40 Years After Chilean Coup, Allende Aide Juan Garcés on How He Brought Pinochet to Justice

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Published on Sep 10, 2013

http://www.democracynow.org – Wednesday marks the 40th anniversary of the so-called “other 9/11”: On September 11, 1973, a U.S.-backed coup led by General Augusto Pinochet ousted the democratically elected president, Salvador Allende. It is estimated more than 3,000 people were killed during Pinochet’s dictatorship, which lasted another 17 years. In 1998, Pinochet was arrested in London on torture and genocide charges on a warrant issued by a Spanish judge, Baltasar Garzón. His arrest came largely thanks to the efforts of our guest, Spanish attorney Juan Garcés. A personal advisor to Allende, Garcés was with him on the day of the coup. Allende walked him to the palace exit before it was bombed and told him to tell the world what he had seen. Garcés went on to lead the efforts for Pinochet to be arrested and tried.

See the Democracy Now! In-Depth Page: 1973 Chile Coup at


The Pinochet File: How U.S. Politicians, Banks and Corporations Aided Chilean Coup, Dictatorship

democracynow democracynow

Published on Sep 10, 2013

http://www.democracynow.org – Part 2 of our conversation on the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup with Spanish lawyer Juan Garcés, a former personal adviser to ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende, and Peter Kornbluh, author of “The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.”


The Pinochet File: How U.S. Politicians, Banks and Corporations Aided Chilean Coup, Dictatorship

Part 2 of our conversation on the 40th anniversary of the Chilean coup with Spanish lawyer Juan Garcés, a former personal adviser to ousted Chilean President Salvador Allende, and Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.

Related segments from today:
40 Years After Chilean Coup, Allende Aide Juan Garcés on How He Brought Pinochet to Justice

‘Make the Economy Scream’: Secret Documents Show Nixon, Kissinger Role Backing 1973 Chile Coup

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Aaron Maté. Our guests are Juan Garcés, who also has written a book, simply called Allende, about the president who he advised, his closest adviser until September 11th, 40 years ago, 1973, when the palace was being bombed by the Pinochet forces and Salvador Allende took his own life. He was surrounded by his other advisers, but he walked Juan Garcés to the door and said, “Tell the world.” Juan Garcés went on as a Spanish lawyer to work to hold Pinochet responsible, and ultimately, through Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish judge, had him—had him call for Augusto Pinochet’s extradition to Spain to be tried. Augusto Pinochet was in London, and Augusto Pinochet was held for about a year there before ultimately he was allowed to return home to Chile.

We’re also joined by Peter Kornbluh, author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability.

I was just speaking about Joyce Horman, the widow of the freelance journalist Charlie Horman. Peter Kornbluh, tell us what Charlie discovered in those days leading up to the coup, why he was so dangerous, and what you learned in declassification of documents of Kissinger.

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, Charles Horman and his wife Joyce were part of a large group of Americans who went to Chile during the Allende years. Chile was, as Juan Garcés will tell us, was a dynamic, exciting place. The whole world was watching what was happening there. It was something new and vibrant. And—

AMY GOODMAN: What was it? What was happening? I mean, so a new president was elected.

PETER KORNBLUH: The via—the famous via pacifica of—toward social change—not armed revolution to bring fundamental change to a Third World country, but democratic revolution, in which the people would vote, and institutions would gradually be changed to spread the wealth equally, to nationalize resources so that U.S. copper companies and corporations like IT&T then suck the money right out of the country. This was an exciting, new model of change for Latin America and the world. That’s what made it so dangerous for the Nixon and Kissingers of the world.

So, Charlie and his wife Joyce were there. Charles Horman was actually, as part of his journalistic approach, he was actually investigating the murder of the Chilean commander-in-chief, General René Schneider, that took place in October of 1970 and was part of a CIA operation to foment a coup, to create a coup climate in Chile that might stop Allende from actually being inaugurated the first week of November. This was an atrocity, a bald assassination of the commander-in-chief of Chilean armed forces right in broad daylight on the streets. There was a trial that had taken place in Chile. There were documents, that really did focus on the contacts with the United States and the coup plotters. In my book, The Pinochet File, I have one still-secret CIA document, which reveals that the agency paid the people that killed René Schneider $35,000 to close their mouths about the U.S. role and to help them escape from Chile to get beyond the grasp of justice. But some people were arrested, tried. Charlie Horman was investigating that, looking at the trial file. He also happened to be in Valparaíso on the day of the coup and met a number of U.S. officials—

AMY GOODMAN: Where is Valparaíso?

