“Make the Economy Scream”: Secret Documents Show Nixon, Kissinger Role Backing 1973 Chile Coup
September 23, 2013
We continue our coverage of the 40th anniversary of the overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende with a look at the critical U.S. role under President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger. Peter Kornbluh, who spearheaded the effort to declassify more than 20,000 secret documents that revealed the role of the CIA and the White House in the Chilean coup, discusses how Nixon and Kissinger backed the Chilean military’s ouster of Allende and then offered critical support as it committed atrocities to cement its newfound rule. Kornbluh is author of the newly updated book, “The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability,” and director of the Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. In 1970, the CIA’s deputy director of plans wrote in a secret memo: “It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. … It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [the U.S. government] and American hand be well hidden.” That same year President Nixon ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream” in Chile to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him.” We’re also joined by Juan Garcés, a former personal adviser to Allende who later led the successful legal effort to arrest and prosecute coup leader Augusto Pinochet. See Part 2 of this interview here.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AARON MATÉ: I wanted to ask about the U.S. role in all of this, and let’s turn to a recording of President Richard Nixon speaking in a March 1972 phone call, acknowledging he’d given instructions, quote, to “do anything short of a Dominican-type action” to keep the elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, from assuming office. The phone conversation was captured by his secret Oval Office taping system. In this clip, you hear President Nixon telling his press secretary, Ron Ziegler, he had given orders to undermine Chilean democracy to the U.S. ambassador, but, quote, “he just failed. … He should have kept Allende from getting in.” Listen closely.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Yeah.
OPERATOR: Mr. Ziegler.
RON ZIEGLER: Yes, sir.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: What did you—have you said anything, Ron, with regard to the ITT in Chile? How did you handle—
RON ZIEGLER: The State Department dealt with that today.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Oh, they did?
RON ZIEGLER: Yes, sir.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: What did they do? Deny it?
RON ZIEGLER: They denied it, but they were cautious on how they dealt with the Korry statement, because they were afraid that might backfire.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Why? What did Korry say?
RON ZIEGLER: Well, Korry said that he had received instructions to do anything short of a Dominican-type—alleged to have said that.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Korry did?
RON ZIEGLER: Right.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: So how did—how did that go? He put that out?
RON ZIEGLER: Well, Anderson received that from some source. Al Haig is sitting with me now.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Oh, yeah.
RON ZIEGLER: It was a report contained in an IT&T—
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Oh, yeah.
RON ZIEGLER: —thing, but—
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Well, he was. He was instructed to.
RON ZIEGLER: Well, but—
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I hoped—but he just failed, the son of a [bleep]. That’s his main problem. He should have kept Allende from getting in. Well—
RON ZIEGLER: In any event, State has denied—
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Has State Department handled it?
RON ZIEGLER: —it today, and they referred to—to your comments about Latin America and Chile and—
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Yeah, fine.
RON ZIEGLER: —and so, you just refer to that on that one.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Fine, OK.
RON ZIEGLER: Yes, sir.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Right.
AARON MATÉ: That’s President Nixon speaking in 1972. Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archive, can explain to us what Nixon is talking about here, and put it in context of the U.S. role in destabilizing Chile?
PETER KORNBLUH: Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger launched a preemptive strike against Salvador Allende. They decided to stop him from being inaugurated as president of Chile. He hadn’t even set foot in the Moneda Palace, when Nixon and Kissinger just simply decided to change the fate of Chile. Nixon instructed the CIA to make the Chilean economy scream, to use as many men as possible. The first plan was to actually keep Allende from being inaugurated as president. And then, when that plan failed, after the assassination of the Chilean commander-in-chief that the United States was behind, General René Schneider, Kissinger then went to Nixon and said, “Allende is now president. The State Department thinks we can coexist with him, but I want you to make sure you tell everybody in the U.S. government that we cannot, that we cannot let him succeed, because he has legitimacy. He is democratically elected. And suppose other governments decide to follow in his footstep, like a government like Italy? What are we going to do then? What are we going to say when other countries start to democratically elect other Salvador Allendes? We will—the world balance of power will change,” he wrote to Nixon in a secret document, “and our interests in it will be changed fundamentally.”
AMY GOODMAN: Talk about Kissinger’s role. Most recently, people may have seen Stephen Colbert dancing around him, the—Henry Kissinger, of course, still alive, considered an elder statesmen by most of the press in the United States. Give us a thumbnail sketch of his role.
PETER KORNBLUH: I just got back from Chile, and I did a number of TV shows there, and everybody said, “We’re trying to hold our own people accountable here for the atrocities that took place during the Pinochet regime, but why isn’t Henry Kissinger being held accountable? Why isn’t the United States held accountable for the role that they played in the atrocities that were committed in Chile, starting with the coup itself and then going on with the repression that followed?” And Kissinger really is the—not only the key survivor of the policy-making team of that era, but truly when you go through the declassified documents that are laid out in the book, The Pinochet File, you see that he is the singular most important figure in engineering a policy to overthrow Allende and then, even more, to embrace Pinochet and the human rights violations that followed.
He had aides who were saying to him, “It’s unbecoming for the United States to intervene in a country where we are not—our national security interests are not threatened.” And he pushed them away. “Nope, we can’t—we can’t let this imitative phenomena—we have to stop Allende from being successful.” He had aides that came to him the day after the coup and said, “I’m getting reports that there’s 10,000 bodies in the streets. People are being slaughtered.” And he said, “Go tell Congress that this new military regime is better for our interests than the old government in Chile.” And we have this fabulous document of him talking to Pinochet, a meeting in 1976, in which his aides have told him, “You should tell Pinochet to stop violating human rights.” And instead he says to Pinochet, “You did a great service to the West in overthrowing Allende. We want to support you, not hurt you.”
AMY GOODMAN: In The Pinochet File, you quote an assessment by the CIA’s directorate of operations, who advised President Nixon and Henry Kissinger on covert action in Chile. He argued that far from being a pawn of the communists, Allende would, quote, “be hard for the Communist Party and for Moscow to control.” He also said covert operations to stop Allende from becoming president would be, quote, “worse than useless. Any indication that we are behind a legal mickey mouse or some hardnosed play exacerbate relations even further. … I am afraid we will be repeating the errors we made in 1959 and 1960 when we drove Fidel Castro into the Soviet camp.” You also quote Kissinger’s top aide on Latin America, Viron Vaky, who wrote in a top-secret cable, “it is far from given that wisdom would call for covert action programs; the consequences could be disastrous. The cost-benefit-risk ratio is not favorable.” Peter Kornbluh?
PETER KORNBLUH: That’s my point. There were people inside the U.S. government pressing Kissinger not to take this course, and he completely shunted them aside, pushed Nixon forward to as aggressive but covert a policy as possible to make Allende fail, to destabilize Allende’s ability to govern, to create what Kissinger called a coup climate.
In the new edition of The Pinochet File, we have the actual transcript of Nixon and Kissinger’s conversation, their first phone conversation after the coup took place, in which Nixon says to Kissinger, “Well, our hand doesn’t show in this one, does it?” And Kissinger said, “We didn’t do it,” referring to direct participation in the coup. “We helped them.” He says, “I mean, we helped them. [Blank],” which I am sure is a reference to the CIA, “created the conditions as best as possible.” And this is the first conversation between Nixon and Kissinger after the coup. They’re basically laying out the role of the United States and setting—creating a coup climate in Chile, facilitating the coup.
What’s even worse—this was long before your program existed, but Richard Nixon is already complaining about the liberal crap in the media, and Kissinger says, “Yeah, the liberal—the media is bleeding because a communist government was overthrown,” you know, like as if the media is on the side of Allende. They’re focusing on the atrocities that are taking place. And Kissinger says, “In the Eisenhower period, we would be heroes.”
AMY GOODMAN: In this last minute, Juan Garcés, it is interesting, though you experienced the intensity of what happened 40 years ago with Salvador Allende ultimately killing himself in the palace as the bombs rained down, you are focused on today and what is happening today—you brought Pinochet to justice. You had Baltasar Garzón, through the famous Spanish judge, issue an arrest warrant for him when he took a visit to London, and he was held there, although ultimately sent back to Chile. What lesson can we learn, in these last 25 seconds? And we’ll continue the conversation after the show.
JUAN GARCÉS: A matter of how do you understand the world. Should you go through peaceful means or using bombs and invasions? The law is very clear. Since ’40, ’45, 1945, the United Nations Charter, after a big World War—World War—decided that the sovereignty and independence of the countries should be respected and that all the nations should fight to avoid genocidal policies.
AMY GOODMAN: We have to leave it there, but part two we’ll post at democracynow.org. Juan Garcés, Spanish lawyer, ex-aide to Salvador Allende, and Peter Kornbluh. The latest book, The Pinochet File.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
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Chile and the United States: Declassified Documents Relating to the Military Coup, September 11, 1973
September 23, 2013
Washington, D.C. – September 11, 1998 marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. The violent overthrow of the democratically-elected Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende changed the course of the country that Chilean poet Pablo Neruda described as “a long petal of sea, wine and snow”; because of CIA covert intervention in Chile, and the repressive character of General Pinochet’s rule, the coup became the most notorious military takeover in the annals of Latin American history.
Revelations that President Richard Nixon had ordered the CIA to “make the economy scream” in Chile to “prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him,” prompted a major scandal in the mid-1970s, and a major investigation by the U.S. Senate. Since the coup, however, few U.S. documents relating to Chile have been actually declassified- -until recently. Through Freedom of Information Act requests, and other avenues of declassification, the National Security Archive has been able to compile a collection of declassified records that shed light on events in Chile between 1970 and 1976.
These documents include:
Cables written by U.S. Ambassador Edward Korry after Allende’s election, detailing conversations with President Eduardo Frei on how to block the president-elect from being inaugurated. The cables contain detailed descriptions and opinions on the various political forces in Chile, including the Chilean military, the Christian Democrat Party, and the U.S. business community.
CIA memoranda and reports on “Project FUBELT”–the codename for covert operations to promote a military coup and undermine Allende’s government. The documents, including minutes of meetings between Henry Kissinger and CIA officials, CIA cables to its Santiago station, and summaries of covert action in 1970, provide a clear paper trail to the decisions and operations against Allende’s government
National Security Council strategy papers which record efforts to “destabilize” Chile economically, and isolate Allende’s government diplomatically, between 1970 and 1973.
State Department and NSC memoranda and cables after the coup, providing evidence of human rights atrocities under the new military regime led by General Pinochet.
FBI documents on Operation Condor–the state-sponsored terrorism of the Chilean secret police, DINA. The documents, including summaries of prison letters written by DINA agent Michael Townley, provide evidence on the carbombing assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington D.C., and the murder of Chilean General Carlos Prats and his wife in Buenos Aires, among other operations.
These documents, and many thousands of other CIA, NSC, and Defense Department records that are still classified secret, remain relevant to ongoing human rights investigations in Chile, Spain and other countries, and unresolved acts of international terrorism conducted by the Chilean secret police. Eventually, international pressure, and concerted use of the U.S. laws on declassification will force more of the still-buried record into the public domain–providing evidence for future judicial, and historical accountability.
Click on the to view each document.
FBI, Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA), January 21, 1982
This report provides a summary of information taken from prison letters written by Michael Townley, the DINA agent responsible for the assassination of Orlando Letelier. This report includes information not directly provided to the FBI by Townley, but drawn from analysis of his correspondence with his DINA handler: details about meetings between Chilean President Pinochet and Italian terrorists and spies, codenames and activities of DINA personnel, collaboration between DINA and anti-Castro Cubans; the creation of a fake terrorist organization to take the blame for a DINA kidnapping in Argentina; DINA involvement in relations between Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and Townley’s fear that information about kidnappings and assassinations of prominent critics of Pinochet would somehow be traced back to him.
