Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mi Venezuela Roja, Rojita
PDVSA es roja rojita, por Lloviznando Cantos

Here is something that made my Christmas - "PDVSA es Roja, Rojita" which for my money is the best song to come out at Christmas time in decades. And for you poor souls who don't speak Spanish - you need to learn it, if for no other reason than to fully enjoy this song!!!

America Loses Another War - Iraq: a shameful ass-whupping, or just a pathetic trouncing? Ugly disgrace? Choices, choices By Mark Morford

12/15/06 "SF Gate" - -- - The good news is, we're all back in harmony. All back on the same page. No more divisiveness and no more silly bickering and no more nasty and indignant red state/blue state rock throwing because we're finally all back in cozy let's-hug-it-out agreement: The "war" in Iraq is over. And what's more, we lost. Very, very badly.

Sure, you already knew. Sure, you sort of sensed from the beginning that we couldn't possibly win a bogus war launched by a nasty slew of corrupt pseudo-cowboys against both a bitterly contorted Islamic nation and a vague and ill-defined concept that has no center and no boundaries and that feeds on the very thing that tries to destroy it. It was sort of obvious, even if half the nation was just terrifically blinded by Bush administration lies and false shrieks of impending terror.

But now it's official. Or rather, more official. Now it's pretty much agreed upon on both sides of the aisle and in every Iraq Study Group and by every top-ranking general and newly minted defense secretary and in every facet of American culture save some of the gun-totin' flag-lickin' South. We lost. And what's more, we have no real clue what to do about it.

After all, it's not easy to accept. It's the thing we do not, cannot easily hear, the thing most Americans, no matter what their political stripe, just can't quite fathom because we're so damned strong and righteous and handy with a gun and we are the superpower and the God among men and the bringer of light to the world and therefore we never lose. Except, you know, when we do.

It's not like we were overpowered. We weren't outmanned or outgunned or outstrategized and hence we weren't defeated in any "traditional" kick-ass take-names sign-the-peace-accord way.

Nor was it because our beloved, undefeatable, can't-lose military doesn't have the latest and greatest killing tools of all time, the biggest budget, the most heroic of baffled and misled young soldiers sort of but not really willing to go off and fight and die for a cause no one could adequately explain or justify to them.

We still have the coolest, fastest planes. We still have the meanest billion-dollar technology. We still have the most imposing tanks and the most incredible weaponry and the badass night-vision goggles with the laser sights and the thermal heat-seeking readouts and the ability to track targets from two miles away in a dust storm. It doesn't matter.

What we don't have is, well, any idea what the hell we're doing, not anymore, not on the global stage. We lost this "war" and we lost it before we even began because we went in for all the wrong reasons and with all the wrong planning and with all the wrong leadership who had all the wrong motives based on all the wrong greedy self-serving insular faux-cowboy BS that your kids and your grandkids will be paying for until about the year 2056.

Maybe you don't agree. Maybe you say wait wait wait, it's not over at all, and we haven't lost yet. Isn't the fighting still raging? Can't we still "win" even though we're still losing soldiers by the truckload and thousands of innocent Iraqis are being brutally slaughtered every month and isn't Dubya still standing there, brow scrunched and confounded as a monkey clinging onto a shiny razor blade, refusing to let go and free us from the deadly trap, ignoring the Iraq Study Group and trying to figure out a way to stay the course and never give in and "mission accomplished" even as every single human around him, from the top generals to crusty old James Baker to the new and shockingly honest secretary of defense, says we are royally screwed and Iraq is now a vicious and chaotic civil war and it's officially one of the worst disasters in American history? Oh wait, you just answered your own question.

Yes, technically, the "war" is still on. The fighting is not over. And yes, you can even say we (brutally, tactlessly) installed ourselves with sufficient ego to give us a modicum of violent, volatile control over the Gulf region's remaining petroleum reserves -- which was, of course, much of the point in the first place.

But the nasty us-versus-them, good-versus-evil ideology is over. Ditto the numb sense of Bush's brutally simpleminded American "justice." Any lingering hint of anything resembling a truly valid and lucid and deeply patriotic reason for wasting a trillion dollars and thousands of lives and roughly an entire generation's worth of international respect? Gone.

What's left is one lingering, looming question: How do we accept defeat? How do we deal with the awkward, identity-mauling, ego-stomping idea that, once again, America didn't "win" a war it really had no right to launch in the first place? After all, isn't this the American slogan: "We may not always be right, but we are never wrong"?

It's still our most favorite idea, the thing our own childlike president loves to talk most about, burned into our national consciousness like a bad tattoo: We always win. We're the good guys. We're the chosen ones. We're the goddamn cavalry, flying the flag of truth, wrapped in strip malls and Ford pickups and McDonald's franchises. Right?

Wrong. If Vietnam's aftermath proved anything, it's that we are incredibly crappy losers. We deny, we reject, we evade and ignore and refuse responsibility until it becomes so silly and surreal even the staunchest warmonger has to cringe in embarrassment. At this point, it seems nearly impossible for America to accept defeat with anything resembling perspective and dignity and the understanding that maybe, just maybe, we ain't all that saintly and ain't all that perfect and maybe God really isn't necessarily on our side after all, because if God took sides she wouldn't actually be, you know, God.

But what happens to a country if they lose the thing that supposedly defines them most? If we don't have our bogus "victory," if we don't always win, if we don't have a sense of righteousness so strong and so inflated and so utterly impenetrable that even when it seems like we've lost, we still stumble through some sort of offensive end zone victory dance, well, what's left?

What, conscience? Humility? Humanitarianism? Or how about the realization that we could maybe, just maybe learn to be defined by something other than rogue aggressiveness and the vicious need to win? Something like, say, a mindful, flawed, difficult but oh-so-incredibly-essential move toward that most challenging and rewarding of human ideals, peace?

Yeah, right. Who the hell wants that?

Thoughts for the author? E-mail him.

Mark Morford's Notes & Errata column appears every Wednesday and Friday on SFGate and in the Datebook section of the SF Chronicle

©2006 SF Gate

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kissinger fingerprints all over suspicious pre-9/11 money movements.

December 14, 2006 -- On Dec. 11, WMR reported the following:

"WMR has learned from one of its sources in New York that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York actively covered up massive money laundering by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) United Arab Emirate branch through its branch in New York. The money laundering consisted of questionable money movements through Dubai that involved individuals linked to "Al Qaeda," including those connected to the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States."

We have now learned that the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago was made aware of possible terrorist-related money movements in a Federal Reserve Board of Governors letter sent to all Federal Reserve Banks a little over a month before the 9/11 attacks. The letter, dated August 1, 2006, requested all cognizant Federal Reserve components, including the bank's Financial Payments and Risk Analysis branches, to pay special attention to Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) being submitted by component banks.

In fact, some Federal Reserve banks did notice something very suspicious prior to 9/11. There was a dramatic downdraft in Federal Reserve note currency holdings in July and August 2001 (this is referred to as the M1 money supply). In fact, the decrease in Federal Reserve note inventory was 35 percent, equating to billions of dollars. Essentially, there was a run on cash at the banks in the months before 9/11, an event not seen since December 1999, in the weeks before Y2K, and in January 1991, prior to the commencement of Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf.

In addition, there is also evidence that the run on cash was masked by using Argentina, which was experiencing a banking crisis, to evade detection by United States authorities. The spotlight on suspicious cash transactions was Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) SpA of Argentina, an Italian bank whose Atlanta branch featured prominently in the BCCI and U.S. Iraq weapons transfer scandals of the 1980s. In January 2006, BNL Argentina was acquired by none other than HSBC, the subject of attention by UAE Central Bank authorities for suspicious transactions prior to 9/11. In addition, Kissinger and Associates employed Timothy Geithner from 1985 to 1988. Geithner is now the ninth president and chief executive officer of the Second District Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the entity that stands accused of covering up information about suspicious "Al Qaeda" money flows from the UAE, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia for possible terrorist-related purposes prior to 9/11.

"BNL was a client of Kissinger Associates. In addition, the late Democratic Rep. Henry Gonzalez of Texas stated the following on the floor of the House on April 26, 1991: "Henry Kissinger was a paid member of the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro Consulting Board for International Policy. Mr. Kissinger held this position during the height of the biggest banking scandal in United States history-$4 billion in unreported loans to Iraq by the Atlanta branch of BNL . . . Another interesting point to note is the timing of Mr. Kissinger's supposed resignation from BNL on February 22, 1991. That date is just days before the Justice Department announced a 347 count indictment against the former employees of BNL after an exhaustive 18-month investigation. This is quite a coincidence.

BNL was actually a client of Kissinger Associates at the same time BNL's former employees in Atlanta were providing Iraq with billions in unreported loans. This solidifies Mr. Kissinger's link to BNL and raises the question of whether Mr. Kissinger had knowledge of the BNL loans to Iraq.

As I stated last week, many Kissinger Associates clients were doing business with the Iraqis as a direct result of the unreported $4 billion in BNL loans to Iraq. Volvo, whose chairman serves on the Kissinger Associates board of directors, was doing big business in Iraq and it was the beneficiary of BNL loans.

BNL was also the largest participant in the $5.5 billion CCC program for Iraq. Between $800 and $900 million in BNL loans to Iraq were guaranteed by the CCC. BNL was also the second largest participant in the Export-Import [Eximbank] program for Iraq. Over $50 million in BNL loans to Iraq were guaranteed by Eximbank. Through these programs it became common knowledge in the export community that BNL was Iraq's prime banker in the United States.

I also reported last week that Mr. Lawrence Eagleburger had ties to BNL. While he was serving as president of Kissinger Associates, Eagleburger was a board member of a Yugoslavian bank that had a substantial and even incestuous relationship with BNL. BNL was a main factor in the growth of that Yugoslavian bank's operations in the United States.

Despite the many linkages between Kissinger Associates and BNL, Mr. Kissinger still maintains that he had no knowledge of the $4 billion in BNL loans to Iraq.

