Rebels of the M23 group declared the end of insurgency in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo following government announcement of military victory. The M23 move generated a wave of hope for Congolese people and the international community that finally this troubled country could achieve peace at last. However, it also received cautious reception given especially past examples and the complexity of the issues that surround Congolese politics.
M23 in a statement said that it was ceasing any military activity and pursuing its goals by political means, also urging the remaining fighters to disarm and demobilise. The move followed government offensive that since October was targeting the rebel bases. Although it may look like a purely military operation result, the end of hostilities was part of a more structured plan devised by the involved parties in months of negotiations. The latest agreement signed by African leaders in Pretoria invited the M23 rebels to make public their intentions to depose arms to allow the Congolese government to draft its peace plan for demobilisation and reintegration. Therefore this announcement shows that M23 rebels are complying with the summit resolution.
The summit nonetheless opened some questions on the real impact and role of other regional powers; while Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni was present at the summit, the absence of his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, was quite visible, although represented by his foreign minister. Rwanda has been accused openly by DRC and UN of supplying M23 with arms and money.
The Congolese army declared that many rebel forces have been disarmed, captured or surrendered, with some fleeing across the borders with Uganda and Rwanda. It also announced that those who will not disarm will be crushed by force. The military breakthrough started in October when the Congolese army stepped up its offensive against the rebels, with the support of tanks and helicopters from a UN intervention brigade. At least 800,000 people have fled their homes since the M23 took up arms in 2012 but several other armed groups still operate in the mineral-rich eastern DR Congo.
The defeat of M23 if on one side opens a new scenario, on the other it also leave to the government a difficult task in dealing with insurgencies. The government is aware that this victory will not solve all problems and that there is still possibility that those who escaped can resort to hit-and-run operations. The government nonetheless is making the most of its positive moment by threatening the other rebel groups, inviting them to surrender or to be suppressed by force. The main threat for Kinshasa is represented by the Rwandan Hutu Forces Démocratiques deLlibération du Rwanda (FDLR) militias which have been the real centre piece in this puzzle that is DRC conflict. Rwanda has always justified its intervention, or backing of armed rebels, because of the connivance or incapacity of the DRC government to destroy FDLR forces.
M23 origins and Rwanda’s links
The M23 has been the most active group since April 2012 and posed serious threats to DRC stability. Made up of ethnic Tutsi, like Rwanda’s leaders, has often been speculated that it was supported militarily and financially by Kigali’s government, although Rwanda rejected these claims. The origins can be traced from the action related to the forces of General Laurent Nkunda who, accusing the Congolese government of not doing enough to destroy FDLR Hutu militia, decided to challenge both openly, arriving to clash even against the UN forces. The Congolese government accused Rwanda of backing Gen. Nkunda, who arrived to threaten the capital of North Kivu, Goma, in 2009. Nevertheless, in the same year, a deal was reached by DRC and Rwanda to fight against FDLR and disarm the Tutsi rebels of general Nkunda; as part of the deal, Gen. Nkunda was taken out of the country and put under house arrest in Rwanda, where he remains.
However, it soon appeared clear that Congolese government troops, backed by thousands of UN peacekeepers, have failed to defeat the FDLR rebels. Reports of mass rapes, killings and other atrocities committed by rebels and government troops continued to alarm Rwanda. The deal between DR Congo and Rwanda inevitably collapsed, and a new group, the M23, largely made up of former Nkunda loyalists, started military operations in eastern DR Congo in 2012. The DR Congo government has repeatedly accused Rwanda of backing the M23. The group was initially said to have been led by Bosco ”Terminator” Ntaganda, but earlier this year, after heavy fighting broke out between rebel factions of the M23 he fled to the US embassy in Rwanda. The former Congolese army general then surrendered to the International Criminal Court to face trial in The Hague on war crimes charges. A UN panel investigating the conflict says M23 leaders “receive direct military orders” from Rwanda’s chief of defence staff, Gen Charles Kayonga, “who in turn acts on instructions from the minister of defence”, Gen James Kabarebe. It also says that Kigali has supplied the M23 with heavy weapons and recruitment, all allegations that President Paul Kagame has strongly denied.
Rwanda’s involvement in DRC conflict is not new and not even the only one as the history of this giant teach; however it is without doubt that its influence is the key to unlock the conflict and bring stability.
A History of Foreign Interference, Interventions and Plunder
DR Congo is the second biggest country in Africa for extension and extremely rich in natural resources: diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, zinc, it supplies coltan, which is used in mobile phones and other electronic gadgets, and cassiterite, used in food packaging. This double extraordinary dimension has been paradoxically the reason of its misfortune: vast resources attracted exploiters, unscrupulous companies, foreign powers, warlords and rebels; on the other the vast geographical dimension has incorporated a mosaic of ethnic groups that although had lived in the areas for centuries have been soon exploited for political means in proxy wars and ethnic clashes. On the centre of this puzzle sit the Congolese government that since independence has been characterised by widespread corruption, inability of managing the vast resources, to bring unity and to abandon its population.
In the early 20th Century, Congo was conquered by Belgian forces with King Leopold ruling the country as it was personal property. One of the most brutal and retrograde colonialism took form until a struggle for independence eventually achieved its goal in 1960. Patrice Lumumba was appointed prime minister and Joseph Kasavubu president. However, the peace was short lived as Lumumba, accused to be a communist and to steer the country towards socialism, was dismissed by president Kasavubu, while sections of the army mutinied and Moise Tshombe declared the independence of the mining rich Katanga region. Belgian troops were sent in to protect Belgian citizens and mining interests while UN Security Council, although voting to send in troops to help establish order was unable to act as troops were not allowed to intervene in internal affairs. Following the arrest and the murder of Lumumba in 1961, reportedly with US and Belgian complicity, UN troops finally intervened to disarm Katangese soldiers. Only in 1963 Tshombe agrees to end Katanga’s secession and in 1964 President Kasavubu appointed Tshombe prime minister as part of a reconciliation plan.
The re-achieved unity in reality did not comfort external powers, still worried of a weak country that could easily become a fertile terrain for Soviet backed operation or Marxist guerrilla fighters, as demonstrated by Che Guevara’s attempt in 1965. In this optic Mobutu’s rise to power corresponded to the logic of the Cold War to appease a brutal and questionable ruler, but effective in being a bastion against communism. Joseph Mobutu seized power in 1965, crushing internal rebellions, unifying the nation and renaming the country Zaire and himself Mobutu Sese Seko, Katanga became Shaba and the river Congo became the River Zaire. Mobutu’s Zaire was, along with the white minority rule states of South Africa and Southern Rhodesia, a stronghold in counterattacking the Marxist liberation movements of MPLA in Angola, FRELIMO in Mozambique, ANC in South Africa and SWAPO in Namibia, while supporting the rivals UNITA and RENAMO, as well as obtaining US and Chinese support in anti-Soviet stance. Mobutu unchallenged power started to crumble in front of the crescent economic problems, but especially after 1990 due to the changed international scenario following the end of the Cold War. In 1993 rival pro and anti-Mobutu governments were created, but it will be 1994 the crucial year for the modern history of Congo-Zaire.
