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George H.W. Bush, the CIA and a Case of State-Sponsored Terrorism

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | September 23, 2000

In early fall of 1976, after a Chilean government assassin had killed a Chilean dissident and an American woman with a car bomb in Washington, D.C., George H.W. Bush’s CIA leaked a false report clearing Chile’s military dictatorship and pointing the FBI in the wrong direction.

The bogus CIA assessment, spread through Newsweek magazine and other U.S. media outlets, was planted despite CIA’s now admitted awareness at the time that Chile was participating in Operation Condor, a cross-border campaign targeting political dissidents, and the CIA’s own suspicions that the Chilean junta was behind the terrorist bombing in Washington.

In a 21-page report to Congress on Sept. 18, 2000, the CIA officially acknowledged for the first time that the mastermind of the terrorist attack, Chilean intelligence chief Manuel Contreras, was a paid asset of the CIA.

The CIA report was issued almost 24 years to the day after the murders of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and American co-worker Ronni Moffitt, who died on Sept. 21, 1976, when a remote-controlled bomb ripped apart Letelier’s car as they drove down Massachusetts Avenue, a stately section of Washington known as Embassy Row.

In the report, the CIA also acknowledged publicly for the first time that it consulted Contreras in October 1976 about the Letelier assassination. The report added that the CIA was aware of the alleged Chilean government role in the murders and included that suspicion in an internal cable the same month.

“CIA’s first intelligence report containing this allegation was dated 6 October 1976,” a little more than two weeks after the bombing, the CIA disclosed.

Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier (Wikipedia)

Nevertheless, the CIA – then under CIA Director George H.W. Bush – leaked for public consumption an assessment clearing the Chilean government’s feared intelligence service, DINA, which was then run by Contreras.

Relying on the word of Bush’s CIA, Newsweek reported that “the Chilean secret police were not involved” in the Letelier assassination. “The [Central Intelligence] agency reached its decision because the bomb was too crude to be the work of experts and because the murder, coming while Chile’s rulers were wooing U.S. support, could only damage the Santiago regime.” [Newsweek, Oct. 11, 1976]

Bush, who later became the 41st president of the United States (and is the father of the 43rd president), has never explained his role in putting out the false cover story that diverted attention away from the real terrorists. Nor has Bush explained what he knew about the Chilean intelligence operation in the weeks before Letelier and Moffitt were killed.

Dodging Disclosure

As a Newsweek correspondent in 1988, a dozen years after the Letelier bombing, when the elder Bush was running for president, I prepared a detailed story about Bush’s handling of the Letelier case.

The draft story included the first account from U.S. intelligence sources that Contreras was a CIA asset in the mid-1970s. I also learned that the CIA had consulted Contreras about the Letelier assassination, information that the CIA then would not confirm.

The sources told me that the CIA sent its Santiago station chief, Wiley Gilstrap, to talk with Contreras after the bombing. Gilstrap then cabled back to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, Contreras’s assurances that the Chilean government was not involved. Contreras told Gilstrap that the most likely killers were communists who wanted to make a martyr out of Letelier.

My story draft also described how Bush’s CIA had been forewarned in 1976 about DINA’s secret plans to send agents, including the assassin Michael Townley, into the United States on false passports.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush at the White House on Feb. 12, 1981. (Reagan Library)

Upon learning of this strange mission, the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay, George Landau, cabled Bush about Chile’s claim that Townley and another agent were traveling to CIA headquarters for a meeting with Bush’s deputy, Vernon Walters. Landau also forwarded copies of the false passports to the CIA.

Walters cabled back that he was unaware of any scheduled appointment with these Chilean agents. Landau immediately canceled the visas, but Townley simply altered his plans and continued on his way to the United States. After arriving, he enlisted some right-wing Cuban-Americans in the Letelier plot and went to Washington to plant the bomb under Letelier’s car.

The CIA has never explained what action it took, if any, after receiving Landau’s warning. A natural follow-up would have been to contact DINA and ask what was afoot or whether a message about the trip had been misdirected. The CIA report in 2000 made no mention of these aspects of the case.

After the assassination, Bush promised the CIA’s full cooperation in tracking down the Letelier-Moffitt killers. But instead the CIA took contrary actions, such as planting the false exoneration and withholding evidence that would have implicated the Chilean junta.

