This video says about itself:
Chile’s Torture Survivors Denounce Pinochet Legacy
11 Sep 2013
Roberto and Cristina Navarrete tell IBTimes UK how Chilean dictator‘s brutal legacy survives in economic hardship.
Read the full interview here.
By Richard Stone:
Thursday 30th january 2013
Australia is considering the extradition of an alleged Chilean ‘war criminal‘ during the Pinochet regime. RICHARD STONE examines the background to the case
An application by the Supreme Court of Santiago in Chile, for the extradition of a Chilean resident of Australia accused of war crimes has raised many issues for the Australian federal government.
Its current response, to decline to comment, is not a simple matter of diplomatic protocol. It is a carefully planned procedure to stifle and indeed trivialise the matter. The government, and its predecessors, has a great deal to hide.
Ghosts from Chile’s contemporary history linger, lost souls waiting to tell their accounts of repression, brutality, torture and extra-judicial killings.
Western governments, including the present Australian federal government, retain more than a vested interest in denying those voices any forum to be heard.
The case also has to be viewed within a larger context of US-led defence and security planning and regional implementation of repression to serve “US interests.”
In mid-January, Chile’s Supreme Court requested the Australian government begin extradition procedures to enable it to question Adriana Rivas, resident of Australia since 1978.
In her former capacity, Rivas was an assistant to Manuel Contreras, head of Chile’s Direccion de Inteligencia National (DINA), during the period dating from the Pinochet dictatorship which governed the country following the military coup in September 1973.
Rivas, it is alleged, was involved in torture and murder, common DINA practice during the period. It was used against all political opposition figures, their families and whole communities.
Rivas is also wanted for her role in the murder of a Communist Party leader in 1976 who was detained in a secret prison, then suffocated and his body disposed of by being thrown into the Pacific Ocean.
The issue which has arisen transcends far beyond the case of a alleged war criminal who was seemingly able to go to ground in Sydney decades ago with relative ease.
The issue strikes to the very heart of political expedience, Western defence and security systems and the lax attitude of past and present Australian administrations towards definition of war crimes when dealing with immigration.
While Australia has had a long involvement with Latin America through migration, the status of its intelligence services was formalised in 1971, shortly after the election of Salvador Allende with the Popular Unity of left-wing parties (UP) when Canberra sent officers of the Australian Secret Intelligence Services to Chile following a request from the United States.
There remains little doubt that Australia was following US regional defence and security directives for Latin America to initially monitor developments which were regarded as being diametrically opposed to “US interests” in Chile, followed by the wholesale destabilisation of a democratically elected government and eventual military coup.
Following the establishment of the Chilean military junta led by Pinochet in September 1973, an estimated 30,000 supporters of the UP were killed, following their arrest, torture and “disappearance.”
There was little ambiguity in the hidden hands and role of the US following the declassification of 16,000 highly sensitive records on November 13 2000.
They included about 700 controversial CIA documents which specified its role in supporting Pinochet.
Australia has long had a “special relationship” with US defence and security as a strategic regional hub in the Asia-Pacific.
It is home to Pine Gap defence and security facilities in central Australia – a vital link with US global surveillance satellite facilities.
The Pine Gap facilities operate closely with the US naval communications centre based on Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, opened officially on March 20 1973.
They, in turn, operate with similar naval communications centre facilities at Silvermine in South Africa which were opened on March 8 1973.
during the apartheid regime in South Africa
With a stated range from Argentina to Bangladesh, north Africa to Antarctica, the facilities were diplomatically noted as “referring to South Africa’s strategic importance and the facilities it offered the free world.”
There remains little doubt about the strategic significance of the Silvermine facilities and the role with Western military alliances. Due to the problem of apartheid, however, they did not receive much publicity.
Trade links between South Africa and Latin America with the Andes Group, which included Chile, were also established at the time.
Following Pinochet’s military coup in September 1973, links between South Africa and Chile were further strengthened by provision of military officials to serve as electronic warfare operators.
Their main role was to monitor Cuban radio frequencies and activity and provide monthly reports for the Intelligence Division of the Directorate of Technology about Cuban support for African national liberation movements.