After Rwanda’s genocidal Hutu regime was overthrown, more than two million Hutus are thought to have fled into DR Congo fearing reprisals against them by the new Tutsi-dominated government. Among them were many responsible for the genocide. They quickly allied themselves with Mobutu’s government and began to attack DR Congo’s population of ethnic Tutsis. Rwanda’s Tutsi government started to back rival militias, fighting both the Hutu militias and pro Mobutu Congolese government troops. In May 1997 Tutsi and other anti-Mobutu rebels, aided principally by Rwanda, captured the capital, Kinshasa, and Zaire is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo with Laurent-Desire Kabila installed as president. But Kabila failed to expel the Hutu militia, as Rwanda was hoping, and Kigali organised a punitive measure to oust the president.
In August 1998 rebels, backed by Rwanda and Uganda, rose up against Kabila and advanced on Kinshasa after capturing much of east DR Congo. Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola sent troops to repel them and assist Kabila. The war, that will last five years, has been named the First World African War. During the five years’ war, President Kabila is assassinated by a bodyguard in January 2001, and succeeded by his son Joseph. The UN Security Council authorised a 5,500 strong UN force to monitor a ceasefire signed in 1999 in Lusaka, but fighting continued between rebels, once former allies, Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) supported by Uganda and Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) backed by Rwanda, between rebels and government forces, and between Rwandan and Ugandan forces. Only in 2003 the war ended when the last Ugandan troops left DRC. The peace deal signed in South Africa between the Kinshasa government and main rebel groups gave to their commanders and opposition members portfolios in an interim government.
After the war, DRC struggled to find peace, threatened by continuous military rebellions and rebels attacks. In 2004 and 2011 reported coups failed in Kinshasa, while in the east fighting between the Congolese army and renegade soldiers from a former pro-Rwanda rebel group started evolving in the birth of the M23 rebellion.
The DRC Puzzle: Internal Deficiencies and External Influences
Congolese army victory can find explanations on both military and political basis. The army after the embarrassing Goma’s defeat by M23 rebels, was reorganised by Kabila in an attempt to bring discipline and organisation to a fighting force that has always been identified with poor training, corruption and disorganisation. The army has often been accused of atrocities not less serious than the ones committed by rebel groups, undermined by mutinies and rebellions based on ethnic lines or money allegiances. Kabila’s efforts seems to have brought some fruits as no abuses have been reported in the recent campaign and valuable, if not decisive, was the support from the UN forces. However, now that victory has been achieved over the M23 rebels, the question mark is whether DRC will be able to crush the other groups that still operate in eastern Congo. The government lacks founds, equipment and resources to ensure a bright future without selling out its rich materials to the next “friend”. The UN assistance shows that the Congolese army desperately needs support from a well-trained force, and that its presence represents also the best control over abuses committed by Congolese soldiers. Kabila will need to ensure therefore that the army not only will be equipped but also disciplined to avoid that human rights abuses can offer any further reason for external interventions. Beside the purely military operations, Kabila will need to strengthen his political weight and strategy; in the past we assisted to rebellions being crushed and followed by general amnesties that lead to rebel commanders reorganising their armies or planning coup d’états. Kabila will need to balance government’s response as to ensure that rebels should be protected when they had disarmed, but those guilty of serious crimes should not be given an amnesty. In this optic it is crucial the cooperation of the Congolese government with the International Criminal Court as a mean of legitimization and justice towards the victims of warlords.
The UN forces shared with the Congolese government the shame of leaving Goma without defences, powerless in assisting crimes and violations not only by M23, but with a long history of overlooks in the years of instability of DRC. The UN peacekeeping mission has been in DR Congo since 1999, at the time of the First World African War, and it is one of the biggest peacekeeping operations in the world, with almost 20,000 personnel on the ground. Its mandate is to protect civilians, help with the reconstruction of the country, assist the democratic process in organising elections and has launched military operations against various rebel groups. Nevertheless, UN has been accused of inability in containing the violence and protect civilians from human rights abuses. In 2009 a report by UN-commissioned experts acknowledge these accusations, with rebels continuing to kill and plunder natural resources with impunity, supported by criminal organisations in Africa, Western Europe and North America. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused the UN of becoming complicit in atrocities against civilians citing the example of August 2010, when the UN force was accused of not doing enough to stop the rape of more than 150 women and children within miles of their base near Luvungi. To reflect a change on its status, the UN force changed its name from the UN Organisation Mission in DR Congo, known as MONUC, to the UN Organisation Stabilisation Mission, MONUSCO. This led the UN forces to back actively the Congolese army with tanks and helicopters in attacking rebel bases as well as increasing operations of surveillance. It is expected that the UN mission will soon have drones that will offer better insight into rebel movements and arms supplies.
Along military and logistic advantages, the Congolese government knows that its rich resources make DRC the centre of appetites from different countries, African and non. Rwanda and Uganda have been identified as the two major players in this saga. UN investigators and Congolese officials have accused Rwanda and Uganda of supporting the M23 and other rebel groups. Both governments deny the allegations. Both countries have helped the rebellion that ultimately led to Mobutu’s regime collapse, but soon after, although for different reasons, they turned against Kinshasa.
Uganda has been often accused of supporting rebels to achieve resources and control east Congo, sometimes taking as justification actions to chase Lord’s Resistance Army rebels seeking refuge across the border with DRC. Uganda for example was the last country to leave DRC following the peace plan after the five years war in 2003; nevertheless the mood seems to have changed in recent years following Kampala’s offer in hosting talks between Kinshasa and the M23 as well as joint military operations to destroy LRA rebel bases in Congo.
