provide an excellent source of information on the domestic affairs of other
American republics. Every time I was in Washington, DC, for an academic
conference, I always made a short side trip to nara to see what new and in-
ter esting tidbits of information I might discover that would assist in my study
of Latin Amer i ca’s social movements.
Two months after the uasb’s invitation, the American Historical Associa-
tion (aha) held its annual meeting in Washington, DC. I deci ded once again
to see what information the national archives might hold on peasant orga-
n izations. Maybe I had missed something in my previous, admittedly hasty,
visits. While I did not find the information I sought on rural mobilizations,
I was stunned to encounter extensive documentation of the Federal Bureau
of Investigation (fbi) surveillance of urban labor leaders and leftist militants.
Like most, I had assumed that government regulations limited the fbi to do-
mestic surveillance within the United States and charged the Central Intelli-
gence Agency (cia) with spying operations outside the country. Yet here were
fbi agents in Latin Amer i ca. . . .
I quickly found myself falling down a rabbit hole as I was drawn into this
previously unknown (at least to me) story of fbi counterintelligence activi-
ties in Latin Amer i ca. I had hit one of those mother lodes of primary source
documents that so excite historians. I began skipping sessions at the aha to
spend more time reading archival reports. I placed my camera on a copy stand
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