Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional

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This article is about the Chilean police agency. For the bus manufacturer, see DINA S.A..
Seal of DINA

The Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (English: National Intelligence Directorate) or DINA was the Chilean secret police in the government of Augusto Pinochet. 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).

In 2008 the Chilean Army presented a list of 1,097 DINA agents to judge Alejandro Solís.[1]

DINA internal suppression and human rights violations[edit]

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."[2]

Foreign involvement[edit]

The United States backed and supported the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, and continued to aid the Pinochet dictatorship until it ended. Documents declassified from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in September 2000 revealed that the head of the DINA in 1975 was a "paid CIA asset".[3] The CIA actively supported the junta after the overthrow of Salvador Allende. The head of the DINA, General Manuel Contreras, was made a paid asset despite continuing CIA reservations concerning the human rights abuses of the organization. Eventually the CIA became aware of DINA's "possible" involvement in the assassination of Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt in Washington, D.C., but it continued to maintain him as an asset. The CIA reports remain heavily excised.

DINA foreign assassinations and operations[edit]

Further information: Operation Condor and Operation Colombo

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[edit]

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. According to a CIA document released in 2000, French Organisation de l'armée secrète (OAS) member Albert Spaggiari also acted as intermediary for the DINA in Europe, as well as Italian neo-fascist terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie (alias ALFA).[4] In a 1979 letter declassified in 2000, Michael Townley stated: "There were meetings between him (Contreras), his Excellency (President Pinochet), and the Italians in Spain after Franco died. Also the Italians carried out numerous acts of military espionage against the Peruvians and Argentines not only in Europe, but also in Peru and Argentina".[5]

Michael Townley described numerous meetings between Pinochet and Italian terrorists and spies as well as Pinochet's meetings with anti-Castro Cubans.[6]

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.[7] Eugenio Berríos, who was murdered in 1995, was also linked with drug traffickers and agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).[8]

Colonia Dignidad[edit]

Main article: Villa Baviera

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.[citation needed] According to Townley, former Christian Democrat President Eduardo Frei Montalva was assassinated by a poison made at Colonia Dignidad.[9]

Other activities[edit]

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.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20000919/index.html
  4. ^ CIA documents published by the National Security Archives, 2,1 2,5 2,6 (see 2,6 for Spaggiari and Delle Chiaie work for DINA
  5. ^ Visit of Chilean President Pinochet to Spain During November 1975 with General Contreras, where they met with "ALFA", an Italian terrorist, document declassified in 2000 by the CIA, published by the National Security Archive
  6. ^ http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB8/ch02-01.htm
  7. ^ "Townley reveló uso de gas sarín antes de ser expulsado de Chile". El Mercurio. September 19, 2006. 
  8. ^ El coronel que le pena al ejército, La Nación, September 24, 2005 (Spanish)
  9. ^ Michael Townley fue interrogado por muerte de Frei Montalva, Radio Cooperativa, March 30, 2005 (Spanish)
  10. ^ Activities of Virgilio Paz in Northern Ireland during 1975, National Security Archive

External links[edit]