- READ MORE: Kissinger gave order not to warn Pinochet that U.S. knew about Operation Condor assassination plan
This cable signed by Secretary of State Henry Kissinger reflects the decision of the Latin American committee at the State Department to try to stop the ongoing Operation Condor plans, especially those outside the region (Latin America). Kissinger instructed the ambassadors of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay to meet as soon as possible with their Head of State or the highest ranking official of their respective countries to convey a direct message, known in diplomatic parlance as a “demarche”. The ambassadors were instructed to tell the officials that the U.S. government has received information that Operation Condor goes beyond the exchange of information and could “include plans for the assassination of subversives, politicians and prominent figures both within the national borders of certain southern cone countries and abroad.” In addition, the ambassadors are to express the U.S. government’s “deep concern” about the reports and warn that, if true, they “would create a most serious moral and political problem”.
In this memo to Kissinger on August 30, 1976, Schlaudeman made known the U.S. position on the Condor assassination plots: “What we are trying to head off is a series of international murders that could do serious damage to the international status and reputation of the countries involved”. Shlaudeman’s memo requests Kissinger’s approval to order the U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay, Ernest Siracusa, to meet with senior officials in Montevideo to present the “demarche” on Condor.
In this cable, sent from Lusaka–where Kissinger was traveling–the Secretary of State refuses to authorize the sending of a telegram to the U.S. Ambassador in Uruguay, Ernest Siracusa, instructing him to proceed with the “demarche” to Operation Condor. Kissinger expands his instructions to cover the delivery of the “demarche” in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. The Secretary of State “instructed that no further action be taken on this matter.” Those instructions effectively end the State Department’s initiative to warn Condor-linked military regimes not to proceed with international assassinations, since the “demarche” was not delivered to Chile and Argentina.
Kissinger’s assistant, the Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, received his instructions on how to deactivate the “demarche” on Condor on September 16. While in Costa Rica, three days later, Shlaudeman received another cable–which still remains secret–from his deputy William Luers, regarding how to proceed in the management. At this point, on September 20, Shlaudeman tells Luers to “instruct [U.S.] ambassadors to take no further action, noting that there have been no reports in some weeks indicating an intention to activate the Condor scheme.”
Operation Condor’s most infamous project comes to fruition the following day, when a car bomb planted by Chilean secret police agents in downtown Washington DC claims the lives of former Chilean diplomat and leading opponent of Pinochet, Orlando Letelier, and his 26-year-old American colleague, Ronni Karpen Moffitt.
In his October 8 memo, Kissinger transmits a CIA memo about a conversation with Manuel Contreras, Schlaudeman argued that “the approach to Contreras seems to me sufficient for the time being” because “the Chileans are the prime movers in Operation Condor.”