FBI, Operation Condor Cable, September 28, 1976
This cable, written by the FBI’s attache in Buenos Aires, Robert Scherrer, summarizes intelligence information provided by a “confidential source abroad” about Operation Condor, a South American joint intelligence operation designed to “eliminate Marxist terrorist activities in the area.” The cable reports that Chile is the center of Operation Condor, and provides information about “special teams” which travel “anywhere in the world… to carry out sanctions up to assassination against terrorists or supporters of terrorist organizations.” Several sections relating to these special teams have been excised. The cable suggests that the assassination of the Chilean Ambassador to the United States, Orlando Letelier, may have been carried out as an action of Operation Condor.
National Security Council, Chilean President’s visit to U.S., August 8, 1975
This memorandum, written by Stephen Low of the National Security Council, calls Scowcroft’s attention to Pinochet’s plans to visit the United States, and his requested meeting with U.S. President Ford. The memo states that the NSC asked the U.S. Ambassador to Chile, David Popper, to discourage the meeting by telling the Chileans that President Ford’s schedule is full. Fearing that such a visit would “stimulate criticism” and foster embarrassment, Low suggests an “informal talk” with Chile’s Ambassador Trucco.
National Security Council, Disarray in Chile Policy, July 1, 1975
This memorandum, from Stephen Low to President Ford’s National Security Advisor, General Brent Scowcroft, conveys concern about wavering U.S. policy toward Chile in light of reports of human rights violations. The memo reveals a division within the U.S. embassy over dealing with Chile, with a number of officials now believing that all U.S. military and economic assistance should be terminated until the regime’s human rights record improves. According to Low, by reducing aid and sending “mixed signals” to the Chileans, the United States risks precipitating a crisis situation in Chile. Low concludes his memo by recommending that Scowcroft schedule a special meeting in which U.S. agencies can “clarify guidelines for future policy.”
FBI Report to Chilean Military on Detainee, June 6, 1975
This letter, one of a number sent by FBI attache Robert Scherrer to Chilean General Ernesto Baeza, provides intelligence obtained through the interrogation of a captured Chilean leftist, Jorge Isaac Fuentes. The document records U.S. collaboration with Chile’s security forces, including the promise of surveillance of subjects inside the United States. Fuentes was detained through Operation Condor–a network of Chilean, Argentinian and Paraguayan secret police agencies which coordinated tracking, capturing and killing opponents. According to the Report of the Chilean National Commission on Truth and Reconciliation, he was tortured in Paraguay, turned over to the Chilean secret police, and disappeared.
Department of Defense, Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA) Expands Operations and Facilities, April 15, 1975
This heavily excised Intelligence Report from the Defense Attache in Santiago Chile, describes the growth of DINA, the national intelligence arm of the Chilean government and “the sole responsible agency for internal subversive matters.” Many of the excised portions provide details about the strained relations between DINA and the Chilean Armed Forces because of DINA’s exclusive power. The report states that the head of DINA, Colonel Manuel Contreras, “has reported exclusively to, and received orders only from, President Pinochet.”
Department of State, Kubisch-Huerta Meeting: Request for Specific Replies to Previous Questions on Horman and Teruggi Cases, February 11, 1974
This telegram, written by Ambassador Popper and directed to the U.S. Secretary of State, reports on a meeting between Assistant Secretary of State Jack Kubisch, and Chile’s foreign minister General Huerta on the controversy over two U.S. citizens–Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi–executed by the military after the coup. Kubisch notes that he is raising this issue “in the context of the need to be careful to keep relatively small issues in our relationship from making our cooperation more difficult.”
Department of State, Chilean Executions, November 16, 1973
This memo, sent to the Secretary of State by Jack Kubisch, states that summary executions in the nineteen days following the coup totaled 320–more than three times the publicly acknowledged figure. At the same time, Kubisch reports on new economic assistance just authorized by the Nixon administration. The memo provides information about the Chilean military’s justification for the continued executions. It also includes a situation report and human rights fact sheet on Chile.
Department of Defense, U.S. Milgroup, Situation Report #2, October 1, 1973
In a situation report, U.S. Naval attache Patrick Ryan, reports positively on events in Chile during the coup. He characterizes September 11 as “our D-Day,” and states that “Chile’s coup de etat [sic] was close to perfect.” His report provides details on Chilean military operations during and after the coup, as well as glowing commentary on the character of the new regime.
Defense Intelligence Agency, Biographic Data on General Augusto Pinochet, August/September 1973
This DIA biographic summary covers the military career of the leader of Chile’s military coup, General Augusto Pinochet. The DIA, an intelligence branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, routinely collects “Biographic Data” on all high military officials around the world. The heavy deletions are likely to conceal Chilean sources providing information on Pinochet, his own contacts with U.S. officials, and commentary on his character, reputation, political orientation and actions during his career.
Department of State, Memorandum for Henry Kissinger on Chile, December 4, 1970
In response to a November 27 directive from Kissinger, an inter-agency Ad Hoc Working Group on Chile prepared this set of strategy papers covering a range of possible sanctions and pressures against the new Allende government. These included a possible diplomatic effort to force Chile to withdraw–or be expelled–from the Organization of American States as well as consultations with other Latin American countries “to promote their sharing of our concern over Chile.” The documents show that the Nixon administration did engage in an invisible economic blockade against Allende, intervening at the World Bank, IDB, and Export-Import bank to curtail or terminate credits and loans to Chile before Allende had been in office for a month.
CIA, Report of CIA Chilean Task Force Activities, 15 September to 3 November 1970, November 18, 1970
The CIA prepared a summary of its efforts to prevent Allende’s ratification as president and to foment a coup in Chile– track I and track II covert operations. The summary details the composition of the Task Force, headed by David Atlee Phillips, the team of covert operatives “inserted individually into Chile,” and their contacts with Col. Paul Winert, the U.S. Army Attache detailed to the CIA for this operation. It reviews the propaganda operations designed to push Chilean president Eduardo Frei to support “a military coup which would prevent Allende from taking office on 3 November.”
National Security Council, National Security Decision Memorandum 93, Policy Towards Chile, November 9, 1970
This memorandum summarizes the presidential decisions regarding changes in U.S. policy toward Chile following Allende’s election. Written by Henry Kissinger and sent to the Secretaries of State, Defense, the Director of the Office of Emergency Preparedness and the Director of Central Intelligence, this memo directs U.S. agencies to adopt a “cool” posture toward Allende’s government, in order to prevent his consolidation of power and “limit [his] ability to implement policies contrary to U.S. and hemisphere interests.” The memo states that existing U.S. assistance and investments in Chile should be reduced, and no new commitments undertaken. Furthermore, according to Kissinger’s memo, “close relations” should be established and maintained with military leaders throughout Latin America to facilitate coordination of pressure and other opposition efforts.
CIA, Briefing by Richard Helms for the National Security Council, Chile, November 6, 1970
This paper provides the talking points for CIA director Richard Helms to brief the NSC on the situation in Chile. The briefing contains details on the failed coup attempt on October 22–but does not acknowledge a CIA role in the assassination of General Rene Schneider. Helms also assesses Allende’s “tenacious” character and Soviet policy toward Chile. Intelligence suggests that Chile’s socialists, he informs council members, “will exercise restraint in promoting closer ties with Russia.”
National Security Council, Options Paper on Chile (NSSM 97), November 3, 1970
A comprehensive secret/sensitive options paper, prepared for Henry Kissinger and the National Security Council on the day of Allende’s inauguration, laid out U.S. objectives, interests and potential policy toward Chile. U.S. interests were defined as preventing Chile from falling under Communist control and preventing the rest of Latin America from following Chile “as a model.” Option C–maintaining an “outwardly cool posture” while working behind the scenes to undermine the Allende government through economic pressures and diplomatic isolation–was chosen by Nixon. CIA operations and options are not included in this document.
CIA, Cable Transmissions on Coup Plotting, October 18, 1970
These three cables between CIA headquarters in Langley, VA., and the CIA Station in Santiago address the secret shipment of weapons and ammunition for use in a plot to kidnap the Chilean military commander, General Rene Schneider. “Neutralizing” Schneider was a key prerequisite for a military coup; he opposed any intervention by the armed forces to block Allende’s constitutional election. The CIA supplied a group of Chilean officers led by General Camilo Valenzuela with “sterile” weapons for the operation which was to be blamed on Allende supporters and prompt a military takeover. Instead, on October 22, General Schneider was killed by another group of plotters the CIA had been collaborating with, led by retired General Roberto Viaux. Instead of a coup, the military and the country rallied behind Allende’s ratification by Chile’s Congress on October 24.
CIA, Operating Guidance Cable on Coup Plotting, October 16, 1970
In a secret cable, CIA deputy director of plans, Thomas Karamessines, conveys Kissinger’s orders to CIA station chief in Santiago, Henry Hecksher: “It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup.” The “operating guidance” makes it clear that these operations are to be conducted so as to hide the “American hand,” and that the CIA is to ignore any orders to the contrary from Ambassador Korry who has not been informed of Track II operations.
CIA, Memorandum of Conversation of Meeting with Henry Kissinger, Thomas Karamessines, and Alexander Haig, October 15, 1970
This memcon records a discussion of promoting a coup in Chile, known as “Track II” of covert operations to block Allende. The three officials discuss the possibility that the plot of one Chilean military official, Roberto Viaux, might fail with “unfortunate repercussions” for U.S. objectives. Kissinger orders the CIA to “continue keeping the pressure on every Allende weak spot in sight.”
CIA, Genesis of Project FUBELT, September 16, 1970
These minutes record the first meeting between CIA director Helms and high agency officials on covert operations–codenamed “FUBELT”–against Allende. A special task force under the supervision of CIA deputy director of plans, Thomas Karamessines, is established, headed by veteran agent David Atlee Phillips. The memorandum notes that the CIA must prepare an action plan for National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger within 48 hours.
CIA, Notes on Meeting with the President on Chile, September 15, 1970
These handwritten notes, taken by CIA director Richard Helms, record the orders of the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, to foster a coup in Chile. Helms’ notes reflect Nixon’s orders: l in 10 chance perhaps, but save Chile!; worth spending; not concerned; no involvement of embassy; $10,000,00 available, more if necessary; full-time job–best men we have; game plan; make the economy scream; 48 hours for plan of action. This presidential directive initiates major covert operations to block Allende’s ascension to office, and promote a coup in Chile.
Department of State, U.S. Embassy Cables on the Election of Salvador Allende and Efforts to Block his Assumption of the Presidency, September 5-22, 1970
This series of eight cables, written by U.S. Ambassador to Chile, Edward Korry, record the reaction and activities of the U.S. Embassy after the election of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity coalition. Known as “Korrygrams,” his reports contain some of the most candid, and at times undiplomatic, opinions and observations ever offered by a U.S. Ambassador. With titles such as “No Hope for Chile,” and “Some Hope for Chile,” Korry provides extensive details about political efforts to block Allende’s ratification by the Chilean Congress. The cables report on the activities of Chile’s political institutions in response to Allende’s election and provide Korry’s explicit assessments of the character of key Chilean leaders, particularly the outgoing president, Eduardo Frei.
By Peter Kornbluh
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 8
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The Pinochet File: How U.S. Politicians, Banks and Corporations Aided Chilean Coup, Dictatorship
September 23, 2013
Part 2 of our conversation on the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup with Spanish lawyer Juan Garcés, a former personal adviser to ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende, and Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.
40 Years After Chilean Coup, Allende Aide Juan Garcés on How He Brought Pinochet to Justice
‘Make the Economy Scream’: Secret Documents Show Nixon, Kissinger Role Backing 1973 Chile Coup
See all of Democracy Now!’s coverage of the 1973 Chilean Coup.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Aaron Maté. Our guests are Juan Garcés, who also has written a book, simply called Allende, about the president who he advised, his closest adviser until September 11th, 40 years ago, 1973, when the palace was being bombed by the Pinochet forces and Salvador Allende took his own life. He was surrounded by his other advisers, but he walked Juan Garcés to the door and said, “Tell the world.” Juan Garcés went on as a Spanish lawyer to work to hold Pinochet responsible, and ultimately, through Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge, had him—had him call for Augusto Pinochet’s extradition to Spain to be tried. Augusto Pinochet was in London, and Augusto Pinochet was held for about a year there before ultimately he was allowed to return home to Chile.