But if Uganda seems to be a problem on a way to solution, it is the small Rwandan Tutsi government that rise concerns, being the most powerful and directly interested in DRC dynamics. Like Uganda, Rwanda has supported the overthrow of Mobutu, mostly for chasing the remnants of Hutu militias responsible for genocide. Kigali strategy was to install a friendly government in Kinshasa to block and wipe out the Hutu army known as FDLR. Since the war in 1998, this has been the main reason advocated by Rwanda for any direct military intervention or indirect backing of Tutsi rebellions in DRC to undermine and pressure Kinshasa government for a more effective stance against Hutu rebels. The M23, for example, has been widely speculated to be financed and armed by Rwanda and, although Kigali denies, UN, DRC and International Criminal Court acknowledge this involvement. But a question arises, why then M23 have been defeated in such short time if they enjoyed this support? Having considered the military operations led by DRC and UN, it is without doubt that Kigali stepped down its supports to the group. On one side this has always been part of Rwanda’s strategy: alternating strong pressure on DRC and offer assistance to ease rebellions. Often this overture has played a twofold strategy: a propaganda measure to distance Kigali’s government from the international outcry for supporting barbarous warlords and also to blackmail Kinshasa in acting more decisively against FDLR. Taking into account the above, still there is another reason that led to Rwanda’s change towards M23 rebels: US role. In the past US military gave greater support to Paul Kagame regime, especially when Kabila during the war in 1998-2003 called in troops from Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe, all countries that had no friendly relations with Washington during their independence struggle and clashed against white minority rule governments. However, in recent years the US have changed policy: they are seeking to cultivate relations with Angola; Zimbabwe seems to have been abandoned from their agenda, as Mugabe is more interested in staying attached to his power rather than pursue military adventures; international pressure versus Tutsi militias made difficult to justify Rwanda backing now that collusion and support have been uncovered. The US has since withdrawn that military support, accusing Kigali of backing the M23 rebels, believed to use child soldiers and being responsible for atrocities.
Ultimately it is clear that if Kabila and DR Congo wish to bring to an end this long history of blood, the moment could not have been more favourable. Nevertheless, the Congolese government will need to act decisively in sorting its armed forces to transform them in a loyal and reliable force. The task is not easy for a country destroyed by years of conflicts, and in a continent where it is not unusual to see armies defecting or rebelling. DRC share the common malaise of governments being “hostages” of their own armies, and similarity can be seen with another giant, Nigeria. Both countries have an ethnic and religious diversity that often has been source of conflict and clashes manipulated by politicians or military sectors. However, Nigeria has a strong military apparatus that maintained a sort of unity along the years, preferring to occupy the political scene by coups and accusing politicians to be destroyer of the harmony and peaceful coexistence between tribes. DR Congo instead appears on the other side of the spectrum, with on one hand an army incapable of loyalty and constantly split by the whims of unsatisfied commanders and on the other with a central government powerless in controlling the territory. Kinshasa will need in addition to sort the other rebel groups, starting from the FDLR, as the only way to pacify the country, and eliminate any interference from Rwanda and other neighbouring countries. It is this double dimension, government-military relation and internal security that could unlock the situation; however, until now it has been like the dog who bites its tail.
On 1 October 2013, South Korea held an impressive military parade to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the founding of its armed forces, seen by many as a visible warning to deter provocations from North Korea. During the parade, South Korea publicly displayed for the first time newly locally-developed cruise missiles: the Hyunmoo-2, with a range of 500 kilometres, and the Hyunmoo-3, with a range of 1,000 kilometres.
Hyunmoo: Building South Korea Response to the North
Hyunmoo (Hangul: 현무, literally means “Guardian of the Northern Sky“) refers to a series of missiles developed and deployed by South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development. The origin of the ballistic programme for these series can be traced to 1982, when it was first successfully tested.
The programme however did not developed swiftly due to internal political issues and US interference in keeping under control the process, and during the 90’s was almost abandoned. However, a new era started in 2000 and the programme resumed mainly due to the North Korean increased hostility.
The new Hyunmoo missiles were slightly different from the original project, although developed from them, and classed as improved versions of Nike Hercules surface-to-air missiles in response to North Korea’s Scud-B and Nodong-1 missiles. The Nike Hercules-based missiles had a range of only 180-300 kilometres, but with increased speed for a fast response.
The programme, along with the tests, accelerated from 2003 when South Korea reported to the US the wish to proceed with the development of a cruise missile programme. The new programme developed a land-attack missile codenamed Cheon Ryong (Sky Dragon) or Hyunmoo, with the first test on 25 October 2006. The new test series included a missile called “Eagle-1” or Hyunmoo 3A, with a range of 500 kilometres, and an “Eagle-2” or Hyunmoo 3B, with a range of 1,000 kilometres. A third model, called Hyunmoo 3C or “Eagle-3“, would be capable of striking its target up to 1,500 kilometres away. In 2009, the Hyunmoo series was upgraded with the versions 2A and 2B capable of a range of 300 and 500 Km, and the series 3A and 3B with a range of 500 and 1000 km.
The last stage of development came in April 2012 when South Korean army Major General Shin Won-sik, announced that South Korea was deploying a new cruise missile capable of hitting targets anywhere in North Korea. It is widely considered that General Shin was referring to the Hyunmoo 3C with a range estimated in 1,000-1500 km. This new cruise missile was recently unveiled, named Hyunmoo-3, it is very similar to the American Tomahawk and has an increased range of 1,500 km.
Hyunmoo Missiles (Model, Range and Derivation)
Hyunmoo-1, 180 km, modified Baekgom
Hyunmoo-2A, 300 km, modified Hyunmoo-1 and SS-21
Hyunmoo-2B, 500 km, modified Hyunmoo-2A
Hyunmoo-3A, 500 km
Hyunmoo-3B, 1,000 km, modified Hyunmoo-3A
Hyunmoo-3C, 1,500 km, modified Hyunmoo-3B
Analysis: A Message Beyond Pyongyang
South Korea had joined the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in 2001, but this did not prohibit members from producing such missiles. The agreement with the US prior to 2001 prevented South Korea from developing weapons of mass destruction, and they never agreed to the development of long-range missiles. The US policy had generally been cautious in avoiding an escalation in the peninsula and tried to keep South Korean defences as strong as a possible instead. However, it is now clear that not only the South Koreans developed these missiles in contrast with the US, but also that these are not a defensive measure. The new missile is able to reach not only North Korea but also Japan, China and Russia. Therefore a question arises, what is the real message and significance of the South Korean move?
South Korea’s display of power represents a clear signal that tensions in the Korean peninsula are only dormant and in first instance it is clear the message sent to Pyongyang: South Korea has the capability to develop an indigenous ballistic technology, and it is also capable to defend itself. Often North Korea claimed its advantage on the basis of the superior ballistic armament and a nationalist pride in producing these weapons with local engineering. One of main accusations from the Stalinist regime is to depict South Korea and Japan as “stooges of the American imperialism”, two puppets unable to defend themselves without Washington support. This parade was therefore a signal to Pyongyang that a power display is not an exclusive Kim’s dynasty mark, and that Seoul will respond accordingly to any threat from the North.
Nevertheless, there is more than a North Korean counter-propaganda display, as it also signals a change in US policy towards South Korea. It represents an “all clear” from Washington to the development of new armaments and it is a message that South Korea can also strike the North without US intervention. It seems that this “koreanisation” of the issue, by shifting towards an intra-Korean armament race, will also highlight the dangers that will inevitably arise at next tension between the two Korea. An armament race will endanger, instead of stabilise, the peninsula and whilst North Korea will not renounce in building its nuclear deterrent, the risk is that South Korean steps toward a ballistic counterbalance will increase the risk of confrontation, therefore making nearly impossible the task of demilitarisation. If we add that skirmishes and military incident are not uncommon, mostly due to Pyongyang’s recklessness, the South renewed power could back fire by escalating a conflict of disastrous consequences.
