Chilean court rules US played key role in Pinochet murder of Americans

Joyce and Charles Horman in 1971.

Joyce and Charles Horman in 1971.

By Barry Grey, wsws.org

[A] Chilean court issued a ruling Monday that the commander of US military forces in Chile played a pivotal role in the murder of two US citizens following the September 1973 coup that overthrew the elected government of Salvador Allende and installed General Augusto Pinochet as dictator.

“The military intelligence services of the United States had a fundamental role in the creation of the murders of the two American citizens in 1973, providing Chilean military officers with the information that led to their deaths,” the ruling by Judge Jorge Zepeda said.

The ruling went on to say that the murders were part of “a secret United States information-gathering operation carried out by the US Milgroup [Military Group] in Chile on the political activities of American citizens in the United States and Chile.”

Judge Zepeda found that US Navy Captain Ray E. Davis provided his Chilean liaison, Raúl Monsalve, with information casting the two Americans, 31-year-old journalist Charles Horman and 24-year-old student Frank Teruggi, as left-wing subversives. Monsalve passed on the information to the Intelligence Department of the Chilean Joint Chiefs of Staff, which ordered the men’s arrests.

Horman, whose abduction and murder were depicted in the award-winning 1982 film Missing, was seized from his home by soldiers on September 17 and taken to Santiago’s National Stadium, which had been turned by the US-backed junta into a detention, torture and execution center. An estimated 10,000 people were incarcerated at the stadium in the immediate aftermath of the coup.

Horman was severely tortured and shot to death on September 18. His corpse was hidden in a wall in the stadium and only discovered a month later. Teruggi was arrested on September 20 and taken to the stadium. He was tortured and executed the following day.

This post carries an Appendix  containing an account of the Pinochet coup by officers of the State Department and CIA stationed in Chile at the time. We think it is an excellent source of original historical material on this painful topic, and, despite being a document prepared by agents of the main power implicated in the coup, and sprinkled with a fair amount of excuses, it is amazingly dispassionate and accurate in other important details. It should be useful to any serious student of the Chilean tragedy to provide an insight into the American mind at the cutting edge in such events.—PG

Judge Zepeda also upheld the decision to charge retired Chilean Army Col. Pedro Espinoza with the murders, and Rafael Gonzalez, a former civilian counterintelligence agent, as an accomplice in Horman’s death.

Capt. Davis, acting on behalf of the US military, the CIA and the administration of President Richard Nixon, was undoubtedly aware that in fingering Horman and Teruggi he was condemning them to death. The Chilean military was at the time hunting down and killing thousands of Allende supporters, trade unionists and left-wing students.

Following the release of Judge Zepeda’s ruling, Sergio Corvalán, a lawyer for the families of the two slain men, pointed to the active role of the US government in the murder of Horman and Teruggi. “The Chilean military would not have acted against them on their own,” he said. “They didn’t have any particular interest in Horman or Teruggi, or evidence of any compromising political activity that would make them targets of Chilean intelligence agencies.”

Horman and Teruggi were part of an expatriate US community of students and young people who were drawn to Chile following the September 1970 election of Socialist Party leader Allende as president. Both worked for a leftist publication in Santiago called FIN. Horman was investigating the murder of the Chilean commander-in-chief, Gen. René Schneider, which took place in October 1970 and was part of a CIA operation to create the conditions for a coup to block Allende from being inaugurated the following month.

Allende, who called himself a Marxist, was a moderate social democrat who rejected revolution and preached a “peaceful road to socialism.” He was inaugurated, but his entire time in office was dominated by the efforts of the United States, under the supervision of National Security Adviser and later Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, to strangle the Chilean economy and prepare a military coup.

Horman was evidently singled out for elimination by Captain Davis and Davis’ superiors because he had detailed information about the direct role of the United States in the coup. Horman spent the day of the military uprising, September 11, and several days thereafter in the resort town of Viña del Mar, near the port of Valparaiso, which was the central base for both the Chilean plotters and US military and intelligence personnel who were helping to organize the overthrow.

While there, Horman spoke with several US operatives and took notes documenting the US role in the coup. Captain Davis actually drove Horman and a companion back to Santiago from Viña del Mar at the height of the military siege, when roads were blocked, a curfew was in effect and military checkpoints were omnipresent. Davis used the drive to question Horman about his activities.

The ruling issued Monday comes on top of declassified State Department documents released in 1999 confirming the US role in the murder of Horman and Teruggi. A document from August 25, 1976 stated: “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 GOC [government of Chile].”

However, the US government, with the general support of the media, has worked for over 40 years to cover up the murders and shield US officials, such as Kissinger, who bear political responsibility. Kissinger, at a meeting of the “40 Committee” on covert action in Chile held June 27, 1970, infamously declared, “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people.”

Shortly after the 1973 coup, he sent secret instructions to the US ambassador in Santiago to convey to Pinochet “our strongest desires to cooperate closely and establish firm basis for cordial and most constructive relationship.”

The ruling by Judge Zepeda came about only due to the tireless efforts of family members of the slain Americans to expose the truth and hold US officials accountable.

In 1976, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Horman family sued Kissinger and other Nixon administration officials for the wrongful death of Charles Horman and the family’s pain and suffering caused by the concealment of his death. However, the government refused to grant access to classified State Department or CIA documents and blocked CCR lawyers from deposing US officials. The family was forced to allow the case to be dismissed “without prejudice” in 1980.

In 2000, Charles’ widow, Joyce Horman, went to Chile and filed a case there against Pinochet and his subordinates. Kissinger and other members of the Nixon administration State Department were named as witnesses. The Teruggi family subsequently joined the case.

In November 2011, Judge Zepeda indicted Chilean intelligence officer Pedro Espinosa as well as Captain Davis for complicity in the deaths of Horman and Teruggi. In October of 2012, the Supreme Court of Chile approved Zepeda’s order for a formal extradition request to the United States for Davis. Monday’s ruling was the outcome of the legal efforts begun by Joyce Horman in 2000.

Unbeknownst to post-Pinochet Chilean authorities, Davis was not living in the US, but hiding out in Santiago, where he reportedly died in 2013.

In response to Monday’s ruling, Janis Teruggi Page, the sister of Frank Teruggi, said, “The judge’s decision makes clear that US intelligence personnel who aided and abetted the Chilean military after the coup remain co-conspirators in this horrible crime.”

Joyce Horman released a statement saying: “More than 40 years after my husband was killed, and almost 14 years since I initiated judicial proceedings in Chile, I am delighted that the cases of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi are moving forward in the Chilean courts. At the same time, I remain outraged that, through death and delay, a key indicted US official, Captain Ray Davis, has escaped this prosecutorial process. Judge Zepeda’s ruling both implicates and incriminates US intelligence personnel as playing a dark role in the murder of my husband.”

The Chile coup as seen by members of the US diplomatic corps. The account is part of a series sponsored by the State Department, Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History

Moments in U.S. Diplomatic History

Chile’s Coup Against Salvador Allende and the Truth Behind “Missing”

allende street 20080607klphishch_56_Ies_SCOIn 1973, political tensions were high in Chile, with conflict arising between the socialist President Salvador Allende and the more conservative Congress of Chile. The Chilean economy was failing, the Supreme Court had denounced Allende’s government, and perhaps more importantly, the military had lost its respect for Allende. During the summer, there had been several failed coup attempts [read about the Tanquetazo], which led to the ouster of Arturo Prats as commander of the Chilean army and the rise of Augusto Pinochet; by September, Chile reached the final breaking point. On September 11 the military opened fire on the Presidential Palace; by the end of the day, Allende was dead and the stage was set for over a decade of Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship 

The United States government never supported the Allende government — in keeping with the Cold War containment policy, President Nixon approved millions of dollars to be spent in a failed attempt to prevent Allende’s election in 1970. The continued hostility of the U.S. towards the Allende government led to lingering suspicions about America’s possible involvement in the coup. Those suspicions were fed by the movie Missing by acclaimed director Costa-Gavras, based on the book by Thomas Hauser, about two Americans killed during the coup. Americans were enraged that the State Department and the CIA had collaborated with the Chilean police force to orchestrate the murders of Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman, supposedly to keep secret how the United States actually orchestrated the coup in order to help Pinochet become the head of Chile. Samuel F. Hart was stationed in Santiago through it all, and in an interview with Stu Kennedy starting in 1998, he relates what he saw and discusses the truth behind Missing.

