Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional
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The Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (English: National Intelligence Directorate) or DINA was the Chilean secret police in the government of Augusto Pinochet, and has been called Pinochet's Gestapo. The DINA was established in November 1973, as a Chilean Army intelligence unit headed by Colonel Manuel Contreras and vice-director Raúl Iturriaga, who fled from justice in 2007. It was separated from the army and made an independent administrative unit in June 1974, under the aegis of decree #521.
The DINA existed until 1977, after which it was renamed the Central Nacional de Informaciones (CNI) (National Information Center).
DINA internal suppression and human rights violations
Under decree #521, the DINA had the power to detain any individual so long as there was a declared state of emergency. Such an administrative state characterized nearly the entire length of the Pinochet government. Torture and rape of detainees was common:
In some camps, routine sadism was taken to extremes. At Villa Grimaldi, recalcitrant prisoners were dragged to a parking lot; DINA agents then used a car or truck to run over and crush their legs. Prisoners there recalled one young man who was beaten with chains and left to die slowly from internal injuries. Rape was also a reoccurring form of abuse. DINA officers subjected female prisoners to grotesque forms of sexual torture that included insertion of rodents and, as tactfully described in the Commission report, "unnatural acts involving dogs."
The United States backed and supported the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, and continued to aid the Pinochet dictatorship until it ended. The CIA actively supported the junta after the overthrow of Salvador Allende.
DINA foreign assassinations and operations
The DINA was involved in Operation Condor, as well as Operation Colombo. In July 1976, two magazines in Argentina and Brazil appeared and published the names of 119 Chilean leftist opponents, claiming they had been killed in internal disputes unrelated to the Pinochet regime. Both magazines disappeared after this one and only issue. Judge Juan Guzmán Tapia eventually asked Chilean justices to lift Pinochet's immunity in this case, called "Operation Colombo", having accumulated evidence that Pinochet had ordered the DINA to plant this disinformation, in order to cover up the "disappearance" and murder by the Chilean secret police of those 119 persons. In September 2005, Chile's Supreme Court ordered the lifting of Pinochet's general immunity from prosecutions, with respect to this case.
Assassinations of Carlos Prats and Orlando Letelier
The DINA worked with international agents, such as Michael Townley, who assassinated former Chilean minister Orlando Letelier in Washington DC in 1976, as well as General Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1974.
Michael Townley worked with Eugenio Berríos on producing sarin gas in the 1970s, at a laboratory in a DINA-owned house in the district of Lo Curro, Santiago de Chile. Eugenio Berríos, who was murdered in 1995, was also linked with drug traffickers and agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Investigations by Amnesty International and the Chilean National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation Report have verified that Colonia Dignidad, long alleged as a center used for rituals of ex-Nazi Paul Schäfer, was used by the DINA as a concentration camp for the detention and torture of political prisoners. Most accounts have this happening between 1973 and 1977 but precise dates are not known. Boris Weisfeiler, an American Jewish professor of Russian origin, is thought to have disappeared near Colonia Dignidad.
The son of DINA head Manuel Contreras claims that his father and Pinochet visited Colonia Dignidad in 1974, and that his father and Schäfer were good friends. The current leader of the since-renamed Villa Baviera admits that torture took place within the old colony, but claims that Villa Baviera is a new entity.
In March 2005, former DINA agent Michael Townley acknowledged links between Colonia Dignidad and the DINA, as well as relations with the Bacteriological War Army Laboratory. He spoke about biological experiments conducted on detainees, with the help of the laboratory and the DINA house in Lo Curro.
In an undated letter to Augusto Pinochet, Michael Townley advised him that Virgilio Paz Romero, an anti-Castro Cuban, was taking photographs of British prisons in Northern Ireland in 1975 as a DINA assignment. The photographs were to be used by the Chilean government at the United Nations in New York to discredit the United Kingdom and accuse it of human rights violations. However they arrived too late to be used, and were finally published in El Mercurio.
- Article Manuel Contreras, el jefe de la Gestapo de Pinochet in Spanish online newspaper El Pais on 08 August 2015, retrieved on 08 August 2015
- Article Piden desafuero de diputado Rosauro Martínez por asesinato de tres miembros del MIR en 1981 in Chilean online newspaper El Mostrador on 23 May 2013, retrieved on 23 May 2013
- Kornbluh, Peter (2003). The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability. New York: The New Press. p. 171. ISBN 1-56584-936-1.
- "Townley reveló uso de gas sarín antes de ser expulsado de Chile". El Mercurio. September 19, 2006.
- El coronel que le pena al ejército, La Nación, September 24, 2005 (Spanish)
- Activities of Virgilio Paz in Northern Ireland during 1975, National Security Archive