A Crime to Want Something Different: US countering democratic and reformist changes processes in 22 countries with leftist extermination

The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade & The Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World (2020)

Vincent Bevins: The Jakarta Method is rounding up and killing huge numbers of unarmed leftists, in the service of establishing a specific type of social order. By eliminating these people, this potential opposition, you clear the way for authoritarian capitalism at home and the creation of a geopolitical actor that fits into a growing, US-led system. Indonesia 1965 was the deadliest and most consequential time this “method” was employed, though it wasn’t the first. Because of its fame and importance, countries in Latin America started using “Jakarta” to signify that exact kind of extermination program. The reason they did this, and the reason this is such a shocking moment in twentieth-century history, is because the Jakarta method absolutely worked. And the reason it worked so well was the posture of the world’s preeminent power, the United States. The global right saw what happened in Indonesia, and saw that Suharto was quickly accepted into the constellation of respected US allies. The global left saw, too, and reacted in ways that would have long-lasting consequences for socialist movements. But “Jakarta” was put into place effectively in South America and Central America, as well as parts of Asia (though they didn’t use that name), and these regimes ended up constructing the world we are sitting in today. The list is exhaustive: Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, and Argentina, to name a few. The major building blocks of a new globalized system, especially in the “developing world” — i.e., the vast majority of the planet. So, I think to a really large extent, we live in a world created by anti-communist massacres.

Central to the success of the campaign in Indonesia was its transferability. This is what Bevins means by his titular phrase, “the Jakarta Method:” when states with a large left-leaning party or nationalist bent began to show signs of developing an alternative to the American-led international order, the United States would assist sympathetic factions in those states to murder and disappear anyone who was vaguely thought to be a threat. From Indonesia to Brazil, from Guatemala to Chile: when it was clear the people would not choose the path of the United States during the Cold War, the Jakarta Method was employed–to use Mao’s phrase—to drain the water. In a poignant interview with a survivor of the Indonesian extermination, Bevins asks the old man how the United States won the Cold War and why the alternatives presented by the Non-Aligned Movement never came to fruition. “You killed us,” the man simply responds.

There was no communist threat in Brazil. On the other hand, there was a real threat to the social order that Brazilian elites and the military and the United States wanted to maintain. That order was very fragile and needed top-down violence to be sustained.

We did not build up the social-democratic structures that Western Europe did in the postwar years, and I think a bit of that — not all of it — can be blamed on that anti-communist impulse. I’m not sure if that is what stopped us from expanding our welfare state in recent years, because that kind of expansion hasn’t happened basically anywhere in the developed world since the Berlin Wall fall and the “neoliberal” world-historical era began. But I think it’s likely not a coincidence that the only rich country without socialized medicine was also the “global fortress of anti-communism,” as Brazilian historian Rodrigo Patto Sá Motta put it.

By Samuel Schiffer, November 17, 2020 https://georgetownsecuritystudiesreview.org/2020/11/17/a-crime-to-want-something-different/ Also see The New Republic: Where America Developed a Taste for State Violence

Sukarno and other leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade & The Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World (2020)

By Vincent Bevins, PublicAffairs, 307 pp., $28.00

As Vincent Bevins points out in his vital and timely new book, The Jakarta Method, it is the winners who write history. This is perhaps why mass killings, genocides, starvation, and extermination campaigns under Communist regimes are so well-documented. From the killing fields of Cambodia, to Stalinist gulags in the Soviet Union, to the tens of millions that perished under Mao; the horrors of leftist authoritarian governments are even familiar to most school-aged children in the West. We are forced to learn and internalize these stories for a couple reasons, I believe: first, they really happened and we must never forget them and their victims. Second, by painting such a diabolical, inhuman, and monstrous portrait of Communism and Socialism, they valorize the undisputed winner of the Cold War: the American, capitalist world order that we live in today.

As a former Washington Post and Los Angeles Times journalist, Bevins understands that reliably pro-American and stable countries seldom make scandalous headlines in the United States. It is shocking, then, when Americans learn about the myriad acts of aggression and abject violence their nation committed in the global cold war against Communism. As Bevins eloquently states, “I fear the truth of what happened contradicts so forcefully our idea of what the Cold War was, of what it means to be an American, or how globalization has taken place, that it has simply been easier to ignore it.”[i] The Jakarta Method, therefore, is Bevins’ laudable attempt to correct the winner’s record of the Cold War, to bring to light the human extermination campaigns the other side committed in the name of anti-Communism. As Bevins makes clear, “this is a book for those who have no special knowledge of Indonesia, or Brazil, or Chile or Guatemala or the Cold War…”[ii] For that reason, he takes liberties to oversimplify and paint in broad strokes the byzantine (from an analytical point of view) nature of the Cold War. For students and scholars familiar with the subject, then, large portions of the book may, unfortunately, induce some skipping ahead.

The Jakarta Method, as the title indicates, begins in Indonesia where upwards of one million accused Communists and leftists were killed during 1964 and 1965. Made famous by two terrific documentaries by Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014), the anti-Communist annihilation campaign is noteworthy for its brutality, efficiency, and scale. Having seen the films and familiar with the nature of the carnage, I was initially afraid to read The Jakarta Method. Bevins, though, deftly recounts the history of the event without indulging in the sadistic and truly ghastly details. He homes in on how the campaign fits within the history of the Cold War and provides keen analysis on its exemplification of fanatical, almost messianic, anti-Communism encouraged by the United States and executed by its allies in the Third World. 

Forgotten today, Indonesia at the time was viewed by the United States as a far more important prize than even Vietnam during the Cold War, according to Bevins: he quotes Secretary of State Dean Rusk as saying, “the loss of a nation of 105 million to the ‘Communist camp’ would make a victory in Vietnam of little meaning.”[iii] During the heady days of the 1950s and 1960s when decolonization was in full swing, the U.S. and the Soviet Union vied for influence in the Third World. Freshly independent Indonesia, under its first president, Sukarno, was a major player. As one of the spiritual leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement, Indonesia was a champion of anti-imperialism, boasting the world’s sixth largest population as well as the largest Communist party outside of the U.S.S.R. and China: the PKI. Parties like the PKI, other left-leaning nationalist former colonial populations, and much of the Non-Aligned Movement posed a serious threat to the kind of capitalist world the United States was striving to create. By interviewing Indonesians and Chileans who survived anti-Communist extermination programs, Bevins vividly communicates the boundless hope they had when there was a real chance to forge their own path, not confined to the American or Soviet systems. For the United States, there was not a third choice for these countries: either you were with them, or you were against them. In the mid-1960s, the United States decided for Indonesia.

In a staccato-rhythmed chapter that recounts the days leading up to the massacres in Indonesia, Bevins tells a story familiar to anyone with knowledge of mass killing campaigns. Most have an inciting incident that is then coopted by a group to scapegoat and justify the extermination. For Indonesia, it was the September 30th Movement: a mysterious, failed “Communist uprising” against senior Indonesian military leaders that resulted in the death of six generals. This was all that the right-leaning military, supported by the United States, needed to move against Sukarno and the PKI. What followed was the frenzied orgy of violence that took the lives of upwards of one million suspected Indonesian Communists. Without indulging, Bevins quotes declassified U.S. cables regarding the violence. Particularly harrowing is America’s ambassador to Indonesia, Marshall Green’s: “Army has nevertheless been working hard at destroying PKI and I, for one, have increasing respect for its determination and organization in carrying out this crucial assignment.”[iv] Once it was clear the army was going to crush the PKI and provide “a striking vindication of U.S. policy,” Bevins writes that, through the CIA, US embassy officials “prepared lists with the names of thousands of communists and suspected communists and handed them over to the Army, so that these people could be murdered and ‘checked off’ the list.”[v]

As Bevins convincingly argues, the extermination campaign in Indonesia was a massive victory for the United States during the Cold War. What could not be accomplished in Vietnam in more than ten years of costly conflict was achieved within months in Indonesia. Not only was one of the world’s largest Communist parties annihilated and Indonesia made a pliant partner in Southeast Asia, US and foreign capital was finally allowed to pour into the resource-rich nation. Bevins points out that, within days of the military assuming control, US firms began flooding into the country, including mining company Freeport, which uncovered what is now the largest gold mine on the planet.

Central to the success of the campaign in Indonesia was its transferability. This is what Bevins means by his titular phrase, “the Jakarta Method:” when states with a large left-leaning party or nationalist bent began to show signs of developing an alternative to the American-led international order, the United States would assist sympathetic factions in those states to murder and disappear anyone who was vaguely thought to be a threat. From Indonesia to Brazil, from Guatemala to Chile: when it was clear the people would not choose the path of the United States during the Cold War, the Jakarta Method was employed–to use Mao’s phrase—to drain the water. In a poignant interview with a survivor of the Indonesian extermination, Bevins asks the old man how the United States won the Cold War and why the alternatives presented by the Non-Aligned Movement never came to fruition. “You killed us,” the man simply responds.

As Bevins points out, in countries where a permutation of the Jakarta Method had been implemented, the military and their allies in government and media mobilized the fears of their populations by portraying leftists as not just political enemies, but outright evil. In Indonesia, for example, rumors spread that the generals killed during the September 30th Movement were mutilated and tortured by communist women. This effectively stamped any woman with connections to left-leaning politics or union membership, as a witch. In Brazil, as Bevins writes, “communism was associated with pure evil or witchcraft, drawn with the use of demons or satanic beasts, such as dragons, snakes, and goats.”[vi] These stories bear frightening resemblance to the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory in the United States, proving that these extremely dangerous tropes are not relics of the past, but are being peddled at the time of this writing by major news media and even members of Congress.

If the year 2020 has proven anything, it is the fragility of the capitalist word order that unambiguously won the Cold War. Massive income inequality, crony capitalist states (like Indonesia today), and economic precariousness (shockingly exposed by a virulent pandemic) have left the architects of the so-called liberal international order scratching their heads. If there is a silver lining, it is that new, dynamic social and political movements are presenting their cases for a world less encumbered by exploitation, corruption, and racism. Leaders like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and movements like Black Lives Matter and the Sunrise Movement have taken this opportunity to show the world that there is another path–that things do not have to be this way. On the other hand, there are an equal number of social and political elements that cling to the way things are–or worse, seek to transport the world into a (usually imagined) past. Autocrats like Jair Bolsonaro, Rodrigo Duterte, and to an extent, Donald Trump, represent the dialectical antithesis to a new progressivism. If the rise of these men has proven one thing, it is that the ideology of murderous anti-Communism is alive, well, and on the march.

The best history books read as maps to the present. Vincent Bevins’ The Jakarta Method not only explains how and why these extermination campaigns occurred, but illuminate the signs that they may happen again.



The mass slaughter of leftists in Indonesia was more than just another Washington-backed atrocity. It was the prototype for smashing the hopes and dreams of the Left in the developing world — for good.

Eko Soetikno, 75, holds a photo taken with his fellow inmates when he was imprisoned in Buru Island. Eko was a student who spent 14 years imprisoned without trial for suspected ties to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Ulet Ifansasti / Getty

Our new issue, “Failure Is an Option,” is out now. We discuss why the United States’ institutional breakdown won’t stop after Trump leaves office and what can be done to improve things for working people. 

With the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the post–Cold War global order has been shaken to its very core. The stark inequalities not only within nations but between nations has been laid bare.

For a generation shaped by the defeat of actually-existing communism and Third World nationalism, one of our difficulties has always been believing another world was ever truly possible. Our predecessors didn’t have that problem. They believed that not only was a more just society possible, it was within their reach.

But it wasn’t just failed economic experiments that put an end to those dreams. The defeat of socialist and reformist movements from Brazil to Indonesia was the result of an organized, global anti-communist campaign led by the United States and supported by other Western powers and local elites. And it was horrifically violent.

Journalist Vincent Bevins’s first book, The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World is an insightful and original history of this violence inflicted by the United States and its allies during the Cold War. Bevins argues that our world today is one built by anti-communist violence.

The Jakarta Method is more than just another litany of Cold War atrocities, it’s an empathetic engagement with the hopes and dreams of a generation that lived through these events. Jacobin contributing editor Benjamin Fogel spoke with Bevins about how anti-communism remade our world into the wildly unequal planet we live on today.

BF: What inspired you to write this book?

VB: I arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2017, to cover all of Southeast Asia for the Washington Post. First, it became very clear right away that the ghosts of the 1965 massacre lurked right below the surface no matter where I looked. It totally reshaped everything but was never spoken about candidly. And second, when I would tell people outside the region about what happened, they would invariably react with shock and interest. The mass killings in Indonesia were maybe the biggest “victory” for the West in the entire Cold War. It was, in fact, far more important for Washington to win here than in Vietnam. The United States assisted in the intentional murder of approximately 1 million innocent people. And third, I found out there were lots of unexpected connections to countries like Brazil, Chile, and Guatemala that I know well and where I could really add something. So I felt I had no choice.

BF: How exactly was the conflict in Indonesia more important than the Vietnam War?

VB: Indonesia is the fourth-largest country in the world by population. Within the “domino theory,” it was by far the biggest domino — it had nearly three times as many people as Vietnam. In the early 1960s, everyone in the US foreign-policy establishment recognized it was more important than Vietnam as a foreign-policy issue, as Sukarno was a founding leader of the Third World movement. The Vietnam War dominated US domestic politics for many years, but geopolitically, it achieved exactly nothing. Indonesia 1965–66 changed everything.

BF: The event at the heart of your book is a mass extermination campaign directed against the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), at the time the largest communist party outside of China and the Soviet Union. How was the party so successful and seen as such a threat to the United States’ interests?

VB: The PKI was the oldest communist party in Asia, founded before the Chinese Communist Party, and from the beginning, it was committed to collaboration with “national-bourgeois” forces. They were two-stage revolutionaries that only wanted to transition to socialism way in the future, after the full development of capitalism. It was very moderate compared to what English speakers think of when they hear “communist” today.

In China, the Comintern actually instructed Mao to collaborate with the Nationalists because Moscow wanted the Chinese to replicate the success Indonesian communists had working with Muslim groups. It didn’t work out so well for Mao, but the PKI stayed more or less on this path throughout its entire existence. After Sukarno and revolutionary forces expelled the Dutch in 1949, the PKI became one part of a new, independent multiparty democracy.

President Sukarno, the country’s independence hero and founding father, was not a communist. But he was a left-leaning anti-imperialist, governing in coalition with a lot of different forces. The Indonesian communists did not have weapons and didn’t even contemplate the possibility of armed struggle. Even American officials noted at the time that they were simply a really well-run organization — they had very popular cultural programs and peasant organizations and a huge feminist base, and they didn’t suffer from rampant corruption like everybody else. But they got more and more votes, which did not please Washington — so the United States tried two stop them in two ways, which both failed.

First, they started pumping cash into a more conservative Muslim party. Then, in 1958, CIA pilots bombed Indonesia, killing civilians, in an attempt to break up the country. That year, British intelligence noted that the PKI would get first place in elections. But despite the Communists’ protests, there weren’t any more elections, and PKI stuck to supporting Sukarno as, at the other end of the political spectrum, there was the US-trained and US-supplied military waiting in the wings.

BF: Part of the story you are telling here is about how a generation dreamed of a better world. Can you talk a bit about what inspired this generation and the significance of these dreams today?

VB: I put quite a lot of time and effort into making this a real story, with actual human beings and the ups and downs in their real lives, rather than just analysis or a body count. The people I ended up meeting drove the book for me and totally changed it.

And one thing that was really unexpected was the world they opened up for me, just by remembering what they once thought the future would be like. I was born in the 1980s, and for my generation, it all seems so obvious that the world would be like this, that you’d have crony capitalism everywhere except a few rich countries, and white people being able to fly to any of the poor brown countries and essentially buy and sell people there with money we got just by being born in the First World.

For my generation, it seemed clear that “communism” would lose and be swept off the face of the earth, and you’d have to maximize your value in an economy you know is kind of bullshit. That the most powerful country on Earth would just always be conducting wars with several countries at once that are mostly inscrutable to most people. All this seems like it had to happen.

And just from speaking to these people, spending months gaining their trust and understanding how they saw the world unfolding in the 1950s and the 1960s, it became very clear that it did not.

BF: What happened in Indonesia in 1965, and what led up these events? Could you also give us an idea which US actors were involved and for what reasons?

VB: The short version is that the US-backed military used a rebellion as a pretext to launch a grotesque anti-communist propaganda campaign, round up and murder approximately 1 million leftists or accused leftists, and put another million in concentration camps.

But the long version is: first, John F. Kennedy is murdered. That totally changes the US approach to Indonesia, and 1965 might be the most important consequence of JFK’s death. Lyndon Johnson has far less time for Sukarno’s anti-imperialist antics, specifically a confrontation with Britain over the creation of Malaysia and switches in a new ambassador. The CIA and MI6 stepped up their propaganda and clandestine activities, and a lot of this is secret to this day. I called up the CIA and asked what they did and why this is still classified, but guess what, they wouldn’t tell me.

What we do know is that, in secret, Western officials said repeatedly that the best thing that could happen would be an “abortive Communist coup” that could be used as justification to crush the PKI. Very mysteriously, something exactly like this happened. The various theories as to what the uprising really was could fill a gripping fifty-part podcast, but suffice to say there was a rebellion of low-level army officers that claimed a group of generals were planning a right-wing coup. Six of those generals ended up dead.

Very soon after that, reactionary general Suharto took control of the entire country, shut down all media except his own, and the military started overseeing mass murder. Citizens were told to kill or be killed. The United States provided critical material support, encouraged the military to kill more people, and provided lists with names of people to be executed. Regular leftists had no idea any of this was coming. Many I met had no prior conception that being “communist” was even a bad thing. The unimpeded slaughter was over by early 1966, and American corporations set up shop in the country soon after.

BF: The other major event in your book is the 1964 military coup in Brazil that led to twenty-one years of military rule. What was the significance of the coup, and how does it relate to the events of 1965 in Indonesia?

VB: The Brazilian coup happened first, of course. And to me, the propaganda story peddled by Suharto in 1965 looks eerily familiar to the anti-communist legend that motivated the Brazilian military one year before. But more broadly, what you have here is two countries that go through the same process at the same time and produce the same kind of societies. Both countries have US-backed military coups that create anti-communist, authoritarian capitalist social structures that mostly remain in place to this day.

The armed forces in both countries were trained at the same base in the United States and had a lot of opportunity to learn from each other, and they were certainly studying under the same American teachers. One major character in the book, an amazing man I was very lucky to meet, told me all about the way those men lived in Kansas in the 1950s.

The coups were enormous victories for the global right — these are huge countries, after all — and the resulting regimes embarked on a kind of anti-communist mini imperialism in their respective regions.

Then, in the early ’70s, as Brazil is in the most brutal phase of its dictatorship and helping the Chilean military to prepare the ground for their own coup, we see right-wing actors in both countries looking to Indonesia for inspiration, and that is the birth of the “Jakarta” terror meme that I trace across the world in the book.

BF: Terror meme?

VB: Right, the use and reuse of “Jakarta” afterward around the world to signify the mass murder of leftists. Painted on walls, sent in postcards, used to name secret terror operations, etc.

BF: How did these interventions differ from earlier Cold War interventions, such as the ones took place in Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954?

VB: I draw a kind of distinction between the first phase of Cold War interventions in the Third World — Iran 1953 and Guatemala 1954 are the best examples — and these quieter and ultimately more successful 1960s interventions. In Iran, you had the CIA hiring strongmen and circus performers to do fake protests. In Guatemala, you had planes dropping bombs on the capital, and the government negotiating its surrender directly with the US ambassador. It was just entirely obvious that Washington was orchestrating things, even if the US press did not tell Americans that.

With Indonesia and Brazil, it was different. In Indonesia in 1958, the CIA tried to replicate the success of the 1954 Guatemala playbook. It didn’t work. They had US pilots dropping bombs on tropical islands and killing civilians, and they got caught. So they shifted to a different strategy, of aligning themselves deeply with a strengthened military — something similar to what had been happening between Brazil and the United States since World War II.

So when you actually had the coups in 1964 and 1965, you had local actors leading events to a large extent, even if US officials were involved behind the scenes, constantly informed and giving their approval and advice, making it clear to the Brazilians and Indonesians what they should and should not do. To the average citizen in Indonesia and Brazil, it appeared that it was a segment of their own country that had seized power. To some extent, that was true.

And I think it’s no coincidence that the regimes established in Brazil and Indonesia were a whole lot more successful at creating a stable, lasting legacy than the governments created in Iran 1953 and Guatemala 1954.

BF: What exactly is the Jakarta Method, then?

VB: The Jakarta Method is rounding up and killing huge numbers of unarmed leftists, in the service of establishing a specific type of social order. By eliminating these people, this potential opposition, you clear the way for authoritarian capitalism at home and the creation of a geopolitical actor that fits into a growing, US-led system. Indonesia 1965 was the deadliest and most consequential time this “method” was employed, though it wasn’t the first. Because of its fame and importance, countries in Latin America started using “Jakarta” to signify that exact kind of extermination program. The reason they did this, and the reason this is such a shocking moment in twentieth-century history, is because the Jakarta method absolutely worked. And the reason it worked so well was the posture of the world’s preeminent power, the United States. The global right saw what happened in Indonesia, and saw that Suharto was quickly accepted into the constellation of respected US allies. The global left saw, too, and reacted in ways that would have long-lasting consequences for socialist movements. But “Jakarta” was put into place effectively in South America and Central America, as well as parts of Asia (though they didn’t use that name), and these regimes ended up constructing the world we are sitting in today. The list is exhaustive: Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, and Argentina, to name a few. The major building blocks of a new globalized system, especially in the “developing world” — i.e., the vast majority of the planet. So, I think to a really large extent, we live in a world created by anti-communist massacres.