“You’re out of here, baby”

HART:  [T]he timing of all this was serendipitous. Everybody thought the coup was going to occur. And the newspaper headlines show it; for weeks before it actually happened, they all talked about “When will the coup occur?” Everybody thought it was going to be on Armed Forces Day, which was September 17 or something like that, when all the armed forces had a big parade in Santiago. They thought that was going to be the day. All these units would be coming, and that would be the time when the military would just swivel their cannons around and say, “Okay, you’re out of here, baby.”

allende tanks coupIt came on the 11th; it came a week early. It was bloody. Not that that many people were killed in the original coup attempt, but there were a lot of scores that got settled after that. A lot of innocent people died, as well as a lot of people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Q: Did you have any feel for what we were doing, or the CIA, or anything else?

I was aware of most of what the CIA was doing. I was aware that the CIA was funneling money to the chief opposition newspaper, El Mercurio. I was aware that they were funneling money to some non-Communist labor unions, including the truckers’ union. And I was aware that they were funneling money to some radio and television stations, like those run by the Catholic Church…. And I thought that that was a legitimate activity for CIA.

Nobody ever sat down and said, “This is what we’re doing,” but I had enough friends who were in the Agency and what have you, somehow it kind of leaked and seeped. It was never explicit; it was always just kind of figuring these things out. I had access to a lot of the Agency reporting, and I think, probably, over time, you could read between the lines and figure it out. The Agency did make much of their reporting available.

The Agency station chief there was a guy by the name of Earl Warren, who was a first-class officer. He was a first-class officer. And the Agency, in contrast to the State Department, did something when Chile came along that showed that they’re a lot smarter than we are about personnel problems:  they put their very best people into Chile. They scoured Latin America to find their very best people to put into Chile. The State Department didn’t do that; we just went with the normal personnel system. Stuff happened, and we didn’t say, “Look, this is a place we want to have the best in our family.” Interestingly enough, State Department people in Chile during this period and at the time of the coup, with only one exception, or, you might say, two, came out with their careers tarnished. Whereas the Agency people were all looked upon as heroes….

Some people were tarred with the brush of having participated in the murder of an American citizen. A total lie, but the movieMissing and the book Missing implicated Fred Purdy; the MILGROUP commander, Ray Davis; Judd Kessler, who was the acting AID [Agency for International Development] director; and Nat Davis as being responsible for the murders of Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman. Total garbage and crap and outrages were turned into instant history by the movie, and that’s what the American people believe happened in Chile. It’s not what happened in Chile.

“What should we do about Allende?”

The debate that kept going on, in one way or another, in the embassy and in the U.S. government, over time, was:  “What should we do about Allende?” And there were a lot of us who said, “Don’t do anything. What we do is not effective and it’s not necessary. This is a Chilean problem. Chile’s of no interest and value to us strategically or in security terms. Even if a Communist regime takes over here, so what? Henry was right — this is a dagger pointed at the heart of Antarctica”…. “Let’s just let nature take its course here. That’s the best policy.” It was that debate versus the activist debate.

In the end, we came out kind of in between. But we were not responsible for what happened; the Chilean dynamics were responsible for what happened. But when history was being written, that’s not the way it came out. The U.S. became the key element, the crucial element, the catalyst in what happened in Chile. Chileans know that’s not true, but the rest of the world probably doesn’t. Everybody knew the coup was going to happen; it was only a question of when….

The way it unfolded was, the majority of the embassy staff started in to work on the morning of the 11th of September and got within eight or ten blocks of the embassy before they ran into the first roadblocks….

The embassy people made their way into the embassy building, which was almost on the square. It was just a tiny bit off the square that looked onto the Presidential Palace.

Chilean army fire on La Moneda Palace during 1973 coupWhen I parked my car down there that morning and walked around and saw that something really serious was going on, I still didn’t know exactly what it was. Although the coup machinery had started to turn about four or five o’clock in the morning, it wasn’t until right after we got in the embassy, 8:15, 8:30, something like that, that the military came on the radio stations, announced that a coup had occurred, announced that Allende had been removed from office, and called upon him and all of his ministers and all of his supporters to peacefully surrender.

The military were in great evidence in the square in front of the Moneda [Palace, the President’s residence]. I couldn’t see the other side of the building, but I’m sure that they were there, too. And the people were filtering in.

At that time, there was not much shooting. The shooting started around nine.

The military kept broadcasting these calls upon Allende to surrender. He was in the Presidential Palace. He had gotten there from his home when there had been a bungled attempt to get him at his home. They had missed him, and he had fled down to the presidential palace. There were a few other people in there, too.

Some of us, in order to get a better view of what was going on at the palace, went up on the rooftop of the embassy building. There was some shooting going on between the troops on the ground and people in the office buildings that were in downtown Santiago. But at that time, there was no shooting at the embassy; otherwise, I would have never been on the roof.

Embassy Under Fire

Later on, after repeated calls for Allende to surrender had not been heeded, his supporters in office buildings around the embassy started firing on the embassy. And (cruelest cut of all) one of their main targets was back in the attaché section — they shot out all the air conditioners. 

We closed all the drapes, and we put up, where possible, any kind of blockage. We let down what they call the persianas, which are the blinds…and they’re wooden…. We let those down so that at least nobody could see inside. But we took a lot of hits, bullets fired at the embassy from surrounding office buildings by Allende supporters…

[T]he Allende supporters had started getting arms as far back as 1971, ’72. Cuba shipped some arms in to the MIR [Revolutionary Left Movement party], and these were handed out to Allende supporters in the poorer sections of town. And they had brought arms into the government office buildings where they worked and what have you. So there was sniper fire going on between the office buildings and the ground.

Inside the embassy, practically everybody was there. We were tuned to the radio. We had an open phone line to Washington. And we had gotten hold of a guy over in the Carrera Hotel who had a better look at what was going on in the palace than we had, particularly since we couldn’t go on the roof anymore because there was too much sniper fire, who had kind of a front-row perch there, looking at what was going on in the front of the Moneda. He was on the phone line telling us, and we were relaying to Washington.

allende lamoneda

By ten or eleven o’clock in the morning, the fire against the Moneda — small arms and even some tank fire — started to get pretty heavy. But that’s a big, heavy building, and there seemed to be no inclination on the part of the Allende people inside to surrender. He was warned that if he didn’t surrender, there’d be an air strike against the Moneda.

And, indeed, after a number of delays, right around noontime, three or four Chilean Air Force jets came in and fired rockets into the front of the Moneda. Into the front door of the Moneda, actually, which was a big, heavy, metal-reinforced wooden double door.

Shortly after that, around one o’clock, the troops stormed the Palace.

Allende’s Death: Suicide or Execution?

This is where history may never give a final assessment of what happened. Allende was in his office. He was found dead, with a massive wound from an automatic weapon that had been given to him by Fidel Castro.

There are two versions of what happened.

