Wednesday, July 31, 2013

DCOTE: “Dirty Wars” Part Four. [EDITED]

Part OnePart TwoPart Three – Part Four – Part Five

Damn it, how will I ever get out of this labyrinth?

“The three greatest fools of history have been Jesus Christ, Don Quixote — and I!”

“The United States seems destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.”

“All we have gained is independence, and we have gained it at the cost of everything else... Those who have toiled for liberty in South America have plowed the sea. Our America will fall into the hands of vulgar tyrants.”*
- Simón Bolívar (Simón José Antonio de la Santísima Trinidad Bolívar y Palacios Ponte y Blanco [24 July 1783 – 17 December 1830]; talk about El Libertador having an epic goddamn name).
Plowing the Sea: The Dirty Wars Begin.

Despite the intense and life-long wars waged by Simon Bolivar and his fellows in the pursuit of revolution and freedom in the Americas, by the 1950s conditions in large areas of South America (a condition that still exists to this day) remained behind the rest of the world. Che Guevara, a young medical student who would become one of the most notable revolutionaries of the 20th century, traveled across South America in 1952 and provided one of the most moving accounts of the sights encountered.

In 1954 during his second trip across the Americas, Guevara arrived at Guatemala. In the United States, McCarthyism reigned supreme and Cold War paranoia was sweeping through the Halls of Power. At the time, Allan Dulles was the head of the CIA. Dulles owned stock in United Fruit Company, which was being threatened by the “communist” demands of its disenfranchised workers and their Government's progressive policies. Fearing that “commies” would infiltrate “America's backyard,” the CIA backed Carlos Castillo Armas in his coup of the current Government. Despite the CIA's belief that the Arbenz government that Armas replaced was a “Soviet puppet state,” no actual evidence came to light after-the-fact to support their suppositions. Meanwhile, the CIA trained the “liberating” paramilitary troopers themselves, as well as armed them.

This event cemented Mr. Guevara's commitment to Communism (he was firmly pro-Soviet; a factor often overlooked by those who champion his image), as well as helped instigate much of the escalating violence that would come to dominate the Southern Cone. It also established the precedent for the CIA acting behind-the-scenes to install dictators that would “economically aid” American interests under the guise of “fighting those damn commies.”

And with the influx of Nazi war criminals to South America following the second World War, there was no way that this plan would actually make the world a better place.

Until the 1970s, shadows, spectres, and spooks were gathering. No one noticed, precisely because everyone was so occupied with the Commies that they didn't stop and ask themselves:
“How can our plans go wrong?”

If they had read the thoughts of Simón Bolívar, penned and spoken almost 150 years before The Condor Years, they would have found an answer.

We – the people of the Americas – had been “Plowing the Sea.” All that was reaped in turn were vulgar tyrants: the most dismal of rewards. And after the events of 1970, there could be little doubting this.

Augusto Pinchet
The Sleeping Dragons

In Unholy Alliance, Peter Levenda writes:
And all was just fine until 1970, when the unthinkable happened.

A professed Socialist and longtime political celebrity in Chile, Salvador Allende Gossens was elected president of the Republic in a three-way vote. During the height of the Vietnam War, the drug-and-peace culture of the sixties, and a worldwide revolt against the establishment, there was suddenly a democratically elected Marxist president in America. This was cause for rejoicing everywhere there was even a hint of liberal or left-wing sympathy, even thought quite a few of those who applauded Allende's election were not Marxists. For many people, Allende's success at the polls was simply an indication of the strength of the democratic process. A Socialist had become the leader of his country without firing a shot, in a free and open election, and in the Western Hemisphere besides.

Salvador Allende
Allende became the toast of the revolutionary elite. He is seen chatting now with Fidel Castro, now with Pablo Neruda, now with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. A kind of Latin Camelot was taking place in Chile as artists, writers, musicians, philosophers, and academics crowded around the new president, talking of human rights, emancipation of the working class, and the extrication of Chile's economy from the death grip of norteamericanos... But here, in Chile, it had actually happened. Legally. In the fine old democratic tradition that the United States was supposedly sworn to uphold throughout the world and particularly in the sphere of influence covered by the Monroe Doctrine: Latin America.

