|“||I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.||„|
|~ Henry Kissinger discusses using Operation Condor to replace Salvador Allende with Augusto Pinochet.|
Operation Condor was a US-backed terror campaign in South America during the Cold War, lasting from 1968 to 1989. It aimed to overthrow democratically elected leaders and replace them with US-supported right-wing dictators in an attempt to prevent the spread of communism in the area. This offensive was utilized most by Richard Nixon and led by Henry Kissinger, the then Secretary of State, though the operation continued on into the succeeding administrations.
Due to its clandestine nature, the precise number of deaths directly attributable to Operation Condor is highly disputed. Some estimates are that at least 60,000 deaths can be attributed to Condor, roughly 30,000 of these in Argentina, and the so-called "Archives of Terror" list 50,000 killed, 30,000 disappeared and 400,000 imprisoned. American political scientist J. Patrice McSherry gives a figure of at least 402 killed in operations which crossed national borders in a 2002 source, and mentions in a 2009 source that of those who "had gone into exile" and were "kidnapped, tortured and killed in allied countries or illegally transferred to their home countries to be executed . . . hundreds, or thousands, of such persons—the number still has not been finally determined—were abducted, tortured, and murdered in Condor operations."
Victims included dissidents and leftists, union and peasant leaders, priests and nuns, students and teachers, intellectuals and suspected guerillas, who were targeted by specially trained death squads and often imprisoned in concentration camps if they weren't killed outright. Although it was described by the CIA as "a cooperative effort by the intelligence/security services of several South American countries to combat terrorism and subversion," guerrillas were used as an excuse, as they were never substantial enough to control territory, gain material support by any foreign power, or otherwise threaten national security. Condor's key members were the governments in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. Ecuador and Peru later joined the operation in more peripheral roles.
The United States government provided planning, coordinating, training on torture, technical support and supplied military aid to the Juntas during the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and the Reagan administrations. Such support was frequently routed through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Many of those involved were also trained at the School of the Americas.
Participants in Operation Condor
- Jorge Rafael Videla
- Leopoldo Galtieri
- Hugo Banzer
- Augusto Pinochet
- Alfredo Stroessner
- Juan María Bordaberry
- Emílio Garrastazu Médici
- Francisco Morales Bermúdez
- Ernesto Geisel
- Artur da Costa e Silva
- Luis García Meza
- Juan Velasco Alvarado