CHAPTER 3 - PART 5
THE CIA'S COUP IN CHILE
THE ELECTION OF ALLENDE
THE ELECTION OF ALLENDE
In 1960, the CIA funneled in $21 million to help elect Eduardo Frei, a conservative Christian Democrat, in order to continue American pro-corporate relations with Chile. The major bulk of the American money was designated to promote a disinformation campaign on radio and television. This enabled Frei to defeat Allende by 56 to 39 percentage points.
However, in 1970, the tide turned when a socialist candidate, Salvador Allende, campaigned for the presidency. His primary goal was to transform the country from an oligarchy to a true functioning republic by initiating social programs. Allende took unused land from the big estates and divided it among the peasants. This was part of a 1967 statute which never was carried out by the previous rightist regimes. Allende was able to obtain property for one-third of the country's 100,000 landless peasants. As a result agricultural production increased; inflation was cut in half; and beef and bread consumption jumped by 15 percent between 1971 and 1972. Additionally, the government provided one-half liter of milk each day to every Chilean baby. The country's economy quickly improved, as the GNP increased by 8.5 percent in two years, enabling Chile to rank as the second highest Latin American country. Allende also abolished the death penalty, and became the first head of state to recognize all political parties, most of which leaned to the far right.
Not only did these social and economic reforms anger the United States, but the nationalization of American Anaconda Copper Mine and IT&T was intolerable to corporate America. Senator Jesse Helms stated, "$10 million is available, more if necessary. ...Make the economy scream." President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made it clear that an assassination would not be unwelcome.
The United States first planned for the 1970 election in June of that year when the Forty Committee convened. CIA Director Richard Helms promised John McCone $400,000 of CIA funds to assist the anti-Allende news media. The CIA also contributed $1 million to Allende's opponents. Allende's election went to the Chilean congress sitting as an electoral college, where an additional $350,000 was paid out by the CIA in an attempt to buy votes.
AMERICAN ASSETS IN CHILE
AMERICAN ASSETS IN CHILE
In 1975, author Daniel Brandt evaluated American economic policy in Chile and covert operations carried out by the Nixon administration. Brandt wrote that the Department of Commerce reported at the end of 1968 that American corporate holdings in Chile amounted to $964 million with an investment of $200 million. During that year, United States corporations averaged 17.4 percent profit on invested capital, and mining enterprises alone turned an average of 26 percent. Copper companies, notably Anaconda and Kennecott, accounted for 28 percent of American holdings. These copper firms were extremely vital, since Chile was home to 21 percent of the world's copper.
During the 1970 election process, ITT, with consultants in the CIA, funneled $700,000 into the campaign of candidate Jorge Allesandri. Additionally, ITT president Harold Geneen offered $1 million to the CIA to help defeat Allende. When CIA Director John McCone stepped down five years later, he was appointed to ITT's board of directors. The anti- Allende movement also consisted of officials at Anaconda and Kennecott. Two years after Allende was elected, Kennecott tied up Chilean copper exports with lawsuits in France, Sweden, Italy, and Germany, and the firm forced the Chilean government to spend $150,000 in legal expenses. The campaign continued even after Allende agreed, in February 1972, to pay a Kennecott subsidiary $84 million and after the government made a down payment of $5.7 million.
Just a day prior to the inauguration of Allende in 1970, NIBSA, a subsidiary of Northern Indiana Brass Company and the leading producers of brass valves and other fittings, shut down its plant and laid off 280 workers. A representative of the parent company, Northern Indiana Brass, allegedly promoted the murder of the "communists." Finally, Purina, a subsidiary of Ralston Purina and the country's largest producer of animal feed, also cut production sharply.
A year after Allende was elected president, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that ITT vice-president William Merriam testified that he had attempted to establish a "united front," consisting of representatives of American corporations, to strategize how they should deal with the new democracy. The committee also consisted of Treasury Secretary John Connally and his assistant John Hennessy, a Wall Street broker.
American banks also plotted to disrupt the economy of Chile. By October 1971 the State Department also took a hard line against Allende. Chase Manhattan, Chemical, First National City, Manufacturers Hanover, and Morgan Guaranty all canceled their credits to Chile in an attempt to stifle the nation's economy. In a closed meeting with representatives of ITT, Ford, Anaconda, Ralston Purina, First National City bank, and Bank of America, Secretary of State William Rogers stated that the United States would cut off aid unless Chile provided prompt compensation.
The United States also pressured international agencies to participate in an economic boycott of Chile. The World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Agency for International Development (AID), and the Export-Import Bank either cut programs in Chile or canceled credits. The Allende government continued to pay off old loans from the IDB and the World Bank, but neither made new loans to Chile.
Between 1970 and 1972, Chile's foreign-exchange reserves fell from $335 million to $100 million. The country's imports with the United States began to plummet, declining from 40 percent to 15 percent in a three year span. In December 1972, Allende spoke to the United Nations General Assembly and complained of Chile's inability to purchase food, medicine, equipment, and spare parts. Almost one-third of the privately-owned buses, taxis, and state-owned buses had been immobilized by early 1972 because of the lack of spare parts. The scarcity of parts also fueled the truckers' strike, which in turn provoked more economic chaos.
The CIA even purchased a radio station for its anti-Allende crusade. The El Mercurio maintained a monopoly on Chile's media, consisting of newspapers, radio station, advertising agencies, and a wire service. Between 1971 and 1972, the CIA spent $1.5 million on El Mercurio. According to author Fred Landis, the El Mercurio network was used by the CIA to "launder propaganda, disinformation, fake themes and scare stories which were then circulated through 70 percent of the Chilean press and 90 percent of the Chilean radio. The USIA and the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) in turn circulated these stories all over the world." All total, the CIA about $8 million between 1970 and 1973, including $1.5 million to rightist candidates in the March 1973 congressional election. Augustin Edwards, the owner of El Mercurio, conferred with top officials of the Nixon administration.
PLOTTING THE COUP
PLOTTING THE COUP
After the Allende victory, Nixon gave orders to the CIA to "make the economy scream" in Chile to "prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him." After numerous documents were declassified as a result of the Freedom of Information Act, it became apparent that high-level American government officials either new of the coup or participated in the coup to overthrow Allende.
These documents included:
** Cables written by American Ambassador Edward Korry after Allende's election, detailing conversations with President Eduardo Frei on how to block the president-elect from being inaugurated. The cables contained detailed descriptions and opinions on the various political forces in Chile, including the Chilean military, the Christian Democrat Party, and the United States business community.
** CIA memoranda and reports on "Project FUBELT" -- the codename for covert operations to promote a military coup and undermine Allende's government. The documents, including minutes of meetings between National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and CIA officials, CIA cables to its Santiago station, and summaries of covert action in 1970, provided a clear paper trail to the decisions and operations against Allende's government.
** National Security Council strategy papers which record efforts to "destabilize" Chile economically, and isolate Allende's government diplomatically, between 1970 and 1973.
** State Department and NSC memoranda and cables after the coup, providing evidence of human rights atrocities under the new military regime led by General Pinochet.