The fact that BNL was a client of Kissinger Associates also solidifies the link between BNL and two very high ranking Bush administration employees, NSC Director Brent Scowcroft and Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger. Mr. Lawrence Eagleburger and Mr. Brent Scowcroft were both high ranking employees of Kissinger Associates during the period BNL was a client of Kissinger Associates. In other words, part of their paychecks was derived from fees paid by BNL.

The fact that BNL was a client of Kissinger Associates also raises the question of how Mr. Eagleburger and Mr. Scowcroft reacted to the BNL scandal once it became known to them in the fall of 1989. I wonder if either thought it necessary to recuse himself from making decisions on Iraq once the BNL scandal was uncovered?"

Eagleburger is a member of the Iraq Study Group, replacing Robert Gates, Defense Secretary-designate, who was CIA deputy director at the time of the BNL loans to Saddam Hussein. Scowcroft is a close friend of group chairman James Baker. There are still many questions about the strange suicide death earlier this year of Phillip Merrill, the head of the Eximbank under George W. Bush.

We have also learned their was a dramatic spike in diamond market transactions prior to 9/11. Diamonds have been used by "Al Qaeda" and the Russian-Israeli Mafia to launder cash to evade detection by financial surveillance authorities. Many of the diamond transactions occurred in West Africa, a center for terrorist-related financing according to a former chief of the Mossad, who spoke to the editor on background.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

CHILE - ¿Por qué Pinochet divide a los chilenos? (por Ernesto Carmona, ALAI)

Santiago, 12 de diciembre de 2006 - ALAI - Después de muerto, Pinochet sigue digitando la política chilena. Su deceso enfrenta de nuevo a dos porciones de la sociedad chilena, a quienes festejan y a aquellos que muestran pesar. Esta división no es nueva en un país marcado por la desigualdad, el sufrimiento, los crímenes y los bajos salarios instaurados en su dictadura de 17 años. Es otro efecto del “legado de Pinochet”.

¿Por qué provoca adhesión un ex dictador que cometió monstruosos crímenes e inauguró en América Latina una política de eliminación sistemática de opositores que convirtió a los militares en vulgares asesinos? Pinochet estableció una “línea de montaje” similar a la de Henry Ford para destruir a la dirigencia popular utilizando esbirros, interrogadores, médicos y hasta periodistas…

Los interrogadores-recepcionistas entregaban los detenidos a los torturadores, quienes a veces los trasladaban a médicos que recomendaban o no más torturas. No estaban allí para cuidar la salud de quienes la prensa mostraba como “terroristas”, igual que en Guantánamo. El ciclo se repetía una y otra vez, como un trámite público, en un país burocratizado eficazmente por la clase propietaria desde el siglo 19.

Estrujados y convertidos en guiñapos humanos –no sólo para sacarles “información comprometedora” sino para destruirlos como seres humanos– los presos pasaban a los campos de exterminio, como Villa Grimaldi, o de concentración de prisioneros, como Chacabuco, para una suerte de solución final.

Los “trabajadores” del sistema Pinochet eran empleados del Estado y hoy muchos están jubilados en el sistema público financiado por “todos los chilenos”. Hicieron desaparecer o asesinaron a más de tres mil personas y torturaron a 30.000 mil hombres y mujeres, cuyos hijos, nietos y bisnietos participan hoy en las celebraciones de la muerte de su jefe, junto a otros jóvenes que conocen algo de esta historia todavía oculta por los medios de comunicación, la enseñanza de la historia y la literatura.

¿Cuál fue “la modernización?

La política de exterminio de disidentes de izquierda sembró el miedo en la sociedad y destruyó a la elite sindical y política que pudo adversar la implantación posterior del modelo neoconservador de mano de obra barata propugnado por la Comisión Trilateral (EEUU, Europa y Japón), o sea, el “legado de la modernización de Chile” que alaban hoy los grupos económicos, la derecha política, los empresarios que se apoderaron de las empresas del Estado, los nuevos ricos, los antiguos mandos militares y hasta el lumpen que hace cola para ver el cadáver.

Para esta gente, Pinochet “modernizó Chile”, logró el éxito en la economía que beneficia a los grandes grupos propietarios, “nos salvó del comunismo”, “evitó una segunda Cuba”, etc. Hasta el responso del Cardenal Francisco J. Errázuriz agradeció a Dios “las cualidades que le dio y todo el bien que hizo a nuestra patria y a su propia institución”, todo esto “cuando” sintió el deber de asumir el mando supremo de la nación”. El “peligro comunista” de ayer es el “terrorismo” de hoy.

Aunque la muerte inesperada desató un carnaval en Santiago y en otras ciudades, a la vista del cadáver otra parte de la sociedad comenzó a recordar “su obra de gobierno”, incluida la derecha política que lo abandonó al comprobar que su imagen más bien quitaba votos. Hay malestar porque “la pequeñez” de Michelle Bachelet no quiso honras fúnebres de jefe de Estado, sino apenas un funeral privado del Ejército, que todavía es un factor de poder.

Mientras miles de pinochetistas peregrinaban por la capilla ardiente de la Escuela Militar, donde se forman los oficiales del Ejército, los medios de comunicación exacerbaron la caja de resonancia para transmitir una imagen de solemnidad. Pareciera que a los periodistas que cubren las fuentes militares y pinochetistas los contagia otro “síndrome de Estocolmo”, parecido al que la prensa inventó para las víctimas de secuestro que se amigan con sus plagiarios.

Chile, “dos en uno”

Las cobertura de prensa en Chile es tan unilateral como la represión de la policía de Carabineros, que no le toca un pelo a los manifestantes pinochetista, sino que más bien los protege y les concede espacio público para desahogar una curiosa tristeza matizada con insultos y agresiones a una prensa que no consideran tan incondicional como quisieran. El martes fue agredido un equipo de la TV española. Un ciudadano hizo 7 horas de cola para escupir el féretro. Fue agredido y apresado.

No tuvo un funeral de Jefe de Estado, pero en el funeral político que le hizo el Ejército en la Escuela Militar aparecieron los Granaderos, regimiento destinado a los honores presidenciales. El arma logró transmitir al mundo una imagen de solemnidad presidencial, no de simple ex jefe del Ejército. Los adherentes que se acercaron a la Escuela Militar fueron mostrados como pacíficos ciudadanos entristecidos, aunque una mujer destruyó con un bate la sala de ventas de un edificio contiguo en construcción cuyos obreros silbaron otra opinión sobre el muerto, ante la presencia impasible de los carabineros. La TV muestra a los manifestantes anti Pinochet como vándalos y los llama directamente “delincuentes”. La noche del lunes apresaron en las inmediaciones de La Moneda a Lorena Pizarro, presidenta de la Agrupación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos (AFDD) y al abogado de derechos humanos Federico Aguirre, entre otras personalidades.

Los pinochetistas que expresan “dolor” tienen puestos de la Cruz Roja para quienes se desmayan por el calor o les sube la presión. También distribuyen abundante provisión de agua en botellas, mientras los carabineros los cuidan. Los manifestantes que celebran también tienen carabineros y agua, pero de los carros antimotines que lanzan gases y chorros del líquido a alta presión cerca de La Moneda. Los dirigentes “anti-pinochetistas” formales, representados en el Parlamento, brillan por su ausencia en los actos y en las calles, quizás con algunas excepciones que no se ven en la TV. La iniciativa la tomaron las organizaciones de DDHH.

Resulta curiosa la gran cobertura panegírica hacia el difunto de la prensa local, en contraste con la escasa profundidad y ausencia de análisis de los noveles periodistas que pasan horas al sol exaltando el cariño y el dolor de los deudos del tirano. La prensa chilena se enorgullece de la gran cobertura mundial que tuvo una muerte que apagó los conflictos de Iraq, Palestina, El Líbano y otras latitudes.

La excepción sigue siendo La Nación, que el martes tituló en primera página “Y no se hizo justicia” porque el poder judicial nunca emitió una sentencia. Unos pocos titulares de grandes diarios de Madrid, Paris, Nueva York, Londres y Washington aclararon que murió sin pagar sus cuentas pendientes. Los tribunales alargaron los procesos judiciales, lo trataron con guante blanco, a lo sumo impusieron el arresto domiciliario por algunos días y jamás lo condenaron por sus numerosas violaciones de derechos humanos y crímenes de lesa humanidad.

División del país

La explicación de la división de la sociedad chilena tiene vieja data. Cuando Salvador Allende fue elegido Presidente en 1970, el país estaba segmentado en tres tercios que emitían sus votos en las elecciones presidenciales: una izquierda –entonces genuina–, la derecha y el centro, expresado por la Democracia Cristiana (DC). No existiendo segunda vuelta o balotaje, Allende fue ungido con el 36,22% de los votos, la primera mayoría. La derecha (Jorge Alessandri) alcanzó 34% y la DC (Radomiro Tomic) el 27,81.

Allende fue apoyado por los partidos Socialista (PS), Comunista (PC) y Radical (PR), más la Izquierda Cristiana (IC) y el Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitaria (Mapu), estos dos últimos desprendidos de la DC. El grueso de la DC apoyó el golpe de Pinochet en 1973.

En la elección anterior de 1964, Allende obtuvo mejor votación porcentual, el 38,93%, pero fue derrotado por la centro derecha (el DC Eduardo Frei Montalva), con el 56,1%. La extrema derecha, o lo que hoy sería el pinochetismo más recalcitrante, prácticamente desapareció del mapa político, con el 4,99% de su candidato Julio Durán. Frei prometió “cambios”, con una “Revolución en Libertad” que incluyó la reforma agraria.

Entonces el sector industrial era poco significativo y la derecha política y económica se concentraba más bien entre los dueños de la tierra, llamados “momios” por su pensamiento hiper-retardatario en favor de sus intereses. La “modernización” cambió la estructura económica de la sociedad, industrializó la agricultura con recolectores mal pagados que no hay necesidad de importar como en EEUU, porque en Chile abunda la mano de obra barata regulada por el desempleo constante. Quizás el pensamiento retrógrado de “los dueños de Chile” se haya “sofisticado” y disfrazado con la elocuencia de la academia, pero es más retardatario que cuando “estuvieron en peligro” hace cuatro décadas.