We’re also joined by Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.
I was just speaking about Joyce Horman, the widow of the freelance journalist Charlie Horman. Peter Kornbluh, tell us what Charlie discovered in those days leading up to the coup, why he was so dangerous, and what you learned in declassification of documents of Kissinger.
PETER KORNBLUH: Well, Charles Horman and his wife Joyce were part of a large group of Americans who went to Chile during the Allende years. Chile was, as Juan Garcés will tell us, was a dynamic, exciting place. The whole world was watching what was happening there. It was something new and vibrant. And—
AMY GOODMAN: What was it? What was happening? I mean, so a new president was elected.
PETER KORNBLUH: The via—the famous via pacifica of—toward social change—not armed revolution to bring fundamental change to a Third World country, but democratic revolution, in which the people would vote, and institutions would gradually be changed to spread the wealth equally, to nationalize resources so that U.S. copper companies and corporations like IT&T then suck the money right out of the country. This was an exciting, new model of change for Latin America and the world. That’s what made it so dangerous for the Nixon and Kissingers of the world.
So, Charlie and his wife Joyce were there. Charles Horman was actually, as part of his journalistic approach, he was actually investigating the murder of the Chilean commander-in-chief, General René Schneider, that took place in October of 1970 and was part of a CIA operation to foment a coup, to create a coup climate in Chile that might stop Allende from actually being inaugurated the first week of November. This was an atrocity, a bald assassination of the commander-in-chief of Chilean armed forces right in broad daylight on the streets. There was a trial that had taken place in Chile. There were documents, that really did focus on the contacts with the United States and the coup plotters. In my book, The Pinochet File, I have one still-secret CIA document, which reveals that the agency paid the people that killed René Schneider $35,000 to close their mouths about the U.S. role and to help them escape from Chile to get beyond the grasp of justice. But some people were arrested, tried. Charlie Horman was investigating that, looking at the trial file. He also happened to be in Valparaíso on the day of the coup and met a number of U.S. officials—
AMY GOODMAN: Where is Valparaíso?
PETER KORNBLUH: Valparaíso is a coastal—very famous coastal town. He went to Viña del Mar. He went to Valparaíso. It was where the U.S. Navy group that was advising the Chilean military was based.
AMY GOODMAN: Known as the U.S. MILGROUP.
PETER KORNBLUH: The U.S. MILGROUP was there. He met the head of the U.S. MILGROUP, Captain Ray Davis, who actually drove him and a companion back to Santiago because there was a curfew. And so the implication was, is that he had talked to these Americans, that he might actually know something about the coup. It is still—the details of his death and why he was killed are still murky, and the case is going forward. And actually, almost 40 years later, a Chilean judge actually indicted Captain Ray Davis, the head of the U.S. MILGROUP, for his death. So, we are hoping in the months to come that we learn more about the circumstances under which he died.
AARON MATÉ: Peter, the role of the ITT Corporation, this huge U.S. firm that had a lot of interest in Chile?
PETER KORNBLUH: ITT owned the telephone companies in Chile, owned the Sheraton Hotel. They were a very aggressive company in Latin America. And they decided they should have their own foreign policy, and they started pushing for meetings with the—with the CIA. It helped that they had on their board of directors a former CIA director, John McCone. And he was able to gain access to the CIA rather easily. There was more than 40 meetings between CIA officials and ITT officials. ITT wanted to start funneling secret funds to Allende’s opponent in the 1970 election. One of the—for students of this history, the first real documents that came out on U.S. intervention in Chile were ITT internal memos that recorded their meetings with the CIA and the U.S. ambassador, as your audience heard in the tape that was played on your program. So, this was the first kind of real inkling of what was happening. The scandal arose—Juan Garcés can remember what happened, because Allende was president at the time, and he simply declared, “Well, we were negotiating to nationalize and compensate ITT, but now that we see that they’re a completely criminal enterprise intervening with the CIA in our internal state of affairs, we’re going to expropriate their holdings in Chile.”
AMY GOODMAN: And how, Juan Garcés, was Allende dealing with ITT? Kissinger, Nixon—what did he understand was their role in supporting Pinochet? Did he?
JUAN GARCÉS: Well, Allende wanted always a good agreement with the United States. And certainly, he said that he should govern in conformity with the willingness of the Chilean people, of the Chilean Congress, but looking for a way to preserve the good relations with the United States. And, in fact, several months before the coup, a high delegation from Chile came to Washington to open formal negotiations to try to solve the differences that—in terms of investments or in terms of economic differences that were present in this period. And the doors of the U.S. government in Washington were practically closed—no dialogue, no negotiation, coup d’état.
So, what is—40 years later, what is interesting is that you see this coup d’état against a very active democratic society articulated by an operation where one of the legs is a mass media group, El Mercurio, asking the intervention of the U.S. government through Secret Services, in relation with some corporations that have private investments in Chile. And with those three leaks—excuse me, legs, the coup and the destabilization of the society was done. Now, with the technological means that currently are at our disposal, at the disposal of the governments, you realize that the three legs are still working—corporations that are linked—have links with Secret Services and the articulation with the government, the government, to prepare interventions in other countries, invasions. And that has been the case particularly after the tragedy of the attack to New York in 2001. But the violence that we can do, and many countries do, and the United States citizens are doing also, is what is the cost of those options, to follow this path, for the economy of other countries and for the health of our democratic system.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask about something remarkable that you did in your efforts to bring justice to the people of Chile and to hold Pinochet accountable. And that was to get at his money, which was the people’s money of Chile, the millions of dollars he had stashed away. Peter, first—Peter Kornbluh, sort of lay this out for an American audience. Talk about the story of Riggs Bank.
PETER KORNBLUH: Well, let me just say it’s such a pleasure to be on this show with Juan Garcés, for what he did during the Allende period and what he did to bring Pinochet to justice, and then what he did to really try and recover the money that Pinochet had clearly stolen and hidden away in secret bank accounts. The CIA documents on Pinochet described him as “hard-working” and “honest.” But it turns out that he was completely corrupt, as—in addition to be murderous. And he secretly took more than $26 million of Chilean money, hid it in 120 bank accounts, some—many of them offshore accounts, using false passports, the images of which are in the new edition of The Pinochet File, and using kind of variants of his name, but without the name Pinochet, to try and hide the fact that these were his assets.
AMY GOODMAN: Like?
PETER KORNBLUH: He used the name Augusto Ugarte P., or simply Augusto Ugarte, or Ramón Ugarte, because his full name was Augusto Ramón Ugarte Pinochet, no? Or Pinochet Ugarte.
JUAN GARCÉS: Yeah.
PETER KORNBLUH: Right. And some other false names. And he had some of his aides’ names, and he had some of his—variants of his children’s names on these accounts. And Riggs Bank, the famous bank of Washington, D.C., owned by Joseph Allbritton, had approached Pinochet for years. And at some—one point, they actually held the secret—the accounts of the Chilean secret police, DINA, in their—in their bank in Washington. But eventually, U.S. Senate—this was the most amazing thing. U.S.—the Senate investigation kind of looking at whether banks had tight enough regulations on money laundering by terrorists after 9/11 stumbled across the fact that Riggs Bank was hiding all of these funds from Pinochet and then recovered the—almost the entire file that—
AMY GOODMAN: How did they discover it?
PETER KORNBLUH: They were investigating banks and whether they were—their regulations were so loose that terrorists, in the post-9/11 world, could launder money for terrorist activities. They were looking for—at the financial side of terrorism in the post-9/11 world. And so they were looking for accounts that were suspicious, and they started an investigation. And immediately, they were told that in Riggs Bank, there were a series of people that knew that there was this very suspicious account that belonged to Augusto Pinochet. And they asked for the file on it, and eventually they got the entire file, which was so incredible, because it included all the correspondence between Joseph Allbritton, the chairman of the board of the bank, and Pinochet himself, and the memorandum on the visits by bank officials to Pinochet and other Chilean officials in Santiago, including going to horse clubs and equestrian shows and exchanging gifts and cufflinks and—
AMY GOODMAN: And who was Joseph Allbritton? I mean—
PETER KORNBLUH: Well, Joseph Allbritton was one of the big banking corporate moguls of Washington, D.C. He owned the sports team. I forget whether it was the basketball team or the Redskins. At one point he owned a bunch of newspapers and radio stations. He owned Riggs Bank. But fundamentally, he participated in a conspiracy to hide Augusto Pinochet’s money. And he—they evaded the assets—Juan Garcés managed to get Pinochet’s assets frozen, but Riggs Bank violated that court order to freeze his assets by secretly starting to funnel back to him all of his money in $50,000 cashier’s checks. They had a courrier that would bring literally bundles of these checks to Pinochet’s house in Santiago. And the story returns to Juan Garcés, because more than $8 million of this $20-plus million stash of money was given back to Pinochet illegally by Riggs, and Juan Garcés stepped in and said, “That money belongs to the Chilean people and to the victims of Pinochet.” And he recovered it.
AMY GOODMAN: Allbritton’s son now runs Politico.
PETER KORNBLUH: Allbritton owned—started Politico, created Politico. And then, when he passed away, his son—
AMY GOODMAN: Robert Allbritton.
PETER KORNBLUH: —took over. So there’s still a presence of the family, yeah.
AMY GOODMAN: So, you got, Juan Garcés, millions of dollars of Chile’s money frozen, and then how was it distributed back to the people of Chile?
JUAN GARCÉS: Thanks to an investigation in the U.S. Senate, as Peter was explaining—
PETER KORNBLUH: Which was led by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, a terrific senator.
JUAN GARCÉS: Yeah, their committee on investigations. And they accepted to cooperate with a court of justice that was prosecuting Pinochet. And thanks to this cooperation between the U.S. Senate and the Spanish court, we reached to indict the owners of Riggs Bank. That is something that is without precedent, from their own pocket—
PETER KORNBLUH: Right.
JUAN GARCÉS: —paid the totality of the money that went through the bank channels hiding the Pinochet money. And we distributed that to the victims of Pinochet that were considered such with the institution of the court. It is the only money that related directly to Pinochet has never been distributed to the victims.
AMY GOODMAN: But that money, the millions of dollars, how did you identify the victims, the survivors, and have it distributed?
JUAN GARCÉS: That was—the victims were recognized as such in the court, because thousands of them have been the object of an inquiry inside Chile by an official commission, committee Riggs, that established the list of thousands of people that were murdered, also forcibly disappeared. And we in Spain, with the cooperation of Chileans inside Chile, created a new commission for victims of torture, victims that survived the torture. And we found, through this commission, identified more than 20,000 persons. And then they have their right to receive a part of the indemnities.
AMY GOODMAN: Taking this forward, how you got Pinochet, how you got him arrested in England? We just went all to a big event last night where you, Juan Garcés, you, Peter Kornbluh, Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge, and others were honored in this 40th anniversary of this other 9/11, September 11, 1973, when Pinochet rose to power in Chile. You left the palace, taking the word of what happened there, September 11, 1973, as President Allende asked you to do, and you went forth. You were actually born in Spain. You ultimately went to Spain. You are a lawyer. How did you get Pinochet arrested in England?
JUAN GARCÉS: It’s a matter of conviction. This man was a criminal, of course, and deserves to make—to be made accountable for those crimes. So, someone essayed to kill him. There was an attempt against his life. My way of thinking is different. It’s to work to collect, to gather evidences about his crimes, to look for a court of justice, and wait for the moment in which the political conditions could make him accountable. And that happened after the end of the Cold War. And we applied international treaties—European Convention on Extradition and the international Convention Against Torture—and we found a court in Europe and applied the principles of universal jurisdiction. And we got Pinochet.
And the difference between a killing, a murder, and a legal proceeding, you can see here the consequences. Had he been killed in the attempted assassination in 1960—1986, things in Chile will be very different of what came after legal proceedings, where the crimes were openly explained in front of an independent court. And the Chilean society since then, as Pinochet was arrested in 1999, and since then until now, the big majority of Chileans agree that the transition to democracy in Chile begins the day in which Pinochet was put in front of a court of justice.