** FBI documents on Operation Condor -- the state-sponsored terrorism of the Chilean secret police, DINA. The documents, including summaries of prison letters written by DINA agent Michael Townley, provided evidence on the car bombing assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C., and the murder of Chilean General Carlos Prats and his wife in Buenos Aires, among other operations.
The CIA had a strong presence within Chile before the coup. Almost one-third of the staff at the American embassy in Santiago were on the CIA payroll and included 13 officials. An American Foreign Service officer told Richard Fagen in 1972 that the embassy had succeeded in infiltrating all parties of the Popular Unity coalition except Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR). This was confirmed by Colby's secret testimony in October 1973.
Kissinger summarized changing policy toward Chile following Allende's election. He sent a memo to the Secretaries of State, Defense, the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness and the Director of Central Intelligence. It directed United States agencies to adopt a "cool" posture toward Allende's government, in order to prevent his consolidation of power and "limit (his) ability to implement policies contrary to U.S. and hemisphere interests." The memo stated that existing United States assistance and investments in Chile should be reduced, and no new commitments undertaken. Furthermore, according to Kissinger's memo, "close relations" should be established and maintained with military leaders throughout Latin America to facilitate coordination of pressure and other opposition efforts. (National Security Council, National Security Decision Memorandum 93, Policy Towards Chile, November 9, 1970)
In response to a November 27 directive from Kissinger, an inter-agency Working Group on Chile prepared strategy papers covering a range of possible sanctions and pressures against the new Allende government. These included a possible diplomatic effort to force Chile to withdraw -- or be expelled -- from the Organization of American States as well as consultations with other Latin American countries "to promote their sharing of our concern over Chile." The documents show that the Nixon administration did engage in an invisible economic blockade against Allende, intervening at the World Bank, IDB, and Export-Import bank to curtail or terminate credits and loans to Chile before Allende had been in office for a month. (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup; Department of State, Memorandum for Henry Kissinger on Chile, December 4, 1970)
The CIA referred to its ploy to disrupt the 1970 election as Track I. The back-up plan for a military coup was called Track II. The CIA funded Frei substantially in his reelection bid, bribing other Christian Democrats outright, and orchestrating visits and calls from respected leaders abroad. To influence Frei through his wife, the CIA instigated the wiring of telegrams to Mrs. Frei from women's groups in other Latin American nations. Other mailings to Frei included CIA-planted news articles from around the world about Chile's peril. The articles were part of a covert "black" propaganda campaign which, the CIA boasted, resulted in at least 726 stories, broadcasts and editorials against an Allende presidency. However, the plot to reelect Frei failed, as he refused to have the Christian Democrats block Allende's ratification.
CIA Director Richard Helms reported to Kissinger, "Frei did manage to confide to several top-ranking military officers that he would not oppose a coup, with a guarded implication he might even welcome one. But "Frei moved quickly away from" the developing coup when right-wing coup plotters assassinated General Schneider on October 22, 1970, according to a CIA cable. Schneider had insisted that the military accept the will of the people and respect the Chilean constitution. (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
September 15, 1970. Nixon ordered the coup to topple Allende. Handwritten notes taken on this date by CIA director Helms recorded the orders of Nixon to foster the coup. Helms' notes reflected Nixon's orders: "l in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile! Worth spending; not concerned; no involvement of embassy; $10,000,000 available, more if necessary; full-time job -- best men we have; game plan; make the economy scream; 48 hours for plan of action." (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
September 16, 1970. A meeting took place between Helms and high agency officials on covert operations -- codenamed "FUBELT" -- against Allende. A special task force under the supervision of CIA agent David Atlee Phillips was established. The memorandum noted that the CIA needed to prepare an action plan for Kissinger within 48 hours. (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
October 16, 1970. Thomas Karamessines sent a CIA Operating Guidance Cable on Coup Plotting. He conveyed Kissinger's orders to CIA station chief in Santiago, Henry Hecksher: "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup." The "operating guidance" made it clear that these operations were to be conducted so as to hide the "American hand," and that the CIA was to ignore any orders to the contrary from Ambassador Korry who had not been informed of Track II operations. (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
October 18, 1970. Three cables related to coup planning between CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia and the CIA Station in Santiago addressed the secret shipment of weapons and ammunition for use in the plot to kidnap General Rene Schneider. The cables said that "neutralizing" Schneider was a key prerequisite for a military coup, since he opposed any intervention by the armed forces to block Allende's constitutional election. The CIA supplied a group of Chilean officers led by General Camilo Valenzuela with "sterile" weapons for the operation which was to be blamed on Allende supporters and prompt a military takeover. Instead, on October 22, General Schneider was killed by another group of plotters the CIA had been collaborating with, led by retired General Roberto Viaux. Instead of a coup, the military and the country rallied behind Allende's ratification by Chile's Congress on October 24. (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
November 18, 1970: CIA, Report of CIA Chilean Task Force Activities, 15 September to 3 November 1970 said: "The CIA prepared a summary of its efforts to prevent Allende's ratification as president and to foment a coup in Chile -- Track I and Track II covert operations. The summary detailed the composition of the Task Force, headed by David Atlee Phillips, the team of covert operatives "inserted individually into Chile," and their contacts with Colonel Paul Winert, the United States Army Attache detailed to the CIA for this operation. It reviewed the propaganda operations designed to push Chilean president Eduardo Frei to support "a military coup which would prevent Allende from taking office on 3 November." (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
Track II: The documents revealed that an early coup plan -- known as "Track II" -- continued through the assassination of pro-constitutional Chilean General Rene Schneider, who was killed by military plotters on October 22, 1970. The fuller documentary record contradicts the long-standing claim by Kissinger that "Track II" was shut down a week before Schneider's murder. After Allende's inauguration, Nixon did not give up. The documents detailed what his administration did to make the Chilean economy "scream," how the CIA spread "black" propaganda, and how Washington finally convinced the Chilean army to participate in the 1973 coup.