BF: I think what is striking about these events is that, with some exceptions, the cases that anchor your book — Brazil and Indonesia, along with the later example of Chile in 1973 — were reformist and communist projects that sought to pursue change democratically rather than revolutionary means. Do you think there are lessons here for today’s Left?

VB: Definitely. By and large, and especially in the case of the Indonesian Communist Party, it was the nonviolent, gradualist movements that were killed. The simple explanation is that it wouldn’t have been so easy to kill them if they were armed, or even expecting this at all. Even in the countries where you did have violent guerrilla movements (as in Central America), the bulk of the dead were usually not the hardened fighters up in the hills, but peasants who were taken entirely by surprise when the military death squads arrived.

I spent some time in a Guatemalan village where this occurred, and it’s just impossible to communicate the depths of the depravity here, not to mention the burning injustice of the life that was left after the violence was over. Compared to their plight, I feel guilty for saying this, but this was a very emotionally difficult book to write. What I found really throttled me, threw me entirely off balance, and made me question a lot of things. Though I made sure not to make the actual book violent or horrible, I was swimming really deep in some dark stuff, and it was difficult.

Perhaps for that reason, I may not be the best person to draw the lessons out. I definitely think there are lessons there. I just think they aren’t one hundred percent clear. They require some careful consideration. I think, for example, enthusiastic supporters of the Bernie Sanders campaign may find some resonance with their current moment. More directly, readers living in the “developing world” could find, I think, that it sheds some light on the contemporary situation. And the story certainly tells us a lot about the nature of US hegemony. What I would really like is for other people to take the whole book in and tell me what they think the lessons are.

BF: You argue in the book that anti-communist violence destroyed the potential for alternative experiments in development for the so-called Third World, leading to our current age of global inequality. Can you expand on what this meant, for instance, in Bandung or the New International Economic Order, in the sense that it was blood that ended these experiments more than economic errors?

VB: One of the things that was especially moving, perhaps more so than the violence, was sitting down with these elderly people and talking at length about how they understood the world in the beginning of the 1960s.

The Third World — used in the entirely optimistic and triumphant original sense — had just achieved independence from European imperialism. The peoples of the formerly colonized nations were coming together to take their place on the world stage. Of course they would change the rules of the global order. Of course they would catch up to the West. Of course they would advance toward socialism. It wasn’t just leftist militants who believed this — in Indonesia, this was basically the national ideology, and all across Asia and Africa and Latin America, it just seemed obvious. You get rid of colonialism, so now you get to be equal to the white countries. I could just see their eyes light up when they remember this dream.

It didn’t happen, of course. And I try to demonstrate in this book that a significant part of the reason for that, a constituent element of the “globalization” that we did get, was a new type of violence. And if you look at the people who were killed simply for their beliefs in that progressive future — the feminist Gerakan Wanita in Indonesia, for example — you found they stood for things that almost every good liberal in the English-speaking world now defends.

BF: One of the arguments you make is that anti-communism is a founding ideology or even religion in countries like Indonesia and Brazil. What does this mean, and how does it continue to shape contemporary politics? Do you think this is true to an extent in the United States as well?

VB: Well, it is uncontroversial that anti-communism was the foundational ideology for the regimes created in 1964 and 1965. But what I think is really interesting is that no one pays much attention to what that actually means. I feel as if it’s like the fish trying to describe water. We live in a world where it is so obvious that the anti-communists won that we don’t see how that affected our trajectory.

And what it meant for twentieth-century anti-communist dictatorships is that any kind of criticism of the social order, any bottom-up pressure, any give and take between capital and labor — the kind of thing most everyone recognizes as being essential to functioning capitalism — can be dismissed as “communism” and cast aside. Which generates the deeply corrupt form of capitalism you see now basically everywhere except for Western Europe and, perhaps, North America.

But in Brazil and Indonesia, the anti-communist legacy is especially obvious. To this day, it is still illegal to defend “communism” in Indonesia, which leads to absurd stories of clueless tourists wearing a T-shirt from a communist country and getting arrested, or much more seriously, my friends and roommate getting threatened and terrorized any time they meet to talk about their country’s history. In Brazil, when I started working on this book in 2017, I said that the ghost of violent anti-communism had never been exorcised and could return to terrify the country. Now that Jair Bolsonaro is president, I take no pleasure in being proven much more right than I ever expected.

Coincidentally, his son, congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro, wants to make “communism” illegal in Brazil, and he has cited the Indonesian law as inspiration.BF

These events have been recast according to the victors in Brazil, for instance, as a revolution in defense of democracy against communism. In both cases, to varying degrees, a type of mass amnesia prevails. How do you think this revisionism shapes contemporary politics?VB

It’s important to stress two things at the same time. On the one hand, there was no communist threat in Brazil. On the other hand, there was a real threat to the social order that Brazilian elites and the military and the United States wanted to maintain. That order was very fragile and needed top-down violence to be sustained.

President “Jango” Goulart was a liberal reformer at most, the Communist party was fairly small, and Moscow had no interest in trying to provoke Washington by fomenting revolution in South America. However, if he had been allowed to run again, he would have likely won. If he had implemented some of his basic reforms — allowing everyone to vote, basic land reform, mass literacy — that would have changed the country, including for the elites. Brazil is a violent settler colony largely defined by elite terror of slave rebellions or revolution from below, and once more, the ruling class saw red and attacked first. The 1964 coup stopped social evolution in its tracks, and froze that mid-century social order in place, largely to this day.

Of course, everyone in Brazil fights over defining and redefining history, and Bolsonaro has been remarkably victorious in the last two to three years. We now often see a version that is more virulently anti-communist and distorted than that which the generals were presenting in 1968.

BF: What do you believe is the legacy of this anti-communism in American politics?

VB: Well, I think there are two things. On the one hand, we did not build up the social-democratic structures that Western Europe did in the postwar years, and I think a bit of that — not all of it — can be blamed on that anti-communist impulse. I’m not sure if that is what stopped us from expanding our welfare state in recent years, because that kind of expansion hasn’t happened basically anywhere in the developed world since the Berlin Wall fall and the “neoliberal” world-historical era began. But I think it’s likely not a coincidence that the only rich country without socialized medicine was also the “global fortress of anti-communism,” as Brazilian historian Rodrigo Patto Sá Motta put it.

And second, that muscle memory is just very obviously still there. I think Russiagate was probably a good example of that. I didn’t follow the stuff closely, but I think historians will probably look and conclude, “Well, it seems liberals had a kind of freak-out, went into denial that their countrymen elected Donald Trump, and slid in an old Cold War baddie because it was easier than looking at themselves,” leaving aside, of course, all the ways that Vladimir Putin was actually a bad actor in 2016.

This is not really what you asked, but I think the real legacy of our “anti-communist crusade,” as I put it, is not so much domestic as it defined our geopolitical position, our relation to the rest of the world. And for that, it was everything. I think Odd Arne Westad is right to say that much of the global system was hammered out in “Cold War” conflicts, and this is probably the most extensive and robust global system in planetary history.


The CIA’s Secret Global War Against the Left


Forty-five years ago, under a cloak of secrecy, Operation Condor was officially launched: a global campaign of violent repression against the Latin American left by the region’s quasi-fascist military dictatorships. The US government not only knew about the program — it helped to engineer it.

Augusto Pinochet and Henry Kissinger in 1976. (Archivo General Histórico del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores)

In Buenos Aires, a former Chilean general returns home, opens his garage door, and is blasted thirteen feet in the air when his car explodes, incinerating his wife. A conservative opponent of the country’s military dictatorship and his wife take an afternoon walk on the streets of Rome and are swiftly gunned down. On a rainy autumn morning, a car blows up in the middle of Washington, DC’s Embassy Row, killing two of the three inside: a leader of Chile’s opposition in exile and his newlywed American friend. These were just some of the most prized scalps claimed by Operation Condor, officially inaugurated forty-five years and two days ago. With South America in the grip of military dictatorships and rocked by the same kinds of social and political movements that were demanding change all over the world in the 1960s and ’70s, a handful of the continent’s governments made a pact to work together to roll back the rising tide of “subversives” and “terrorists.”

What followed was a secret, global campaign of violent repression that spanned not just countries, but continents, and featured everything from abduction and torture to murder. To say it was known about by the US government, which backed these regimes, is an understatement: though even this simple fact was denied at the time, years of investigations and document releases since then mean that we now know the CIA and top-ranking US officials supported, laid the groundwork for, and were even directly involved in Condor’s crimes.

Zooming out, Condor was hardly some uniquely shocking case of anticommunist paranoia spiraling out of control. As its connections to anticommunist terror in Europe have become clearer, it looks more like a particularly successful example of the covert war the US national security state had set into motion all over the world against democracy and the Left, a war that saw it get into bed with fascists and that, in some cases, arguably constituted genocide. It was the system working exactly as intended, in other words, and a stark reminder of the lengths the global centers of power will go to keep things the way they are.

World War Three

The middle of the twentieth century saw a flourishing of people’s movements in Latin America that threatened to upend the rigid hierarchies of the hemisphere: feminist and workers’ movements, movements for indigenous rights, peasant-led movements for agrarian reform, and leftist movements, to name a few. Naturally, they had to be stopped.

Until then, Washington-backed juntas and dictatorships had successfully kept a lid on such social change, or simply overthrew whatever governments those movements succeeded in forming. Such changes, after all, directly threatened not just the power and privileges of the region’s long-standing elite, but Western business interests, too. So it was that, at the prodding of US-owned corporations like Chase Manhattan, Anaconda Copper, and Pepsi, former corporate lawyer and then-president Richard Nixon backed the military overthrow of Salvador Allende’s democratically elected socialist government in 1973, and its replacement by a vicious dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet. The middle of the twentieth century saw a flourishing of people’s movements in Latin America that threatened to upend the rigid hierarchies of the hemisphere.

But for the region’s paranoid leadership, even their internal campaigns of terror were not enough. So, in 1975, the governments of Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay secretly met in Santiago, Chile, and agreed to work together to spy on and track “suspicious individuals” and organizations “directly or indirectly linked to Marxism.” Before long, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador joined up, too. The information-gathering initiative was dubbed “Condor,” in honor of the national bird of several of the participants, including the host country.

Despite what the minutes stated, this was no mere surveillance pact. What Operation Condor meant in practice was that the state kidnappings, torture, and murder that had run roughshod over the remaining pockets of dissent within these countries would now go beyond their national borders. If you were a leftist or anyone else the government saw as a threat, then escape, exile, and even asylum would no longer save you. There was nowhere to hide.

“Argentina was still a democracy at the time, and was a safe haven for many leftists who had been forced out of several countries in the Southern Cone,” says New York University associate professor Remi Brulin. “Suddenly, they realized that was not safe anymore.”

While Condor officially lasted only a few years, the region’s governments had long collaborated in less formalized ways to stamp out their political opponents. According to the Database on South America’s Transnational Human Rights Violations, between 1969 and 1981, such cross-border operations claimed at least 763 victims of atrocities ranging from kidnapping and torture to outright murder, nearly half of them Uruguayan, close to a quarter Argentine, and 15 percent of them Chilean. Most of these atrocities took place in Argentina, which saw 544 cases, with Uruguay a distant second at 129.

As explained in a 1976 report by Harry W. Shlaudeman, Richard Nixon’s assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, South American officials like Uruguay’s foreign minister Juan Carlos Blanco Estradé (“one of the brighter and normally steadier members of the group”) saw themselves as fighting a “Third World War,” with “the countries of the southern cone as the last bastion of Christian civilization.” Having come to power “in battle against the extreme left,” he noted, these repressive governments had “their ego, their salaries, and their equipment-budgets” inextricably wrapped up in this concept.

The result was a stream of often stomach-churning crimes. The typical Condor operation might go something like this: once a target was identified, a team — made up of nationals from one or more member countries — would find and surveil the individual, before a second team snatched and spirited them away to a secret prison, sometimes in the country they’d been found, sometimes elsewhere. There they would be held and tortured, including beatings, waterboarding, mock executions, electrocution, rape, and worse, sometimes for months on end. In some cases, family members were kidnapped and tortured, too, or even stolen from them, for no reason beyond sadism. According to the database, there are at least twenty-three cases of the kidnapping of victims’ children, passed off to their killers to be raised as their own. South American officials saw themselves as fighting a ‘Third World War.’

Few survived, though more often than not, the exact fate of those who were taken isn’t clear. They were simply never heard from again. On occasion, survivors brought back word about the disappeared, such as witnesses who remembered Jorge Isaac Fuentes Alarcón, a sociologist arrested while crossing the Argentina-Paraguay border and accused of being a courier for the far-left Chilean group MIR. The stories were never pretty. Those witnesses later testified that they’d seen Fuentes arrive at the Villa Grimaldi death camp in Santiago covered in scabies, with one victim-turned-collaborator-under-duress recalling that he was chained in a doghouse full of parasites, mockingly referred to as “pichicho” (street dog).

Yet such testimony also spoke to the resilience of the human spirit and the sense of solidarity that knitted such leftist groups together. Fuentes was in good spirits, witnesses said, and bucked up other prisoners by singing. One young prisoner recalled how Patricio Biedma, another arrested MIR member, had been a father figure for him in prison, teaching him how to survive. Biedma’s wife and three children never learned what became of their loved one.

Though Condor ostensibly targeted “guerrillas” and “Marxists,” the people of South America learned early on and in an especially brutal way what US protesters and law-abiding Muslims would learn after the Bush years: that such malleable terms can be stretched to mean almost anyone.

Operation Condor pursued many types of political opponents, including congressional representatives, former ministers, human rights advocates (including people in Amnesty International), constitutionalist military officers, peasant leaders, unionists, priests and nuns, professors and students,” says J. Patrice McSherry, professor emerita of political science at Long Island University and author of Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America. “Condor targeted not only the Left, but also the center-left and other democratic sectors that were fighting to demand their rights and make more inclusive the elitist democracies of the era.”

“First, the aim was to stop terrorism,” one operative from the Department of National Intelligence (DINA), Chile’s feared secret police, explained. “Then possible extremists were targeted, and later those who might be converted into extremists.” Or, as one Argentine general put it: “First we will kill all the subversives; then we will kill their collaborators; then their sympathizers; then those who are indifferent.”

Though this was supposed to be justified by the dire threat of left-wing violence, it’s hard to take such a threat seriously today. Not only were the Condor governments targeting individuals who were peaceful or unconnected to any revolutionary movements, but those movements had largely been defeated or even given up on armed struggle. As Shlaudeman put it to Henry Kissinger in 1976: “Both terrorists and the peaceful left have failed. This is true even in the minds of studious revolutionaries.” Fernando Lopez has argued that the regimes “grossly overstated the threat posed by the revolutionary movements” so they could go after their real target: the opposition in exile, who drew global sympathy and solidarity, and isolated the Condor governments internationally.

Orlando Letelier, killed by a car bomb in Washington, DC, in 1976. (The Transnational Institute)

Their plans weren’t confined to the continent. Twelve of the victims of cross-border operations came from countries outside of the region, including the UK, Italy, France, and the United States, while some of the most high-profile targets were assassinated in European countries, making Condor not just a transnational operation, but a global one. As exiled left-wing and moderate opponents of Pinochet’s dictatorship planned to campaign for diplomatic isolation of the country, he plotted to take them out.

Agents of DINA planned attacks in Portugal and France, and tried repeatedly to kill Carlos Altamirano, general secretary of the Socialist Party of Chile: once in Mexico, when they showed up too late; several times in Paris, when they were foiled by French intelligence; and once in Madrid, where the attempt failed. Bernardo Leighton, the founder of Chile’s Christian Democrat Party, may not have been a radical — he opposed much of Allende’s program — but he was guilty of meeting with Socialist leaders to form an opposition front of exiles against the regime. He survived a gunshot to the back of the head in Rome, but was left with permanent brain damage, ending his opposition activities.

While Pinochet took a leading role, the targets weren’t just Chilean. Scotland Yard prevented the assassination of Uruguayan senator Wilson Ferreira Aldunate in London, while then-representative Edward Koch, later to become mayor of New York City, was warned by then-CIA director George H. W. Bush that there was a threat on his life, thanks to his successful amendment to end US military aid to Uruguay. In Buenos Aires, two Uruguayan legislators and two activists were kidnapped in the early morning and later found with shots to the head in a car left under a bridge. Meanwhile, as journalist John Dinges has pointed out, a slew of seemingly natural deaths in a few short years of opponents in exile of the continent’s various dictatorships raises further suspicions.

Perhaps the most famous victim of Condor was Orlando Letelier, Allende’s former ambassador to the United States. After being detained and tortured by the regime following the coup, diplomatic pressure allowed Letelier to escape and eventually return to Washington, DC, where he soon became one of the most visible and influential members of Chile’s opposition to exile. Set up in the heart of American power and hobnobbing with US officials and their families, Letelier led a successful legislative campaign to ban US arms sales to Chile, lobbied against a $63 million investment by a Dutch company into the country, and fiercely criticized Pinochet’s free-market economic reforms.

All of it made him a marked man. In 1976, two DINA agents entered the United States on passports from Paraguay, a fellow Condor member, and with the help of two exiled Cuban anti-communists, rigged a bomb to Letelier’s car that detonated right on DC’s Embassy Row, killing him and one of his two American passengers. Until September 11, 2001, it would remain the worst act of foreign terrorism on US soil.

The Dirty Work

For years, the official story was that the US government learned about Condor roughly around the same time as everyone else, in 1976. In fact, through declassifications, firsthand testimony, and the work of historians, we now know that this program of state terror had been sanctioned, facilitated, and encouraged by the US government.

Contrary to its denials at the time, a CIA report produced for Congress in 2000 would admit that “within a year after the [1973 Chilean] coup, the CIA and other US government agencies were aware of bilateral cooperation among regional intelligence services to track the activities of and, in at least a few cases, kill political opponents” — a “precursor” to Condor. Consider, too, that Manuel Contreras, the ruthless DINA chief knee-deep in Condor, was a (at one point, paid) CIA asset from 1974 to 1977, despite an internal 1975 report finding him “the principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy within the junta.” Evidence suggests the US government wasn’t just aware of the crimes of Operation Condor, but directly involved in them.

For decades, speculation has abounded about just how unintentionally oblivious segments of the US government really were to the Letelier operation specifically. Despite being repeatedly alerted to the DINA agents’ attempts to enter the United States, and its suspicious nature, the CIA did nothing. A mere five days before they killed Letelier, Kissinger backpedaled an order for US ambassadors in a handful of the Condor countries to express the US government’s “deep concerns” over the reported plans of overseas assassination. Earlier that year, Pinochet had personally complained to Kissinger about Letelier’s activities, in a conversation in which Kissinger assured the dictator that “we are sympathetic with what you are trying to do.”

But worse, evidence uncovered by figures like McSherry and Dinges suggest the US government wasn’t just aware of the crimes of Condor, but directly involved in them.

Archival documents show the CIA, FBI, and even US embassies providing intelligence and names of suspects to the Condor governments, with both hemispheres looking into suspects on their home turf at the other’s behest. That included Fuentes, the results of whose interrogation (including the names he gave up) the US embassy in Buenos Aires relayed to Chilean police. Contreras himself later insisted, in court and to reporters, that the CIA had been involved in both the murder of Letelier and Carlos Prats, the former Chilean general blown up in Argentina a year before Condor’s founding, and that he had given the FBI documents proving his claims in 2000.

There is strong evidence that US officers played a key role in the 1973 murder of two Americans, journalist Charles Horman and student Frank Teruggi, in the days that followed the coup, and that US intelligence was surveilling them. A 1979 Senate report stated that as early as 1974, the CIA had warned local authorities in France and Portugal about incoming Condor assassinations and discussed setting up a Condor headquarters with DINA in Miami — a move it rejected at the time but proceeded with a few years later with the Argentinians.

Henry Kissinger with President Richard Nixon, 1970.

McSherry later found yet another damning document, this one a 1978 cable from the then-US ambassador to Paraguay. The cable reported that Condor governments “keep in touch with one another through a US communications installation in the Panama Canal Zone” (“CONDORTEL”), using it to “co-ordinate intelligence information among the Southern cone countries.” This was just two years after Shlaudeman informed Kissinger of the “paranoia” of South American governments, who were increasingly targeting “non-violent dissent from the left and the center left” and “nearly anyone who opposes government policy,” and after the US embassy in Buenos Aires warned Kissinger that Argentinian security forces, in collaboration with neighboring governments, were involved in brutal “excesses . . . often involving innocent people.”

In fact, it was precisely those at the very top, like Kissinger, who gave their approval to the Condor governments’ plans. Upon being told by Brazil’s newly installed dictator Emílio Garrastazu Médici in 1971 that the South American country was planning to help overthrow Chile’s elected socialist government, Nixon offered money and aid for the effort, telling him the two governments needed to work together to “prevent new Allendes and Castros and try where possible to reverse these trends.” It was during those meetings, according to a later memo, that Nixon asked Médici for support “in safeguarding the internal security and status quo in the hemisphere,” which one general read as a request for Brazil to “do the dirty work.”