Las presidenciales de 1958 mostraron mejor los tres tercios: la derecha (Jorge Alessandri) triunfó con el 31,6% y gobernó 6 años sin que nadie cuestionara la representatividad del tercio. Allende sacó el 28,8% y la DC (Eduardo Frei padre) 20,7%, en tanto la centro derecha de la época, el PR, que esa vez terminó gobernando con Alessandri, obtuvo 15,5% con Luis Bossay. Un sacerdote seudo izquierdista boicoteó el triunfo de Allende alcanzando el 3,3% de los sufragios (Antonio Zamorano, “el cura de Catapilco”).

Con el tiempo, y la ayuda económica de la social democracia europea durante los 17 años de dictadura, la izquierda también se “modernizó”, es decir, giró hacia la centro-derecha. El PS se fue más al centro, el oscilante PR descubrió que era social demócrata y la DC fue fortalecida por la National Endowment for Democracy (NED), la Fundación Konrad Adenauer y la democracia cristiana internacional y americana (ODCA), mientras el PC mantuvo sus banderas e incluso levantó una lucha armada medio tardía contra la dictadura.

Repaso de una división histórica

La tiranía dividió a la sociedad chilena en dos bloques esenciales, a favor y en contra del tirano, necesariamente no identificados con la vieja “lucha de clases”. En 1988, la identidad de los matices finos de la centro derecha (DC + PR + sectores PS) se perdió ante el objetivo principal de derrotar en las urnas del plebiscito a una dictadura que pretendía el voto popular para retener “legalmente” el poder por otros 10 años, hasta 1998. Pero ya en esa época había hecho el trabajo sucio de la “modernización” y ya era adversada por quienes la instalaron, o sea, la DC y los centros de poder internacional de Europa y EEUU.

El plebiscito de octubre de 1988 le dijo NO a Pinochet, que NO seguiría en el poder, por lo menos formalmente. Muchos ilusos pensaron que esto sería el comienzo de “la alegría de la gente”, como rezaba el slogan de campaña, y el rescate de las reformas sociales que Allende pretendió hacer en democracia pero con el Ejército en contra y sin los porcentajes electorales que exhibe hoy Hugo Chávez en Venezuela.

Pinochet perdió la consulta popular, que emergió de una negociación de cúpulas apoyadas por Europa y EEUU, reforzada localmente con movilizaciones populares y sangre joven derramada en las calles durante protestas masivas estimuladas por medios de comunicación financiados con ayuda externa. Pinochet perdió el plebiscito con el 44% de los votos por el SI, en favor de su propuesta de “legalizar” su mandato por otros 10 años. El 53% alcanzado por el NO obligó al tirano a reformar su Constitución de 1980 para llamar a elecciones en 1989, que terminó ganando Patricio Aylwin (DC) con 55,2%, mientras dos candidatos de derecha (Hernán Büchi y Francisco J. Errázuriz) compartían el 44,8%.

En 1993, Eduardo Frei hijo remontó en las urnas a un “antipinochetismo” ya más tibio que logró un 58% del electorado, contra 30,6% acumulado por dos candidatos de derecha (Arturo Alessandri B., 24,4%; y José Piñera, hermano de Sebastián, con 6,2%). Tres candidatos de izquierda acumularon 11,4%: Max Neef, apoyado por ecologistas e independientes, con 5,5%; el cura Eugenio Pizarro, candidato del PC, con 4,7%; y el humanista-Silo Cristian Reitze, con 1,2%.

Pequeña historia de conciliábulos

La elección de Lagos en la segunda vuelta de enero de 2000, con Pinochet preso en Londres, fue por un estrecho 51,31% seguido por el 48,69% del pinochetismo encarnado por Joaquín Lavín, abanderado de la Unión Demócrata Independiente (UDI) y Renovación Nacional (RN) agrupadas en la Alianza por Chile.

Como parte de oscuros y poco conocidos negocios cupulares internacionales, la influencia del presidente electo consiguió antes de su asunción formal el 11 de marzo que los gobernantes socialdemócratas británicos tomaran la decisión política de decretar la libertad de Pinochet por “enfermedad”, salvándolo de la extradición que ya había logrado el juez español Baltasar Garzón. Y además, “para juzgarlo en Chile”, no en el exterior. Lagos se quitó un dolor de cabeza y en Chile se multiplicaron los juicios contra Pinochet, comenzando por el que solicitó Gladys Marín. Pero nunca se hizo justicia.

Paradójicamente, hubo más pluralismo informativo y trabajo para los periodistas disidentes durante los últimos tiempos de dictadura que hoy, con dos diarios de circulación nacional (La Época y Fortín Mapocho) y una media docena de relevantes revistas (Análisis, Apsi, Cauce, Hoy, Mensaje, La Bicicleta, entre otras) que bajo la transición perdieron su financiamiento externo y fueron condenadas a morir por la clase política que tomó el control de los partidos que se hicieron del poder en la actual era post dictadura. Empero, Pinochet siguió dominando el escenario hasta mucho después de su detención en Londres, el 16 de octubre de 1998.

La campaña del plebiscito levantó al ex radical Ricardo Lagos como figura de un antipinochetismo “socialista modernizado” y tolerable para la derecha y los grupos económicos. La dictadura resultaba impresentable ante el mundo para exhibir los éxitos de un modelo económico de sociedad construido a sangre y fuego, con miles de muertos, torturados y presos y una clase trabajadora atada de manos, sin sindicatos, sin partidos populares y con su dirigencia exterminada. La dictadura chilena no cayó por una guerra externa como la de Malvinas ni por una guerra interna como en la Nicaragua de Somoza, un levantamiento urbano como en la Argentina de De La Rúa o una sublevación popular conducida por la izquierda como en la Bolivia de Sánchez de Lozada.

El fin de Pinochet fue acordado en una negociación de cúpulas locales e internacionales fertilizada con sangre joven vertida en cientos de protestas callejeras aupadas por los desaparecidos medios de comunicación que mantuvieron viva la rabia popular.

Cifras que se repiten una y otra vez

Allende tuvo que firmar un Estatuto de Garantías en que se comprometió a respetar la propiedad privada y a limitar el número de empresas del Estado en la llamada “Área Social de la Economía” para que los parlamentarios DC le dieran el pase en el Congreso, que el 4 noviembre de 1970 bien podía inclinarse por la segunda mayoría de Alessandri. Del mismo modo, la nueva clase política también se comprometió a respetar la “modernización” que hoy le celebran a Pinochet. Para sacar adelante el nuevo modelo neoliberal globalizado precozmente en los años 70 por los países desarrollados de la Comisión Trilateral, la nueva clase estimó que no hacía falta conservar a los diarios que la ayudaron a “derribar” a la dictadura en las urnas y que bastaba con los diarios del mercado, es decir, los mismos que auparon los 17 años de Pinochet.

Así desaparecieron todos esos medios impresos y cambiaron de dueño sus imprentas, excepto mensuario católico Mensaje, hoy de bajo perfil. Lagos se forjó como figura pública con los medios del supuesto adversario, el imperio duopólico de Agustín Edwards (El Mercurio y su cadena nacional de diarios y radios) y Alvaro Saieh (La Tercera, La Cuarta, Qué Pasa, un canal de TV ya vendido y varias radios).

Los guarismos del plebiscito de 1988 (53% versus 44%) fueron casi calcados por el triunfo de Michelle Bachelet en la segunda vuelta presidencial de enero 2006, con 53,5% contra 46,5% del pinochetismo encarnado esta vez por Sebastián Piñera, con la Alianza por Chile. Pero alcanzó una votación mejor que el 51,31% de Ricardo Lagos en 2000. Y claro, Chile sigue dividido No sólo entre pinochetismo y anti pinochetismo. Los grupos económicos han obtenido sus mejores ingresos históricos en estos 16 años de administración democrática del legado neoliberal del dictador.

Ernesto Carmona, chileno, es periodista y escritor.

LATIN AMERICA - How Has Latin America Moved Left? (by Immanuel Wallerstein)

June 15, 2006 - The discussion on the leftward trend of Latin America in recent years reflects all the confusion, worldwide, about what it means to be on the left in the twenty-first century. The confusion is among all wings of world political opinion. There are various explanations for this confusion. The most obvious reason is that different people are measuring different things as the criterion of moving left. The second is that no such political tendency is perfectly linear. It always reflects ups and downs, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t an overall trend. And the third reason is that politicians notoriously speak multiple languages to different audiences, but that doesn’t mean one cannot discern bottom lines.

The first thing to distinguish among criteria is whether we are speaking of a given regime’s position on geopolitical issues or their internal policies. Of course the two are linked. But nonetheless regimes are not necessarily consistent. For Latin America the main geopolitical issue is their attitude towards and relationship with the United States. There seems little question that, on this issue, the vast majority of Latin American states have moved a considerable distance since 2000. One only has to ask the U.S. Department of State about it. They are quite aware that their voice is no longer heard with the respect and fear it once was. This is more than a matter of Chavez’s strident tones. We can see this even in the volatile actions and largely centrist views of the present government in Ecuador. The fact is that openly rightwing candidates do not win elections any more, except in Colombia. This simply wasn’t true as recently as a decade ago.

The second thing to look at is the position of the various regimes on questions relating to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the multiple propositions for free trade agreements offered by the United States. If the WTO is stymied in its present negotiations, if the IMF matters a lot less than it did a decade ago, and if the United States can get nowhere in the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), it is in large part due to the numerous "left-of-center" governments in Latin America which have put obstacles in their way. This is not the doing of Cuba but of Brazil and Argentina. Even in Peru, the newly-elected very centrist president, Alan Garcia, who defeated Ollanta Humala (openly endorsed by Chavez), said in his first post-victory declaration that he was going to review critically every clause of the bilateral free trade agreement the previous Peruvian government had been negotiating with the United States.

Those who criticize the various new Latin American regimes from the left tend to emphasize what they have been doing internally more than their geopolitical stances. There are several critical "internal" issues. The first is the rights of the so-called indigenous populations. This has been a political issue in Latin American countries for over two centuries. But it is only today that there is beginning to be a breakthrough in terms of their rights. This is in large part the result of the increased consciousness and political mobilization of these populations.

