Son Los Sueños Todavía
Gerardo Alfonso
click for artist's background

They Are Still The Dreams

You were rising up from the southern cordillera
And were coming since long before
With love for the world deep inside you.
It was a star that put you here
And made you part of this people.
Out of thanks many were born
Who are so much like you
And did not want you to leave,
And are different since then.
After so much time and so much turmoil
We continue forever
On this long, long road
That you take.
The end of the century tells us an old truth:
Good times and bad times
Are a part of reality.
I knew very well you were going to return,
That you were going to return from some place,
Because dolor has not killed the Utopian dream,
Because love is eternal
And the people who love you do not forget you.
You knew well enough from that time
That you were going to grow, that you were going to stay,
Because faith that is clear cleanses wounds,
Because your spirit is humble
And is born anew in the poor and in their lives.
After so much time and so much turmoil
They are still the dreams
That draw the people,
Like a magnet that, each day, unites them.
It is not about windmills,
It is not about a Quijote.
Something is being tempered in the soul of the people,
A virtue which rises above titles and names.
After so much time and so much turmoil....

cordillera is in italics since it is Spanish; it means the
geopolitical area encompassed by Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and sometimes

(translation thanks to Sterling 'Doc' Bennett)




Accused of being a Communist since his university days, Guevara claims that he was never affiliated with the Communist Party either in Argentina, Guatemala or Cuba. His reply to a 1959 accusation was: "If it appears to you that what we do is Communist, then we are Communists." No evidence is available to the effect that he was ever affiliated with any Communist Party, although he seems to have had many contacts with party members and associates in Argentina, Guatemala and Mexico. On any count, Guevara plainly has a strong, emotional anti-US bias and a sympathetic outlook toward Communism. He especially condemns the US role in replacing the pro-Communist Arbenz government in Guatemala with a military junta in 1954.

It has also been reported that he made the trip to escape his military obligations in Argentina. In any case, indicative of his adventurous nature, he made the trip by motorcycle across the Andes, through Chile and Peru, and by canoe along a portion of the upper Amazon to Colombia and Venezuela. His travels finally carried him to Miami, where he was turned back by US immigration authorities. After graduation from medical school Guevara left on a similar tour which ended in Guatemala, where he became involved in that country's domestic politics.

After Che's execution Rodriguez took his Rolex watch as a souvenir (he still wears it today). The book includes a photo of Che with Rodriguez the day he was captured. In 1971 Rodriguez helped train Provincial Reconnaissance Units for Operation Phoenix in Vietnam. During the 1980's he trained soldiers in El Salvador, and became involved with the Nicaraguan contras, Don Gregg, and vice- president George Bush




an insult to the international community, as well as a hollow affront to the victims of the Central American wars of the 1980s and a diminution of the reputation of this country for civic rectitude at a very difficult moment in U.S. history
John Negroponte's Past Finally Should Catch Up with Him
Ambassador Negroponte is presently the Executive Vice President for Global Markets of the McGraw-Hill Companies. He has served in a wide variety of Foreign Service posts including Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 - 1985, Ambassador to Mexico from 1989 - 1993 and Ambassador to the Philippines from 1993-1996. He held the post of Deputy Assistant Secretary of State with the rank of Ambassador for Oceans and Fisheries Affairs from 1976 - 1979 and was then appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs in 1980. From 1985-1987, he was Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environment and Scientific Affairs. Following that service, President Reagan named him Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, a post he held until 1989.
He is a graduate of Yale University and is married with five children.

The Senate is ducking its responsibilities in today's pro forma confirmation hearing on Negroponte to be ambassador to the UN

No public witnesses are being heard and no effort is being made by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to carefully scrutinize Negroponte on his role while U.S. ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s, his shady activities on behalf of the Contras at that time or the testimony he provided during his confirmation hearing to be ambassador to Mexico

His past tolerance of human rights abuses in Honduras and his repeated deception of Congress undermine any Negroponte role as a promoter of democracy and a human rights advocate at the UN.

Crimes without punishment

Against the background of the tragedy that has been visited upon America, while the public virtues of the dead are being extolled, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to conduct confirmation hearings for John Negroponte as President Bush’s nominee to be ambassador to the UN, a candidate whose public rectitude is gravely lacking. Negroponte’s appointment has aroused great concern among a broad spectrum of human rights advocates and foreign affairs specialists due to the number of serious allegations against him for deception and illegal activities during the 1980s and the accuracy of his testimony during his confirmation hearing to be ambassador to Mexico.

We shall hear today that because of the terrorist attack, America needs the UN post filled immediately. That much is certain, but is Negroponte the man for the job? Given his background, the answer should be a resounding “no.” The hope is that, at the last minute, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will act responsibly and seriously assess the true nature of the man’s record and vigorously question Negroponte on his conduct while ambassador to Honduras in the 1980s.

