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Operation Condor Italy looks into Secret S American kidnaps

 
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:46 am    Post subject: Operation Condor Italy looks into Secret S American kidnaps Reply with quote

Italy Follows Trail of Secret South American Abductions
Feb. 22, 2008, New York Times

BUENOS AIRES -- In an unusually sweeping investigation, Italian
authorities are seeking to prosecute former top officials in seven
South American countries for their roles in a secret operation in the
1970s and 1980s by the region's security forces to crush left-wing
political dissent. The extraordinary breadth of the seven-year Italian
investigation, into what is known as Operation Condor, has drawn in
countries formerly not thought to have been deeply involved in the
shadowy program, particularly Peru. It has also agitated political
establishments up and down the continent. The investigation and
recently declassified documents, which were reviewed by The New York
Times, suggest a complicit role of the United States in Condor's often-
deadly operations, some of which American officials knew about before
but did little to stop.In late December, Judge Luisianna Figliolia in
Rome issued arrest warrants for 140 former officials from Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, seeking to
prosecute them in connection with the disappearance of 25 Italian
citizens.

The Condor countries helped one another locate, transport, torture and
ultimately make disappear dissidents across their borders, and even
collaborated on assassination operations in Europe and the United
States. In an operation that historians call reminiscent of the
United States' modern terrorist rendition program, the Condor
countries sometimes used an allied intelligence network to track and
transport terrorism suspects to a third country for interrogations.
"This is the most ambitious look yet at Operation Condor," said Reed
Brody, a lawyer with Human Rights Watch in Brussels. "I don't know of
any other case that has taken on so much." While Argentina and Chile
are well known to have been at the center of Operation Condor, the
arrest warrants have forced new soul-searching in Peru and a
reconsideration of its involvement.

The 250-page indictment issued by Judge Figliolia, part of which was
reviewed by The Times, names four former Peruvian officials, including
Peru's dictator from 1975 to 1980, Gen. Francisco Morales Bermudez,
and his military commander, Pedro Richter Prada. The arrest orders
for the Peruvians deal indirectly with the June 1980 abductions of
four leftist rebels, called Montoneros, in Lima by a joint group of
security agents loyal to General Morales Bermudez and members of
Argentina's military police. At the time, Peru had largely avoided
the guerrilla movements and brutal counterinsurgencies that had roiled
Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, where Operation Condor was most active.
But in June 1980, in the last two months of General Morales Bermudez's
dictatorship, members of Argentina's 601 Battalion, a special army
intelligence unit, went to Peru to track down Montoneros members bent
on overthrowing Argentina's junta. The Argentine agents had captured
one member of the group, Federico Frías Alberga, in Buenos Aires, and
took him with them to Peru to help identify his comrades in a sting
operation.

On June 12, 1980, Argentine and Peruvian intelligence agents took
undercover positions in a park in Lima, the Peruvian capital, dressed
as salesmen, street artists and transients. After Mr. Alberga
exchanged a coded message with one Montonero, the agents pounced. They
arrested her and two others, Noemí Giannotti de Molfino and Julio
César Ramírez, according to a 2004 book by a Peruvian journalist,
Ricardo Uceda.
The Argentines later tortured them at a Peruvian military
installation, according to the account by Mr. Uceda, who interviewed a
Peruvian Army intelligence agent who witnessed the torture sessions.
One week later, on June 19, according to the declassified documents,
James J. Blystone, a political officer in the American Embassy in
Buenos Aires, described in a memo to his boss what was to happen next.

Mr. Blystone told his boss, Ambassador Raul H. Castro, that an
Argentine intelligence source had informed him that the four
Montoneros would be held in Peru and then "expelled to Bolivia" and
sent on to Argentina, where they would be "interrogated and then
permanently disappeared." Mr. Castro wrote to the secretary of state's
office in Washington that an Argentine source had confirmed the
abductions and a plan to take the captured Montoneros back to
Argentina. But the news of the arrests found its way into the Peruvian
media, and because of the public outcry, the plan to return the rebels
to Argentina was dropped, according to a copy of Mr. Castro's memo,
which is among the declassified documents obtained by the National
Security Archive, a private research institute and library. In a phone
interview, Mr. Castro, now 91, said he recalled "being concerned"
about the Montoneros operation. But, he said, "I don't recall what
action, if any, we took at the time." The level of Peru's involvement
in Operation Condor was debated heavily in American intelligence
circles, he said. "We couldn't agree, the Foreign Service and
Washington and the intelligence services, if Peru was involved," Mr.
Castro said. "I thought they were very much involved. It seemed very
clear after those Montoneros were taken to Bolivia."