Kissinger himself infamously told the foreign minister of Argentina in June 1976, in between repeatedly assuring him the US government hoped for the new junta’s success: “If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly.”

Behind the Throne

But the US government’s role in the birth of Condor went well beyond diplomatic winks and nods.

The methods and strategies employed by Condor operatives had their roots in the US training that Latin American militaries received through vehicles like the notorious School of the Americas (SOA), which aimed to pass on the battlefield and counterinsurgency lessons the US military had learned over its past decades of war-making. The SOA’s “graduates” eventually comprised one of every seven members of the DINA command staff, after learning the very things they would soon become feared for in their home countries: assassination, extortion, coercion against family members, psychological manipulation and the use of drugs, and torture techniques, including electrocution and even the specific, sensitive nerve points it could be applied to — just to name a few.

Before Condor, the earliest laboratories for this training were Guatemala and Vietnam. Guatemala saw around 200,000 people killed between the 1954 coup and 1996, many of them victims of, first, a US-led assassination and paramilitary war program in the 1950s, and, through the 1960s, a counterinsurgency program that featured bombing, kidnapping, torture, and murder of “communists and terrorists” — the first instance of mass disappearances in Latin America, and all taught and facilitated by US security forces.

Running parallel to this was the CIA-led Phoenix Program in Vietnam, in which US forces financed, directed, and oversaw a campaign of assassination, terror, and torture carried out by South Vietnamese locals against the Viet Cong and, especially, their civilian sympathizers. The resulting atrocities didn’t stop the Phoenix experience from informing the training manuals for future Condor operatives.

Besides this, the United States also laid the groundwork for Condor by instigating and formalizing a unified, anti-communist front among the powerful Latin American militaries. The US government had been warning its commanders about the communist menace since at least 1945, with US money, arms, and training soon following. This escalated after the 1959 Cuban revolution, with President John F. Kennedy issuing the internal defense and development (IDAD) doctrine encouraging military repression in the region, and the Conference of American Armies (CAA) held annually from 1960 on. As one 1971 state department cable later outlined, “it is especially desirable that such neighboring countries as Argentina and Brazil collaborate effectively with the Uruguayan security forces and where possible we should encourage such cooperation.”

Like the SOA and US telecommunications networks, the CAA was a piece of the hemisphere’s wider US national security structure that eventually became the skeleton for Condor. The CAA’s charter defined its member armies’ mission as “protect[ing] the continent from the aggressive action of the International Communist Movement,” and early meetings revolved around many of the hallmarks of Condor: fighting “communist aggression,” intelligence-sharing on subversives, and systems of schools, telecommunication networks, and training programs for this purpose. In one 1966 meeting, Argentina’s military dictator floated the creation of “an intelligence center coordinated among Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay,” while seven years later, the head of Brazil’s army suggested to “extend the exchange of information” among attendees to “struggle against subversion.”

The United States then took a leading role in establishing the post-coup dictatorships’ spy agencies who provided the foot soldiers of Condor, including Paraguay’s La Técnica, Brazil’s SNI, and, of course, DINA. Contreras would later charge that the CIA officers sent down to do the honors actually “wanted to remain in Chile, in charge of the principal DINA posts,” an idea Pinochet nixed.

‘Is it conceivable that we are so obsessed with insurgency that we are prepared to rationalize murder as an acceptable counter-insurgency weapon?’ asked one Guatemalan embassy official.

While sanctioned by its security forces and high-ranking officials, US involvement sometimes elicited objections, even horror from those lower down. The US embassy in Argentina warned Kissinger in 1976 that the “kind of counterviolence” employed by the country’s dictatorship “could eventually create more problems than it solves” and that “many who formerly supported the govt [sic] have been alienated by its tolerance of excesses on the part of the security forces — often involving innocent people.” It echoed the more unabashed outrage of one Guatemalan embassy official in 1968, who asked: “Is it conceivable that we are so obsessed with insurgency that we are prepared to rationalize murder as an acceptable counter-insurgency weapon?”

The more information we learn only deepens US government complicity. This year’s revelation that the Swiss encryption company Crypto AG was secretly a CIA front that gave the agency a back door to the encrypted communications of the governments that used it suggests the US government was likely aware of what Condor members were up to in real time. Condor countries had, after all, built their entire communication network around Crypto AG’s hardware.

“There Are No Rules”

That the US government was behind a secret, continent-wide campaign of political terror and repression speaks to the paranoia of the country’s elites, inflamed by the rising power of the Soviet Union and the movements they viewed as manipulable by it. As the 1954 Doolittle Report put it, when “facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means . . . there are no rules in such a game,” “acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply,” and “long-standing American concepts of ‘fair play’ must be reconsidered.”

No wonder the blood-soaked officials of Condor countries saw kindred spirits in their US counterparts. “The only thing separating us is our uniforms, for the men of the armies of America, I believe, have never before understood one another as we do at this moment,” the commander of Uruguay’s joint chiefs told a 1975 CAA meeting. “There exists a coordination among the armies of the continent to combat and impede Marxist infiltration or whatever other form of subversion.

What this meant in practice is that the US government got in bed with not just authoritarians and dictators, but even out-and-out fascists.

Noam Chomsky has pointed out the parallels between fascist thought and the “national security doctrine” that drove the Latin American dictators’ repression, with its belief in the preeminence of the state over the individual and of permanent war. But US officials noticed it, too. As Shlaudeman noted, the Latin American dictatorships were driven not just by anti-Marxism, but by a nationalist “developmentalist” ideology in which military establishments partnered with technocrats to deliver industrialization.

“National developmentalism has obvious and bothersome parallels to National Socialism,” he wrote. “Opponents of the military regimes call them fascist. It is an effective pejorative, the more so because it can be said to be technically accurate.”

The US government got in bed with not just authoritarians and dictators, but even out-and-out fascists.

These parallels were more horrifyingly clear in the militaries’ treatment of dissidents. As figures like photographer João de Carvalho Pina and historian Daniel Feierstein have noted, the overcrowding, starvation, tortures, and general dehumanizing treatment of prisoners by the Condor dictatorships bore obvious similarities with the conditions of Nazi concentration camps.

But it went beyond mere parallels. Argentine camps were suffused with Nazism: decorated with swastikas and portraits of Hitler, recordings of Nazi speeches ringing through facilities, prisoners painted with swastikas and forced to yell “Heil Hitler,” with especially sadistic tortures reserved for Jewish captives. Escaped former Nazis had, after all, been welcomed into Latin American military dictatorships, including the former head of Gestapo in Lyon, Klaus Barbie. Wanted in France for unspeakable crimes, Barbie instead resettled in Bolivia, teaching torture and repression to military officers across the continent, before eventually helping organize the country’s 1980 “Cocaine Coup” and taking up a role in the military dictatorship that followed.

Ex-fascists “infiltrated various sectors of the Argentine Society,” Argentine journalist Tomás Eloy Martínez explained. “It would be useful to ask whether it is only a coincidence that the use of torture attained such heights of cruelty and sophistication. We should continue to ask ourselves whether or not the appearance of concentration camps, mass graves, and hundreds of bodies floating in Argentine rivers after 1974 is merely coincidental.”

This connection to European fascists links Condor to another secret, continent-wide anti-communist initiative: the NATO-led stay-behind program in Europe, the most famous of which was Operation Gladio in Italy. Like Condor, the stay-behind armies were a US-devised and US-backed network of local right-wing paramilitaries, meant to activate in case of communist invasion or simply electoral victory, and who, in the meantime, carried out a campaign of assassinations, destabilization, and general political violence in their home countries. And like Condor, they employed current and “former” fascists, usually in direct alliance with the countries’ high-ranking security forces.

The connections between the two programs were numerous. Before helping Barbie escape to South America, the US government used him as a stay-behind recruiter in Europe. CIA officials like Vernon Walters and Duane Clarridge cut their teeth on Eurasian stay-behind operations before overseeing right-wing repression south of the border.

It was the Gladio-linked neofascist organization Avanguardia Nazionale, contracted by DINA, that carried out the failed attempt on Bernardo Leighton’s life. DINA agents and even Pinochet himself met in advance of the assassination with its leader, Stefano Delle Chiaie, who later worked for DINA and, he claimed, helped create it, before going to serve alongside Barbie in Bolivia’s coup government. Delle Chiaie also happened to meet personally with Pinochet just days before the Chilean dictator formalized the creation of Condor, and he arrived in Chile to get to work shortly thereafter.

Licio Gelli, member of the far-right Italian masonic lodge Propaganda Due (P-2). (Wikimedia Commons)

Particularly notable was the powerful fascist businessman Licio Gelli (“I am fascist and will die a fascist,” he once proclaimed), grandmaster of the right-wing Italian Masonic Lodge, Propaganda Due (P-2), whose members spanned virtually every segment of the Italian establishment, including future prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Gelli and P-2 worked closely with the CIA and the Gladio network to manipulate Italian politics, “carefully ensuring that the Communist party should never emerge,” as he explained in 2008. Through the 1970s, he and the lodge pulled double duty in Argentina, inserting themselves into the highest levels of business and government in the country, with Gelli “a key mover in the development of the continuity between democracy and state terrorism over the period that spans from 1974 to 1981,” as sociologist Claudio Tognonato wrote.

There is, in other words, more than a hint, as McSherry has argued, that “US forces transferred the stay-behind model to Latin America” in the form of programs like Condor. As the Pentagon Papers revealed, the US government had already done so in another Cold War theater, Vietnam, where in 1956 it tasked a special forces unit “with the initial mission of preparing stay-behind organizations in South Vietnam just below the 17th Parallel, for guerrilla warfare in the event of an overt invasion by North Vietnamese forces.”

But the evidence also hints at something darker: at a “global anti-Marxist agreement,” in the words of the court testimony of Michael Townley, the DINA agent behind the Prats, Leighton, and Letelier assassinations.

Coming Full Circle

Though Condor has long been over, its language and practices continue to echo today.

According to Brulin, it was with the ascent of Ronald Reagan from 1981 on that the bellicose political discourse around terrorism that had suffused the Condor countries infected the United States, with Reaganite “anti-terror” rhetoric initially focused on Central America. As the years passed, its spirit continued to haunt US politics, even as the focus shifted to the Middle East.

“Everything the US has been saying after 9/11 is something Reagan is saying about Central and South America in the 1980s, and what US officers are saying to Latin American dictators in the 1950s and 1960s,” says Brulin. “And always based on the same lie: how strong the enemy was, and what we are doing about them, which in the real world is using death squads.”

Of course, it wasn’t just discourse. It’s impossible to talk about the details of Condor without thinking of the “war on terror” launched by George W. Bush nearly twenty years ago.

“We witnessed the use by US counterterrorist forces of disappearances, cross-border renditions, torture, secret ‘black sites’ located in other countries, and so on, approved by civilian authorities,” says McSherry. “All of these methods characterized Operation Condor.”

“There have been other manifestations of Condor-like practices that have taken place and are taking place in the decades since,” says Francesca Lessa, who is researching the crimes of and accountability for Condor at the University of Oxford. “If you think about the practices of clandestine rendition in the war on terror, for example — those have all of the hallmarks of what Condor used to be in Latin America several decades earlier.”

Even the torture employed by Condor operatives, such as threatening to kill or rape loved ones, squalid conditions forcing total dependence on one’s captors, and simulated drowning, was in many cases exactly the same as the techniques used by US forces against accused terrorists and taught to Latin American forces by US officers decades before that.

As the “war on terror” progressed, we’ve seen some of the hallmarks of Condor operations increasingly turned on the domestic US population. This is particularly so with Donald Trump, who, sometimes to the enthusiastic applause of liberal politicians, has repeatedly railed against socialists and other domestic enemies, and more recently engaged in a range of behavior that would be familiar to the victims of Condor: law and order rhetoric, threats to declare dissidents terrorists, and massively overstating the power of the groups he opposes. Perhaps more alarmingly, street kidnappings and other counterinsurgency tactics have now apparently become legitimate elements of domestic law enforcement under his presidency.

Ironically, this has happened at the same time that the perpetrators of Condor and its member governments have increasingly found themselves facing justice, exposing more about its workings in the process. While impunity held fast in the hemisphere as late as the 2000s, campaigns and legal efforts by survivors and victims’ families have changed all that, assisted by a vast and incriminating archival paper trail created, ironically, by the program’s highly organized and transnational nature.

According to the numbers compiled by Lessa in her Operation Condor project, since the 1970s, there have been forty-four criminal investigations into Condor-related crimes across eight countries. Those include not just Condor member nations, but Italy, France, and the United States, too. In a rare bit of real-world poetic justice, it is now the perpetrators of Condor who seem to have nowhere to hide.

Twenty-eight of these investigations have concluded with at least an initial sentence, says Lessa, which have seen 118 defendants convicted for crimes against 213 victims. Those include the twenty DINA agents tried for Condor activities in 2018, the 2016 conviction of eighteen former Argentine military officers for their participation in Condor, and Contreras himself, who was sentenced to 526 years in prison in 1995 and died in jail two decades later. By Lessa’s count, there are currently two ongoing trials and twelve investigations at the pretrial stage.

In a rare bit of real-world poetic justice, it is now the perpetrators of Condor who seem to have nowhere to hide. Years of pressure from those pushing for justice were given a boost by Pinochet’s arrest and nearly two-year-long detention in London, whose warrant was based partly on a Condor crime, and which firmly established that individuals really could be prosecuted for crimes against humanity regardless of where they were, where the crimes were carried out, and the nationality of everyone involved. Though he escaped extradition, it opened the door to his 2004 indictment in Chile, which in turn paved the way for further attempts at retroactive justice for the dictatorship’s crimes.

“The Pinochet case in 1998 was indeed critical in galvanizing international justice efforts in South America and beyond,” says Lessa. “But if the preexisting demand and justice efforts had not been there even before, the Pinochet case might not have been enough on its own.”

The reverberations were felt beyond Chile. Pinochet’s arrest and the investigation of Argentine military officials in foreign courts spurred a raft of new cases and even arrests and indictments in Argentina over Condor-era crimes, leading to the 2003 annulment of the country’s amnesty laws, used to protect human rights abusers for decades. A year later, an Argentine court declared that the statute of limitations didn’t apply to human rights crimes, in a case that concerned the 1974 murder of Carlos Prats.

Students from the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly School of the Americas) and students from the Naval Small Craft Instruction and Technical Training School conduct a joint assault on a simulated narcotics camp during a field training exercise. US Navy photo

Transnational repression has given way to borderless justice, it seems. The year 2019 alone saw Adriana Rivas, Contreras’s former secretary and allegedly one of DINA’s “most brutal torturers,” arrested in Australia (her extradition to Chile was approved last month), while a former Uruguayan naval officer was sentenced to life in prison in Italy over his role in Condor. The most recent sentence was handed down just days ago, with four former Argentine security personnel convicted for a slew of crimes, including the kidnapping and detention of two young children, privy to their mother’s torture and later abandoned in a public square in Chile.

All the while, we continue to learn more about the once-shadowy program. In 2019, the US government released tens of thousands more pages worth of previously secret files relating to Argentina’s dictatorship during the Condor years. Among the revelations: that in September 1977, “representatives of West German, French, and British intelligence services had visited the Condor organization secretariat in Buenos Aires . . . to discuss methods for establishment of an anti-subversive organization similar to Condor.”

With veterans of France’s brutal counterinsurgent wars in Algeria and Vietnam having passed on their own training and experience to their Latin American counterparts, perhaps one day we will find out that the “global anti-Marxist agreement” Condor was a part of was even broader than once thought.

A History Rewritten

As typically recounted, the story of the twentieth century goes something like this: after briefly uniting to defeat fascism, the United States and the Soviet Union turned the rest of the century into a clash of ideologies, one that always threatened to erupt, but never quite did, into outright great-power war. With nary a shot fired, free-market capitalism won out, thanks to the hearts and minds won by the power of television, cheeseburgers, and convenient home appliances.

But programs like Operation Condor cast that history in a very different light. With them in mind, that triumph looks intensely violent — one in which the US government swiftly allied with autocrats and even fascists to attack democracy and brutally put down people’s movements of all kinds the world over, lest their goals of a more just, egalitarian world threaten Western strategic and business interests. And with that economic system now sputtering under the weight of several crises, the repressive measures long reserved for the rest of the world are becoming more visible at home, as an agitated US public turns ever more unruly in the face of their own long-declining living standards. Examining the legacy of Operation Condor should prompt us to think about which institutions in American life have been most hostile to democracy.

It’s an episode especially relevant to the post-Trump era, where agencies like the CIA have successfully rebranded as defenders of democracy and liberal values against impending fascism. It reminds us of the unvarnished, well-organized brutality that lies behind the global order Trump and his predecessors inherited, a sometimes neo-fascist brutality engineered and led by those same agencies to protect elite power and business interests.

A well-founded fear of fascism and democracy’s subversion will remain a key part of US political discourse well beyond Trump. Examining the legacy of Operation Condor should prompt us to think about which institutions in American life have been most hostile to democracy and, when the time calls for it, eager to align with fascists. But it’s also a reminder that, in the face of popular struggle, even this violence has a shelf life, and impunity doesn’t last forever.


Anti-communist mass killings are the politically motivated mass killings of communists, alleged communists, or their alleged supporters which were committed by people, political organizations or governments which opposed communism.

The Communist movement has faced opposition since it was founded and the opposition to it has often been organized and violent.


White Terror[edit]

Further information: First White Terror and White Terror (disambiguation)

White Terror is a term that was coined during the French Revolution in 1795 in order to denote the counter-revolutionary violence that occurred however unorganized it was. Since then, historians and individual groups have both used the term White Terror in order to refer to coordinated counter-revolutionary violence in a broader sense. In the course of history, many White Terror groups have persecuted, attacked and killed communists, alleged communists and communist-sympathizers as part of their counter-revolutionary and anti-communist agendas.


Main article: Central American crisis

Middle America and South America were ravaged by many bloody civil wars and mass killings during the 20th century. Most of these conflicts were politically motivated, or they revolved around political issues, and anti-communist mass killings were committed during several of them.


Main article: Dirty War

From 1976 to 1983, the military dictatorship of Argentina, National Reorganization Process, organized the arrest and execution of between 9,000 and 30,000 civilians suspected of communism or other leftist sympathies during a period of state terror. Children of the victims were sometimes given a new identity and forcibly adopted by childless military families.[1][2] Held to account in the 2000s, the perpetrators of the killings argued that their actions were a necessary part of a “war” against Communism.[3] This campaign was part of a broader anti-communist operation called Operation Condor, which involved the repression and assassination of thousands of left-wing dissidents and alleged communists by the coordinated intelligence services of the Southern Cone countries of Latin America, which was led by Pinochet’s Chile and supported by the United States.[4][5][6]

El Salvador[edit]

1932 Salvadoran peasant massacre[edit]

In 1932, a communist-led insurrection against the government of Maximiliano Hernández Martínez was brutally suppressed, resulting in the deaths of 30,000 peasants.[7]

Salvadoran Civil War[edit]

See also: El Mozote massacre

The Salvadoran Civil War (1979–1992) was a conflict between the military-led government of El Salvador and a coalition of five left-wing guerrilla organizations that was known collectively as the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN). A coup on 15 October 1979 led to the killings of anti-coup protesters by the government as well as anti-disorder protesters by the guerrillas and it is widely seen as the tipping point toward civil war.[8]

By January 1980, the left-wing political organizations united to form the Coordinated Revolutionaries of the Masses (CRM). A few months later, the left-wing armed groups united to form the Unified Revolutionary Directorate (DRU). It was renamed the FMLN[9] following its merger with the Communist Party in October 1980.

The full-fledged civil war lasted for more than 12 years and saw extreme violence from both sides. It also included the deliberate terrorizing and targeting of civilians by death squads, the recruitment of child soldiers and other violations of human rights, mostly by the military.[10] An unknown number of people “disappeared” during the conflict and the United Nations reports that more than 75,000 were killed.[11] The United States contributed to the conflict by providing large amounts of military aid to the government of El Salvador during the Carter[12] and Reagan administrations.


See also: Guatemalan genocide

Massacres, forced disappearances, torture and summary executions of guerrillas and especially civilian collaborators of the communist[13] Guerrilla Army of the Poor at the hands of United States-backed security forces had been widespread since 1965. It was a longstanding policy of the military regime and known by United States officials.[14] A report from 1984 discussed “the murder of thousands by a military government that maintains its authority by terror”.[15] Human Rights Watch described extraordinarily cruel actions by the armed forces, mostly against unarmed civilians.[16]

The repression reached genocidal levels in the predominantly indigenous northern provinces where guerrillas of the Guerrilla Army of the Poor operated. There, the Guatemalan military viewed the Maya, traditionally seen as subhumans, as being supportive of the guerillas and began a campaign of wholesale killings and disappearances of Mayan peasants. While massacres of Indigenous peasants had occurred earlier in the war, the systematic use of terror against the Indigenous population began around 1975 and peaked during the first half of the 1980s. An estimated 200,000 Guatemalan civilians were killed during the Guatemalan Civil War – 93% by government forces – including at least 40,000 persons who “disappeared”. Of the 42,275 individual cases of killing and “disappearances” documented by the CEH, 83% of the victims were Maya and 17% Ladino meaning that by applying these proportions to the estimated 200,000 civilians killed and disappeared in the Guatemalan Civil War overall it can be inferred that up to 166,000 Maya and 34,000 Ladino were killed or disappeared in the genocide.[17]


The political and ideological struggles in Asia during the 20th century frequently involved communist movements. Anti-communist mass killings were committed on a large scale in Asia.