Allende's BodyOne version is that he committed suicide, saying that he would never be taken alive, that he would not let himself be subjected to the humiliation of being a prisoner–an ousted president who had been brought down by the military.

The other one is that the military got him and executed him with his own weapon.

I was very close personal friends with Allende’s favorite nephew. He had no sons…. And his favorite nephew told me, shortly after the coup, that his uncle had told him that he knew the coup was coming, but that he would never be taken alive and forced into exile or put into prison or anything like that, that he would kill himself first. This nephew…said that he was convinced, having seen the body and having talked to his uncle beforehand, that his uncle had committed suicide.

It really doesn’t make any difference. It really doesn’t make any difference. The fact is that he was killed as a result of the coup.

The Day After: Martial Law and Curfew

Early in the morning, they said, “Everybody go home. Get off the streets. You have an hour to do so,” or something like that. That was like at ten o’clock in the morning. Well, there was a hell of a lot of shooting going on. The embassy people stayed put.

Around four o’clock in the afternoon, there was a truce declared. People who were downtown were told to go home, that martial law was in effect, and that there would be a curfew until further notice.

allende chile-coup-1973-stadiumThe embassy was divided up into duty teams, duty sections, if you want, the idea being that you would serve 24 hours on and 24 hours off, and people were designated to which team they’d be on. I happened to be on Team Two, not on Team One, so I loaded a whole bunch of people into my car, and at four or five o’clock that afternoon, we made our way home. There was still some shooting going on, but it was much reduced from what it had been…. The expectation was that we would show up the next morning (assuming that the curfew was off at eight or nine o’clock in the morning) and relieve the people who had stayed on overnight.

Wrong. That’s not the way it worked out. The curfew stayed in effect 24 hours a day for about 48 hours. So the people who were in the embassy were stuck there…for 48 hours before their relief came. But afterwards, we did 24-hour shifts. A dusk-to-dawn curfew remained in effect for a long time. And some form of curfew remained in effect in Chile for years. For years.

There was a lot of shooting; a lot of scores were settled. The amazing part to me was not that you had two Americans, Frank Teruggi and Charles Horman, who were killed during the coup, but that there weren’t more.

The Truth Behind Missing

chile Missing_1982_filmQ: There was a movie called Missing, the basic claim of which was that a young, radical student, an American, came down and got messed up in politics and all, supporting Allende, and for some reason or other they decided he had to be killed, and he was killed, and that the embassy colluded in it because he interfered with our policies. I wonder if you could talk a bit about the period just before the coup, and the Americans who arrived there. It was a time of a lot of demonstrations.  This was the thing to do in those days, for students. Did we have a problem down there, and how did we see it, if we did? 

The arrival of Salvador Allende into the presidency of Chile was like a magnet not only to certain groups from the left in the United States, but really from all over the world. In Western Europe it was true, too….

Allende, however, was essentially a bourgeois, gradualist kind of person. He was not a flaming revolutionary. Here was a guy who, in all of his tastes, in all of his life, had been anything but a flaming revolutionary. He loved wine, women, and song. Fast women and slow horses were his vices.

Salvador Allende put together a coalition which included totally contradictory elements. And one element was essentially a Maoist-Fidelista-type of armed revolutionary. Those people were attracted, too, more of them from Europe and other Latin American countries than from the United States. From the United States, what you got mainly were idealistic young people who wanted to be at least flies on the walls to a wonderful humanistic experience.

There were maybe ten thousand of these people, all told, in Chile. And of those, maybe one or two thousand were Americans….Some of them did, you know, kind of social work in poor neighborhoods, and some of them just kind of drifted into the coffee house, revolutionary-song-singing, feel-good kind of activities; but strictly low level. Most of these people wanted absolutely nothing to do with the embassy; the embassy was the enemy. Some of them registered with the Consular Section. Many, many did not. Some came and left. I can’t remember the numbers exactly… but at the time of the coup, the total number of Americans in Chile, excluding official Americans, probably was two or three thousand. And of that number, those associated in some way or another with the Allende regime were two or three hundred.

The embassy, at considerable personal risk to the people actually doing the work, who were mainly consular officers, was able to get all but two of these people out safely, notwithstanding the fact that some of them were engaged in activities which, had they been Chileans, would have gotten them killed….

In the cases of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi, the embassy was not even aware of their existence until after they were dead. They had parents, or relatives of some kind, who had requested information on them. I say the embassy was not aware of their existence, that’s not quite true. In the case of Charles Horman, Ray Davis, who was the MILGROUP commander, gave Charles Horman a ride back from Viña del Mar about a day or two after the coup. So he knew that Charles Horman existed, and he knew that Charles Horman’s wife existed. So he did know they existed, but the Consular people didn’t know this, as far as I’m aware. But Frank Teruggi was not even on the radar scope.

What probably happened, in the Teruggi and Horman cases, as far as anyone is able to tell (and the only people who really know what happened are the Chilean military or police involved, and they ain’t talking), was that Horman and Teruggi were caught up in one of these sweeps that were being made against all kinds of Allende supporters in the days and weeks following the coup, and they got unlucky. Either they mouthed off to some sergeant or lieutenant or captain, some low-level official, or something happened, and they were killed, probably both of them within a week of the coup.

Then, as we tried and tried and tried to find out something about them, the Chileans covered it up. It took quite a long time before the bodies were even located, and when the bodies were located, there was still resistance about having autopsies performed and all of these other things.

chile Frank Teruggi and Charles HormanThe thesis of Missing is that Teruggi and Horman knew things about U.S. participation in and planning and perhaps masterminding of the coup which the U.S. government did not want made public, and so they were killed in order to keep their mouths shut. That is total claptrap…. 

Horman knew nothing, Teruggi knew nothing, because there was nothing to know, in the sense of saying that the U.S. government was the intellectual author of the coup. Ain’t so. It just ain’t so.

The Chilean military were the intellectual authors of the coup, and the coup would have occurred even if the United States of America didn’t exist, for purely Chilean reasons, because the military thought that Allende (a) had violated the constitution, (b) was trying to hand the government over to a group of armed radicals (which was a violation of the constitution), and (c) had put the country in a position where a civil war was about to break out. They considered themselves the ultimate arbiter of the Chilean state, the Chilean body politic, and they stepped in.

Unfortunately, the guy who was the head of it was Augusto Pinochet, who is as mulish and as unbending and as unfeeling… He’s not a nice guy, and he’s not the guy who should have headed that coup. But that was the way history worked out… and we were stuck with him.

Christianity, Guilty as Charged!

Reconsidering Happy Easter and all the rest—

by ANDRE VLTCHEK, Special Correspondent

Motto: verse from Colossians 3:22: “Slaves, obey your masters.”

Easter and other Christian celebrations makes me mourn for all those hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, who were forced to ‘die for Jesus’… They vanished so the Christian dogma of some crucified man from Nazareth, could be lubricated and substantiated with red oceans of human blood, and reinforced with a tremendous mountain of bones. Colossal flames have burnt countless millions of those who have found this entirely psychedelic tale, thoroughly unbelievable, even ridiculous.

Nobody asked Jesus to die for this world, or to wash away all of its ‘sins’ (always, always those ‘sins’!). But hundreds of millions had to vanish to give way for those ‘following him’; who held their crosses while cutting down people with their swords!

“In the name of the cross!” “In the name of Jesus!” Slaughter and torture, burnt flesh, mutilated bodies, beastly rapes. The history of this world, Mr. Fukuyama! It is mainly a history of Christian conquests, the enslavement of the planet, and murder in the name of the cross. Is it over; is it the end of such a history, really?