AMY GOODMAN: Peter Kornbluh, if you can talk about this remarkable event from a U.S. perspective, what actually took place? So, ’73, Pinochet rises to power. He rules for 17 years. In 1989, he goes to the doctor in London. He’s also, what, meeting with the former prime minister, Thatcher, and he is certainly treated as a dignitary. Where were you when he was arrested?
PETER KORNBLUH: No, in 1998, October 16th, it was a day that everybody in the Chile community remembers. General Pinochet—because of the work of Juan Garcés and Baltasar Garzón and some key people in London, take advantage of the fact that Pinochet is having a kind of minor surgery at a place called the Clinic in London, and they file a request for his arrest under the European counterterrorism convention, because Pinochet committed major acts of international terrorism. He spearheaded Operation Condor, which was a rendition, kidnapping and assassination program around the world, murdered Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington, D.C.
AMY GOODMAN: The former Chilean ambassador to the United States.
PETER KORNBLUH: The former Chilean ambassador, a friend of Juan Garcés’s.
AMY GOODMAN: In 1976—
PETER KORNBLUH: In 19—
AMY GOODMAN: —on Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.
PETER KORNBLUH: That’s exactly right. So, these new laws that have come into place facilitated a request for his interrogation and arrest. And this was a transformational moment. It was a transformational moment for Chileans. It was a transformational moment for people in the United States. It was a transformational moment for the human rights movement, which became inspired. And what we call the Pinochet precedent or the Pinochet effect now has led to prosecutions of people like Alberto Fujimori in Peru and Ríos Montt in Guatemala and cases in Spain against the murderers of the Jesuits in El Salvador, just a cascade of efforts—
AMY GOODMAN: Hissène Habré now in Senegal, the former dictator of Chad.
PETER KORNBLUH: A cascade of efforts to hold the Pinochets of the world accountable for their atrocities. So, it couldn’t have been a more important, fundamental event in our recent history. And, you know, I just want to take the opportunity to be on your show and say that Juan Garcés is a hero, and what happened in Spain was a heroic, heroic effort. And the fact that there’s this straight line from 40 years ago, to being at La Moneda to then being in Spain and being able to hold Pinochet accountable and create a very different set of circumstances for the dictators of the futures is just a tremendous achievement.
AARON MATÉ: Peter, what has been the U.S. government response to this concept of universal jurisdiction?
PETER KORNBLUH: Well, there’s a bunch of issues. In the aftermath of Pinochet’s arrest, we in Washington took advantage of pressing the Clinton administration to declassify the deep—the deep, dark holdings of the U.S. government on Chile, on the Pinochet era, and eventually the CIA operations in Chile itself. And the Clinton administration actually deserves a lot of credit. People inside that administration despised Pinochet. Some of them had been Allende supporters in their youth. And the president was convinced to order a special declassification of 24,000 documents, including, in the end, 2,000 operational CIA documents, which we never would have seen otherwise, that recorded the U.S. role in Chile, Nixon and Kissinger’s role in undermining democracy and supporting dictatorship. So this was the initial response of the United States.
Overall, the United States doesn’t like the concept of universal jurisdiction, because they don’t want other countries to prosecute U.S. officials for atrocities committed around the world. And, of course, we now have a whole team from the Bush administration who could easily be prosecuted just as Pinochet was prosecuted.
AMY GOODMAN: So how are they affected when they go abroad, including President Bush, former President Bush?
PETER KORNBLUH: Well, I mean, certainly there have been efforts made in Europe to question George Bush, to question Donald Rumsfeld. There have been—we were with people last night, Juan and I, from the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner and others, who have tried to bring cases against former Bush administration officials for torture, for rendition, for death, in the name of fighting terrorism.
AMY GOODMAN: What do you see could happen to Henry Kissinger?
PETER KORNBLUH: Well, Henry Kissinger is 91 years old. And let me just take the opportunity to say that as Chileans are pushing their—their society to atone for what happened 40 years ago, the issue is whether Kissinger will step up and acknowledge and apologize for the crimes that he supported and helped to perpetrate in Chile. He’s the last surviving member of that team.
There’s—Kissinger and, to some degree, Bush have been what we call Pinocheted. This is a new verb in the lexicon of the human rights movement since Juan Garcés’s accomplishment in getting Pinochet arrested. They have faced the issue of, when they travel abroad, will they be subpoenaed and questioned for crimes that they supported or participated in or instigated? And so, you have a different situation for people like Henry Kissinger. He doesn’t freely travel abroad. He now—particularly after Pinochet was arrested in 1998, he would send emissaries to make sure there wasn’t going to be a problem. He went to France at one point, in 1999, I think, or 2000, and was served with a subpoena and promptly left. He was going to go to Brazil to receive a huge prize, and a judge in Brazil said, “I’m going to question him on Operation Condor,” and Kissinger cancelled his trip. So—and Bush himself, George Bush, has also faced, to some degree, this issue. I think the question is—you know, as Juan Garcés will say, Pinochet seemed untouchable for years and years and years, and then, suddenly, he wasn’t, because of the hard work.
AMY GOODMAN: Juan Garcés, what do you think should happen with Henry Kissinger? By the way, I should also just say, for folks who are called Juan in this country, it is spelled Juan Garcés, but the Catalonian form of Juan is Juan. So, Juan Garcés, what should happen with Henry Kissinger?
JUAN GARCÉS: Well, some of the victims of those crimes that we are talking about filed in the district court of Washington, D.C., a claim against Kissinger. Unfortunately, the date was not positive. That was the day before 9/11/2001. So—
PETER KORNBLUH: Thirteen years ago today.
JUAN GARCÉS: Yes, exactly. And so, this claim didn’t—was not successful, because the district court said that the U.S. court of justice cannot review the decisions taken by the State Department high officers, even if those decisions are related to crimes against humanity and genocidal acts. This decision was confirmed by the appeal court. The Supreme Court of justice didn’t accept to review those decisions. I hope—I think that this is very unfortunate. The leaders of the United States have extraordinary powers. If they are accomplices or commit crimes against humanity, they should—abroad, using the power of the United States to commit big crimes abroad, they should be made accountable. They couldn’t—they cannot be tried abroad, because no country, no court in the world dares to open a serious criminal case against a higher—a high officer of the United States. And if the U.S. courts say that because of the separation of power they can no more investigate those crimes, the outcome is absolute impunity. And I think that is unacceptable, and that is a danger for we all.
And, in fact, you are talking about this Pinochet case—let me tell you that I am just following the path that was opened by the U.S. government in 1945. When the World War II was ending, there was a discussion among the leaders of the United Nations: What to do with those big criminals that used the power of the Third Reich and for committing massive crimes? And then there was a discussion. For the prime minister of Britain, Churchill, the answer was very clear: You put them against the wall, ta-ta-ta-ta, finish, you kill them. That is all. Stalin agreed with that. But not Roosevelt nor the administration, the American administration. They said, “No, no. These people should face a tribunal, where their crimes should be exposed.” And then there was the Nuremberg trial. That is the beginning of the current international criminal law. So the roots of the international law presently are in the United States’ strategical thinking for the world after World War II.
AMY GOODMAN: As you talk about international law, can I digress for one minute, before we talk about the current election in Chile, and ask you about your thoughts on Syria? Because what’s often raised right now is that it’s a violation of a hundred-year-old law about the use of chemical weapons. And President Obama drew this red line. He says the international community drew it in the ban against the use of chemical weapons. What are your thoughts on what should happen in Syria? Do you think the U.S. should respond to this, though it’s not completely—the facts are not in on exactly who did this in Syria, but should strike Syria militarily?
JUAN GARCÉS: Well, in my view, the United States, Syria and the world is facing now the consequences of a bad strategical options two years ago in Libya. According to the international legal norms, the United Nations Charter, the legitimacy for using force against a sovereign government in an independent country is in the Security Council of the United Nations. It’s the only organ that can take those decisions. And the United States asked the permission from the United Nations Security Council to protect the civilians in the eastern side of Libya against bombing by the Gaddafi government. And the Security Council agree on that—great. And then an exclusion zone was created for protecting the civilians.
What was a mistake, in my point of view, that they turned this authorization from the Security Council in a regime change, accepting to use this authorization from the Security Council to bomb other areas of Chile—of Libya and permitting the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime. Then the Russians and the Chinese, they were looking: What has been done with the authorization?
AMY GOODMAN: That they agreed to.
JUAN GARCÉS: Use of force—that they—Libya. They [inaudible] it. “That is the last time. We will not accept that once again that we give the authorization for that, and that is a pretext for something that we didn’t authorize.” And that is the tragedy for the Syrian people since two years ago, when the Security Council is blocked. Now, what I realize that is a proposal for solving the situation in Syria, you have here the position that has been taken by the U.S. executive, and a great [inaudible] in other countries about the use of force outside authorization of the Security Council, legitimate force. And I realize that some governments—for example, the German government—is saying that the people that is responsible for these chemical attacks should be made responsible in the International Criminal Court of justice. The—
AMY GOODMAN: Which the U.S. has not signed onto.
JUAN GARCÉS: But the Security Council can order that these people in Syria that has committed these crimes be sent to the International Criminal Court. This is a legal solution. And certainly, the diplomatic possibilities are not exhausted. And I consider that after the experiences, the fiascos in Iraq invasion, and the answer to the attack to New York, invading another country—well, look at what happened here in New York 10 years ago. There was a terrorist attack. To answer to this terrorist attack, there were several ways. The option was to invade a country, make the violence. What is 10 years later the number of terrorists, of jihadists, that are today in the world there? I think that this attack has multiplied the number of people that are ready to commit new crimes. So, I think that the use of force should be done, but through legitimate means. And the use of force outside the legitimacy of international law, the side effects are—in this case, it’s evident—more negative than positive. That is my balance.
AARON MATÉ: Peter Kornbluh, turning back to ’73, can you talk about the role of the CIA in supplying lists of dissidents to the Chilean military?
PETER KORNBLUH: There’s some evidence, although it doesn’t really show up in the documents that we have. It was discovered by the Senate committee led by Senator Frank Church, the so-called Church Committee, that investigated U.S. intervention in Chile in the mid-1970s, that the CIA funded a particular institute that was preparing for a coup, that did compile lists of both civilians and people inside the Allende government that would need to be taken care of, if you will, in the event of a coup. The CIA eventually came in, sent a team to help create the Chilean secret police, DINA. I was just in Chile, and there are very few DINA documents available. DINA disappeared their archives, just like they disappeared so many victims.
AMY GOODMAN: The head of DINA was arrested and imprisoned?
PETER KORNBLUH: Manuel Contreras was first prosecuted for the assassination of Orlando Letelier, the former Chilean ambassador to Washington, and his colleague Ronni Karpen Moffitt. And then he was prosecuted again and again and again, and he now is in a prison, has been in a prison, and has an overall sentence of more than 200 years to serve.
But I was saying that the CIA actually sent a team to help advise DINA on infrastructure, on human resources, on kind of the—how you do intelligence operations. And one of the things I found when I was in Chile two weeks ago is that there was actually a manual that the DINA had on how to conduct intelligence that appears to be completely translated from an old U.S. manual from the 1950s. And obviously somebody gave the DINA that manual to use. So there’s a history here of the CIA being involved with Chilean impression, up to the point when Pinochet sends his assassins to Washington, D.C., to commit an act of international terrorism. We’re approaching 9/11 tomorrow. The Letelier assassination car bombing in downtown Washington, D.C., was the first act of state-sponsored international terrorism in the capital city of Washington.
AMY GOODMAN: Very quickly—we just have a minute to go—the current election that’s going on right now in Chile is remarkable. You have two women, one the former president, Michelle Bachelet, right? Two daughters of generals. One may have been responsible for the torture and death of the other, Michelle Bachelet’s father killed. And they were childhood best friends, now running against each other.