“Nothing the agency gave us helped us to break this case,” said federal prosecutor Eugene Propper in a 1988 interview for the story I was drafting for Newsweek. The CIA never volunteered Ambassador Landau’s cable about the suspicious DINA mission nor copies of the fake passports that included a photo of Townley, the chief assassin. Nor did Bush’s CIA divulge its knowledge of the existence of Operation Condor.

FBI agents in Washington and Latin America broke the case two years later. They discovered Operation Condor on their own and tracked the assassination back to Townley and his accomplices in the United States.

In 1988, as then-Vice President Bush was citing his CIA work as an important part of his government experience, I submitted questions to him asking about his actions in the days before and after the Letelier bombing. Bush’s chief of staff, Craig Fuller, wrote back, saying Bush “will have no comment on the specific issues raised in your letter.”

As it turned out, the Bush campaign had little to fear from my discoveries. When I submitted my story draft – with its exclusive account of Contreras’s role as a CIA asset – Newsweek’s editors refused to run the story. Washington bureau chief Evan Thomas told me that Editor Maynard Parker even had accused me of being “out to get Bush.”

The CIA’s Admission

Twenty-four years after the Letelier assassination and 12 years after Newsweek killed the first account of the Contreras-CIA relationship, the CIA admitted that it had paid Contreras as an intelligence asset and consulted with him about the Letelier assassination.

Still, in the sketchy report in 2000, the spy agency sought to portray itself as more victim than accomplice. According to the report, the CIA was internally critical of Contreras’s human rights abuses and skeptical about his credibility. The CIA said its skepticism predates the spy agency’s contact with him about the Letelier-Moffitt murders.

“The relationship, while correct, was not cordial and smooth, particularly as evidence of Contreras’ role in human rights abuses emerged,” the CIA reported. “In December 1974, the CIA concluded that Contreras was not going to improve his human rights performance. …

“By April 1975, intelligence reporting showed that Contreras was the principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy within the Junta, but an interagency committee [within the Ford administration] directed the CIA to continue its relationship with Contreras.”

The CIA report added that “a one-time payment was given to Contreras” in 1975, a time frame when the CIA was first hearing about Operation Condor, a cross-border program run by South America’s military dictatorships to hunt down dissidents living in other countries.

“CIA sought from Contreras information regarding evidence that emerged in 1975 of a formal Southern Cone cooperative intelligence effort – ‘Operation Condor’ – building on informal cooperation in tracking and, in at least a few cases, killing political opponents. By October 1976, there was sufficient information that the CIA decided to approach Contreras on the matter. Contreras confirmed Condor’s existence as an intelligence-sharing network but denied that it had a role in extra-judicial killings.”

Also, in October 1976, the CIA said it “worked out” how it would assist the FBI in its investigation of the Letelier assassination, which had occurred the previous month. The spy agency’s report offered no details of what it did, however. The report added only that Contreras was already a murder suspect by fall 1976.

“At that time, Contreras’ possible role in the Letelier assassination became an issue,” the CIA’s report said. “By the end of 1976, contacts with Contreras were very infrequent.”

Even though the CIA came to recognize the likelihood that DINA was behind the Letelier assassination, there never was any indication that Bush’s CIA sought to correct the false impression created by its leaks to the news media asserting DINA’s innocence.

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush with CIA Director William Casey, Feb. 11, 1981. (Reagan Library)

After Bush left the CIA with Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in 1977, the spy agency distanced itself from Contreras, the new report said. “During 1977, CIA met with Contreras about half a dozen times; three of those contacts were to request information on the Letelier assassination,” the CIA report said.

“On 3 November 1977, Contreras was transferred to a function unrelated to intelligence so the CIA severed all contact with him,” the report added. “After a short struggle to retain power, Contreras resigned from the Army in 1978. In the interim, CIA gathered specific, detailed intelligence reporting concerning Contreras’ involvement in ordering the Letelier assassination.”

Remaining Mysteries

Though the CIA report in 2000 contained the first official admission of a relationship with Contreras, it shed no light on the actions of Bush and his deputy, Walters, in the days before and after the Letelier assassination. It also offered no explanation why Bush’s CIA planted false information in the American press clearing Chile’s military dictatorship.