KMT troops rounding up Communist prisoners

The Shanghai massacre of 12 April 1927 was a violent suppression of Communist Party of China (CPC) organizations in Shanghai by the military forces of Chiang Kai-shek‘s conservative faction in the Kuomintang (KMT). Following the incident, the latter carried out a full-scale purge of communists in all areas under their control and even more violent suppressions occurred in cities such as Guangzhou and Changsha.[18] The purge led to an open split between the left- and right-wings of the KMT, with Chiang Kai-shek establishing himself as the leader of the right-wing at Nanjing in opposition to the original left-wing KMT government led by Wang Jingwei in Wuhan.

Before dawn on 12 April, gang members began to attack district offices controlled by the union workers, including ZhabeiNanshi and Pudong. Under an emergency decree, Chiang ordered the 26th Army to disarm the workers’ militias, which resulted in more than 300 people being killed and wounded. The union workers organized a mass meeting to denounce Chiang on 13 April and thousands of workers and students went to the headquarters of the 2nd Division of the 26th Army to protest. Soldiers opened fire, killing 100 and wounding many more. Chiang dissolved the provisional government of Shanghai, labor unions and all other organizations under Communist control and he reorganized a network of unions with allegiance to the Kuomintang under the control of Du Yuesheng. Over 1,000 communists were arrested, some 300 were executed and more than 5,000 went missing. Western news reports later nicknamed General Bai “The Hewer of Communist Heads”.[19]

Some National Revolutionary Army commanders with communist backgrounds who were graduates of the Whampoa Military Academy kept their sympathies hidden and were not arrested and many of them switched their allegiance to the communists after the start of the Chinese Civil War.[20]

The twin rival KMT governments, known as the Nanjing–Wuhan split (Chinese: 宁汉分裂), did not last long because the Wuhan Kuomintang also began to violently purge Communists as well after its leader Wang found out about Joseph Stalin‘s secret order to Mikhail Borodin that the CPC’s efforts were to be organized so it could overthrow the left-wing KMT and take over the Wuhan government. More than 10,000 communists in CantonXiamenFuzhouNingboNanjingHangzhou and Changsha were arrested and executed within 20 days. The Soviet Union officially terminated its cooperation with the KMT. Wang, fearing retribution as a communist sympathizer, fled to Europe. The Wuhan Nationalist government soon disintegrated, leaving Chiang as the sole legitimate leader of the Kuomintang. In a year, over 300,000 people were killed across China in the suppression campaigns carried out by the KMT.[21]

Chinese Civil War[edit]

During the civil war between the Kuomintang and the Communists, both factions committed mass violence against civilian populations and even against their own armies, with the aim of obtaining hegemony over China. During the civil war, the Kuomintang anti-Communist faction killed 1,131,000 soldiers before entering combat during its conscription campaigns. In addition, the Kuomintang faction massacred 1 million civilians during the civil war.[22]

East Timor[edit]

Main article: Indonesian occupation of East Timor

By broadcasting false accusations of communism against the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor leaders and sowing discord in the Timorese Democratic Union coalition, the Indonesian government fostered instability in East Timor and according to observers created a pretext for invading it.[23] During the Indonesian invasion of East Timor and the subsequent occupation of it, the Indonesian military killed and starved around 150,000[24][25][26] citizens of East Timor or about a fifth of its population. Oxford University held an academic consensus which called the occupation the East Timor genocide and Yale University teaches it as part of its Genocide Studies program.[27][28]


Main article: Indonesian mass killings of 1965–66

A violent anti-Communist purge took place shortly after an abortive coup in the capital of IndonesiaJakarta, which was blamed on the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). Most estimates of the number of people who were killed by the Indonesian security forces range from 500,000 to 1,000,000.[29][30]:3 The bloody purge constitutes one of the worst, yet least known, mass murders since the Second World War.[31]

The killings started in October 1965 in Jakarta, spread to Central and East Java and later to Bali and smaller outbreaks occurred on parts of other islands,[32] most notably Sumatra. As the Sukarno presidency began to unravel and Suharto began to assert control following the coup attempt, the PKI’s upper national leaders were hunted down and arrested and some of them were summarily executed and the Indonesian Air Force in particular was a target of the purge. The party chairman Dipa Nusantara Aidit had flown to Central Java in early October, where the coup attempt had been supported by leftist officers in YogyakartaSalatiga and Semarang.[33] Fellow senior party leader Njoto was shot around 6 November, Aidit on 22 November and First Deputy PKI Chairman M.H. Lukman was killed shortly after.[34]

In 2016, an international tribunal in The Hague ruled that the killings constitute crimes against humanity and it also ruled that the United States and other Western governments were complicit in the crimes.[35] Declassified documents published in 2017 confirm that not only did the United States government have detailed knowledge of the massacres as they happened, it was also deeply involved in the campaign of mass killings.[36] Historian John Roosa contends the documents show “the U.S. was part and parcel of the operation, strategizing with the Indonesian army and encouraging them to go after the PKI.”[37] According to University of Connecticut historian Bradley R. Simpson, the documents “contain damning details that the US was willfully and gleefully pushing for the mass murder of innocent people”.[31] UCLA historian Geoffrey B. Robinson argues that without the backing of the US and other powerful Western states, the Indonesian Army’s program of mass killings would not have occurred.[30]:22, 177


Main articles: Jeju massacre and Gwangju Uprising

During the Korean War, tens of thousands of suspected communists and communist sympathizers were killed in what came to be known as the Bodo League massacre. Estimates of the death toll vary. According to Prof. Kim Dong-Choon, Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, at least 100,000 people were executed on suspicion of supporting communism.[38] The overwhelming majority–82%–of the Korean War-era massacres that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was petitioned to investigate were perpetrated by South Korean forces, with just 18% of the massacres being perpetrated by North Korean forces.[39]

On 24 January 2008, President Roh Moo-hyun apologized for the mass killings.[citation needed]


Tens of thousands of people, labeled as communist sympathizers and spies, were killed by the government of Chiang Kai-shek during the White Terror (Chinese白色恐怖pinyinbáisè kǒngbù) in Taiwan, a violent suppression of political dissidents following the 28 February Incident in 1947.[40] Protests erupted on 27 February following an altercation between a group of Tobacco Monopoly Bureau agents and a Taipei resident, with protestors calling for democratic reforms and an end to corruption. The Kuomintang regime responded by using violence to suppress the popular uprising. Over the next several days, the government-led crackdown killed several thousand people, with estimates generally setting the death toll somewhere between 10,000 and 30,000 or even more.[41][42] From 1947 to 1987, around 140,000 Taiwanese were imprisoned, about 3,000 to 4,000 of whom were executed for their alleged opposition to the Kuomintang regime.[43]


The Thai military government and its Communist Suppression Operations Command (CSOC), helped by the Royal Thai Army, the Royal Thai Police and paramilitary vigilantes, reacted with drastic measures to the insurgency of the Communist Party of Thailand during the 1960s and 1970s. The anti-communist operations peaked between 1971 and 1973 during the rule of Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn and General Praphas Charusathien. According to official figures, 3,008 suspected communists were killed throughout the country.[44] Alternative estimates are much higher. These civilians were usually killed without any judicial proceedings.

A prominent example was the so-called “Red Drum” or “Red Barrel” killings of Lam Sai, Phatthalung Province, Southern Thailand, where more than 200 civilians[44] (informal accounts speak of up to 3,000)[45][46] who were accused of helping the communists were burned in red 200-litre oil drums, sometimes after having been killed to dispose of their bodies and sometimes burned alive.[46] The incident was never thoroughly investigated and none of the perpetrators was brought to justice.[47]

After three years of civilian rule following the October 1973 popular uprising, at least 46 leftist students and activists who had gathered on and around Bangkok’s Thammasat University campus were massacred by police and right-wing paramilitaries on 6 October 1976. They had been accused of supporting communism. The mass killing followed a campaign of violently anti-communist propaganda by right-wing politicians, media and clerics, exemplified by the Buddhist monk Phra Kittiwuttho’s claim that killing communists was not sinful.[48][49]


Benjamin Valentino estimates that the U.S. and South Vietnam committed 110,000–310,000 “counterguerrilla mass killings” during the Vietnam War.[50]


The communist movement has faced opposition since it was founded in Europe in the late 19th century. The opposition to it has sometimes been violent and during the 20th century, anti-communist mass killings were committed on a large scale.


German communists, socialists and trade unionists were among the earliest domestic opponents of Nazism[51] and they were also among the first to be sent to concentration campsAdolf Hitler claimed that communism was a Jewish ideology which the Nazis called “Judeo-Bolshevism“. Fear of communist agitation was used to justify the Enabling Act of 1933, the law which gave Hitler plenary powersHermann Göring later testified at the Nuremberg Trials that the Nazis’ willingness to repress German communists prompted President Paul von Hindenburg and the German elite to cooperate with the Nazis. The first concentration camp was built at Dachau in March 1933 and its original purpose was to imprison German communists, socialists, trade unionists and others who opposed the Nazis.[52] Communists, social democrats and other political prisoners were forced to wear red triangles.

In 1936, Germany concluded an international agreement with Japan in order to fight against the Comintern. After the German assault on communist Russia in 1941, the Anti-Comintern Pact was renewed, with many new signatories who were from the occupied states across Europe and it was also signed by the governments of Turkey and El Salvador. Thousands of communists in German occupied territory were arrested and subsequently deported to German death camps. Whenever the Nazis conquered a new piece of territory, members of communist, socialist and anarchist groups were normally the first persons to be immediately detained or executed. On the Eastern Front, this practice was in keeping with Hitler’s Commissar Order in which he ordered the summary execution of all political commissars who were captured among Soviet soldiers as well as the execution of all Communist Party members in German held territory.[53][54] The Einsatzgruppen carried out these executions in the east.


In Spain, the White Terror (or the “Francoist Repression”) refers to the atrocities committed by the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War as well as the atrocities that were committed afterwards in Francoist Spain.[55]

Most historians agree that the death toll of the White Terror was higher than that of the Red Terror. While most estimates of Red Terror deaths range from 38,000[56] to 55,000,[57] most estimates of White Terror deaths range from 150,000[58] to 400,000.[59]

Concrete figures do not exist because many communists and socialists fled Spain after losing the Civil War. Furthermore, the Francoist government destroyed thousands of documents related to the White Terror[60][61][62] and tried to hide evidence which revealed its executions of the Republicans.[63][64] Thousands of victims of the White Terror are buried in hundreds of unmarked common graves, more than 600 in Andalusia alone.[65] The largest common grave is that at San Rafael cemetery on the outskirts of Malaga (with perhaps more than 4,000 bodies).[66] The Association for the Recovery of Historical Memory (Asociación para la Recuperación de la Memoria Historica or ARMH)[67] says that the number of disappeared is over 35,000.[68]

According to the Platform for Victims of Disappearances Enforced by Francoism, 140,000 people were missing, including victims of the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent Francoist Spain.[69][70] It has come to mention that regarding number of disappeared whose remains have not been recovered nor identified, Spain ranks second in the world after Cambodia.[71]

See also:


  1. ^ Anderson, Jon Lee (14 March 2013). “Pope Francis and the Dirty War”The New Yorker.
  2. ^ Goldman, Francisco (19 March 2012). “Children of the Dirty War”The New Yorker.
  3. ^ McDonnell, Patrick (29 August 2008). “Two Argentine ex-generals guilty in ‘dirty war’ death”Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ Blakeley, Ruth (2009). State Terrorism and Neoliberalism: The North in the SouthRoutledge. p. 22 & 23ISBN 978-0415686174.
  5. ^ Mark Aarons (2007). “Justice Betrayed: Post-1945 Responses to Genocide.” In David A. Blumenthal and Timothy L. H. McCormack (eds). The Legacy of Nuremberg: Civilising Influence or Institutionalised Vengeance? (International Humanitarian Law). Martinus Nijhoff PublishersISBN 9004156917 pp. 71
  6. ^ McSherry, J. Patrice (2011). “Chapter 5: “Industrial repression” and Operation Condor in Latin America”. In Esparza, Marcia; Henry R. Huttenbach; Daniel Feierstein (eds.). State Violence and Genocide in Latin America: The Cold War Years (Critical Terrorism Studies)Routledge. p. 107ISBN 978-0-415-66457-8.
  7. ^ Cold War’s Last Battlefield, The: Reagan, the Soviets, and Central America by Edward A. Lynch State University of New York Press 2011, p. 49.
  8. ^ Wood, Elizabeth (2003). Insurgent Collective Action and Civil War in El Salvador. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  9. ^ Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, El Salvador, In Depth: Negotiating a settlement to the conflict, http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcountry.php?id=51&regionSelect=4-Central_Americas# Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, viewed on 24 May 2013
  10. ^ Larsen, Neil (2010). “Thoughts on Violence and Modernity in Latin America”. In Grandin & Joseph, Greg & Gilbert (ed.). A Century of Revolution. Durham and London: Duke University Press. pp. 381–393.
  11. ^ “Report of the UN Truth Commission on El Salvador” United Nations, 1 April 1993
  12. ^ Uppsala Conflict Data Program Conflict Encyclopedia, El Salvador, In Depth: Negotiating a settlement to the conflict, http://www.ucdp.uu.se/gpdatabase/gpcountry.php?id=51&regionSelect=4-Central_Americas# Archived 19 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, “While nothing of the aid delivered from the US in 1979 was earmarked for security purposes the 1980 aid for security only summed US$6,2 million, close to two-thirds of the total aid in 1979”, viewed on 24 May 2013
  13. ^ McAllister2010, pp. 280–281.
  14. ^ Group says files show U.S. knew of Guatemala abuses. The Associated Press via the New York Daily News, 19 March 2009. Retrieved 29 October 2016.
  15. ^ Guatemala: A Nation of Prisoners, An Americas Watch Report, January 1984, pp. 2–3.
  16. ^ “Human Rights Testimony Given Before the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus” (Press release). Human Rights Watch. 16 October 2003. Retrieved 3 September 2009.
  17. ^ 83% of the “fully identified” 42,275 civilians killed by human rights violations during the Guatemalan Civil War were Mayan and 17% Ladino. This estimate come from applying the 83% and 17% proportions to the 200,000 disappeared and killed during total war < See CEH 1999, p. 17, and “Press Briefing: Press conference by members of the Guatemala Historical Clarification Commission”. United Nations. 1 March 1999. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  18. ^ Wilbur, Nationalist Revolution 114
  19. ^ “CHINA: Nationalist Notes”Time. 25 June 1928. Retrieved 11 April 2011.
  20. ^ Jung Chang and Jon Halliday (2005). Mao, The Unknown Story. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-224-07126-2. (this book is controversial for its anti-Mao tone and references).
  21. ^ Barnouin, Barbara and Yu Changgen. Zhou Enlai: A Political Life. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2006. ISBN 962-996-280-2. Retrieved at Google Books on 12 March 2011. p.38
  22. ^ R.J.Rummel. “CHINA’S BLOODY CENTURY”.
  23. ^ Dunn, p. 78; Budiadjo and Liong, p. 5; Jolliffe, pp. 197–198; Taylor (1991), p. 58. Taylor cites a September CIA report describing Indonesian attempts to “provoke incidents that would provide the Indonesians with an excuse to invade should they decide to do so”.
  24. ^ Kiernan, p. 594.
  25. ^ “Center for Defense Information”Project On Government Oversight.
  26. ^ http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.TAB14.1C.GIF
  27. ^ Payaslian, Simon. “20th Century Genocides”. Oxford bibliographies.
  28. ^ “Genocide Studies Program: East Timor”Yale.edu.
  29. ^ Friend (2003), p. 113.
  30. Jump up to:a b Robinson, Geoffrey B. (2018). The Killing Season: A History of the Indonesian Massacres, 1965-66Princeton University PressISBN 9781400888863.
  31. Jump up to:a b Scott, Margaret (26 October 2017). “Uncovering Indonesia’s Act of Killing”The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  32. ^ Cribb (1990), p. 3.
  33. ^ Vickers (2005), p. 157.
  34. ^ Ricklefs (1991), p. 288; Vickers (2005), p. 157
  35. ^ Perry, Juliet (21 July 2016). “Tribunal finds Indonesia guilty of 1965 genocide; US, UK complicit”. CNN. Retrieved 16 June2017.
  36. ^ Scott, Margaret (26 October 2017). “Uncovering Indonesia’s Act of Killing”The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 26 October 2017.
  37. ^ Bevins, Vincent (20 October 2017). “What the United States Did in Indonesia”The Atlantic. Retrieved 16 May 2018.
  38. ^ “Khiem and Kim Sung-soo: Crime, Concealment and South Korea”. Japan Focus. Archived from the original on 7 October 2008. Retrieved 11 August 2008.
  39. ^ “Truth and Reconciliation: Activities of the Past Three Years”(PDF). Truth and Reconciliation Commission (South Korea). March 2009. p. 39. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016. Out of those 9,600 petitions, South Korean forces conducted 7,922 individual massacres and North Korean forces conducted 1,687 individual massacres.
  40. ^ Rubinstein, Murray A. (2007). Taiwan: A New History. Armonk, N.Y.: M. E. Sharpe. p. 302. ISBN 9780765614957.
  41. ^ 傷亡人數與人才斷層TaiwanUS.net (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2 March 2009. Retrieved 24 September2008.
  42. ^ Durdin, Tillman (29 March 1947). “Formosa killings are put at 10,000”The New York TimesArchived from the original on 24 April 2006. Retrieved 22 April 2006.
  43. ^ Huang, Tai-lin (20 May 2005). “White Terror exhibit unveils part of the truth”Taipei Times.
  44. Jump up to:a b Jularat Damrongviteetham (2013). Narratives of the “Red Barrel” Incident: Collective and Individual Memories in Lamsin, Southern ThailandOral History in Southeast Asia: Memories and Fragments. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 101.
  45. ^ Tyrell Haberkorn (2013). Getting Away with Murder in Thailand: State Violence and Impunity in PhatthalungState Violence in East Asia. University Press of Kentucky. p. 186.
  46. Jump up to:a b Matthew Zipple (2014). “Thailand’s Red Drum Murders Through an Analysis of Declassified Documents” (PDF). Southeast Review of Asian Studies36: 91.
  47. ^ Tyrell Haberkorn (2013). Getting Away with Murder in Thailand. pp. 186–187.
  48. ^ Chris BakerPasuk Pongphaichit (2009). A History of Thailand(Second ed.). Ocford University Press. pp. 191–194.
  49. ^ Thongchai Winichakul (2002). Remembering/Silencing the Traumatic Past: The Ambivalent Memories of the October 1976 Massacre in BangkokCultural Crisis and Social Memory: Modernity and Identity in Thailand and Laos. Routledge. p. 244.
  50. ^ Valentino, Benjamin (2005). Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the 20th CenturyCornell University Press. p. 84ISBN 9780801472732.
  51. ^ Non-Jewish ResistanceHolocaust Encyclopedia, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
  52. ^ Bethell, Gareth (27 January 2005). “Horrors of Auschwitz”The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  53. ^ “The war that time forgot”, The Guardian, 5 October 1999
  54. ^ “Commissar Order”ushmm.org. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  55. ^ Beevor, AntonyThe Battle for Spain; The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939 (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2006), pp.89–94.
  56. ^ Beevor, Antony. The Battle for Spain; The Spanish Civil War 1936–1939. Penguin Books. 2006. London. p.87
  57. ^ Thomas, Hugh. The Spanish Civil War. Penguin Books. London. 2001. p.900
  58. ^ Casanova, Julían; Espinosa, Francisco; Mir, Conxita; Moreno Gómez, Francisco. Morir, matar, sobrevivir. La violencia en la dictadura de Franco. Editorial Crítica. Barcelona. 2002. p.8
  59. ^ Richards, Michael. A Time of Silence: Civil War and the Culture of Repression in Franco’s Spain, 1936-1945. Cambridge University Press. 1998. p.11
  60. ^ Preston, Paul. The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, revolution & revenge. Harper Perennial. 2006. London. p.316
  61. ^ Espinosa, Francisco. La justicia de Queipo. Editorial Crítica. 2006. Barcelona. p.4
  62. ^ Espinosa, Francisco. Contra el olvido. Historia y memoria de la guerra civil. Editorial Crítica. 2006. Barcelona. p.131
  63. ^ Fontana, Josep, ed. España bajo el franquismo. Editorial Crítica. 1986. Barcelona. p.22
  64. ^ Espinosa, Francisco. La justicia de Queipo. Editorial Crítica. 2006. Barcelona. pp.172–173
  65. ^ Moreno Gómez, Francisco. 1936: el genocidio franquista en Córdoba. Editorial Crítica. Barcelona. 2008. p.11
  66. ^ “A chilling summer – Olive Press News Spain”theolivepress.es. 2 April 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  67. ^ [1] “Opening Franco’s Graves”, by Mike Elkin ArchaeologyVolume 59 Number 5, September/October 2006. Archaeological Institute of America
  68. ^ Silva, Emilio. Las fosas de Franco. Crónica de un desagravio.Ediciones Temas de Hoy. 2006. Madrid. p. 110
  69. ^http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2008/09/22/espana/1222093274.html “Garzón recibe más de 140.000 nombres de desaparecidos en la Guerra Civil y la dictadura respecto de las que todavía se continúa desconociendo su paradero”. El Mundo, 22 de septiembre de 2008.
  70. ^ http://www.publico.es/actualidad/al-menos-88-000-victimas.html “Al menos 88.000 víctimas del franquismo continúan sepultadas en fosas comunes.” Público, 30 August 2012.
  71. ^ http://www.diariodelaltoaragon.es/NoticiasDetalle.aspx?Id=796901 “España es el segundo país con más desaparecidos después de Camboya”. Diario del Alto Aragón, 1 de marzo de 2013

Operation Condor

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchFor other uses, see Operation Condor (disambiguation).