Today I want to remember, to mourn, those centuries of human sacrifice. That pointless, unnecessary, vile human sacrifice!

I want to commemorate those who have vanished; I want to do it with with red wine. Not with the wine that symbolizes ‘blood’ of someone, but with the wine of the Chilean people who produced it. As simple as that!

And I want to ask one simple but urgent question: “Isn’t it time to stop, to say enough? Isn’t it time to scrap that more than 2,000 years old violent dogma, which is most definitely responsible for the insanity, and for the arrangement of world as it today?”

On Saturday and Sunday, during Easter, believers and non-believers pack tens of thousands of churches in North America and Europe, in Latin America, Africa, Oceania, and even in some parts of Asia. For many, this ‘celebration’ has nothing to do with god, or God, or any philosophical, even spiritual concept. For many, maybe for the majority of the patrons, this is just a habit, a custom, or something much more sinister: The reinforcement of a sense of belonging to something that they are told (or hinted to), is the right direction on the highway to righteousness and superiority.


Religions, most of them, are actually like some sort of huge private club with inflexible rules, rigidly defined membership guidelines, and fees.

Except that, while you can be kicked out from the club, religions can actually kill… and they do – which is especially true of Christianity.

Those who gather during these days, and celebrate the resurrection of an individual they call Jesus, are clearly overlooking, and even forgetting the price which humanity has been paying all over the world, for millennia. For just a single crucifixion and for the short agony of one person (who perhaps never even existed), entire nations were placed on the sacrificial altar.

How primitive and brutal, and how immoral!

Aguirre the Wrath of GodPriests

Screenshot from Werner Herzog’s classic Aguirre, Wrath of God, focusing on the brutal Spanish conquest of South America.

Almost the entire North and South America, in the era of the arrival of the priests, shuttled to the “New World” by that arch criminal Christopher Columbus (Colon) and his fleet, got ruined, massacred, cheated and contaminated by all sorts of diseases. The Cross – the symbol of Christianity – was always at the front and above all that carnage. There was really ‘no coming back’ for the conquerors. Those holding the cross were too intoxicated by vile righteousness; they were too overwhelmed by greed, too sadistic. (Note: See in our Virtual University section the essay by Howard Zinn on Columbus and his gift of “civilization.“)

Unbridled greed, religious fanaticism and oppressed sexuality (those very pillars of Christianity) played the most terrifying role in ruining this, (and many other) parts of the world.

The great majority of people from the so-called New World simply vanished.

The arrival of Europeans and their greed-based value system initiated the rape and subjugation of the continent in earnest,  including animals.

The arrival of Europeans and their greed-based value system initiated the rape and subjugation of the continent in earnest, including that of animals.

“When Columbus landed in this hemisphere, there were probably 80-100 million people with advanced civilizations: Commerce, cities, etc. Not long afterwards about 95% of this population had disappeared”, explained Noam Chomsky, during our conversation, which led to our book “On Western Terrorism, From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare”.

Those who were not killed were brutalized savagely.

Abel Posse, a great Argentinian writer and diplomat, the author of the novel “Dogs of Paradise” (“Los perros del paraíso”), once wrote and also explained to me personally:

“The conquest was sick… And religious ‘guilt’ played a tremendous role in the violence. Local women were willing to engage in sexual acts with those pathetic conquerors who wore crosses and heavy armor in the tropical heat… And the conquerors were possessed by desire… but also by terrible guilt. They saw the willingness and desire of the local women as a sin… Therefore, they dragged those beautiful women into deep forests, tortured them for hours and days, and then raped them brutally!”

Whoever survived was forcefully converted to Christianity.

Both sexual torture (for which ‘ingenious’ instruments were invented and manufactured) and rape were not the only types of violence administered by ‘pious’ Christians, but they were the most common ones, for which they are remembered, until now, in Peru and elsewhere.

In the era of conquest, the much more advanced culture of South and Central America was ruined, people were captured and enslaved. Their languages were banned or made irrelevant.

Men and women were forced to take apart, stone by stone, their tremendous temples, and then build cathedrals and churches. Then, these Christian temples of worship were decorated with looted gold and silver, extracted by de facto slaves, chained in appalling mines around places like Potosi. This was what the great Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano, described as the “Open Veins of Latin America”.

Slavery was, of course, always one of the trademarks of the Christian conquerors. And the Bible itself was conveniently quoted buy those beasts clad in metal armor and huge crosses: “Slaves, obey your masters.”

Entire continents and whole nations were enslaved. Proud people, who used to be free and proud, were chained. They were hunted like animals, by European Christians and then taken by the millions in order to build, for free, the ‘new continents’ (millions died on high seas)… The Brits and French pioneered this horrid practice, but there were many others, including Belgians and Germans.

As was honestly confirmed by R. Furman, a Baptist, of South Carolina: “The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.”

The Church, particularly the Vatican, but not alone, financed (and ‘invested in’) those countless crusades and colonial expeditions. Its approach towards the world was greedy, ruthless, and murderous, or more precisely, genocidal.

Absolutely no religion on earth has ever managed to achieve such preposterous levels of brutality with such disregard and spite for fellow human beings, such racism and bigotry.

At one point, the Spanish aristocracy was so appalled with Christianity, that it sent its ships to Africa, and begged Muslim armies standing in Ceuta, to liberate Spain from Christian terror. Which happened, and Muslims established, among other oases of tolerance and calm, the Caliphate of Cordoba, where in a tremendous mosque, Christians, Jews and Muslims were allowed to gather, pray and openly discuss almost any topic they desired.

To illustrate the contrast, “One of the mottos of the first European migrants to what is now New England, was ‘Convert or Die!’” explained a Czech/American artist and filmmaker from Boston, Milan Kohout.


Based on facts that are readily available to any person who is willing to study and read, Christianity should be banned. The ban should be simply based on the countless crimes against humanity, which have, by hundred-fold exceeded even those crimes committed by Nazism (Christianity and Fascism/Nazism are actually very closely connected).

No dogma, no ideology, has enslaved the world, like Christianity. No religion or ideology has murdered more people.

The only reason why it has not happened yet, is because Christianity is actually still clearly in charge of the world order; its ‘culture’ is the dominant philosophy and creed of the Empire, and its self-righteousness is almost never allowed to be openly questioned in the mass media.

Milan and MK (1)

In ancient eras and in modern times, Christianity has been deeply and negatively involved in almost all the chapters of history, in the most despicable manner.

It came out in full support of colonialism, slavery and racism, and then it collaborated with, and endorsed Nazism in Germany, Mussolini’s fascism in Italy, General Franco in Spain, and the ‘fight against Communism’ in Eastern Europe.   [Karol Józef Wojtyła, “John Paul II,” an avowed enemy of liberation theology, was Ronald Reagan’s favorite pope and tacit accomplice in overthrowing communism. The links between fascism, imperialism and authoritarianism with the Christian church run deep and can be found in many cultures. As well, although the Vatican, like the fascists,  has often criticized capitalism, in practice it has never withdrawn its institutional support.—Eds]

Adolf Hitler was inspired by Christianity, (his mother Klara was a devout Roman Catholic), and by its hate for everything from secularism to Communism, from ‘pornography’ to homosexuality.

In 1936 he declared: “Providence withdrew its protection and our people fell… And in this hour we sink to our knees and beseech our almighty God that He may bless us, that He may give us the strength to carry on the struggle for the freedom, the future, the honor, and the peace of our people. So help us God.”

He had it all very clear two years earlier:

“National Socialism neither opposes the Church nor is it anti-religious, but on the contrary it stands on the ground of a real Christianity… For their interests cannot fail to coincide with ours alike in our fight against the symptoms of degeneracy in the world of today, in our fight against a Bolshevist culture, against an atheistic movement, against criminality, and in our struggle for a consciousness of a community in our national life…These are Christian principles!”