While providing the 21-page summary on its relationship with Chile’s military dictatorship, the CIA refused to release documents from a quarter century earlier on the grounds that the disclosures might jeopardize the CIA’s “sources and methods.” The refusal came in the face of President Bill Clinton’s specific order to release as much information as possible.

Perhaps the CIA was playing for time. With CIA headquarters officially named the George Bush Center for Intelligence and with veterans of the Reagan-Bush years still dominating the CIA’s hierarchy, the spy agency might have hoped that the election of Texas Gov. George W. Bush would free it from demands to open up records to the American people.

For his part, former President George H.W. Bush declared his intent to take a more active role in campaigning for his son’s election. In Florida on Sept. 22, 2000, Bush said he was “absolutely convinced” that if his son is elected president, “we will restore the respect, honor and decency that the White House deserves.”


The late investigative reporter Robert Parry, the founding editor of Consortium News, broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. His last book, America’s Stolen Narrative, can be obtained in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

December 1, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bolivia Joins Operation Condor Investigation

teleSUR – January 7, 2018

Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced that his country is joining the regional investigation into Operation Condor alongside Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

These latter nations created the Truth Commission to uncover the “Empire’s transgressions” during Operation Condor, the Bolivian head of state tweeted, referring to the United States.

Operation Condor was a covert, multinational “black operations” program organized by six Latin American states (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru), with logistical, financial, and intelligence support from Washington,” according to J. Patrice McSherry, author of Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America (2005). Their shared intent was to do away with leftist movements in the region.

Morales said he laments this shared history of human rights violations, but celebrates the “brave and dignified struggle against the military dictatorships.”

For its part, Bolivia suffered under Operation Condor during its nearly 20-year dictatorship between 1964 and 1982.

Nila Heredia, who was named the country’s rights commission representative, said that Bolivia is giving “its full support (to the commission) with its experience (of working on other rights commissions, as well as technical expertise.”

Morales has also announced that Bolivia will host a seminary for experts from the Truth Commission on Feb. 20.

Estimates of the number of those killed or disappeared from the clandestine Operation Condor ranges from 20,000 to 60,000.

January 8, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chile Judge Jails 106 Ex-Agents of Pinochet Dictatorship

teleSUR | June 3, 2017

Over 100 former members of the secretive National Intelligence Directorate, DINA, under Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet are facing jail time for the kidnapping and murder of 16 people belonging to dissident left-wing movements.

The sentence was issued early Friday against 106 secret police officers belong to “Operation Colombo” during the years that followed the 1973 overthrow of democratically-elected President Salvador Allende, when Pinochet was consolidating his U.S.-backed military government.

Judge Hernan Cristoso ruled that the 16 killed belonged either to the socialist party or leftist groups like the Revolutionary Left Movement, MIR. Those killed had been abducted before being transferred to torture centers in the Chilean capital, Santiago.

The 16 are among over 3,000 people who faced enforced disappearances and murder by the Pinochet government, which acted in league with neighboring governments in Argentina, Brazil and other South American nations through Operation Condor, a Cold War-era campaign across Latin America that resulted in tens of thousands of activist deaths.

The United States supported the right-wing governments during its competition with the Soviet Union, which it feared was undermining U.S. interests in the region through its own support for left-wing groups.

Chile has been attempting to grapple with its authoritarian past as judges and government figures increase convictions of Pinochet-era officials found to have committed human rights violations.

The 106 former agents have been sentenced to between 541 days and 20 years in jail, where they will be joining other former state security personnel that are serving time for other cases.

The Chilean government has also been ordered to pay the equivalent of US$7.5 million to the families of the deceased activists.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Trump Releases Declassified Operation Condor-Era Docs to Argentina

Chilean dictator Agusto Pinochet (L) and Argentine dictator Rafael Videla (R)

Chilean dictator Agusto Pinochet (L) and Argentine dictator Rafael Videla (R) | Photo: Wikimedia Commons
teleSUR | April 27, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Argentine President Mauricio Macri on Thursday, handing over 931 declassified Department of State records related to Operation Condor.

Operation Condor was a Cold War-era campaign of violence across Latin America that resulted in tens of thousands of activist deaths.

Trump’s release falls in line with former President Barack Obama’s promise to release intelligence documents about human rights abuses committed by the Argentine military dictatorship during the 1970s and 1980s.