PETER KORNBLUH: Well, it’s a historic election, because you have two women contending for the presidency. It’s the first in Latin America. It may be the first in the world, where two women are the leading contenders for—to be president. And because of their backgrounds, of course, and because of the confluence of the 40th anniversary arriving tomorrow in the middle of this election, the history of the coup is kind of front and center in the debate over the issues and the issue of atoning, apologizing for, taking responsibility for those who supported Pinochet. It has suddenly become politically expedient to apologize from the right-wingers, and people even pushing Evelyn Matthei to apologize for her father, to apologize for her family, for their participation in the repression. And this is a sea change politically in Chile, where the country has been divided. But now, really, there’s just very little space for anybody to have supported the coup anymore and feel like they can ever advance politically in Chile. The population has changed. The commemorations around the 40th anniversary, which is tomorrow, have been overwhelming in the press, in the media, cultural events. A beautiful concert called Víctor sin Víctor, on Víctor Jara’s music, just took place last week. It was wonderful and inspirational to see. And it’s a large part due to the effort of Chileans and the effort of the world community to make sure that the coup and its atrocities were repudiated.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us, Peter Kornbluh and Juan Garcés. Juan Garcés, by the way, is also winner of the Right Livelihood Award and was at a gathering in Bonn a few years ago, when we also interviewed him, a gathering of about 75 Right Livelihood Award winners who won that award. It was awarded in the Swedish Parliament. Juan Garcés, again, the closest adviser to President Allende. President Allende died in the palace September 11, 1973, 40 years ago. Juan Garcés left the palace, and from that point to today has been not only telling the world about what happened, but holding the forces that deposed Salvador Allende accountable. Thank you so much, both, for being with us.
PETER KORNBLUH: Pleasure.
Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability, just updated in a newly released edition for the 40th anniversary of the Chilean Coup. He is also director of the Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive. He just returned from Chile, and his latest article for The Nation magazine is “Chileans Confront Their Own 9/11.”
Juan Garces, former personal adviser to Chilean President Salvador Allende. Juan Garcés later led the successful legal effort to arrest General Augusto Pinochet and prosecute him for crimes against humanity in the Spanish courts. Garcés received the Right Livelihood Award in 1999.
Filed under Web Exclusive, 1973 Chilean Coup, Chile, Peter Kornbluh, Juan Garces
September 10, 2013
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NIXON ON CHILE INTERVENTION; WHITE HOUSE TAPE ACKNOWLEDGES INSTRUCTIONS TO BLOCK SALVADOR ALLENDE
September 23, 2013
WASHINGTON D.C. – President Richard Nixon acknowledged that he had given instructions to “do anything short of a Dominican-type action” to keep the democratically elected president of Chile from assuming office, according to a White House audio tape posted by the National Security Archive today. A phone conversation captured by his secret Oval Office taping system reveals Nixon telling his press secretary, Ron Zeigler, that he had given such instructions to then U.S. Ambassador Edward Korry, “but he just failed, the son of a bitch…. He should have kept Allende from getting in.”
A transcript of the president’s comments on March 23, 1972, made after the leak of corporate papers revealing collaboration between ITT and the CIA to rollback the election of socialist leader Salvador Allende, was recently published in the National Security Archive book, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability by Peter Kornbluh; the tape marks the first time Nixon can be heard discussing his orders to undermine Chilean democracy. The conversation took place as Zeigler briefed the President on a State Department press conference to contain the growing ITT/CIA scandal which included one ITT document stating that Korry had been “given the green light to move in the name of President Nixon…to do all possible short of a Dominican Republic-type action to keep Allende from taking power.” Other declassified records show that Nixon secretly ordered maximum CIA covert operations to “prevent Allende from coming to power or unseat him” in the fall of 1970 but that Ambassador Korry was deliberately not informed of covert efforts to instigate a military coup.
When the White House-ordered covert operations failed to prevent Allende’s November 3, 1970, inauguration, Nixon’s national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, lobbied vigorously for a hard-line U.S. policy “to prevent [Allende] from consolidating himself now when we know he is weaker than he will ever be and when he obviously fears our pressure and hostility,” according to a previously unknown eight-page briefing paper prepared for the President on November 5, 1970. In the secret/sensitive “memorandum for the president” Kissinger claimed that Allende’s election posed “one of the most serious challenges ever faced in the hemisphere” and that Nixon’s “decision as to what to do about it may be the most historic and difficult foreign affairs decision you will have to make this year.” The memorandum reveals that Kissinger forcefully pressed the President to overrule the State Department’s position that there was little Washington could do to oppose the legitimately elected president of Chile and that the risks for U.S. interests of intervening to oppose him were greater than coexisting with him. “If all concerned do not understand that you want Allende opposed as strongly as we can, the result will be a steady drift toward the modus vivendi approach,” Kissinger informed Nixon.
Kissinger personally requested an hour to brief Nixon on November 5 in preparation for a National Security Council meeting to discuss Chile strategy the next day. The briefing paper records his threat perception of an Allende government as a model for other countries. As Kissinger informed the president: “The example of a successful elected Marxist government in Chile would surely have an impact on-an even precedent value for-other parts of the world, especially in Italy; the imitative spread of similar phenomena elsewhere would in turn significantly affect the world balance and our own position in it.” According to a transcript of the NSC meeting published in The Pinochet File, Nixon told his aides the next day that “our main concern is the prospect that [Allende] can consolidate himself and the picture projected to the world will be his success.”
“This document is the Rosetta stone for deciphering the motivations of Kissinger and Nixon in undermining Chilean democracy,” according to Peter Kornbluh who directs the Archive’s Chile Documentation Project. “It reinforces the judgement of history on Kissinger’s role as the primary advocate of overthrowing the Allende government.”
The Archive also posted today a series of declassified transcripts of Kissinger’s staff meetings after he became Secretary of State. The transcripts, dated from the days following the coup that brought General Augusto Pinochet to power through the first several years of his regime’s repression in Chile, record Kissinger’s attitude toward human rights atrocities and mounting Congressional pressure to curtail U.S. economic and military assistance the military regime. They are quoted at length in Kornbluh’s book, The Pinochet File, and recently cited in the New York Times Week in Review section (December 28, 2003).
According to the first transcript dated October 1, 1973, when Kissinger was informed by his assistant secretary of inter-American affairs of initial reports of massacres following the coup he told his staff that the U.S. should not defend what the regime was doing. However, he emphasized: “But I think we should understand our policy–that however unpleasant they act, the [military] government is better for us than Allende was.”
As pressure from human rights advocates mounted for Washington to distance itself from the Pinochet regime, according to the transcripts, Kissinger argued that the Chilean military government was no worse than other Latin American nations and repeatedly voiced concern that the junta would collapse without U.S. support. “I think the consequences could be very serious, if we cut them off from military aid,” Kissinger told his staff during a December 3, 1974, meeting.
The transcripts also capture Kissinger disparaging his own State Department staff for being soft on the human rights issue. In an exchange with Assistant Secretary for Latin America, William Rogers, on December 3, 1974, for example, Kissinger accuses his staff of “egging on” Senator Edward Kennedy who was the leading advocate of cutting assistance to the Pinochet regime on human rights grounds. “How many of our people are really egging Kennedy on,” Kissinger demands to know. At the beginning of a September 1975 meeting with Pinochet’ foreign minister, Adm. Patricio Carvajal, according to another transcript, Kissinger told him:
Well, I read the briefing paper for this meeting and it was nothing but Human Rights. The State Department is made up of people who have a vocation for the ministry. Because there were no enough churches for them, they went into the Department of State.
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l) White House Audio Tape, President Richard M. Nixon and White House press secretary Ron Zeigler, March 23, 1972
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In this White House tape, President Nixon is recorded on March 23, 1972, speaking by phone to his White House press secretary, Ron Zeigler about damage control efforts on the first major covert operations scandal of the 1970s-the ITT papers on Chile. Zeigler reports on a State Department press conference held earlier in the afternoon. He tells the president that the key issue was an ITT memo that stated that in the fall of 1970, U.S. Ambassador Edward Korry had received a “green light” from the White House to “do everything short of a Dominican Republic-type action” to stop Allende. Nixon demands to know how that leaked out, and then emphatically states that Korry “was instructed” to do that. The President then scapegoats the Ambassador for failing to carry out those instructions. Numerous declassified records make it clear that Nixon and Kissinger explicitly ordered the CIA not to inform Ambassador Korry of their efforts to instigate a military coup to keep Allende from assuming office.
2) White House, SECRET/SENSITIVE Memorandum for the President, “Subject: NSC Meeting, November 6-Chile,” November 5, 1970
This briefing paper, found among thousands of NSC papers recently declassified by the Nixon Presidential Materials Project at NARA, reveals Kissinger’s forceful attempts to influence Nixon’s policy toward an Allende government prior to a pivotal National Security Council meeting on Chile. Written two days after Allende’s inauguration, Kissinger emphasizes to Nixon that his election “poses for us one of the most serious challenges ever faced in this hemisphere.” Nixon’s decisions on what to do about it, he informs the President, “may be the most historic and difficult foreign affairs decision you will have to make this year.” Kissinger lists the “serious threats” he perceives Allende to pose to U.S. interests in the region and the world, among them $1 billion in investments that could be lost, and the precedent-setting “example of a successful elected Marxist government.” The memo notes that Allende will seek to be: “internationally respectable; move cautiously and pragmatically; avoid immediate confrontations with us.” But Kissinger attributes this to Allende’s “gameplan” to “neutralize” his political opponents in Chile. Nixon’s national security advisor urges him to overrule the State Department position that the U.S. does “not have the capability of preventing Allende from consolidating himself or forcing his failure” and that U.S. influence was best gained by “maintain[ing] our relationship and our presence in Chile.” Instead Kissinger forcefully recommends a hostile policy of pressure and opposition, but implemented “quietly and covertly” for maximum effectiveness. “Contrary to your usual practice of not making a decision at NSC meetings,” the memo concludes, “it is essential that you make it crystal clear where you stand on this issue….If all concerned do not understand that you want Allende opposed as strongly as we can, the result will be a steady drift toward the modus vivendi approach.”
3) Department of State, SECRET/NODIS, “Secretary’s Staff Meeting, October 1, 1973”
At the first staff meeting following Henry Kissinger’s confirmation as Secretary of State, Chile is a key topic. In this transcript, Assistant Secretary for Latin America, Jack Kubisch, comes to the meeting from Capitol Hill and reports that legislators are peppering him with questions about massive atrocities by the new military regime in Chile. He tells Kissinger that Newsweek magazine has reported 2700 bodies piled up in the central morgue in Santiago. “I’ve been asked: ‘How many people have been killed? Is it true, the rumors we hear,'” Kubisch states. Kissinger responds by making his policy toward the new Pinochet regime clear. He tells his staff: “I agree that we should not knock down stories that later prove to be true, nor should we be in the position of defending what they’re doing in Santiago. But I think we should understand our policy-that however unpleasant they act, the government is better for us than Allende was.”
4) Department of State, SECRET/NODIS, “Secretary’s Staff Meeting, October 2, 1973”
In staff meeting the next day, Assistant Secretary Jack Kubisch asks Secretary Kissinger if Pinochet’s new foreign minister should be invited to an upcoming diplomatic luncheon in New York City with other Latin American ministers. “Your behavior with him will be watched very close by the others to see whether or not you are blessing the new regime in Chile, or whether it is just protocol,” Kubisch advises Kissinger. “What will be the test? How will they judge?,” Kissinger asks. “I suppose if you give him warm abrazzos, sitting next to you, and huddling in the corner, that will all be reported back to their governments. [Laughter.],” Kubisch responds.
5) Department of State, SECRET, “The Secretary’s 8:00 a.m. Regional Staff Meeting,” December 3, 1974
At this staff meeting, Secretary Kissinger spends considerable time discussing Congressional efforts, led by Senator Edward Kennedy, to restrict U.S. military assistance to the Pinochet regime. The transcript records Kissinger’s vehement opposition to such legislative initiatives, on the grounds that they are unfair to the Chilean military government, could lead to its collapse, and set a dangerous precedent for cutting assistance to other unsavory governments the Ford Administration is supporting. “Well, am I wrong that this sort of thing is likely to finish off that government?” he demands to know. Later he asks: “Is this government worse than the Allende government? Is human rights more severely threatened by this government than Allende?” According to Kissinger, “the worse crime of this government is that it is pro-American.” In response, Assistant Secretary for Latin America, William Rogers informs the Secretary, “in terms of freedom of association, Allende didn’t close down the opposition party. In terms of freedom of the press, Allende didn’t close down all the newspapers.”