Mr. Blystone, also reached by phone, said American officials should
have lobbied harder for the prisoners' release. "I got all that
information and I passed it on, and we could have done something," he
said. "But we dropped the ball, let's face it." A month later, the
scandal still had not died down when Mr. Castro met with the Argentine
Army commander, Lt. Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri. Mr. Castro prodded him so
much about the Montoneros that General Galtieri waved his hand and
said, "Enough is enough," according to Mr. Castro's report to
Washington. Despite the publicity, the Argentine security agents went
ahead with their plans, which apparently included taking Mrs. Molfino
to Spain. On July 21, 1980, she was found dead in a Madrid apartment.
The three other Montoneros were never found. Peru is already reeling
from the continuing human rights trial of Alberto K. Fujimori, who was
president for a decade until 2000, and officials there have been quick
to defend those accused in the Italian case. President Alan García
viewed the arrest warrants as an affront to Peru's sovereignty. He
described Judge Figliolia's move as an attempt to depict Peru as a
"little banana republic" and offered his support to General Morales
Bermudez. The Italian investigation deals not only with individual
cases involving Italian citizens but also with the broader
responsibility for Condor's cross-border kidnapping and torture
operations, according to two people in Italy involved in the case.

Italy claims jurisdiction because it believes crimes occurred against
its citizens. But only one of the accused, a retired Uruguayan Navy
officer, was taken into custody in Italy, and he was later released
for what a magistrate cited as a lack of evidence. It seems unlikely
that the South American countries will go through with extraditions.
Remigio Morales-Bermudez Pedraglio, a son of General Morales Bermudez,
the former dictator, said in an interview that the case was "a
disgrace." He said his father would agree to be extradited to Italy
only if Peru's Supreme Court found merit in the Italian charges. Under
Italian law, he can be tried in absentia, however.
General Morales Bermudez, now 88, took power in 1975 in a coup but is
still admired by many Peruvians for allowing presidential elections in
1980. In an interview with the Peruvian journalist, Mr. Uceda, in
2000 he acknowledged that he had given the order to capture the
Montoneros, following the advice of Mr. Richter, his military
commander. "We couldn't give ourselves the luxury of having
subversives on the loose in the country during the transition of
power," he said. In statements to the Peruvian media, General Morales
Bermudez rejected the assertion that Peru was part of Operation
Condor, but said he was prepared to clarify the events in question.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2015 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pinochet's Mad Scientist
By Samuel Blixen
https://consortiumnews.com/1999/c011399a.html
#
On Nov. 15, 1992, a terrified scientist broke a window of a white bungalow in the Uruguayan beach town of Parque del Plata.

Chubby, in his mid-40s, the man struggled through the opening. Once outside, furtively and slowly, he picked his way to the local police station.

"I am a Chilean citizen," the scientist told the police when he finally reached the station. He pulled a folded photostatic copy of his identification papers concealed in his right shoe. "I have been abducted by the armies of Uruguay and my country," he claimed.

The scientist, rumpled with a graying beard, said he feared for his life. He insisted that his murder had been ordered by Gen. Augusto Pinochet, then the chief of Chile's army who had ruled as a dictator from 1973 to 1990.

The motive for the execution was the man's anticipated testimony at a politically sensitive trial in Chile, a case that could send reverberations all the way to Washington, D.C.

The scientist had worked as an accomplice in a terror campaign that included the bombing deaths of Chilean dissident Orlando Letelier and an American co-worker Ronni Moffitt as they drove to work in Washington in 1976.

The police in Parque del Plata, a beach town about 30 kilometers from Montevideo, weren't sure what to make of the man's convoluted tale.

An Uruguayan army officer had alerted them earlier that an "unbalanced" Chilean prisoner was on the loose. The scientist, who had escaped from a house owned by an Uruguayan army officer, apparently was that man.

But the issue was quickly taken out of the hands of local authorities. A half an hour after the man's arrival, armed and uniformed Uruguayan army troops burst into the police precinct station and seized control. At their head was the district police chief, a retired army colonel named Ramon Rivas.

Rivas ordered that the Chilean scientist be turned over to the soldiers. Two Uruguayan army officers then were to escort the scientist out of Uruguay to Brazil. Faced with soldiers brandishing rifles, the police relented. The scientist was led away.

From that moment, the scientist's fate became a complex kidnap-murder mystery, with improbable twists and turns, an apparent disinformation trick, raw political power, a grisly discovery and, finally, forensic science.

The disappearance of the scientist, a biochemist named Eugenio Berrios, has relevance to today's legal battles over Pinochet's possible trial for human rights violations. The Berrios case bears on the international terror campaigns waged by Chile and other South American military dictatorships in the 1970s.