Nonetheless, the new display inevitably has also a third dimension: anger indirectly the other main power in the dispute, China. Although China is the main ally of North Korea, and it is clear that it will not certainly risk a war for the “tantrums” of this unhappy child, it is also true that Beijing sees the Asian-Pacific area as its sphere of influence. An increasing American interest and military building has been noted in recent years. This has been done in two ways: direct shifting of military resources and strengthening traditional allies. The US have clearly appeased all countries involved in the South China Sea, by strengthening their military forces: Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Philippines. This latest move by Seoul it is also a message to China that Washington is acting behind the scene by building a powerful containment that from Japan links to South East Asia, where recent changes in US policy lead to renewed talks with Vietnam and further than this area, with Chinese arch-enemy India.
The Hyunmoo, by including Pyongyang within range, it has also the effect to attract a wider area that inevitably demonstrate that the Korean peninsula is a stage of a much larger battlefield involving several powers that could erupt in the near future.
The recent US-Russia plan on Syria chemical weapons, approved unanimously at the UN Security Council, has been hailed as a step forward in the resolution of this bloody civil war and at the same time as a milestone of international diplomacy. In reality what represent this plan? Is it really a convergence on a humanitarian and security issue? At a closer look the plan represent a “system restore” to the logic of equilibrium of powers and a return to the superpowers balance since the end of the Cold War.
In restoring this configuration contributed many factors: from military to security reasons, from international diplomacy to national interests, from wrong calculations to crude real politik; however, this could not have happened without the two major powers involvement: US and Russia. If the American duo Obama/Kerry played the card of a military threat and at the same leaving ajar the door for Russian proposals, on the other the duo Putin/Lavrov was the one who forced the system restore.
Russian Rebuilding: A Putin’s Legacy
Since Putin made his appearance in the international scenario in 1999, Russian role has changed dramatically, from the anarchy and passive stance of the Yeltsin years to the aggressive and old soviet rhetoric of recent ones. The Balkans Wars, which culminated with the bombing of Yugoslavia following the Kosovo War, were the last time Russia accepted passively a western influence and action with disregard for Russian interests. Russia was at the time a country rebuilding itself, militarily and economically, relegated in the international scenario to a role of an old and prestigious power but without any real and serious challenge to put forward. Putin reconstructed Russian forces slowly and today is again a powerful military machine, a strong economic state and has a substantial influence in international politics. If the war on terror, that culminated with US invasion in Afghanistan and Iraq, was condemned in part by Putin, on the other offer to him the possibility to liquidate on the same basis the Chechen rebellion, and to keep the US “busy” in other areas. The turning point, when the passive Russia start to show the teeth, has been the 2008 Georgian War, following an ill pondered and miscalculated action by Georgian President Saakashvili that led to the Russian blitzkrieg. That was the first time, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, that Russian military forces were actively engaged in a major military operation.
The signal to the West was clear, however not really understood or undermined by many. Since then Putin’s action has been clearly designed in regaining Russian control of its vital space and avoid western influence: USAID operations in Russia have been closed and today is one of the major financer for different countries, plans for the missile shield in Eastern Europe forgotten. Nevertheless, if Libya was seen as a “mistake” or wrong calculation by Russia in abstaining at the UNSC, in reality Putin/Medvedev did not have, as everybody else, any interest in helping a discredited leader such Gaddafi. This position somewhat mislead the West in thinking that Russia will once again push over on the issue of Syria, that once challenged with western threat of military intervention, Russian voice although critic will never be followed by a real action. Today is well clear that this is not the case.
Putin/Lavrov: Challenge the US by Isolating Other Powers
Syria is not a formal Russian ally, but on the same time is a key area of interest due to; past links during the cold war, when Assad’s father Hafiz, the Lion of Damascus, was clearly armed and supported by the Kremlin; has a naval base in Tartus; with Iran, offer to Russia a strong influence in an area otherwise of strong American support.
It must be noted that Russia, as well as the US and the West, only use the humanitarian issue as a façade and in reality it is national interest and international power balance that seeks. The duo Putin/Lavrov know very well that losing Syria will exclude them from the East Mediterranean, will enhance US superiority and weaken other friendly states such Iran. But on the top of Putin’s agenda there was, and still remains, a point: restore the bilateral and direct control with the US, a return to the superpower balance of the past.
Putin/Lavrov’s actions followed some key events:
- Supported the UN and the necessity to block a rushed military intervention; they denounce openly US, UK and France for their action in violation of international law and in seeking to side-line once again the UN;
- Challenged US claims of Damascus responsibility in the chemical attack, asking for proof which to today are still waited; to ignore rebels responsibilities in similar attacks; to turn blind eyes on Al-Nusra actions in Kurdistan, where the Al-Qaida linked group has been accused of ethnic cleansing;
- UK and France have ben totally ignored and relegated by Putin/Lavrov, as they seek direct dialogue with the US only;
- A strong claim, maybe a bluff or not, to support militarily Syria in the event of a US attack;
- Obama’s strategy, that is more complex than thought, may have helped the Russians with their plan.
The above created the space for Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov as a skilled duo, a ruthless and hardliner the first with a diplomatic and mild character the second, in searching to regain the balance. They skilfully played the event of the G20 in Saint Petersburg to highlight the divisions within the organisation and at the same time to seek direct dialogue with the US by side-lining completely UK and France.
These two European powers, however, are not the only ones left at the window as the Chinese role is also seen differently. If China has been seen as Russian orientated in the UNSC, this was more for internal logic and non-internal interference policy rather than an ally posture. China, as Russia, judges as dangerous the American influence and especially in the Pacific knows that the challenge will soon arise. For China keeping the US at bay is of fundamental importance and, whilst undermining their efforts in other areas of the world, at the same time they are not interested in challenging them in a stronger way. Whether this is a political calculation or a sign that China is not yet a superpower, a fact remain: Putin, when looking to re-establish a sort of Yalta configuration, also look not only to weaken UK and France but also the Chinese, as to maintain a preferential relation with the US seen as the main contender.
At this point we must ask, what about the US? Is Obama really defeated, some even said humiliated? Has the US policy been defeated by the duo Putin/Lavrov? In reality as said there is more than that.