Of course, this varies country by country. And the power of indigenous populations is in part related to their demographic strength. Still, notice what has been happening. Presidential candidates of indigenous origins have been elected in a number of countries. Their mobilization was a crucial factor in the election of Evo Morales, himself of these origins, in Bolivia. Their mobilization has made it difficult for Ecuador to stay in its traditionally rightwing political position. We need scarcely mention the obvious case of Mexico, which now lives and operates within the context of a situation changed fundamentally by the Zapatista rebellion. Even in a country which has a rather small percentage of indigenous peoples, such as Chile, their struggle has now become a major issue with which the government must contend.

The second issue, often closely allied to the first one, is that of land reform. Here the left critics of the concept of a leftward turn have probably their strongest case. The fact is that the Brazilian Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) has in effect reneged on its pledges to carry out some significant reform. And, in consequence, its crucial supporter, the Movimento dos Sem Terras (MST), has moved further and further away from the PT. But the new Bolivian government has just announced that it will move forward on land reform. And if it does, this should create a big boost for such movements in other countries.

The third internal issue is the control of natural resources (not only mining and energy but water). This doesn’t always mean outright nationalization but it certainly means a significant degree of state control and a significant national retention of income generated. Here too, bit by bit, albeit often slowly, there has been movement. One need only read the screams about protectionism to see that this is a reality with which multinationals know they have to come to terms today. In past decades, they could easily arrange friendly coups d’état. This has become very difficult, as Venezuela has demonstrated.

The fourth internal issue is the degree to which the new regimes allocate significant additional resources to education at all levels and to health-related structures. Here too, as with land reform, the results so far have been limited, although one of the reasons has been lack of governmental resources, something which may be overcome by measures in other domains. We have to reserve judgment on this account.

Finally, there is the question of the degree to which the military is being constrained from direct interference in the national decision-making processes. Latin America today is very different indeed from the epoch, not so long ago, of military coups supported by the United States, and military regimes specializing in torture. Indeed, the amnesties that the military arranged for themselves when they returned to the barracks are being revoked, slowly and carefully but up to this point successfully.

So, what is the overall picture? Latin America has definitely moved left from where it was. Whether this will continue and amplify in the next decade is a function both of the evolving world geopolitical picture and the degree to which left social movements within Latin America will maintain cohesion and put forward lucid programs.

Commentary No. 187.

These commentaries, published twice monthly, are intended to be reflections on the contemporary world scene, as seen from the perspective not of the immediate headlines but of the long term.

Copyright by Immanuel Wallerstein, distributed by Agence Global. For rights and permissions, including translations and posting to non-commercial sites, and contact:, 1.336.686.9002 or 1.336.286.6606. Permission is granted to download, forward electronically, or e-mail to others, provided the essay remains intact and the copyright note is displayed. To contact author, write: immanuel.wallerstein(AT)

Permission granted by the author on December 8th, 2006.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

PINOCHET: A Declassified Documentary Obit - National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 212

Washington D.C., December 12, 2006 - As Chile prepared to bury General Augusto Pinochet, the National Security Archive today posted a selection of declassified U.S. documents that illuminate the former dictator's record of repression. The documents include CIA records on Pinochet's role in the Washington D.C. car bombing that killed former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his American colleague Ronni Moffitt, Defense Intelligence Agency biographic reports on Pinochet, and transcripts of meetings in which Secretary of State Henry Kissinger resisted bringing pressure on the Chilean military for its human rights atrocities.

"Pinochet's death has denied his victims a final judicial reckoning," said Peter Kornbluh, who directs the Archive's Chile Documentation Project. "But the declassified documents do contribute to the ultimate verdict of history on his atrocities."

Most of the documents posted today are drawn from a collection of 24,000 declassified records that were released by the Clinton administration after Pinochet's October, 1998, arrest in London. Many of them are reproduced in Kornbluh's book, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.

Pinochet died of complications from a heart attack on December 10, which was, by coincidence, International Human Rights Day.


WAR CRIMINALS IN OUR MIDST - Washington Bullets: Pinochet And Kissinger

The story of the death of General Augusto Pinochet, according to the American media, is the story of justice denied, the story of a man, a murderer, a monster who died without having ever faced justice for his crimes—and worse, without having ever even admitted that his brutal legacy left him anything other than loved and respected by his countrymen. But there is another story: the chance that still remains to bring some of those most directly responsible for the crimes of the Chilean regime to justice. Such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Readers of already know that only in the past decade, extraordinary progress has been made in bringing closure to the crimes of Pinochet's rule, which started with a military coup against a democratically elected Socialist president, Salvador Allende and ended with, hopefully, the establishment of the Pinochet Precedent:

The big turning point came on October 16, 1998, the day Pinochet was arrested in London on a Spanish court order. ...The British courts stripped Pinochet of his “sovereign immunity” and ruled that Spain could extradite him for torture. Although British Home Secretary Jack Straw intervened and released the aging general after 16 months on “humanitarian grounds,” the case sent a chilling message to other rulers: you no longer sit on privileged thrones above international law. This “Pinochet Precedent” is the crowning global achievement of a 30-year struggle.

But American media in general ignored completely the role that the American government had in the crimes of not just the coup, not just the reign of terror which Pinochet's secret police extended around the South American continent and across the globe—including the worst terrorist act on U.S. soil prior to 9/11, the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt in 1976 in Washington, D.C.—but also multiple attempts to overthrow the democratic government of Chile in the years prior to the coup. These efforts were coordinated from the very top of the American government, by President Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Neither The Washington Post nor The New York Times, either in their obits, or in each of their respective editorials reflecting on Pinochet's death, mentions the name Kissinger. In fact, the Post is odious enough to claim that in the end, Pinochet (and patron Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who also died last week) were "right" and can be given the credit for Chile's economy and stable liberal democracy now (never mind the fact that before Pinochet, Chile had a history of liberal democracy unbroken since the 1930s and unparalleled by any South American, or even many European countries).

By 1975, Sen. Frank Church had already established through public hearings culpability for U.S. covert activities in Chile in the decade leading up to Pinochet's coup. According to his report, "Covert Action in Chile 1963-1973," while the official U.S. response to Allende's attempts to gain power were diplomatic chills and attempts to organize embargos, there was a "Track II" process, at the order of Richard Nixon and coordinated by Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms, then-Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs Henry Kissinger and Attorney General John Mitchell, without the knowledge of the Departments of State and Defense or the U.S. ambassador to Chile. In 1970, in order to prevent Allende from being elected, Nixon ordered a coup:

Track II activities in Chile were undertaken in response to President Nixon's September 15 order and were directed toward actively promoting and encouraging the Chilean military to move against Allende. ...

Although certain elements within the Chilean army were actively involved in coup plotting, the plans of the dissident Chileans never got off the ground. A rather disorganized coup attempt did begin on October 22, but aborted following the shooting of General Schneider.

Chilean Commander-in-chief Rene Schneider's assassination in 1970 greatly destabilized Chilean politics and was part of a coup prompted by Richard Nixon. The Federation of American Scientists' Intelligence Resource Program summarizes these activities, including funding of terrorist groups.

Meanwhile, the United States pursued a two-track policy toward Allende's Chile. At the overt level, Washington was frosty, especially after the nationalization of the copper mines; official relations were unfriendly but not openly hostile. The government of President Richard M. Nixon launched an economic blockade conjunction with U.S. multinationals (ITT, Kennecott, Anaconda) and banks (Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank). The U.S. squeezed the Chilean economy by terminating financial assistance and blocking loans from multilateral organizations. But during 1972 and 1973 the US increased aid to the military, a sector unenthusiastic toward the Allende government. The United States also increased training Chilean military personnel in the United States and Panama.

According to notes taken by CIA director Richard Helms at a 1970 meeting in the Oval Office, his orders were to "make the economy scream." It was widely reported that at the covert level the United States worked to destabilize Allende's Chile by funding opposition political groups and media and by encouraging a military coup d'état. The agency trained members of the fascist organization Patria y Libertad (PyL) in guerrilla warfare and bombing, and they were soon waging a campaign of arson. CIA also sponsored demonstrations and strikes, funded by ITT and other US corporations with Chilean holdings. CIA-linked media, including the country's largest newspaper, fanned the flames of crisis. While these United States actions contributed to the downfall of Allende, no one has established direct United States participation in the coup d'état and few would assign the United States the primary role in the destruction of that government.

However, the FAS notes that no evidence could be shown in 1975 of Kissinger's or Nixon's role in the 1973 coup itself. That would have to wait almost 30 years, to President Clinton's declassification in 2000 of a raft of intelligence documents regarding CIA activities in Chile at the prompting of Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y. The Hinchey report is packed with revelations, including that the CIA paid $35,000 to Schneider's killers. But Peter Kornbluh of the Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, still sorting through them, revealed in 2004 records of a conversation between Kissinger and Nixon (.pdf).

The transcript records a call made by President Nixon to Kissinger's home on the weekend following General Augusto Pinochet's violent overthrow of the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende in Chile. Kissinger reports to the president that the new military regime was "getting consolidated" and complains that the press is "bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown." When Nixon notes that "our hand doesn't show on this one though," Kissinger responds that "We didn't do it" [referring to the coup itself]. I mean we helped them….created the conditions as great as possible."

"We didn't do it" means they didn't directly organize the coup—they had merely spent the past three years trying to goad various members of the Chilean military to overthrow their government. Meanwhile, other revelations of the Hinchey documents, as Kornbluh summarizes, include:

Within a year of the coup, the CIA was aware of bilateral arrangements between the Pinochet regime and other Southern Cone intelligence services to track and kill opponents.

The CIA made Gen. Manuel Contreras, head of [Pinochet's secret police] DINA, a paid asset only several months after concluding that he “was the principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy within the Junta.” After the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C., the CIA continued to work with Contreras even as “his possible role in the Letelier assassination became an issue.”

The CIA made a payment of $35,000 to a group of coup plotters in Chile after that group had murdered the Chilean commander-in-chief, Gen. Rene Schneider in October 1970—a fact that was apparently withheld in 1975 from the special Senate Committee investigating CIA involvement in assassinations. The report says the payment was made “in an effort to keep the prior contact secret, maintain the good will of the group, and for humanitarian reasons.”