The case also underscores the enduring power of right-wing military officers within the fragile democracies of South America -- and the difficulty of bringing Pinochet to justice in Chile.

Though drawing little attention, the Berrios case officially has become part of the larger Pinochet investigation now under way by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon.

There could be consequences, too, in the United States where the CIA's prior knowledge about the Letelier assassination -- at a time when George Bush was CIA director -- has never been clarified.

The mystery of Eugenio Berrios starts in 1974 when he began doing scientific research for Chile's feared intelligence service, DINA.

Berrios worked closely with an American-born DINA agent, Michael Townley, in a clandestine unit known by the name “Quetropilla.” The base of operations was a sprawling, multi-level house -- registered to Townley but purchased by DINA -- in Lo Currro, a wooded, middle-class neighborhood of Santiago, Chile.

One of Berrios's assignments was the development of sarin gas that could be packaged in spray cans for use in assassinations. DINA officials thought the nerve gas could create lethal symptoms that might be confused with natural causes while giving time for the assailants to escape.

The need for sophisticated murder devices grew more important for Pinochet's intelligence teams when they turned their sights on political enemies living abroad in 1975.

In September 1975, DINA chief Manuel Contreras launched an international assassination project called Operation Condor, named after the powerful vulture that traverses the Andes mountains from Colombia to the Strait of Magellan.

The theory behind Condor was that enemies of South American military dictatorships should be hunted down wherever they sought refuge, whether in the nations of participating governments or elsewhere.

In October 1975, after soliciting $600,000 in special funds from Pinochet, Contreras chaired the organizational meeting of Operation Condor with military intelligence chiefs from Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil.

After the meeting, the intelligence services stepped up their trans-national coordination. More than 100 Chileans were rounded up and returned to Chile for execution. Others were gunned down where they were found.

According to later testimony by DINA agent Townley, Berrios made a major contribution to the cause in April 1976 by recreating sarin, a poisonous nerve gas first invented by the Nazis during World War II.

The original plan for assassinating Letelier, Townley said, was to use a female operative to seduce the debonair former diplomat and then administer a liquid form of sarin concealed in a Chanel perfume bottle. But Berrios also stocked the operation with explosive devices in case the nerve gas proved unworkable.

In September 1976, Townley entered the United States on an official Chilean passport with a false name. He contacted anti-Castro Cubans and recruited their help in hunting down Letelier, a vocal critic of Pinochet.

When the Cubans refused to participate unless the Chileans had a direct role in the assassination, Townley switched from poison to a car bomb.

The assassins traveled to Washington where the exiled Letelier lived and worked at a left-of-center think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies. They concealed the bomb under Letelier's car and followed Letelier as he and two American co-workers drove to work on Sept. 21, 1976.

As the car proceeded past the ornate buildings of Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue, the assassins detonated the bomb. Letelier and one American, Ronni Moffitt, died in the blast. Moffitt's husband was wounded.

Despite official requests, George Bush's CIA provided little help unraveling the mystery. Only later would authorities discover that the CIA director's office received a warning about the Townley operation but failed to stop it.

Still, the FBI and federal prosecutors managed to uncover Operation Condor and break the Letelier case. Extradited to the United States, Townley agreed to plead guilty, serve a short prison sentence and enter a federal witness protection program.

But progress in bringing to justice the architects of the terror campaign was much slower, given Pinochet's continued hold on power through 1990. Long-term U.S. pressure, however, finally led to criminal charges in Chile against former DINA chief Contreras.

Berrios, who continued to work on assassination schemes even after Townley's arrest, emerged as a prospective witness. In October 1991, a Chilean judge called Berrios to testify. The move sent chills through the Chilean military establishment.

It became important for DINA to get Berrios beyond the reach of the Chilean court. That month, Capt. Carlos Herrera Jiminez, a former intelligence officer, escorted Berrios from Santiago on a clandestine trip through the Andes to Argentina.

To hide Berrios, the old Condor network quickly reasserted itself. From Buenos Aires, Uruguayan counterintelligence chief, Lt. Col. Thomas Casella, coordinated Berrios’s move to Uruguay. There, Berrios and Herrara holed up in a Montevideo apartment rented by Casella, who frequently trained with the Chilean military.

But complications continued to arise. In February 1992, while on a trip to Buenos Aires, Herrara was arrested on an Interpol warrant connecting him to another assassination plot.

That forced other Chilean agents to take charge of Berrios in Uruguay. Berrios was becoming a burden -- as well as a risk -- to Chile's intelligence services.