Allende's victory also outraged Nixon and started the president's men plotting how to stop Allende's inauguration. Cables focused on a scheme to derail formal ratification of Allende's victory by Chile's congress on October 24, 1970. According to one plan, the congress would defy the electorate and pick the runner-up, Jorge Alessandri, "who would renounce the presidency and thus provoke new elections in which Frei would run." On September 12, Korry and Assistant Secretary of State John Richardson met secretly with Frei at the presidential palace. While much of the conversation remains classified, Korry reported that Frei saw only a "one in 20 chance" to stop Allende, but added that he could not "afford to be anything but the president of all Chileans at this time." Despite the odds, Nixon ordered the CIA to try. The covert action to reverse the results of the Chilean election -- by political or military means -- took the code name, "Project FUBELT." (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
On September 16, Helms informed his senior covert action staff that "President Nixon had decided that an Allende regime in Chile was not acceptable to the United States," according to one declassified CIA memo. Helms added, "The President asked the Agency to prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him." The CIA had 48 hours to present an action plan to Kissinger. (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
The CIA's first plan was to pressure Frei. The declassified "Report on CIA Chilean Task Force Activities" read: "CIA mobilized an interlocking political action and propaganda campaign designed both to goad and entice Frei" into the "so-called Frei re-election gambit." Helms told the NSC that the scheme had "only one purpose to induce President Frei to prevent Allende's (formal) election by the Congress on 24 October, and, failing that, to support -- by benevolent neutrality at the least and conspiratorial benediction at the most -- a military coup which would prevent Allende from taking office." (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
Kissinger did his best to distance himself from the assassination, both in testimony to Congress and in his memoirs. He later wrote in his memoirs that the "CIA deputy director of plans Thomas Karamessines carried from his October 15 meeting with me an instruction to ‘turn off General (Roberto) Viaux's coup plot and a general mandate to preserve our assets' in Chile in the (clearly remote) chance that some other opportunity might develop." (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
However, a declassified "top secret" memorandum of that October 15 meeting undercut Kissinger's account. At the meeting with Karamessines and Alexander Haig, Kissinger was quoted as demanding "that the agency should continue keeping the pressure on every Allende weak spot in sight -- now ... and into the future until such time as new marching orders are given." Kissinger also demanded tight secrecy around the coup plotting. "Dr. Kissinger discussed his desire that the word of our encouragement to the Chilean military in recent weeks be kept as secret as possible." (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
Karamessines stated that he had done everything possible in this connection, including the use of false flag officers, car meetings, and every conceivable precaution. The following day, a CIA cable from Langley to Henry Hecksher, the CIA station chief in Santiago, revealed that Kissinger's orders were relayed to the field. The October 24 cable read, "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup ... prior to October 24. But efforts in this regard will continue vigorously beyond this date. We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end utilizing every appropriate resource. ... It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG (United States government) and American hand be well hidden. Please review all your present and possibly new activities to include propaganda, black operations, surfacing of intelligence or disinformation, personal contacts, or anything else your imagination can conjure which will permit you to continue to press forward toward our (deleted) objective." (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
While undercutting Kissinger, the records back the 1975 testimony of Karamessines. He told a congressional investigation that "Track II was never really ended. ... What we were told to do was to continue our efforts. Stay alert, and do what we could to contribute to the eventual achievement of the objectives and purposes of Track II." (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
After Allende's inauguration on November 3, the CIA continued working toward a military coup. The agency's dual plan of economic isolationism and diplomatic pressure was effective. First, the Nixon administration moved quickly to shut down multilateral and bilateral foreign aid to Chile. At the Inter-American Development Bank, the NSC simply informed the United States representative that he did not have authority to vote for loans to Chile. A secret report prepared for Kissinger several weeks later said, "The U.S. Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank understands that he will remain uninstructed until further notice on pending loans to Chile. As ... an affirmative vote by the U.S. is required for loan approval, this will effectively bar approval of the loans." At the World Bank, United States officials worked behind the scenes to ensure that Chile would be disqualified for a pending $21 million livestock improvement credit as well as future loans. In addition, the president of the Export-Import Bank agreed to "cooperate fully" with Assistant Secretary of State for Inter- American Affairs Charles Meyer on the discontinuation of new credits and guarantees to Chile. (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup)
Second, the Nixon administration moved to isolate Allende's government diplomatically around the world and to begin a destabilization campaign which included kidnappings and assassinations in an attempt to provoke a military coup. Secret strategy papers written in December reported on "USG (United States government) consultation with selected Latin American governments ... to promote their sharing of our concern over Chile." (Peter Kornbluh, Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup; Christopher Hitchins, The Trial of Henry Kissinger)
A series of Washington meetings, held within eleven days of Allende's victory, spelled out the Nixon administration's position. First, Kissinger met with John Kendall, president of Pepsi Cola, David Rockefeller of Chase Manhattan, and Helms. Then Kissinger and Helms met with Nixon who made it clear that he did not want Allende inaugurated. The memo read, "Not concerned risks involved. No involvement of embassy. $10,000,000 available, more if necessary. Full-time job -- best men we have. ... Make the economy scream. 48 hours for plan of action." (Christopher Hitchins, The Trial of Henry Kissinger)
The Nixon administration's first obstacle from General Rene Schneider, chief of the Chilean General Staff. Since he adamantly opposed any military involvement in the election process, the White House wanted him ousted. The plan was to have him kidnapped by army officers in such a way as to make it appear that leftist and pro-Allende elements were behind the plot. The White House hoped that this would pressure the Chilean Congress into denying Allende the presidency. A reward of $50,000 was offered around the Chilean capital, Santiago, for any officer or officers enterprising enough to take on this task.
But Helms and Karamessines told Kissinger that they were not optimistic. It would be difficult to recruit Chilean military personnel who were either hesitant in participating in the assassination or loyal to Schneider and the Chilean constitution. Later, Helms said, "We tried to make clear to Kissinger how small the possibility of success was." Nevertheless, Kissinger ordered Helms and Karamessines to continue with the assassination of Schneider. Helms' notes reflected Nixon's orders: "l in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile! Worth spending; not concerned; no involvement of embassy; $10,000,00 available, more if necessary; full-time job -- best men we have; game plan; make the economy scream; 48 hours for plan of action. (Director Helms notes of coup, September 15, 1970; Christopher Hitchins, The Trial of Henry Kissinger)
These minutes recorded the first meeting between Helms and high agency officials on FUBELT, the codename for overthrowing Allende. A special task force under the supervision Karamessines was headed by veteran agent David Atlee Phillips. The memorandum noted that the CIA needed to prepare an action plan for Kissinger within 48 hours. (CIA memo of first meeting of Project FUBELT with Kissinger, September 16, 1970)
American ambassador to Chile Edward Korry sent a series of cables to Washington. Some were titled "No Hope for Chile" and "Some Hope for Chile." Korry provided extensive details about political efforts to block Allende's ratification by the Chilean Congress. The cables reported on the activities of Chile's political institutions in response to Allende's election and provided Korry's explicit assessments of Chilean leaders such as Frei. (State Department memorandums, September 5-22, 1970.)