Obama/Kerry Played a Dangerous but Ingenious Strategy
The duo Obama/Kerry, while on one side genuinely condemned the chemical attack actively promoting a strong response, were at the same time well aware of the dangers of a military intervention. Without UN backing, with public opinion still opposed to any other military adventure, NATO allies unsure or still loyal to a UN intervention and especially by the strong Russian reaction they were forced to change their strategy. The Americans, acting as any other Democratic administration, took their time, tried at first to seek a strong alliance that suddenly crumbled in front of the reality of a war with many obscure scenarios rather than secure victory. They had to resist the hawks in the US military establishment pushing for war and the usual arrogance of UK/France acting as they were still leaving in colonial time. In this we may spot not a weakness, but a sapient strategy that the duo Obama/Kerry has played: on one side the put clearly the military strike on the table, on the other rush the Russian to take a position. In other words, by resisting internal pressure for military intervention, they sought to make Russian position untenable in the long term, and pushing them to come out with a solution or show their absence of strategy. This was a risky game as leaving the hot issue in Russian hands could have well ended with their inability to offer a way out, then leaving at the same time the US without any other cards to play other than a military intervention. So, a question arises, were Putin and Lavrov the only masterminds behind this system restore or there was also a convergent US action?
The vote at the UNSC, with all members is favour of the plan, hailed as a triumph of diplomacy signalled most likely the starting point were the two powers will cooperate, openly or secretly, to restore a mutual control to guarantee stability in some areas of the world. Nevertheless, we need to remember that if this is a system restore to a Cold War configuration, the interests on the table still remain the same: political and national pride, security and influence. The problem with this vision is that countries and people will be once again seen by Washington and the Kremlin as checkers in a chessboard, and where often the outcome of their actions will not result in welfare for the population. At the same time it is undeniable that this could avoid major military confrontations, keep down tones and avoid “adventures”, and although small skirmishes and contained conflicts will still happen, this will be part of a strategy to weaken and challenge the adversary. If the above policy is under way, then the spectacular and, for many, unexpected Iranian availability to discuss with the US its nuclear programme could be the result of a strategy expected in Washington and Moscow.
On 11 September 1973 a military coup put an end to the democratic elected government of Salvador Allende, beginning one of the most brutal dictatorships ever known, and including Chile into a complex system of military governments and covered actions which culminated in the Operacion Condor.
Chile was a democratic country that, unlike other Latin American neighbours, had always known a military apparatus devoted to the establishment and compliant with the law. When Unidad Popular won the elections in 1970, and Allende became president, there was hope that finally a project of socialist reform could also be achieved through the normal constitutional channels and not just with a revolution.
Those plans, however, were not accepted in Washington, which saw Chile as the new “red menace”, a cancer to be eradicated and in a way to make it an example to anyone who dared to follow in its footsteps.
The involvement of the CIA is proved by documents and files decrypted that confirm what we already knew: the coup had its legitimation from the President Nixon and the National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, the future Nobel Peace Prize.
The overthrow of a government by the military is in itself an illegal act , but disconcerting was the total brutality of the coup : the bombing of La Moneda , free slander, the murderous intention to eliminate the President, the thousands of prisoners in the stadium of Santiago, the desaparecidos.
The perpetrator was General Augusto Pinochet, a military on which Allende put his trust, in reality a hitman to carry out the death sentence of democratic Chile. Despite President Allende committed suicide, as confirmed by the recent autopsy, his future was already marked: Pinochet admitted that if captured alive he would have been taken on board of a plane with his family and then shot down in flight.
The horrors that followed that day were several times described by thousands of prisoners and families of the victims, torture, inhuman and brutal acts that literally made shocked the conscience of anyone who can be called a human being.
All this has been done by the military under the command of Augusto Pinochet, who has not spent a night in jail. Arrested in London in 2000, he was released for “poor health”, before landing in Santiago and miraculously get up from the wheelchair. It was yet another demonstration of the arrogance of a man who had killed once again family members and survivors of his regime. At his death, Pinochet was accused of the following: human rights violations, corruption, political assassinations, state terrorism, drugs and weapons trafficking, weapons proliferation, political conspiracy designed to facilitate the capture of political opponents in foreign countries.
Villa Grimaldi, DINA, Operacion Condor, Caravan of Death, were all pieces of a sophisticated system of execution, torture, kidnapping, murder that received directly or not a cover by President Nixon , Kissinger and the successive American administrations. The blood of those people can not be forgotten, and forty years on we remember that 11th September, because as the other most famous 11th, the total disrespect for life it is not the result of insane or wicked people, but the wise and macabre act of some who do not hesitate to sacrifice innocent people to achieve their dirty business.
This article follows the footsteps of the revelations contained on the recent declassification CIA reports which are available online. In memory of Salvador Allende, Pablo Neruda, the over 3,000 desaparecidos, the thousands of detainees being tortured, their families, the ones forced into exile, the Chilean people, the supporters of Unidad Popular, the victims of the Operacion Condor in Chile and Latin America.
The theory of counterinsurgency was elaborated after the WWII, mainly as a response to the victory of the Chinese Communist revolution in 1949, which had indicated that, from a military point of view, the guerrillas played a key strategic role in the conquest of power. For this reason U.S. military began to theorize that the only way to defeat the guerrilla was to think and act like them. Since the USSR had begun its efforts in support of national liberation movements in the sixties, the U.S. military began to develop plans that included “not conventional operations” even without the consent of the host countries. The communist activities were contrasted with any means, putting pressure on allied governments. The new strategy was effectively summed up in the directives of General Westmoreland: it was explained to the soldiers how to counter enemies “on the field “, how to use terrorism and infiltration to favour destabilization, control the armed forces and the governments of the host countries.
Between 1960 and 1975, in areas under direct or indirect control of the U.S., occurred dozens of attempted coups with the direct or indirect support of the CIA and local intelligences. The Cuban revolution, and the emergence of communist parties in Latin America, had brought the Cold War in the Western Hemisphere. After Allende’s victory in the presidential elections of 4 September 1970, it was common belief that his presidency would have seriously affected US national interests.
The efforts made in order to support the anti-communist forces in Chile, dated back to the late ‘50s, and reflected the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union to impose their influence throughout the Third World. The growing strength of the Chilean left, together with the constant fragmentation of the conservative and moderate parties became, over the years ’60 and ’70, the subject of increasing concern to the United States.
According to the report of the Church Committee, at their meeting of 15 September 1970 with CIA Director Richard Helms and the secretary of the Justice John Mitchell, President Nixon and his National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger ordered the CIA to prevent the rise to power of Allende. In addition to political action, according to the notes of Helms, Nixon and Kissinger ordered to take measures to “make the economy shout in pain“.
After the assumption of power by Pinochet, important members of the US government seemed reluctant to criticize human rights violations. The assistance and military sales from the U.S. increased considerably during the years in which occurred the most serious violations of human rights. According to a “Memorandum of conversation” In June 1976, Kissinger made it known to Pinochet that the U.S. government was well disposed towards his regime, while advising him to do
something on the subject of human rights in order to improve the image of Chile at the Congress of the United States.