Gen. Emilio Timmerman, a military officer at the Chilean embassy in Montevideo, assumed the Berrios duty. But Timmerman complained to an embassy cultural attache, Emilio Rojas, that "it is costing us too much money."

Timmerman, who is now second-in-command of the Chilean army, also was growing nervous.

Timmerman ordered Rojas to keep his mouth shut about Berrios's whereabouts, the cultural attache said later.

By November 1992, Berrios realized that his Chilean superiors might want him silenced -- as the safest and cheapest alternative to a long exile. He apparently overheard his captors discussing Pinochet’s orders for them to eliminate the scientist.

So, on Nov. 15, 1992, Berrios climbed through the window of the white bungalow and fled to the precinct station at Parque del Plata.

He begged the police to protect him, but the escape was cut short by the intervention of Uruguayan troops. Berrios disappeared.

Exactly what happened next remains a mystery. Senior Uruguayan officials only learned about the November 1992 police confrontation the next June from an anonymous caller.

The discovery touched off a political crisis inside the Uruguayan government where the army still wielded great power.

Uruguayan President Luis Alberto Lacalle was in Great Britain when the story broke. He immediately ducked out of a reception at the Uruguayan embassy in London and flew back to Montevideo.

There, Lacalle met with 14 of the 16 generals heading the armed forces. After four hours of tough negotiations and threats from 12 generals, Lacalle backed down to avoid a new military challenge to the civilian government.

The president relented on his initial inclination to impose severe sanctions against the intelligence services. Lacalle did fire the police chief, Rivas, but agreed only to transfer the head of military intelligence, Mario Aguerrondo.

As for Berrios's fate, Col. Casella, who supplied an apartment for hiding Berrios, reported that Berrios had gone to Brazil. The colonel assured the government that he had talked to Berrios by phone at the end of November 1992, weeks after his disappearance.

There were public doubts that Berrios was still alive. But another assurance about Berrios's well-being surfaced in Europe. The Uruguayan consulate in Milan received an anonymous letter supposedly signed by Berrios and a photo of him holding a recent issue of the Milan newspaper, Il Messagiero.

Lacalle, seeking political peace with Uruguay's military, announced that "Berrios is not in Uruguay. He is somewhere else." That made the Berrios mystery "a Chilean matter" again, the Uruguayan president declared.

At the end of the crisis, Uruguay’s foreign minister Sergio Abreu met with the Chilean ambassador and bluntly admitted that Lacalle had no choice but to “doblar el pescuezo” -- “let it go.”

If Lacalle pursued sanctions against powerful figures in the military, the 12 generals had threatened another military coup, the foreign minister said. Chile’s ambassador cabled that news back to Santiago on June 11, according to a cable that I later obtained.

For Uruguay, the Berrios case was closed -- or so the authorities thought.

The Berrios case resurfaced, quite literally, in April 1995 when two fishermen found a man's decomposed body partially buried at a beach in El Pinar, another resort town about 25 kilometers from Montevideo.

The body had broken bones suggesting torture, was wrapped in wire, and had two .45-calibre bullet holes in the back of the neck and head.

Forensic doctors used new research techniques to reconstruct the victim's face. The face looked remarkably like Berrios. DNA tests were ordered on the remains with comparisons made against genetic samples from Berrios's relatives.

In early 1996, forensic specialists concluded, with near certainty, that the dead man was Berrios. They also placed the date of his death as the first half of March 1993.

The findings contradicted the June 1993 photograph -- which presumably had been composed using computer graphics to insert a current issue of the Italian newspaper into the photo.

But the timing of Berrios's death added yet another side to the mystery.

In March 1993, Pinochet had made a personal visit to Uruguay accompanied by 12 bodyguards and with Col. Casella joining his entourage. In Uruguay, there were suspicions that Pinochet might have used the visit to confront Berrios one more time about his knowledge and then eliminate him.

But few observers in either Uruguay or Chile believe that those civilian governments are strong enough today -- or determined enough -- to follow the Berrios case and others to clear answers.

The best chance for justice probably lies outside the countries that organized Operation Condor. Those nations are still gripped by the vulture’s powerful claws.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

An excellent book, Paul L. William's 'Operation Gladio' goes into Condor and much more.
It documents the dispicable involvement in Condor, not just by the US, but by the Vatican and Opus Dei (and the present 'Pope').
Both the US and the Vatican wanted to crush Liberation Theology, and they both channelled very large amounts of 'black' laundered drug and other money into the 'Death Squads'.
And, of course, as the title suggests, it was all part of the worldwide 'Gladio' network (as was JP II's attempted assassination after he failed to keep afloat doomed banks, not out of any 'benevolence', but because he believed it would uncover the Vatican as the cesspit that it was (and remains).

