Latin American Report


Spanish Judge throws more Charges at Ex-Dictator

Some Post-Decision Comments (30/3/1999)

Carlos Fuentes on "A Victim of Pinochet" (14/3/1999)

Introduction to Pinochet

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14 July1999

Documents Should Lead to Indictments of Kissinger and Bush

By Saul Landau

The US government has released the first batch of documents relating to the violence unleashed between 1973-1990 by General Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. Reading some of the memos, cables and intelligence reports, I was stunned by the shock of recognition.

The documents shockingly show what many people already knew. US officials helped Chile's secret police, DINA, or covered up their atrocities. Try to imagine a US official writing: "Severe repression is planned. The military is rounding up large numbers of people, including students and leftists of all descriptions, and interning them. 300 students were killed in the technical university…"

An October 26, 1973 CIA cable reports on Pinochet's plan "to destroy any and all resistance within two months." And, the cable continues, "This will require more killing by the military…"

A February 5, 1974 cable refers to DINA using techniques "taken directly from the Spanish Inquisition, which often left the person interrogated with visible bodily damage."

Washington covered up Pinochet's excesses so that Congress -- the public -- wouldn't know.

Listen to a September 27 1973 report from US Ambassador Nathaniel Davis. He offers a job description for "an advisor …qualified in establishing a detention center for the detainees who will be held for a relatively long period of time."

The "advisor must have knowledge in the establishment and operation of a detention center." Davis suggests that the State Department send tents, blankets, etc…which need not be publicly and specifically earmarked for prisoners" -- so as not to admit we're outfitting Chilean concentration camps.

In June 1976, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Pinochet in Chile. Indeed, Kissinger had helped Pinochet organize six South American secret police forces to form OPERATION CONDOR. The CIA had even donated to DINA a sophisticated computer that allowed agents to conduct surveillance on exiled dissidents and then murder them - as DINA did in 1974 to former Chilean Chief of Staff Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires.

In June 1976 Kissinger visited Pinochet in Chile and blessed his regime Three months later, in September 1976, three months after Kissinger approved Pinochet's methods, CONDOR agents assassinated former Chilean Chancellor Orlando Letelier in Washington, DC. Ronni Moffitt, Letelier's American colleague at the Institute for Policy Studies, also died in the car bombing.

US officials traced the assassination to Pinochet's office but stopped short of charging him. They all knew Pinochet was guilty. They knew his thugs had beaten and administered electric shocks to the genitals of some 200,000 Chileans, that they had murdered 3200 people in Chile. By applying pressure, Washington could have stopped the horror. Chile's military depended on the US for legitimacy and support.

How now to use the documents that show US officials countenanced torture and murder? First, support the current Spanish case charging Pinochet with crimes against humanity. Second, extradite Pinochet for assassinating Orlando Letelier. Finally, consider charges against Henry Kissinger and George Bush, who, documents show, willingly abetted mass murder and torture.