Entitled “Secret/Exdis,” the declassified documents provide new insight into U.S. support for human rights abuses in Argentina and neighboring countries. Here’s what the reports divulged.

They describe Operation Condor as a trans-border, multinational effort by Southern Cone secret police services to “track down” and “liquidate” regime opponents, the National Security Archive reports.

They reveal that the orchestrators of Operation Condor considered establishing “field offices” in the United States and Europe.

They provide information about former President Jimmy Carter’s propping up of former dictator Rafael Videla in 1977. It has also been confirmed that Orlando Letelier, chief economist for former Chilean President Salvador Allende, was killed by members of Chile’s intelligence service under the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship.

Moreover, they include details about the censorship of U.S. Buenos Aires embassy human rights officer Tex Harris, who tried making human rights abuses public.

The declassification of other top secret documents is expected to occur before the end of the year. Records of 14 intelligence agencies, including the CIA, FBI, and DIA, are expected to be included in the release.

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Operation Condor-Era Argentine Dictator Gets Life Imprisonment

teleSUR | March 16, 2017

An Argentine federal court on Wednesday sentenced former military dictator Reynaldo Bignone to life imprisonment for his role in kidnapping, torturing and murdering anti-government protesters during the 1970s and 80s.

Bignone, along with six other former military leaders, was convicted for “crimes against humanity.” He was also charged for human rights violations against conscripts of Argentina’s Military College that occurred between 1976 and 1977.

Dubbed “Argentina’s last dictator,” Bignone ruled as president from 1982 to 1983, representing the country’s right-wing military dictatorship that arose during the Dirty War.

The Dirty War was Argentina’s offshoot of Operation Condor, a Cold War-era campaign of violence across Latin America. Through the campaign, which resulted in tens of thousands of activist deaths, the U.S. teamed up with right-wing military dictatorships to extinguish leftist movements.

With help from death squads, Argentina’s military dictatorship ruthlessly murdered thousands of left-wing students, journalists, labor leaders and armed militants. Bignone, who played a leading role in organizing the Dirty War, oversaw the mass disappearance of socialist activists throughout his tenure.

“This ruling, about the coordination of military dictatorships in the Americas to commit atrocities, sets a powerful precedent to ensure that these grave human rights violations do not ever take place again in the region,” Human Rights Watch Americas director told Reuters last year, when Bignone was first found guilty.

Last month, Argentina’s former army chief Cesar Milani was arrested on charges related to the kidnapping and torture of three people during the Dirty War. Milani, a retired general who headed Argentina’s military from 2012 to 2015, was arrested in the northern province of La Rioja.

His arrest was part of Federal Judge Daniel Herrera’s investigation into the 1977 kidnapping and torture of Pedro Olivera and his son Ramon, as well as the 1976 abduction of then 17-year-old Verónica Matta.

“We are happy because we believe, somehow, that we are on the path to really having justice done,” Ramon Olivera, one of the accusers, told Todo Noticias television. “It is an auspicious thing that Milani was detained.”

Both Bignone and Milani were close allies of the U.S. during their time in office.

March 17, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Argentina: Three Ex Military Sentenced For Crimes Against Humanity in Jujuy

By Denis Culum | The Argentina Independent | May 4, 2013

Three former military officials during the 1976-83 dictatorship were found guilty of crimes against humanity yesterday in the first trial for such crimes in the northwestern province of Jujuy.

The Federal Court of Jujuy (TOF) sentenced two former military officials, Mariano Rafael Braga and José Eduardo Bulgheroni, to life imprisonment. Meanwhile, the third defendant Antonio Orlando Vargas received a sentence of 25 years in prison, according to the Judicial Information Center (CIJ).

The Court found the first two defendants guilty of numerous murders and the third one of illegal deprivation of freedom and aggravated torture in several cases. The heads of trial were judges René Vicente Casas and Marcelo Juárez Almaraz. Before reading the decisive part of the judgment, TOF rejected all the arguments presented by the defendants and considered the facts of the case as “crimes against humanity” and therefore impossible to fall under statute of limitations.

Human rights organisations, relatives and witnesses, were satisfied with the verdict – both in and out of the courtroom. After waiting for 35 years, some 30,000 people gathered around the Court House to celebrate a day of justice with hugs and tears.

