US Documents Show Pinochet Ordered Letelier Bombing

Ex-Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet (Image: YouTube)
Ex-Chilean Gen. Augusto Pinochet (Image: YouTube)

Top Story — Declassified U.S. documents revealed Thursday show that former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet personally ordered the 1976 assassination in Washington D.C. of an exiled Chilean diplomat, The Associated Press reported.

Orlando Letelier was killed along with an American companion by the detonation of a car bomb.

In one of the released documents, a State Department cable, the then-head of Chile’s intelligence service Manuel Contreras is quoted acknowledging in 1987 that he organized the bombing under Pinochet’s direct orders.

The documents, which are available online at The George Washington University National Security Archives, were delivered by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet during a visit on Monday. Bachelet sent copies to Juan Pablo Letelier, a Chilean senator and the son of Orlando Letelier, who was tortured under the Pinochet regime and fled in 1973.

National Security Archives analyst Peter Kornbluh wrote on Thursday that the release of the documents, a longtime goal of human rights activists in Chile, was made possible by the re-election of Bachelet, who was herself tortured by agents of the regime, as well as the recognition by the Obama administration of the importance of what Kornbluh called “declassified diplomacy.”

The surviving Letelier said the documents were proof of Pinochet’s involvement. The former dictator, who left office in 1990, was never prosecuted for Letelier’s assassination, according to Reuters.

Researchers from Chile and the United States are working to find evidence in the declassified U.S. documents that would support allegations that the Central Intelligence Agency had advance knowledge of the bombing, allegations based on the fact that Contreras was a CIA asset at the time.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • Mexico has issued arrest warrants for 23 former guards and law enforcement agents who allegedly aided in or failed to prevent the infamous escape of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán from a maximum security prison earlier this year, according to a speech Mexico’s Attorney General made to the Senate on Thursday.
  • Mexican prosecutors chose seven experts Thursday from five countries to reinvestigate the case of the 43 missing students from Iguala following the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ Sept. 6 rejection of the government’s initial findings.
  • Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley reached out to Latino voters at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Wednesday, both criticizing anti-Latino rhetoric from Republican candidates and professing their support for immigrant communities.

Caribbean

  • The United Nations Security Council agreed Thursday to maintain peacekeeping troops in Haiti for one more year, complying with an Aug. 9 recommendation by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Central America

  • The University of Washington Center for Human Rights filed a lawsuit against the CIA on Oct. 2 for refusing to satisfy their Freedom of Information Act request to release documents about a U.S.-trained Salvadoran military commander allegedly involved in a November 1981 massacre during El Salvador’s civil war.
  • At least 220 bodies have been found and about 350 people remain missing, one week after a huge landslide outside of Guatemala City, according to an announcement on Thursday by Guatemala’s national disaster agency.
  • Former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt is still due to stand retrial in January for genocide during the country’s civil war following a Thursday rejection of his amnesty request by a Guatemalan appeals court.

Andes

  • The International Monetary Fund meets today for the start of its annual gathering in Lima, Peru — the fist time in nearly 50 years that the IMF has met in a Latin American country.
  • The Colombian Supreme Court ruled that the Catholic church must pay 800 million pesos — roughly $277,000 — to two victims sexually abused by a priest at a diocese in the Tolima provice. The Supreme Court decision has been deemed historic due to the ruling that the Catholic church is responsible and liable for the conduct of its priests.

Southern Cone

  • Reuters outlines the five steps to impeaching a Brazilian president, following two high-court decisions against President Dilma Rousseff this week that clear the way for her to face a potential impeachment process — a prospect that Reuters maintains is unlikely.
  • Nine Brazilian policemen were arrested in connection to a massacre in August that left 19 dead in the space of hours on the outskirts of São Paulo — an incident investigators believe was carried out by policemen in retaliation for the shooting of an off-duty officer in the area.This latest development comes as it is revealed that violent deaths in Brazil increased by 5 percent between 2013 and 2014, according to a non-profit organization.

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