To his admirers, Negroponte is a distinguished career senior foreign service officer who has served his country well in a number of important posts. To his detractors, Negroponte is a blunt, self-serving opportunist who aggressively (to a point well past overkill) took on what he perceived as the coloration of whatever administration he was serving, even if it involved chicanery, a misuse of authority and a flouting of decent standards of professional behavior. Negroponte's nomination, along with the appointments of Cold War stalwarts such as Otto Reich and Elliot Abrams, as well as Senator Helms’ protégé, Roger Noriega, to key hemispheric posts, is being seen by many regional observers as a throwback to an era when human rights and democratic processes were routinely downgraded in the name of halting purported efforts by Moscow to expand Communism throughout the hemisphere.

The nomination is another in a series of disturbing foreign relations moves by the Bush administration and Secretary of State Colin Powell, particularly in regards to Latin America. It also offers further proof of Bush's unilateralist approach to international affairs, as the appointment of Negroponte is a good example of how White House foreign policy is dangerously out of touch with the increasing restlessness of U.S. regional allies. Negroponte’s complicity in efforts to cover up the full extent of human rights abuses committed by the Honduran military, his purported perjured testimony over the details of his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal and the illicit diversion of U.S. aid to Honduras for the Contra forces, normally should have disbarred any attempt to put him in a higher posting. Unfortunately, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and its chairman are doing themselves little honor by trivializing the advice and consent responsibility when it comes to this appointee.

Evading Senate scrutiny

The Negroponte nomination is perhaps the most controversial to date by the Bush administration in the field of foreign diplomacy, even though the Senate Foreign Relations committee apparently has decided to take a “pass” on it, with even some of its more liberal members likely to offer only token opposition. Before, in effect, conceding his confirmation, several leading Democrats had expressed their unease over crucial issues concerning human rights abuses committed during Negroponte's tenure as U.S. ambassador to Honduras. At today's Senate hearing, Negroponte’s predecessor at the UN, Richard Holbrooke, whose distinguishing characteristic as a self-promoter revives the question of “what’s in it for him?,” is the only outside witness scheduled to appear. General Luis Alonso Discua Elvir, a former death squad commander who claimed that he would “spill the beans” on Negroponte unless his family was allowed to remain in this country, had his U.S. visa revoked earlier this year. He should be heard by the Committee to see if there is merit to his words. Despite an abundance of reporters, scholars and governmental officials who have publicly criticized Negroponte’s record, no public witnesses were invited to try to establish that Negroponte is not qualified for the post. Therefore, what should have been an occasion of close scrutiny over serious charges of malfeasance in office is instead being afforded a cursory screening which will pass as a spavined version of it.

Complicity with death squad leaders

During his ambassadorship in Honduras from 1981 to 1985, Negroponte was known to have had close working ties to egregious local abusers of human rights. One of the most notable of these unsavory characters was then-Colonel Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, at the time Honduras' military chief and the de facto strongman of the country. Promoted to General, Alvarez was later assassinated after returning from the U.S., where he had sought refuge from his senior military colleagues after refusing to share the large bribes that he had received via the U.S. embassy. This largesse was a reward for facilitating the conversion of his country into a base to wage the Contra war against the incumbent leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua.

Alvarez was perhaps most infamous for his close connections to a death squad that became known as Battalion 316. This Alvarez-created unit, which received training in torture techniques from Argentine 'dirty war' veterans and the CIA (according to a prize-winning Baltimore Sun series which in part examined Negroponte’s role in Honduras), is widely suspected of "disappearing" over 180 suspected "subversives" in the 1980s. At the time, anyone opposed to Honduras’ use as a staging ground for President Reagan’s anti-Sandinista campaign was generally considered a "subversive."

Promoting human rights to save face

In response to recurrent journalist inquiries, as well as in formal proceedings, Negroponte repeatedly has denied or acted to diminish charges that the Honduran military was behind the death squads, or that such forces even existed. This begs the question of who was responsible for the "disappearances" that undoubtedly were occurring in the country at that time. Negroponte's attempts to minimize the role of death squads have been undermined by his later boasts that, quite to the contrary, he personally intervened on a number of instances to secure the release of politically sensitive prisoners being detained by Honduran authorities. Even if there is a grain of truth to his claim, such behavior on Negroponte’s part was the exception rather than the rule, and perhaps is an indication of how he could have saved many lives, if he had used his elevated position in the country to be a true advocate of human rights.