And of course, a part of Christianity has always been ‘charity’. After massacring millions of innocent men, women and children, or after robbing entire nations of all that they possessed, the Christians happily gave back. If it took 90%, it gave 10%, or much less than 1% (in case of the United States, when it comes to foreign aid). Again, to quote Adolf Hitler, a Christian:

“With a tenth of our budget for religion, we would thus have a Church devoted to the State and of unshakable loyalty.”

Even before Hitler, those German genocides against the Herero and Nama tribes in and around of what is now Namibia, came with the clear blessing of the clergy.

Perhaps in the most intense genocide of the 20th Century, the rule of the Belgian King Leopold II took approximately ten million lives, or roughly half of the population of the “Congo Free State”, according to investigations by the anthropologist Jan Vansina and others. After his death, King Leopold II was interred in the royal vault at the Church of Our Lady of Laeken, in Brussels.

No wonder the King supposedly argued “bringing Christianity to the country outweighs a little starvation…” Ten million people mutilated and burnt alive is clearly nothing too scandalous for Christian sensitivities, as long as it helped to spread true teaching to those ‘barbarians’, in the ‘heart of darkness’.

Of course, most of the Latin American dictators were deeply religious and ‘moral’, including General Pinochet, who reigned brutally with the determined support of the United States, Opus Dei, and other extremist Christian clans.

The murderous Argentine junta: all devout Christian gentlemen.

The murderous Argentine junta: all devout Christian gentlemen.

In Argentina, Christianity was one of the pillars and justifications of the terror administered by Jorge Rafael Videla and his military junta. He used to say: “We consider it a great crime to work against the Western and Christian style of life: It is not just the bomber but the ideologist who is the danger.” He also periodically clarified his deep and compassionate inclinations: “As many people as necessary must die in Argentina so that the country will again be secure.”

One of the most brutal men of the 20th century, Francois ‘doc’ Duvalier, went even one step further, and declared that he is part of God and Jesus Crist. His posters used to declare: “Papa Doc: One with… Jesus Christ and God himself”.

The Western Christian demagogues and propagandists implanted a fear of secularism and atheism, to many regions of the world, with mostly horrifying results: Jihadist cadres were financed and introduced into Afghanistan [by the US] during the war with the Soviet Union. The 1965 US-backed military coup in Indonesia which took between one and three million lives (mainly atheists and secular intellectuals, murdered by the military, Muslim cadres, but with the clear involvement of other religions) was one of the most horrific orgies of terror from which Indonesia has never recovered, and gradually degenerated into a religious and thoroughly unproductive, ignorant archipelago of environmentally plundered and devastated islands. The British Empire used the “divide and rule” strategy, which led to the awful ‘Partition’ of the Indian sub-Continent.

And this is just to name a few of the deadliest religious implants, orchestrated by the Christian West.


In today’s world, Christians are siding with the most appalling regimes, supporting the most dreadful oppressions.

I spoke to several priests and believers in Cairo, not long after the brutal pro-Western military coup of al-Sisi and his clique, which, on July 3rd 2013, overthrew the democratically elected moderate Islamic government. All of them were staunch supporters of the coup d’état that killed several thousand people in just a few weeks.

Even Time admitted: For Egypt’s 8 million Christians… the coup seemed little short of a miracle. Some hailed al-Sisi as a messiah…

In Africa, most of the extreme violence has religious, Christian connotations. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has lost, since 1995, between six and ten million people, some of the most brutal militias fall into the bracket of Christian fundamentalists.

A close ally of the West and one of the most brutal dictators in Africa, Yoweri Museveni, responsible for millions of lost lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in his native Uganda, and a self-proclaimed crusader against homosexuality, has been for decades a staunch Christian and is associated with the American fundamentalist Christian organization, “The Fellowship” (also known as “The Family”).

And there is, of course, The Lord’s Resistance Army, originally from Uganda, but operating in the entire region. It uses child soldiers; it has been accused of committing numerous crimes against humanity; “including massacres, abductions, mutilation, torture, rape, and uses forced child labor as soldiers, porters, and sex slaves”. Its commander, Joseph Kony, proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the “Holy Spirit”.

One of the most brutal actors in the Congolese genocide, former warlord Laurent Nkunda, is an ordained Christian preacher and an ordained minister. Most of his troops had been followers (not that they had much choice). His men are responsible for some of the most horrible crimes in modern history, including mass rapes in the city of Bukavu. The Motto of his militia is: “Rebels for Christ.” He is a Seventh-day Adventist. He also claims to receive help and guidance from American “Rebels for Christ” who visit the Congo spreading Pentecostal Christianity.

Christianity still plays some of the most negative roles in both Africa and Oceania (Polynesia, Melanesia and Micronesia), where it is responsible for the physical (mostly sexual) and mental abuse of both children and adults, for defending oppressive family structures and the status quo in the society, as well as for spreading disinformation and ignorance. It is also extracting funds from the congregation, rich and poor, financially ruining its members.

Outrageous financial extractions are also common in countries such as the Philippines, as well as in several Christian pockets of Indonesia, where Christianity is corrupt to the extreme, siding, for decades, with the most extreme ‘free-market’ dogma, and heartless business practices. There, it actually forms the ‘Fifth Column’ – it is helping to plunder the country on behalf of foreign companies – mostly those that, of course, come from the Christian West.

It goes without saying that places that have recently undergone pro-Western and ‘anti-people’ ‘reforms’ and ‘uprisings’, are witnessing increasing religious, often Christian zeal, most cases implanted and supported from abroad. This is true of Ukraine, Cuba, Venezuela, to name just a few.

The Ukrainian fascists, who overthrew the elected government in Kiev, are now giving speeches in Maidan Square, surrounded by huge crucifixes and a statue of the Virgin Mary. Both the Orthodox Church and Protestants (I was told that the present leaders explained that true global power is in the hands of Western Protestants, which resulted in quick conversions) are gaining power.

But the the American Empire is the one that performs most of the crimes against humanity. These crimes are habitually committed in the name of Christianity.

That very Empire is mainly governed by deeply religious, dedicated Christians, mostly Protestant (all 41 Presidents of the United States have been Protestants, except for J.F. Kennedy, who was a Roman Catholic).

‘Exceptionalism’, is a deep belief that the West—and especially America— has been given some sort of mandate “from above” to govern, judge and police the world – it all comes from the fundamentalist Christian faith.

Coming back full circle to the original point that this essay is making, almost all the horrors this planet has experienced, actually come from that intolerant, racist and ‘exceptionalism’ belief, clearly propelled by Christian faith, and by, other less influential, monotheist religions.

This belief is encoded in Christianity and in the Bible, and has been put to work by all the generations and almost all Christian theoreticians. It is not, as so many naïve people say: That bad people kidnapped an excellent idea and faith.

According to this belief, nothing really matters much, as long as the ruling Christian culture stays in power, as long as the Christian West continues to rule over the world. As in the middle ages, no human sacrifice is high enough, as long as the system is upheld. As long as the victims are ‘the others’ – Arabs, Jews, Southeast Asians, Chinese, Pacific Islanders, Chinese or Japanese (and the system uses collaborators from the ranks of these ethnic groups, as well. The carrot consists of making them think that by serving the West through Christian religion and business, they are actually gaining an exclusive status, that of local ‘elites’).