PETER KORNBLUH: Valparaíso is a coastal—very famous coastal town. He went to Viña del Mar. He went to Valparaíso. It was where the U.S. Navy group that was advising the Chilean military was based.


PETER KORNBLUH: The U.S. MILGROUP was there. He met the head of the U.S. MILGROUP, Captain Ray Davis, who actually drove him and a companion back to Santiago because there was a curfew. And so the implication was, is that he had talked to these Americans, that he might actually know something about the coup. It is still—the details of his death and why he was killed are still murky, and the case is going forward. And actually, almost 40 years later, a Chilean judge actually indicted Captain Ray Davis, the head of the U.S. MILGROUP, for his death. So, we are hoping in the months to come that we learn more about the circumstances under which he died.

AARON MATÉ: Peter, the role of the ITT Corporation, this huge U.S. firm that had a lot of interest in Chile?

PETER KORNBLUH: ITT owned the telephone companies in Chile, owned the Sheraton Hotel. They were a very aggressive company in Latin America. And they decided they should have their own foreign policy, and they started pushing for meetings with the—with the CIA. It helped that they had on their board of directors a former CIA director, John McCone. And he was able to gain access to the CIA rather easily. There was more than 40 meetings between CIA officials and ITT officials. ITT wanted to start funneling secret funds to Allende’s opponent in the 1970 election. One of the—for students of this history, the first real documents that came out on U.S. intervention in Chile were ITT internal memos that recorded their meetings with the CIA and the U.S. ambassador, as your audience heard in the tape that was played on your program. So, this was the first kind of real inkling of what was happening. The scandal arose—Juan Garcés can remember what happened, because Allende was president at the time, and he simply declared, “Well, we were negotiating to nationalize and compensate ITT, but now that we see that they’re a completely criminal enterprise intervening with the CIA in our internal state of affairs, we’re going to expropriate their holdings in Chile.”

AMY GOODMAN: And how, Juan Garcés, was Allende dealing with ITT? Kissinger, Nixon—what did he understand was their role in supporting Pinochet? Did he?

JUAN GARCÉS: Well, Allende wanted always a good agreement with the United States. And certainly, he said that he should govern in conformity with the willingness of the Chilean people, of the Chilean Congress, but looking for a way to preserve the good relations with the United States. And, in fact, several months before the coup, a high delegation from Chile came to Washington to open formal negotiations to try to solve the differences that—in terms of investments or in terms of economic differences that were present in this period. And the doors of the U.S. government in Washington were practically closed—no dialogue, no negotiation, coup d’état.

So, what is—40 years later, what is interesting is that you see this coup d’état against a very active democratic society articulated by an operation where one of the legs is a mass media group, El Mercurio, asking the intervention of the U.S. government through Secret Services, in relation with some corporations that have private investments in Chile. And with those three leaks—excuse me, legs, the coup and the destabilization of the society was done. Now, with the technological means that currently are at our disposal, at the disposal of the governments, you realize that the three legs are still working—corporations that are linked—have links with Secret Services and the articulation with the government, the government, to prepare interventions in other countries, invasions. And that has been the case particularly after the tragedy of the attack to New York in 2001. But the violence that we can do, and many countries do, and the United States citizens are doing also, is what is the cost of those options, to follow this path, for the economy of other countries and for the health of our democratic system.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask about something remarkable that you did in your efforts to bring justice to the people of Chile and to hold Pinochet accountable. And that was to get at his money, which was the people’s money of Chile, the millions of dollars he had stashed away. Peter, first—Peter Kornbluh, sort of lay this out for an American audience. Talk about the story of Riggs Bank.

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, let me just say it’s such a pleasure to be on this show with Juan Garcés, for what he did during the Allende period and what he did to bring Pinochet to justice, and then what he did to really try and recover the money that Pinochet had clearly stolen and hidden away in secret bank accounts. The CIA documents on Pinochet described him as “hard-working” and “honest.” But it turns out that he was completely corrupt, as—in addition to be murderous. And he secretly took more than $26 million of Chilean money, hid it in 120 bank accounts, some—many of them offshore accounts, using false passports, the images of which are in the new edition of The Pinochet File, and using kind of variants of his name, but without the name Pinochet, to try and hide the fact that these were his assets.