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2017 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Declassified documents reveal US role in Argentina's "Dirty War"
RAMONA WADI 3 FEB 2017
http://www.trtworld.com/magazine/declassified-documents-reveal-us-role -in-argentinas-dirty-war-289517

Documents uncover new details on Operation Condor, the collaboration between right-wing dictatorships across Latin America that succeeded in terrorising and eliminating tens of thousands of leftists during the Cold War.

Details about Operation Condor are still emerging nearly half a century after the state-led campaign of terror began.
Details about Operation Condor are still emerging nearly half a century after the state-led campaign of terror began.
Stories of the torture, murder and disappearance of political opponents in US-backed South American dictatorships resurfaced again recently, with the declassification of documents revealing, among other issues, US knowledge of the multinational campaign of state terror known as Operation Condor.

Dr Carolina Villella, a lawyer from the organisation Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights organisation, deems the recent declassification extremely important.

"This is the first time that the US government has provided access to documents by the intelligence agencies for the State Department," she said.

Villella also said the revelations are "a new opportunity to have a better comprehension and knowledge about the facts and events of the last dictatorship in Argentina".

In March 1976, Jorge Rafael Videla, the commander in chief of the Argentine Army, led a military coup. He deposed President Isabel Peron and proclaimed himself to be president of Argentina two days later. From 1976 to 1981, Videla's regime was characterised by the torture, murder and disappearance of socialist political opponents. Some 30,000 Argentinians are estimated to have disappeared during Videla's rule. The period is known as Argentina's "Dirty War". It was part of a regionwide state terror and extermination programme known as Operation Condor.

In 1976 Jorge Rafael Videla (centre), commander in chief of the Argentine Army, overthrew Argentina's democratically elected government before embarking on a
In 1976 Jorge Rafael Videla (centre), commander in chief of the Argentine Army, overthrew Argentina's democratically elected government before embarking on a "Dirty War" in which dissidents were systematically tortured and murdered. (AP)
Among the documents is a lengthy testimony that Alfredo Bravo, co-president and co-founder of the Argentine Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, gave to the US Embassy staff in Buenos Aires. Bravo, who was tortured by the Argentine military junta after they abducted him in 1977, includes a brief but direct statement to former US officials at the embassy in Buenos Aires. The testimony, Bravo stated, was given to "show you what you are fighting for," after officials helped to secure his release.

Standing out from the generalised documentation of torture, Bravo's testimony outlines specific details corresponding to each torture session he suffered. US knowledge of torture is clearly conveyed, as Bravo's release was negotiated by F Allen Harris, a political officer at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Torture testimony

Excluding detention and transit, Bravo experienced 11 sessions of torture and interrogation. The "rastrillo" was applied – a form of torture in which electric shocks were given using an instrument resembling a four pronged rake – without any preliminaries. Bravo remembers being "so full of electricity" that his jaw and tongue became temporarily paralysed.

One of the most gruesome accounts given by Bravo involved group torture. Prisoners were forced to hold hands and an electric current was applied to the group. During the same torture session a woman was raped by the interrogators in the presence of other male prisoners, while another round of torture involved sodomising a male prisoner with a rifle, killing him in the process.

Bravo recalls: "One of the guards said, ‘Shove your gun up his anus' and suddenly a muffled shot was heard."

By the fourth torture session, Bravo was questioned about groups and individuals opposing the Videla dictatorship. This shift in questioning to a wider network, which included human rights organisations and individuals living abroad, corresponds to other released documents which detail the regional and international aims of Operation Condor.

Bravo also recounted how, during transfer from one detention centre to another, the prisoners were pushed out of the vehicle and their captors opened fire on them. Other torture practices included heavy beatings and the "submarine" treatment, during which Bravo was held under water for several minutes to simulate drowning.

The 11th and final torture session was of a more psychological nature. The Buenos Aires Provincial Chief of Police threatened Bravo that "if he talked of what happened to him he would be found to have committed suicide." That night, Bravo was placed in a cell "with a hangman's noose hung from a pipe."

US knowledge, collaboration and complicity

Other documents dated 1978 confirm US knowledge of Argentina's torture and forced disappearance of political prisoners as part of Operation Condor.

A document from the US Department of State refers to "a human rights source contact in the medical profession whose reporting has been reliable in the past" having informed the US embassy of political prisoners being injected with an anesthetic called "Ketalar", which causes the individual to lose consciousness. "Source alleges that subjects are then disposed of in rivers or the ocean," the report concludes.

