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As Chilean left struggles to preserve memory, right-wing Pinera government works to erase it

As Chile nears its 45th anniversary since the socialist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown, former National Intelligence Directorate (DINA) and National Information Centre (CNI) agents are being released from prison on parole, despite having been handed multiple lengthy prison sentences.

by Ramona Wadi

Part 2 - U.S. and CIA involvement in Plan Condor

Chile voted calmly and knowingly to have a Marxist-Leninist state. The first nation in the world to make this choice freely and knowingly … There is no reason to believe that the Chilean armed forces will unleash a civil war or that any other intervening miracle will undo his victory.

This is the first observation communicated, on September 5, 1970, by the former U.S. Ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry, who also commented in the same cable about how Salvador Allende had managed to achieve a revolutionary victory without the guerrilla tactics utilized by Fidel Castro in Cuba.

Within 10 days — by September 15, 1970 — former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Richard Helms and U.S.President Richard Nixon had drawn up the preliminary, covert plans to overthrow Allende’s democratically-elected government.

A declassified memorandum shows how the U.S. planned to counter possible moves by Allende in ways that would isolate the country both diplomatically and economically. One planned strategy was to offer military aid and internal security assistance to South American countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay, “based on the threat of Chilean-exported subversion.” The group of countries, including Chile, participated in the U.S-backed operation known as Plan Condor, in which the group of South American governments collaborated to exterminate left-wing opponents.

In the region and within its frontiers, Chile was at the helm of unleashing horrors as a result of the U.S.-backed dictatorship. Collaboration among the Chilean military, the U.S. government, and the CIA resulted in the detention, torture, extermination and disappearance of left-wing adherents and militants.

According to the Valech and Rettig Reports, 27,255 Chileans were tortured and 2,279 executed and disappeared. The latter — tortured detainees destined for extermination and disappearance — were usually packaged, weighted down with metal rails, and disposed of into the ocean from helicopters.

This method of disappearance was copied by Argentina during the Videla dictatorship. Research by Giancarlo Ceraudo, published in a book of testimony and photographs titled “Destino Final,” records Argentinian Admiral Luis Maria Mendia as having stated: “The political situation made it unacceptable to present firing squads to the international public eye, and that the experience of Chile’s military government and its reclusiveness indicated that this was the best method of execution.

Last May, a Chilean retired military officer identified former DINA agent and torturer Miguel Krassnoff Martchenko as having disposed of three MIR militants from a PUMA helicopter flight that departed from Rocas de Santo Domingo.

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