One such apparently rare occasion in which he professedly intervened involved journalist Oscar Reyes, who was abducted after writing numerous articles critical of the Honduran military. Former U.S. Embassy spokesman Cresencio Arcos verified that in July of 1983, Negroponte approached General Alvarez about his apprehensions over the recently "disappeared" Reyes. It should be recalled that Arcos himself has been accused by scholars studying the area during that period of knowingly distributing false information to U.S. journalists stationed in the region about Honduras at that time, and that he had entered into a familial relationship with a high Honduran family, allegedly not keeping his personal life separate from his official responsibilities. Prompted by protests from university students and a rash of newspaper publicity on Reyes at the time, it is unlikely that Negroponte’s request for Reyes' release was principally motivated by abiding human rights concerns. Rather, the impetus for such singular concern in this case almost certainly was the fear that widespread coverage of the Reyes kidnapping could eventually make headlines in U.S. newspapers and bring unwanted publicity to his ambassadorship.

Recently released declassified documents that had been requested by the Senate repeatedly articulate that such a concern was always on Negroponte’s mind. An undesirable outcome of this kind would have hardened opposition to President Reagan’s extremely controversial policy of trying to suck Honduras into the Contra war in exchange for secret bribes to a number of that country’s political and military officers, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars being allocated to it in economic and military assistance.

Another high-profile case in which Negroponte claims to have intervened was the disappearance of a suspected leftist, Ines Murillo. A number of reports have stated that U.S. Embassy officials and at least one CIA officer visited the Honduran torture facility known as INDUMIL, where Murillo was being held and tortured. The daughter of a prominent family, Murillo’s parents were extremely relentless in trying to locate their daughter, even taking out a full-page advertisement in the Honduran newspaper, El Tiempo. Negroponte professedly vocalized concern for Murillo and brought up the topic when meeting with Honduran officials. Fear of international coverage of the incident again may have provided the impetus for the U.S. Embassy to get involved. Four days later, Murillo was, in effect, saved from certain death when she was sentenced to two years in prison.

Contra connections

Starting in the early 1980s, Honduras had become the primary U.S. support base for the Contra war. The Honduran Army provided facilities and logistical support in a swath of territory adjacent to Nicaragua which became known as "Contraland." Honduran channels were also used to funnel U.S. funds to the Contras, without disclosing their source, at a time when such funding to the rebels was prohibited by Congress.

During his stint in Tegucigalpa, Negroponte expanded the embassy staff size by ten-fold, and it came to house one of the largest CIA deployments in all of Latin America. Hondurans frequently referred to Negroponte as the U.S. "proconsul" of the country, as his arrogant and stealthy style of operating was more like that of an intelligence officer than a traditional diplomat, redolent of his days as a young agent in Vietnam. In this manner, he was able to guarantee the cooperation of a Honduran base for the Contra rebel army through his domination of compromised local officials and institutions.

Negroponte also played a primary role in organizing such pro-Contra projects as a regional U.S. counterinsurgency training center at Puerto Castilla and the construction of the controversial $7.5 million highway to Puerto Lempira, passing through a virgin strand of mahogany trees towards the country’s eastern coast. Such a road would facilitate the flow of supplies to the Nicaraguan right-wing rebels. In spite of U.S. AID regulations stipulating that such a U.S.-funded project conduct an environmental impact study before construction could commence, Negroponte overruled such legal niceties and ordered the road to be built. Support of Honduran aid to the Contras at the time also violated Congressional prohibitions such as the 1983 Boland amendment, which restricted the use of U.S. funds for "military equipment, military training or advice, or other support for military activities, to any group or individual not part of a country's armed forces, for the purpose of overthrowing the government of Nicaragua or provoking a military exchange between Nicaragua and Honduras."

In exchange for General Alvarez's total collusion in support of Contra operations in Honduras, Washington offered full political and economic support to the corrupt Honduran military. U.S. military aid to Honduras swelled from $3.9 million in 1980 to $77.4 million by 1984. Between 1981 and 1986, more than 60,000 U.S. soldiers and members of the National Guard traversed Honduras in over 50 military exercises meant not so much to intimidate the Sandinistas as to covertly transfer arms to the Contras. U.S. largesse was so profound that Honduras soon became known as the "unsinkable aircraft carrier" in the Contra cause. Cynically enough, upon recommendation by Negroponte among others, the Reagan administration awarded Alvarez the Legion of Merit in 1983 for "encouraging democracy."


