Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Justice for Operation Condor

From 1975 to 1989, the spy agencies of South America's right-wing military dictatorships cooperated in Operation Condor, a joint campaign of extermination against the continent's left. Roughly 400,000 people were imprisoned, 30,000 disappeared, and 60,000 murdered - kidnapped, tortured, executed, assassinated, or thrown out of flying aircraft. It was a crime against humanity, and over the past decades, its surviving architects have gradually been convicted and punished for it. And today, another 24 of them went were sentenced to prison:

An Italian court has sentenced 24 people to life in prison for their involvement in Operation Condor, in which the dictatorships of six South American countries conspired to kidnap and assassinate political opponents in each other’s territories.

The trial, the first of its kind in Europe, began in 2015 and focused on the responsibility of senior officials in the military dictatorships of Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina for the killing and disappearance of 43 people including 23 Italian citizens.

Those sentenced on Monday included Francisco Morales Bermúdez, who was president of Peru from 1975 to 1980, Juan Carlos Blanco, a former foreign minister in Uruguay, Pedro Espinoza Bravo, a former deputy intelligence chief in Chile, and Jorge Néstor Fernández Troccoli, a Uruguayan former naval intelligence officer.

Good. And hopefully they'll track down and prosecute the rest of those involved as well.

Meanwhile, the perpetrators of Operation Condor being hunted down and prosecuted like Nazis makes me wonder whether the perpetrators of Guantanamo, and US rendition and torture will be treated the same way in future. It took 25 years after the end of Condor for the prosecutions to really get rolling, so we're probably looking at at least another decade for that to happen.

Correction: It wasn't clear from the original article, but only one of the defendants - Jorge Tróccoli - is actually in Italy and facing prison. The rest were sentenced in absentia and will need to be extradited (though some are reportedly already in prison in their home countries). So its not quite the justice I thought it was. Still, the ruling itself that Operation Condor was a crime is useful, and even if not extradited now, those convicted will have this hanging over them for the rest of their lives, and if they ever set foot outside of whatever country is harbouring them, may find themselves Pinocheted.