[News] Repression and U.S. Support for Military Dictatorship in Argentina

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Apr 2 14:43:25 EDT 2012

New Declassified Details on Repression and U.S. 
Support for Military Dictatorship in Argentina

Written by The National Security Archive
Sunday, 25 March 2012 19:07


Admiral Emilio Massera and Junta chief General 
Rafael Videla.Kissinger sought immediate support 
for the new military regime in spite of staff 
warnings on bloodshed; 22,000 people murdered or 
disappeared by military between 1975 and 1978 
according to secret Chilean intelligence report

Source: The National Security Archive

On March 22, the eve of the 30th anniversary of 
the military coup in Argentina, the National 
Security Archive posted a series of declassified 
U.S. documents and, for the first time, secret 
documents from Southern Cone intelligence 
agencies recording detailed evidence of massive 
atrocities committed by the military junta in 
Argentina. The documents include a formerly 
secret transcript of Henry Kissinger's staff 
meeting during which he ordered immediate U.S. 
support for the new military regime, and Defense 
and State Department reports on the ensuing 
repression. The Archive has also obtained 
internal memoranda and cables from the infamous 
Argentina intelligence unit, Battalion 601, as 
well as the Chilean secret police agency, known 
as DINA, which was secretly collaborating with the military in Buenos Aires.

The documents record Washington's initial 
reaction to the military takeover. "I do want to 
encourage them. I don't want to give the sense 
that they're harassed by the United States," 
Secretary of State Kissinger ordered his staff 
after his assistants warned him that the junta 
would initiate a bloodbath following the coup. 
According to the transcript, Kissinger's top 
deputy on Latin America, William Rogers, told him 
two days after the coup that "we've got to expect 
a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal 
of blood, in Argentina before too long."

State Department cables, including some obtained 
previously by the Argentine newspaper, Clarin, 
show that U.S. officials had prior knowledge of 
coup plotting. More than a week before the coup, 
Ambassador Robert Hill sent Assistant Secretary 
Rogers a secret cable reporting that the 
commander of the Navy, Admiral Emilio Massera, 
had requested that the U.S. embassy "indicate to 
him one or two reputable public relations firms 
in the U.S. which might handle the problem for a 
future military government." Massera, according 
to the cable, promised that the Argentine 
military would "not follow the lines of the 
Pinochet takeover in Chile," and would "try to 
proceed within the law and with full respect for human rights."

But although the military repression in Argentina 
drew less international attention than the 
Pinochet regime's in Chile, it far exceeded it in 
terms of human rights violations. By mid 1978, 
according to a secret cable from the DINA station 
in Buenos Aires, posted here publicly for the 
first time, the secret police battalion 601 had 
"counted 22,000 between dead and disappeared, 
from 1975 to the present date [July 1978]." 
Thousands of additional victims were killed 
between 1978 and 1983 when the military was forced from power.

Some of the victims were Uruguayans living in 
Buenos Aires at the time of the coup. A secret 
Argentine intelligence report records an 
operation to kidnap two Uruguayan citizens who 
were then disappeared. "From: State Intelligence 
Secretariat. To: Intelligence Battalion 601... 
Primary objective: Jorge Zaffaroni [and] Maria 
Zaffaroni, Results: Positive
" reads the military 
form dated September 29, 1976. Other records 
posted today provide details on efforts to wipe 
out a Uruguayan resistance group known as OPR-33 
through Operation Condor, a network of Southern 
Cone secret police services that worked together 
to eliminate opponents of their regimes.

"For the sake of history, memory and justice, it 
is extremely important that this kind of 
information from the Argentine intelligence and 
security services be made public and rigorously 
analyzed," said Professor Marcos Novaro, who 
directs the political history project at the University of Buenos Aires.

"It is clear from Secretary of State Henry 
Kissinger's reaction that Argentina had to pay in 
blood for the sake of stability in the region," 
said Archive analyst Carlos Osorio. "The U.S. 
knowingly supported a national security doctrine 
that disregarded all civilized norms and any 
adherence to human rights, and tens of thousands 
of Argentines paid the ultimate price."

The Documents in Historical Perspective

In the year preceding the coup, Argentina 
descended into a spiral of violence. On one side, 
death squad operations carried out by the 
Anti-communist Argentine Alliance (AAA), 
sponsored by the government, the Federal Police 
and the Armed Forces, claimed hundreds of victims 
per month; on the other side the People's 
Revolutionary Army (ERP) and the Montoneros 
guerrillas attacked a number of economic 
installations. Scores of union leaders, popular 
activists, journalists, scientists, lawyers and 
intellectuals as well as public servants, 
military men and business people were targeted. 
Private companies, many of them U.S. 
corporations, saw their executives threatened and 
killed. The U.S. Embassy received numerous 
threats and attacks; one of its staffers was 
wounded and another killed in 1975. Political 
chaos was compounded by economic upheaval. By 
early 1976, Isabel Peron, who had succeeded her 
late husband as president, was weak and isolated. 
The military coup was seen by many in the 
Argentine polity as an inevitable step to bring stability.

Washington welcomed the military takeover. 
Initially, reports by the U.S. Embassy branded it 
as "moderate in character" and the "most 
civilized coup in Argentine history." The 
administration of President Gerald Ford was ready 
to support the new Junta financially and with 
security assistance. But, as the U.S. Ambassador 
put it: "the USG [U.S. government] of course 
should not become overly identified with the 
Junta, but so long as the new govt can hew to a 
moderate line the USG should encourage it by 
examining sympathetically any requests for 
assistance." At the very first State Department 
staff meeting after the coup, Assistant Secretary 
William Rogers predicted to Secretary Kissinger 
that the Argentine military was "going to have to 
come down very hard not only on the terrorists 
but on the dissidents of trade unions and their 
parties," and recommended that "we ought not at 
this moment rush out and embrace this new regime."

Kissinger, however, ordered U.S. support for the 
new government. "Whatever chance they have," 
Kissinger noted, "they will need a little encouragement from us."

As predicted by the State Department, the 
military Junta instituted widespread and vicious 
repression following the coup. Not only 
Argentines were targeted, but also citizens from 
Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay who had 
taken up political exile in Argentina to escape 
repression in their home nations. As part of 
Operation Condor-a network of Southern Cone 
secret police services collaborating to eliminate 
opponents of their regimes--the Argentine 
military carried out numerous operations against 
foreigners trapped in Buenos Aires after the coup.

A secret Argentine military document revealed 
here for the first time records the capture of 
Jorge Zaffaroni and his wife Maria, who were 
never seen again. (Source: Sin Olvido)A secret 
Argentine military document revealed here for the 
first time records the capture of Jorge Zaffaroni 
and his wife Maria, who were never seen again. 
(Source: Sin Olvido)The clandestine effort to 
capture, kidnap, detain and disappear two 
Uruguayans, Jorge Zaffaroni and his wife Maria 
Islas de Zaffaroni, is recorded in dramatic 
detail from documentation obtained from 
intelligence agencies in four countries. The 
National Security Archive has reconstructed the 
paper trail on the chilling events of September 
1976 that led to the disappearance of these two Uruguayan citizens:

     By May 1976, Uruguayan intelligence is 
keeping track of dozens of OPR-33 Uruguayan 
guerrillas operating in Buenos Aires. A secret 
document published here shows a list built 
between May and October 1976,listing the 
Zaffaroni couple and 60 other members of the 
OPR-33. The information found in the archive of 
the Paraguayan Secret Police was likely being 
shared with Southern Cone intelligence services. 
(Source: The secret police archive in Paraguay)

     A U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency cable 
written in mid-September 1976, states that a high 
ranking delegation of Argentine generals has 
traveled to Montevideo, Uruguay to coordinate 
intelligence operations. (Source: Italian 
judicial official from a FOIA request to the U.S.)

     An Argentine intelligence report obtained by 
the Archive through a confidential source records 
information provided by the Uruguayans 
authorizing the State Intelligence Secretariat to 
order Intelligence Battalion 601 to kidnap the 
Zaffaroni couple; the operation is successfully 
carried out, and the couple is handed to the 
Uruguayan authorities and never heard from again.

     An October 1, 1976, U.S. Defense 
Intelligence Agency cable reports that in a one 
week operation the intelligence cooperation of 
Argentina and Uruguay has destroyed the OPR-33.

By mid 1978, military repression in Argentina had 
already peaked and was winding down, but human 
rights violations nevertheless continued. The 
Carter administration's policy of open diplomacy 
on human rights brought significant international 
pressure on the Junta to begin to curtail its 
abuses. But torture, disappearances, and 
executions continued at a reduced level until the 
military was defeated during the Falklands war, 
and forced to withdraw from power.

How many people were killed and disappeared 
during the seven years of dictatorship? "It is 
our estimate that at least several thousand were 
killed and we doubt that it will ever be possible 
to construct a more specific figure," says the 
U.S. Ambassador in one cable in early 1978. The 
National Commission on the Disappeared (CONADEP) 
was able to document 9,089 persons disappeared at 
the hands of the regime. Another U.S. 
declassified State Department memo, titled 
"Disappearance Numbers," places that figure at 15,000 by late 1978.

But one internal DINA document, obtained by 
journalist John Dinges for his book, The Condor 
Years, recorded secret numbers on the dead and 
disappeared compiled by Argentine Intelligence 
Battalion 601 between 1975 and July 1978. The 
cable, sent by DINA's attaché to Buenos Aires, 
Enrique Arancibia Clavel (using the code name 
Luis Felipe Alemparte Diaz) stated that he was 
"sending a list of all the dead" which included 
the official and unofficial death toll. Between 
1975 and mid 1978, Arancibia reported, "they 
count 22,000 between the dead and the disappeared."

The DINA cable, according to Dinges, "provides 
important corroborating evidence that the true 
number of disappeared is significantly higher 
than the 9,089 persons listed by CONADEP in the 1980s."

Relatives continue to search for the tens of 
thousands of disappeared in Argentina.READ THE DOCUMENTS

The U.S., the Argentine Military and the Coup
This section was drafted in collaboration with 
Fernando Rocchi and Catalina Smulovitz of Universidad Torcuato Di Tella.

March 26, 1976 - [Staff Meeting Transcripts] 
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Chairman, 
Secret, [pages 1, 19-23 regarding Argentina]
[Full document]
Source: Collection compiled by National Security 
Archive analyst William Burr. Selected by Archive 
Senior Analyst Peter Kornbluh.

     Two days after the military coup, Secretary 
of State Kissinger convened his weekly staff 
meeting. In this declassified secret transcript 
of the first conversation on Argentina, Assistant 
Secretary for Latin America, William Rogers 
informs Kissinger that for the Argentine 
generals' government to succeed, they will make 
"a considerable effort to involve the United 
States - particularly in the financial field.". 
Kissinger responds "Yes, but that is in our interest."

     Rogers advises that "we ought not at this 
moment rush out and embrace this new regime" 
because he expects significant repression to 
follow the coup. "I think also we've got to 
expect a fair amount of repression, probably a 
good deal of blood, in Argentina before too long. 
I think they're going to have to come down very 
hard not only on the terrorists but on the 
dissidents of trade unions and their parties." 
But Kissinger makes his preferences clear: 
"Whatever chance they have, they will need a 
little encouragement
 because I do want to 
encourage them. I don't want to give the sense 
that they're harassed by the United States."

     [Note: On March 27, 1976, the IMF released a 
$127 million credit for the Military Junta]

February 16, 1976 - Military Take Cognizance of Human Rights Issue *
Source: U.S. Department of State Argentina 
Declassification Project, 2002. Originally 
released through FOIA request by and published in 
Suplemento Zona, Diario Clarín in 1998.

     More than two months before the coup, U.S. 
intelligence agencies and the Department of State 
learn that the Argentine military is planning to 
take power. In this secret cable U.S. Ambassador 
to Argentina Robert Hill reports directly to 
Secretary of State Kissinger and his Assistant 
Secretary for Latin America, William Rogers, that 
officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and 
journalists in contact with the Argentine Army 
Chief of Staff Roberto Eduardo Viola, have been 
told that the military are drafting a public 
relations plan to accompany the upcoming coup. 
The public relations plan is intended to cast the 
new military government in a positive light, in 
order to avoid human rights sanctions from the 
U.S. Congress. But the Argentine military passes 
word to the U.S. Embassy that "some executions 
probably be necessary" and "they wish to 
minimize any resulting problems with the US."

     In his conclusion Ambassador Robert Hill 
observes: "it is encouraging to note that the 
Argentine military are aware of the problem and 
are already focusing on ways to avoid letting 
human rights issues become an irritant in US-Argentine relations."

March 16, 1976 - Ambassador's Conversation with Admiral Massera
Source: U.S. Department of State Argentina 
Declassification Project, 2002. Originally 
released through FOIA request to and published in 
Suplemento Zona, Diario Clarín in 1998.

     Eight days before the coup, Ambassador Hill 
reports to Assistant Secretary of State William 
Rogers about a conversation about the pending 
coup with the Argentine Navy Chief, Emilio 
Eduardo Massera. Massera reassures the Ambassador 
stating that the military will operate in the 
most "democratic and moderate manner possible." 
According to Massera, the military government

     "will not follow the lines of the Pinochet 
takeover in Chile
 will try to proceed within the 
law and with full respect for human rights
had no 
intention of resorting to vigilante-type 
activities, taking extra-legal reprisals or of 
taking action against uninvolved civilians."

     Massera asks whether the Ambassador can 
recommend a public relations company to manage 
the military government's public image. Hill 
responded "I emphasized that the US government 
could not in any way become involved in the 
Argentine internal affairs." Hill then offers 
Admiral Massera a list of reputable public 
relations firms that the Embassy keeps.

March 30, 1976 - Videla's Moderate line Prevails *
Source: U.S. Department of State Argentina 
Declassification Project, 2002. Originally 
released through FOIA request to and published in 
Suplemento Zona, Diario Clarín in 1998.

     A week after the military putsch, an 
extremely optimistic Ambassador Hill sends a 
seven-page assessment about the new military 
Junta. He reports that the head of the Junta, 
General Jorge Videla, "is at least for the time 
being in a strong enough position to keep the 
hardliners in check and impose a moderate approach." Hill concludes:

     "This was probably the best executed and 
most civilized coup in Argentine history. It was 
unique in other ways too. The US has not been 
accused of being behind it, except by Nuestra 
Palabra, the organ of the PCA. The Embassy hopes to keep it that way."

     "The U.S. government of course should not 
become overly identified with the Junta, but so 
long as the new government can hew to a moderate 
line the U.S. government should encourage it by 
examining sympathetically any requests for assistance."

     [Note: In early April 1976, the U.S. 
Congress approved a request by the Ford 
Administration, written and supported by 
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, to grant $50 
million in military assistance to the new Argentine military regime.]

Operation Condor: The Machinery of the Dirty War

May-October 1976 - Relacion de Requeridos del OPR-33 [OPR-33 Most Wanted List]
[First page of the Uruguayan military intelligence report containing this list]
Source: Documentation Center and Archive for 
Human Rights of the Paraguay Supreme Court, aka. 
"Archive of Terror." Collected by Carlos Osorio.

     The Uruguayan Army Intelligence Department 
II sent this list of OPR-33 most wanted members 
to intelligence services of the Southern Cone. 
Among those listed are Jorge Roberto Zaffaroni 
Castilla (Page 4, second from the bottom), and 
Maria Emilia Islas Gatti de Zaffaroni (Page 5, 
4th from the bottom). The document was obtained 
from the Archive and Documentation Center for 
Human Rights (CDyA) of the Paraguayan Supreme 
Court, or "Archive of Terror" of the Paraguayan 
Secret Police where several unique documents have 
been found pertaining to the Southern Cone 
cooperation of intelligence services known as 
Operation Condor. Of the people listed in this 
document, many were kidnapped and tortured and 
twelve were disappeared at the hands of Argentine 
and Uruguayan security forces who coordinated 
their repression in the mid 1970's. Four children 
that were captured with their parents, or were 
born in captivity, were stolen and raised by 
their kidnappers--intelligence officers.

September 22, 1976 - Counter Subversion
Source: Declassified by DIA in response to 
request by Italian Judge GianCarlo Cappaldo. Copy obtained by John Dinges.

     This Defense Intelligence Agency 
Intelligence Report (IR) records the Operation 
Condor collaboration between secret police 
officials in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. DIA 
sources report that "On September 15 1976
Roberto Viola, Chief of the Army Staff, Brigadier 
General Suarez Mason, I Corps Commander and 
Colonel Juan Saa, Assistant Army G-2
 [were] en 
route to Montevideo
 A senior Army Colonel 
responsible for internal Argentine intelligence
was leaving on September 17, 1976 for Brasilia to 
discuss intelligence matters with the Brazilian 
armed forces
 [an unidentified source states] the 
mission was secret and that the Argentine Army 
was exchanging information on subversion
 but did 
not elaborate to what extent coordination took 
place beyond exchange of intelligence information.

     The visit of the Army officer to Brazil 
provides firm information that the Argentines are 
actively coordinating with their neighbors on 
counterinsurgency matters. While the purpose of 
BG Viola's trip to Uruguay is not clear, it could 
very well have been to coordinate counter subversion activities

September 29, 1976 - Entregados a OCOAS XXX URUGUAYOS [Handed down to OCOAS]
[Note: This document has been digitally enhanced 
for readability and to protect the identity of the source]
Source: Protected. Obtained by Carlos Osorio

     This military form records, in bureaucratic 
language, the repression of Battalion 601. It 
states that Uruguayan citizens Jorge Zaffaroni 
and Maria Emilia Islas de Zaffaroni have been 
captured in Buenos Aires and handed to the 
Uruguayan government's Anti-Subversive Operations 
Coordinating Organization (OCOAS - Organismo 
Coordinador de Operaciones Anti-Subversivas).

     "Military Intelligence Battalion 601

     Handed to OCOAS"

     "From: State Intelligence Secretariat.. To: 
Intelligence Battalion 601... Primary objective: 
Jorge Zaffaroni [and] Maria Zaffaroni, Results: Positive

     The Zaffaroni couple disappeared on 
September 29 in Buenos Aires. The record shows 
that information coming from abroad ("Exterior" 
most likely means from Uruguayan intelligence) 
prompts the Argentine State Intelligence 
Secretariat (SIDE - Secretaria de Inteligencia 
del Estado) to order, on September 18, the 
capture of the Zaffaroni couple. Battalion 601 
then records that the operation was successfully 
completed on September 27 or 29. The document was 
obtained by the National Security Archive through a confidential source.

October 1, 1976 - Special Operations
Source: Chile Declassification Project, 
Department of Defense, 1999. First published in 
The Pinochet File, by Archive analyst Peter Kornbluh.

     This Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) 
Intelligence Report (IR) provides information on 
joint counterinsurgency operation by Southern 
Cone countries in what was known as Operation 
Condor. "Operation Condor is the code name given 
for intelligence collection on leftists, 
communists and Marxists in the Southern Cone 
Area. It was recently established between 
cooperating intelligence services in South 
America in order to eliminate Marxist terrorist 
activities in member countries with Chile 
reportedly being the center of operations. Other 
participating members include: Argentina, 
Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia
 Members showing 
the most enthusiasm to date have been Argentina, Uruguay and Chile."

     In particular, the document accounts for the 
recent joint Argentine and Uruguayan raid in 
Buenos Aires during which the Zaffaroni couple 
was kidnapped and disappeared. The document 
refers to a high-ranking Argentine military 
delegation to Montevideo reported a few days 
earlier in the DIA cable above, as a sign of the 
preparation for these operations.

     "During the period 24-27 September 1976, 
members of the Argentine State Secretariat for 
Information (SIDE), operating with officers of 
the Uruguayan Military Intelligence Service 
carried out operations against the Uruguayan 
terrorist organization, the OPR-33 in Buenos 
Aires. As a result of this joint operation, SIDE 
officials claimed that the entire OPR-33 
infrastructure in Argentina has been eliminated

Casualties of Repression: Accounting for the Dead and Disappeared

March 28, 1978 - The Problem of Those Who Disappeared
Source: U.S. Department of State Argentina 
Declassification Project, 2002. Selected and 
previously published by Carlos Osorio in the 
National Security Archive briefing book 77, 
Argentine Junta Security Forces Killed Disappeared Activists, Mothers and Nuns

     Under US pressure, the Argentine government 
began to release information that accounts for 
the officially recognized 3,000 PEN prisoners 
(People held under National Executive Powers). In 
this memo, the U.S. Ambassador Raul Castro 
reflects on how the release of these names will 
surely lead relatives to demand accountability 
for those thousands whose names are not listed. 
Ambassador Castro describes the issue of the disappeared:

     "Civil violence, terrorism and 
counterterrorism in Argentina over the past half 
dozen years have probably taken thousands of 
lives. A great many of those have been shot or 
victims of bomb attacks. There is a large 
category, however, generally described as "the 
disappeared". The conventional government 
explanation for these persons who have vanished without a trace is that they:

     1) have gone underground
     2) were terrorists who were killed by their companions
     3) have fled the country
     4) Had been killed in battle and bodies were unrecognizable, or
     5) Were victims of counter-subversive excesses

     While we know that there are significant 
numbers in the first four categories, we are 
convinced that the majority fall in the fifth. 
These individuals have been seized by elements of 
the security forces and have been summarily executed

 It is our estimate that at least several 
thousand were killed and we doubt that it will 
ever be possible to construct a more specific figure."

     Taking into account the small positive steps 
the military Junta has taken so far, Ambassador 
Castro concludes: "The USG should concentrate its 
efforts on the opportunities created for 
continued progress toward return to the rule of 
law. While not condoning or pardoning the GOA for 
its part in the disappearances, we should avoid 
endorsing demands for an accounting."

April 26, 1978 - [Letter on Human Rights from 
Political Officer F. Allen "Tex" Harris]
Source: U.S. Department of State Argentina 
Declassification Project, 2002. Copy collected by Carlos Osorio in 2006.

     Reporting on several human rights issues to 
his colleagues at the Department of State, U.S. 
Embassy Human Rights officer, Tex Harris writes 
that in addition to the PEN prisoners, "One of 
the jargon breakthroughs we have made recently 
concerns the DAMs - Personas bajo disposicion 
autoridad militar. This is the argot for the 
disappeared but alive non recognized prisoners
Harris identifies a new prison and suggests that 
intelligence reports estimate that it could hold 
up to 1000 "non recognized" prisoners. The 
problem, he writes, "is that very few people are 
released from the detention centers which are "outside the law."

July 13, 1978 - International Red Cross Appeal 
for Support for Argentine Program
Source: U.S. Department of State Argentina 
Declassification Project, 2002. Copy collected by Carlos Osorio in 2006.

     The Embassy sends a cable to the Department 
of State explaining how important it is to 
support the Red Cross work in Argentine. The 
cable reports that according to a secret source, 
the U.S. embassy has learned that "the Red Cross 
has begun to have access to political prisoners 
being held at the Disposition of Military 
Authority ("DAM") 
 The ICRC's [International 
Committee of the Red Cross] central tracing 
agency's work here is important in the effort to 
establish an accurate number of quote disappeared 
unquote in Argentina. REFTEL B reports that the 
current ICRC files contain more than 20,000 cards 
of detained and missing persons in Argentina

Mid-July 1978 - [Argentine Military Intelligence 
Estimates 22,000 people Dead or Disappeared, page A-8]
[Note: this page has been digitally enhanced for 
readability. For the full original scanned document click here]
Source: Copy obtained by John Dinges at 
Argentina's Federal Courts. Cited in 2005 in John 
Dinges' book The Condor Years and published here for the first time.

     The document excerpted here contains the 
only known report of the calculation by Argentine 
military intelligence itself of the number of 
people their operatives had killed in the 
repression. The document was sent to Chile's DINA 
headquarters by Chilean intelligence official 
Enrique Arancibia Clavel, who used the pseudonym 
"Luis Felipe Alemparte Diaz," and is based on 
records he was allowed to examine in the 
headquarters of Army Intelligence Battalion 601. 
Arancibia Clavel was Chile's representative in 
Argentina of the "Operation Condor" network 
created in November 1975 by the security forces 
of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and 
Paraguay. Weeks before writing this report, he 
had been requested by his superiors in Chile to 
send names and numbers of killed and disappeared 
in Argentina. The report provides important 
corroborating evidence that the true number of 
disappeared is significantly higher than the 
9,089 persons listed by the National Commission 
on the Disappeared (CONADEP) report in the 1980s. 
It is also significant that the military 
intelligence count starts in 1975, at a time the 
military took over national repressive activities 
from the national police but several months 
before the military coup in March. Since the 
disappearances are known to have continued 
several more years, the actual total of those 
disappeared by the military should be 
extrapolated beyond the 22,000 who had already 
been killed at the time the report was written in 
July 1978. The document is among approximately 
1500 pages of documents confiscated from 
Arancibia's office and home by the Federal Court 
of Argentina in November 1978 and held in court 
archives. John Dinges obtained a copy of the 
Federal Court's five volume compilation of 
Arancibia's documents in January 2002 and 
provided them to the National Security Archive. 
The document displayed here is Volume V, p. 238. 
The document was first published in John Dinges, 
The Condor Years: How Pinochet and His Allies 
Brought Terrorism to Three Continents (The New Press).

     Chilean intelligence officers had requested 
that Arancibia produce names and numbers of those 
dead and disappeared in Argentina. In a series of 
memorandums dated between the first half of June 
1976 and mid 1978, the Chilean agent sent to 
Santiago thousands of names and dates of deaths 
and disappearances. In this particular report, 
Arancibia seems to summarize his accounting work and writes

     "[T]hese lists include 'official' as well as 
'non official' deaths. We got this from the Army 
Intelligence Battalion 601, located on Callao and 
Viamonte streets, which is under the Army Chief 
II of Intelligence at the Army general Command of 
the Chiefs of Staff of the Army. Those listed as 
NN are those unidentifiable corpses, almost 100% 
correspond to extremist individuals eliminated by 
"left hand," by the security forces. The tally of 
those killed and disappeared from 1975 up to date 
is 22,000. Luis Felipe Alemparte Diaz"

     [Note: Left handed operations in the 
vocabulary of the security forces' secret trade 
meant anything that was illegal. For a 
description of the secret operations leading to 
the assassination and disappearance of people by 
security forces during the Argentine 
dictatorship, see the description by an Argentine 
intelligence officer in the section describing 
the "Fate of the Disappeared" on page 5 of the 
August 7, 1979 memorandum titled Nuts and Bolts 
of the Government's Repression of 
Terrorism-Subversion (National Security Archive 
briefing book 73, State Department Opens Files On Argentina's Dirty War)]

August 1, 1978 - Follow up to Human Rights Round Up
Source: U.S. Department of State Argentina 
Declassification Project, 2002. Copy collected by Carlos Osorio in 2006.

     Responding to requests by the Department of 
State to clarify the latest U.S. Embassy's Human 
Rights Round Up, the Embassy reports that 
"Information regarding the elimination of 
terrorists and subversives is understandably an 
area of great sensitivity within the GOA 
[Government of Argentina] and is very closely 
held. Consequently, the Embassy has no current 
information regarding the magnitudes of 
eliminations of terrorists and subversives

December 27, 1978 - Disappearance Numbers
Source: U.S. Department of State Argentina 
Declassification Project, 2002. Copy Collected by Carlos Osorio in 2006.

     The U.S. Embassy officer in charge of human 
rights, F. Allen "Tex" Harris, writes a report on 
the number of disappeared in Argentina. The 
Argentine Ministry of the Interior statistics 
passed to the Embassy show the numbers of 
disappeared declining from 2500 in 1976 to 800 in 
1978. The overall numbers of disappeared tallied 
by the Ministry is 4,780 for the period. In 
several other reports, Harris estimates that the 
official figures, including the 9000 names of 
disappeared compiled by the human rights office 
at the Embassy, are but a fraction of the actual 
total of disappeared people. In this memo, Harris 
opens his report stating "Disappearance numbers
a senior army official had informed the 
[Catholic] Nuncio that the armed services had 
been forced to 'take care of' 15,000 persons in its anti-subversion campaign."

     * The documents marked with an asterisk were 
published jointly in 2001 by the National 
Security Archive and the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales CELS.

     Edited by Carlos Osorio, Director of the 
Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay Documentation 
Project National Security Archive; Marcos Novaro, 
Director of the Political History Project, 
Universidad de Buenos Aires-CONYCET and National 
Security Archive Latin America Fellow; and John 
Dinges, Professor of Journalism at Columbia 
University and National Security Archive Fellow. Assisted by Karina Banfi.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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