Kissinger, Haig, and Karamessines met at a high-level White House meeting on October 15. The White House memorandum detailed the possibility of a coup. There were two Track Two groups with whom the White House could work. Track Two/One was a more extreme group led by General Roberto Viaux and Captain Arturo Marshal. Earlier, they had attempted a coup in 1969 against the Christian Democrats. Two days before, the CIA had given Viaux $25,000 in cash and a $250,000 life insurance policy. Track Two/Two was a more moderate faction headed by General Camilo Valenzuela, the chief of the army in Santiago. (Christopher Hitchins, The Trial of Henry Kissinger)
However, Kissinger was concerned that Viaux might fail with "unfortunate repercussions" in assassinating Schnedier. Meeting with Haig, Kissinger ordered the CIA to "continue keeping the pressure on every Allende weak spot in sight." (CIA Memo of Kissinger-Haig meeting, October 15, 1970)
In a secret cable, CIA deputy director of plans, Karamessines, conveyed Kissinger's orders to CIA station chief in Santiago, Henry Hecksher: "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup." The "operating guidance" made it clear that these operations were to be conducted so as to hide the "American hand," and that the CIA was to ignore any orders to the contrary from Korry who has not been informed of Track II operations. (CIA Cable on Coup Plotting, October 16, 1970)
Three cables between CIA headquarters and the CIA station in Santiago addressed secret shipments of weapons and ammunition for use in the plot to kidnap Schneider. One memo read that "neutralizing" Schneider was a key prerequisite for a military coup, since he opposed any intervention by the armed forces to block Allende's constitutional election. (CIA Cable on Coup Plotting, October 18, 1970)
On October 19, the Valenzuela group, aided by some of Viaux's followers who had been supplied with tear gas grenades by the CIA, attempted to kidnap Schneider as he left an official dinner. The attempt failed because he left in a private car and not the expected official vehicle. The failure produced an extremely significant cable from CIA headquarters in Washington to the Santiago station, asking for urgent action. "Headquarters must respond during morning 20 October to queries from high levels." The CIA then authorized payments of $50,000 each to Viaux and his chief associate, under the condition that they made another attempt on Schneider. (Christopher Hitchins, The Trial of Henry Kissinger)
The following evening, the Viaux group failed again. Then on October 22, machine guns were given to Valenzuela's group for another try. Later that same day, Viaux's group finally murdered Schneider. In 2001 -- thirty-one years later -- the family of a murdered Chilean general plans to file a lawsuit seeking damages against Kissinger for his alleged role in the assassination of Schneider. (60 Minutes, September 9, 2001)
In response to a November 27 directive from Kissinger, an inter-agency Working Group on Chile prepared a set of strategy papers covering a range of possible sanctions and pressures against the new Allende government. These included a possible diplomatic effort to force Chile to withdraw -- or be expelled -- from the Organization of American States as well as consultations with other Latin American countries "to promote their sharing of our concern over Chile." The documents showed that the Nixon administration engaged in an invisible economic blockade against Allende, intervening at the World Bank, IDB, and Export-Import bank to curtail or terminate credits and loans to Chile before Allende had been in office for a month. (CIA report of CIA Civilian Task Force Activities, September 15 to November 30, 1970 and September 18, 1970)
A comprehensive options paper prepared for Kissinger and the National Security Council on the day of Allende's inauguration laid out United States objectives, interests, and policy toward Chile. United States interests were defined as preventing Chile from falling under communist control and preventing the rest of Latin America from following Chile "as a model." Nixon chose option C. It called for maintaining an "outwardly cool posture" while working behind the scenes to undermine the Allende government through economic pressures and diplomatic isolation. (NSC Options Paper on Chile, NSSM 97, November 3, 1970)
In November, Kissinger summarized the Nixon administration's changing policy after Allende's election in November. The memo was sent to the Secretaries of State, Defense, the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness, and the Director of Central Intelligence. It directed United States agencies to adopt a "cool" posture toward Allende's government, in order to prevent his consolidation of power and "limit (his) ability to implement policies contrary to U.S. and hemisphere interests." The memo stated that existing United States assistance and investments in Chile should be reduced, and no new commitments undertaken. Furthermore, Kissinger wrote that "close relations" should be established and maintained with military leaders throughout Latin America to facilitate coordination of pressure and other opposition efforts. (NSC Memorandum 93, Policy Towards Chile, November 9, 1970)
THE ALLENDE COUP
THE ALLENDE COUP
On May 20, 1973, a member of the American embassy met at 1:00 a.m. on a navy cruiser in the port of Arica with "the high command of the navy and various officers of high rank in the northern army division," and in the months of June and July an American Naval Intelligence officer accompanied every ship of the Chilean fleet. American warships stood by off the coast of Valparaiso to give symbolic support for the military rebels. Three Chilean right wing leaders traveled to Washington prior to the abortive coup attempt in June 1973, and American Ambassador Nathaniel Davis met with Kissinger several days before the September coup
In 1973, the United States moved to infiltrate the Chilean military. Many of these soldiers were trained on American military bases. Although American involvement was not direct, lower officers were paid off by the CIA. However, when the commander-in-chief of Chilean forces objected, he was kidnapped and killed. The United States Senate confirmed a CIA coup attempt after an American navy fleet appeared off the coast of Chile. Additionally, 32 American war planes landed in neighboring Argentina, helping to enable a successful coup by the pro-CIA Argentine officers.
After the assassination of Allende a new military regime was established under General Augusto Pinochet. All political parties were suppressed, all newspapers -- except two to the far right -- were banned, and all trade unions were abolished. Thousands of suspected Allende sympathizers were imprisoned, tortured, and killed. When Pinochet was advised that the bodies were buried two to a coffin, he replied, "What a great saving." The tortures, as carried out by the Pinochet regime, included electric shock to different parts of the body, particularly the genitals; forcing friends to witness the torture of others; raping women in the presence of family members; burning sex organs with acid and boiling water; and mutilating, cutting off, and puncturing various body parts. The American media portrayed General Pinochet as a "powerfully built six-footer ... energetic and well disciplined ... and until recently he never talked politics."
A November 16, 1973 State Department memo on executions was sent to the Secretary of State by Jack Kubisch. It acknowledged the summary executions carried out in the nineteen days following the coup totaled 320. That was more than three times the publicly acknowledged figure. At the same time, Kubisch reported on new economic assistance just authorized by the Nixon administration. The memo provided information about the Chilean military's justification for the continued executions. It also included a situation report and human rights fact sheet on Chile.
The United States Military Group updated the Chilean situation during the coup. In a situation report, United States Naval attache Patrick Ryan characterized the overthrow of Allende as "our D-Day," and stated that "Chile's coup de etat (sic) was close to perfect." His report provided details on Chilean military operations during and after the coup, as well as a positive account of the emerging Pinochet regime. (Department of Defense, U.S. Milgroup, Situation Report #2, October 1, 1973)
The Defense Intelligence Agency also reported on the new Pinochet regime. The agency's report covered the military career of Pinochet. The heavy deletions likely concealed Chilean sources providing information on Pinochet, his own contacts with American officials, and commentary on his character, reputation, political orientation, and actions during his career. (DIA August/September report on Pinochet)
After the successful 1973 coup, numerous American multinationals quickly jumped at the opportunity to attempt to bolster the Chilean economy. Manufacturers Hanover loaned $44 million to Chile, and ten other American and two Canadian banks loaned $150 million. In 1975, First National City, Bank of America, Morgan Guaranty, and Chemical Bank provided a $70 million renewable credit to Chile. Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and six other firms sent representatives to Chile to bid for control of the country's automobile assembly industry. In addition, ITT donated $25 million for a planned science research center.
All 323 firms that were nationalized constitutionally under Allende were returned to private ownership. ITT came out the biggest winner. Originally, the corporation requested that the Allende government compensate them with $95 million. However, after the 1973 coup the new military dictatorship rewarded ITT with a whooping $235 million.
A week before the coup the United States refused to issue credits to Chile for the purchase of 300,000 tons of wheat. Chile had been importing half of the amount annually for several years prior to 1970, but in 1971 and 1972 American exports to Chile declined to negligible amounts. Then immediately after the downfall of Allende, the military regime was given 120,000 tons of wheat credits. In addition, AID, IDB, International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank all chimed in, providing the new right wing regime with an economic package which included funds for refinancing, and Chile's debt was guaranteed in 1975.