The CIA report on the coup in Chile, is the most effective implementation of those plans, where the struggle against communism represented a justification for each type of operation and for supporting those dictatorial regimes which, while not guaranteeing “freedom and democracy”, were nevertheless useful to achieve the objectives, as it has happened for decades in Latin America.
Period 1962-1970: Countering the Rise of Unidad Popular
In 1962, the CIA was authorized to carry out activities under coverage in support of the Radical Party and the Christian Democratic Party. These programs were designed to:
- Help those parties to achieve greater result and improve their organization and effectiveness.
- Cause a split in the Socialist Party.
- Propaganda aimed at media support which consisted in funding and advice some elements recruited within well-defined radio stations and newspapers in Chile.
In anticipation of the 1964 presidential election, on April 2, the Committee 303 approved a campaign of political action in order to prevent Salvador Allende’s victory, the candidate of the left. The main beneficiary of these efforts was Eduardo Frei, the Christian Democratic Party leader. At the time of the election, the Committee had authorized a total expenditure of $ 3 million. The victory of Frei, on 4 September 1964 represented a milestone in the CIA efforts.
On 5 February 1965, the Committee 303 approved another secret campaign directed to support, at the parliamentary elections on 7 March, some chosen candidates. This campaign was designed and carried out in collaboration with the U.S. ambassador to Chile and successfully completed by 30 June.
In 1965-66, propaganda efforts aimed to support the Chilean media as to influence public opinion against the parties and the candidates of the left, and against the presence of Soviet agents in the country.
Between 1968 and 1969, under President Frei, the Chilean left, however, managed to obtain certain advantages, which led the CIA to carry out more propaganda operations aimed at influencing the Chilean media. In July 1968, the Committee 303 approved a modest program of secret activities with the purpose of influencing the composition of the Chilean Parliament in the elections of March 1969. Although the results were to be considered a success for the operation, both the extreme right and the extreme left gained seats, polarizing further the Chilean political scene. The losers were Frei and his moderate candidates.
In the presidential elections of 1970, Allende was the most popular candidate of the coalition Unidad Popular (UP). The Committee 40 (which replaced the 303) ordered the CIA to limit itself to attack the coalition with the aim to divide the left and create the conditions to avoid the victory of a Marxist.
On 27 June 1970 the Committee received instructions in order to concentrate specifically against the candidature of Allende. The aim was to warn the people of Chile against the dangers of a Marxist regime under the leadership of Allende. However, in spite of the increase in funding was now clear that the operations of disturbance were not sorting the desired effect: UP had earned a wider support as to make Allende the likely winner candidate. The concerns in the Nixon administration led to a secret initiative to develop two more aggressive plans, which were developed simultaneously:
Option I: A program of political action provided that the embassy and the CIA base exercised their influence on the Chilean Parliament to vote for Alessandri, despite Allende had won a slightly higher popular vote. The idea was that the parliament elects President Alessandri, and then he would have resigned, thus allowing Frei to be the candidate against Allende in a new round of elections.
Option II: The CIA was studying the possibility of organizing an intervention of the Chilean military. On September 9, the “base” received instructions from headquarters, which ordered to establish a direct contact with Chilean officers in order to evaluate the possibility of a coup, in the event that it was decided for this solution.
On 15 September, President Nixon ordered the CIA to prevent Allende assumption of power, or to depose him, and allocated for the purpose 10 million dollars. The President specified that the action was to be carried out by the CIA, without communication to the Departments of State and Defense, or the U.S. ambassador in Chile. Responding to the orders , the CIA undertook a series of actions, including contact with the military of a foreign government to request opinion , propaganda against UP through major newspapers , such as El Mercurio, contacts with civilian Catholic groups and with the Chilean church authorities to influence the attitude of the Church against Allende. Frei was urged to use his influence with the military to encourage officers to consider the possibility of forming a new government before the parliament elect Allende President.
When, towards the end of September, it was now clear that Frei would not be able to change the course of the events, the planning of Option II intensified. Between 5 and 20 October, the “base” organized numerous contacts with high military officers and the Carabineros (national police), to convince them to organize a coup. Four CIA officials were sent to meet secretly and unofficially with the Chilean military actively involved in the machinations of a coup. However, Option II was shelved following the assassination of the Commander in Chief of the Army, Schneider, whose death provoked a strong reaction in Chile.
The assassination of Schneider
The U.S. government and the CIA agreed on the assessment made by Chilean officers that the abduction of General Rene Schneider, Commander of the Chilean Army in September 1970, was a key step in any coup plan. However, the documents analysed do not reveal any information that indicate an intention of the conspirators, or the CIA, to kill the general during the kidnapping.
Schneider was a staunch supporter of the Chilean constitution, and an obstacle to the military leaders favourable to a coup to prevent Allende assuming power. The retired General of the Army Roberto Viaux was one of the main conspirators, enjoyed the support of young officers and was also the head of several right wing groups. The CIA, after receiving the order to examine the possibility of a coup to prevent Allende from taking power, sent an official to contact Viaux on October 9, 1970. After a second meeting, the “base” in Washington reported his demand for guns , tear gas and other supplies as well as an insurance policy on his life. After having studied the proposal of Viaux, the headquarters of the CIA came to the conclusion that his group had no chance to successfully complete a coup.
The representative of Viaux said that the coup was planned on 21 and 22 October, and that the first step would be the kidnapping of General Schneider. The “base” did not believe in the plan, both because the CIA had no information that would substantiate the conditions, and because the group of Viaux had a history of false starts. On October 22, the group of Viaux, which was now acting independently from the CIA, made an attempt to kidnap General Schneider, which led to his murder. The death of Schneider alienated the armed forces and civilians in favour of the coup, and plans for military action were set aside.
In November 1970, a member of the Viaux group escaped capture and returned to get in touch with the CIA, requesting financial assistance in name of the group. Although the Agency had no obligation towards them, since the group had acted independently, it provided $ 35,000 in order to keep secret the previous contacts and maintain the good disposition of the group.
The beginning of the Allende presidency
The parliament passed the electoral victory of Allende by a wide margin (153 to 35) on October 24. In the wake of the settlement of Allende, 3 November 1970 the long-term goal of the U.S. government became that of provide the funds and influence the opposition with the hope that he could defeat Allende in the elections of 1976.
In the period 1971-72, the CIA carried out covert actions aimed at a new renew support for the Christian Democratic Party, the National Party and the Radical Democratic Party. The CIA also continued to gather information on the officers of the Chilean armed forces that actively opposed Allende’s government, but was not undertaken any action to help them. When towards the end of 1972 there was an escalation of rumours about projects for a coup, the CIA was very cautious in all its dealings with officers of the Chilean Armed Forces, while continuing to follow their activities. Within the U.S. government the general opinion was that the military intended to do a coup, which would not have needed the support the United States to succeed, and that it was important to avoid any intervention or assistance to that coup.
