South American Death Squads of the recent pastwww.consortiumnews.com/1999/111299a.html
By 1976, the Argentine military had seen enough. Top generals staged a coup that put Isabela Peron under a comfortable house arrest. Some of Peron's cronies, such as the Corsican Chiappe, suffered a worse fate. To placate Washington, the military regime of Gen. Jorge Videla finally extradited Chiappe to the United States.
But most of the drug-tainted Triple-A operation survived and grew more powerful. Working more openly with the Argentine security forces, rightist goon squads "disappeared" tens of thousands of suspected leftists.
The victims underwent bizarre tortures that combined Middle Age crudity with some Nazi-like innovations. There were Medieval-style genital mutilations, gang rapes, skin peeling, burning with hot coals and acids, and immersion in water befouled with human waste.
But there were also newer twists to break the human will: applying electric shocks, using family mementos to inflict pain, engaging in humiliating torture in front of family members, and involving doctors to make sure that the victim did not die prematurely.
After the torture, many of the captives were shot and buried in mass graves. Others were stripped naked, shackled together and dumped from planes into the ocean.
In the United States, the Carter administration objected to these gross abuses of human rights. But the CIA maintained close ties to Argentine intelligence and other right-wing elements in South America.
Some prominent politicians, such as former California Gov. Ronald Reagan, even expressed public sympathy for the Argentine military. In one radio commentary, Reagan chastised assistant secretary of state Pat Darien for her human-rights protests, saying she should "walk a mile in the moccasins" of the Argentine generals before criticizing them.
The Argentine military also banded together with six other South American military dictatorships in Operation Condor, which hunted down leftists and other dissidents around the world.