6) Department of State, SECRET, “The Secretary’s Principals and Regionals Staff Meeting,” December 20, 1974
At this staff meeting, the discussion of the State Department’s response to Senator Kennedy’s efforts to curtail assistance continues. Kissinger tells his staff that he won’t tolerate concessions to Congress on human rights and again expresses concern that the Pinochet regime will collapse. “We can’t acquiesce on that, and I have to talk to the President,” he states. “We cannot get into that business while I’m here, of behaving that way, of making a deal with a Senator that we know is against the national interest. You know the only possible outcome of this can be an extreme left wing government in Chile or driving the Chilean Government sort of toward the Arabs.”
7) Department of State, SECRET, “The Secretary’s Regionals and Principals’ Staff Meeting,” December 23, 1974
During this meeting, Kissinger again presses his staff to resist efforts by Congress to encroach on executive branch prerogatives and curtail assistance to the Pinochet regime. He calls cutting military aid to Chile “insane.” His Assistant Secretary, William Rogers, is left to explain the political realities of the human rights movement to him. “It is insane. But, Mr. Secretary, it does reflect an extraordinary strong feeling amongst the Congress, as you well know.” The human rights issue, Rogers reiterates later in the meeting “has caught the imagination up on the Hill, as you well know, Mr. Secretary, and amongst the American people.” Kissinger protests that if Congress is able to curtail assistance to Chile, it will move to cut aid to other countries like South Korea and Turkey. “There isn’t going to be any end to it,” he states, and “we are going to wind up in an unbelievable precarious position, in which no country can afford to tie up with us….” He continues: “It is a problem of the whole foreign policy that is being pulled apart, pulling out thread by thread, under one pretext or another.”
8) Department of State, Memorandum of Conversation, Secretary’s Meeting with Foreign Minister Carvajal, September 29, 1975
This transcript records a meeting between Secretary Kissinger and Pinochet’s foreign minister, Patricio Carvajal, following Chile’s decision to cancel a visit by the United Nations Human Rights Commission investigating human rights crimes. Kissinger begins the meeting by disparaging his staff “who have a vocation for the ministry” for focusing on human rights in the briefing papers prepared for the meeting. He tells Carvajal that condemnation of the Pinochet regime’s human rights record is “a total injustice,” but that “somewhat visible” efforts by the regime to alleviate the situation would be useful in changing Congressional attitudes. “Our point of view is if you do something, let us know so we can use it with Congress.” Kissinger, Carvajal, and Assistant Secretary Rogers then discuss U.S. efforts to expedite Ex-Im Bank credits and multilateral loans to Chile as well as cash sales of military equipment. At the end of the meeting, Kissinger voices support for the regime’s idea to host the June 1976 OAS meeting in Santiago as a way of increasing Pinochet’s prestige and improving Chile’s negative image.
KISSINGER SECRETLY LOBBIED PRESIDENT
AGAINST “DRIFT TOWARD MODUS VIVENDI”
WITH ELECTED SOCIALIST PRESIDENT
DECLASSIFIED KISSINGER TRANSCRIPTS REVEAL
STRONG SUPPORT FOR PINOCHET FOLLOWING CHILEAN COUP
National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 110
February 3 , 2004
For further information Contact
Peter Kornbluh 202 994 7116
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The Pinochet files; A series of declassified US documents have revealed the extent of America’s role in the Chilean coup, reports Jonathan Franklin
September 23, 2013
In this never-before-published photograph, General Augusto Pinochet (second from left) and President Salvador Allende (in white jacket) are seen on a trip in northern Chile in the months before the 1973 coup that left Allende dead and Pinochet in command of the government. Photograph: Fundacion Salvador Allende
September 11 1973 was a day of terror and bloodshed in Chile. After months of rising tension, army troops stormed the presidential palace, leaving President Salvador Allende dead and thousands prisoners throughout this previously democratic nation.
Now, on the 30th anniversary of the coup, professors, journalists and citizen activists around the world are continuing to expose the full role of the US government in financing and promoting this bloody coup, which ushered in the 17-year military dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet.
Thousands of top secret documents which were declassified over the past five years have now been synthesized in a new book, The Pinochet File, by investigative reporter Peter Kornbluh of the National Security Archives, a Washington-based investigative centre. “The US created a climate of a coup in Chile, a situation of chaos and agitation,” said Kornbluh. “The CIA and state department were worried that the [Chilean] military … were not ready for a coup.”
The top secret documents accumulatively detail the crude workings of Washington during the Cold War. “It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup,” reads a CIA document from October 1970. “It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG [US government] and American hand be well hidden.”
Two days after this document was written, top CIA officials proposed a terrorist campaign to stun the Chilean people into accepting a military regime.
“Concur giving tear gas cannisters and gas masks … working on obtaining machine guns,” reads a CIA memo dated October 18 1970.
“Use good officers … Some low-level overflights of Santiago and bomb drops in areas not likely to cause casualties could have great psychological effect and might swing balance as they have so many times in past in similar circumstances.”
While conservative Chileans argue that the coup was a home-grown affair, the current Chilean minister of education, Sergio Bitar, says: “That internal crisis was activated by the North American policies against it. We see how they energetically obstructed all types of credit from the World Bank and the InterAmerican Bank … these were decisive actions. This were political and financial pressures that were very relevant [to the ensuing coup.]”
The US effort to destabilise Chile was led by a policy of massively funding and bribing non-leftwing Chilean politicians.
Throughout the 1960s, the US secretly spent millions funding political parties of their choosing – usually the moderate Christian Democrats led by Eduardo Frei Montalva. By the early 1970s, Chilean society had become so leftwing that Washington decided to change tactics. First, President Nixon authorised $10m to be spent “to make the economy scream”.
He also authorised pro-coup initiatives designed to destroy the traditional reluctance of Chilean military men to take over civilian government.
“Pinochet will not be a stumbling block to coup plans”, reads one memo written six months before the coup, in which the American government looks to build a veritable Dream Team of coup plotters. “The navy and air force are ready … the military is getting ready to move.”
As part of a particularly crude effort to remove army officers who supported democratic rule, the CIA organised to kidnap Rene Schneider, a Chilean army general.
That plot was botched; Schneider died, and today his family is suing the US government and Henry Kissinger in particular for playing a role in his murder.
Citing documents declassified in the past few years, the lawsuit alleges that the US government paid $35,000 to the men who plotted the actions against Schneider.
“I don’t want revenge, I want the truth to be established,” said a son of the murdered general, also named Rene, who now lives in Santiago and works for a television station.
Immediately after the coup, US officials worked hard to ease international criticism of the human rights record of the Pinochet regime. Rather than fear Washington¿s reproach, the military regime repeatedly sought help and advice.
Just weeks after the coup, the US ambassador in Chile sent a memo to Henry Kissinger noting that “the military government of Chile requires adviser assistance of a person qualified in establishing a detention centre for the detainees … adviser must have knowledge in the establishment and operation of a detention centre”.
Even when the full extent of the torture and executions in Chile were well known, the US government sought to integrate the Pinochet regime into international business circles.
Probably no figure more personalised the cruelty of the Pinochet regime than the head of its secret DINA police force, Manuel Contreras.
Previously classified documents now confirm that, not only was Contreras on the CIA payroll, but that when he came to Washington during the height of human rights abuses, the US state department had specific tasks for him.
“Contreras was also asked to check in with Anaconda [Copper] and General Motors to encourage them to resume operations in Chile.”
theguardian.com, Wednesday 10 September 2003 14.07 BST
Find this story at 10 September 2003
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Justice for Charles Horman – and the truth about the US and Chile’s coup; My journalist husband was murdered because he knew too much about Pinochet’s US backers. Accountability is 40 years overdue
September 23, 2013
Forty years ago, during Chile’s bloody coup of 11 September 1973, my husband, Charles Horman, stepped into a car driven by “Captain” Ray Davis, the head of the US military group in Chile, for a ride from the coastal resort town of Viña del Mar to the capital of Santiago. That one journey forever changed our family, and placed me on a quest for justice that persists to this day.
Charlie was a journalist, and we both were enthusiastic supporters of the democratically-elected socialist president, Salvador Allende. When General Augusto Pinochet launched his coup against Allende from the same coastal town Charles was visiting, my husband was surprised to see not only many Chilean tanks and helicopters moving out, but US warships cruising just off the coast, and US military personnel on the ground. He overheard some of those personnel enthusiastically and eagerly taking credit for the success of the coup, implying US military involvement. Charlie dutifully took his notes.
Before he, and our visiting friend from New York, Terry, began their journey with Davis, Charles knew he had come upon dangerous information. The drive past heavy military roadblocks into the heart of Santiago where Pinochet’s forces were on a search-and-destroy mission for Allende supporters, provided the perfect opportunity for Davis to evaluate Charles and his loyalties. This reality did not escape my husband, and he began to fear Captain Davis.
Charles returned to our home in Santiago, and as he recounted his journey and discoveries to me, we resolved to leave the country. On 17 September, we separately embarked on our errands for the day, and kissed each other goodbye. I did not realize at the time that I would never see my husband alive again.
Later that day, Charles was abducted from our home by more than a dozen Chilean soldiers. He was brought to the national stadium, where some of the most brutal of the regime’s crimes were carried out against presumed Allende “sympathizers”. When I returned to find our home in disarray, and Charles missing, I feared the worst.
In the days and weeks that followed, Charles’ father, Ed Horman, and I sought the help of American officials. Rather than aiding our search, however, they inquired about our social circles, and asked if we had been “annoying” the Chileans. Gradually, it dawned on us that our worst fears were well-founded. If it had been made public, the information that Charles had acquired would have risked derailing the recognition of Chile’s junta by the US government. In that context, Charles was transformed from an American citizen who was entitled to protection, to a vulnerable and disposable threat to powerful forces.
A month would pass before it was revealed, through help from the Ford Foundation, that Charles had been executed – his bullet-ridden body buried in a wall in the national stadium. Yet, it was not until after Pinochet’s 1998 arrest in London, that an era of renewed pressure for accountability regarding the regime’s crimes would drive the Clinton administration to declassify many previously-redacted texts about that terrible time. According to one document:
US intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman’s death. At best, it was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the GOC [government of Chile]. At worst, US intelligence was aware the GOC saw Horman in a rather serious light and US officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of GOC paranoia.
Throughout these 40 years, our family has never relented in our search for truth and accountability around Charles’ death. We filed a case against Henry Kissinger in 1976. In 1981, it was dismissed “without prejudice” – free to re-open when more evidence became available. I personally testified in the House of Commons during Pinochet’s arrest in London. Our December 2000 case in Chile against Pinochet forces is still under investigation.
A year ago, Chile’s supreme court approved investigative Judge Zepeda’s request for extradition of Ray Davis to Chile concerning the deaths of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, another American journalist who was killed during the coup. The US has not yet been served with the extradition request; if and when that happens, it would set an important precedent for a US military officer to be charged by another country for the death of American citizens.
In the 40 intervening years, some wrongs have been revealed and some cases have been tried in Chile, which is, again, a democracy. Pinochet’s arrest certainly served as a lightning rod to broaden the global mechanisms to hold human rights violators accountable. But there is still a long way to go: the United States military continues to lie to the public, and take every opportunity available to cover up their abuses of power. We all have an interest in uncovering the truth about whether Captain Ray Davis played a role in the death of my husband.