Death flights, a common practice during the dictatorships in Argentina and Chile, were usually carried out at night. Soldiers would "package" the dead bodies, weighed down appropriately to ensure sinking and loaded on helicopters provided by the US.

The document indicates that a number of political prisoners were not murdered before being subjected to the death flights, but rather that the death flights were themselves a form of murder as well as disappearance.

Two months later, a document dated September 4, 1978 affirms how the US, despite knowledge of Argentina's death flights — a trend also common to Chile under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, opted to provide further support to Argentina by promising helicopters, along with other types of military aid. "As a token of our interest we have taken steps to export licenses for ambulance aircraft, army helicopters, airport radar equipment and other items," the document states.

US collaboration with dictatorships in South America constituted a substantial part of its Cold War-era imperialist foreign policy. Following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, as well as the country's commitment to supporting resistance movements regionally and internationally, Chile under Salvador Allende was viewed as a particularly symbolic blow for imperialism. Unlike Cuba, Chile already had an established history of democratic elections and the people chose socialism through the voting system.

US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a key role in securing US support for Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. (Courtesy of Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile)
US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a key role in securing US support for Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. (Courtesy of Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile)
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had opined: "The example of a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on – and even precedent value for – other parts of the world, especially in Italy; the imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in turn significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it."

The US backed the military coup that annihilated Chile's socialist government, and put Augusto Pinochet into power. That was followed by extensive support for right-wing dictatorships that mushroomed across South America during those years. After Argentina, Chile had the second highest toll of forced disappearances, with an estimated 3,000 political opponents being taken by the regime.

Chile and Argentina are revealed to have had a close collaboration as regards the assassination of dictatorship opponents. Through Operation Condor, Chile gave permission to Argentina to assassinate any Chilean it claimed was "known to be involved in an Argentine terrorist group."

Justice and collective memory in Argentina

The documents, particularly those relating to torture and disappearances, are perceived by human rights lawyers to constitute a vital component in furthering Argentinian collective memory a process in which knowledge, testimonies and recollections are gathered and analysed in – order to encourage better public understanding of a particular social period.

Villella noted that testimonies regarding torture and interrogation sessions facilitated the reconstruction of events which in turn aids the legal struggle when bringing perpetrators to face justice.

"The documents aid in preventing impunity and have an important role in the construction of collective memory, which represents the foundations for the guarantee of non-repetition and prevention of human rights violations," she affirmed.

While remarking about the absence of important information which is necessary for the legal struggle, Villella stated that the analysis is an ongoing process that can lead to other discoveries, not only about the US-Argentine collaboration but also regarding the disappeared. The legal struggle, she insisted, needs "new information about the 30,000 disappeared, as well as the location of the 300 grandchildren which the grandmothers Plaza de Mayo are still seeking."

Argentine President Mauricio Macri has, since the start of his presidency, exhibited indifference to Argentinian collective memory.

Villella referred to attempts from authorities to question the number of the disappeared which, she said, was "socially rejected by human rights and victims' organisations which opposed the authorities' insinuations by organising public manifestations and resistance protests".

Prior to his electoral victory, Macri opposed a bill which would have enabled the investigation of individuals and businesses known to have had ties to the dictatorship. Additionally, Macri also pledged to shift Argentina's politics to emulate those of the US, thus consolidating previous ties and, in turn, instigating further difficulties in establishing a structured and fruitful collaboration between state and citizens as regards uncovering the truth regarding Argentina's disappeared.

Villella noted that Macri has adopted policies which hinder the struggle for justice in cases related to the disappeared. "This happened mainly through some cutbacks in the budgets and unfair dismissal of employees from programmes of public offices in different ministries whose work is related to investigations as well as specialised programmes which advise and assist state terrorism's victims," she stated.

Despite Macri's policies, Villella said, coherence and persistence remain the most powerful ways to help truth, memory and justice to prevail.

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Trustworthy Freedom Fighter
Trustworthy Freedom Fighter


Joined: 30 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TonyGosling wrote:
Declassified documents reveal US role in Argentina's "Dirty War"
RAMONA WADI 3 FEB 2017
http://www.trtworld.com/magazine/declassified-documents-reveal-us-role -in-argentinas-dirty-war-289517

Documents uncover new details on Operation Condor, the collaboration between right-wing dictatorships across Latin America that succeeded in terrorising and eliminating tens of thousands of leftists during the Cold War.

Details about Operation Condor are still emerging nearly half a century after the state-led campaign of terror began.
Details about Operation Condor are still emerging nearly half a century after the state-led campaign of terror began.
Stories of the torture, murder and disappearance of political opponents in US-backed South American dictatorships resurfaced again recently, with the declassification of documents revealing, among other issues, US knowledge of the multinational campaign of state terror known as Operation Condor.