PETER KORNBLUH: He used the name Augusto Ugarte P., or simply Augusto Ugarte, or Ramón Ugarte, because his full name was Augusto Ramón Ugarte Pinochet, no? Or Pinochet Ugarte.


PETER KORNBLUH: Right. And some other false names. And he had some of his aides’ names, and he had some of his—variants of his children’s names on these accounts. And Riggs Bank, the famous bank of Washington, D.C., owned by Joseph Allbritton, had approached Pinochet for years. And at some—one point, they actually held the secret—the accounts of the Chilean secret police, DINA, in their—in their bank in Washington. But eventually, U.S. Senate—this was the most amazing thing. U.S.—the Senate investigation kind of looking at whether banks had tight enough regulations on money laundering by terrorists after 9/11 stumbled across the fact that Riggs Bank was hiding all of these funds from Pinochet and then recovered the—almost the entire file that—

AMY GOODMAN: How did they discover it?

PETER KORNBLUH: They were investigating banks and whether they were—their regulations were so loose that terrorists, in the post-9/11 world, could launder money for terrorist activities. They were looking for—at the financial side of terrorism in the post-9/11 world. And so they were looking for accounts that were suspicious, and they started an investigation. And immediately, they were told that in Riggs Bank, there were a series of people that knew that there was this very suspicious account that belonged to Augusto Pinochet. And they asked for the file on it, and eventually they got the entire file, which was so incredible, because it included all the correspondence between Joseph Allbritton, the chairman of the board of the bank, and Pinochet himself, and the memorandum on the visits by bank officials to Pinochet and other Chilean officials in Santiago, including going to horse clubs and equestrian shows and exchanging gifts and cufflinks and—

AMY GOODMAN: And who was Joseph Allbritton? I mean—

PETER KORNBLUH: Well, Joseph Allbritton was one of the big banking corporate moguls of Washington, D.C. He owned the sports team. I forget whether it was the basketball team or the Redskins. At one point he owned a bunch of newspapers and radio stations. He owned Riggs Bank. But fundamentally, he participated in a conspiracy to hide Augusto Pinochet’s money. And he—they evaded the assets—Juan Garcés managed to get Pinochet’s assets frozen, but Riggs Bank violated that court order to freeze his assets by secretly starting to funnel back to him all of his money in $50,000 cashier’s checks. They had a courrier that would bring literally bundles of these checks to Pinochet’s house in Santiago. And the story returns to Juan Garcés, because more than $8 million of this $20-plus million stash of money was given back to Pinochet illegally by Riggs, and Juan Garcés stepped in and said, “That money belongs to the Chilean people and to the victims of Pinochet.” And he recovered it.

AMY GOODMAN: Allbritton’s son now runs Politico.

PETER KORNBLUH: Allbritton owned—started Politico, created Politico. And then, when he passed away, his son—

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Allbritton.

PETER KORNBLUH: —took over. So there’s still a presence of the family, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you got, Juan Garcés, millions of dollars of Chile’s money frozen, and then how was it distributed back to the people of Chile?

JUAN GARCÉS: Thanks to an investigation in the U.S. Senate, as Peter was explaining—

PETER KORNBLUH: Which was led by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, a terrific senator.

JUAN GARCÉS: Yeah, their committee on investigations. And they accepted to cooperate with a court of justice that was prosecuting Pinochet. And thanks to this cooperation between the U.S. Senate and the Spanish court, we reached to indict the owners of Riggs Bank. That is something that is without precedent, from their own pocket—


JUAN GARCÉS: —paid the totality of the money that went through the bank channels hiding the Pinochet money. And we distributed that to the victims of Pinochet that were considered such with the institution of the court. It is the only money that related directly to Pinochet has never been distributed to the victims.

AMY GOODMAN: But that money, the millions of dollars, how did you identify the victims, the survivors, and have it distributed?

JUAN GARCÉS: That was—the victims were recognized as such in the court, because thousands of them have been the object of an inquiry inside Chile by an official commission, committee Riggs, that established the list of thousands of people that were murdered, also forcibly disappeared. And we in Spain, with the cooperation of Chileans inside Chile, created a new commission for victims of torture, victims that survived the torture. And we found, through this commission, identified more than 20,000 persons. And then they have their right to receive a part of the indemnities.

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