October 8 2015
Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet personally commanded the assassination of a Chilean diplomat, who died in a car bomb in the U.S. capital Washington, D.C. in 1976, recently declassified intelligence documents reveal.
According to top-secret U.S. documents given to Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, on Tuesday in Santiago by the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, the general almost killed his own head of intelligence, Gen. Manuel Contreras, to cover his tracks.
Orlando Letelier, who had been loyal to ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende (photo), fled to the U.S. after being imprisoned and tortured during the 1973 coup. There, he worked at the Institute of Policy Studies.
Letelier’s son, Senator Juan Pablo Letelier, was shown the documents, and discovered a memo from the then-Secretary of State George Shultz, to President Ronald Reagan revealing their knowledge of the attack.
“ … there is a conclusive document from the CIA that shows Pinochet ordered the murder of my father. This is concrete information about how Pinochet covered up his responsibility,” he told The Guardian.
“In (Pinochet’s) predisposition to defend his position he planned to eliminate Manuel Contreras to keep him from talking,” Senator Letelier added an interview with the Mesa Central programme on Tele13 Radio.
The U.S. has long been acknowledged to have played a central role in Operation Condor, the right-wing wave of violence in Latin America that cracked down on dissenting voices. A further point of speculation is whether the CIA knew of the plan to kill Letelier, as other declassified documents indicate that Manuel Contreras received a payment by the U.S. agency before the bombing and remained in contact with high-ranking officials there.
As head of the DINA secret police — often referred to as Pinochet’s Gestapo — Contreras was responsible for the torture and murder of hundreds of people.
Today, most of his victims remain among Chile’s thousands of disappeared, their families condemned to perpetual grief in absentia by the inhumanity of military rule.
During Pinochet’s military dictatorship from 1973-1990, more than 3,000 people were killed or “disappeared,” and 38,000 tortured.
The Chilean government recently created a new military unit designated to aid the investigation of abuses committed during the regime and break the decades-long pacts of silence.
Chilean courts are currently investigating around 1,000 cases of kidnapping, killing and torture by regime agents, but the process is slow and painstaking.
Source: Declassified: Pinochet Ordered Assassination of Diplomat in US TeleSUR