[News] Five in Operation Condor sentenced to life - US trained assassins for torture and assassinations

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Fri Aug 9 12:31:01 EDT 2019


https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-in-operation-condor-sentenced-to.html?fbclid=IwAR0eBxArLhyYLBC3U1zQdvq_YQYCJ0slaq7fixwftsk_d0W3MIWojVPuny0 



  Five in Operation Condor sentenced to life: U.S. trained assassins for
  torture and assassinations in the Americas

Brenda Norrell - August 8, 2019

*Five in Operation Condor sentenced to life: U.S. trained assassins for 
torture and assassinations in the Americas*

A court in Italy has sentenced five in Operation Condor to life in 
prison. The United States has never been held responsible for its role, 
including training those who carried out the kidnappings, torture, 
disappearances and assassinations in Central and South America during 
the 1970s and 1980s. Tucson residents played an important role in 
bringing 10,000 Indigenous Peoples across the border to safety during 
the Sanctuary Movement, creating local support and an underground 
railroad north, for students, farmers, mothers, and human rights 
activists, who struggled against the horror of these regimes. The U.S. 
trained torturers from the School of the Americas were known for 
throwing young people from helicopters, and large scale massacres of 
Indigenous Peoples and students, followed by dynamiting their bodies. 
Torture was widespread. Amnesty International workers were among those 
targeted. It was in this way that the United States placed those never 
elected as heads of governments in Central and South America, those who 
were involved in the torture and assassinations. Today, we see the 
results as people flee the longstanding horror of these governments. 
Now, as they arrive, once again, they face abuse, imprisonment and 
torture. Now, even their children face these horrors in the U.S.

*Censored News*

TUCSON -- The Campaign of Terror -- the torture, kidnappings, 
disappearances and assassinations -- in South America, were carried out 
by those trained by the United States, during Presidents Johnson, Nixon, 
Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations.

Although the United States has never been held accountable, this week an 
Italian court sentenced five South American government and military 
officials to life sentences for their roles assassinations of Italian 
nationals, during this U.S. backed dirty Cold War in the 1970s and 1980s.

The United States stated at the time it knew of the disappearances and 
dynamiting of bodies by those it had trained. The goal was to silence 
human rights activists, and grassroots Indigenous Peoples, students and 
others struggling for justice. The United States has never been held 
accountable.

Rebecca Gordon, describes the US CIA role in torture in her article 
/Crimes of the War on Terror: Should George Bush, Dick Cheney, and 
Others Be Jailed?/
/
//"The cold was terrible but the screams were worse," Sara Mendez told 
<http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-36394820> the BBC. "The 
screams of those who were being tortured were the first thing you heard 
and they made you shiver."/

"A CIA intelligence report 
<http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=0Q%2B5zJSLcjFnbVuXK%2FkHUSc6xL1BETKw>describes 
how the dynamiting of the bodies of 30 people executed in Argentina in 
1976, scattering their remains widely, was meant to intimidate other 
so-called militants into being quiet just months after the military 
coup. Another CIA report 
<http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=H9FCQ7nHnIBwd0pWw7Jy2Cc6xL1BETKw>describes 
how Operation Condor targeted officials with Amnesty International and 
other human rights groups and planned overseas missions in Europe to 
‘liquidate’ 'targets'," School of Americas SOA Watch reports.

Tucson played an important role in saving the lives of more than 10,000 
Indigenous Peoples. Residents of Tucson and the area brought thousands 
of Indigenous People across the border in Arizona to safety, in the 
Sanctuary Movement. They risked their own lives and freedom to create an 
underground railroad north and local support during the 1970s and 1980s.

Much of this support was based at U.S. military installations in Panama.

"It was there that the US Army opened the School of the Americas in 
1946, which would graduate 11 Latin American heads of state over the 
following decades. None of them became their country’s leader by 
democratic means, leading critics to dub the SOA “School of Assassins” 
and “School of Coups” because it produced so many of both," Common 
Dreams reports.

*/Brett Wilkins at Common Dreams reports: 
<https://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/17/five-men-sentenced-life-operation-condor-killings-trained-school-americas>/*

Five of the 24 men sentenced last week 
<https://www.apnews.com/50d72705696c49109a9bee22b6fb4434> by an Italian 
court to life in prison for their roles in a brutal and bloody 
U.S.-backed Cold War campaign against South American dissidents 
graduated from a notorious US Army school once known for teaching 
torture, assassination, and democracy suppression.

On July 8 judges in Rome’s Court of Appeals sentenced the former 
Bolivian, Chilean, Peruvian and Uruguayan government and military 
officials after they were found guilty of kidnapping and murdering 23 
Italian nationals in the 1970s and 1980s during Operation Condor 
<https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/events/operation-condor-1968-1989>, a 
coordinated effort by right-wing military dictatorships in Chile, 
Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil—and, later, Peru and 
Ecuador—against perceived leftist threats. The campaign, which was 
characterized by kidnappings, torture, disappearances and murder, 
claimed an estimated 60,000 lives 
<https://www.dw.com/en/italy-jails-24-south-americans-over-condor-era-killings/a-49517886>, 
according to human rights groups. Victims included leftists and other 
dissidents, clergy, intellectuals, academics, students, peasant and 
trade union leaders, and indigenous peoples.

The United States government—including military and intelligence 
agencies—supported Operation Condor with military aid, planning, and 
technical support as well as surveillance and torture training during 
the Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations. Much of 
this support, which the U.S. attempted to justify within the context of 
the global Cold War struggle against communism, was based at U.S. 
military installations in Panama. It was there that the US Army opened 
the School of the Americas in 1946, which would graduate 11 Latin 
American heads of state over the following decades. None of them became 
their country’s leader by democratic means, leading critics to dub the 
SOA “School of Assassins” and “School of Coups” because it produced so 
many of both.

SOA’s most notorious graduates include narco-trafficking Panamanian 
dictator Manuel Noriega, the genocidal Guatemalan military dictator 
Efraín Ríos Montt 
<https://www.commondreams.org/views/2018/04/03/former-us-backed-guatemalan-dictator-efrain-rios-montt-dies-facing-genocide-charges>, 
Bolivian despot Hugo Banzer (known for sheltering Nazi war criminal 
Klaus Barbie), Haitian death squad commander and military dictator Raoul 
Cédras and Argentine strongman Leopoldo Galtieri, who presided during a 
period of his country’s “Dirty War” in which tens of thousands of 
innocent men and women were disappeared. Countless other war criminals 
have studied at the SOA, sometimes using U.S. manuals 
<https://www.lawg.org/declassified-army-and-cia-manuals/> that taught 
kidnapping, torture, assassination, and democracy suppression techniques.

Some of the worst massacres and other atrocities perpetrated by 
U.S.-backed forces during the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala 
during the 1980s, including the slaughter of 900 villagers—mostly women 
and children—at El Mozote 
<http://www.markdanner.com/articles/the-truth-of-el-mozote>, the 
assassination of Salvadoran archbishop Óscar Romero 
<https://www.ncronline.org/news/world/romero-assassination-case-re-opened-el-salvador> 
and the rape and murder <https://nacla.org/article/training-assassins> 
of four U.S. churchwomen who worked with him, were planned, committed or 
covered up by SOA graduates. So were a series of chainsaw massacres 
<https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB259/index.htm> in Colombia, the 
murder of four Dutch journalists in El Salvador, the assassination 
<https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB532-The-Letelier-Moffitt-Assassination-Papers/> 
of a former Chilean official and his U.S. aide in a 1976 car bombing in 
Washington, D.C. and many other atrocities.

It can now be revealed that several men sentenced to life in prison in 
Rome last week are also SOA graduates. According to a database 
<http://www.soaw.org/soa-whinsec-graduates/> of over 60,000 SOA alumni 
compiled from U.S. military records by School of the Americas Watch 
(SOAW), a Georgia-based activist group founded by Father Roy Bourgeois 
in 1990, five SOA trainees are among the 24 men found guilty by the 
Italian court. Two of them are named among SOAW’s “most notorious SOA 
graduates”: former Bolivian interior minister Luis Arce Gómez 
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jul/10/luis-arce-gomez-bolivia-deported>, 
who is currently serving a 30-year prison term for genocide, 
assassination and drug trafficking, and Luis Alfredo Maurente 
<https://staging.trialinternational.org/latest-post/luis-alfredo-maurente-mata/>, 
a Uruguayan captain implicated in the torture and disappearance of 
nearly 100 people in Uruguay and Argentina. Arce Gomez completed 
communications, tactical officer and radio repair courses at SOA in 
1958; Maurente attended SOA in 1969 and 1976, studying military 
intelligence. The three other SOA graduates uncovered among the 24 
defendants are: Hernán Ramírez Ramírez (Chile; command course, 1970), 
Ernesto Avelino Ramas Pereira (Uruguay; motor officer course, 1962) and 
Pedro Antonio Mato Narbondo (Uruguay; unspecified, 1970).

SOA operated in Panama from 1946 until 1984, when it was relocated to 
Fort Benning, Georgia. In a bid to rebrand itself amid growing public 
outcry over graduate atrocities, SOA changed its named to the Western 
Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) in 2000, with a 
greater emphasis on human rights. However, the school’s alumni continue 
to make dubious headlines to this day, with four of the six generals 
<https://www.democracynow.org/2009/7/1/generals_who_led_honduras_military_coup>behind 
the 2009 Honduran coup and former Mexican commandos 
<https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103178523> now 
employed as mercenaries for international drug cartels among its more 
notorious recent alumni.

It is unclear whether many of the defendants in the Rome case will face 
justice, as all but one of the 24 were tried in absentia under the legal 
concept of universal jurisdiction. Uruguay, which does not allow for 
life sentences, has previously jailed people convicted of similar 
crimes. A January 2017 ruling 
<https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-38659230> by an Italian 
court had sentenced eight of the defendants, including the late former 
Bolivian dictator Luis García Meza, former Peruvian president Francisco 
Morales Bermúdez, and former Uruguayan foreign minister Juan Carlos 
Blanco— who is now under house arrest in Montevideo—to life behind bars, 
while acquitting 19 others due to statutes of limitations. Those 
acquittals were reversed by Monday’s appellate decision.


*/School of Americas reports:

/*In July, an Italian appeals court sentenced 24 former officials from 
Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay to life in prison for their roles in 
Operation Condor -- a brutal and extremely deadly US-backed operation in 
the 1970s and 1980s that targeted leftists, activists, social movement 
leaders, and others who spoke out. Operation Condor kidnapped, tortured, 
disappeared and/or murdered an estimated 60,000 people across South 
America. As reported in an article on Common Dreams 
<http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=3pPYlE%2BTbz2sHf3K7Wq2d97da9UXNIkj>, 
5 of the 24 former officials from South American dictatorships sentenced 
by the Italian court were trained at the U.S. Army School of the 
Americas. Read more here 
<http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=x07CEmSHSSlIe3lxGCKjtic6xL1BETKw>. 


Italian nationals were among those who were kidnapped, forcibly 
disappeared, and murdered by Operation Condor, leading families of the 
victims to start this case in the Italian justice system two decades 
ago. A 2017 lower court ruling had sentenced 8 of the defendants but the 
others had been acquitted because of the statute of limitations. The 
appeals court decision this July reverses the acquittals. However, it is 
unknown if the sentences will be implemented as only one of the 
defendants was present; the majority were tried in absentia.

Declassified documents posted by the National Security Archive 
<http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=84LGsJCo0AFy7Y3bnJzsPyc6xL1BETKw> 
illustrate why it is vitally important to hold the United States 
responsible for its support of Operation Condor. A six page cable from 
the US Embassy in Argentina 
<http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=4govDsR0Qw3FSwOnez30GN7da9UXNIkj> 
to the State Department in 1980 reported that the Argentine military 
would not stop using disappearance as a preferred tactic and attempted 
to explain why. A CIA intelligence report 
<http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=0Q%2B5zJSLcjFnbVuXK%2FkHUSc6xL1BETKw>describes 
how the dynamiting of the bodies of 30 people executed in Argentina in 
1976, scattering their remains widely, was meant to intimidate other 
so-called militants into being quiet just months after the military 
coup. Another CIA report 
<http://org.salsalabs.com/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=H9FCQ7nHnIBwd0pWw7Jy2Cc6xL1BETKw>describes 
how Operation Condor targeted officials with Amnesty International and 
other human rights groups and planned overseas missions in Europe to 
‘liquidate’ 'targets'. There will not be true justice until the US 
government is also held to account for its role in financing, training, 
and supporting Operation Condor’s atrocities throughout the Southern Cone.

The SOA graduates convicted by the Italian court are Luis Arce Gomez of 
Bolivia, who is already serving a 30 year sentence for genocide, Luis 
Alfredo Maurente of Uruguay, Hernan Ramírez Ramírez of Chile, Pedro 
Antonio Mato of Uruguay, and Ernesto Avelino Ramas Pereira of Uruguay.

These are not the only SOA graduates who have been in the news recently. 
Also in Italy, SOA graduate Walter Klug of Chile was detained. Klug was 
hiding from justice, and is accused of murdering 7 people and forcibly 
disappearing 16 others in the 1970s. SOA graduate Juan Miguel 
Fuente-Alba, also of Chile, was recently accused of embezzlement of more 
than 5 million dollars of public funds, and fellow SOA graduate Antonio 
Cordero Kehr was accused of emitting false invoices.

We are grateful to all those who continue to work day after day, year 
after year, to advance truth and justice for the atrocities committed 
during Operation Condor.

Join us in remembering those who were murdered and disappeared at the 
hands of SOA graduates and calling for the closure of the SOA-WHINSEC 
this November 15-17 at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

-- 
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863.9977 https://freedomarchives.org/
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