Braga will be transferred to the Marcos Paz prison to serve his sentence, Vargas will stay in Ezeiza. Bulgheroni, for health reasons, will go to Prison Unit 7 in the city of Resistencia, Chaco.

Braga and Bulgheroni were military intelligence officers during the military dictatorship, and Vargas worked as a supervisor in the Jujuy Prison, which at the time was serving as a clandestine detention centre.

An estimated 130 people were disappeared in Jujuy during the dictatorship. Alongside this trial, the Ledesma case – investigating the kidnapping of workers at a sugar company based in Jujuy – is looking into civilian involvement in the disappearances.

May 4, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plan Cóndor: The Search for Justice

By Emily Tarbuck | The Argentina Independent | March 20, 2013

Earlier this month, a trial of monumental historic significance commenced in Argentina. A trial that will see a group of military leaders prosecuted for their involvement in the ‘Plan Cóndor’ campaign; an agreement between the right-wing dictatorships of South America which led to the disappearance and murder of up to 80,000 people during the 1970s and 1980s.

In what is expected to last two years, and call upon over 500 witnesses, the trial represents a significant step towards achieving justice for crimes against humanity committed at the hands of the Southern Cone’s brutal collusion.

The History

The brutal right-wing military dictatorships that raged terror and political oppression across the continent defined the 1970s and 1980s in South America. The exact number of victims is disagreed upon, but it is estimated that the era saw the ‘disappearance’ of over 60,000 people in the fight to eradicate communist influence on the continent.

The sprawling dictatorships across the continent led to the clandestine kidnapping, torture, and murder of thousands of Latin Americans, with the aim of “eliminating Marxist subversion”, from Argentina, to the Augusto Pinochet-ruled Chile.

Targets of the eradication were officially stated as members of left-wing armed groups such as the MIR (Chile), the Montoneros (Argentina), and the Tupamaros (Uruguay), although the operation targeted trade unionists, family members, and anyone remotely considered a ‘political opponent’.

The formation of ‘Plan Cóndor’ – or ‘Operation Condor’ in English– was paramount to the continuation and reach of the dictatorships. The collusion of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Brazil (and later Ecuador and Peru) enabled leaders to obtain resources and allies, thus continuing their left-wing eradication.

Set in the context of the Cold War, there was a palpable communist fear felt across the globe; something that enabled the dictatorships to garner significant funding and assistance from the United States. Declassified CIA documents –thousands of which were released in 1999 (here, here, here, and here)- show the key role the US played in the proliferation of the dictatorships. Politicians such as former Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger have been heavily implicated as having been fundamental in the realisation of the kidnapping, torture, and murder of political enemies.

Argentina in particular saw one of the highest cases of ‘disappearances’ during the period of mass military dictatorships, with human rights’ organisations estimating the figure to stand at 30,000. Justice for the crimes against humanity committed during this period of state terrorism arguably began with the Juicio a las Juntas in 1985. The trial proved the crimes of the dictatorship for the first time, and led to the imprisonment of key figures such as Jorge Videla and Emilio Massera, both of whom received life imprisonment sentences, along with numerous others.

However, the work of the historic trial was largely undone, or at least heavily marred, by the amnesty laws passed during Raul Alfonsin’s government, which protected military officers from allegations and prosecution for crimes against humanity. This was followed by President Carlos Menem’s pardoning of the junta leaders in 1989. Protests and campaigning by organisations such as the Madres of Plaza de Mayo were fundamental in the repeal of the amnesty laws by the Argentine Supreme Court in 2005 under the government of Néstor Kirchner.

The Trial

For the first time, the collusion between governments and dictators under the ‘Plan Cóndor’ campaign will be investigated. Twenty five defendants are on trial in Buenos Aires in what has been described as a ‘mega-trial’, expected to last two years and scheduled to hear 500 witness statements. Lawyer Carolina Varsky described the trial as: “historic as it’s the first to deal with the repression coordinated between Latin American dictatorships.”

All suspects being tried are Argentine, with the exception of Uruguayan Manuel Cordero, who is accused of participating in death squads and torture at the Orletti clandestine detention centre in the city. Cordero was extradited by Brazil, where he was living prior to the trial. The list of defendants features 22 Argentine military intelligence officers and agents, including former de facto presidents Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, both of whom are already serving life imprisonment sentences, which they will most likely not outlive.