Operation Condor
Part of the Cold War
Green: Main active members (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay)
Light green: Sporadic members
(Colombia, Peru and Venezuela)
Blue: Collaborator and financier (United States)
TypeCovert operation
LocationSouth America
Planned by Argentina
Supported by:
 United States[1][2][3]
Commanded by Jorge Rafael Videla
 Hugo Banzer
 Ernesto Geisel
 Costa e Silva
 Augusto Pinochet
 Alfredo Stroessner
 Aparicio Méndez
TargetLeft-wing sympathizers (including Peronistscommunists, and socialists) and opponents to the military juntas and right-wing governments in South America
Executed byIntelligence agencies of respective participating countries
OutcomeConcluded after the fall of the Berlin Wall
Casualties60,000–80,000 suspected leftist sympathizers killed
400,000+ political prisoners[4]

Operation Condor (Spanish: Operación Cóndor, also known as Plan CóndorPortugueseOperação Condor) was a United States-backed campaign of political repression and state terror involving intelligence operations and assassination of opponents, officially and formally implemented in November 1975 by the right-wing dictatorships of the Southern Cone of South America.

Due to its clandestine nature, the precise number of deaths directly attributable to Operation Condor is highly disputed. Some estimates are that at least 60,000 deaths can be attributed to Condor, roughly 30,000 of these in Argentina,[5][6] and the Archives of Terror list 50,000 killed, 30,000 disappeared and 400,000 imprisoned.[4][7] American political scientist J. Patrice McSherry gives a figure of at least 402 killed in operations which crossed national borders in a 2002 source,[8] and mentions in a 2009 source that of those who “had gone into exile” and were “kidnapped, tortured and killed in allied countries or illegally transferred to their home countries to be executed… hundreds, or thousands, of such persons—the number still has not been finally determined—were abducted, tortured, and murdered in Condor operations.”[1] Victims included dissidents and leftists, union and peasant leaders, priests and nuns, students and teachers, intellectuals and suspected guerrillas.[8] Although it was described by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as “a cooperative effort by the intelligence/security services of several South American countries to combat terrorism and subversion,”[9] guerrillas were used as an excuse, as they were never substantial enough to control territory, gain material support by any foreign power, or otherwise threaten national security.[10][11][12] Condor’s key members were the governments in ArgentinaChileUruguayParaguayBolivia, and BrazilEcuador and Peru later joined the operation in more peripheral roles.[13][14]

The United States government provided planning, coordinating, training on torture,[15] technical support and supplied military aid to the Juntas during the JohnsonNixonFordCarter, and the Reagan administrations.[2] Such support was frequently routed through the CIA.


Antecedents: The 1970s[edit]

Operation Condor
Background histories[hide]Argentina (1976 coup d’état)BoliviaBrazil (1960s)Chile (1973 coup d’état)ParaguayPeruUruguay
Government leaders[show]
Targeted militias[show]
Principal operatives[show]
Organizations responsible[show]
Archives and reports[show]

Operation Condor, which took place in the context of the Cold War, had the tacit approval and material support of the United States.[clarification needed] In 1968, U.S. General Robert W. Porter stated that “in order to facilitate the coordinated employment of internal security forces within and among Latin American countries, we are … endeavoring to foster inter-service and regional cooperation by assisting in the organization of integrated command and control centers; the establishment of common operating procedures; and the conduct of joint and combined training exercises.”[16] Condor was part of this effort.[17]

According to American historian J. Patrice McSherry, based on formerly secret CIA documents from 1976, in the 1960s and early 1970s plans were developed among international security officials at the US Army School of the Americas and the Conference of American Armies to deal with perceived threats in South America from political dissidents. A declassified CIA document dated 23 June 1976, explains that “in early 1974, security officials from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia met in Buenos Aires to prepare coordinated actions against subversive targets.”[15]

The program was developed following a series of government coups d’états by military groups, primarily in the 1970s:

According to American journalist A. J. Langguth, the organization of the first meetings between Argentinian and Uruguayan security officials, concerning the watching (and subsequent disappearance or assassination) of political refugees in these countries, can be attributed to the CIA, as well as its participation as intermediary in the Argentinian, Uruguayan and Brazilian death squads meetings.[18]

It was discovered in 2010 that Henry Kissinger canceled a warning against the international assassination of political opponents that was to be issued to some of the countries participating in Operation Condor.[19] The National Security Archive reported, “Founded by the Pinochet regime in November 1975, Operation Condor was the codename for a formal Southern Cone collaboration that included transnational secret intelligence activities, kidnapping, torture, disappearance and assassination, according to the National Security Archive’s documentary evidence from U.S., Paraguayan, Argentine, and Chilean files.”[20] Under this codename mission, several people were killed. As the report stated, “Prominent victims of Condor include two former Uruguayan legislators and a former Bolivian president, Juan José Torres, murdered in Buenos Aires, a former Chilean Minister of the InteriorBernardo Leighton, as well as former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his 26-year old American colleague, Ronni Moffitt, assassinated by a car bomb in downtown Washington D.C.”[21]


Cooperation among various security services had existed prior to the creation of Operation Condor, with the aim of “eliminating Marxist subversion.” During the Conference of American Armies held in Caracas on 3 September 1973, Brazilian General Breno Borges Fortes, head of the Brazilian army, proposed to “extend the exchange of information” between various services in order to “struggle against subversion.”[22]

In March 1974, representatives of the police forces of Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia met with Alberto Villar, deputy chief of the Argentine Federal Police and co-founder of the Triple A death squad, to implement cooperation guidelines. Their goal was to destroy the “subversive” threat represented by the presence of thousands of political exiles in Argentina.[22] In August 1974, the corpses of Bolivian refugees were found in garbage dumps in Buenos Aires.[22] In 2007, McSherry also confirmed the abduction and torture during this period of Chilean and Uruguayan refugees who were living in Buenos Aires, based on newly declassified CIA documents dated June 1976.

On 25 November 1975, General Augusto Pinochet‘s 60th birthday, leaders of the military intelligence services of Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay met with Manuel Contreras, chief of DINA (the Chilean secret police), in Santiago de Chile, officially creating the Plan Condor.[23] According to French journalist Marie-Monique Robin, author of Escadrons de la mort, l’école française (2004, Death Squads, The French School), General Rivero, intelligence officer of the Argentine Armed Forces and former student of the French, developed the concept of Operation Condor.[24]

Based on the governments’ perception of threats, officially the targets were armed groups (such as the MIR, the Montoneros or the ERP, the Tupamaros, etc.), but the governments broadened their attacks against all kinds of political opponents, including their families and others, as reported by the Valech Commission. The Argentine “Dirty War“, for example, which resulted in approximately 30,000 victims according to most estimates, kidnapped, tortured and killed many trade-unionists, relatives of activists, social activists such as founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, nuns, university professors, etc.

From 1976 onwards, the Chilean DINA and its Argentine counterpart, SIDE, were the operation’s front-line troops. The infamous “death flights,” theorized in Argentina by Luis María Mendía — and previously used during the Algerian War (1954–62) by French forces;— were widely used. Government forces took victims by plane or helicopter out to sea, dropping them to their deaths in planned disappearances. It was said that from this military bombardment that OPR 33 infrastructure located in Argentina was destroyed. In May 1976, members of Plan Condor met in Santiago, Chile, at which the participating countries discussed “long-range cooperation… [that] went well beyond information exchange” and were given code names. In July, the CIA gathered intelligence that members of Plan Condor had the intention of striking “against leaders of indigenous terrorist groups residing abroad.”

In late 1977, due to unusual storms, numerous corpses washed up on beaches south of Buenos Aires, producing evidence of some of the government’s victims. There were also hundreds of cases of babies and children being taken from mothers in prison who had been kidnapped and later disappeared; the children were given in illegal adoptions to families and associates of the regime.[25] The CIA also reports that Operation Condor countries took very well to the idea of working together, and developed their own communications network and combined training initiatives for such things as psychological warfare.[26]

In a report written from Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America Harry W. Shlaudeman to Kissinger August 3, 1976, it was reported that the military regimes in South America were coming together to join forces for security reasons. They were concerned about the spread of Marxism and the implications that this could have on their grasp on power. This new force operated in other member’s countries in secrecy. Their goal: to seek and kill terrorists of the “Revolutionary Coordinating Committee” in their own countries and in Europe.[27] Shlaudeman expressed concern that the “siege mentality” that permeated the members of Operation Condor could lead to a larger chasm between the military and civilian institutions in the region. He was also fearful that this could lead to increasing isolation of these countries from developed Western nations. He believed that there was justification to some of their fears, yet he felt that by reacting too strongly these countries could engender a strong terrorist counter reaction similar to the PLO in Israel.[27]

U.S. documents dated April 17, 1977, listed Chile and Argentina as both active in utilizing communications media for the purpose of broadcasting propaganda. The objective of the propaganda had two purposes. The first purpose was to defuse/counter criticism of the governments involved by foreign media and the second was to cultivate national pride in the local populace. One propaganda piece created by Chile entitled, “Chile after Allende,” was distributed amongst the governments acting under Condor. However, the document notes only that Uruguay and Argentina were the only two countries to acknowledge the agreement. Paraguay’s government was listed only as utilizing the local press, “Patria”, as its main propaganda producer. A meeting that was to have taken place in March 1977 discussing, “Psychological warfare techniques against terrorists and leftist extremists” was canceled due to the restructuring of the intelligence services of both Argentina and Paraguay[28]

A 2016 declassifed CIA report dated May 9, 1977, titled “Counterterrorism in the Southern Cone,” underscored one “aspect of the program involving Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina envisages illegal operations outside Latin America against exiled terrorists, particularly in Europe.” “The military-controlled governments of the Southern Cone,” the document read, “all consider themselves targets of international Marxism.” The document highlighted Condor’s fundamental characteristic, constituting as part of a long tried “regional approach” to pacifiying “subversion,” came to fruition in early 1974 when “security officials from all of the member countries, except Brazil, agreed to establish liaison channels and to facilitate the movement of security officers on government business from one country to the other.” One of Condor’s “initial aims” was the “exchange of information on the Revolutionary Coordinating Junta (RCJ), an organization…of terrorist groups from Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay” whose “representatives” in Europe were “believed to have been involved in the assassinations in Paris of the Bolivian ambassador to France last May and an Uruguayan military attache in 1974.” The CIA report noted that the fundamental mission of Condor was the liquidation of “top-level terrorist leaders” as well as non-terrorist targets including “Uruguayan opposition politician Wilson Ferreira, if he should travel to Europe, and some leaders of Amnesty International.” Condor was also seen by the CIA to be “engaged in non-violent activities, including psychological warfare and a propaganda campaign” that utilized the reach of the media to “publicize crimes and atrocities committed by terrorists.” Additionally, in an appeal to “national pride and the national conscience,” Condor called for the citizenry comprising its member nations to “report anything out of the ordinary in their neighborhoods.”[29] In 1980, another meeting took place in which Montensero was captured. It was said that the RSO would not kill them if they agreed to cooperate and give information regarding future meetings in Rio.[30]

Revelations about Condor[edit]

Main article: Archives of Terrorfrom the National Security Archive

The dictatorships and their intelligence services were responsible for tens of thousands of killed and missing people in the period between 1975 and 1985. Analyzing the political repression in the region during that decade, Brazilian journalist Nilson Mariano estimates the number of killed and missing people as 2,000 in Paraguay; 3,196 in Chile; 297 in Uruguay; 366 in Brazil; and 30,000 in Argentina.[31] Estimates of numbers of killed and disappeared by member countries during the period of operation are, 7,000–30,000 in Argentina, 3,000–10,000 in Chile, 116–546 in Bolivia, 434–1,000 in Brazil, 200–400 in Paraguay and 123–215 in Uruguay. While many sources combine these numbers into a single death toll attributable to Operation Condor, killings directly linked to Condor’s cross-borders military and intelligence cooperation between South American dictatorships are, by definition, only a small subset of this total. McSherry, for example, estimated in 2002 that at least 402 individuals were killed or “disappeared” in Condor operations: “Some 132 Uruguayans (127 in Argentina, 3 in Chile, and 2 in Paraguay), 72 Bolivians (36 in Chile, 36 in Argentina), 119 Chileans, 51 Paraguayans (in Argentina), 16 Brazilians (9 in Argentina and 7 in Chile), and at least 12 Argentines in Brazil”. McSherry added that “some 200 persons passed through Automotores Orletti, the key Condor detention center in Argentina,” and cautioned that “these figures are likely underestimates”.[8]:p. 39 In 2009, McSherry offered a range of “hundreds, or thousands … murdered in Condor operations,” acknowledging that “the number still has not been finally determined”.[1]

On 22 December 1992, torture victim Martín Almada and José Agustín Fernández, a Paraguayan judge, visited a police station in the Lambaré suburb of Asunción to look for files on a former political prisoner. They found what became known as the “Archives of Terror” (Portuguese: Arquivos do Terror), documenting the fates of thousands of Latin American political prisoners, who were secretly kidnapped, tortured and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. The archive has a total of 60,000 documents, weighing 4 tons and comprising 593,000 microfilmed pages.[32] Southern Cone Operation Condor resulted in up to 50,000 killed; 30,000 “disappeared”; and 400,000 arrested and imprisoned.[33][4][34] Some of these countries have relied on evidence in the archives to prosecute former military officers.[35][36]

According to these archives, other countries, such as Peru, cooperated by providing intelligence information in response to requests from the security services of the Southern Cone nations. While Peru had no representatives at the secret November 1975 meeting in Santiago de Chile, there is evidence of its involvement. For instance, as late as June 1980, Peru was known to have collaborated with Argentine agents of 601 Intelligence Battalion in the kidnapping, torture and “disappearance” of a group of Montoneros living in exile in Lima.[37] Brazil signed the agreement later (June 1976), but refused to engage in actions outside Latin America.[35]

Mexico, together with Costa Rica, Canada, France, the UK, Spain, and Sweden received many people fleeing as refugees from the terror regimes. The third phase of Operation Condor included plans to assassinate and take other measures against opponents of the military dictatorships in other countries, such as France, Portugal, the United States, Italy and Mexico, which were carried out in cases such as the murder of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt in the United States. An undetermined number of foreigners were also arrested and tortured, including citizens of Spain, the UK, France and the United States.[38][39] Operation Condor officially ended when Argentina ousted the military dictatorship in 1983 (following its defeat in the Falklands War) and restored democracy.

Neoliberal policies[edit]

During this period of neoliberal policies, the level of debt contracted illegally by the military dictatorships reached higher levels. In Argentina, the economic policy of José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz, Minister of Economy of the dictatorship, applied from April 2, 1976, marks the beginning of a process of destruction of the productive apparatus and increase of debt with IMF.[40] Short-term financial speculation flourished, while chronic tax evasion and budget deficits remained high. Frequent wage freeze decrees continued to depress living standards generally, and income inequality increased.[41]

During his tenure, the foreign debt increased fourfold, and disparities between the upper and lower classes became much more pronounced.[41] The period ended in a tenfold devaluation and one of the worst financial crises in Argentine history.[42] In Your Money or your Life, historian and political scientist Éric Toussaint writes:[43]

Most of the loans granted to the Argentine dictatorship came from the private banks of the U.S. It should be noted the complete agreement of the authorities of the United States (either the Federal Reserve or the American administration), with this policy of indebtedness. The government, to obtain loans from private banks, demanded that Argentine companies borrow from international private banks. The public companies thus became the fundamental lever for the denationalization of the State, and the loss of national sovereignty.

Notable cases and prosecutions[edit]


Main article: Dirty WarGraffiti in Buenos Aires, demanding justice for victims of the civic-military dictatorship of Argentina

The civic-military dictatorship of Argentina was carried out from 1976 to 1983, by the military juntas under Operation Condor. The Argentine SIDE cooperated with the Chilean DINA in numerous cases of desaparecidos. They assassinated Chilean General Carlos Prats, former Uruguayan MPs Zelmar Michelini and Héctor Gutiérrez Ruiz, as well as the ex-president of Bolivia, Juan José Torres, in Buenos Aires. The SIDE also assisted Bolivian general Luis García Meza Tejada‘s Cocaine Coup in Bolivia, with the help of the Italian Gladio operative Stefano Delle Chiaie and Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie (see also Operation Charly).Recently, since the opening of confidential archives, it has been discovered that there were operative units composed of Italians, used at ESMA for the repression of groups of Italian Montoneros. This unit called “Shadow Group” was led by Gaetano Saya at the time Officer of the Italian stay behind next – Operative Gladio. In April 1977, the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, a group of mothers whose children had disappeared, started demonstrating each Thursday in front of the Casa Rosada on the plaza. They were seeking to learn the location and fates of their children. The disappearance in December 1977 of two French nuns and several founders of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo gained international attention. Authorities later identified their remains as among the bodies washed up on beaches in December 1977 south of Buenos Aires, victims of death flights.[44] Other Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo continue the struggle for justice to this day (2013).

In 1983 in Argentina, after the restoration of democracy, the government set up the National Commission for Forced Disappearances (CONADEP), led by writer Ernesto Sabato. It took testimony from hundreds of witnesses about victims of the regime and known abuses, documenting hundreds of secret prisons and detention centers, and identifying leaders of the torture and death squads. Two years later, the Juicio a las Juntas (Trial of the Juntas) largely succeeded in proving the crimes of the top officers of the various juntas that had formed the self-styled National Reorganization Process. Most of the top officers who were tried were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, including Jorge Rafael VidelaEmilio Eduardo MasseraRoberto Eduardo ViolaArmando LambruschiniRaúl AgostiRubén GraffignaLeopoldo GaltieriJorge Anaya and Basilio Lami Dozo.

Under pressure from the military following these trials, Raúl Alfonsín‘s government passed two amnesty laws protecting military officers involved in human rights abuses: the 1986 Ley de Punto Final (law of closure) and the 1987 Ley de Obediencia Debida (law of due obedience), ending prosecution of crimes committed during the Dirty War. In 1989–1990, President Carlos Menem pardoned the leaders of the junta who were serving sentences in what he said was an attempt in reconciliation and healing.

In the late 1990s, due to attacks on American nationals in Argentina and revelations about CIA[45] funding of their military after a 1990 explicit Congressional prohibition, U.S. President Bill Clinton ordered the declassification of thousands of State Department documents related to U.S.-Argentine activities, going back to 1954. These documents revealed U.S. complicity in the Dirty War and Operation Condor.

Following continuous protests by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and other human rights groups, in 2003 the Argentine Congress, counting on President Nestor Kirchner and the ruling majority on both chambers full support, repealed the amnesty laws. The Argentine Supreme Court under separate review declared them unconstitutional in June 2005. The court’s ruling enabled the government to renew the prosecution of crimes committed during the Dirty War.Flag with images of those who disappeared during a demonstration in Buenos Aires to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the 1976 coup in Argentina.

DINA civil agent Enrique Arancibia Clavel, who was prosecuted in Argentina for crimes against humanity in 2004, was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the murder of General Prats.[46] It has been claimed that suspected Italian terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie was involved in the murder as well. He and fellow extremist Vincenzo Vinciguerra testified in Rome in December 1995 before federal judge María Servini de Cubría that DINA agents Clavel and Michael Townley were directly involved in this assassination.[47] In 2003, Judge Servini de Cubría requested that Mariana Callejas (Michael Townley’s wife) and Cristoph Willikie, a retired colonel from the Chilean army, be extradited, as they were accused of also being involved in the murder. Chilean appeals court judge Nibaldo Segura refused extradition in July 2005 on the grounds that they had already been prosecuted in Chile.[48]

On 5 March 2013, twenty-five former high-ranking military officers from Argentina and Uruguay went on trial in Buenos Aires, charged with conspiracy to “kidnap, disappear, torture and kill” 171 political opponents during the 1970s and 1980s. Among the defendants are former Argentine “presidents” Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone, from the period of El Proceso. Prosecutors are basing their case in part on U.S. documents declassified in the 1990s and later, and obtained by the non-governmental organization, the National Security Archive, based at George Washington University in Washington, DC.[49]

On 27 May 2016, fifteen ex-military officials were found guilty. Reynaldo Bignone received a sentence of 20 years in jail. Fourteen of the remaining 16 defendants got eight to 25 years. Two were found not guilty.[50] Luz Palmás Zaldúa, a lawyer representing victims’ families, contends that “this ruling is important because it is the first time the existence of Operation Condor has been proved in court. It is also the first time that former members of Condor have been sentenced for forming part of this criminal organisation.”[51]


President Fernando Henrique Cardoso ordered the release of some military files concerning Operation Condor in 2000.[52] That year Italian attorney general Giancarlo Capaldo, who was investigating the “disappearances” of Italian nationals in Latin America, likely due to actions by Argentine, Chilean, Paraguayan and Brazilian military, accused 11 Brazilians of involvement. According to the official statement, the Italian government “could not confirm nor deny that Argentine, Brazilian, Paraguayan and Chilean militaries [military officers] will be submitted to a trial.”[53] As of December 2009, nobody in Brazil had been convicted of human rights violations for actions committed under the 21 years of military dictatorship because of the Amnesty Law has secured both governamental officials and leftist guerrilla over their crimes.