According to author Fred Landis, the CIA planned to "blow up bridges, railway lines, and kill people." The idea was to increase pressure on the military to act. There were 40 terrorist attacks daily in Santiago provinces which gave the military an excuse to enforce the Weapons Act with frequent searches for leftist arms before the coup. Women demonstrated at army barracks to get some action to show their opposition of the military. The CIA implemented Plan Z which was an effort to liquidate the armed forces and their families.
The CIA presumably helped to finance the truckers' strikes in 1972 and 1973 through the International Transport Workers Federation and may have funded and trained the Patria y Libertad, an right wing party in Chile. Michael Townley, a former Peace Corp volunteer in Chile recruited by the CIA, directed groups of Patria y Libertad to paint anti-Allende signs in Santiago.
THE BRUTAL PINOCHET REGIME
THE BRUTAL PINOCHET REGIME
Operation Condor was an "international organization" whereby the Pinochet regime carried out murders and tortures. A 1976 FBI report pointed to Manuel Contreras, head of the secret police known as the DINA, as "the center of Operation Condor." In telexes to his counterparts, Contreras referred to himself as "Condor One."
Of the dozens of atrocities conducted by the DINA, several Condor operations have become infamous: the September 1974 car-bombing in Buenos Aires that killed Pinochet's only significant rival, former Chilean Commander in Chief General Carlos Prats, and his wife; the October 1975 shooting in Rome of Bernardo Leighton, the former vice president of the Christian Democratic Party, and his wife; and the September 1976 Letelier-Moffitt car-bomb assassination in downtown Washington, DC. Investigations into these attacks produced circumstantial and concrete evidence directly implicating Pinochet. According to former DINA agent Michael Townley, who arranged the Chilean regime's major international assassinations, Contreras and Pinochet used the occasion of Francisco Franco's funeral to meet with the Italian hit men whom the DINA had hired to kill Leighton. Townley wrote: "There were meetings between (Contreras) his excellency (Pinochet) and the Italians in Spain after Franco died." In an affidavit filed before the Chilean Supreme Court a year ago, Contreras confirmed the meeting and identified the Italian as "the terrorist who a month earlier participated in the attempt in Rome against Bernardo Leighton and his wife."
Additionally, American investigators learned that Pinochet directed a cover-up of the Chilean military's involvement in the Letelier-Moffitt assassination. When Major Armando Fernandez Larios was about to confess to American officials, Pinochet summoned him to the Defense Ministry. American investigators reviewed classified DIA documents on the military command structure in Chile and were convinced that the DINA could not have carried out its murderous attacks without Pinochet's direct approval. An April 1975 DIA report read: "Colonel Contreras has reported exclusively to, and received orders only from, President Pinochet."
Two American supporters of Allende were killed in Chile under circumstances that stirred suspicions of CIA involvement. American officials categorically denied any role in their deaths which were dramatized in the 1982 movie "Missing." Under the Freedom of Information Act, the government in 1980 released the results of classified internal investigations, heavily censored in black ink, that appeared to clear the American and Chilean governments of any responsibility. Then in February 2000 the State Department released further documents suggesting for the first time that the United States government was implicated in the murders of Charles Horman, 31, and Frank Teruggi, 24.
One memo read, "U.S. intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman's death. At best, it was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the government of Chile. At worst, U.S. intelligence was aware the government of Chile saw Horman in a rather serious light and U.S. officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of government of Chile paranoia." But the State Department refused to address questions about the two deaths, saying few of the people involved in the case still work for the government. The former officials, most of them retired, disavowed any responsibility for what happened.
Teruggi belonged to a group of young left-of-center Americans who supported Allende's democratic government. He and his wife worked for a newsletter that reprinted articles and clippings from American newspapers critical of United States policy. When Pinochet seized power, Horman was at Viña del Mar, a coastal resort, where American warships hovered off the coast in support of the coup.
Two days later, Pinochet's forces arrested thousands of people, including Horman. Around the same time, security forces also arrested Teruggi and took him to the national stadium where thousands of other political prisoners were held. No one saw Teruggi again.
The search for Horman was more tortuous. His body was never recovered. According to the New York Times (February 13, 2000), the American embassy claimed that it was doing everything in its power to locate Horman. But it was not until 1976 that the State Department investigated the murders. Rafael González, a Chilean intelligence officer who had defected, told reporters that he had witnessed Horman being held prisoner by Chile's chief of intelligence. González quoted the intelligence chief as saying Mr. Horman "had to disappear" because he "knew too much," and said a man he presumed was American was in the room.
Facing pressure from Congress, the State Department ordered two internal reviews in 1976. Investigators first examined only documents either publicly released or already available in the State Department. The documents showed that an embassy official had received a tip that Horman had already been killed before his father arrived in Chile. That tip was not followed up. Instead, embassy officials said that leftists may had kidnapped Horman, and this contradicted their own cables which quoted neighbors who said they had witnessed Chilean security forces taking Horman away. Documents also showed that the Pinochet government ignored numerous requests from the United States for an autopsy report on Horman.
The second investigation drew a similar conclusion. It blamed the Chilean government for both deaths and said it was difficult to believe that the Pinochet government would have carried out the killings. The report concluded that González not be interviewed again and that the actions of the CIA not be investigated.
PINOCHET STEPS DOWN
PINOCHET STEPS DOWN
After having been democratically elected, Pinochet stepped down as the de jure head of state. In 1990. Eduardo Frei, who had been elected president back in 1960, returned and was elected president. After Pinochet abdicated his presidency, he was assured that he would maintain his constitutional role as commander-in-chief of the Chilean army where he could continue to wield his enormous power.
Three years later, the Chilean government tried to investigate a corruption case involving Pinochet's son, but that was quickly squelched. Then in March 1998, 25 years after taking power after the CIA coup, Pinochet turned his command over to General Ricardo Izurieta. He was immediately sworn in as "senator for life," a position which he created for himself. Presumably, Pinochet created the senatorial position for himself so as to evade prosecution. In his farewell address, Pinochet defended his 17 year dictatorship during which over 3,000 Chileans disappeared and thousands more were tortured, kidnapped, and imprisoned.
In October 1998, the 88-year old Pinochet was arrested at a London medical clinic where he had just undergone surgery on a herniated disc. Chile's center-left coalition, Concertacion, was split over Pinochet's arrest. The Socialist party, which was the Christian Democrats' most important partner, maintained that Chile should not intervene in Pinochet's problems with foreign courts. Ultimately, the Chilean government filed a formal protest against the arrest by British authorities, arguing that Pinochet had diplomatic immunity as "senator-for-life" and that he traveled to London on his official passport. However, British officials said that diplomatic immunity did not apply in this case. Immediately, Spain, Switzerland, France, and Belgium called for Pinochet's extradition from Great Britain, while investigations were initiated in Denmark, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, and Norway.
However, events unfolded differently in Spain where Supreme Court Justice Baltasar Garzon informed Interpol, the international police organization, that he was filing a formal extradition motion in the British courts. Interpol relayed the announcement to London which detained Pinochet pending action on the motion.