On 21 August 1973 the Committee 40 approved an additional sum of 1 million dollars intended to support the opposition parties, bringing the secret funding during the Allende period to approximately $ 6.5 million.
Towards the end of August, the “base” requested permission to provide maximum support to the efforts of the opposition to encourage the entry of the Chilean military in the cabinet of Allende. The resignation of the Commanding General of the Army, Carlos Prats (a constitutional), and its replacement with General Augusto Pinochet (not a conspirator, but apparently willing to accept a coup), seemed to have further strengthened the union between the armed forces.
The “base”, realizing that the objectives of the opposition had developed to a point that contrasted with the U.S. policy of then, asked Washington for permission to support that aggressive attitude. The U.S. ambassador to Chile shared the idea that Washington should review its policy, but did not join the proposal of the “Base”, fearing that it could lead to the facto involvement of the United States in the coup. The headquarters of the CIA responded to the “base” that there was not to be any kind of involvement with the military in any initiative because there was no intention to instigate a military coup.
The September 10, 1973, the day before the coup that ended the government Allende, an officer of the Chilean armed forces informed an official of the CIA that he was planning a coup, and asked the assistance of the U.S. government. He was told that the U.S. government has not provided any assistance because it was considered an exclusively an internal matter. The CIA was aware of the exact date of the coup shortly before this occurred.
The new military junta in Chile – Army General Augusto Pinochet , Air Force General Gustavo Leigh , Admiral of the Navy José Merino and the head of the Carabineros General César Mendoza – swore in the evening September 11, 1973. The next day, the four drew up a document which established the council as the supreme power in Chile: Pinochet was appointed first president, and the four agreed verbally on the rotation.
The council established an advisory committee, which Pinochet was able to form with Army officers loyal to him and one of their first recommendations was to shelve the idea of a rotation to the presidency, arguing that would create too many administrative problems and considerable confusion. In March of 1974, Pinochet launched a verbal attack against the Christian Democratic Party, and declared that there was no defined timetable for the return of a civilian government. On 18 December 1974, Pinochet was appointed supreme leader of the nation.
The secret plans of the CIA in Chile ended officially in the month of June 1974 and the payments ceased. During the greater part of that period, the CIA did not have any authority to carry out covert actions in Chile.
Human rights violations committed by officers, undercover agents or employees of the CIA
In January ‘74, the CIA sent out a directive to all employees gathering information as to the clandestine torture in Chile. This message to the staff ordered the CIA to work with all agents and
channels of influence available in order to induce the Chilean government to modify the repressive measures, and in particular to eliminate the use of torture. The CIA actively made use of their contacts, particularly with those service members known for their human rights violations, stressing that such abuses were harmful to the government’s credibility within their own countries , as well as damaging his reputation internationally and unacceptable for the U.S. government . In some cases, these contacts have allowed the CIA to obtain information on violations of human rights which otherwise would not be aware of.
Considering the wide variety and nature of contacts of the CIA in Chile, the human rights issue was addressed in several ways, along those years. A few examples:
- Before the coup in 1973, human rights issues were never discussed with contacts or in intelligence reports.
- A contact of the CIA had been implicated in an abortive attempted coup on 29 June 1973, and another was involved in the coup, successful, on 11 September 1973.
- In October 1973, the CIA received reliable information indicating that a high degree contact was involved in some specific violations of human rights and the contact was interrupted.
- Although the CIA had received information that suggested that one of his high- contact degree was a hardliner and therefore could be involved in violations of human rights, the contacts were maintained in the absence of more precise information.
- CIA maintained indirect contact with a source who was in close contact with perpetrators of human rights violations. There was no evidence that this source was involved in such abuse, but it certainly was aware of these practices. The informative on the contact was not sufficiently important to advise its interruption.
- In more than one occasion, in the light of membership services and position of the same contact, it seemed likely that they knew or at least covered up abuses against human rights. However, since such contacts allow the CIA to carry out its mission of gathering information and maintain an open channel through which to express concerns about violations human rights, the contacts were maintained.
- The information about violations of human rights by the CIA contacts of that period and earlier, were communicated to politicians and intelligence services.
Throughout the period following the coup, the CIA has collected and communicated to the services and to the Government, extensive information about the issue of human rights in Chile. Some of these informations came from contacts of different backgrounds. In the days and months immediately following the 1973 coup, the CIA provided extensive information on what the government called “activities necessary to restore order”. There were reports widely divergent about the number of people killed and arrested. The reports of the CIA confirmed that the military were deliberately hiding precise figures, or the various opinions within the military junta in regards to whether or not to submit to summary justice extremists and subversives, or to afford them a fair process. There were also extensive informations on:
- The application of ”military justice” to civilian detainees, and the types of punishment to which probably they would have been subjected;
- Site of prison camps and the names of some specific people they hold, including the fact that some of these locations were secret;
- Attempts of some elements of the left to leave the country and seek asylum in foreign embassies;
- Effects of the government repression and on the capacity and efforts of the left to reorganise its ranks.
The CIA also received information on the “Plan Z”, which was said to have been prepared by the Unidad Popular which aims to assassinate some important politicians and soldiers who opposed the leftist agenda. When emerged for the first time the suspicion of the existence of the “Plan Z”, the CIA did note that it was probably disinformation manipulated by the junta in order to improve its image and justify its activity.
The CIA reports on human rights violations by the junta brought to light:
- 15 September 1973, a few days after the coup, the CIA reported that some units of the Chilean security were proceeding to questions suspected opponents in an extremely severe manner.
- A report of 22 September stated that the prisoners at the National Stadium were treated very harshly.
- September 28, the CIA informed that in the river Mapocho had been found 27 corpses, some of them with obvious signs of torture and mutilation.
- October 9, the CIA reported that some Soviet technicians in Chile, not members of the diplomatic mission, had been repeatedly threatened and verbally abused, and some of them processed after they had been beaten or injured.
- October 25, the CIA informed that General Sergio Arellano Stark had given instructions that led to the summary execution of 21 political prisoners.
- November 3, the CIA noted that despite a government decree which put an end to executions, in the canal San Carlos had been found 20 bodies killed by firearms.
- 12 November, the CIA was informed about the concerns within the Christian Democrats about violations of human rights.
- January 18, 1974 the CIA stated that members of all Chilean political formations were weighing the possibility to present the issue of government abuses against human rights to the attention of the United Nations Commission for Human Rights. It was clear that the circular of the Chilean government, issued on 17 January 1974, that prohibited torture and provided instructions for the treatment of prisoners, it was just a ploy of public relations.
- The CIA reports indicated that the Chilean security forces did not comply, and probably would not have ever done what stated policy in the Circular.
The review of the CIA files has produced no evidence that officers or employees of the CIA have ever been involved in violations of human rights or the coverage of these abuses in Chile. However, some clandestine contacts of the CIA were involved in human rights abuses. These were clandestine contacts from the military, intelligence and security forces, to gather information in order to implement the secret activities. There’s no doubt that some of those contacts have been actively involved in the execution and coverage of serious human rights abuses.