With signals monitoring range to Argentina, Silvermine would also have been a very useful component of the subsequent Condor Plan which was planned at the Annual Conference of American Armies meeting in Caracas on September 3 1973.
The Condor Plan was a campaign of political repression and terror by the right-wing dictatorships of Latin America, intended to eliminate opponents and communist or Soviet ideas.
Greater co-operation between military intelligence and the sharing of information was a long-term US defence and security objective to defend and further “its interests,” particularly in Latin America.
However it required willing co-operators from military counterparts elsewhere for vital support in its campaign against perceived subversion.
Earlier, in 1968, US General Robert Porter had stated their intention was “to facilitate the co-ordinated employment of internal security forces within and among Latin American countries, we are … endeavouring to foster inter-service and regional co-operation by assisting in the organisation of integrated command and control centres; the establishment of common operating procedures and the conduct of joint and combined training exercises.”
Operation Condor, it should be noted, was a direct result of these initiatives.
During the period, 1973-9, Contreras, as head of DINA, was an important figure in many developments in Chile and the wider region. He reported directly to Pinochet.
Contreras was noted as maintaining a particularly close and confidential relationship with the dictator. They were regularly seen together at official functions displaying all the pomp and ceremony common with military officials.
Pinochet, however, remained strongly in control. When the old man stated in 1981: “Not a leaf moves in Chile if I don’t move it – let that be clear,” it was an affirmation of his position.
Later, in 1998, when facing the Chilean Supreme Court, Contreras declared that “he undertook nothing without Pinochet‘s permission.”
Therefore claims by Australian resident Rivas that those responsible for the horrific and brutal repression common in Chile during the Pinochet period “were officers in the middle ranks. Pinochet and Contreras did not give the orders” do not seem credible.
Likewise, when addressing the issue of forced disappearances of thousands of opposition figures, she is quoted in a strange manner.
“It’s one thing to kill people but another to make their bodies disappear. Many people died – it was a civil war. But disappearing the bodies – it makes my heart ache. It wouldn’t have been so painful if they had only handed over the bodies.”
What exact role the present Australian federal government take with this case remains to be seen.
It should be noted, however, that a substantial number of the right-wing coalition government members remain supporters of Margaret Thatcher.
Thatcher remained loyal to Pinochet until the very end, with her supporters raising an estimated £2 million for General Pinochet‘s living costs while in Britain and his legal bills as he tried to avoid trial in Spain.
They conveniently turned a blind eye to the appalling human rights abuses which took place in Chile and how Chile’s army and secret police under Pinochet flooded Europe and the US with cocaine and used the profits to enrich senior officials.
Australian government officials also have an appalling record of turning the blind eye toward war criminals.
The country became a convenient dumping ground for numerous neonazis following the end of the second world war. None were ever convicted despite their past being well-known in many cases.
Rivas’s past life and previous occupation must have been known to Australian immigration department officials who are employed to investigate all applicants for immigration.
Some find it a little easier to enter the country, and also return, than others.
During her last visit to Chile in 2006, Rivas was detained, before she “escaped back to Australia.”
With her subsequent television appearances on Australian TV saying: “Pinochet was a good president” and “torture was necessary” leaving little to the imagination, it might be appropriate to ask whether she was ever questioned in an official capacity.
The further matter of the exact role, status and capacity of Rivas once settled in Australia also remains to be established.
Those within the higher echelons of the intelligence services, rarely, if ever, retire. They are provided with meaningful employment elsewhere and remain part of defence and security patronage systems.
It should be noted one of the main functions of Operation Condor was to monitor and use surveillance against nationals in other countries.
And, like many countries, Australia also became home to thousands of refugees from central and Latin America, fleeing repression and war.
Perhaps we will discover a little more about Rivas by watching how co-operative the Australian federal government is with the Supreme Court of Chile. To date, its silence is deafening.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s trip to the US last week has triggered a debate within the foreign policy and political establishment over the implications for Australian imperialism of the government’s unconditional alignment with Washington’s “pivot” to Asia and preparations for a military confrontation with China: here.