The sacrifice of ‘the others’ is expected, even welcomed: Seven or even ten million people in Indochina – not a big deal. Three million in Indonesia – it is irrelevant. Ten million in Congo – who cares, they are Christians, but in reality some second rate niggers, just to borrow the vocabulary of the British Christian Prime Minister Lloyd George. Tens of millions all over Africa, from Somalia to Mali – who are they? Un-people, just filthy Muslims or heathens! Millions of broken lives all over Latin America – good for them! They were mainly Communists, and atheist hordes. Twenty-six million Soviet people died fighting and defeating Nazism – they were mainly white, but their atheism made them worse than those niggers!

Christian ‘logic’ was clearly implemented in all the colonialist adventures and genocides of modern days; in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, to name just a few.

As has always been reflected by the ‘Monroe Doctrine’ – the US has the right to determine the fate of people and nations all over Latin America.

Such a belief has also been easily detectable in all former and present colonialist expansions, in the slave trade, and in the extermination of entire nations. As is evident in how the West is treating two enormous nations: China and Russia.

Many analysts and thinkers were naively waiting for some glimpse of real logic, based on facts, morality, and international law… They waited in vain. The Empire acted religiously. The Empire IS religious! It demanded total obedience and faith. It was ready to burn millions of those who were prepared to resist- even question – metaphorically and in real terms.

That is, naturally, nothing new! Many have noticed that the West is in fact a fundamentalist Christian entity. Its people are mainly secular (except in the United States, the most religious industrialized country on earth) – they don’t care much about practical religious aspects, about visiting churches or about symbolism. But their brains, minds and tolerance to the brutality committed by their societies, are conditioned by Christian dogmas and by the ‘theories of exclusiveness’, by the profound belief that they, and only they, have the right to hold the fate of this planet in their hands.  [In fairness, “exclusivism” is a vice of almost all religions, even if the Judeo-Christian-Islamic group of religions is at the top in international fanaticism.—Eds]


On one of the many Internet sites dedicated to the crimes committed by Christianity, young people mainly, are compiling the list. In simple terms, saying the same thing that is being argued in this essay.

“Mental and Physical abuse of children”, writes one.
“Ignorance”, jumps in another writer.
“…Mental abuse of children and adult alike, murder, torture, sexual abuse of children and adult alike, several hundred years of stupidity and the humiliation of other nations and ethnicities (including the slavery of Africa and the creation of the idea that “black is inferior”), actual killing and righteousness… for degrading black people, homosexuals and Jews… demonizing people for being an individual with critical thinking…”
“The crusades…”
“The delusions, fears and wasted lives of billions of followers.”
“Remember the crusades? There was a children’s crusade. It was pretty nasty. Christianity never had a problem with killing babies in the name of their vicious god. That’s why it’s so ironic that they’re always screaming about being ‘pro life’.”
“Those nasty pretend nice women who maltreat everyone else who is not like them, and teach their children to do the same.”

And so on. The list of grievances is endless.


The Last Supper, which is one of the main symbols of Christianity, has most certainly been relived worldwide, in the countries battered by the Western ideological dogma, based on the Christian views of the world.

But those millions, who were metaphorically crucified (they most often died a much worse death than that caused by crucifixion), were not sons or daughters of a god or the God; destined to be resurrected at a later date. They were simple men and women who were taken to terrible prisons or camps, in order to be exterminated… or simply shot to death like stray dogs. They were raped and then cut to pieces, they had heart attacks and strokes from electric shocks, they had their bones crushed, and they were burnt by cigarettes, and often, later, burnt to death, alive. [Reading the archives of the commissions that have investigated and compiled testimony about the numerous crimes of US supported regimes is an education on how propaganda is able to hide the most hideous offenses committed by humanity in broad daylight.—Eds]

They were resistance fighters struggling against Christian-backed dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, and so many other unfortunate corners of the globe. Or they were simply free-minded men and women, unwilling to live those dreadful lives, under Christian hypocrisy and its dismal dictates.

They had their last meals with their loved ones, before the bell rang, before the door was kicked open, before they were taken away, before they were never resurrected, before they never returned home.

I propose a toast, to those hundreds of millions of victims of Christian terror. And especially to the millions of those who resisted it, and died with honor and great dignity, fighting for humanity!

I salute the men and women of the Western Hemisphere who fought the European invaders; those who have always come armed with their deadly weapons, crosses, and terrifying visions of total doom, and hell.

Claiming that it brings love, Christianity offers fear and suffering to the planet. Enough! Truly, enough!

They advise us to offer our other cheek? Yes, they do. OUR cheek, of course, not theirs. If you slap them, they will machine gun you down, blow you to pieces. If they come and rape your children in front of you, as they have been doing for centuries, you are supposed to serve them dinner, afterwards. [The Pinochet regime had the audacity to send a bill for “expenses” to the families of people tortured or killed.  Some of the items listed included bullets

Their charity, too! It is like their foreign aid. Loot everything, and then give back 0.02%!

And their last, and final dogma: “It is not really religion, which is bad. It is the ‘people’ who kidnapped it.”

This is the worst, the wildest lie – the most predictable, the cheapest, and the most insulting of lies. Insulting to logic, and insulting to all those victims of Christianity!

It is the religion! It is their priests, preachers, dogma and theories; it is even, sometimes, those simple, ‘good’, singing, brainwashed followers.

First of all: People created that Christian religion. Plain people, not Gods. And it has been serving fatefully, their desires and their urges. In the Christian religion—an offshoot of Judaism, for almost a century all Christians were heretical Jews—there is plenty of violence and injustice; it is all encoded. In fact, so much violence and injustice, that for millennia, each and every brutal ruler, cardinal, priest and crusader found enough ‘inspiration’ and ‘justification’ for his terrible deeds.

And the Empire is still feeding on that dogma and on the Bible, it keeps finding endless justifications and excuses for the terror that it is spreading all over the world. As all Christian Empires, for the last two thousand years, it has been spreading fire and pain, reducing nations and people to pitiful slaves, and this planet, gradually, to… to what you know it is now!

As put brilliantly by G. W. Foote and J. M. Wheeler in their book “Crimes of Christianity”: Both Catholic and Protestant have to face the fact that the triumph of Christianity was the triumph of barbarism, and that the doctrine of salvation by faith, is in each Church, the logical basis and sanction of persecution.

It is Christianity, the religion, not just the individuals. Christianity is guilty as charged!


I salute the men and women of the Middle East who fought the Crusaders.

I salute the African people, who did not allow themselves to be slaughtered and enslaved, shackled, and instead opted to die standing, than to live (or die anyway) on their knees.

I salute the revolutionaries of my beloved Latin America!

You kept our humanity alive. Thanks to you, I am still writing this essay! Thanks to you, countries like Venezuela and Cuba are standing, defiant and proud. Thanks to you, people all over the world are now waking up!

And I salute Christians, all over the world, who have realized that their religion is, always was and always will be, synonymous with crime, rape and plunder, even with countless genocides, and who have proudly divorced themselves from the Church and its ‘heritage’!

This is my Easter salute! To the victims of Christian terror, and to those who have fought this the most fundamentalist, gloomy and destructive ideology on Earth, one that is closely associated with fascism, colonialism, racism and imperialism!

This is my Eastern celebration. Today I celebrate the lives of the heroes of the resistance against Christian terror!

And rest assured: “No one is forgotten, and nothing is forgotten!”

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He has just completed the feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

The Battle of Chile (Pt. 3): People’s Power

La Batalla de Chile: Poder Popular (Parte 3)

Britain and Chile 40 Years After Pinochet’s Coup

The ‘Other Special Relationship’

Thatcher and Pinochet: lovey-dovey. Never mind those ugly accusations.

Thatcher and Pinochet: The lovey-dovey duo. Never mind those ugly accusations.