The CIA has an October 25, 1973 intelligence report on Gen. Arellano Stark, Pinochet’s right-hand man after the coup, showing that Stark ordered the murders of 21 political prisoners during the now infamous “Caravan of Death.” This document is likely to be relevant to the ongoing prosecution of General Pinochet, who is facing trial for the disappearances of 14 prisoners at the hands of Gen. Stark’s military death squad.

Chilean poet and playwright Ariel Dorfman has been the most eloquent voice of memory against Pinochet's crimes and has time and again reminded us of the culpability of Kissinger in all of his crimes. After Pinochet was arrested in 1998, Dorfman wrote an open letter, in Spanish, to Kissinger:

What I have wanted to see for 25 years now—and I still have a hard time believing that it might be about to happen—is that before your death you will be forced to look with your blue eyes into the dark and light eyes of the women whose sons and husbands and fathers and brothers you made disappear, one woman after another. I want for them to have the chance to tell you how their lives were fractured and torn apart by an order that you gave, or by the 'action' of the secret police that you chose not to stop. I have asked myself what would happen to you if you were forced to hear day after day the multiple stories of your victims and to acknowledge their existence.

When Pinochet was formally indicted in 2004, Dorfman went on Democracy Now! with Amy Goodman.

AMY GOODMAN: There's a lot of discussion, Ariel Dorfman, of Pinochet right now. What about those still alive in this country that supported that coup? President Nixon has died, but Henry Kissinger is still with us.

ARIEL DORFMAN: Well, you know, it's very interesting to see that the United States government has never been able to really live up to and understand that it is responsible for many of these horrors. You know, we Chileans have our own sins to pay in the sense that there were things --

AMY GOODMAN: We only have five seconds.

ARIEL DORFMAN: Oh. I think Kissinger should be indicted.

Christopher Hitchens, before he became enamored of the war crimes of the current regime, also wrote eloquently about the need to prosecute someone other than third-world dictators and Serbian generals to prove the legitimacy of international law, by not exempting the most powerful. From his book The Trials of Henry Kissinger, quoted by the Toronto Globe and Mail:

If the drive to put Kissinger in the witness box, let alone the dock, should succeed, then it would rebut the taunt about 'victor's justice' in war-crimes trials. It would demonstrate that no person, and no society or state, is above the law. Conversely, if the initiative should fail, then it would seem to be true that we have woven a net for the catching of small fish only.

The guns of the coup were filled with bullets sold to the army by Washington. Those bullets gunned down thousands of Chileans, including folksinger Victor Jara, students and teachers thought to have leftist sympathies, and many others who became desaparecidos--disappeared, when their bodies were dumped from airplanes and helicopters into the ocean. Tens of thousands were tortured.

Those Washington bullets represented crimes whose primary perpetrator just passed away, but others who were responsible not just walk free, but are honored and feted by all. As Donald Rumsfeld moves from the Pentagon to the courtroom to face his crimes, let us not forget those of Henry Kissinger.

Pinochet's Death Spares Bush Family Criminal Conviction For Crimes Against Humanity

By Robert Parry
December 12, 2006

Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s death on Dec. 10 means the Bush Family can breathe a little bit easier, knowing that criminal proceedings against Chile’s notorious dictator can no longer implicate his longtime friend and protector, former President George H.W. Bush.

Although Chilean investigations against other defendants may continue, the cases against Pinochet end with his death of a heart attack at the age of 91. Pinochet’s death from natural causes also marks a victory for world leaders, including George H.W. and George W. Bush, who shielded Pinochet from justice over the past three decades.

The Bush Family’s role in the Pinochet cover-up began in 1976 when then-CIA Director George H.W. Bush diverted investigators away from Pinochet’s guilt in a car bombing in Washington that killed political rival Orlando Letelier and an American, Ronni Moffitt.

The cover-up stretched into the presidency of George W. Bush when he sidetracked an FBI recommendation to indict Pinochet in the Letelier-Moffitt murders.

Over those intervening 30 years, Pinochet allegedly engaged in a variety of illicit operations, including terrorism, torture, murder, drug trafficking, money-laundering and illicit arms shipments – sometimes with the official collusion of the U.S. government.

In the 1980s, when George H.W. Bush was Vice President, Pinochet’s regime helped funnel weapons to the Nicaraguan contra rebels and to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, an operation that also implicated then-CIA official Robert M. Gates, who will be the next U.S. Secretary of Defense.

When Pinochet faced perhaps his greatest risk of prosecution – in 1998 when he was detained in London pending extradition to Spain on charges of murdering Spanish citizens – former President George H.W. Bush protested Pinochet’s arrest, calling it “a travesty of justice” and joining in a successful appeal to the British courts to let Pinochet go home to Chile.

Once Pinochet was returned to Chile, the wily ex-dictator employed a legal strategy of political obstruction and assertions of ill health to avert prosecution. Until his death, he retained influential friends in the Chilean power structure and in key foreign capitals, especially Washington.

Pinochet’s History

Pinochet’s years in the service of U.S. foreign policy date back to the early 1970s when Richard Nixon’s administration wanted to destroy Chile’s democratically elected socialist government of Salvador Allende.

The CIA launched a covert operation to “destabilize” Allende’s government, with the CIA-sponsored chaos ending in a bloody coup on Sept. 11, 1973. Gen. Pinochet seized power and Allende was shot to death when Pinochet’s forces stormed the Presidential Palace.

Thousands of political dissidents – including Americans and other foreigners – were rounded up and executed. Many also were tortured.

With Pinochet in control, the CIA turned its attention to helping him overcome the negative publicity that his violent coup had engendered around the world. One “secret” CIA memo, written in early 1974, described the success of “the Santiago Station’s propaganda project.” The memo said:

“Prior to the coup the project’s media outlets maintained a steady barrage of anti-government criticism, exploiting every possible point of friction between the government and the democratic opposition, and emphasizing the problems and conflicts that were developing between the government and the armed forces. Since the coup, these media outlets have supported the new military government. They have tried to present the Junta in the most positive light.” [See Peter Kornbluh’s The Pinochet File]

Despite the CIA’s P.R. blitz, however, Pinochet and his military subordinates insisted on dressing up and acting like a casting agent’s idea of Fascist bullies. The dour Pinochet was known for his fondness for wearing a military cloak that made him resemble a well-dressed Nazi SS officer.

Pinochet and the other right-wing military dictators who dominated South America in the mid-1970s also had their own priorities, one of which was the elimination of political opponents who were living in exile in other countries.

Though many of these dissidents weren’t associated with violent revolutionary movements, the anticommunist doctrine then in vogue among the region’s right-wing military made few distinctions between armed militants and political activists.

By 1974, Chilean intelligence was collaborating with freelancing anti-Castro Cuban extremists and other South American security forces to eliminate any and all threats to right-wing military power.

The first prominent victim of these cross-border assassinations was former Chilean Gen. Carlos Prats, who was living in Argentina and was viewed as a potential rival to Pinochet because Prats had opposed Pinochet’s coup that shattered Chile’s long history as a constitutional democracy.

Learning that Prats was writing his memoirs, Pinochet’s secret police chief Manuel Contreras dispatched Michael Townley, an assassin trained in explosives, to Argentina. Townley planted a bomb under Prats’s car, detonating it on Sept. 30, killing Prats at the door and incinerating Prats’s wife who was trapped inside the car.

On Oct. 6, 1975, a gunman approached Chilean Christian Democratic leader Bernardo Leighton who was walking with his wife on a street in Rome. The gunman shot both Leighton and his wife, severely wounding both of them.

Operation Condor

In November 1975, the loose-knit collaboration among the Southern Cone dictatorships took on a more formal structure during a covert intelligence meeting in Santiago. Delegates from the security forces of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia committed themselves to a regional strategy against “subversives.”

In recognition of Chile’s leadership, the conference named the project after Chile’s national bird, the giant vulture that traverses the Andes Mountains. The project was called “Operation Condor.”

The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency confidentially informed Washington that the operation had three phases and that the “third and reportedly very secret phase of ‘Operation Condor’ involves the formation of special teams from member countries who are to carry out operations to include assassinations.”

The Condor accord formally took effect on Jan. 30, 1976, the same day George H.W. Bush was sworn in as CIA director.

In Bush’s first few months, right-wing violence across the Southern Cone of South America surged. On March 24, 1976, the Argentine military staged a coup, ousting the ineffectual President Isabel Peron and escalating a brutal internal security campaign against both violent and non-violent opponents on the Left.

The Argentine security forces became especially well-known for grisly methods of torture and the practice of “disappearing” political dissidents who would be snatched from the streets or from their homes, undergo torture and never be seen again.

Like Pinochet, the new Argentine dictators saw themselves on a mission to save Western Civilization from the clutches of leftist thought.

They took pride in the “scientific” nature of their repression. They were clinical practitioners of anticommunism – refining torture techniques, erasing the sanctuary of international borders and collaborating with right-wing terrorists and organized-crime elements to destroy leftist movements.

Later Argentine government investigations discovered that its military intelligence officers advanced Nazi-like methods of torture by testing the limits of how much pain a human being could endure before dying. Torture methods included experiments with electric shocks, drowning, asphyxiation and sexual perversions, such as forcing mice into a woman’s vagina.

The totalitarian nature of the anticommunism gripping much of South America revealed itself in one particularly bizarre Argentine practice, which was used when pregnant women were captured as suspected subversives.

The women were kept alive long enough to bring the babies to full term. The women then were subjected to forced labor or Caesarian section. The newborns were given to military families to be raised in the ideology of anticommunism while the new mothers were executed.

Many were taken to an airport near Buenos Aires, stripped naked, shackled to other prisoners and put on a plane. As the plane flew over the Rio Plata or out over the Atlantic Ocean, the prisoners were shoved through a cargo door, sausage-like, into the water to drown. All told, the Argentine war against subversion would claim an estimated 30,000 lives.

The 1976 Argentine coup d’etat allowed the pace of cross-border executions under Operation Condor to quicken.