Argentine political scientist Ariel Raidan spoke with The Argentina Independent about the significance of the commencement of the trial, and said how it signifies the government’s focus on “building a more just society, where truth and justice come first, overcoming years of impunity.”

“The countries of the continent are beginning to revise its tragic past. Both advances and setbacks have occurred in the fight for justice over the years, but this trial has a clear conviction to expose as many facts as possible” continued Raidan.

The trial will investigate the cases of over 170 victims, including 65 who were imprisoned at the infamous Orletti torture centre in Buenos Aires. Victims were often kidnapped from their home country and transported to the facilities of a neighbouring country; a practice made possible by the collusion of governments in the Southern Cone. Much evidence to be examined in the trial, and what prosecutors are heavily basing their case upon, comes from the now declassified US documents, obtained by the non-governmental organisation National Security Archive. Released under the Freedom of Information Act, the documents detail how Henry Kissinger and many other high-ranking officials in the US not only gave full support and funding to the Argentine military junta, but also urged the country to accelerate protocol and finish their operations before the US Congress cut aid. The documents, featuring signatures of many high-ranking officials, have led to accusations that the US was a secret collaborator, partner, and sponsor of the operation.

Additionally, documents identified as the ‘Archives of Terror’, discovered in a police station in 1992, were significant in the uncovering of the role of Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. These countries provided intelligence information that had been requested by ‘Plan Cóndor’ participating countries.

The victims are comprised of approximately 80 Uruguayans, 50 Argentines, 20 Chileans, and a dozen from Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador. The disappearance of two Cuban consulate officials will also form part of the proceedings. Out of the 170 victims, 42 survived the dictatorship’s brutal treatment and many of them are expected to give first hand accounts during their testimonies in court. The remaining victims were murdered or ‘disappeared’ at the hands of the Cóndor agreement.

John Dinges, author of ‘The Condor Years: How Pinochet and his Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents’, said that, “this is historic in the sense that we’re going to hear from 500 witnesses. And really, in the Latin American legal system, it’s unusual. It’s really only coming to the fore now that you hear witnesses, as opposed to just seeing them give their testimony to judges in a closed room, and then later on people like me might go and read those testimonies, but really it doesn’t become public. This is all public. And apparently, a lot of it is being videotaped. So this is the first time that the general public is going to hear the details of this horrible, horrible list of atrocities that killed so many people.”

Alcira Ríos, the lawyer representing a Paraguayan victim whose case is to be tried in the coming months, said “we’re delighted that after years of struggle this has finally come to trial… the ‘disappeared’ deserve justice.”

The Future

Raidan spoke of his hope that “the trial will shed light on the specific articulation and coordination of the military juntas that ruled the countries of the Southern Cone”. The hope of many is to see clandestine details released that have for so long been shrouded in secrecy and cover-ups. The culmination of new documents, evidence, and witness statements has created a strong sense of hope that further justice will be achieved over the course of the trial. “The documents are very useful in establishing a comprehensive analytical framework of what Operation Condor was,” said Pablo Enrique Ouvina, the lead prosecutor in the case.

Miguel Angel Osorio, federal prosecutor in the case, has said that he is convinced of the existence of Operation Condor and that he believes it will be clearly proved, as well as “the actions of those implicated [in the plan] which prove that there was a illicit agreement to move people from one country to another”.

Perhaps closure will not be fully achieved over the brutal repression and crimes against humanity committed during this era, but there is a palpable sense surrounding the case that some semblance of a resolution will be achieved; that justice will be reached.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Plan Cóndor: The Search for Justice

Former Argentine Dictator Calls for Coup Against Cristina Kirchner’s Government

By Sara Kozameh | CEPR Americas Blog | March 19, 2013

On Saturday March 16th, a weekly newspaper from Spain, Cambio16, published an interview with jailed former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla. Videla is serving two life sentences, another 50-year sentence, and continues to stand trial, for crimes against humanity, kidnapping, torture, and the unlawful appropriation of babies (that were taken from female prisoners who gave birth in captivity before they were murdered). These were crimes that he and fellow junta leaders committed following the 1976 coup d’état that they directed and that was responsible for the kidnapping, torture and deaths of an estimated 30,000 Argentines.