By whatever means necessary

John Negroponte was sent to Tegucigalpa with the mission of keeping U.S. aid flowing into Honduras for the Contras by whatever means necessary. Under Negroponte's direct guidance, the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa turned a blind eye to glaring evidence of systematic human rights abuses by Honduran officials. The recently declassified State Department papers also reveal the lengths that Negroponte would go to in order to protect the victimizer, rather than the victims, of human rights abuses at the hands of the Honduran armed forces. In 1982 alone, there were over 300 newspaper articles in the Honduran press reporting the illegal detention of university students and the abduction of union leaders. Colonel Leonidas Torres Arias, a disgruntled former intelligence chief of the Honduran armed forces, stated in a 1982 news conference that Battalion 316 was indeed a death squad, citing three of its victims by name. Efrain Diaz Arrivillaga, a Honduran congressional delegate, also said that when he spoke about the military's abuses at the time to Negroponte, he was met with an "attitude…of tolerance and silence." In addition, organizations such as the Committee of the Relatives of the Disappeared visited the U.S. embassy to complain that the Honduran military was holding suspected dissidents in clandestine jails such as INDUMIL, to an unmoved Negroponte.

Recent reports have furthered the conclusion that Negroponte was well aware of human rights abuses in Honduras, and any doubts he had about individual cases were politically motivated rather than the product of genuine caution. In Search of Hidden Truths, co-authored by the Honduran Human Rights Commissioner, documents that recently declassified reports provide solid evidence that the U.S. was aware of human rights abuses committed by the Honduran military in the 1980s, in spite of Negroponte’s claims to the contrary. In addition, declassified State Department documents also reveal that in October of 1984, after General Alvarez had been deposed from the Honduran armed forces, Negroponte’s embassy was finally willing to acknowledge that, “responsibility for a number of the alleged disappearances between 1981 and March 1984 can be assigned either directly or indirectly to Alvarez himself.”

Recently declassified cable traffic indicates a persistent inclination on Negroponte’s behalf to wholeheartedly believe explanations offered by General Alvarez concerning human rights abuses. For example, in a 1983 letter, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Inter-America Affairs Craig Johnstone conveyed to Negroponte that a number of guerrillas were captured and executed by elements of the Honduran armed forces. Negroponte’s response was to accept General Alvarez’s lame excuse that the six detainees were shot dead while trying to escape. When it came to protestations coming from human rights activists and political dissidents, however, the exact opposite was true, as allegations by Honduran organizations such as CODEH of violations by the armed forces were regularly met with skepticism and denial by Negroponte’s embassy.

Further discrediting Negroponte's bona fides on the country’s human rights situation are statements by Jack Binns, his immediate predecessor as ambassador to Honduras from 1980 to 1981. At the time, Binns warned State Department officials of what he described as "increasing evidence of officially sponsored and/or sanctioned assassinations of political and criminal targets." Binns also has stated that there was no way for Negroponte not to know the grim facts of life in Honduras. Thomas Enders, then Binns' superior as Assistant Secretary of State, has admitted that he told Binns not to report human rights abuses through official channels in order to keep U.S. aid flowing into Honduras. Enders confessed his transgressions at a later date, something that Negroponte has failed to consider.

Blatant contradictions in human rights reports

Instances of disappearances, harassment and abductions of political dissidents all escalated under Negroponte, yet the annual Human Rights Reports prepared by the ambassadorial staff for the State Department's Bureau of Humanitarian Affairs were masterpieces of cunning redaction, consistently downplaying human rights abuses and denying evidence of systematic violations by manipulating language and statistics. For example, the 1982 report prepared for the State Department by Negroponte's staff asserted, "Legal guarantees exist against arbitrary arrest or imprisonment, and against torture or degrading treatment. Habeas Corpus is guaranteed by the Constitution, Honduran law provides for arraignment within 24 hours of arrest. This appears to be the standard practice." All of this is not even true today, let alone in the early 1980s. In reality, extra-legal abductions by the military were rampant and widely reported. In addition, as was acknowledged in the declassified State Department documents, the judicial system was (and in fact still is) almost entirely corrupt. Relatives' requests for information or visitation rights for imprisoned family members was met with stonewalling, as military officials asserted that the individual was not being detained, and thus no assistance was given in locating them. The U.S. embassy was often asked to help find relatives or use its influence to gain the individual's release. Negroponte's awareness of at least a substantial number of these abductions is beyond question.

Curiously enough, the Reyes case did not even deserve any mention in Negroponte’s 1982 Human Rights Report, despite widespread media coverage and his self-professed personal involvement. However, the following was included in the report: "No incident of official interference with the media has been recorded for several years." It was difficult even for embassy staff in Honduras to take the human rights reports seriously, as they appeared to be in such blatant denial of what U.S. officials were witnessing in Honduras. Rick Chidester, then an embassy aide in Honduras, has been quoted as jocosely wondering at the time whether they actually had not just prepared the human rights report for Norway.