The attack on La Moneda dialogue
The attack on La Moneda minute by minute, on 11 September 1973 Pinochet is in radio contact with Admiral Patricio Carvajal; here passages of their dialogue:
Carvajal: “I just spoke with Dominguez, the superintendent of the Navy, and Allende is La Moneda. He says that the President will agree to surrender only if the three commanders -in-chief will go to La Moneda”.
Pinochet: “You know that the guy is smart. He must do the reverse. If he wants to surrender, he must surrender to the three commanders -in-chief of the armed forces “.
Carvajal: “Now I have spoken personally with him. I have ordered the surrender, he replied with a series of insults”.
Pinochet: “It means that at 11 we send them to the air, they will see what we can do “.
Carvajal: “We need to evacuate the staff of La Moneda so it will be easier to attack it “.
Pinochet: “After the bombing, we assault with those of the School of Infantry. We must say that the armed forces are not against the people, but against the famine that was caused by the Marxist government of Mr. Allende, against the queues for bread, against poverty … “
Pinochet: “There are reactions from Moneda?”
Carvajal: “The assistant naval comes from La Moneda and tells me that there were 50 Carabineros who are retiring and 50 Gap (Allende’s personal guard). He says that the president has a gun with 30 rounds and said that with the last one he will shoot himself to the head “.
Pinochet: “Anything else? That asshole will not shoot even on the verge of his pants. At 11 o’clock we must attack because that “cock ” does not give up “.
Carvajal: “We are already attacking with the infantry. We’re circling La Moneda, it will not take much time to take it “.
Pinochet: “His idea is to make us going to La Moneda, and then to lock ourselves in the basement … so nothing to do, for no reason. For now, do not stop attacking. Attack La Moneda. Strong. Surrender without conditions. No negotiation “.
Carvajal: “It remains the offer to take him out of the country?”
Pinochet: “We offer to leave … but the plane will fall in flight … (laughs)”.
Are leaving La Moneda some women, including two of the three daughters of Allende, Isabel and Beatriz.
Pinochet: “They want to earn time. We do not accept any negotiation. Unconditional surrender. All these groups of Negroes (…) all these greasy fat people who are destroying the country should be arrested and put on a plane. Without luggage, with only what are wearing “.
Carvajal: “They ask me to wait for a while to convince the President … “.
Pinochet: “Negative “.
Shortly after 11 four fighter jets bomb La Moneda.
Carvajal: “My General. La Moneda is completely surrounded”.
Pinochet: “President Allende is there?”
Carvajal: “I think the president Allende is located in La Moneda, or what is left of him. From La Moneda have phoned the former minister Flores and the secretary of Allende Osvaldo Puccio. They want to go out and we told them to go out with a white flag white “.
Pinochet: “My view is that these riders are to be taken and put on the plane. Let them go to any place … you can even shoot down the aircraft when they have left “.
Carvajal: “Our advisors (…) Fear that this man will be visiting all the socialist countries making muddying us “.
Pinochet: “We have been already muddied enough by this champion. He will continue and that’s it”.
Carvajal: “There is news (…). to avoid interceptions I will transmit in English: THEY SAY THAT ALLENDE COMMITTED SUICIDE AND IS NOW DEAD”.
Pinochet: “I understand “.
Carvajal: ” Augustus, concerning the plane for the family, it would not have more urgency now. There’s no hurry to take out the family”.
Pinochet: “They have to put him immediately on the plane with the family. The funeral must be done somewhere else, in Cuba. Otherwise we will have trouble. Even dying he has given us a lot of problems”.
The witness, a testimony from Patricia Verdugo
Patricia del Cármen Verdugo Aguirre (November 30, 1947 – January 13, 2008) was a Chilean journalist, writer and human rights activist. She focused much of her investigative reporting on the human rights abuses committed by the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.
“I have not talked about that Tuesday, September 11, 1973. I was unable to speak, but have since become a humble supporter of Allende. The announcers informed that the citizens could put flag at homes as a sign of support for the military coup, was imposed a curfew, while we were destroying all the documents, anything compromising that might refer to Marxism.
We were taught to respect the democracy, the Constitution and the laws. We were a country that prided itself to be ”poor but educated” to the point of having two Nobel prizes for Literature: Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda. The library was the most sacred places in the houses, a highly politicized country, where two -thirds of the citizens were of progressive views. The majority of citizens did not believe to the military coup, or they imagined a bloodless one. We did not know that the House White, President Nixon and his security adviser, Henry Kissinger, had decided that in Chile you had to shed a lot of blood. They had decided even before Allende assumed power to the point to send by diplomatic bag, in October 1970, the machine guns and the ammunition to eliminate the chief of Army Staff, General René Schneider, and the main obstacle to the coup. Many of the thousands of left wing executives, still attached to the idea of nation, when their names appeared in the lists of sought spread by the military, presented themselves voluntarily to the police station.
Were set up secret prisons, torture, bodies disappeared and entire families thrown into despair. Even several years after wives and mothers continued to wonder where were their loved ones are, left a window ajar at night, in case the husband or son would come back. They washed their clothes waiting for the return. An old peasant woman lost in one night four of her sons, arrested by the military.
My father was killed in July 1976, was arrested in his house and disappeared for two days. It was never known in which prison was detained, though his brother was a senior army officer. Then his body reappeared, with no papers, in the Mapocho River, which crosses Santiago. His name was Sergio Verdugo, engineer and president of the union of employees of the state enterprise that built schools. Militant in the Christian Democrats, was 50 years old. The crime was committed by the secret service of the Carabineros, and was executed because his work in defense of the rights of his
fellow workers had convinced them that he was a communist. They tortured him with the “submarine”, putting his head in a barrel of water until his death.
Carmen Vivanco in a few days lost husband, son, brother, sister in law and nephew. Her house became the Association of Relatives, active during the dictatorship thanks to the protection of the Vicariate of Solidarity of Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez. Estela Ortiz lost her father, who disappeared in 1976, a university professor and Communist Party member, and almost ten years after her husband José Manuel Parada was arrested and the beheaded corpse reappeared.
The story of Josefa and his father is one of the most ignoble. They were locked up in Villa Grimaldi, one of the secret prisons of the DINA, and tortured; Josefa was lying on a gynaecological bed, her long hair falling down from the head like a blonde waterfall. Her young naked white body seemed to light up the room. The legs were open and tied to the metal bars. The torturer applied electricity to her nipples and vagina. Since there it seemed like any of the thousands of descriptions recorded. But there was something more. Opposite to the girl, a chair. On the chair, a man tied. The bandage that covered his eyes had slipped on his throat. On the right side of the head, a gun. The man was forced to watch. And that man was Josefa’s father “.