But Richard Nixon was president of the United States, and Henry Kissinger was his Torquemada. Democratic or not, freely elected or not, chief executive of a sovereign nation or not, Salvador Ellende Gossens had to go.

And nowhere was that sentiment more strongly shared than among the members of the Nazi underground.”
(P. 298-299.)
In Chile, the CIA (with the approval of the Nixon administration), supported a coup lead by Augusto Pinochet. As the military dictatorship cemented its power-base, the Marxists fled Chile. Pinochet had DINA (the Chilean Secret Service for his regime) set up, even as other South American nations fell to dictatorships and juntas. In fact, beyond the Americas, the social upheaval in places like Greece were simultaneously falling to military dictatorships. The United States had “Tricky Dick” Nixon as president; this being the man who had come to prominence persecuting Alger Hiss in an alliance with Joseph McCarthy in the HUAC. Allende's election had convinced Nixon that “those commies” were – much like Dulles paranoid ideas about Guatemala 20 years previously – trying to interfere with the Americas.

American aid to Chile during Pinochet's regime is rather unquestionable. Key members of DINA were trained at the School of the Americas, where they received the KUBARK interrogation manual and training in torture.

A PBS documentary, entitled The Judge and the General follows the story of Juan Guzman, a conservative judge that found himself immersed in the questions of War Crimes and human rights violations committed during Pinochet's reign:

Part One:
Part Two:
Part Three:
Part Four:
Part Five:

But Chile was hardly alone: Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay would also be overcome by dictatorships following Pinochet's coup. And together, with the aid of the CIA, those nations would form an alliance to bring down their fleeing political opponents.

They called these series of actions Operación: Cóndor, or Operation: Condor.**

A Colony of Unrighteousness

The story of Chile establishes the rather startling precedent that swept through areas of South America like wildfire. Following the coup and establishment of DINA, paramilitary and military forces (along with DINA, later) systematically began hunting down dissidents and political opponents. Many were murdered, including two American reporters. Many more were tortured and then murdered; others simply disappeared as “forced disappearances” became the norm.

Levenda writes that the most unfortunate in Chile found their way to Colonia Dignidad, “the colony of righteousness” or “the colony of dignity.” The name couldn't possibly be more misleading.

Paul Schäfer
It was founded by German immigrants like Paul Schäfer Schneider, known in Chile as Paul Schäfer. According to Levenda:
“Paul Schäfer was one of the founders of the Colony of Righteousness and was, and is, its only leader. Schäfer jumped bail in Germany in 1961 on charges of child sexual abuse, but that did not stop him from taking a group of families with him when he fled to Chile, arriving there in 1962 at the age of forty with around sixty “blond, blue-eyed settlers” … including some children who were brought there under false pretenses, taken from their families back in Germany...”
(P. 300)
Here is a french documentary (with English subtitles) about Schäfer and his sect. Admittedly, I haven't finished it yet. But what I've seen is interesting [WARNING: This could be triggering for some. It documents the abuse in a very painful way, and has been very hard for me to finish.]:

In time, the Colony became a tightly ruled paradise for the Nazis that had fled to South America. Males and females in the colonies were kept separated, and sexual intercourse was frowned on.*** Even before Pinochet's coup, rumors of slave labor and the use of “mild-altering drugs” on rebellious individuals abounded. After Pinochet's coup, it became a state of the art (for the 1970s) “black site” akin to what the CIA has in Eastern Europe today. Add to all of this rumors of “Nazi-voodoo” hybrids, and Martin Bormann and Josef Mengele visiting regularly and you have one of the most sinister sites in the world at the time.
Martin Bormann
In the introduction to Unholy Alliance, Levenda says of the place:
Like many others, I bought Aftermath and read it cover to cover in almost a single sitting. It was, after all, the height of Watergate paranoia those days, a time when anything was possible and when any criminal conspiracy by government leaders entirely credible. While his story read like any of the best political thrillers of the day, one statement in particular caught my eye. It concerned Bormann's living accommodations in Chile when he – according to Farago and to various Argentine and Chilean security officials – had to leave Argentina after the death of his friend, Juan Peron. It seemed he sent his time between a friend's estate outside Santiago and a small town south of the city...”
(P. xiv – xv.)
He then goes on to quote Farago's Aftermath (p. 385):
Located in the latter region is the weirdest Nazi encampment of the postwar world, housing a sect that combines Nazism and voodooism.**** Enormously rich from mysterious sources, it maintains a heavily fortified estancia called Colonia Dignidad. It is virtually extraterritorial, enjoying privileges and immunities otherwise reserved only for diplomats. It was the hacienda of Parral, camouflaged as a 'cultural and welfare society,' that Martin Bormann would move when, fatigued by his restless life in exile, he sought a place he could be at peace.”
It was also, it has subsequently been discovered, a concentration camp. Chile's DINA sent the unfortunates there, to soundproofed cells, where the art of torture was being practiced. In Unholy Alliance, Levenda quotes a UN Report, apparently taken from a Washington Post report entitled “German Settlement Stirs Controversy in Chile” from 1987. In the event that one thinks Levenda has made some of what I'm about to say next up, I shall quote directly from the report (linked above):
Three years after the 1973 coup that brought Pinochet to power, a United Nations human rights report referred to testimony about dogs at the colony trained to attack intruders' sexual organs, experiments testing torture tolerance limits and the use of drugs to break detainees.
It seems,” the report said, “that in Colonia Dignidad there is a specially equipped underground torture center with small soundproofed cells, hermetically sealed. The detainees' heads are covered with leather hoods, which are stuck to their faces with substances that are supposedly chemicals. In these cells, interrogations are carried out through electronic equipment, including loudspeakers and microphones, while detainees are tied naked to metal frames to receive electric shocks.”
The trained dogs are certainly... new. But the rest? Why, the results of Donald O. Hebb's experiments... Which also just happen to be in the KUBARK manuals... Which, incidentally, we gave to attendees to the School of the Americas. It surely can't be a coincidence to see this. Indeed, without the intervention of the United States, we would not see these reports.

The most distressing aspect of all of this is that the Chilean DINA had, by the time Condor cemented an alliance of dictatorships, begun targeting anyone even remotely associated with Leftists. It wasn't just guerilla forces, as Pinochet would tell his American allies. Their family members were also abducted.

In Chile, a campaign of sheer horror had begun... Prompted by the United States. And as the forced disappearances, torture sites, and madness mounted... Our politicians watched in silence, and gave at best vague warnings about the implications. After all, the Pinochet government in Chile were “our guys,” and Kissinger and Nixon rather lacked that. So they gladly overlooked abuses they knew were happening.

And at the School of Americas, we continued to train people on the methods of torture... Derived from our own schools, and the previous generation of Anglo-American Psychologists and Psychiatrists who had formed a coalition to combat the Soviet threat.

But those who subsequently faced unimaginable torture and terror in South America were not always “commies.” They were the innocent, whose only crime was having a family member or friend who may or may not have had a few Marxist ideas or left-wing leanings.

And shortly thereafter, no one was safe... Anywhere. Because as the Dirty War emerged in Argentina, and dictators ruled areas of the Americas, assassinations programs were hatched.

It was this, ironically, that would Condor and the human rights violations of those involved to light. And it is to this we will return for the final entry of this series, tomorrow.

Be seeing you,

* Italix mine.
** There were technically two activities entitled Operation: Condor in the Americas during this time. One was part, officially, of the War on Drugs and involved the CIA training troops in Mexico to combat drug lords operating inside the Mexican the Golden Triangle. It failed. Utterly. Many peasants ended up murdered, with accusations of torture and CIA oversight cropping up an awful lot, and absolutely no drug kingpin arrests. The Other Operation: Condor is the alliance of dictatorships I brought up earlier.
*** Except, Levenda comments sarcastically, for Schäfer and his child-love.

**** I have no idea what the authors mean by 'voodooism'. It could be any of the ATR religions in the area, or something specific to that region of Chile. I'll check to see if Levenda clarifies, as he rarely makes such mistakes.

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