Spain began a coordinated effort through their courts to formally question, detain, and extradite Pinochet. Spain issued an arrest warrant, saying that Pinochet was "in charge of creating an international organization that conceived, developed, and carried out a systematic plan of illegal detentions, abductions, tortures, forcible transfers of persons, murders, and/or disappearances of many people, including citizens from Argentina, Spain, the United Kingdom, the US, Chile and other countries. These actions were carried out in different countries ... mainly to exterminate the political opposition."
On October 13, Spain sent two magistrates to London and requested that Scotland Yard detain Pinochet. Then Spain invoked the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism -- a mutual cooperation treaty which mandates countries to identify, locate, and hold suspected international terrorists.
Garzon said that he intended to charge Pinochet with genocide, torture, and terrorism, involving 94 people. About 80 of the victims were Spanish citizens, but Garzon's list also included Britons, Americans, and Chileans. The Spanish government made a request for his extradition, requesting that British authorities detain Pinochet for crimes of genocide, terrorism, and torture carried out between 1973 and 1990.
At first Pinochet won his battle against extradition in a lower British court, but he was ordered to stay in detention in London pending legal appeals. British prosecutors and the Spanish government appealed to the country's highest court in the House of Lord's reversed the initial decision in a 3-2 vote. Lord Justice Donald Nicholls wrote, "It hardly needs saying that torture of his own subjects or of aliens would not be regarded by international law as a function of a head of state." Meanwhile, Spain's National Court, the country's highest court, ruled that it did have the jurisdiction to prosecute Pinochet for crimes committed during his reign. Meanwhile, the Swiss government also filed papers to extradite Pinochet.
Pinochet issued a 13-page letter, claiming that he was "the target of a judicial, political plot which lacks moral values. I have never desired death for anybody, and I feel a sincere pain for all Chileans who lost their lives during those years." He offered condolences to the victims of his regime.
The Spanish judiciary hoped to build a case against Pinochet from information documented in the Report of the Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. The Rettig Commission was established when Patricio Aylwin, Chile's first civilian president in the post-Pinochet era, had been elected. Named for its chairman, Raul Rettig, the commission listed 3,178 cases of execution, murder, and disappearance of Chileans during Pinochet's regime. The report detailed thousands of cases of the most sadistic forms of torture, including "unnatural acts involving animals."
However, the Rettig Commission failed to find anyone accountable for the atrocities. This inability to identify human rights abusers made the proceedings in Spain all the more necessary and important. Under Spanish law, groups and individuals can initiate "popular actions" -- legal proceedings deemed in the public interest. The United Left, Spain's third largest political party, asked the National Audience, Spain's judiciary, to investigative the allegations made against the Pinochet regime.
The Spanish investigators ran into several roadblocks. First, there was the political opposition of the conservative Spanish government under Prime Minister José Maria Aznar. As relations between Chile and Spain turned sour, the chief prosecutor repeatedly sought to shut down the investigation. Only after Pinochet was detained in London did the Spanish high court rule definitively that the National Audience had full and lawful jurisdiction to pursue extradition.
Second, Spanish prosecutors had difficulty compiling evidence to prosecute Pinochet. Evidence was gathered from numerous witnesses and many victims, but Chile refused to cooperate, so concrete documentation exposing those who committed atrocities under Pinochet's command proved difficult to obtain.
The Spanish government asked the United States to cooperate. A large bulk of evidence on human rights abuses in Chile were sealed in Washington D.C.'s secret archives, but a large amount of secret documents was declassified in early 1999. On February l1 the White House directed American national security agencies to collect and review for release documents "that shed light on human rights abuses, terrorism, and other acts of political violence in Chile." Then on June 30, 1999, the National Security Archive, Center for National Security Studies and Human Rights Watch released more than 20,000 pages of documents on Chile.
One secret report, "Chilean Executions," was prepared for Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in November 1973. It summarized the bloody atrocities that took place in the 19 days following the 1973 coup. "Chilean Executions" detailed the summary executions of 320 people, 1,500 murders, and 13,500 arrests. But "Chilean Executions" also revealed that the United States was expediting economic and military aid to Chile while it had intimate knowledge of gross human rights violations under Pinochet's new military junta. Even though some evidence was declassified, much still remained secret, presumably because the United States had too much to hide while overthrowing the Allende government and installing the Pinochet regime. The CIA had records that detailed the atrocities carried out by the DINA. The CIA also knew about Operation Condor -- the campaign of kidnappings and assassinations of political opponents carried out by led by Chile. According to a United States Senate committee report, the DINA asked the CIA in 1974 whether it could open a Condor office in Miami, but the CIA refused to do so. CIA officials told the Senate investigators that they learned of assassination plots against Pinochet's opponents in France and Portugal. They alerted government officials there, thus preventing the attacks. While the DINA sponsored acts of international terrorism, the CIA's Santiago station chief, Stuart Burton, maintained "a close relationship" with DINA commander Colonel Manuel Contreras. As former embassy official John Tipton said. They "used to go on Sunday picnics together with their families."
Since the Spanish investigators knew that the United States had massive evidence implicating the Pinochet regime, they invoked a bilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in February 1997. Spain's judiciary asked the Clinton administration to turn over its records on Operation Condor and other human rights abuses by the Chilean and Argentine dictatorships. But the White House stonewalled for more than a year before producing any records. Finally, in mid- 1998 the Justice Department turned over four boxes of "files" to the Spanish judiciary. One box was filled with 1,000 pages of Chilean newspaper clips, which the Spanish judge had not requested. Another held Pentagon documents on a Contra operation in Honduras called "Condor" that was unrelated to Chile's Operation Condor. The other boxes contained thousands of pages of legal files on the prosecution of anti-Castro Cubans who participated in a car-bombing.
Despite the fact that the Spanish prosecutors were not given much assistance by the Clinton administration, they continued to attempt to dig up more evidence against Pinochet. Spanish law forbids trials in absentia, and the prosecutors knew that extradition was highly unlikely, even though a Spanish-Chilean treaty was intact.
In March, Britain's high court announced that Pinochet could face extradition only on torture charges after 1988 when Britain adopted an international anti-torture convention. Only one of the original cases that the Spanish judge had presented against Pinochet fell into that category, but he subsequently added the others. The Chilean government said 3,197 people were killed and 1,000 disappeared in the political violence that marked Pinochet's reign.
In September, nearly one year after Pinochet was placed under house arrest, extradition hearing began in London. Thirty-five allegations of torture -- including conspiracy to torture, beatings, burnings, and suffocation -- were brought against Pinochet during his 1973-1990 rule in Chile.
The initial charges brought against Pinochet by the Spanish government included intentionally inflicting severe pain or suffering on:
-- Marta Lidia Ugarte Roman, by suspending her from a pole in a pit; pulling out her finger nails and toe nails, and burning her.
-- Meduardo Paredes Barrientos, by systematically breaking his wrists, pelvis, ribs, and skull; burning him with a blowtorch or flamethrower.