Promoting democracy only when necessary

While the embassy’s human rights reports were carefully edited to clearly correspond to Negroponte’s own ideological sentiments of the day, whether they were the result of his personal intervention, or just clearance, is still not clear. What is certain is that Negroponte set an incredibly high standard of proof for the inclusion of evidence of any wrongdoing by Honduran authorities, but repeatedly questioned the legitimacy of various human rights leaders in the country, which was certainly not in conformance with existing State Department standard practice. Someone with such a 'distinguished' foreign service career as Negroponte would surely have known that embassy reports are not intended to be exclusively based on facts and be admissible in court, but rather are meant to include information from citizens and the media concerning human rights abuses, which were myriad in Honduras at the time. Negroponte broke with this practice by requiring that all testimonies be public affidavits. This criterion could only be conformed to at great risk to the personal safety of those who wanted to come forward and reveal the truth behind the human rights violations occurring at the time.

The juxtaposition of the Human Rights Reports for Honduras and Nicaragua provides a striking contrast of exactly what purpose the documents served. While the Human Rights Reports for Honduras were characteristically incredulous of allegations of abuses by the Honduran military, in Nicaragua, the reports were manipulated to have the U.S. public believe that atrocities committed by the Sandinista government were a daily event, which was far from the truth. The Embassy reports provided by Negroponte's office appeared to state whatever was necessary in order to assuage the concerns of the Democratic majority in Congress as to what was happening in the area, disregarding the murderous realities that average Hondurans confronted on a daily basis. The skewering of human rights reports thus appear to have been an instrument of Negroponte's Embassy aimed at promoting his full-time efforts to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, and were not at all intended to strengthen democratic institutions and actually report on human rights violations, or save lives. There is no reason not to believe that charges of complicity in the murder of a Chilean constitutionalist general, now being leveled against Henry Kissinger in a U.S. court, could be duplicated against Negroponte in a civil proceeding.

The worst man for the job

Negroponte's serious flaws in the area of human rights have prompted serious concerns over the disservice that his appointment would do to the standing of this country's human rights reputation at the UN and whether Negroponte could possibly be a credible and reliable apostle of such rights, given his extremely cloudy past. His advocacy, for example, of concerns over China’s human rights shortcomings would soon enough be seen as unalloyed hypocrisy, given Negroponte's record in Honduras. Some observers contend that the Negroponte nomination offers one more example of Secretary Powell’s lack of control over State Department policy. The nomination of such a tainted figure as Negroponte to one of the most prominent posts available to a U.S. diplomat would represent an insult to the international community, as well as a hollow affront to the victims of the Central American wars of the 1980s and a diminution of the reputation of this country for civic rectitude at a very difficult moment in U.S. history.

COHA Research Group, Jeremy Gans and Matthew Tschetter, lead researchers

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-partisan and tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the floor of the Senate as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.”

The worst man for the job

Negroponte's serious flaws in the area of human rights have prompted serious concerns over the disservice that his appointment would do to the standing of this country's human rights reputation at the UN and whether Negroponte could possibly be a credible and reliable apostle of such rights, given his extremely cloudy past. His advocacy, for example, of concerns over China’s human rights shortcomings would soon enough be seen as unalloyed hypocrisy, given Negroponte's record in Honduras. Some observers contend that the Negroponte nomination offers one more example of Secretary Powell’s lack of control over State Department policy. The nomination of such a tainted figure as Negroponte to one of the most prominent posts available to a U.S. diplomat would represent an insult to the international community, as well as a hollow affront to the victims of the Central American wars of the 1980s and a diminution of the reputation of this country for civic rectitude at a very difficult moment in U.S. history.

COHA Research Group, Jeremy Gans and Matthew Tschetter, lead researchers

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-partisan and tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the floor of the Senate as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.”

John Negroponte - UN Ambassador
confirmation hearing on Negroponte
to be ambassador to the UN
SEPT 11, 2001

a former death squad commander who claimed that he would “spill the beans” on Negroponte unless his family was allowed to remain in this country, had his U.S. visa revoked earlier this year. Negroponte.htm

Battalion 316. This Alvarez-created unit, which received training in torture techniques from Argentine 'dirty war' veterans and the CIA (according to a prize-winning Baltimore Sun series which in part examined Negroponte’s role in Honduras), is widely suspected of "disappearing" over 180 suspected "subversives" in the 1980s.


"They said that torture was not the way to obtain the truth during an interrogation. But Alvarez said the quickest way to get the information was with torture," he told investigators of the Senate intelligence committee.

The Senate investigators interviewed Caballero in Canada as part of the same investigation in which Stolz testified.

In an interview with The Sun, Oscar Alvarez also recalls the reality.

"What was supposed to happen was that the intelligence unit would gather information and take it to a judge and say, 'Here, this person is a guerrilla, and here's the evidence," he said. "But the Hondurans did not do that." Slashing his finger across his neck, he said, "They took the easy way."