Kidnapping of Uruguayans[edit]

The Condor Operation expanded its clandestine repression from Uruguay to Brazil in November 1978, in an event later known as “o Sequestro dos Uruguaios,” or “the Kidnapping of the Uruguayans.”[54] With the consent of the Brazilian military regime, senior officers of the Uruguayan army secretly crossed the border and entered Porto Alegre, capital of the State of Rio Grande do Sul. There they kidnapped Universindo Rodriguez and Lilian Celiberti, an activist Uruguayan couple of the political opposition, along with her two children, Camilo and Francesca, five and three years old.[55]Lilian Celiberti during a speech in the World Social ForumPorto Alegre, 2010.

The illegal operation failed because two Brazilian journalists, reporter Luiz Cláudio Cunha and photographer João Baptista Scalco from Veja magazine, had been warned by an anonymous phone call that the Uruguayan couple had been “disappeared.” To check on the information, the two journalists went to the given address: an apartment in Porto Alegre.[56] When they arrived, the journalists were at first taken to be other political opposition members by the armed men who had arrested Celiberti, and they were arrested in turn. Universindo Rodriguez and the children had already been clandestinely taken to Uruguay.[57]

When their identities were made clear, the journalists had exposed the secret operation by their presence. It was suspended. The exposure of the operation is believed to have prevented the murder of the couple and their two young children, as the news of the political kidnapping of Uruguayan nationals in Brazil made headlines in the Brazilian press. It became an international scandal. The military governments of both Brazil and Uruguay were embarrassed. A few days later, officials arranged for the Celiberti’s children to be taken to their maternal grandparents in Montevideo. After Rodriguez and Celiberti were imprisoned and tortured in Brazil, they were taken to military prisons in Uruguay, and detained for the next five years. When democracy was restored in Uruguay in 1984, the couple was released. They confirmed all the published details of their kidnapping.[58]

In 1980, Brazilian courts convicted two inspectors of DOPS (Department of Political and Social Order, an official police branch in charge of the political repression during the military regime) for having arrested the journalists in Lilian’s apartment in Porto Alegre. They were João Augusto da Rosa and Orandir Portassi Lucas. The reporters and the Uruguayans had identified them as taking part in the kidnapping. This event confirmed the direct involvement of the Brazilian government in the Condor Operation.[59] In 1991, Governor Pedro Simon arranged for the state of Rio Grande do Sul to officially recognize the kidnapping of the Uruguayans and gave them financial compensation. The democratic government of President Luis Alberto Lacalle in Uruguay was inspired to do the same a year later.[60][61]

Police officer Pedro Seelig, the head of the DOPS at the time of the kidnapping, was identified by the Uruguayan couple as the man in charge of the operation in Porto Alegre. While Seelig stood trial in Brazil, Universindo and Lílian remained in prison in Uruguay and prevented from testifying. The Brazilian policeman was acquitted for lack of evidence. Lilian and Universindo’s later testimony revealed that four officers of the secret Uruguayan Counter-information Division;– two majors and two captains;– took part in the operation with the consent of Brazilian authorities.[62] Captain Glauco Yanonne, was personally responsible for torturing Universindo Rodriquez in the DOPS headquarters in Porto Alegre.[63] Although Universindo and Lilian identified the Uruguayan military men who had arrested and tortured them, not one was prosecuted in Montevideo. The Law of Immunity, passed in 1986, provided amnesty to Uruguayan citizens who had committed acts of political repression and human rights abuses under the dictatorship.

The 1979 Esso Prize, regarded as the most important prize of the Brazilian press, was awarded to Cunha and Scalco for their investigative journalism of the case.[64] Hugo Cores, a former Uruguayan political prisoner, was the one who had called Cunha in warning. In 1993, he said to the Brazilian press:

All the Uruguayans kidnapped abroad, around 180 people, are missing to this day. The only ones who managed to survive are Lilian, her children, and Universindo.[65]

Alleged assassination of João Goulart[edit]

After being overthrown, João “Jango” Goulart was the first Brazilian president to die in exile. He died of an alleged heart attack in his sleep in Mercedes, Argentina, on 6 December 1976. Because an autopsy was never performed, the true cause of his death remains unknown.

On 26 April 2000, former governor of Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul Leonel Brizola, Jango’s brother-in-law, alleged that ex-presidents João Goulart and Juscelino Kubitschek (who died in a car accident) were assassinated as part of Operation Condor. He asked for investigations to be opened into their deaths.[66][67]

On 27 January 2008, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo printed a story with a statement from Mario Neira Barreiro, a former intelligence service member under Uruguay’s dictatorship. Barreiro said that Goulart was poisoned, confirming Brizola’s allegations. Barreiro also said that the order to assassinate Goulart came from Sérgio Paranhos Fleury, head of the Departamento de Ordem Política e Social (Department of Political and Social Order) and the licence to kill came from president Ernesto Geisel.[68][69] In July 2008, a special commission of the Legislative Assembly of Rio Grande do Sul, Goulart’s home state, concluded that “the evidence that Jango was willfully assassinated, with knowledge of the Geisel government, is strong.”[70]

In March 2009, the magazine CartaCapital published previously unreleased documents of the National Information Service created by an undercover agent who was present at Jango’s properties in Uruguay. This revelation reinforces the theory that the former president was poisoned. The Goulart family has not yet identified who could be the “B Agent,” as he is referred to in the documents. The agent acted as a close friend to Jango, and described in detail an argument during the former president’s 56th birthday party with his son because of a fight between two employees.[71] As a result of the story, the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies decided to investigate Jango’s death.[72]

Later, CartaCapital published an interview with Jango’s widow, Maria Teresa Fontela Goulart, revealing documents from the Uruguayan government detailing her complaints that her family had been monitored. The Uruguayan government was monitoring Jango’s travel, his business, and his political activities. These files were from 1965, a year after the coup in Brazil, and suggest that he could have been deliberately attacked. The Movement for Justice and Human Rights and the President João Goulart Institute have requested a document referring to the Uruguayan Interior Ministry saying that “serious and responsible Brazilian sources” talked about an “alleged plot against the former Brazilian president.”[73]


See also: Human rights violations in Pinochet’s ChileDisappeared people in art at Parque por la Paz at Villa Grimaldi in Santiago de Chile

When Augusto Pinochet was arrested in London in 1998 in response to Spanish magistrate Baltasar Garzón‘s request for his extradition to Spain, additional information concerning Condor was revealed. One of the lawyers seeking his extradition said there had been an attempt to assassinate Carlos Altamirano, leader of the Chilean Socialist Party. He said that Pinochet met Italian neofascist terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie during Franco‘s funeral in Madrid in 1975 and arranged to have Altamirano murdered.[74] The plan failed. Chilean judge Juan Guzmán Tapia eventually established a precedent concerning the crime of “permanent kidnapping”: since the bodies of victims kidnapped and presumably murdered could not be found, he deemed that the kidnapping was thought to continue, rather than to have occurred so long ago that the perpetrators were protected by an amnesty decreed in 1978 or by the Chilean statute of limitations. In November 2015 the Chilean government acknowledged that Pablo Neruda might have been murdered by members of Pinochet’s regime.[75]

General Carlos Prats[edit]

General Carlos Prats and his wife, Sofía Cuthbert were killed by a car bomb on 30 September 1974, in Buenos Aires, where they lived in exile. The Chilean DINA has been held responsible. In Chile, Judge Alejandro Solís terminated the prosecution of Pinochet in January 2005 after the Chilean Supreme court rejected his demand to revoke Pinochet’s immunity from prosecution (as chief of state). The leaders of DINA, including chief Manuel Contreras, ex-chief of operations and retired general Raúl Itturiaga Neuman, his brother Roger Itturiaga, and ex-brigadiers Pedro Espinoza Bravo and José Zara, were charged in Chile with this assassination. DINA agent Enrique Arancibia Clavel has been convicted in Argentina for the murder.

Bernardo Leighton[edit]

Bernardo Leighton and his wife were severely injured by a failed assassination attempt on Oct. 6, 1975, after settling in exile in Italy. The pistol attack left Bernardo Leighton seriously injured and his wife, Anita Fresno permanently disabled. According to declassified documents in the National Security Archive and Italian attorney general Giovanni Salvi, who led the prosecution of former DINA head Manuel Contreras, Stefano Delle Chiaie met with Michael Townley and Virgilio Paz Romero in Madrid in 1975 to plan the murder of Bernardo Leighton with the help of Franco‘s secret police.[76] In 1999, the secretary of the National Security Council (NSC), Glyn T. Davies, declared that the declassified documents established the responsibility of Pinochet government in carrying out the assassination of Bernardo Leighton, as well as Orlando Letelier and General Carlos Prats.[77] a failed assassination attempt on October 6, 1975.

Orlando Letelier[edit]

Main article: Assassination of Orlando LetelierLetelier in 1976

In December 2004, Francisco Letelier, the son of Orlando Letelier, wrote in an OpEd column in the Los Angeles Times that his father’s assassination was part of Operation Condor, which he described as “an intelligence-sharing network used by six South American dictators of that era to eliminate dissidents.”[78]

Michael Townley has accused Pinochet of being responsible for Letelier’s death. Townley confessed that he had hired five anti-Castro Cuban exiles to booby-trap Letelier’s car. According to Jean-Guy Allard, after consultations with the terrorist organization CORU‘s leadership, including Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch, those elected to carry out the murder were Cuban-Americans José Dionisio Suárez, Virgilio Paz Romero, Alvin Ross Díaz, and brothers Guillermo and Ignacio Novo Sampoll.[79][80] According to the Miami Herald, Luis Posada Carriles was at this meeting, which decided on Letelier’s death and also the Cubana Flight 455 bombing.

Los Quemados[edit]

In July 1986, photographer Rodrigo Rojas DeNegri was burned alive and Carmen Gloria Quintana suffered serious burns during a street protests against Pinochet. The two’s case became known as Los Quemados (“The Burned Ones”) and the case received attention in the United States because Rojas had fled to the US after the 1973 coup.[81] A document by the United States State Department highlights that the Chilean army deliberately set both Rojas and Quintana on fire.[82] Pinochet, on the other hand, accused both Rojas and Quintana of being terrorists who were set ablaze by their own Molotov cocktails.[83] According to National Security Archive analyst Peter Kornbluh, Pinochet’s reaction to the attack and death of Rojas “contributed to Reagan’s decision to withdraw support for the regime and press for a return to civilian rule.”[81]

Operación Silencio[edit]

Cover of La Segunda, 25 July 1975, in regards to the murder of MIR operatives in Argentina. Main header reads “Exterminated like mice”.

Operación Silencio (Operation Silence) was a Chilean operation to impede investigations by Chilean judges by removing witnesses from the country. It started about a year before the “terror archives” were found in Paraguay.

In April 1991, Arturo Sanhueza Ross, linked to the murder of MIR leader Jecar Neghme in 1989, left the country. According to the Rettig Report, Jecar Neghme’s death had been carried out by Chilean intelligence agents.[84] In September 1991, Carlos Herrera Jiménez, who killed trade-unionist Tucapel Jiménez, left by plane.[85] In October 1991, Eugenio Berríos, a chemist who had worked with DINA agent Michael Townley, was escorted from Chile to Uruguay by Operation Condor agents in order to avoid testifying in the Letelier case. He used Argentinian, Uruguayan, Paraguayan and Brazilian passports, raising concerns that Operation Condor was not dead. Berríos was found dead in El Pinar, near Montevideo (Uruguay), in 1995. His body had been so mutilated to make identification by appearance impossible.

In January 2005, Michael Townley, who now lives in the U.S. under the witness protection program, acknowledged links between Chile, DINA, and the detention and torture center Colonia Dignidad.[86] The center was established in 1961 by Paul Schäfer, who was arrested in March 2005 in Buenos Aires and convicted on charges of child rape. Townley informed Interpol about Colonia Dignidad and the Army’s Bacteriological Warfare Laboratory. This last laboratory would have replaced the old DINA laboratory on Via Naranja de lo Curro street, where Townley worked with the chemical assassin Eugenio Berríos. The toxin that allegedly killed Christian-Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva may have been made in this new lab in Colonia Dignidad, according to the judge investigating the case.[86] In 2013, a Brazilian-Uruguayan-Argentinian collaborative documentary, Dossiê Jango, implicated the same lab in the alleged poisoning of João Goulart, Brazil’s deposed president.[87]

U.S. Congressman Edward Koch[edit]

In February 2004, reporter John Dinges published The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents. He revealed that Uruguayan military officials threatened to assassinate U.S. Congressman Edward Koch (later Mayor of New York City) in mid-1976. In late July 1976, the CIA station chief in Montevideo had received information about it. Based on learning that the men were drinking at the time, he recommended that the Agency take no action. The Uruguayan officers included Colonel José Fons, who was at the November 1975 secret meeting in Santiago, Chile; and Major José Nino Gavazzo, who headed a team of intelligence officers working in Argentina in 1976 and was responsible for more than 100 Uruguayans’ deaths.[88]

Interviewed in the early 21st century by Dinges, Koch said that George H. W. Bush, then CIA director, informed him in October 1976 that “his sponsorship of legislation to cut off U.S. military assistance to Uruguay on human rights grounds had provoked secret police officials to ‘put a contract out for you’.”[89] In mid-October 1976, Koch wrote to the Justice Department asking for FBI protection, but none was provided.[89] (This was more than two months after the meeting and after Orlando Letelier‘s murder in Washington.) In late 1976, Colonel Fons and Major Gavazzo were assigned to prominent diplomatic posts in Washington, D.C. The State Department forced the Uruguayan government to withdraw their appointments, with the public explanation that “Fons and Gavazzo could be the objects of unpleasant publicity.”[88] Koch only learned about the connections between the threats and the post appointments in 2001.[88]


The United States backed Alfredo Stroessner’s anti-communist military dictatorship[3] and played a “critical supporting role” in the domestic affairs of Stroessner’s Paraguay.[90] For instance, U.S. Army officer Lieutenant Colonel Robert Thierry was sent to help local workmen build a detention and interrogation center named “La Technica” as part of Operation Condor.[91][92] La Technica was also a well known torture centre.[91][92] Stroessner’s secret police, headed by Pastor Coronel, bathed their captives in tubs of human vomit and excrement[93] and shocked them in the rectum with electric cattle prods. They dismembered the Communist party secretary, Miguel Ángel Soler [es], alive with a chainsaw while Stroessner listened on the phone.[94][95][96][97] Stroessner demanded the tapes of detainees screaming in pain to be played to their family members.[98]

In a report to Kissinger, Harry Shlaudeman described Paraguay’s militaristic state as a “nineteenth-century military regime that looks good on the cartoon page.” Shlaudeman’s judgments adopted a tone of paternalism, but was correct in noting that Paraguay’s “backwardness” was leading it toward the fate of its neighbors. Although the United States viewed conflict from a global and ideological perspective, many decolonized nations defined national security threats in terms of neighboring nations and longstanding ethnic or regional feuds. Shlaudeman notes the incredible resilience that Paraguay showed against the superior military might of its neighbors during the Chaco War. From the perspective of the government in Paraguay, the victory against its neighbors over the course of several decades justified the lack of development in the nation. The report further states that the political traditions in Paraguay were anything but democratic. Like many other nations that won independence in the Cold War, democracy was a foreign concept. This reality, combined with a fear of leftist dissent in neighboring nations, led the government to focus on the containment of political opposition instead of on the development of its economic and political institutions. An ideological fear of its neighbors compelled them to protect its sovereignty. Therefore, the fight against radical, leftist movements within and without the country motivated many policymakers to act in the interest of security.[99]

Peruvian case[edit]

The Peruvian dictator Francisco Morales Bermúdez was part of Operation Condor.

The Peruvian legislator Javier Diez Canseco declared that he and twelve compatriots of his own (Justiniano Apaza Ordóñez, Hugo Blanco, Genaro Ledesma Izquieta, Valentín Pacho, Ricardo Letts, César Lévano, Ricardo Napurí, José Luis Alvarado Bravo, Alfonso Baella Tuesta, Guillermo Faura Gaig, José Arce Larco and Humberto Damonte), all opponents of the dictatorship of Francisco Morales Bermúdez, were expatriated and handed over in 1978, after being kidnapped in Peru, to the Argentine armed forces in the city of Jujuy. He also stated that there is declassified documentation of the CIA and cable information disseminated by WikiLeaks, which account for the links of the Morales Bermudez government with Operation Condor.[100]

In July 2019, the Italian courts sentenced Morales Bermudez to life imprisonment, together with Prime Minister Pedro Richter Prada and General Germán Ruíz Figueroa, for the disappearance of Italian citizens.[101]


Main article: Civic-military dictatorship of Uruguay

As per usual with Southern Cone 1970s dictatorships, Juan María Bordaberry proclaimed himself a dictator and banned the rest of political parties.[102] The de facto government spanned from 1973 to 1985, in which period a considerable number of people were murdered, tortured, illegally detained and imprisoned, kidnapped and forced into disappearance, in the purported defence against subversion.[103] Prior to the 1973 coup d’état, the CIA had acted as a consultant to the law enforcement agencies in the country.[104] Dan Mitrione, the best-known example of such cooperation, had trained civilian police in counterinsurgency at the School of the Americas in Panama, known as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation after 2000.[105][106]

Other cases[edit]

Edgardo Enríquez, Chilean leader of the MIR, “disappeared” in Argentina, as did the MIR leader Jorge Fuentes. Alexei Jaccard and Ricardo Ramírez were “disappeared,” and a support network to the Communist party was dismantled in Argentina in 1977. Cases of repression in the country against German, Spanish, Peruvian, and Jewish people were also reported. The assassinations of former Bolivian president Juan José Torres and former Uruguayan deputies Héctor Gutiérrez and Zelmar Michelini in Buenos Aires in 1976 were also part of Condor. The DINA contacted Croatian terrorists (i.e. Ustashe émigrés and descendants), Italian neofascists and the Shah’s SAVAK to locate and assassinate dissidents in exile.[107]

According to reports in 2006, resulting from trials of top officials in Argentina, Operation Condor was at its peak in 1976 when Chilean exiles in Argentina were threatened; many went underground or into exile again in other countries. Chilean General Carlos Prats had been assassinated by DINA in Buenos Aires in 1974, with the help of former CIA agent Michael Townley. Cuban diplomats were assassinated in Buenos Aires in the Automotores Orletti torture center, one of the 300 clandestine prisons of the dictatorship. These centers were managed by the Grupo de Tareas 18, headed by former police officer and intelligence agent Aníbal Gordon, earlier convicted of armed robbery, who reported directly to General Commandant of the SIDE, Otto Paladino.[108]

Automotores Orletti was the main base of foreign intelligence services involved in Operation Condor. José Luis Bertazzo, a survivor of kidnapping and torture who was detained there for two months, identified Chilean, Uruguayan, Paraguayan and Bolivian nationals held as prisoners and who were interrogated by agents from their own countries. The 19-year-old daughter-in-law of poet Juan Gelman was tortured here along with her husband, before being transported to a Montevideo prison. There she delivered a baby which was immediately stolen by Uruguayan military officers and placed for illegal adoption with friends of the regime.[108] Decades later, President Jorge Batlle ordered an investigation and finally, Macarena Gelman was found and recovered her identity.