On May 21, gunmen killed two Uruguayan congressmen on a street in Buenos Aires. On June 4, former Bolivian President Juan Jose Torres was slain also in Buenos Aires. On June 11, armed men kidnapped and tortured 23 Chilean refugees and one Uruguayan who were under United Nations protection.

A Grudge

Despite protests from human rights groups, Pinochet and his fellow dictators felt immune from pressure because of their powerful friends in Washington. Pinochet’s sense of impunity led him to contemplate silencing one of his most eloquent critics, Chile’s former Foreign Minister Orlando Letelier, who lived in the U.S. capital.

Earlier in their government careers, when Letelier was briefly defense minister in Allende’s government, Pinochet had been his subordinate. After the coup, Pinochet imprisoned Letelier at a desolate concentration camp on Dawson Island, but international pressure won Letelier release a year later.

Now, Pinochet was chafing under Letelier’s rough criticism of the regime’s human rights record. Letelier was doubly infuriating to Pinochet because Letelier was regarded as a man of intellect and charm, even impressing CIA officers who observed him as “a personable, socially pleasant man” and “a reasonable, mature democrat,” according to biographical sketches.

By summer 1976, George H.W. Bush’s CIA was hearing a lot about Operation Condor from South American sources who had attended a second organizational conference of Southern Cone intelligence services.

These CIA sources reported that the military regimes were preparing “to engage in ‘executive action’ outside the territory of member countries.” In intelligence circles, “executive action” is a euphemism for assassination.

Meanwhile, Pinochet and intelligence chief Manuel Contreras were putting in motion their most audacious assassination plan yet: to eliminate Orlando Letelier in his safe haven in Washington, D.C.

In July 1976, two operatives from Chile’s intelligence service DINA – Michael Townley and Armando Fernandez Larios – went to Paraguay where DINA had arranged for them to get false passports and visas for a trip to the United States.

Townley and Larios were using the false names Juan Williams and Alejandro Romeral and a cover story claiming they were investigating suspected leftists working for Chile’s state copper company in New York. Townley and Larios said their project had been cleared with the CIA’s Station Chief in Santiago.

A senior Paraguayan official, Conrado Pappalardo, urged U.S. Ambassador George Landau to cooperate, citing a direct appeal from Pinochet in support of the mission. Supposedly, the Paraguayan government claimed, the two Chileans were to meet with CIA Deputy Director Vernon Walters.

An alarmed Landau recognized that the visa request was highly unusual, since such operations are normally coordinated with the CIA station in the host country and are cleared with CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Though granting the visas, Landau took the precaution of sending an urgent cable to Walters and photostatic copies of the fake passports to the CIA. Landau said he received an urgent cable back signed by CIA Director Bush, reporting that Walters, who was in the process of retiring, was out of town.

When Walters returned a few days later, he cabled Landau that he had “nothing to do with this” mission. Landau immediately canceled the visas.

The Assassination

It remains unclear what – if anything – Bush’s CIA did after learning about the “Paraguayan caper.” Normal protocol would have required senior CIA officials to ask their Chilean counterparts about the supposed trip to Langley.

However, even with the declassification of more records in recent years, that question has never been fully answered.

The CIA also demonstrated little curiosity over the Aug. 22, 1976, arrival of two other Chilean operatives using the names, Juan Williams and Alejandro Romeral, the phony names that were intended to hide the identity of the two operatives in the aborted assassination plot.

When these two different operatives arrived in Washington, they made a point of having the Chilean Embassy notify Walters’s office at CIA.

“It is quite beyond belief that the CIA is so lax in its counterespionage functions that it would simply have ignored a clandestine operation by a foreign intelligence service in Washington, D.C., or elsewhere in the United States,” wrote John Dinges and Saul Landau in their 1980 book, Assassination on Embassy Row. “It is equally implausible that Bush, Walters, Landau and other officials were unaware of the chain of international assassinations that had been attributed to DINA.”

Apparently, DINA had dispatched the second pair of operatives, using the phony names, to show that the initial contacts for visas in Paraguay were not threatening. In other words, the Chilean government had the replacement team of Williams and Romeral go through the motions of a trip to Washington with the intent to visit Walters to dispel any American suspicions or to spread confusion among suspicious U.S. officials.

But it’s still unclear whether Bush’s CIA contacted Pinochet’s government about its mysterious behavior and, if not, why not.

As for the Letelier plot, DINA was soon plotting another way to carry out the killing. In late August, DINA dispatched a preliminary team of one man and one woman to do surveillance on Letelier as he moved around Washington.

Then, Townley was sent under a different alias to carry out the murder. After arriving in New York on Sept. 9, 1976, Townley connected with Cuban National Movement leader Guillermo Novo in Union City, New Jersey, and then headed to Washington. Townley assembled a remote-controlled bomb that used pieces bought at Radio Shack and Sears.

On Sept. 18, joined by Cuban extremists Virgilio Paz and Dionisio Suarez, Townley went to Letelier home in Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington. The assassination team attached the bomb underneath Letelier’s Chevrolet Chevelle.

Three days later, on the morning of Sept. 21, Paz and Suarez followed Letelier as he drove to work with two associates, Ronni Moffitt and her husband Michael. As the Chevelle proceeded down Massachusetts Avenue, through an area known as Embassy Row, the assassins detonated the bomb.

The blast ripped off Letelier’s legs and punctured a hole in Ronni Moffitt’s jugular vein. She drowned in her own blood at the scene; Letelier died after being taken to George Washington University Hospital. Michael Moffitt survived.

At the time, the attack represented the worst act of international terrorism on U.S. soil. Adding to the potential for scandal, the terrorism had been carried out by a regime that was an ostensible ally of the United States, one that had gained power with the help of the Nixon administration and the CIA.

Threat to Bush

Bush’s reputation was also at risk. As authors Dinges and Landau noted in Assassination on Embassy Row, “the CIA reaction was peculiar” after the cable from Ambassador Landau arrived disclosing a covert Chilean intelligence operation and asking Deputy Director Walters if he had a meeting scheduled with the DINA agents.

“Landau expected Walters to take quick action in the event that the Chilean mission did not have CIA clearance. Yet a week passed during which the assassination team could well have had time to carry out their original plan to go directly from Paraguay to Washington to kill Letelier. Walters and Bush conferred during that week about the matter.”

“One thing is clear,” Dinges and Landau wrote, “DINA chief Manuel Contreras would have called off the assassination mission if the CIA or State Department had expressed their displeasure to the Chilean government. An intelligence officer familiar with the case said that any warning would have been sufficient to cause the assassination to be scuttled. Whatever Walters and Bush did – if anything – the DINA mission proceeded.”

Within hours of the bombing, Letelier’s associates accused the Pinochet regime, citing its hatred of Letelier and its record for brutality. The Chilean government, however, heatedly denied any responsibility.

That night, at a dinner at the Jordanian Embassy, Senator James Abourezk, a South Dakota Democrat, spotted Bush and approached the CIA director. Abourezk said he was a friend of Letelier’s and beseeched Bush to get the CIA “to find the bastards who killed him.” Abourezk said Bush responded: “I’ll see what I can do. We are not without assets in Chile.”

A problem, however, was that one of the CIA’s best-placed assets – DINA chief Contreras – was part of the assassination. Wiley Gilstrap, the CIA’s Santiago Station Chief, did approach Contreras with questions about the Letelier bombing and wired back to Langley Contreras’s assurance that the Chilean government wasn’t involved.

Following the strategy of public misdirection already used in hundreds of “disappearances,” Contreras pointed the finger at the Chilean Left. Contreras suggested that leftists had killed Letelier to turn him into a martyr.

CIA headquarters, of course, had plenty of evidence that Contreras was lying. The Pinochet government had flashed its intention to mount a suspicious operation inside the United States by involving the U.S. Embassy in Paraguay and the deputy director of the CIA. Bush’s CIA even had in its files a photograph of the leader of the terrorist squad, Michael Townley.

Yet, rather than fulfilling his promise to Abourezk to “see what I can do,” Bush ignored leads that would have taken him into a confrontation with Pinochet. The CIA either didn’t put the pieces together or avoided the obvious conclusions the evidence presented.

The Cover-up

Indeed, the CIA didn’t seem to want any information that might implicate the Pinochet regime. On Oct. 6, a CIA informant in Chile went to the CIA Station in Santiago and relayed an account of Pinochet denouncing Letelier.

The informant said the dictator had called Letelier’s criticism of the government “unacceptable.” The source “believes that the Chilean Government is directly involved in Letelier’s death and feels that investigation into the incident will so indicate,” the CIA field report said. [See Kornbluh, The Pinochet File.]

But Bush’s CIA chose to accept Contreras’s denials and even began leaking information that pointed away from the real killers.

Newsweek’s Periscope reported in the magazine’s Oct. 11, 1976, issue that “the Chilean secret police were not involved. …. The [Central Intelligence] agency reached its decision because the bomb was too crude to be the work of experts and because the murder, coming while Chile’s rulers were wooing U.S. support, could only damage the Santiago regime.”

Similar stories ran in other newspapers, including the New York Times.

Despite the lack of help from Washington, the FBI’s legal attaché in Buenos Aires, Robert Scherrer, began putting the puzzle together only a week after the Letelier bombing.

Relying on a source in the Argentine military, Scherrer reported to his superiors that the assassination was likely the work of Operation Condor, the assassination project organized by the Chilean government.

Another break in the case came two weeks after the Letelier assassination on Oct. 6, 1976, when anti-Castro terrorists planted a bomb on a Cubana Airlines DC-8 before it took off from Barbados. Nine minutes after takeoff, the bomb exploded, plunging the plane into the Caribbean and killing all 73 people on board including the Cuban national fencing team.

Two Cuban exiles, Hernan Ricardo and Freddy Lugo, who had left the plane in Barbados, confessed that they had planted the bomb. They named two prominent anti-Castro extremists, Orlando Bosch and Luis Posada, as the architects of the attack.