Dr Carolina Villella, a lawyer from the organisation Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights organisation, deems the recent declassification extremely important.

"This is the first time that the US government has provided access to documents by the intelligence agencies for the State Department," she said.

Villella also said the revelations are "a new opportunity to have a better comprehension and knowledge about the facts and events of the last dictatorship in Argentina".

In March 1976, Jorge Rafael Videla, the commander in chief of the Argentine Army, led a military coup. He deposed President Isabel Peron and proclaimed himself to be president of Argentina two days later. From 1976 to 1981, Videla's regime was characterised by the torture, murder and disappearance of socialist political opponents. Some 30,000 Argentinians are estimated to have disappeared during Videla's rule. The period is known as Argentina's "Dirty War". It was part of a regionwide state terror and extermination programme known as Operation Condor.

In 1976 Jorge Rafael Videla (centre), commander in chief of the Argentine Army, overthrew Argentina's democratically elected government before embarking on a
In 1976 Jorge Rafael Videla (centre), commander in chief of the Argentine Army, overthrew Argentina's democratically elected government before embarking on a "Dirty War" in which dissidents were systematically tortured and murdered. (AP)
Among the documents is a lengthy testimony that Alfredo Bravo, co-president and co-founder of the Argentine Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, gave to the US Embassy staff in Buenos Aires. Bravo, who was tortured by the Argentine military junta after they abducted him in 1977, includes a brief but direct statement to former US officials at the embassy in Buenos Aires. The testimony, Bravo stated, was given to "show you what you are fighting for," after officials helped to secure his release.

Standing out from the generalised documentation of torture, Bravo's testimony outlines specific details corresponding to each torture session he suffered. US knowledge of torture is clearly conveyed, as Bravo's release was negotiated by F Allen Harris, a political officer at the US Embassy in Buenos Aires.

Torture testimony

Excluding detention and transit, Bravo experienced 11 sessions of torture and interrogation. The "rastrillo" was applied – a form of torture in which electric shocks were given using an instrument resembling a four pronged rake – without any preliminaries. Bravo remembers being "so full of electricity" that his jaw and tongue became temporarily paralysed.

One of the most gruesome accounts given by Bravo involved group torture. Prisoners were forced to hold hands and an electric current was applied to the group. During the same torture session a woman was raped by the interrogators in the presence of other male prisoners, while another round of torture involved sodomising a male prisoner with a rifle, killing him in the process.

Bravo recalls: "One of the guards said, ‘Shove your gun up his anus' and suddenly a muffled shot was heard."

By the fourth torture session, Bravo was questioned about groups and individuals opposing the Videla dictatorship. This shift in questioning to a wider network, which included human rights organisations and individuals living abroad, corresponds to other released documents which detail the regional and international aims of Operation Condor.

Bravo also recounted how, during transfer from one detention centre to another, the prisoners were pushed out of the vehicle and their captors opened fire on them. Other torture practices included heavy beatings and the "submarine" treatment, during which Bravo was held under water for several minutes to simulate drowning.

The 11th and final torture session was of a more psychological nature. The Buenos Aires Provincial Chief of Police threatened Bravo that "if he talked of what happened to him he would be found to have committed suicide." That night, Bravo was placed in a cell "with a hangman's noose hung from a pipe."

US knowledge, collaboration and complicity

Other documents dated 1978 confirm US knowledge of Argentina's torture and forced disappearance of political prisoners as part of Operation Condor.

A document from the US Department of State refers to "a human rights source contact in the medical profession whose reporting has been reliable in the past" having informed the US embassy of political prisoners being injected with an anesthetic called "Ketalar", which causes the individual to lose consciousness. "Source alleges that subjects are then disposed of in rivers or the ocean," the report concludes.

Death flights, a common practice during the dictatorships in Argentina and Chile, were usually carried out at night. Soldiers would "package" the dead bodies, weighed down appropriately to ensure sinking and loaded on helicopters provided by the US.

The document indicates that a number of political prisoners were not murdered before being subjected to the death flights, but rather that the death flights were themselves a form of murder as well as disappearance.

Two months later, a document dated September 4, 1978 affirms how the US, despite knowledge of Argentina's death flights — a trend also common to Chile under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, opted to provide further support to Argentina by promising helicopters, along with other types of military aid. "As a token of our interest we have taken steps to export licenses for ambulance aircraft, army helicopters, airport radar equipment and other items," the document states.

