Four decades ago, on November, 25, 1975,
the Chilean capital of Santiago hosted a meeting of South American intelligence
chiefs, military officers, and government officials with a common commitment to
exterminating leftism on the continent.
It was the launch of Operation Condor, a
collaborative effort between six countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile,
Paraguay, and Uruguay. With the United States' encouragement, the alliance
would go on to torture and murder tens of thousands of civilians.
The codename "Condor", an avian
emblem of various Andean nations, was darkly appropriate in other ways. In Argentina,
for example, some 30,000 suspected leftists were disappeared
during the "dirty war" waged by the military junta that seized power
shortly after Operation Condor took off; many were dropped from aircraft into bodies of
In other words, this wasn't an innocent
flight of the condor.
As historian Greg Grandin notes in
his book, Kissinger's Shadow: The Long Reach of
America's Most Controversial Statesman, the former US secretary of state
offered the following - thinly veiled - murderous advice to the junta's foreign
minister in 1976: "If there are things that have to be done, you should do