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70s Operation Condor - Assassination missions against Amnesty International officials in Latin America

CIA, US officials knew

Operation Condor, the trans-border, multinational effort by Southern Cone secret police services to track down and “liquidate” opponents of their regimes in the 1970s, targeted officials of Amnesty International as well as other human rights groups, and planned overseas missions in Paris and London, according to a comprehensive CIA report on Condor operations just released by the Obama administration. “The basic mission of Condor teams to be sent overseas,” according to the CIA, was “to liquidate top-level terrorist leaders. Non-terrorists also were reportedly candidates for assassination,” the CIA reported in May 1977, and “some leaders of Amnesty Internation[al] were mentioned as targets.”


The CIA’s sources inside Condor reported that “a training course was held in Buenos Aires for the team heading overseas,” and that “Condor leaders were considering the dispatch of a team to London—disguised as businessmen—to monitor ‘suspicious’ activities in Europe.” According to the CIA, “Another proposal under study included the collection of material on the membership, location, and political activities of human rights groups in order to identify and expose their socialist and Marxist connections. Similar data reportedly are to be collected on church and third-world groups.

A sample of the documents is quite characteristic of the level of details that CIA was aware of:

  • The security forces of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay have for some time engaged in a formalized exchange of information on leftist terrorists. Moreover, these governments jointly carry out operations against subversives on each other's soil. This effort, dubbed "Operation Condor", is not publicly known. One aspect of the program involving Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina envisages illegal operations outside Latin America against exiled terrorists, particularly in Europe. Because the existence of Condor is known to foreign security services, such activities have so far been frustrated. The extent of cooperation in Condor is unusual in Latin America, even though the exchange of intelligence information by governments facing a common problem is a routine practice throughout the world.

  • The military-controlled governments of the Southern Cone alI consider themselves targets of international Marxism. Having endured real and perceived threats from leftist terrorists, these governments believe that the very foundations of their societies are threatened. In most cases, government leaders seek to be selective in the pursuit and apprehension of suspected subversives, but control over security forces generally is not tight enough to prevent innocents from being harmed or mistreated.

  • The basic mission of Condor teams to be sent overseas reportedly was "to liquidate" top-level terrorist leaders. Non-terrorists also were reportedly candidates for assassination; Uruguayan opposition politician Wilson Ferreira, if he should travel to Europe and some leaders of Amnesty Internation were mentioned as targets. Ferreira may have heen removed from the list, however, because he is considered to have good contacts among US congressmen.

  • Another proposal under study included the collection of material on the membership, location, and political activities of human rights groups in order to identify and expose their socialist and Marxist connections. Similar data reportedly are to be collected on church and third-world groups.

  • Evidence, although not conclusive, indicates that cooperation among security forces in the Southern Cone extends beyond legal methods. Last May, for example, armed men ransacked the offices of the Argentine Catholic Commission on Immigration and stole records containing information on thousands of refugees and immigrants. The Argentine police did not investigate the crime - a signal that Latin refugees, principally from Chile and Uruguay were no longer welcome. A month later, 24 Chilean and Uruguay refugees, many of whom were the subjects of commission files, were kidnapped and tortured.

  • A number of Uruguayans were held in Buenos Aires last summer for two weeks and then flown to Montevideo in an Uruguayan plane. Uruguayan military officers offered to spare them their lives if they would agree to allow themselves to be 'captured'' by authorities - as if they were an armed group attempting to invade the country. Moreover, two prominent political exiles in Argentina here killed under mysterious circumstances.

  • Bolivia and Argentina reportedly are planning to launch a campaign against the Catholic Church and other religious groups that allegedly support leftist movements.

Full report and documents from the National Security Archive:


Also, evidence can be found in WikiLeaks, showing that no only CIA but also other US officials were aware of the Condor Operation.

For example, a letter from the American Embassy in La Paz - Bolivia to the US Secretary of State in October 1979, contains the serious concerns of Bolivian Human Rights leaders and members of Congressional Human Rights Committees about Bolivian victims of repressive cooperation between South American dictatorships in the context of Operation Condor:

  • Bolivian human rights leaders and members of congressional human rights committees believe there may be "hundreds" of bolivian victims of "repressive cooperation" between south american dictatorships. On october 16 the permanent assembly on human rights (PAHR) released the names of seventeen Bolivians who allegedly "disappeared" in Argentina under Banzer's orders. PAHR and members of congressional human rights committees would like US assistance in determining the fate of "desaparecidos," and intelligence information on "Operation Condor" to unmask perpetrators.

  • Father Julio Tumiri, president of PAHR, and senator Luis Pelaez Rioja, secretary of senate human rights committee, told Labatt in separate conversations last week they believed "hundreds" of bolivian citizens or residents may have been victims of "repressive cooperation" between South American dictatorships. Tumiri claimed to have information on twenty Bolivians who allegedly were extradited to Argentina outside official channels and without citizenship papers by the Banzer regime. Pelaez claimed there may be Bolivian "desaparecidos" under similar arrangements also in Chile. Both men mentioned the possibility of asking the Bolivian congress to send a delegation to Chile and Argentina to follow-up on reports of alleged disappearances of Bolivians in those countries under the Banzer regime. Pelaez tied these disappearances to Operation Condor, and asked if it would be possible for the USG to share intelligence information on Condor activities to ascertain identity of victims and officials responsible for their plight. Both men asked Labatt to report our conversations to US embassies in Buenos Aires and Santiago to alert them to the Bolivian "desaparecidos" cases.

Full letter from WikiLeaks:

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