And, he said, "U.S. officials did not protest."

Mark Mansfield, a spokesman for the CIA, said: "As a matter of policy, we don't comment on liaison relationships." But, he added, "The notion that the CIA was involved in or sanctioned human rights abuses in Honduras is unfounded."

A man, a mission

When Alvarez took command of the Honduran armed forces in 1982, at the age of 44, Washington had a man ideally suited to its mission to combat Communist insurgency in Central America.

"Gustavo Alvarez was very much out of national character - dynamic, firm, uncompromising," said Donald Winters, CIA station chief in Tegucigalpa from 1982 to 1984. "He knew where he wanted to go."

Alvarez was the son of a high school principal who made him recite poetry to overcome a stutter. But his preferred reading was military history. He so admired Germany's "Desert Fox" of World War II, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, that he named one of his sons Erwin and another Manfred, after Rommel's son.

General Alvarez made no secret about his belief that terror and violence were the only ways to deal with subversives. As commander of the national police force known as Fuerza de Seguridad Publica (FUSEP), he had already created an intelligence unit that would become known as Battalion 316.

"Fatal Secrets"
"When a wave of torture and murder staggered a small U.S. ally, truth was a casualty. Was the CIA involved? Did Washington know? Was the public deceived? Now we know: Yes, Yes and Yes." (by Gary Cohn and Ginger Thompson, Staff of The Baltimore Sun, whose article was originally published on June 11, 1995.)


SUNY@SB Department of History--Courses-- Undergraduate Fall ...
... other 200 level US course is strongly ... in shaping the history of many Latin ... including
their involvement in various social ... Chile and Argentina. Furthermore, the ... - 16k - Cached - Similar pages

©2002 Google


Argentina:  Background on the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo's Activism And Alicia Partnoy's Testimony about Disappearance and Torture During the "Dirty War"

Argentina Human Rights Information Maintained by Derechos Humanos: Human Rights; provides comprehensive information about current human rights concerns; contains numerous links to related sites; (available in Spanish and English versions).

Argentina - Human Rights  Maintained by Derechos Humanos: Human Rights; provides links to useful historical information on events leading to the military coup and successive juntas as well as human rights abuses in Argentina during "La Guerra Sucia" (The Dirty War); links include information on: military leaders accused of abduction, torture, and murder; the "disappeared" and their families; the "Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo"; national and international human rights organizations' responses; the presidential order of "impunity" for military personnel accused of crimes; national and international responses to "impunity" issue.

The Disappeared in Argentina  Maintained by several human rights groups to remember and pay homage to the disappeared from Argentina and other countries; contains background information on "La Guerra Sucia" and information about some of the most notorious military leaders involved in abduction and torture; contains links to related sites on the disappeared.

Homage to the Disappeared in Argentina. A Virtual Memorial to some of the disappeared, containing photographs and brief biographies. 

The Vanished Gallery. The most comprehensive web site available on "La Guerra Sucia" and events leading to it, the disappeared, the military junta and those responsible for the tortures, the secret detention centers, the modes of torture, testimonios by survivors, confessions by torturers, etc. An Excellent Source of Information.

Desaparecidos: Bibliography. An excellent bibliography including topics such as: "La Guerra Sucia," disappearances, psychology of torturers, testimonios by survivors of torture, testimonio (confession) by torturer, authoritarianism and nationalism in Argentina, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; hot-linked to An Excellent Source.

More bibliography. A continuation of the above bibliography. An Excellent Source.

Interpreting Survivor Testimony: Excellent article by political scientist, Prof. Karen Slawner, "Interpreting Victim Testimony: Survivor Discourse and the Narration of History"; analyzes the ideological justifications for the Dirty War and interprets survivor testimony as a foucauldian counter-memory or counter-history that offers an alternative historical narrative to the one offered by the government's and military's master narrative grounded in the ideology of "national security." A Must Read Source.

"El Desaparecido" ("Disappearance"). Article by Argentine writer, Analia Penchaszadeh, about the psychological effects of "disappearances," their use as a terror tactic and means of social control; looks at the importance, though impossibility, of "speaking the unspeakable," and remembering those absent through disappearance; examines how remembering forces one to confront the horror of a loved one's torture and death; deals with the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo Web site maintained by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; explains their work; contains photographs and links to other sites; (available in Spanish only).

Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo Web site maintained by the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who have successfully located children abducted by the junta or born in detention centers before their mothers were murdered; explains their work; (available in Spanish and English versions).

government, however, was dominated by the armed forces. Both Peronistas and Communists were barred from the national elections of July 1963


torship was followed by a military junta that took power in 1976. Democracy returned in 1983, and numerous elections since then have underscored Argentina's progress in democratic consolidation.

Argentina Economy - overview:

Argentina benefits from rich natural resources, a highly literate population, an export-oriented agricultural sector, and a diversified industrial base. However, when President Carlos MENEM took office in 1989, the country had piled up huge external debts, inflation had reached 200% per month, and output was plummeting. To combat the economic crisis, the government embarked on a path of trade liberalization, deregulation, and privatization. In 1991, it implemented radical monetary reforms which pegged the peso to the US dollar and limited the growth in the monetary base by law to the growth in reserves. Inflation fell sharply in subsequent years. In 1995, the Mexican peso crisis produced capital flight, the loss of banking system deposits, and a severe, but short-lived, recession; a series of reforms to bolster the domestic banking system followed. Real GDP growth recovered strongly, reaching 8% in 1997. In 1998, international financial turmoil caused by Russia's problems and increasing investor anxiety over Brazil produced the highest domestic interest rates in more than three years, halving the growth rate of the economy. Conditions worsened in 1999 with GDP falling by 3%. President Fernando DE LA RUA, who took office in December 1999, sponsored tax increases and spending cuts to reduce the deficit, which had ballooned to 2.5% of GDP in 1999. Growth in 2000 was a disappointing 0.8%, as both domestic and foreign investors remained skeptical of the government's ability to pay debts and maintain its fixed exchange rate with the US dollar.
One bright spot at the start of 2001 was the IMF's offer of $13.7 billion in support.



Diplomats like to point out that the fast-food chain McDonalds is now one of Argentina's biggest employers

Underlining Argentina's role as the firmest U.S. ally in Latin America, its peso currency has been pegged to the dollar since 1991 to stabilize the economy.

For three years, from 1975 through 1977, the countries in what is known as the Southern Cone of South America underwent a human rights crime wave unprecedented before or since in the region. Military regimes in place for more than a decade in Brazil and Paraguay were joined by like-minded military rulers who had overthrown civilian regimes in Uruguay, Chile, Argentina and Bolivia. Perhaps the most closely guarded secret was a system of international cooperation known as Operation Condor, an intelligence organization in which multinational teams tracked down and assassinated dissidents outside their home countries. At least 13,000 people were killed, and hundreds of thousands were imprisoned in concentration camps in the six countries participating in Condor.
Now, the discovery of secret-police documents in Paraguay and other recently declassified documents in the United States is pulling back the veil from Operation Condor. The new information paints a picture of up-to-the-minute knowledge of Condor operations by US officials, including detailed intelligence just before Chile sent a team to Washington, DC, where they killed a prominent opposition leader with a car bomb on Embassy Row. Other documents provide a feasible scenario for the origins of Operation Condor and point to the intriguing early involvement of an FBI agent. This is my reconstruction of what happened:
In May 1975, Paraguayan police arrested two men, Jorge Fuentes Alarcon and Amilcar Santucho, who represented what they considered a major new guerrilla threat, a united underground organization of armed groups from several countries, called the Revolutionary Coordinating Junta, or JCR.
The arrests were seen as an intelligence bonanza, according to Paraguayan and US documents. Last year the Justice Department declassified a letter, dated June 6,1975, from an FBI agent, Robert Scherrer, to a Chilean police official. Scherrer, who had taken great interest in the arrest of the two revolutionaries, describes the results of "interrogations" of the two men.
"[Fuentes] admitted that he is a member of the Coordinating Junta and was acting as a courier for said group," Scherrer wrote. Santucho, his traveling companion, was the brother of Argentina's most famous guerrilla leader, Roberto Santucho. Scherrer, whose job included intelligence liaison with the Southern Cone countries, told his Chilean counterpart that the FBI would follow up by investigating two people living in the United States, in New York and Dallas, whose names were discovered in Fuentes's address book (one of them was identified by Scherrer as Fuentes's sister). There can be little doubt that Scherrer was aware that the "interrogation" in Paraguay meant brutal torture- in fact, he discussed the Paraguayans' use of torture in a 1979 interview with me in which he also described Fuentes's arrest.
When the Paraguayans were finished interrogating Fuentes, they turned him over to Chile's secret police, the DINA. Two days later, DINA chief Manuel Contreras wrote an ebullient thank-you note, dated September 25, 1975, to his Paraguayan counterpart, conveying "the most sincere thanks for the cooperation given us to help in the mission my agents had to carry out in the sister republic of Paraguay, and I am sure that this mutual cooperation will continue and increase in the accomplishment of the common objectives of both services." Another long letter followed: Contreras invited three Paraguayan intelligence officials to attend a "strictly secret" meeting in Santiago along with intelligence chiefs from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and Uruguay. The Paraguay archive contains the agenda of the meeting, which was held November 25 December 1, 1975. It included discussion of codes and secret communications methods, and a "flowchart" of the new organization. The Fuentes/Santucho "success" appears to have provided the impetus and the model for the formal organization of the six countries into Operation Condor. Fuentes was seen, tortured but alive, by a dozen witnesses inside a secret prison known as Villa Grimaldi, on the outskirts of Santiago. He was taken away in January 1976 and is presumed dead.
Nine months later, an apparent Condor mission struck in Washington. On September 21, 1976, a car bomb exploded on Massachusetts Avenue, killing Chilean exile leader and former US ambassador Orlando Letelier and a US associate, Ronni Moffltt. FBI agent Scherrer was assigned to investigate. In the 1979 interview, Scherrer told me how he got a major lead in the case. He had contacted an Argentine military intelligence officer who had been in Santiago the week the assassination occurred: "It was a wild Condor operation," the source said' carried out by "those lunatics in Santiago." Scherrer drafted a cable, dated September 28, 1976, that described Condor to Washington FBI headquarters. For many years that cable was virtually all that was known about Condor, and it left the impression that Condor was discovered after the Letelier assassination. We now know, thanks to the new documents, that US officials knew about Condor before the Letelier assassination. In fact, CIA and State Department officials wrote about Condor's assassination plans in six documents before the assassination, and in one on the very day of it.
That remarkable document is labeled "INR Afternoon Summary, September 21, 1976.", It describes Condor as "inspired by Chile" and designed for "the covert elimination of subversives." Another INR (the State Department's Intelligence and Research Department) document and two CIA documents discuss internal squabbling among the Condor members: Argentina, Chile and Uruguay were planning "the assassination of leftist targets resident in Western Europe," according to the August 13 INR document, but Brazil was refusing to participate. An August 12 CIA report says training sessions for the European assassination operations are scheduled to be held in Buenos Aires. The documents are among thousands on Chile ordered declassified by the Clinton Administration in the wake of the 1998 arrest in London of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
The new evidence does not indicate US foreknowledge of Chile's plot against Letelier, but the existence of an international assassination ring led by Chile must have been of inescapable relevance on the afternoon of the car bombing. Yet it was almost a year before the US investigation focused directly on Chile, eventually resulting in the indictment of Condor organizer Contreras and two other DINA officers.
The newly declassified documents-in Paraguay as well as the United States-are helping to reveal a wide range of Condor operations, which included assassination plans or attempts (some of them aborted) in the United States, Portugal, France, Italy and Mexico, and the arrest and torture of an undetermined number of foreigners, including citizens of Spain, Britain, France and the United States. Those Condor activities are at the heart of a variety of new and revived judicial investigations of human rights crimes of the era: The US Justice Department has recently revived its investigation of the Letelier murder and is now focusing on Pinochet's involvement. Brazil is releasing documents about Condor, and its Congress is probing possible Condor involvement in the 1976 deaths in Argentina of two former Brazilian presidents, Joao Goulart and Juscelino Kubitschek. An Argentine judge has traveled to Chile twice in six months to interrogate military suspects in the 1974 Buenos Aires car-bomb assassination of a Pinochet rival, Gen. Carlos Prats.
Latin Americans seem determined to push forward to a final accounting of their past. But so far the United States has gone no further than the release of revelatory-but often heavily censored-documents from that era. (A final release of Chilean documents is scheduled for mid-September.) The flood of new information and new investigations adds up to a compelling argument for the US government to go beyond its current posture-a kind of Clinton-era "limited hangout" policy-and move quickly to a final truth-telling, along the lines of the official Truth and Reconciliation investigations our country has applauded in Chile, South Africa and other countries on the front lines of the cold war. In the case of Operation Condor, the revelations about the FBI role in the Fuentes case, as well as the detailed US intelligence about Condor before an act of Condor terrorism in Washington, raise questions about what else was known and done in the liaison relationships between our intelligence services and military missions and their counterparts in the Condor dictatorships.
FBI agent Scherrer (who died in 1995) was aware of the moral dilemmas into which he was thrust. "I agree with the necessity to exchange information on terrorists," Scherrer told me in a 1979 interview. "I think they should be rounded up, but tried, not slaughtered."
The issue is not only whether a single FBI agent crossed a line by distributing and acting on information he knew was gained by torture. The real question goes to the shared objectives among US agencies and Gestapo-like secret-police organizations in Latin America, and to the US policies that justified working with them in full knowledge and tacit approval of their methods.

John Dinges's book, with Saul Landau, on the Letelier / Moffitt killings, Assassination on Embassy Row (Pantheon), contained the first investigative account of Operation Condor, including the secret FBI cable. Dinges is writing a book on US liaisons with South American military dictatorships in the seventies