In that sense, Charles’ story is just as relevant today as it was 40 years ago, and makes the cases against those responsible just as pressing. Charles’ mother, Elizabeth, often used the refrain, “we will leave no stone unturned.” That, too, is my mission, and should be the goal of all those dedicated to a just world in which no individual is too big, or too powerful, to answer for their crimes
theguardian.com, Wednesday 11 September 2013 12.30 BST
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Was U.S. Journalist Charles Horman Killed by Chile’s Coup Regime With Aid of His Own Government?
September 23, 2013
As we continue our look at the 40th anniversary of the U.S.-backed military coup in Chile and the ongoing efforts by the loved ones of its victims to seek justice, we turn to the case of Charles Horman. A 31-year-old American journalist and filmmaker, Horman was in Chile during the coup and wrote about U.S. involvement in overthrowing the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. Shortly after, he was abducted by Chilean soldiers and later killed. Horman’s story was told in the 1982 Oscar-nominated film, “Missing,” which follows his father, Edmund Horman, going to Chile to search for his son. We’re joined by Charles Horman’s widow, Joyce Horman, who filed a criminal suit against Pinochet for his role in her husband’s death, and established the Charles Horman Truth Project to support ongoing investigations into human rights violations during Pinochet’s regime. We’re also joined by Peter Weiss, vice president of the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represented the Horman family in their case against Kissinger and others for Charles Horman’s death.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: As we continue to mark this 40th anniversary this week of the U.S.-backed military coup in Chile—it was September 11th, 1973—today, the loved ones of thousands who were killed under General Pinochet’s dictatorship continue to seek justice. We turn now to the case of Charles Horman, 31-year-old American freelance journalist and filmmaker who was in Chile during the coup and wrote about the U.S. involvement in overthrowing Allende. Soon afterward, he was abducted by Chilean soldiers, later killed.
The story of what happened next is told in the 1982 Oscar-nominated film, Missing, which follows his father, Ed Horman, when he goes to Chile amidst the bloodshed of the coup to join his daughter-in-law, who in the film is played by Sissy Spacek, in the search for the son. This is a clip from the film when we see Ed Horman, played by Jack Lemmon, meeting with U.S. officials in Chile as a photo of then-President Richard Nixon hangs on the wall behind them. Horman went to Chile knowing that soldiers had seized Charles, but unaware that he had been shot to death at that point.
U.S. AMBASSADOR: [played by Richard Venture] I hear you’d like to discuss some political questions.
ED HORMAN: [played by Jack Lemmon] What?
U.S. AMBASSADOR: [played by Richard Venture] You suggested that there might be some kind of American police assistance program down here? I’d like you to know that nothing of that sort exists in this country.
ED HORMAN: [played by Jack Lemmon] Mr. Ambassador, I’m not interested in the politics of it, and I brought it up only because I want you to use every resource at your command.
U.S. AMBASSADOR: [played by Richard Venture] I repeat, Mr. Horman, no such operation exists.
CONSUL PHIL PUTNAM: [played by David Clennon] I got the clearance for those hospitals you wanted to visit.
ED HORMAN: [played by Jack Lemmon] What about the National Stadium?
CONSUL PHIL PUTNAM: [played by David Clennon] I’m trying, but it’s kinda touchy.
U.S. AMBASSADOR: [played by Richard Venture] Handle it.
ED HORMAN: [played by Jack Lemmon] What do you mean it’s touchy? Look, gentlemen, I know these are bad times. It’s not fun for you people. It’s certainly not fun for Beth or me—or Charles. I know you’re doing your best. I have to believe that; that’s our only hope. But you have all the machinery on your side. Don’t you see? You have all the connections. I’m a middle-aged businessman from New York City. I don’t speak one word of Spanish. Here I am. My son may have been shot. Maybe he was tortured. Maybe he was—oh, Lord, beaten so badly that they’re keeping him until he’s well enough to be released. I don’t know. I don’t care. Oh, really, I don’t care, because what is done is done. I just want you to reach those people and tell them I will take Charles back in any condition. I’m not going to make a stink. I’m not going to go to the newspapers. You make out any kind of a release form; I will sign it. I will absolve anyone, everyone, of everything. I just want my boy back. He’s the only child I have, sir.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s a clip from the 1982 film Missing, about the struggle to discover what happened to journalist Charlie Horman during the 1973 Chilean coup. Jack Lemmon plays Horman’s father, Ed Horman.
Well, today we’re joined by Charlie Horman’s widow, Joyce Horman. She filed a criminal suit against Pinochet for his role in her husband’s death, and established the Charles Horman Truth Project to support ongoing investigations into the human rights violations during Pinochet’s regime. And it’s her foundation that has gathered people from around the world involved in trying to bring Augusto Pinochet to justice, from Chile to London, where he was arrested, to finding the killers of the many people. Thousands of Chileans died under the 17-year reign of Augusto Pinochet. And some of those who have been fighting for justice are gathering tonight for an event to remember what took place 40 years ago.
Joyce Horman, welcome to Democracy Now!
JOYCE HORMAN: Thank you.
AMY GOODMAN: Missing certainly made your husband famous throughout the United States, that film by Costa-Gavras, but also showed that Charlie, though, was an American. It was thousands of Chileans who were killed in those years under Pinochet. Talk about the day that your husband was taken. You both were living in Santiago?
JOYCE HORMAN: We were living in Santiago. And he had just managed to get back from Viña del Mar, where he had taken a friend of ours from New York right before the coup and was trapped there for five days. So, he returned on Sunday, and then, Monday, he was going to go and find out about airplane tickets downtown. The curfew had been lifted during the day. So he and our friend, Terry, went down to the center of Santiago to look for tickets or a way out.
AMY GOODMAN: What did he see, where he was?
JOYCE HORMAN: Where he was, well, he saw American battleships off the shore. He saw the launch of the coup in Viña del Mar. They experienced that all the roads had been blocked and the trains had been stopped that night, Monday night before the coup, which is why he knew that was happening. But he also—he also met, in the hotel that they stayed, military—U.S. military people who were taking quite a large credit for the coup and were very excited about the success. And my husband, the journalist, knew that that was not something that anybody in the United States knew about. So, he was aware that it was incredible information at that point.
AMY GOODMAN: And so, he comes back to Santiago, to the capital of Chile. You see each other on the morning of the coup.
JOYCE HORMAN: Yes, I guess I have to start back. He was brought back to Santiago, to the search-and-destroy mission that was Santiago at that time, by the head of the U.S. MILGROUP, Military Group, who had come through blockades to get to Viña del Mar to see his military people in Viña, and then, because they had asked him if he would give a lift to Charles and Terry back to Santiago. His name is Ray, Captain Ray Davis, and he is an extraordinary figure in our story, and the extradition request for him was issued—well, was approved by the Chilean Supreme Court recently. But let me go back. So, he’s the one who went—again, drove through all the roadblocks, because he had all of the connections with the Pinochet forces, and brought them back to Santiago, dropped them in Santiago on Saturday. They came home on Sunday. I’m sorry, I think I lost the line of your original question.
AMY GOODMAN: What you were doing that day, when you last saw him, and then how he was taken—
JOYCE HORMAN: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: —how you learned he was taken.
JOYCE HORMAN: OK. We said goodbye as I was leaving to check on some other friends to be sure that they were OK, because there was very little communication for a week, and he was taking our friend Terry downtown to try and get a passage out. I did not get back that night because of the curfew. The buses stopped running. And as the movie Missing portrays, I was in a stairwell for the night.
When I got back to the house the next morning, I found the house completely ransacked. And my neighbors told me to go elsewhere, because the police—or the military people that had taken my husband would probably come back. Only they didn’t say they had taken my husband. They just said they had been there and ransacked the place, so I wasn’t sure that my husband had gotten back that night.
I guess it was the next day, neighbors from our old neighborhood got a call from the military intelligence saying, “Do you know—do you know an extremist gringo with a beard?” And it terrified our neighbors, but it told us that the military actually had Charles. And the next opportunity I had, I went to the consulate and the—the embassy, actually, to announce that he had been taken and that I wanted their help to find him and get him out. They were more interested in what had been taken from the house, the ransacked house. But that was the first contact I had with the U.S. officials at that point.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to jump forward a little bit and go back to the film Missing, and this is where we see, well, your character is called Beth in the film—that’s what you chose; you weren’t sure if this was going to be a film you wanted to be any part of.
JOYCE HORMAN: Exactly.
AMY GOODMAN: And you are played by Sissy Spacek, to this day who’s very—you are tied to and is very close to this story.
JOYCE HORMAN: Mm-hmm.
AMY GOODMAN: She and Jack Lemmon, who plays your father-in-law, Charlie’s father Ed, go to the stadium, where they’re allowed to get on the loudspeaker and ask if Charlie is there. Thousands of sympathizers of the ousted Socialist President Salvador Allende were rounded up and taken to the stadium in the days following September 11, 1973, the coup.
BETH HORMAN: [played by Sissy Spacek] Charlie? This is Beth. I’m here with your dad, Charlie, and the American consul. So if you can hear me, please come out so we can take you home.
ED HORMAN: [played by Jack Lemmon] Charles Horman, this is your father, Edmund. I’m here in the hope that you can hear me. Charles? Charles? Do you remember when we took that trip together across country from L.A. to New York? Just the two of us.
AMY GOODMAN: A clip from the 1982 Costa-Gavras film, Missing, about Charlie Horman, one of thousands of people, as Augusto Pinochet came to power and over the 17 years of his reign, who went missing and were killed. This is Democracy Now! We’ll continue this discussion after we listen to more of Víctor Jara.
AMY GOODMAN: “Plegaria [a] un Labrador (Prayer to a Worker)” by Víctor Jara, the Chilean singer-songwriter, folk singer, tortured and executed during the Chilean coup of Salvador Allende 40 years ago this week, September 11, 1973, as we honor this 40th anniversary of all those lost. We go—you can go to our website at democracynow.org to see the timeline of all of our coverage over these years.
We continue our coverage of the 40th anniversary as we’re joined by Joyce Horman, Charles Horman’s widow. She established the Charles Horman Truth Project to support ongoing investigations into the human rights violations during Pinochet’s regime.
We’re also joined by Peter Weiss, vice president of the board of the Center for Constitutional Rights. He represented the Horman family in their case against Henry Kissinger and others for the death of Charles Horman. This afternoon and this evening, there will be a major gathering at—in New York City as people gather from around the world to honor those who died during these days 40 years ago. At 583 Park Avenue, there will be a forum and discussion and panels—that is, run by the Charles Horman Truth Foundation.
I want to read part of a declassified transcript of a conversation just one day before Charles Horman was seized between then-President Richard Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry Kissinger. When discussing the U.S. role in the Chilean coup, Kissinger said, quote, “The Chilean thing is getting consolidated.” Nixon responded, “Well, we didn’t—as you know—our hand doesn’t show on this one, though.” Kissinger replied, “We didn’t do it. … I mean we helped them. [Omitted word] created the conditions as great as possible.” And Nixon responded, “That is right.” The two then discussed, quote, “this crap from the liberals” in the media about the overthrow of a democratically elected government, and Kissinger noted, “In the Eisenhower period … we would be heroes.” Now, that is taken from a declassified memo that was declassified for the National Security Archive. It appears in the new edition of a new book that has come out by Peter Kornbluh on Pinochet and these years and is also cited in the—in Peter Kornbluh’s latest piece in The Nation magazine.
Peter Weiss, their role of Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon in Allende coup?
PETER WEISS: Well, they were responsible for the coup, because they decided as soon as Salvador Allende, who was a Socialist, became president of Chile, that he had to go. And Chile was not the only country where the United States then was deciding that people had to go. And Kissinger was eventually put in charge of the 40 Committee, which was given such a nondescript name because one couldn’t say what it was actually about. But it was about preparing the coup. And the coup had two tracks, essentially. It had track one, which was managed by the State Department, more or less overtly. And then it had track two, managed by the CIA, entirely covertly. And Nixon allocated $10 million to the CIA to prepare for the coup, to mobilize, to have a relationship between the corporations that were interested in getting rid of Allende, and it was also supposed to activate the media. And it worked, as you said when you quoted Nixon and Kissinger saying, “We did it, but we didn’t do it.”