-- Adriana Luz Pino Vidal, a pregnant woman, by applying electric shocks to her vagina, ears, hands, feet, and mouth, and stubbing out cigarettes on her stomach.
-- Antonio Llido Mengual, a priest born in Valencia, Spain, by applying electric current to his genitals and repeatedly beating his whole body.
In March, Britain's highest court rejected Pinochet's claim of immunity from prosecution, but it drastically reduced the charges that could be brought against him and the chances that he would be extradited to Spain for trial. In a 6-1 decision, the Law Lords upheld Pinochet's arrest and determined that he could escape judgment solely because he was a former head of state. The decision was much narrower than one issued by another panel of Law Lords four months before.
This tribunal said that Pinochet could be tried only for torture offenses committed after September 29, 1988 -- the year before he stepped down as the Chilean dictator -- when Britain signed the International Convention Against Torture. Chile, Spain, the United States, and 108 other nations were also signatories. Pinochet could be extradited to Spain based on only three crimes after the September 1988 international law went into effect. Marcos Quezada Yanez, a 17-year-old student, was killed by Chilean police, and two conspiracies of torture occurred in this time frame. Quezada's death was a result of state policy, and Spanish authorities contended that Pinochet was responsibility because he tolerated, instigated, and covered up the crimes.
While Pinochet's legal battles proceeded, the "Memcon," communications between Pinochet and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger were released by journalist Lucy Komisar. This transcript revealed Kissinger's "friendship" and "sympathy" at the height of the dictator's repression in Chile. This communique showed that Pinochet raised the name of former Chilean ambassador to the United States, Orlando Letelier, twice. It also accused Kissinger of giving "false information" to Congress. In response, Kissinger said nothing when he had the opportunity to defend free speech and dissent in the United States. Ultimately, Letelier and his associate Ronni Moffitt were assassinated in Washington D.C. three months later.
A federal grand jury in Washington initially indicted Contreras and seven others in 1978 on charges of killing Letelier as part of a global operation to eliminate exiled critics of Pinochet's junta. Evidence at the time came close to implicating Pinochet, and former prosecutors said that they remained convinced that Pinochet authorized Letelier's murder. According to evidence, DINA operatives destroyed Letelier's car with a remote-control bomb. Sitting next to him in the front seat was Ronni Moffitt who was hit in the neck by a metal shard. Michael Moffitt, her husband, survived in the car's back seat, only to see his wife die on the street. In trials between 1978 and 1990, two DINA operatives and two Cuban exiles were convicted and imprisoned in the United States for the bombing. Pedro Espinoza, the DINA's operations director, was convicted with Contreras in Chile.
The Justice Department reopened the case, code-named CHILBOM, in 1999. In May 2000, DOJ investigators uncovered evidence that to possibly indict Pinochet to commit murder in the 1976 car bombing that killed a former Chilean diplomat and opposition politician, Orlando Letelier, on Washington's Embassy Row. According to the Washington Post (May 28, 2000), Pinochet intervened to strip Letelier of his Chilean citizenship days before the assassination on September 21, 1976, which also killed a 25-year-old American colleague of Letelier's, Ronni Moffitt who was at Washington's Institute for Policy Studies. While DOJ prosecutors had no direct evidence that Pinochet ordered Letelier's assassination, they believed that the his effort take away Letelier's citizenship suggested that he had a motive for the murder. This DOJ statement came on the heels of evidence that Letelier's assassination was masterminded by Manuel Contreras, the former head of Chile's National Intelligence Directorate.
In Kissinger's third volume of his memoirs, he gave an account of a meeting with Pinochet just a day before the secretary of state gave a speech on human rights at an OAS conference in Santiago. However, Kissinger's account of his meeting with the dictator was considerably less candid than the memo of their conversation revealed. Kissinger portrayed himself as pushing the issue of democracy and human rights, while the transcript made it clear that he was briefing Pinochet that the speech was intended to appease the American Congress and that the Chileans should all but ignore it. During the meeting Kissinger never used the word "democracy."
In the memo to Pinochet, Kissinger said, "I will treat human rights in general terms, and human rights in a world context. I will refer in two paragraphs to the report on Chile of the OAS Human Rights Commission. I will say that the human rights issue has impaired relations between the United States and Chile. This is partly the result of Congressional actions. I will add that I hope you will shortly remove those obstacles. ... I can do no less, without producing a reaction in the United States which would lead to legislative restrictions. The speech is not aimed at Chile. I wanted to tell you about this. My evaluation is that you are a victim of all left wing groups around the world and that your greatest sin was that you overthrew a government that was going communist." Pinochet responded to Kissinger: "We are returning to institutionalization step-by-step. But we are constantly being attacked by the Christian Democrats. They have a strong voice in Washington. ... They do get through to Congress. Gabriel Valdez has access. Also Letelier."
In October, a London magistrate ruled that Pinochet should be extradited to Spain to stand trial. Pinochet released a statement declaring his innocence: "Spain has not produced a single piece of evidence which shows that I am guilty." Pinochet's attorneys immediately appealed the verdict to Britain's High Court, claiming that too much time has elapsed since the alleged crimes. They also charged that Pinochet's extradition would be "unjust and oppressive" and that the extradition request was made in bad faith. They argued that Spain failed to connect Pinochet -- even indirectly -- to the alleged crimes, that the charges did not constitute extraditable crimes, and that Spain did not have jurisdiction to try him. Pinochet's attorneys also sought the dismissal of all but two charges of torture and conspiracy to torture, saying only those charges left standing by the House of Lords could be considered. The arrest warrant lists one count of conspiracy to torture and 34 specific incidents of torture against Chileans that allegedly occurred during Pinochet's final two years in power.
In the United States, Democratic representative Maurice Hinchey of New York proposed a legislative provision requiring the CIA to submit a report to Congress on all agency activities in Chile related to the Allende coup. Hinchey said, "I think that after the passage of all this time, it is appropriate that the United States Congress and the people of the United States and the people of the world understand ... the specific events which took place in Chile." His amendment was passed as part of the Fiscal 2000 Intelligence Authorization Act which required the CIA file a report on covert operations in Chile within 120 days and attach to it "copies of unedited documents in the possession of any ... element of the intelligence community with respect to such events."
However, the Hinchey amendment that emerged from a House-Senate conference committee, beyond extending the CIA's due date from four to nine months, deleted the requirement that all unedited documents on Chile be included. Members of the conference committee substituted non-binding report language stating that they expected Congress to be given access to Chile documents by two ongoing reviews: one by the Justice Department for a Spanish court prosecuting Pinochet and the other by the National Security Council as part of a special declassification initiative ordered by President Clinton in February 1999.
A team of four British physicians examined Pinochet in January 2000 and unanimously agreed that he was not medically fit to stand trial. But the British government refused to release the physicians' findings, claiming that Pinochet's medical files were patient confidentiality. Home Secretary Jack Straw said on January 11 that he was "minded" or inclined to set Pinochet free immediately because of his advanced age and deteriorating health.