Ask anybody from Santiago about the noise heard in the Chilean capital’s skies on the morning of Sept. 11, 1973, and they will probably tell you about the screeching roar of the British Hawker Harrier jets as they bombed La Moneda. Within minutes the planes had set fire to the presidential palace. After the air attack on the president’s offices, Chile’s army, directed by Augusto Pinochet and a group of generals, stormed the building. President Salvador Allende died in the attack.

Britain had been supplying all branches of the Chilean military with arms even under Allende, the democratically elected president ousted by Pinochet, who was his defense minister. In 1973, with British matériel and more than a nod and a wink from the CIA, a more than century-old Latin American democracy fell to authoritarianism. Pinochet stayed in power from 1973 to 1990 and sustained friendly, special relations with London and Washington, D.C., even as concerns about human rights abuses mounted.

In 2013, the anniversary year of Pinochet’s coup, Britain is aggressively refreshing its ties to Chile’s military establishment. From May 28-30, Chile’s defense minister visited London for annual bilateral defense discussions. Earlier in May, a 15-member delegation of military and civilian security and defense officials from 11 countries came to Chile on a “study tour” organized by Britain’s Royal College of Defense Studies with the support of the UK Embassy in Santiago. Chile’s defense minister welcomed the group. In late July and early August, “academics” from the British Army’s college at Sandhurst traveled to Santiago to train students from Chile’s defense institutions in counterinsurgency techniques.

There’s no secret to Britain’s current ties to Chile’s military: the British government has advertised these visits on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website, stating that counterinsurgency training “was organised as part of the ongoing efforts to reinforce and strengthen the close ties between the British and Chilean Ministries of Defence.

[pullquote] Let’s not forget that it is British arms merchants and manufacturers that benefit from such linkages. [/pullquote]

Chile is an ever-present reminder to the West of the excesses of Cold War anti-communism. Pinochet seized power for the country’s capitalist establishment and labeled his leftist antagonists violent extremists. Pinochet did not shirk from calling his opponents terrorists and subversives. The dictator governed Chile through terrifying presidential rule from 1973 until 1990. A million people went into exile, tens of thousands were tortured, and thousands died or disappeared without a trace, often in the allied causes of counterinsurgency, counterterrorism or anti-communism.

In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher and Pinochet strengthened their special relationship. Thatcher offered staunch support, staving off criticism of the general’s human rights abuses since he shared information to help defeat the Argentine generals who in 1982 attacked Las Malvinas/Falkland Islands. Thatcher had supported Pinochet when she came into office after her landslide victory against the Labour Government in 1979. Thatcher dropped the de facto arms embargo imposed by British parliamentary leftists in reaction to the human rights abuses after the 1973 coup.

The capitalist media's Orwellian view of the world.

The capitalist media’s Orwellian view of the world. The POV of the ruling class.

British support for Pinochet never waned, even with Thatcher out of office and New Labour elected to government in 1997. A year after Tony Blair’s victory, London police arrested Pinochet to face extradition to Spain. While under house arrest, the ex-prime minister, since elevated to Lady Thatcher, visited him at a rented mansion house in Surrey, a leafy west London suburb. The BBC reported that Thatcher thanked Pinochet on behalf of the British people, saying “I know how much we owed to you for your help.” Thatcher extolled the former dictator for “bringing” democracy to Chile.

Britain’s current support for Chile’s military attracts attention because Santiago’s law-and-order establishment have been criticized for heavy-handed repression against student protesters, and for using anti-terror legislation to permit violence against the indigenous community of Mapuches. In Santiago on July 30, British academics from the UK’s Army Officer School presented a counterinsurgency course to participants drawn from Chile’s military. By coincidence, also on July 30 in the capital, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism expressed concern over the “confused and arbitrary … misuse” of Chile’s counter-terrorism legislation that had “resulted in real injustice” against the country’s Mapuche indigenous people. The state had met Mapuche land protesters with violent repression, some of them detained and imprisoned as terrorists.

U.N. Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson, a British human rights barrister, concluded his two-week country visit to Chile in July with the statement that the Carabineros (its gendarmerie, a type of police belonging to Chile’s army) and investigative police had violently abused the Mapuche using Chile’s anti-terror legislation. The Special Rapporteur confirmed that these crimes by state agents remained unpunished. The U.N.’s counter-terrorism and human rights expert recommended a “new independent investigation body” regarding the “excessive violence” by the state under the anti-terror legislation against the Mapuche land protesters.

The British counter-insurgency courses included 20 students from Chile’s military establishment. According to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s press release these students came from the Chilean Ministry of Defense, the National Intelligence Agency, the Carabineros and all three branches of Chile’s military. Chile is, as one British Foreign Office minister said in March 2012, “a long-standing friend of the UK.”

The democratic transition has not calmed Chile’s politics, or restored complete faith in state institutions. Films, literature, music, scholarly studies and Chile’s left-wing student protest movement all demonstrate that the country has never reconciled itself to the coup and the subsequent 17 years of authoritarianism. The country remains divided between the Right and the Left, in spite of official truth commissions that account for past excesses of torture, political imprisonment and disappearances at the hands of Pinochet’s military government. Human rights activists and observers have long criticized Chile’s judiciary for its ongoing sympathy to Pinochet-era human rights abusers.

The UK Coalition Government’s present support for Chile’s military seems willfully ignorant of the history of the effects of a special relationship forged 40 years ago in the crucible of the anti-communist coup. Pinochet left office in 1990 but the wounds inflicted on Chilean society have never healed. Over the past two decades Chile has attempted to transition from dictatorship to democracy. Chile’s democratic governments have signed up to human rights treaties, but the legacy of abuses and impunity persist, creating deep divisions within Chile. The Chilean state continues to abuse human rights, as the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Counter-terrorism and Human Rights has observed – he will present a full report on Chile in 2014. Britain has ignored the consequences of its role: the United Kingdom government has never been forced to reflect on its support for Pinochet, all the while cozying up to Chile’s defense establishment.

This piece first appeared in Tico Times.

Patrick Timmons is a writer, human rights journalist, and language teacher with a PhD (2004) in Latin American History from the University of Texas at Austin. From 2011 to 2012 he was the Human Rights, Migration, and Security Policy Officer at the British Embassy in Mexico City where he reported for the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office on a wave of killings of journalists in the Mexican Gulf state of Veracruz. He is finishing his first book Plucking the Plumed Serpent: A Memoir of Madness and Sensibility in North America. He divides his time between Mexico City and Colchester, England.

Has anything changed? Report on Mexican ‘Dirty War’ Details Abuse by Military

PREFATORY NOTE—Hemispheric issues

Mexico: «So far from God, So Close to the United States»
Epigram credited to Porfirio Díaz, Mexican dictator (1830-1915).


