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|“||They had to break the people - it has happened all over the world, not only in Chile.||„|
|~ Adriana Rivas, an aide to Manuel Contreras, describes DINA.|
DINA (Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional) was the secret police between 1974 and 1977 of the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile. They are arguably one of the most brutal and violent secret police forces to have ever existed, as they were renowned for their extreme sadism and brutal methods of torture. They were responsible for operating the concentration camps established by the Pinochet regime.
Under decree #521, the DINA had the power to detain any individual so long as there was a declared state of emergency. Such an administrative state characterized nearly the entire length of the Pinochet government. Torture and rape of detainees was common.
As of September 11, 1973, the military dictatorship worked with DINA to censor channels, newspapers, and radio transmissions that supported the Popular Socialist Union and supporters. A decree by the Junta established that all public information would have to be inspected and revised by the Junta before airing, and a couple days later an "Office of Censorship" was created to supervise all media. A lot of newspapers received their work back scribbled out with red ink.
Through coercion, murder, and kidnappings, television outlets masked the truth on the coup d'état as a plan by the military of Chile. Various international cable news networks were banned by DINA to prevent the news of the forced coup d'état by the military. Some international networks were convinced to lie by the Junta about social and political aspects of Chile.
The censorship breached particular homes and public services, and on September 23, 1973, DINA sent policemen to register households and institutions. They searched subversive evidence such as books by Pablo Neruda, articles on social sciences, political science, human rights, and those who were rounded up and burned at the Plaza de Armas (Santiago).
The United States, under the auspices of the Nixon administration, backed and supported the Fatherland and Liberty Nationalist Front which funded and attempted the first coup of Allende's regime known as Tanquetazo. The CIA established links after the 1973 Chilean coup d'état however ties were cut after The Assassination of Orlando Letelier which former CIA agent Michael Townley was directly tied with which eventually led to the disbanding of The DINA in 1977.
The DINA was involved in Operation Condor, as well as Operation Colombo. In July 1976, two magazines in Argentina and Brazil appeared and published the names of 119 Chilean leftist opponents, claiming they had been killed in internal disputes unrelated to the Pinochet regime. Both magazines disappeared after this one and only issue. Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia eventually asked Chilean justices to lift Pinochet's immunity in this case, called "Operation Colombo", having accumulated evidence that Pinochet had ordered the DINA to plant this disinformation, in order to cover up the "disappearance" and murder by the Chilean secret police of those 119 persons. In September 2005, Chile's Supreme Court ordered the lifting of Pinochet's general immunity from prosecutions, with respect to this case.
The DINA worked with international agents, such as Michael Townley, who assassinated former Chilean minister Orlando Letelier in Washington DC in 1976, as well as General Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1974.
Michael Townley worked with Eugenio Berríos on producing sarin gas in the 1970s, at a laboratory in a DINA-owned house in the district of Lo Curro, Santiago de Chile. Eugenio Berríos, who was murdered in 1995, was also linked with drug traffickers and agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
The overwhelming fear by the Chilean people caused them to support Pinochet and his administration. There are few accounts that are disdainful towards DINA because DINA and other agencies that supported Pinochet repressed and dissolved all accounts against his regime. Some writers and journalists that opposed this right-wing regime secretly interviewed people living under DINA. Writers such as Patricia Politzer, interviewed people that suffered. Politzer writes about specific incidents in Chile.
One of the accounts is about a mother of a leftist sympathizer who was a victim of forced disappearances in Chile. The mother has never heard nor received any update on her son's status even after Pinochet was removed from power. Many of those who disappeared or were wrongly murdered were never identified and thousands of leftist sympathizers remain missing. These unsolved disappearances and kidnappings have left thousands searching for their relatives in Chile to this day.
There was minimal restoration and children suffered greatly as well. In another interview by Politzer, she describes the account of woman who was shot with other leftists and managed to survive. She explains that if she would have died at the hands of DINA, her children would have been left behind with no one to watch them. These accounts reveal the inconsideration of DINA and other agencies that answered to Pinochet. Children would be left behind as orphans. All these accounts in "Fear in Chile", by Patricia Politzer captivated and showed what life was like in Chile.
DINA was replaced by the CNI (Central Nacional de Informaciones) in 1977 and Contreras was replaced by general Odlanier Mena. By that time, DINA had reached its military goals: assassinate the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) leadership and the main leaders of the Popular Unity, the coalition of the parties that had won the 1970 elections. The dissolution of the CNI occurred in 1990 during the Chilean transition to democracy.
After the fall of Pinochet's regime, Contreras was prosecuted in Chile due to crimes against humanity while heading the DINA and sentenced to 12 years in prison for covert kidnappings, a crime that had not been amnestied. However, judge Víctor Montiglio who had replaced judge Juan Guzmán Tapia gave amnesty to Contreras in 2005.
Finally, on June 30, 2008, Contreras was sentenced to two life-sentences, one for the murder of Carlos Prats and one for the murder of his wife, Sofía Cuthbert. He also received an additional 20-year sentence for illicit association.