AMY GOODMAN: I want to read from a declassified U.S. State Department memo on the Charles Horman case dated August 25th, 1973. It says, quote, “There is some circumstantial evidence to suggest US intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman’s death. At best, it was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the [government of Chile, or] GOC. At worst, US intelligence was aware that GOC saw Horman in a rather serious light and US officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of GOC [government of Chile] paranoia.”
PETER WEISS: Well, there were actually two ways in which Charles Horman was failed by his government. One was that they helped to orchestrate the coup, and the other was that they didn’t lift a finger to get him out of Chile when they had every reason to believe that he was in great danger. And there is an international law, an obligation, for governments to keep their citizens from being killed in foreign countries. The United States completely failed to do anything about that.
AMY GOODMAN: Kissinger is still alive. President Nixon of course has died. The case was dismissed, Joyce and Peter, against Kissinger. Why? And are there cases now that involve him?
PETER WEISS: I’m not aware of any pending cases now. Maybe Almudena knows of some, but I’m not aware of any pending cases. Our case was dismissed because we couldn’t conduct discovery. When you bring any kind of case, civil or criminal, you have to look for the evidence and produce the evidence to the judge or the jury. And everything that we wanted, we were told, was classified and would not be made available to us. So, eventually, the case had to be dismissed, because we couldn’t establish the causal relationship between Charles’s death and what people like Ray Davis, whom Joyce mentioned, who was the head of the—
JOYCE HORMAN: Military Group.
AMY GOODMAN: MILGROUP.
PETER WEISS: —of the Military Group at the embassy—
AMY GOODMAN: In this last minute, as you mention international law, it’s being invoked a lot these days as we look at the possible strike against Syria. Peter Weiss, you are legendary in your defense of international law. What are the parallels you see?
PETER WEISS: I see two parallels. One is that the Assad regime engaged in multitudinous violations of international law for two-and-a-half years. Right? I mean, they bombed. They sent artillery rockets into civilian areas, which is a cardinal violation of international law. And nobody really mentioned the fact that these were international law violations. And then come the chemical weapons, and everybody is saying, “Oh, my god, you know, now they’ve violated international law.” What were they doing before? Complying with international law? Surely not. So, that’s one thing.
The other thing is that if—
AMY GOODMAN: We have 15 seconds.
PETER WEISS: —Obama decides to go in there without approval from the international community, he will be guilty of a tremendous violation of international law. And you can’t uphold international law by violating international law.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to continue the discussion both on Syria as well as on this 40th anniversary of the coup in Chile tomorrow on Democracy Now!
Monday, September 9, 2013
Find this story at 9 September 2013
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Charles Horman Truth Project
September 23, 2013
In the wake of the 1973 coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende and brought Augusto Pinochet to power in Chile, Charles Horman, a young American journalist, was abducted from his home in Santiago, tortured and executed. His widow Joyce and his father Edmund spent agonizing weeks in Chile looking for him before finally learning of his death. There is reason to believe that Charles Horman’s knowledge of U.S. involvement in the coup was related to his execution. These events became the subject of the Costa-Gavras movie MISSING.
In 1976, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Horman family sued Henry Kissinger and other Nixon Administration officials for the wrongful death of Charles and the family’s pain and suffering caused by the concealment of his death. After years of vigorous attempts to obtain classified State Department and CIA documents, the case was dismissed in 1980 “without prejudice,” recognizing that information was being withheld and thereby enabling the Horman family to reopen the case should additional facts become available.
The arrest of Pinochet in London in 1998, which reinvigorated the global movement to bring human rights violators to justice, rekindled Joyce Horman’s hope of uncovering the truth about her husband’s murder. She joined the Spanish lawsuit that charged Pinochet with crimes against humanity and requested his extradition from the United Kingdom for trial in Spain. That suit led to the landmark decision of the House of Lords granting the Spanish judge’s request (later rendered moot by the British Home Secretary on the grounds of Pinochet’s health, which returned Pinochet to Chile).
At the same time, Horman’s attorneys obtained documents released by the U.S. government as a result of the Chile declassification order issued by President Bill Clinton in February 1999. Several of the documents had originally been released in the late 1970’s pursuant to the Horman’s 1976 lawsuit but were heavily blacked out. The version released in 1999 revealed what had been censored for 20 years: the State Department’s own conclusion that the CIA may have had “an unfortunate part” in Horman’s death.
In the summer of 2000, Chile’s Supreme Court stripped Pinochet of his senatorial immunity, resulting in the filing of more than 300 human rights cases against him. At roughly the same time, the third release of declassified documents in the United States provided little additional information, and the Horman family decided to file their own case in Chile with Judge Juan Guzman against Pinochet and his subordinates. Kissinger and other members of the Nixon Administration State Department were named as witnesses in the case, resulting in the Chilean Supreme Court approving the transmission of official questions to the Bush Administration for answers. It is noteworthy that during the summer of 2001, when the Chilean government allocated more judges to handle human rights cases, Judge Guzman, the highest-ranking judge, retained only six cases, the Horman case among them.
To continue this pursuit of justice in Chile, Joyce Horman has established the Charles Horman Truth Project to support ongoing investigations of the human rights violations that were carried out in Pinochet’s detention centers and efforts to bring him and his subordinates to justice. Research, supported in part by the Ford Foundation, is looking to determine who took part in the repressive structure at Chile’s National Stadium just after the 1973 coup. This work has resulted in new testimony regarding the human rights crimes of that era. On May 15th, 2002 in New York, the Project will commemorate the film MISSING and honor those who made it with the Charles Horman Truth Project 2002 Human Rights Awards.
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Washington and the Pinochet coup in Chile; Declassified documents confirm US role in 1973 death of Charles Horman
September 23, 2013
More than a quarter century after the execution in Chile of Charles Horman, an American freelance journalist, Washington has released a document admitting that US intelligence agents played a role in his death.
The Horman case was made famous by the Hollywood movie Missing. Directed by Constantino Costa Gavras, the film dramatized the struggle of Charles Horman’s family to uncover the truth about his murder and the collaboration of US officials with the Chilean military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet in carrying it out.
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The State Department memo, dated August 25, 1976, was declassified just over two weeks ago (October 8), together with 1,100 other documents released by various US agencies. These papers dealt primarily with the years leading up to the military coup that brought Pinochet to power in September 1973. An initial set of 5,800 previously classified documents, made public last June 30, concerned the first five years of the dictatorship, when tens of thousands of Chilean workers, students and political oppositionists were imprisoned, tortured and executed.
Charles Horman was one of the victims of the Pinochet coup. On September 17, 1973, six days after the US-backed military takeover, Horman was seized by Chilean soldiers and taken to the National Stadium in Santiago, which had been turned by the military into a make-shift concentration camp. There prisoners were interrogated, tortured and executed. One month later, Horman’s body was found in a morgue in the Chilean capital. A second American journalist, Frank Terrugi, was killed in the same fashion.
Written by three State Department functionaries—Rudy Fimbres, R.S. Driscoll and W.V. Robertson—and addressed to Harry Schlaudeman, a high-ranking official in the department’s Latin American division—the August 1976 document described the Horman case as “bothersome,” given reports in the press and Congressional investigations charging that the affair involved “negligence on our part, or worse, complicity in Horman’s death.” The memo was written while Henry Kissinger was still Secretary of State.
The State Department, the memo declared, had the responsibility to “categorically refute such innuendoes in defense of US officials.” It went on, however, to lay out the case that these “innuendoes” were well founded.
The three State Department officials said they had evidence that “The GOC [Government of Chile] sought Horman and felt threatened enough to order his immediate execution. The GOC might have believed this American could be killed without negative fall-out from the USG [US Government].”
The report went on to declare that circumstantial evidence indicated “US intelligence may have played an unfortunate part in Horman’s death. At best it was limited to providing or confirming information that helped motivate his murder by the GOC. At worst, US intelligence was aware the GOC saw Horman in a rather serious light and US officials did nothing to discourage the logical outcome of GOC paranoia.”
What the document does not mention is that the US military and the Central Intelligence Agency had their own reasons not only to feed the Chilean dictatorship’s “paranoia,” but also to take a direct role in sanctioning the execution. Horman spent the day of the military uprising and several days thereafter in the resort town of Viña del Mar, near the port of Valparaiso, which was a key base for both the Chilean coup plotters and US military and intelligence personnel who were supporting them. While there, he spoke with several US operatives and took careful notes documenting the US role in overthrowing the elected government of President Salvador Allende.
After the release of the State Department memo, Horman’s widow, Joyce, described it as “close to a smoking pistol.”
The same document had been released to the Horman family more than 20 years ago. But the paragraphs cited above were blacked out by the State Department. It took nearly two decades for Washington to reveal what had been hidden in the 28 lines blacked out by government censors.
Still, the Clinton administration’s “Chile Declassification Project,” touted by the president as an effort to “shed light on human rights abuses, terrorism and other acts of political violence” under Pinochet, has amounted to an exercise in hypocrisy. Motivated by Washington’s desire to distance itself from its former ally after the ex-dictator’s arrest in London and efforts to extradite him to Spain, the declassification has hidden more than it has revealed.
The Horman document released October 8 came from the State Department, as have the vast bulk of the material that has been declassified. In it, the State Department officials themselves express skepticism about the account given by the CIA of its relations with key Chilean figures involved in Horman’s case.
While this section of the document still has sections deleted for reasons of “national security,” it declares that the agency’s account “needs further illumination no matter CIA disclaimers.” It goes on to declare that the authors find it hard to believe “that the Chileans did not check with [name deleted] regarding two detained Americans … lack of candor with us on other matters only heightens our suspicions.”
But where are the CIA documents, both those shared with the State Department at the time and those whose concealment prompted such suspicions? They remain classified, as do documents from the Pentagon which would have recounted contacts between US military officers and Charles Horman in Viña del Mar.
In the first batch of declassified material, 5,000 of the 5,800 documents came from the State Department, while the CIA released only 500. Out of some 25,000 pages of reports, memos and cables that have been made public thus far, not a single one provides any information on the part played by the CIA, the Pentagon or other US agencies in the Chilean coup itself and the bloody repression which followed.
There is no dispute that these documents exist. Daily cables went back and forth between Washington and Santiago as the CIA and the Nixon government followed the progress of “Track II,” as the planned coup was known in intelligence circles. These documents have been referred to repeatedly in congressional investigations and access to them has been repeatedly denied in various Freedom of Information requests.
One of the recently released State Department documents gives an indication of the scale of US collaboration with Pinochet’s preparations. It establishes that US military aid was raised dramatically between the coming to power of Allende in 1970, when it amounted to $800,000, to $10.9 million in 1972, as the coup plans were elaborated. Even as Nixon and Kissinger vilified the Allende government, they poured vast resources into the instrument they would use to overthrow it, the Chilean military.
Further documents withheld by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies concern the 1976 car bomb assassination of Orlando Letelier, a former Chilean minister and opponent of the dictatorship, together with his American aide, Ronni Moffitt, in Washington, DC. American officials have made the improbable claim that these documents must remain secret because they are material to the investigation of Pinochet’s crimes.
According to Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive, the CIA has rejected any review of documents emanating from its Directorate of Operations, the covert arm that earned the agency the nickname Murder Inc., on the grounds that the US government has never officially acknowledged carrying out covert operations in Chile. Similarly, the agency has taken the position that planning and policy documents are not covered by Clinton’s declassification order.
This guarding of Washington’s dirty secrets relating to Chile is motivated in part by the fact that former and present US officials who played a role as criminal as that of Pinochet himself are still alive. They, like the ex-dictator, could conceivably be called to account.
Men like ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and the CIA’s former coup master in Latin America, General Vernon Walters, are among them, as are many lesser-known functionaries of US intelligence and the Pentagon.
Even more important, “national security interests” are at stake in keeping these documents secret because, 25 years after the Chilean coup, US imperialism is still prepared to use the methods employed by Pinochet and his American backers in defending the interests of the US banks and multinationals and suppressing the struggles of the working class all over the world.
By Bill Vann
26 October 1999
Find this story at 26 October 1999
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