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For the Record

SIL Responds to Errors in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man

November 2005

John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man (San Francisco: Berrett Koehler Publications, Inc., 2004), makes a number of egregious errors in fact and presents false statements about SIL's activities in Ecuador in the 1950-60s. The comments are based on rumors that have never been substantiated and are contrary to documented eyewitness accounts. Throughout its 70 year history, SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) has been an active advocate and supporter of indigenous language communities in Latin America and around the world.

SIL entered Ecuador in 1953 in response to the expressed invitation of then President Galo Plaza to study, record and work on translation of materials into indigenous languages. SIL performed the work it was invited to do and maintained a full reporting relationship with Ecuador's Ministry of Education through 1982. At the urging and support of many indigenous communities, respected journalists, and civic leaders the government granted visas to certain SIL members to continue their activities until work was completed in 1992. SIL's linguistic research work was donated to local universities and is a matter of public record. Today a number of indigenous groups in eastern Ecuador enjoy their protected land as a result, in part, to SIL's advocacy before the government.

Perkins contends that SIL worked under the sponsorship and in support of oil companies in the Amazon. This is absolutely untrue. SIL has had no involvement with oil exploration and has never had any agreements with oil companies or any other parties to promote oil exploration. In fact, SIL members were known to have intervened to prevent violence between indigenous communities and oil company workers. Further, the accusation by Perkins that SIL has received support from the Rockefellers in Amazonia is also false. SIL has never received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation.