The dictatorships and their intelligence services were responsible for tens of thousands of killed and missing people in the period between 1975 and 1985. Analyzing the political repression in the region during that decade, Brazilian journalist Nilson Mariano estimates the number of killed and missing people as 2,000 in Paraguay; 3,196 in Chile; 297 in Uruguay; 366 in Brazil; and 30,000 in Argentina. According to John Henry Coatsworth, a historian of Latin America and the provost of Columbia University, the number of victims in Latin America alone far surpassed that of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc during the period 1960 to 1990. According to the CIA "the consensus at the highest levels of the US Government was that an Allende Presidency would seriously hurt US national interests (in Chile)." In this photo, Supporters of PresidentSalvador Allende are rounded up by General Augusto Pinochet's troops following the former's ouster.
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On 22 December 1992, torture victim Martín Almada and José Agustín Fernández, a Paraguayan judge, visited a police station in the Lambaré suburb of Asunción to look for files on a former political prisoner. They found what became known as the "Archives of Terror" (Portuguese: Arquivos do Terror), documenting the fates of thousands of Latin Americans political prisoners, who were secretly kidnapped, tortured and killed by the security services of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay. The archive has a total of 60,000 documents, weighing 4 tons and comprising 593,000 microfilmed pages. Southern Cone Operation Condor resulted in up to 50,000 killed; 30,000 "disappeared"; and 400,000 arrested and imprisoned. Some of these countries have relied on evidence in the archives to prosecute former military officers. According to these archives, other countries, such as Peru, cooperated by providing intelligence information in response to requests from the security services of the Southern Cone nations. While Peru had no representatives at the secret November 1975 meeting in Santiago de Chile, there is evidence of its involvement. For instance, as late as June 1980, Peru was known to have collaborated with Argentine agents of 601 Intelligence Battalion in the kidnapping, torture and "disappearance" of a group of Montoneros living in exile in Lima. The "terror archives" also revealed a degree of cooperation by Colombia and Venezuela. (For instance, Luis Posada Carriles was probably at the meeting that ordered Orlando Letelier's car bombing). A Colombian paramilitary organization known as Alianza Americana Anticomunista may have cooperated with Operation Condor. Brazil signed the agreement later (June 1976), but refused to engage in actions outside Latin America. Mexico, together with Costa Rica, Canada, France, the UK, Spain and Sweden received many people fleeing as refugees from the terror regimes. Operation Condor officially ended when Argentina ousted the military dictatorship in 1983 (following its defeat in the Falklands War) and restored democracy. For those who opposed U.S.-backed dictatorships in South America, "Operation Condor" was either a living nightmare or a death sentence — or both. Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 1976. Pinochet's dictatorship lasted 17 years and claimed thousands of lives.
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Officially, Operation Condor was an intelligence-sharing arrangement that was established in 1975 among Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, later joined by Ecuador and Peru. However, it is now widely understood that the notorious Cold War-era "black operations" plan was masterminded, funded, and backed to the hilt by the U.S.A. Operation Condor was the culmination of a U.S.-orchestrated campaign that entailed the ruthless silencing, murder, torture, and disappearance of tens of thousands of left-wing opponents of U.S. imperialism and the fascistic military dictatorships backed by the CIA and supported by infamous Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. As the U.S. renews its attempts to dislodge democratically-elected governments through various means in a continuation of its historic offensive against the popular movements of Latin America, we look back at the still-fresh memories of Operation Condor and the major human rights abuses perpetrated by Washington and its allies.