According to Dinges’ book Los años del Cóndor (The Years of the Condor), Chilean MIR prisoners in the Orletti center told José Luis Bertazzo that they had seen two Cuban diplomats, 22-year-old Jesús Cejas Arias and 26-year-old Crescencio Galañega, tortured by Gordon’s group. They were interrogated by a man who had travelled from Miami to interrogate them. The Cuban nationals had been responsible for protection of Cuban ambassador to Argentina, Emilio Aragonés. They were kidnapped on 9 August 1976, at the corner of calle Arribeños and Virrey del Pino, by 40 armed SIDE agents, who blocked the street with their Ford Falcons. (These were the car models used by the security forces during the dictatorship.)[108]

According to Dinges, the FBI and the CIA were informed of their arrest. He quotes a cable sent from Buenos Aires by FBI agent Robert Scherrer on 22 September 1976, in which he mentioned that Michael Townley, later convicted for the assassination of former Chilean minister Orlando Letelier in Washington, D.C., had taken part in the interrogations of the two Cubans. On 22 December 1999, the former head of the DINA confirmed to Argentine federal judge María Servini de Cubría in Santiago de Chile that Michael Townley and Cuban Guillermo Novo Sampoll were present in the Orletti center. They had travelled from Chile to Argentina on 11 August 1976 and “cooperated in the torture and assassination of the two Cuban diplomats.” Luis Posada Carriles, an anti-Castro Cuban terrorist, boasted in his autobiography, Los Caminos Del Guerrero (The Roads of the Warrior), of the murder of the two young men.[108]

Prominent victims[edit]

  • Martín Almada, educator in Paraguay, arrested in 1974 and tortured for three years
  • Víctor Olea Alegría, member of the Socialist Party, arrested on 11 September 1974 and “disappeared” (Manuel Contreras, head of DINA, was convicted in 2002 for this crime)
  • William Beausire, businessman with dual British-Chilean nationality, abducted in transit in Buenos Aires airport in November 1974, taken to the Villa Grimaldi torture center in Chile and “disappeared” [6].
  • Volodia Teitelboim, member of the Communist Party of Chile, targeted for murder in Mexico with Carlos Altamirano in Mexico in 1976
  • “Disappearance” of two Cuban diplomats in Argentina, Crecencio Galañega Hernández and Jesús Cejas Arias, who transited through Orletti detention center in Buenos Aires (9 August 1976 – see Lista de centros clandestinos de detención (Argentina)); both were questioned by the SIDE and the DINA, with the knowledge of the FBI and the CIA[109]
  • Andrés Pascal Allende, nephew of Salvador Allende and secretary general of the MIR, escaped an assassination attempt in Costa Rica in March 1976
  • Carmelo Soria, Spanish diplomat, civil servant of the CEPAL (a UN organization), assassinated on 21 July 1976
  • Jorge Zaffaroni and María Emilia Islas, maybe members of the Tupamaros, “disappeared” in Buenos Aires on 29 September 1976, kidnapped by the Batallón de Inteligencia 601, who transferred them to the Uruguayan OCOAS (Organismo Coordinador de Operaciones Anti-Subversivas)[110]
  • Dagmar Ingrid Hagelin, 17-year-old Swedish national kidnapped in 1977 and shot in the back by Alfredo Astiz as she tried to escape; later “disappeared”
  • Poet Juan Gelman‘s son and daughter-in-law – imprisoned; their baby, born in prison, was taken by the Uruguayan military and illegally placed for adoption by a regime ally

U.S. involvement[edit]

Further information: U.S. intervention in ChileFurther information: Dirty War § US involvement with the junta

Operation Condor also had the covert support of the US government. Washington provided Condor with military intelligence and training, financial assistance, advanced computers, sophisticated tracking technology, and access to the continental telecommunications system housed in the Panama Canal Zone.— J. Patrice McSherry[1]

The United States documentation shows that the United States provided key organizational, financial and technical assistance to the operation into the 1980s.[2][3][8]

In a United States Department of State briefing for Henry Kissinger, then the Secretary of State, dated August 3, 1976 written by Harry Shlaudeman and entitled the “Third World War and South America,” the long-term dangers of a right-wing bloc and their initial policy recommendations were considered.[21] The briefing was a summary of Southern Cone security forces. It stated that the operation was an effort of six countries in the southern cone of Latin America (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay) to win the “Third-World-War” by wiping out “subversion” through transnational secret intelligence activities, kidnapping, torture, disappearance and assassination. The report opens by considering the cohesiveness felt by the six nations of the Southern Cone. It was the assumption of the Shlaudeman’s briefing that the countries in the Southern Cone perceived themselves as “the last bastion of Christian civilization” and thus they consider the efforts against communism as justified as the “Israeli actions against Palestinians terrorist”. Shlaudeman warns Kissinger that in the long term the “Third World War” would put those six countries in an ambiguous position because they are trapped on either side by “international Marxism and its terrorist exponents,” and on the other by “the hostility of uncomprehending industrial democracies misled by the Marxist propaganda.”[111] The report recommended that U.S. policy towards Operation Condor should emphasize the differences between the five countries at every opportunity, to depoliticize human rights, to oppose rhetorical exaggerations of the “Third-World-War” type, and bring the potential bloc-members back-into our cognitive universe through systematic exchanges.[21]

Based on 1976 CIA documents stated that from 1960 to the early 1970s, the plans were developed among international security officials at the US Army School of the Americas and the Conference of American Armies to deal with political dissidents in South America. A declassified CIA document dated 23 June 1976, explains that “in early 1974, security officials from Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia met in Buenos Aires to prepare coordinated actions against subversive targets.”[15] US officials were aware of what was going on.

Additionally, as of a September 1976, the Defense Intelligence Agency reported that US intelligence services were quite aware of the infrastructure and goals of Operation Condor. They realized that “Operation Condor” was the code name given for intelligence collection on “leftists”, Communists, Peronists or Marxists in the Southern Cone Area. The intelligence services were aware that it was security cooperation among several South American countries’ intelligence services (such as Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Bolivia) with Chile as the epicenter of the operation. The DIA noted that Argentina, Uruguay, and Chile were already fervently conducting operations, mainly in Argentina, against leftist targets.[112] Members of SIDE were also operating with Uruguayan military Intelligence officers in an operation carried out against the Uruguayan terrorist organization, the OPR-33. The report also noted that a large volume of U.S. currency was seized during the combined operation.[113]

The third point of the report demonstrates the United States’ understanding of Operation Condor’s more nefarious operations. The report notes, “the formation of special teams from member countries who are to carry out operations to include assassinations against terrorist or supporters of terrorist organizations.” The report also highlighted the fact that these special teams were intelligence service agents rather than military personnel, however these teams did operate in structures reminiscent of U.S. special forces teams.[113] The State Department briefing for Kissinger mentioned awareness of Operation Condor’s plans to conduct possible operations in France and Portugal – a matter that would be prove to be extremely controversial later in Condor’s history.[113]

The US government sponsored and collaborated with DINA (Directorate of National Intelligence), as well as other intelligence organizations forming the nucleus of Condor. CIA documents show that the agency had close contact with members of the Chilean secret police, DINA, and its chief Manuel Contreras.[114] Contreras was retained as a paid CIA contact until 1977, even as his involvement in the Letelier-Moffit assassination was being revealed.

The Paraguayan Archives include official requests to track suspects to and from the U.S. Embassy, the CIA, and FBI. The CIA provided lists of suspects and other intelligence information to the military states. In 1975 the FBI searched in the US for individuals wanted by DINA.[115]

In a February 1976 telecom from the embassy in Buenos Aires to the State Department, intelligence noted the United States possessed awareness of the coming Argentinian coup. The ambassador wrote that the Chief of the North American desk of the Foreign Ministry revealed that he had been asked by the “Military Planning Group” to prepare a report and recommendations for how the “future military government can avoid or minimize the sort of problems the Chilean and Uruguayan governments are having with the US over human rights issue.” The Chief also specifically stated that “they” (whether he is referring to the CIA or the future military government in Argentina, or both) will face resistance if they were to begin assassinating and executing individuals. This being true, the ambassador explains the military coup will “intend to carry forward an all-out war on the terrorists and that some executions would therefore probably be necessary.” This signals that the US also was aware of the planning of human rights violations before they occurred and did not step in to prevent them, despite being entangled in the region’s politics already. The last comment confirms this: “It is encouraging to note that the Argentine military are aware of the problem and are already focusing on ways to avoid letting human rights issues become an irritant in US-Argentine Relations.”[116]

Regarding the ongoing human rights abuses by the Argentine junta, professor Ruth Blakeley writes that Kissinger “explicitly expressed his support for the repression of political opponents.”[117] On 5 October 1976 Henry Kissinger met with Argentina’s Foreign Minister and said:

Look, our basic attitude is that we would like you to succeed. I have an old-fashioned view that friends ought to be supported. What is not understood in the United States is that you have a civil war. We read about human rights problems but not the context. The quicker you succeed the better … The human rights problem is a growing one. Your Ambassador can apprise you. We want a stable situation. We won’t cause you unnecessary difficulties. If you can finish before Congress gets back, the better. Whatever freedoms you could restore would help.— Henry Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State, 5 October 1976 record of conversation[118][119]

Ultimately, the demarche was never delivered. Kornbluh and Dinges suggest that the decision not to send Kissinger’s order was due to Assistant Secretary Harry Shlaudeman’s sending a cable to his deputy in D.C which states “you can simply instruct the Ambassadors to take no further action, noting that there have been no reports in some weeks indicating an intention to activate the Condor scheme.”[120] McSherry adds, “According to [U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay Robert] White, instructions from a secretary of state cannot be ignored unless there is a countermanding order received via a secret (CIA) backchannel.”[121]

Patricia M. Derian, the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs from 1977 to 1981, said of Kissinger’s role in giving the green light to the junta’s repression: “It sickened me that with an imperial wave of his hand, an American could sentence people to death.”[122] Kissinger also attempted to thwart the Carter Administration’s efforts to end the killings by the Argentine junta.[123]

Declassification and reflection[edit]

In June 1999, by order of President Bill Clinton, the State Department released thousands of declassified documents[124] revealing for the first time that the CIA and the State and Defense Departments were intimately aware of Condor. One DOD intelligence report dated 1 October 1976, noted that Latin American military officers bragged about it to their U.S. counterparts. The same report described Condor’s “joint counterinsurgency operations” that aimed to “eliminate Marxist terrorist activities”; Argentina, it noted, created a special Condor team “structured much like a U.S. Special Forces Team.”[125] A summary of material declassified in 2004 states that

The declassified record shows that Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was briefed on Condor and its “murder operations” on August 5, 1976, in a 14-page report from [Harry] Shlaudeman [Assistant Secretary of State]. “Internationally, the Latin generals look like our guys,” Shlaudeman cautioned. “We are especially identified with Chile. It cannot do us any good.” Shlaudeman and his two deputies, William Luers and Hewson Ryan, recommended action. Over the course of three weeks, they drafted a cautiously worded demarche, approved by Kissinger, in which he instructed the U.S. ambassadors in the Southern Cone countries to meet with the respective heads of state about Condor. He instructed them to express “our deep concern” about “rumors” of “plans for the assassination of subversives, politicians and prominent figures both within the national borders of certain Southern Cone countries and abroad.”— 5 August 1976 briefing of Henry Kissinger by Harry Shlaudeman, State, National Security Archive[126]

Kornbluh and Dinges conclude that “The paper trail is clear: the State Department and the CIA had enough intelligence to take concrete steps to thwart the Condor assassination planning. Those steps were initiated but never implemented.” Shlaudeman’s deputy Hewson Ryan later acknowledged in an oral history interview that the State Department was “remiss” in its handling of the case. “We knew fairly early on that the governments of the Southern Cone countries were planning, or at least talking about, some assassinations abroad in the summer of 1976. … Whether if we had gone in, we might have prevented this, I don’t know”, he stated in reference to the Letelier-Moffitt bombing. “But we didn’t.”[120]

A CIA document described Condor as “a counter-terrorism organization” and noted that the Condor countries had a specialized telecommunications system called “CONDORTEL.”[127] A 1978 cable from the US ambassador to Paraguay, Robert White, to the Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, was published on 6 March 2001 by The New York Times. The document was released in November 2000 by the Clinton administration under the Chile Declassification Project. White reported a conversation with General Alejandro Fretes Davalos, chief of staff of Paraguay’s armed forces, who informed him that the South American intelligence chiefs involved in Condor “[kept] in touch with one another through a U.S. communications installation in the Panama Canal Zone which cover[ed] all of Latin America”.[127]

Davalos reportedly said that the installation was “employed to co-ordinate intelligence information among the southern cone countries”. The US feared that the connection to Condor might be publicly revealed at a time when the assassination in the U.S.A. of Chilean former minister Orlando Letelier and his American assistant Ronni Moffitt was being investigated. White cabled Vance that “it would seem advisable to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in US interest.”[127] McSherry describes such cables as “another piece of increasingly weighty evidence suggesting that U.S. military and intelligence officials supported and collaborated with Condor as a secret partner or sponsor.”[128] In addition, an Argentine military source told a U.S. Embassy contact that the CIA was privy to Condor and had played a key role in setting up computerized links among the intelligence and operations units of the six Condor states.[129]

Role of Henry Kissinger[edit]

Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with Henry Kissinger in 1976

Henry KissingerSecretary of State in the Nixon and Ford administrations, was well aware of the Condor plan and was closely involved diplomatically with the Southern Cone governments, going so far as to be Jorge Videla’s personal guest to the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.[130] According to the French newspaper L’Humanité, the first cooperation agreements were signed between the CIA and anti-Castro groups, and the right-wing death squad Triple A, set up in Argentina by Juan Perón and Isabel Martínez de Perón‘s “personal secretary” José López Rega, and Rodolfo Almirón (arrested in Spain in 2006).[131]

On 31 May 2001, French judge Roger Le Loire requested that a summons be served on Henry Kissinger while he was staying at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris. Le Loire wanted to question the statesman as a witness regarding alleged U.S. involvement in Operation Condor and for possible US knowledge concerning the “disappearances” of five French nationals in Chile during military rule. Kissinger left Paris that evening, and Loire’s inquiries were directed to the U.S. State Department.[132]

In July 2001, the Chilean high court granted investigating judge Juan Guzmán the right to question Kissinger about the 1973 killing of American journalist Charles Horman. (His execution by the Chilean military after the coup was dramatized in the 1982 Costa-Gavras film, Missing.) The judge’s questions were relayed to Kissinger via diplomatic routes but were not answered.[133]

In August 2001, Argentine Judge Rodolfo Canicoba sent a letter rogatory to the US State Department, in accordance with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT), requesting a deposition by Kissinger to aid the judge’s investigation of Operation Condor.[134]

In 2002, the editors of The New York Times defended Henry Kissinger, arguing that he should be given a pass for his role in Condor and other dirty works because “the world was polarised, and fighting communism involved hard choices and messy compromises”.[135]

On 16 February 2007, a request for the extradition of Kissinger was filed at the Supreme Court of Uruguay on behalf of Bernardo Arnone, a political activist who was kidnapped, tortured and disappeared by the dictatorial regime in 1976.[136]

The “French connection”[edit]

French journalist Marie-Monique Robin found in the archives of the Quai d’Orsay, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the original document proving that a 1959 agreement between Paris and Buenos Aires set up a “permanent French military mission” of officers to Argentina who had fought in the Algerian War.[137] It was located in the offices of the chief of staff of the Argentine Army. It continued until François Mitterrand was elected President of France in 1981.[138] She showed how Valéry Giscard d’Estaing‘s government secretly collaborated with Videla’s junta in Argentina and with Augusto Pinochet‘s regime in Chile.[139]

In 1957, Argentine officers, among them Alcides Lopez Aufranc, went to Paris to attend two-year courses at the École de Guerre military school, two years before the Cuban Revolution, and before the rise of anti-government guerrilla movements in Argentina.[138] “In practice”, said Robin to Página/12, “the arrival of the French in Argentina led to a massive extension of intelligence services and of the use of torture as the primary weapon of anti-subversive war in the concept of modern warfare.”[138] The “annihilation decrees” signed by Isabel Perón were inspired by earlier French documents.

During the Battle of Algiers, police forces were put under the authority of the French Army, and in particular of the paratroopers. They systematically used torture during interrogations and also began to “disappear” suspects, as part of a program of intimidation. Reynaldo Bignone, named President of the Argentinian junta in July 1982, said, “The March 1976 order of battle is a copy of the Algerian battle.”[138]

On 10 September 2003, French Green Party deputies Noël MamèreMartine Billard and Yves Cochet petitioned for a Parliamentary Commission to be established to examine the “role of France in the support of military regimes in Latin America from 1973 to 1984” before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the National Assembly, presided by Édouard Balladur. The only newspaper to report this was Le Monde.[140] Deputy Roland Blum, in charge of the Commission, refused to allow Marie-Monique Robin to testify. The government’s report in December 2003 was described by Robin as being in the utmost bad faith. It claimed that no agreement had ever been signed on this issue between France and Argentina.[141]

When French Minister of Foreign Affairs Dominique de Villepin traveled to Chile in February 2004, he claimed that there had been no cooperation between France and the military regimes.[142]

Reporter Marie-Monique Robin said to L’Humanité newspaper: “The French have systematized a military technique in the urban environment which would be copied and passed to Latin American dictatorships.”[24] The methods employed during the 1957 Battle of Algiers were systematized and exported to the War School in Buenos Aires.[138] Roger Trinquier‘s famous book on counter-insurgency had a very strong influence in South America. Robin said that she was shocked to learn that the French intelligence agency Direction de surveillance du territoire (DST) communicated to the DINA the names of refugees who returned to Chile (Operation Retorno), all of whom were killed. “Of course, this puts the French government in the dock, and Giscard d’Estaing, then President of the Republic. I was very shocked by the duplicity of the French diplomatic position which, at the same time received political refugees with open arms, and collaborated with the dictatorships.”[24]

Marie-Monique Robin also showed ties between the French far right and Argentina since the 1930s, in particular through the Roman Catholic fundamentalist organization Cité catholique created by Jean Ousset, a former secretary of Charles Maurras (founder of the royalist Action Française movement). La Cité published a review, Le Verbe, which influenced military officers during the Algerian War, notably by justifying their use of torture. At the end of the 1950s, the Cité catholique established groups in Argentina and set up cells in the Army. It was greatly expanded during the government of General Juan Carlos Onganía, in particular in 1969.[138]

The key figure of the Cité catholique was priest Georges Grasset, who became Videla’s personal confessor. He had been the spiritual guide of the Organisation armée secrète (OAS), a pro-French Algeria terrorist movement founded in Franquist Spain. Robin says that this Catholic fundamentalist current in the Argentine Army contributed to the importance and duration of Franco-Argentine cooperation. In Buenos Aires, Georges Grasset maintained links with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the Society of St. Pius X in 1970. He was excommunicated in 1988. The Society of Pius-X has four monasteries in Argentina, the largest in La Reja. A French priest there said to Marie-Monique Robin: “to save the soul of a Communist priest, one must kill him.” Luis Roldan, former Under Secretary of Religion under Carlos Menem (President of Argentina from 1989 to 1999), was presented to her by Dominique Lagneau, the priest in charge of the monastery, and described as “Mr. Cité catholique in Argentina”. Bruno Genta and Juan Carlos Goyeneche represent this ideology.[138]

Argentine Admiral Luis María Mendía, who had theorized the practice of “death flights”, testified in January 2007 before Argentine judges that a French intelligence “agent”, Bertrand de Perseval, had participated in the abduction of two French nuns, Léonie Duquet and Alice Domon, who were later murdered. Perseval, who lives today in Thailand, denied any links with the abduction. He has admitted being a former member of the OAS, and having escaped for Argentina after the March 1962 Évian Accords that ended the Algerian War (1954–62). Referring to Marie Monique Robin’s film documentary titled The Death Squads – the French School (Les escadrons de la mort – l’école française), Luis María Mendía asked of the Argentine Court that former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former French premier Pierre Messmer, former French ambassador to Buenos Aires François de la Gorce, and all officials in place in the French embassy in Buenos Aires between 1976 and 1983 be called before the court.[143]

Besides this “French connection,” he has also accused former head of state Isabel Perón and former ministers Carlos Ruckauf and Antonio Cafiero, who had signed the “anti-subversion decrees” before Videla’s 1976 coup d’état. According to ESMA survivor Graciela Daleo, this tactic tries to claim that the crimes were legitimised by Isabel Perón’s “anti-subversion decrees.” She notes that torture is forbidden by the Argentine Constitution.[144] Alfredo Astiz, a marine known as the “Blond Angel of Death” because of his torture, also referred to the “French connection” at his trial.[145]


As showed in a newly declassified CIA document,[146] in 1977 intelligence agencies from Britain, France and West Germany looked into using the tactics employed in Operation Condor against leftwing “subversives” in their own countries. The agencies sent representatives to the Condor organisation secretariat in Buenos Aires in September 1977 in order to discuss how to establish an “anti-subversion organization similar to Condor” in which the agencies would pool their resources into a single organisation. The intention was for the agencies to act in a coordinated fashion against subversives within member countries in Europe.[147]

Legal actions[edit]


In Argentina, the CONADEP human rights commission of 1983, led by writer Ernesto Sabato and René Favaloro among other respected personalities, investigated human rights abuses during the dictatorship. The 1985 Trial of the Juntas convicted top officers who ran the military governments for acts of state terrorism. The amnesty laws (Ley de Obediencia Debida and Ley de Punto Final) of 1985–1986 stopped the trials until 2003, when the Congress repealed them, and in 2005 the Argentine Supreme Court ruled they were unconstitutional.