A search of Posada’s apartment in Venezuela turned up Cubana Airlines timetables and other incriminating documents. Although Posada was a CIA-trained Bay of Pigs veteran and stayed in close touch with some former CIA colleagues, senior CIA officials again pleaded ignorance.

For the second time in barely two weeks, Bush’s CIA had done nothing to interfere with terrorist attacks involving anticommunist operatives with close ties to the CIA. [For more on Posada, see's "Bush's Hypocrisy: Cuban Terrorists."]

But the Cubana Airlines bombing put federal investigators on the right track toward solving the Letelier assassination. They began to learn more about the network of right-wing terrorists associated with Operation Condor and its international Murder Inc. However, CIA Director Bush continued to assert the innocence of Pinochet’s regime.

On Nov. 1, 1976, the Washington Post cited CIA officials in reporting that “operatives of the present Chilean military Junta did not take part in Letelier’s killing.” The Post added that “CIA Director Bush expressed this view in a conversation late last week with Secretary of State Kissinger.”

Regarding the Letelier murder, George H.W. Bush was never pressed to provide a full explanation of his actions.

When I submitted questions to Bush in 1988 – while he was Vice President and I was a Newsweek correspondent preparing a story on his year as CIA director – Bush’s chief of staff Craig Fuller responded, saying “the Vice President generally does not comment on issues related to the time he was at the Central Intelligence Agency and he will have no comment on the specific issues raised in your letter.”

My editors at Newsweek subsequently decided not to publish any story about Bush’s year at the CIA though he was then running for President and citing his CIA experience as an important element of his resumé.

The Carter Interregnum

After Jimmy Carter became President in 1977, federal investigators cracked the Letelier case, successfully bringing charges against Townley and several other conspirators.

Prosecutor Eugene Propper told me that Bush’s CIA did provide some information about the background of suspects, but didn’t volunteer the crucial information about the Paraguayan gambit or supply the photo of the chief assassin, Townley. “Nothing the agency gave us helped us break this case,” Propper said.

Though U.S. prosecutors grasped the criminal nature of the Pinochet government, the wheels of justice turned slowly. Before the prosecutors could climb the chain of command in Chile, the Republicans had returned to power in 1981, with George H.W. Bush serving as Vice President and acting as a top foreign policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

Despite the mounting evidence of Pinochet’s guilt in a terrorist act on U.S. soil, the dictator emerged from his pariah status of the Carter years to regain his position as a favored ally under Bush and Reagan.

When help was needed on sensitive projects, the Reagan administration often turned to Pinochet. For instance, in 1982, after Reagan decided to tilt Iraq’s way during the Iran-Iraq War, one of Pinochet’s favored arms dealers, Carlos Cardoen, manufactured and shipped controversial weapons to Saddam Hussein’s army.

Regarding these Iraqi arms shipments, former National Security Council aide Howard Teicher swore out an affidavit in 1995 detailing Reagan’s decision and describing the secret roles of CIA Director William Casey and his deputy, Robert Gates, in shepherding the military equipment to Iraq.

Teicher said the secret arming of Iraq was approved by Reagan in June 1982 as part of a National Security Decision Directive. Under it, Casey and Gates “authorized, approved and assisted” delivery of cluster bombs and other materiel to Iraq, Teicher said.

Teicher’s affidavit corroborated earlier public statements by former Israeli intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe and Iranian-born businessman Richard Babayan, who claimed first-hand knowledge of Gates’s central role in the secret Iraq operations.

In his 1992 book Profits of War, Ben-Menashe wrote that Israeli Mossad director Nachum Admoni approached Gates in 1985 seeking help in shutting down unconventional weapons, especially chemicals, moving through the Chilean arms pipeline to Iraq.

Ben-Menashe wrote that Gates attended a meeting in Chile in 1986 with Cardoen present at which Gates tried to calm down the Israelis by assuring them that U.S. policy was simply to ensure a channel of conventional weapons for Iraq.

Though Gates denied Ben-Menashe’s and Babayan’s allegations in 1991 – when Gates underwent confirmation hearings to be CIA director – he has never been asked to publicly respond to Teicher’s affidavit which was filed in a Miami court case in 1995.

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee were aware of the discrepancies between the Teicher and Gates accounts when Gates appeared at a Dec. 5, 2006, confirmation hearing to be Secretary of Defense, but no one asked Gates to respond to Teicher’s sworn statement.

A source at the United Nations also has told me that some of the documents captured in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 shed light on the Cardoen arms pipeline, but those records have never been made public.

Key Leads

Other potential avenues for understanding Pinochet’s covert role in supporting anticommunist strategies in the Reagan-Bush era opened recently, as former DINA chief Contreras turned on his old boss.

In a court document filed in early July 2006, Contreras implicated Pinochet and one of his sons in a scheme to manufacture and smuggle cocaine to Europe and the United States, explaining one source of Pinochet’s $28 million fortune.

Contreras alleged that the cocaine was processed with Pinochet’s approval at an Army chemical plant south of Santiago during the 1980s and that Pinochet’s son Marco Antonio arranged the shipments of the processed cocaine. [NYT, July 11, 2006]

At the time of this alleged cocaine smuggling, Pinochet was a close ally of the Reagan administration, providing help on a variety of sensitive intelligence projects, including shipping military equipment to Nicaraguan contra rebels who also were implicated in the exploding cocaine trade to the United States. [For details on the contra-cocaine scandal, see Robert Parry's Lost History.]

Contreras said Eugenio Berrios, a chemist for Chile’s secret police, oversaw the drug manufacturing. Berrios also was accused of producing poisons for Pinochet to use in murdering political enemies. Berrios disappeared in 1992. [For details on the Berrios mystery, see’s “Pinochet’s Mad Scientist.”]

As this drip-drip-drip of evidence accumulated implicating Pinochet and his American allies in serious crimes and international intrigue, it fell to the second generation of George Bush presidents to put a finger in the dike.

Near the end of the Clinton presidency in 2000, an FBI team reviewed new evidence that had become available in the Letelier case and recommended the indictment of Pinochet.

But the final decision was left to the incoming Bush administration – and George W. Bush, like his father, chose to protect Pinochet. In doing so, the younger George Bush also protected his father’s reputation and the legacy of the Bush Family.

Freed from Washington’s legal pressure, Pinochet was able to fend off intermittent attempts in Chile to bring him to justice during the last half dozen years of his life.

“Every day it is clearer that Pinochet ordered my brother’s death,” human rights lawyer Fabiola Letelier told the New York Times on the 30th anniversary of the Letelier-Moffitt assassinations. “But for a proper and complete investigation to take place we need access to the appropriate records and evidence.” [NYT, Sept. 21, 2006]

Ultimately, Pinochet escaped a formal judgment of guilt for his many crimes, dying on the afternoon of Dec. 10, 2006, at the Military Hospital of Santiago from complications resulting from a heart attack.

As Pinochet took his last breath, the Bush Family, too, had reason for a sigh of relief.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

Monday, December 11, 2006

Routine and systematic torture is at the heart of America's war on terror by George Monbiot

"I have met the enemy, and he is us"
- Pogo

In the fight against cruelty, barbarism and extremism, America has embraced the very evils it claims to confront

George Monbiot
Tuesday December 12, 2006
The Guardian

After thousands of years of practice, you might have imagined that every possible means of inflicting pain had already been devised. But you should never underestimate the human capacity for invention. United States interrogators, we now discover, have found a new way of destroying a human being.

Last week, defence lawyers acting for José Padilla, a US citizen detained as an "enemy combatant", released a video showing a mission fraught with deadly risk - taking him to the prison dentist. A group of masked guards in riot gear shackled his legs and hands, blindfolded him with black-out goggles and shut off his hearing with headphones, then marched him down the prison corridor.

Is Padilla really that dangerous? Far from it: his warders describe him as so docile and inactive that he could be mistaken for "a piece of furniture". The purpose of these measures appeared to be to sustain the regime under which he had lived for more than three years: total sensory deprivation. He had been kept in a blacked-out cell, unable to see or hear anything beyond it. Most importantly, he had had no human contact, except for being bounced off the walls from time to time by his interrogators. As a result, he appears to have lost his mind. I don't mean this metaphorically. I mean that his mind is no longer there.

The forensic psychiatrist who examined him says that he "does not appreciate the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him, is unable to render assistance to counsel, and has impairments in reasoning as the result of a mental illness, ie, post-traumatic stress disorder, complicated by the neuropsychiatric effects of prolonged isolation". José Padilla appears to have been lobotomised: not medically, but socially.

If this was an attempt to extract information, it was ineffective: the authorities held him without charge for three and half years. Then, threatened by a supreme court ruling, they suddenly dropped their claims that he was trying to detonate a dirty bomb. They have now charged him with some vague and lesser offences to do with support for terrorism. He is unlikely to be the only person subjected to this regime. Another "enemy combatant", Ali al-Marri, claims to have been subject to the same total isolation and sensory deprivation, in the same naval prison in South Carolina. God knows what is being done to people who have disappeared into the CIA's foreign oubliettes.

That the US tortures, routinely and systematically, while prosecuting its "war on terror" can no longer be seriously disputed. The Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project (DAA), a coalition of academics and human-rights groups, has documented the abuse or killing of 460 inmates of US military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and at Guantánamo Bay. This, it says, is necessarily a conservative figure: many cases will remain unrecorded. The prisoners were beaten, raped, forced to abuse themselves, forced to maintain "stress positions", and subjected to prolonged sleep deprivation and mock executions.

The New York Times reports that prisoners held by the US military at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan were made to stand for up to 13 days with their hands chained to the ceiling, naked, hooded and unable to sleep. The Washington Post alleges that prisoners at the same airbase were "commonly blindfolded and thrown into walls, bound in painful positions, subjected to loud noises and deprived of sleep" while kept, like Padilla and the arrivals at Guantánamo, "in black hoods or spray-painted goggles".

Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, argues that the photographs released from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq reflect standard CIA torture techniques: "stress positions, sensory deprivation, and sexual humiliation". The famous picture of the hooded man standing on a box, with wires attached to his fingers, shows two of these techniques being used at once. Unable to see, he has no idea how much time has passed or what might be coming next. He stands in a classic stress position - maintained for several hours, it causes excruciating pain. He appears to have been told that if he drops his arms he will be electrocuted. What went wrong at Abu Ghraib is that someone took photos. Everything else was done by the book.