When his interviewer, Ricardo Angoso, whom Página/12 points out is a stated opponent of the Kirchner government and far-right journalist, asked him what he would say to his “comrades” also serving time in prison for similar convictions, he stated:

I want to remind each one of them, especially the younger ones, who today on average fall between the ages of 58-68, and are still physically capable of combat, that in the case that this unjust imprisonment and slandering of the republic’s basic values continues, you reserve the duty of arming yourselves again in defense of the republic’s basic institutions, which are today being trampled upon by the Kirchner regime, led by president Cristina and her henchmen.*

According to Página/12, Videla also accuses the current government of wanting to turn towards a “failed communism of the Cuban sort.” He then declares that “it will again be the security and armed forces who, along with the people –from which they [the security and armed forces] originate- will impede it”.

As most people who pay attention to international economics can easily tell, the Kirchners’ economic and social policies fall far from this characterization of “failed communism,” and are in actuality those of a democratic western-style capitalist economy with some elements of a social-democratic state.

But that did not stop Videla from calling the armed forces to combat:  he issued a plea for the “citizenry to reject the dictators of Kirchnerism and its henchmen” and to make the “sole totalitarianism that currently governs… bite the dust forever” in Argentina. Finally, he called out the current opposition, accusing them of having “succumbed to fear and the bribes that the government imposes in all areas”.

Videla’s comments come at a time when Argentina and its government are being praised internationally for human rights trials that have convicted and brought to justice scores of perpetrators of human rights abuses during the dictatorship. Most recently, the trial against perpetrators of “Plan Condor” –a coordinated effort by the militaries of several South American countries to wipe out all opposition to their dictatorships- is under way as Argentina’s largest human rights trial yet.

Major news outlets from all ends of the political spectrum in Argentina covered Videla’s interview, with headlines such as “A golpista provocation by Videla from Prison” in the conservative and opposition newspaper El Clarín, and “Videla Called for an Armed Uprising by the Armed Forces” in the anti-government La Nación.

Former dictator Videla has also been in the news lately as the election of the new pope, from Argentina, has revived debate over accusations against Pope Francis and his ties to the dictatorship, and the well-established complicity of much of the Argentine Catholic Church in the regime’s repression.

*All translations were made by the author of this post.

March 20, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Former Argentine Dictator Calls for Coup Against Cristina Kirchner’s Government

Historic ‘Plan Cóndor’ Trial Underway

By Sabrina Hummel | The Argentina Independent | March 6, 2013

Oral proceedings for the 24 suspects charged with crimes against humanity under the ‘Plan Cóndor’ trial began earlier this morning. The Federal Oral Court N° 1 will hear testimony from around 500 witnesses in a trial that is set to last for at least two years.

Operation Condor (as it is referred to in English) refers to a clandestine agreement between South American right wing dictatorships that sought to persecute and rid the Southern Cone of political dissidents, mainly leftists. Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay were among the countries involved.

The plan allowed for political dissidents to be persecuted outside of their own countries. This was facilitated by the collaboration and exchange of information between the respective countries, the coordination of prisoner relocation, and the ‘disappearing’ of those who opposed them politically. Argentina’s ex dictator, Jorge Videla, is among those most heavily implicated in the plot.

The plan, referred to as an “annihilation device” by the federal prosecutor Miguel Angel Osorio, is responsible for 171 crimes committed in Argentina alone, most of which were carried out in the clandestine centre Automotores Orletti.

In an example of collaboration between the regimes, the daughter in law of Argentine poet Juan Gelman, María Claudia Irureta Goyena, was taken to a detention centre in Montevideo. She was killed after giving birth to her daughter, Macarena.

The human rights organisation Amnesty International said yesterday that, “the trial is a historic landmark in the fight against the impunity of crimes committed by authoritarian military governments during the 70s and 80s”.

Osorio has said that he is convinced of the existence of Operation Condor and that he believes its existence will be proved, above all, through “the actions of those implicated [in the plan] which prove that there was an illicit agreement to move people from one country to another”.

Videla, aged 87 and dressed in a blue suit and tie, listened to the opening accusations unperturbed. This is his fourth hearing related to crimes against humanity carried out under his dictatorship, when it is estimated that around 30000 people were ‘disappeared’.

March 6, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Historic ‘Plan Cóndor’ Trial Underway