By Edward Rhymes
It is altogether fitting to begin any analysis of Operation Condor with its birthplace: Chile. Thousands of people were imprisoned and killed after Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 military coup against democratically-elected socialist President Salvador Allende.
The Nixon administration had helped undermine Allende and then supported Pinochet as he dissolved parliament and began a brutal campaign against Chile’s left that lasted 17 years. His regime conducted raids, executions, abductions, arrests and torture of thousands of Chilean citizens.
More people were killed in the four months following the coup (through December 1973) than in any other year of the dictatorship. According to Amnesty International and the U.N. Human Rights Commission, 250,000 people were detained for political reasons during this period.
When looking at the horrors that took place in Latin America, all with undeniable U.S. support, it is easy to see why someone such as Hugo Chavez was so strident in his fight against foreign influence in his nation’s affairs.
In 1974, DINA, the Chilean secret police was officially recognized. During this time, foreign nationals in Chile, including diplomats, were among the killed or “disappeared.” In 2011, a Chilean commission investigating human rights abuses under the former military dictatorship said there were much more victims than previously documented.
The Valech Commission’s second report identified another 9,800 people who had been held as political prisoners and tortured. The new figures brought the total of recognized victims to 40,018. An earlier report by the commission documented 27,153 people who suffered human rights violations under military rule. The official number of those killed or disappeared went up to 3,065.
Rand Paul’s childish examples and suspect motives aside, the issue of the targeted assassination of U.S. citizens is not a matter of insignificant importance. Especially when placed in the context of DINA’s 1976 assassination in Washington, D.C. of former Allende foreign minister Orlando Letelier, who opposed Chile’s military regime.
Operation Condor was facilitated through a series of government takeovers in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s: General Alfredo Stroessner took control of Paraguay in 1954; the Brazilian military overthrew the democratic and popular government of Joao Goulart in 1964; General Hugo Banzer took power in Bolivia in 1971 through a series of coups; Chilean forces loyal to General Augusto Pinochet overthrew President Allende in 1973; a military junta headed by General Jorge Rafael Videla seized power in Argentina in 1976.
Although cooperation among the participating nations’ intelligence programs took place before Condor, it was during the Conference of American Armies held in Caracas on Sept. 3, 1973, that Brazilian General Breno Borges Fortes, head of the army, proposed to “extend the exchange of information” between various services in order to “struggle against subversion.” …
(Commoner Call photo by Mark L. Taylor, 2017. Open source and free to use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )