Plan Condor

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Some history on Plan Condor (aka Operation Condor) can be found in articles in CounterPunch, Scoop, andDissidentVoice.

The United States' determination to destroy opposition to its domination in Latin America stemmed from its defeat in Vietnam. The 1972 team in Paris helping Henry Kissinger negotiate with the Vietnamese included current US ambassador to the UN John Negroponte and Vernon Walters, later a key adviser to Ronald Reagan, then Army Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Paris. In those days George Bush Sr. was ambassador to the UN.

By 1975, Bush Sr. was head of the CIA and working together with Kissinger and Vernon Walters to develop Plan Condor--a coordinated operation against opposition movements throughout Latin America.[4] Plan Condor involved using illegal covert means such as the assassination team coordinated between the Chilean DIN security service and Miami Cuban terrorists like Orlando Bosch, Guillermo Novo and Luis Posada Carriles.[5] It also meant supporting brutal government policies of mass repression in countries throughout South America. Plan Condor was an ambitious and successful attempt to coordinate that repression.

4.The same team helped set up in 1975 the Committee on the Present Danger, in which Paul Dundes Wolfowitz was a leading figure.
5.Hernando Calvo Ospina, "Pinochet, la CIA y los terroristas cubanos", 23 de agosto del 2003,

Plan Condor--alive and well

The progression from Chile, Argentina and Uruguay through Central America to present day Venezuela and Colombia is clear. The same actors appear time after time. Elliott Abrams, John Negroponte, Colin L. Powell, Richard Armitage, John Maisto Roger Noriega and Otto Reich all move between comfortable jobs in US government and the corporate plutocracy that dictates US government policy.

The United States and the European Union are in Latin America for the same reasons as the Spanish, Portuguese, British, French and Dutch colonialists before them--natural resources and cheap labour, compounded these days by neo-colonial extraction of forcibly contrived "debt". The methods are privatisation, dismantling of domestic agricultural economies, and open markets imposed by the IMF and World Bank through local clients to favour multinational corporations like BP-Amoco, Monsanto, Cargill and other all too familiar names.

The principal architects of Condor were General Pinochet and Colonel Manuel Contreras. The program was formally inaugurated in October 1975, when Contreras convened a meeting in Santiago, Chile of the leading heads of the military intelligence services of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. An accord was crafted formalizing the already existing coordination efforts of member countries.

This transnational terrorist operation, steeped in pathological anti-communism, had deeper roots dating back to the end of World War II. In 1962, the Kennedy Administration made the fateful decision to shift the mission of the Latin American militaries from defense against external threats to internal security. One result was the institutionalization and professionalization of the death squad apparatus that took root in Latin America. Kennedy was an enthusiast of counterinsurgency methods of the most violent sort to deal with radical and/or nationalist movements that posed a threat to US imperial interests in the region.(10) It was in places like the US Army School of the Americas (SOA), then located in Panama, and other military bases in the US where links between Latin American military commanders and dictators were forged.

By the early-1970s, the seeds planted by the CIA and US military intelligence in this effort were beginning to bear fruit. It had long been the goal of the US that there be coordinated efforts by the countries in the region to combat "communist subversion," broadly construed. Condor was the logical child of this US endeavor.

As Argentine journalist Stella Calloni observed, this counterinsurgency campaign went far beyond combating guerrillas. It was a "holy war against the left, which . . . included anyone challenging the status quo, armed or not. Thus, nuns, professors, students, workers, artists and performers, journalists, even democratic opposition politicians" came to be viewed as threats to the body politic. [1]

Washington's plan is to "economically and militarily wipe out the social and indigenous movements in order to obtain their resources and territories, says Bolivian Congressman Evo Morales, echoing a view popular in the region. The undercurrent of these plans is the same programme as has been going on for the last 500 years - the eradication of our indigenous cultures," he told IPS.

"The 'Andean Regional Initiative', which replaced 'Plan Colombia', 'New Horizons', 'Three Plus One', the 'Cabañas', 'Unitas' and Águila military exercises are all components of this plan, added Morales. Viewed as a whole, these elements make up a new and expanded version of the old counterinsurgent 'Plan Condor' of the 1970s", the covertly U.S.-led alliance of the armies of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay, which killed off hundreds of leaders and members of the progressive left, ensuring that it would not come to power in the region and threaten U.S. dominance.

The U.S. military says the legal precedent for its presence throughout Latin America is the Monroe Doctrine, an edict dictated by a U.S. president in 1823, which was never voted on by Congress, much less by those affected - Latin Americans.[2]

Condor must be understood within the context of the global anticommunist alliance led by the United States. We now know that top U.S. officials and agencies, including the State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Defense Department, were fully aware of Condor's formation and its operations from the time it was organized in 1975 (if not earlier). The U.S. government considered the Latin American militaries to be allies in the Cold War and worked closely with their intelligence organizations. U.S. executive agencies at least condoned, and sometimes actively assisted, Condor "countersubversive" operations. Although evidence is still fragmentary, it is now possible to piece together information from numerous sources to understand Operation Condor as a clandestine inter-American counterinsurgency system.[3]


  • J. Patrice McSherry, Predatory States: Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, June 2005. ISBN 0-7425-3687-4 (Paper); ISBN 0-7425-3686-6 (Cloth)

External links

  • J. Patrice McSherry, "Operation Condor: Deciphering the U.S. Role", Crimes of War, July 6, 2001: As human rights organizations, families of victims, lawyers, and judges press for disclosure and accountability regarding human rights crimes committed during the Cold War, inevitable questions arise as to the role of the foremost leader of the anticommunist alliance, the United States. This article explores recent evidence linking the U.S. national security apparatus with Operation Condor. Condor took place within the broader context of inter-American counterinsurgency coordination and operations led and sponsored by the Pentagon and the CIA. U.S. training, doctrine, organizational models, technology transfers, weapons sales, and ideological attitudes profoundly shaped security forces in the region.
  • J. Patrice McSherry,"Operation Condor: Clandestine Inter-American System" Social Justice, Winter 1999 v26 i4 p144: This article shows that Condor was a parastatal system that used criminal me thods to eliminate "subversion," while avoiding constitutional institutions, ignoring due process, and violating all manner of human rights. Condor made use of parallel prisons, secret transport operations, routine assassination and torture, extensive psychological warfare (PSYWAR, or use of black propaganda, deception, and disinformation to conquer the "hearts and minds" of the population, often by making crimes seem as though they were committed by the other side), and sophisticated technology (such as computerized lists of suspects).