Several weeks later, High Court Judge Maurice Kay also supported Straw's stance to release Pinochet from house arrest and let him return home to Chile. Kay turned down appeals from six human rights groups and the Belgian government contesting the government's finding that the general was medically unfit to stand trial. She was emphatic in rejecting the arguments presented in two days of hearings, saying they were "inappropriate (and) utterly without merit." Kay added that Straw acted "lawfully, fairly and rationally" in not disclosing the medical documents.
Reed Brody, advocacy director of Human Rights Watch, responded to the judge's statement. He said, "We are dismayed by today's decision, which is a setback for Pinochet's thousands of victims in their quest for justice. It is a shame that the attempt to prosecute General Pinochet for the worst international crimes may be halted on the basis of secret medical evidence examined behind closed doors."
On January 31, 2000, the London High Court rejected on humanitarian grounds the attempts by six human rights groups and the Belgian government to block the release of Pinochet. Since mid-January a Chilean jet was parked at a British air base northwest of London waiting to take Pinochet back to the Chilean capital, Santiago.
Straw said he had accepted the findings of a panel of eminent British doctors that a series of strokes last year had left Pinochet unable to understand or contribute to complex legal proceedings and that he was, therefore, unfit to stand trial. The governments of Spain, Belgium, France, and Switzerland, asked for further medical tests for the ex-strongman, but Straw rejected their requests. In March Straw announced that Pinochet would be returned to Chile because of "brain damage." Judge Garzon made a last attempt by the Spanish at blocking Pinochet's release. He argued that he had a right to appeal Straw's decision on the grounds that the case was still before British courts. The 17 months of house arrest and legal maneuvering finally ended, and Pinochet flew home to Chile on March 2, 2000 on a jet which had been waiting at a British air force base for weeks.
Foreign Minister Juan Valdes declared that Pinochet's ordeal was his own fault. And President Eduardo Frei, who had pledged to bring about Pinochet's return before leaving office, said: "No Chilean can be above the rule of law and justice. It will be the Chilean courts, without any other intervention, that decide whether Senator Pinochet is responsible for the crimes of which he is accused." And Chile's two right-wing parties kept their distance from Pinochet, continuing a significant policy shift in which prominent rightist leaders have gone so far as to say that he must face justice in his home country.
Surprisingly, Chile's Supreme Court stripped Pinochet's immunity in August, clearing the way for the former dictator to be tried on human rights charges. The court voted 14-6 to allow him to be prosecuted on charges stemming from his 1973-1990 rule. The court turned down Pinochet's appeal of a lower court decision in June stripping him of the immunity he had as a senator-for-life. As reported in the New York Times (August 8, 2000), defense lawyer Gustavo Collao claimed, "This is not a defeat. Our next step, if a trial actually takes place, is to prove the complete innocence of General Pinochet."
Chile's Supreme Court dismissed the kidnapping and murder charges against Pinochet. But the court ordered that Pinochet be interrogated in 20 days. In a 4-to-1 decision, the judges upheld an appeals court decision that an investigative judge had improperly ordered the general's house arrest because he did not first seek a detailed deposition. But the Supreme Court effectively ordered the judge, Juan Guzmán Tapia, to move forward with a process that could lead to a proper arrest under rules of due process. That ruling suggested that the Supreme Court did not respond to pressures from the military and right-wing congressmen, as some human rights advocates had feared.
In late January 2001, Pinochet was placed under house arrest once again. According to the New York Times (January 31, 2001), Judge Juan Guzmán charged Pinochet with being a co-conspirator in the murders and kidnappings of 75 leftists after the coup that brought him to power in 1973 and ordered that he be placed under house arrest for the second time in two months. Judge Guzmán determined that Pinochet was mentally unfit to stand trial and halt the proceedings. An examination found that the general suffered from "moderate dementia," a loss of some memory from a series of minor strokes. In his deposition last week, Pinochet declared his innocence to Judge Guzmán. But the judge said he had enough evidence to proceed.
In December, lawyers for Pinochet filed a court motion to block a house arrest order against the former dictator on charges of kidnapping and murder. But in March 2001, a Chilean appellate court dismissed charges of homicide and kidnapping but ruled that he could be tried on charges that he covered up abuses by a military death squad after his 1973 coup. Although Chile's government insisted that the justice system acted independently in the Pinochet prosecution, the 2-1 ruling was seen as a compromise.
In a 2-to-1 decision by the Santiago Court of Appeals, charges were dropped against Pinochet in July 2001. The court ruled that he could not be brought to trial because of his deteriorating health and mental condition. The ruling said that Pinochet suffered from such severe dementia that he could not be prosecuted. (Los Angeles Times, July 10, 2001)
DECLASSIFYING CIA DOCUMENTS
DECLASSIFYING CIA DOCUMENTS
Clinton announced the declassification effort after the arrest of Pinochet in 1998, ordering agencies across the federal government to review and broadly release secret American documents relating to political violence and human rights abuses in Chile from 1968 to 1991. The CIA's Directorate of Operations initially declassified 600 documents in June 1999 during the first of four scheduled release dates under Clinton's Chile declassification initiative. A year alter, the CIA promised to declassify more classified information about CIA operations in Chile, but senior CIA officials still refused to give up hundreds of documents compiled under a declassification process ordered by Clinton. In August 2000, Director Tenet decided against declassifying hundreds of documents inside the agency's secretive Directorate of Operations on grounds that releasing them would reveal too much about CIA sources and methods.
CIA spokesman Bill Harlow said that hundreds of other CIA documents will be released as scheduled on September 14, including some pertaining to covert operations in 1970 aimed at keeping Allende from taking power. But Harlow said that CIA officials decided hundreds of others could not be released without damaging intelligence sources and operational methods.
Another senior intelligence official said in the Washington Post(August 11, 2000) that "a compelling case (has) been made with regard to how methods would be affected" if certain documents related to later covert activities in Chile were released. "No one is hiding a human rights abuse in what's left. This was not a frivolous (decision). At the end of the day, we could only go so far."
But the CIA's reluctance to release documents compiled by its own personnel triggered criticism inside and outside the Clinton administration. P. J. Crowley, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said, "We have built an inter-agency process to declassify as many documents as possible, consistent with protecting sources and methods. Between now and next month, we will be pushing everyone involved to make sure we declassify as much as we can." Another administration official, demanding anonymity, offered a harsher assessment. "The credibility of the whole project has been hurt by the way the CIA has handled it." He added that tenet and others at the CIA seem to have backed away from commitments for broad declassification which they made in 1999 to national security adviser Sandy Berger.
PINOCHET IS STRIPPED OF IMMUNITY. In December 2004, an appeals court stripped Pinochet of immunity from prosecution for a 1974 car bombing that killed an exiled Chilean general and the man’s wife. The 14-9 decision by justices on Santiago’s Court of Appeals opened the possibility Pinochet could stand trial for the bombing that killed former army chief General Carlos Prats and his wife, Sofia Cuthbert, in Buenos Aires. (Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2004)
After three months of questioning Pinochet, Judge Guzman indicted Pinochet in December for the kidnapping of nine dissidents and the killing of one of them during his 1973-90 regime. Pinochet was placed under house arrest. Doctors concluded that he was healthy enough to stand trial. (Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2004)