As is the case in many parts of the world where poverty is widespread and institutionalized, a terrible status quo enforced by the government’s police and armed forces, representing the national and international bourgeoisie (the capitalist class), and normally assisted and bolstered in its repressive savagery by the United States, eventually sparks rebellions. These “insurgent” movements, sometimes led by socialists or communists and just as often simply by people driven to the limit of their endurance, are routinely pushed back by  “counterinsurgency” campaigns that often qualify as genocidal.  The main object of such campaigns is to keep a profoundly unjust order going at any cost.  It’s a damn shame but many of our highly trained special forces are engaged in this criminal task around the globe. Such men apparently never figured out what fighting for “the American Way” means in the global context. Equally bad, aside from these “in country” instructors and fighters, we also train foreign murderers and torturers in our own military establishments, to date the most notorious being the  School of the Americas. (1)

This sordid history is well documented and irrefutable, even if the American people, as usual, practically have no idea what their government is up to beyond its borders and, some cynicism aside, usually swallow whole the glowing chauvinist rhetoric employed to keep them in their habitual state of functional political stupidity. Mexico, a great nation and culture with deep fissures separating the rich and the poor could not escape this framework. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that its leaders, in conjunction with the US, would conspire to take whatever measures were deemed necessary to put out the flames of popular resistance and stifle any political party or movement capable of mobilizing the Mexican masses toward true democracy.  The methods of the “dirty war” to fight “subversives” first inaugurated and perfected in the Americas’ “Southern Cone” in the mid-1970s (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay), under the auspices of US-led “Operation Condor,”  later extended to other nations, including Mexico.  This is the backdrop to the materials presented below. For the benefit of our bilingual readers as well as International public, we are also making available a special report on the origins of the modern guerrilla movement in Mexico.  Click here to download it. Meanwhile, viva el pueblo Mexicano!—The Editors 



[Originally published: February 27, 2006]

Correction Appended

MEXICO CITY, Feb. 26 — A secret report prepared by a special prosecutor’s office says the Mexican military carried out a “genocide plan” of kidnapping, torturing and killing hundreds of suspected subversives in the southern state of Guerrero during the so-called dirty war, from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s.

The report, which was not endorsed by the government of President Vicente Fox but was leaked by its authors last week, says that the genocide plan was ordered by President Luis Echeverría in 1970, and devised by Hermenegildo Cuenca Díaz, who was defense minister at the time.

It is based partly on declassified documents from the Mexican military and for the first time provides names of military officers and units involved in destroying entire villages that the government suspected of serving as base camps for the rebel leader Lucio Cabañas.

In those towns, soldiers rounded up all the men and boys, executed some on the spot and detained others, and then used violence, including rape, to drive the rest of the people away, the report says. Most of those detained suffered severe torture, including beatings, electric shock and being forced to drink gasoline, at military installations that were operated like “concentration camps.”

“With this operation, a state policy was established in which all the authorities connected to the army — the president, ministers of state, and the presidential guard, commanders of the military regions in Guerrero, and officers and troops in their command — participated in the violations of human rights with the justification of pursuing a bad fugitive,” the report says. “Such an open counter-guerrilla strategy could not have been possible without the explicit consent and approval of the president.”

President Fox and the special prosecutor, Ignacio Carrillo Prieto, however, did not endorse the report, which was presented to Mr. Fox in December. Mr. Carrillo, who was appointed by Mr. Fox four years ago, said the government refused to make it public without changes. The report is an unedited draft of a document called The White Book, which is to be the government’s historical accounting of the egregious abuses by the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party.

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Carrillo said the draft of the report, prepared by a team of 27 researchers, including former student militants and advocates for the victims, was filled with bias and sprinkled with loaded language. He said it put too much of the blame for the abuses of the “dirty war” on the military, without describing the abuses committed by rebel groups. He said an edited version of the report would be presented to Mr. Fox on Monday, and later to the public.

“There are assertions in the draft that the army conducted the operations alone,” Mr. Carrillo said. “But they did not conduct them alone. They conducted them in response to orders from civilians above.”

The dispute over the draft of The White Book tore a deep rift in the special prosecutor’s office. The handful of international human rights investigators who have seen the report said that it offered a glimpse of the chaos that has crippled the special prosecutor’s efforts and that it raised new questions about Mr. Fox’s commitment to bring officials responsible for past abuses to justice.

Mr. Fox, whose rise to power ended seven decades of authoritarian rule by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, began his presidency with soaring promises to end impunity. So far, he has delivered very little.

An effort to indict Mr. Echeverría, accused of genocide in the killings of students in 1968 and 1971, failed when the Supreme Court found that the statute of limitations for murder had passed and that there was not enough evidence to prove genocide.

At the end of 2003, however, the Supreme Court opened the way for prosecutions for “dirty war” crimes when it found that no statute of limitations applied to political “disappearances,” presumed deaths in which no body has been found, opening the way for former government officials to be prosecuted in these cases.

The government’s National Human Rights Commission reported that up to 74 government officials could be liable for the disappearances of about 275 people. The unedited draft of The White Book lists more than 500 missing people.

But the disputes over the document’s contents, human rights investigators said, make clear that there remain serious obstacles standing in the way of winning justice.

Authors of the unedited draft of The White Book leaked parts of it to several prominent Mexican writers. The authors said that they were disgruntled because the government fired them without paying them for the last eight months and that they were worried the report was going to be sanitized.

A copy of the document was also obtained by a Mexican magazine, Eme-Equis, which published a report about the document on Sunday, and by the National Security Archives, a private nonpartisan research group based in Washington.

Kate Doyle, director of the security archives’ Mexico Project, said the report was posted on the archive’s Web site on Sunday to give victims and relatives access to the information. She provided a copy of the report last week to The New York Times.

“The fact that a version of the Special Prosecutor’s final report is circulating among a handful of prominent people yet is still closed and inaccessible to those most affected by the violence is a state of affairs reminiscent of Mexico’s past,” said a note on the Web site, “when citizens were routinely shut out of civic participation by a government determined to keep them in the dark.”

Mr. Carillo acknowledged that his office had been unable to pay its workers, saying that Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca was trying to “asphyxiate” his efforts by withholding his budget. But he said that the authors of the report had been hired under contract, and that their contract ended when the report was complete.

“We are attacked from above and below,” Mr. Carillo said. “From the front and from the back.”

He said the editing of the document was aimed at correcting it, not “watering it down.”

“Of course the violations were committed as part of a policy of the state,” Mr. Carrillo said, referring to the principal conclusion of the report, “but it was not one that was orchestrated by the armed forces. It was individuals and groups inside the armed forces that were always accompanied by civilians.”

“For us, it is important to make that distinction.”

His comments echoed the official position of Mexico’s military, which, unlike militaries in Argentina and Chile, has never publicly acknowledged the institution’s leading role in this country’s “dirty war.” Instead, a succession of defense ministers, including the current one, Gen. Gerardo Clemente Vega, have said only that certain officers and units operated out of a sense of duty to stop a violent rebel uprising, and that abuses were committed by soldiers and the guerrillas alike.

“This army did what it was told to do by the state,” General Vega said in a speech in February 2002.

Daniel Wilkinson of Human Rights Watch said the report provided the “clearest picture to date of the state’s repressive machinery at work.” The military documents do not describe tortures and killings, Mr. Wilkinson said, and they use coded language to describe illegal detentions. Still, Mr. Wilkinson said, the military documents fill in blanks left by an already large trove of declassified documents from the police and other government agencies.

Mr. Wilkinson said, “The question now for the Fox administration is: when are we going to see results in the prosecutions of these cases?”


Antonio Betancourt contributed reporting for this article.

Correction: Mar. 3, 2006, Friday:

An article on Monday about a report that detailed abuses of suspected subversives by the Mexican military during the country’s “dirty war” from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s misstated the name of the private research group that posted the report on its Web site. It is the National Security Archive, not Archives.

(1)  The School of the Americas (SOA) is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, located at Fort Benning, Georgia. In 2001 renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC). It was initially established in Panama in 1946 however it was expelled from Panama in 1984 under the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty (article iv) and reinforced under theTreaty Concerning the Permanent Neutrality and Operation of the Panama Canal(article v).

Former Panamanian President, Jorge Illueca, stated that the School of the Americas was the “biggest base for destabilization in Latin America.” The SOA have left a trail of blood and suffering in every country where its graduates have returned. For this reason the School of the Americas has been historically dubbed the “School of Assassins”.  (Source: SOA Watch)