US collaboration with dictatorships in South America constituted a substantial part of its Cold War-era imperialist foreign policy. Following the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, as well as the country's commitment to supporting resistance movements regionally and internationally, Chile under Salvador Allende was viewed as a particularly symbolic blow for imperialism. Unlike Cuba, Chile already had an established history of democratic elections and the people chose socialism through the voting system.

US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a key role in securing US support for Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. (Courtesy of Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile)
US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a key role in securing US support for Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. (Courtesy of Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Chile)
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had opined: "The example of a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on – and even precedent value for – other parts of the world, especially in Italy; the imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in turn significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it."

The US backed the military coup that annihilated Chile's socialist government, and put Augusto Pinochet into power. That was followed by extensive support for right-wing dictatorships that mushroomed across South America during those years. After Argentina, Chile had the second highest toll of forced disappearances, with an estimated 3,000 political opponents being taken by the regime.

Chile and Argentina are revealed to have had a close collaboration as regards the assassination of dictatorship opponents. Through Operation Condor, Chile gave permission to Argentina to assassinate any Chilean it claimed was "known to be involved in an Argentine terrorist group."

Justice and collective memory in Argentina

The documents, particularly those relating to torture and disappearances, are perceived by human rights lawyers to constitute a vital component in furthering Argentinian collective memory a process in which knowledge, testimonies and recollections are gathered and analysed in – order to encourage better public understanding of a particular social period.

Villella noted that testimonies regarding torture and interrogation sessions facilitated the reconstruction of events which in turn aids the legal struggle when bringing perpetrators to face justice.

"The documents aid in preventing impunity and have an important role in the construction of collective memory, which represents the foundations for the guarantee of non-repetition and prevention of human rights violations," she affirmed.

While remarking about the absence of important information which is necessary for the legal struggle, Villella stated that the analysis is an ongoing process that can lead to other discoveries, not only about the US-Argentine collaboration but also regarding the disappeared. The legal struggle, she insisted, needs "new information about the 30,000 disappeared, as well as the location of the 300 grandchildren which the grandmothers Plaza de Mayo are still seeking."

Argentine President Mauricio Macri has, since the start of his presidency, exhibited indifference to Argentinian collective memory.

Villella referred to attempts from authorities to question the number of the disappeared which, she said, was "socially rejected by human rights and victims' organisations which opposed the authorities' insinuations by organising public manifestations and resistance protests".

Prior to his electoral victory, Macri opposed a bill which would have enabled the investigation of individuals and businesses known to have had ties to the dictatorship. Additionally, Macri also pledged to shift Argentina's politics to emulate those of the US, thus consolidating previous ties and, in turn, instigating further difficulties in establishing a structured and fruitful collaboration between state and citizens as regards uncovering the truth regarding Argentina's disappeared.

Villella noted that Macri has adopted policies which hinder the struggle for justice in cases related to the disappeared. "This happened mainly through some cutbacks in the budgets and unfair dismissal of employees from programmes of public offices in different ministries whose work is related to investigations as well as specialised programmes which advise and assist state terrorism's victims," she stated.

Despite Macri's policies, Villella said, coherence and persistence remain the most powerful ways to help truth, memory and justice to prevail.



One mistake I nooticed in above article -
'...After Argentina, Chile had the second highest toll of forced disappearances, with an estimated 3,000 political opponents being taken by the regime....' - In fact, Guatemala is believed to have had even more 'disappeared' people - 45,000.
'Guatemala's Disappeared': http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/faultlines/2017/03/guatemala-disap peared-170328085834824.html

'..Across Guatemala, thousands of families have been affected by mass murder, torture, and repression dating back to the country's civil war. Up to 45,000 civilians were forcibly disappeared during the 36-year conflict; an estimated 200,000 were killed. And while peace accords were signed in 1996, the war crimes of that era have largely gone unpunished.

"They were massacred, large populations were razed, their lands were destroyed; crops, belongings, houses, clothes ... everything, leaving people in inhumane conditions. How the army could go on like that for so many years? I don't know or understand why," says Hilda Pineda, lead prosecutor on the case related to crimes that occurred at the Creompaz military base.

Now with the help of forensic evidence and the testimony of survivors, some former military leaders are facing trial for the first time.

Fault Lines traveled to Guatemala to meet some of the families still searching for justice and the truth about what happened to their loved ones.'

Correspondent Jason Motlagh is an International Reporting Fellow at the Pulitzer Center.

Source: Al Jazeera

'There is no suffering greater than to see a mother waiting for her son who was disappeared.'

Aura Elena Farfan, FAMDEGUA representative

_________________
'And he (the devil) said to him: To thee will I give all this power, and the glory of them; for to me they are delivered, and to whom I will, I give them'. Luke IV 5-7.
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