Chilean Enrique Arancibia Clavel was convicted and sentenced in Argentina for the assassination of Carlos Prats and of his wife; in a 2011 court verdict, life terms were handed down to Alfredo AstizJorge Acosta, Antonio Pernias and Ricardo Cavallo;[148] In 2016 Reynaldo Bignone, Santiago Riveros, Manuel Cordero and 14 others were convicted.[149][150]

Most of the Junta’s members are in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Former military officers from Argentina and Uruguay went on trial in 2013 in Buenos Aires for their human rights abuses in Operation Condor. The cross-border conspiracy of dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s to “eradicate ‘subversion,’ a word which increasingly translated into non-violent dissent from the left and center left.” These prosecutions were enabled by massive releases of formerly classified documents to the national Security Archive which were then used as evidence against the accused. “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. Of the 171 Condor victims cited in the indictments, approximately forty-two survived and one hundred twenty others were killed and/or disappeared. “Condor was a latter day rendition, torture and assassination program,” noted Carlos Osorio, who directs the Archive’s Southern Cone Documentation project. “Holding these officials accountable for the multinational crimes of Condor,” he said, “cannot help but set a precedent for more recent abuses of a similar nature.”[151]

A Prominent victim of Operation Condor included former Bolivian president, Juan Torres, who was murdered in Buenos Aires.[151]


Chilean judge Juan Guzmán, who had arraigned Pinochet at his return to Chile after his arrest in London, started prosecution of some 30 torturers, including former head of the DINA Manuel Contreras, for the disappearance of 20 Chilean victims of the Condor plan.[131]

On 3 August 2007, General Raúl Iturriaga, former head of DINA, was captured in the Chilean town of Viña del Mar on the Pacific coast.[152] He had previously been a fugitive from a five-year jail term, after being sentenced for the kidnapping of Luis Dagoberto San Martin, a 21-year-old opponent of Pinochet. Martín had been captured in 1974 and taken to a DINA detention center, from which he “disappeared”. Iturriaga was also wanted in Argentina for the assassination of General Prats.[152]

According to French newspaper L’Humanité,

in most of those countries legal action against the authors of crimes of “lese-humanity” from the 1970s to 1990 owes more to flaws in the amnesty laws than to a real will of the governments in power, which, on the contrary, wave the flag of “national reconciliation”. It is sad to say that two of the pillars of the Condor Operation, Alfredo Stroessner and Augusto Pinochet, never paid for their crimes and died without ever answering charges about the “disappeared” – who continue to haunt the memory of people who had been crushed by fascist brutality.[131]

Prominent victims of Operation Condor in Chile included former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his 26-year old American Colleague Ronni Moffitt who were assassinated by a car bomb in downtown Washington D.C.[151]


Former Uruguayan president Juan María Bordaberry, his minister of Foreign Affairs and six military officers, responsible for the disappearance in Argentina in 1976 of opponents to the Uruguayan regime, were arrested in 2006 and placed under house arrest in 2007. In 2010, Bordaberry was convicted of violating the constitution, nine counts of “forced disappearance” and two counts of political homicide and sentenced to 30 years.[153]

Prominent Uruguayan victims of Operation Condor included two former legislators.[151]

See also[edit]

Detention and torture centers[edit]

Other operations and strategies related to Condor[edit]

Fictional references[edit]


  1. Jump up to:a b c d McSherry, J. Patrice (2009). “Chapter 5: “Industrial repression” and Operation Condor in Latin America”. In Esparza, Marcia; Henry R. Huttenbach; Daniel Feierstein (eds.). State Violence and Genocide in Latin America: The Cold War Years (Critical Terrorism Studies)Routledge. pp. 107111ISBN 978-0415664578.
  2. Jump up to:a b c Greg Grandin (2011). The Last Colonial Massacre: Latin America in the Cold WarUniversity of Chicago Pressp. 75ISBN 9780226306902.
  3. Jump up to:a b c Walter L. Hixson (2009). The Myth of American Diplomacy: National Identity and U.S. Foreign PolicyYale University Pressp. 223ISBN 0300151314.
  4. Jump up to:a b c 1992: Archives of Terror DiscoveredNational Geographic. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  5. ^ Victor Flores Olea [es] (10 April 2006). “Editoriales – Operacion Condor”El Universal (in Spanish). Mexico. Archived from the original on 28 June 2007. Retrieved 24 March 2009.
  6. ^ Larry Rohter (January 24, 2014). Exposing the Legacy of Operation CondorThe New York Times. Retrieved August 26, 2015.
  7. ^ “Background on Chile”Center for Justice and Accountability. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  8. Jump up to:a b c d J. Patrice McSherry (2002). “Tracking the Origins of a State Terror Network: Operation Condor”. Latin American Perspectives29 (1): 36–60. doi:10.1177/0094582X0202900103S2CID 145129079.
  9. ^ “A Brief Look at “Operation Condor”” (PDF). nsarchive2.gwu.edu. 22 August 1978.
  10. ^ McSherry, J. Patrice (10 July 2012). Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 1–4. ISBN 9780742568709.
  11. ^ “El Estado de necesidad” (in Spanish); Documents of the Trial of the Juntas at Desaparecidos.org.
  12. ^ “Argentina’s Dirty War – Alicia Patterson Foundation”aliciapatterson.org. Archived from the original on 29 January 2017. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  13. ^ Stanley, Ruth (2006). “Predatory States. Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America/When States Kill. Latin America, the U.S., and Technologies of Terror”Journal of Third World Studies. Retrieved 24 October 2007.
  14. ^ McSherry, J. Patrice (2011). “Chapter 5: “Industrial repression” and Operation Condor in Latin America”. In Esparza, Marcia; Henry R. Huttenbach; Daniel Feierstein (eds.). State Violence and Genocide in Latin America: The Cold War Years (Critical Terrorism Studies)Routledge. p. 108ISBN 978-0415664578.
  15. Jump up to:a b c McSherry, Patrice (2005). Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 78. ISBN 978-0742536876.
  16. ^ Jan Knippers Black (1977), “United States Penetration of Brazil”. Manchester University Press. ISBN O-7190-0699-6. Pag 211: [1]
  17. ^https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu//NSAEBB/NSAEBB514/docs/Doc%2004%20-%2024087%20108254%201.pdf
  18. ^ A.J. Languth, Hidden Terrors, Pantheon Books, New York, 1978
  19. ^ “Cable Ties Kissinger to Chile Scandal”Associated Press on Boston.com. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 1 April 2018. As secretary of state, Henry Kissinger canceled a U.S. warning against carrying out international political assassinations that were to have occurred in Chile and two neighboring nations just days before a former ambassador was killed by Chilean agents on Washington’s Embassy Row in 1976, a newly released State Department cable shows.
  22. Jump up to:a b c Abramovici, Pierre (May 2001). “OPERATION CONDOR EXPLAINED — Latin America: the 30 years’ dirty war”Le Monde diplomatique. Retrieved 15 December 2006. (free access in French and in Portuguese Archived 19 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine)
  23. ^ Plummer, Robert (8 June 2005). “Condor legacy haunts South America”BBC. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  24. Jump up to:a b c “L’exportation de la torture” (The exporting of torture), interview with Marie-Monique Robin, in L’Humanité, 30 August 2003 (in French) Archived 5 July 2005 at the Wayback Machine
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  26. ^http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB416/docs/780822cia.pdf
  27. Jump up to:a bhttp://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB416/docs/0000A02E.pdf
  28. ^https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/DOC_0000345186.pdf
  29. ^ “The National Security Archive”nsarchive2.gwu.edu. Retrieved 8 July 2019.
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  31. ^ MARIANO, Nilson. As Garras do Condor, São Paulo: Vozes, 2003, p. 234.
  32. ^ Paraguay: “Terror Archives”, UNESCO website
  33. ^ (10) BOCCIA PAZ, Alfredo et al., op. cit., pp. 229–263; DINGES, John. Os anos do Condor. Uma década de terrorismo internacional no Cone Sul, São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2005, pp. 347–353. For further information on the ‘Arquivos do Terror’, see http://www.unesco.org./webworld/paraguay/documentos.html, UNESCO website
  34. ^ Castillo, Mariano (5 March 2013). “Trial over terrifying ‘Operation Condor’ under way”. CNN.
  35. Jump up to:a b Watts, Simon (21 August 2012). “How Paraguay’s ‘Archive of Terror’ put Operation Condor in focus”. BBC. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  36. ^ Martín AlmadaParaguay: The Forgotten Prison, the Exiled Country
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  39. ^ “Pulling Back the Veil on Condor”The Nation. 24 July 2000. The newly declassified documents–in Paraguay as well as the United States–are helping to reveal a wide range of Condor operations, which included assassination plans or attempts (some of them aborted) in the United States, Portugal, France, Italy and Mexico, and the arrest and torture of an undetermined number of foreigners, including citizens of Spain, Britain, France and the United States.
  40. ^ “El principal sostén del programa económico de Martínez de Hoz”Clarin.com. May 2013. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  41. Jump up to:a b Lewis, Paul.The Crisis of Argentine Capitalism. University of North Carolina Press, 1990.
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  44. ^ Valente, Marcela (8 July 2005). “ARGENTINA: Remains of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Identified”Inter Press Service. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
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  46. ^ Gotkine, Elliott (24 August 2004). “Vital rights ruling in Argentina”. BBC. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  47. ^ [2]Jornada, 22 May 2000
  48. ^ [3]Cooperativa, 30 March 2005
  49. ^ National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 416, 8 March 2013. See http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB416/
  50. ^ “Argentine court finds 15 guilty in Operation Condor conspiracy”. Reuters. 28 May 2016.
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  52. ^ “Brazil looks into Operation Condor”. BBC. 18 May 2000. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  53. ^ Radiobras- Brazilian state website Archived 14 April 2005 at the Wayback Machine (in Portuguese)
  54. ^ Cunha, Luis Claudio (30 May 2011). “Negada Negada indenização contra autor do livro Operação Condor: O Sequestro dos” (in Portuguese). Direito Legal.
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  56. ^ CUNHA, Luiz Cláudio. “Sucesso de investigação”, In: Fernando Molica (ed.) 10 reportagens que abalaram a ditadura, São Paulo: Record, 2005, pp. 117–248. Also see the following issues of VEJAmagazine: 20 October 1978; 29 November 1978; 27 December 1978; 17 January 1979; 15 February 1979; 18 July 1979; 24 October 1979; and 11 June 1980
  57. ^ CUNHA, Luiz Cláudio. “Por que sou testemunha de acusação deste seqüestro”, Playboy, No. 52, Nov. 1979, pp. 127–131 e 164–168
  58. ^ FERRI, Omar. Seqüestro no Cone Sul. O caso Lílian e Universino, Porto Alegre: Mercado Aberto, 1981.
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  75. ^ “Chile admits Pablo Neruda might have been murdered by Pinochet regime”The Guardian. Associated Press. 6 November 2015.
  76. ^ “Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents relating to the Military Coup, 1970–1976”National Security Archive. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  77. ^ El País, “EEUU culpa al “régimen” de Pinochet por los atentados contra Prats, Leighton y Letelier”. Madrid, 8 July 1999 [4]
  78. ^ Francisco Letelier, “Operation Condor and my father’s death”, Los Angeles Times, 17 December 2004
  79. ^ Landau, Saul (20–21 August 2005). “Terrorism Then and Now”CounterPunch. Archived from the original on 4 February 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  80. ^ Allard, Jean-Guy (26 March 2003). “WHILE CHILE DETAINS CONTRERAS … Posada and his accomplices, active collaborators of Pinochet’s fascist police”Granma. Archived from the original on 12 June 2006. Retrieved 15 December2006.
  81. Jump up to:a b Kornbluh, Peter (31 July 2015). “Los Quemados: Chile’s Pinochet Covered up Human Rights Atrocity”National Security Archive. Retrieved 9 April 2019.
  82. ^ “Case of Rodrigo Rojas DeNegri” (PDF). National Security Archive. 8 July 1986.
  83. ^ “Presidential Evening Reading: Likely Involvement of Chilean Army in Rojas Killing” (PDF). National Security Archive. 14 July 1986.
  84. ^ Neghme Cristi Jecar Antonio Archived 23 August 2007 at the Wayback MachineMemoria Viva, (in Spanish)
  85. ^ Sanhueza, Jorge Molina (25 September 2005). “El coronel que le pena al ejército”La Nación (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 12 March 2007. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  86. Jump up to:a b Redireccionando. Cooperativa.cl. Retrieved on 2014-05-24.
  87. ^ Paulo Henrique Fontenelle, “Dossiê Jango”, 2013. <“Assistirnovelaonline.com.br – assistirnovelaonline Resources and Information”. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.>
  88. Jump up to:a b c “Ed Koch Threatened with Assassination in 1976”National Security Archive. 18 February 2004. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  89. Jump up to:a b John Dinges, The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies Brought Terrorism to Three Continents
  90. ^ Mora, Frank O. (1998). “The Forgotten Relationship: United States-Paraguay Relations, 1937-89”. Journal of Contemporary History33 (3): 451–473. JSTOR 261125.
  91. Jump up to:a b Jonas Hogg (11 October 2006). “Exiled professor advocates equality, democracy”The Collegian.
  92. Jump up to:a b “History of Paraguay, The Stronato”motherearthtravel.com.
  93. ^ Schemo, Diana Jean (1999). “Files in Paraguay Detail Atrocities of U.S. Allies”The New York Times. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  94. ^ Gimlette, John (2005). At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay. Vintage Books. ISBN 1400078520
  95. ^ General Alfredo StroessnerThe Telegraph, August 17, 2006. Retrieved January 20, 2017
  96. ^ Green, W. John (2015). A History of Political Murder in Latin America: Killing the Messengers of ChangeSUNY Press. p. 266. ISBN 978-1438456638Stroessner reportedly listened on the phone as the secretary of the Paraguayan communist party was ripped apart with a chainsaw.
  97. ^ Whitehead, Anne (1998). Paradise Mislaid: In Search of the Australian Tribe of ParaguayUniversity of Queensland Press. p. 554. ISBN 978-0702226519According to testimony submitted by Amnesty International to the Paraguayan Supreme Court in 1979, Miguel Angel Solar, Secretary of the Parguayan Communist Party, was methodically taken apart, dismembered alive by chainsaw.
  98. ^ Simon Sebag MontefioreHistory’s Monsters. Metro Books, 2008. p. 271. ISBN 1435109376
  99. ^https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB416/docs/0000A02E.pdf
  100. ^ Liza Jaramillo, Víctor (4 February 2012). “Morales sí estuvo en Plan Cóndor”Diario La Primera (in Spanish). Retrieved 26 April 2016.
  101. ^ EFE (8 July 2019). “Italia confirma cadena perpetua para Morales Bermúdez por plan Cóndor”El Comercio (in Spanish). Retrieved 8 July 2019.
  102. ^ José Miguel Busquets; Andrea Delbono (27 September 2016). “La dictadura cívico-militar en Uruguay (1973-1985): aproximación a su periodización y caracterización a la luz de algunas teorizaciones sobre el autoritarismo”Revista de la Facultad de Derecho (41): 61–102. doi:10.22187/rfd201624.
  103. ^ Informe final de la Comisión para la Paz (2003)
  104. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/12/world/americas/argentina-dictatorship-cia-documents.html
  105. ^ New Times (Broward-Palm Beach, FL, 11 de agosto de 2005)
  106. ^ “Dan Mitrione, un maestro de la tortura”Clarín, 2 de septiembre de 2001
  107. ^ Los crímenes de la Operación Cóndor Archived 13 April 2008 at the Wayback MachineLa Tercera, 2001. (in Spanish)
  108. Jump up to:a b c d “Automotores Orletti el taller asesino del Cóndor”Archived 16 May 2007 at the Wayback MachineJuventud Rebelde, 3 January 2006 (mirrored on El Correo.eu.org) (in Spanish and French)
  109. ^ Document dated 22 September 1976, sent by Robert Schererfrom the FBI to the US embassy in Buenos Aires, with a copy of a SIDE document concerning the interrogation. In his memoirs, Cuban Luis Posada Carriles qualifies these murders as “successes” in the “struggle against communism”. See Proyecto Desaparecidos: Notas: Operación Cóndor Archives, (in Spanish), 31 October 2006 (Retrieved on 12 December 2006)
  110. ^ SIDE cableNational Security Archive
  111. ^ Schlaudeman, Harry. “The “Third World War” and South America.” Unclassified Department of State (July 1976): n. pag. Web. <http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB125/condor05.pdf>.
  112. ^ Osorio, Carlos. “Operation Condor on Trial.” The National Security Archive. N.p., 8 Mar. 2013. Web. 11 May 2017.
  113. Jump up to:a b c Department of Defense Intelligence Information Report
  114. ^ “CIA Activities in Chile”CIA. 18 September 2000. Retrieved 14 September 2014.
  115. ^ Weiner (1999). J. Patrice McSherry notes; “In the Paraguayan Archives, I found correspondence documenting similar coordination in other cases.”
  116. ^ “Communication From Ambassador Hill for ARA Acting Assistant Secretary” (PDF). National Security Archive. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  117. ^ Blakeley, Ruth (2009). State Terrorism and Neoliberalism: The North in the SouthRoutledge. p. 96ISBN 978-0415686174.
  118. ^ The Dirty War in Argentina, National Security Archive, George Washington University, Retrieved 6 August 2010.
  119. ^ Borger, Julian (27 August 2004). “Kissinger backed dirty war against left in Argentina”The Guardian. Retrieved 14 August2018.
  120. Jump up to:a b Peter Kornbluh; John Dinges (10 June 2004). “Kornbluh / Dinges Letter to Foreign Affairs”. The National Security Archive.
  121. ^ J. Patrice McSherry (Spring 2005). “The Undead Ghost of Operation Condor”Logos: a journal of modern society & culture. Logosonline. Retrieved 26 June 2007.
  122. ^ Andersen, Martin Edwin (4 March 2016). “How Much Did the US Know About the Kidnapping, Torture, and Murder of Over 20,000 People in Argentina?”The Nation. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  123. ^ Goñi, Uki (9 August 2016). “Kissinger hindered US effort to end mass killings in Argentina, according to files”The Guardian. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  124. ^ See foia.state.gov.
  125. ^ DOD Intelligence Information Report, number 6 804 0334 76.
  126. ^ “5 August 1976 briefing of Henry Kissinger by Harry Shlaudeman, State”
  127. Jump up to:a b c CIA document dated 14 February 1978, at foia.state.gov
  128. ^ “Operation Condor: Cable Suggests U.S. Role”National Security Archive. 6 March 2001. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  129. ^ Landau (1988: 119); (whose? personal ? correspondence with J. Patrick McSherry, 13 February 1999.
  130. ^ Goñi, Uki (9 August 2016). “Kissinger hindered US effort to end mass killings in Argentina, according to files”The GuardianISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  131. Jump up to:a b c Latin America in the 1970s: “Operation Condor, an International Organization for Kidnapping Opponents”L’Humanité, 2 December 2006, transl. 1 January 2007
  132. ^ “Henry Kissinger rattrapé au Ritz, à Paris, par les fantômes du plan Condor”Le Monde, 29 May 2001 (in French) (mirrored here)
  133. ^ “Kissinger may face extradition to Chile”The Guardian, 12 June 2002
  134. ^ “Argentina”Human Rights Watch World Report 2002. New York, Washington, London, Brussels: Human Rights Watch. 2002. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
  135. ^ “Henry Kissinger: Haunted by his past” BBC News, 26 April 2002
  136. ^ Piden extraditar a Kissinger por Operación Condor, in La Jornada, 16 February 2007 (in Spanish) Piden, “Aptura y extradicion de kissinger por operacion condor Archived 19 February 2007 at the Wayback MachineJornada
  137. ^ « Série B. Amérique 1952–1963. Sous-série : Argentine, n° 74. Cotes : 18.6.1. mars 52-août 63 ».
  138. Jump up to:a b c d e f g Argentine – “Escadrons de la mort : l’école française”, interview with Marie-Monique Robin published by RISAL, 22 October 2004 available in French & Spanish (“Los métodos de Argel se aplicaron aquí”), Página/12, 13 October 2004
  139. ^ Conclusion of Marie-Monique Robin‘s Escadrons de la mort, l’école française (in French)
  140. ^ “MM. Giscard d’Estaing et Messmer pourraient être entendus sur l’aide aux dictatures sud-américaines”Le Monde, 25 September 2003 (in French)
  141. ^ RAPPORT FAIT AU NOM DE LA COMMISSION DES AFFAIRES ÉTRANGÈRES SUR LA PROPOSITION DE RÉSOLUTION (n° 1060), tendant à la création d’une commission d’enquête sur le rôle de la France dans le soutien aux régimes militaires d’Amérique latine entre 1973 et 1984, PAR M. ROLAND BLUMFrench National Assembly (in French)
  142. ^ Argentine : M. de Villepin défend les firmes françaisesLe Monde, 5 February 2003 (in French)
  143. ^ Disparitions : un ancien agent français mis en causeLe Figaro, 6 February 2007 (in French)
  144. ^ “Impartí órdenes que fueron cumplidas”Página/12, 2 February 2007 (in Spanish)
  145. ^ Astiz llevó sus chicanas a los tribunalesPágina/12, 25 January 2007 (in Spanish)
  146. ^ “Italian court jails 24 over South American Operation Condor”. The Guardian, July 8, 2019 [5]
  147. ^ Goñi, Uki (16 April 2019). “European spies sought lessons from dictators’ brutal ‘Operation Condor'”The Guardian. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  148. ^ https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-15472396d
  149. ^ Goñi, Uki (27 May 2016). “Argentina’s last military dictator jailed for role in international death squad”The Guardian.
  150. ^ “20 års fengsel for argentinsk eksdiktator”. 27 May 2016.
  152. Jump up to:a b Claudia Lagos and Patrick J. McDonneln Pinochet-era general is caughtLos Angeles Times, 3 August 2007
  153. ^ Klein, Dario (11 February 2010). “Former Uruguayan president sentenced to 30 years”CNN. Retrieved 14 August 2018.
  154. ^ Rucka, GregDeFilippis, NunzioWeir, Christina (w), Scott, Steve (p), Massengill, Nathan (i). Checkmate v2, 11–12 (March 2007), DC Comics
    • The criminal series Numb3rs episode Assassin, operation Condor becomes a main point of focus.

References and further reading[edit]

External links[edit]