Neither the military nor the civilian authorities have broken much sweat in investigating these crimes. A few very small fish have been imprisoned; a few others have been fined or reduced in rank; in most cases the authorities have either failed to investigate or failed to prosecute. The DAA points out that no officer has yet been held to account for torture practised by his subordinates. US torturers appear to enjoy impunity, until they are stupid enough to take pictures of each other.

But Padilla's treatment also reflects another glorious American tradition: solitary confinement. Some 25,000 US prisoners are currently held in isolation - a punishment only rarely used in other democracies. In some places, like the federal prison in Florence, Colorado, they are kept in sound-proofed cells and might scarcely see another human being for years on end. They may touch or be touched by no one. Some people have been kept in solitary confinement in the US for more than 20 years.

At Pelican Bay in California, where 1,200 people are held in the isolation wing, inmates are confined to tiny cells for 22 and a half hours a day, then released into an "exercise yard" for "recreation". The yard consists of a concrete well about 3.5 metres in length with walls 6 metres high and a metal grille across the sky. The recreation consists of pacing back and forth, alone.

The results are much as you would expect. As National Public Radio reveals, more than 10% of the isolation prisoners at Pelican Bay are now in the psychiatric ward, and there's a waiting list. Prisoners in solitary confinement, according to Dr Henry Weinstein, a psychiatrist who studies them, suffer from "memory loss to severe anxiety to hallucinations to delusions ... under the severest cases of sensory deprivation, people go crazy." People who went in bad and dangerous come out mad as well. The only two studies conducted so far - in Texas and Washington state - both show that the recidivism rates for prisoners held in solitary confinement are worse than for those who were allowed to mix with other prisoners. If we were to judge the US by its penal policies, we would perceive a strange beast: a Christian society that believes in neither forgiveness nor redemption.

From this delightful experiment, US interrogators appear to have extracted a useful lesson: if you want to erase a man's mind, deprive him of contact with the rest of the world. This has nothing to do with obtaining information: torture of all kinds - physical or mental - produces the result that people will say anything to make it end. It is about power, and the thrilling discovery that in the right conditions one man's power over another is unlimited. It is an indulgence which turns its perpetrators into everything they claim to be confronting.

President Bush maintains that he is fighting a war against threats to the "values of civilised nations": terror, cruelty, barbarism and extremism. He asked his nation's interrogators to discover where these evils are hidden. They should congratulate themselves. They appear to have succeeded.

The Atrocities of Gen. Augusto Pinochet and the United States By ROGER BURBACH

The Condor Model

In Santiago on September 11, 1973 I watched as Chilean air force jets flew overhead. Moments later I heard explosions and saw fireballs of smoke fill the sky as the presidential palace went up in flames. Salvador Allende, the elected Socialist president of Chile died in the palace.

As an American the death of General Augusto Pinochet brings back many memories of the military coup and the role played by my government in the violent overthrow of Allende. From the moment of his election in September, 1970 the Nixon administration mounted a covert campaign against him. Henry Kissinger, then Nixon's National Security adviser, declared: "I don't see why we need to stand idly by and watch a country go Communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people." Weeks later the pro-constitutionalist head of the army, General Rene Schneider, was assassinated in a failed attempt to stop the inauguration of Allende.

For the next three years CIA-backed terrorist groups bombed and destroyed state railroads, power plants and key highway arteries to create chaos and stop the country from functioning. The goal was to "make the economy scream" as Nixon ordered. US corporations such as IT&T also participated in the efforts to destabilize the country.

In the midst of this struggle for control of Chile, Allende insisted, almost stubbornly, on maintaining the country's democratic institutions. He enjoyed immense popular support from below, even in the waning days of his government when the economy was in shambles and virtually everyone believed a confrontation was imminent. I'll never forget the last major demonstration on September 4, 1973, when the Alameda, the major avenue of downtown Santiago, was packed with tens of thousands of marchers, all intent on passing by the presidential palace where Allende stood on a balcony waving to the crowd. This was no government-orchestrated demonstration in which people were trucked in from the barrios and countryside. These people came out of a deep sense of commitment, a belief that this was their government and that they would defend it to the end.

In the aftermath of the coup over three thousand people perished, including two American friends of mine, Charles Horman and Frank Terrugi. The United States knowing of these atrocities, rushed to support the military regime, reopening the spigot of economic aid that had been closed under Allende. When the relatives of Horman and Terrugi made determined inquires about their disappearances and deaths, the US embassy and the State Department stonewalled along with the new military junta. Four weeks after the coup, I fled across the Andes, returning to the United States to do what I could to denounce the crimes of Pinochet and my government.

I returned to Chile for the 1988 plebiscite that finally forced Pinochet out of office after seventeen long and brutal years. But for eight more years his dark hand hung over Chile as he continued in his role as the commander in chief of the army. Finally as a result of years of hard work by the international human rights movement, Pinochet was detained in London in October 1998 for crimes against humanity. Five hundred days later he was sent back to Chile, allegedly for health reasons. There the Chilean courts lead by Judge Juan Guzman squared off with the general's right wing supporters and the military, stripping him of his immunity from prosecution as "Senator-for-Life," a position he bestowed on himself when he retired from the army.

As the proceedings against Pinochet advanced, new reports of US complicity in the coup and the repression began to surface, particularly about the role of Kissinger. The Chilean courts tried to compel Kissinger to testify, but they received no cooperation from the US Justice Department. French courts also issued orders for the interrogation of Kissinger, making him realize that he like Pinochet did not enjoy international impunity from prosecution. Small wonder that Kissinger wrote an article in Foreign Affairs magazine, decrying the use of the principle of 'universal jurisdiction' by courts to bring human rights violators to justice.

In Chile President Michele Bachelet whose father died in prison under Pinochet has refused to grant the ex-dictator a state funeral. Only military bands will play at his interment. Eduardo Contreras, a Chilean human rights lawyer, declared, "Pinochet should be buried as a common criminal," adding, "The dictator died on December 10, the International Day of Human Rights. It is as if humanity chose this special moment to weigh in with its final judgment, declaring 'enough' for the dictator."

The burial of Pinochet comes at a moment when the current Bush administration is being scrutinized for its atrocities and crimes against humanity that are even more appalling than those of the former Chilean dictator. It is another irony of history that Pinochet died on Donald Rumsfeld's last full day as Secretary of Defense. Like Pinochet and Kissinger, Rumsfeld may very well spend the rest of his life trying to escape the grasp of domestic and international courts. Eleven Iraqi prisoners held in Abu Ghraib and a Saudi detained in Guantanamo are filing criminal charges in German courts against Rumsfeld and other US civilian and military officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez. And on last Friday as Rumsfeld was making a farewell speech to his cohorts at the Pentagon, attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union argued in a Washington D.C. federal court that Rumsfeld and three senior military officials should be held responsible for the torture of Iraqi and Afghani detainees.

The Pinochet affair has shaped a whole new generation of human rights activists and lawyers. They are determined to end the impunity of public officials, including that of the civilian and military leaders in the United States who engage in state terrorism and human rights abuses while violating international treaties like the Geneva Conventions.

Roger Burbach is director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) and a Visiting Scholar at the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley. He is co-author with Jim Tarbell of "Imperial Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire," His latest book is: "The Pinochet Affair: State Terrorism and Global Justice."

Death of a Pig - Poetic Justice for Pinochet By RON JACOBS

Look around--there's only one thing of danger for you here--poetry.

Pablo Neruda, during a search of his home and grounds after the September 11, 1973 fascist coup in Chile

Let's get it straight. Augusto Pinochet ordered the deaths of perhaps 4000 people, if not more. He did this after violently overthrowing a legally elected government in the sovereign nation of Chile. Of course, he had a little help in this endeavor from Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Anaconda Copper, IT&T, and that always friendly-to-dictators bureaucracy -- the Central Intelligence Agency. That's another story, however, and one that would also be dealt with if there were true justice on this planet.

One of the most moving times I ever heard Joan Baez sing was in Washington, D.C. at a funeral procession for Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffitt. These two individuals were killed by Pinochet's secret police -- the DINA -- by a car bomb in the middle of the U.S. capital city. As Joan sang "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," fascist demonstrators threw dirt and insults at those of us who had gathered to commemorate these two individuals and condemn the governments responsible for the murder. Business as usual. The men directly responsible for the car bomb were eventually arrested, tried and jailed, (after years of intense pressure from several governments and individuals), but their leaders weren't.

I was living in New York when the coup occurred. There were protests downtown and the Weather Underground bombed IT&T's Latin American Division offices in Manhattan. Pablo Neruda died of prostate cancer a week or two after the coup. Funeral processions were banned but thousands of Chileans defied the fascist government and marched in memory of Neruda and against the fascist coup. Phil Ochs organized a concert for the disappeared the following spring. We were pissed off in the way that seemingly hopeless despair makes one. A genuine hope for a humanistic future had been destroyed by the forces of evil right in front of our eyes and most of our countrymen didn't give a shit. Business as usual, you know. What can you do about it?

There's a place in Berkeley, CA. called La Pena Cultural Center. The front of it is covered by a mural done by O'Brien Thiele, Osha Neuman, Ray Patlan and Anna DeLeon. A panorama of the popular struggles of the peoples of Latin America, the first thing about it that catches your eye is the bas-relief sculpture of the Chilean folk and protest singer Victor Jara. Jara was killed by the forces of repression during the 1973 coup. The popular story goes is that first the assassins cut of one hand and then the other before they killed him. Like Woody Guthrie's guitar that killed fascists, Victor Jara's songs threatened the living bejesus out of those Chileans carrying the fascist mantle.

Augusto Pinochet escaped earthly justice, but I get the feeling he isn't going to enjoy his afterlife. Him and Jeanne Kirkpatrick in one week. Maybe there is a god. But, then again, if there is then why the hell is Henry Kissinger still around giving his deadly advice?

Ron Jacobs is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs' essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch's new collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. He can be reached at: