Fatherland and Liberty
|Leader||Pablo Rodríguez Grez|
|Colors||Black and White|
The Fatherland and Liberty Nationalist Front (Spanish: Frente Nacionalista Patria y Libertad or simply Patria y Libertad, PyL) was a nationalist and authoritarian political and paramilitary group denounced by their opponents as being fascist and a front for Central Intelligence Agency activities in Chile.
In June 1973, the group attempted to carry out a coup against the Allende government but failed, in an event known as the Tanquetazo. In July 1973, it received orders from the Chilean Navy, which opposed the Schneider Doctrine of military adherence to the constitution, to sabotage Chile's infrastructure. The collaboration between Fatherland and Liberty and the Chilean Armed Forces increased after the failed October 1972 strike which had sought to overthrow the Allende administration. In agreement with the sectors opposing Allende in the military, the group assassinated on 26 July 1973 Allende's naval aide, Arturo Araya Peeters. The first sabotage was committed this same day. Others include creating a power outage while Allende was being broadcast.
It was officially disbanded on September 12, 1973, following Pinochet's coup. Members of PyL were then recruited by Chilean security services and participated in the persecution of those opposed to Pinochet's junta. Since the transition to democracy, some small groups have since claimed to be its successor, but are not officially linked to the original PyL.
Creation of the group
Headed by Pablo Rodríguez Grez, the group was spawned in the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. It formally organized itself in 1970, a short time after the election of Salvador Allende. Patria y Libertad gathered mainly upper and middle-class students who, united by common anti-Communist beliefs and anti-parliamentarism, engaged in street brawls against leftist opponents, armed with nunchakus and molotov cocktails. Patria y Libertad criticized the division of Chile among various political parties, and hoped for the appearance of a "caudillo" which would transcend political divisions and become the "incarnation of the national sentiment". Along with the youth movement of the Christian Democracy and of the National Party, they participated in demonstrations against the Allende administration.
The group was funded by the CIA during the first year of Allende's presidency, including via the Agency's Track II program. According to Prof. Michael Stohl, and Prof. George A. Lopez, "After the failure to prevent Allende from taking office, efforts shifted to obtaining his removal. At least $7 million was authorized by the United States for CIA use in the destabilizing of Chilean society. This included financing and assisting opposition groups and right-wing paramilitary groups such as Patria y Libertad ("Fatherland and Liberty")". Although PyL was already dissolved, some of their former integrants continued collaborating with Pinochet's regime. Former head of DINA Manuel Contreras declared to Chilean justice in 2005 that the CNI, successor of DINA, handed out monthly payments between 1978 and 1990 to the persons who had worked with DINA agent Michael Townley in Chile, former members of PyL: Mariana Callejas (Townley's wife), Francisco Oyarzún, Gustavo Etchepare and Eugenio Berríos. Assassinated in 1995, Berrios, who worked as a chemist for the DINA in Colonia Dignidad, also worked with drug traffickers and DEA agents. Michael Townley has been convicted for the 1976 assassination of former Chilean minister Orlando Letelier, and was involved in the 1974 assassination of General Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires.
June 1973 sabotage plan
The Chilean Navy's June 1973 plan included sabotaging bridges, oil pipelines, energy towers and the fuel supply. The plan was revealed after the transition to democracy by Roberto Theime, leader of military operations for Fatherland and Liberty. Thieme exiled himself to Argentina after the failed Tanquetazo, but returned to Chile in mid-July 1973, two months before the military coup. Thieme also revealed that in 1973, he was pressured by the military to assassinate Senator Carlos Altamirano, who had been the general secretary of the Chilean Socialist Party since 1971.
Olof Palme assassination
The Swedish journalist Anders Leopold, in his 2008 book Det svenska trädet skall fällas, makes the case that PyL leader Roberto Thieme was the assassin in the still-unsolved 1986 murder of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme. According to Leopold, the Swedish prime minister was killed because he had freely given asylum to so many leftist Chileans following the 1973 coup against Salvador Allende.
Roberto Thieme, leader of the military operations of PyL, signed on 2 December 2004, along with other leaders José Agustín Vásquez and Arturo Hoffmann, a declaration which referred to the Valech Report and begged pardon for their responsibilities in the repression against civilians operated by Pinochet's junta. They indicated that many members of the group had been recruited by the Chilean security services and had thus collaborated to the repression, including acts of torture and of forced disappearances. Thieme also opposed the neoliberal economic policies of Pinochet's regime, and criticized Pinochet's lack of repentance following his 1998 arrest in London and subsequent judicial procedures in Chile.
Juan Patricio Abarzúa Cáceres, a former member of PyL, was arrested in 2005, charged in the "disappearance" of Juan Heredia, a Popular Unity government sympathiser "disappeared" on September 16, 1973.
- Blum, William. Killing Hope: U. S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II - Part I, London: Zed Books, 2003, p. 213. ISBN 1-84277-369-0
- ¿Quién mató al comandante Araya?, La Nación, 20 March 2005 (in Spanish)
- Confesiones de un ex Patria y Libertad Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, TVN, 12 February 2006 (in Spanish)
- USA en Chile: La CIA y La ONI, financista del grupo terrorista Patria y Libertad. - 2/07/03 (Chile), Pagina Digital, 2 July 2003 (in Spanish)
- Kramer, Andrés M., Chile. Historia de una experiencia socialista. Península. Barcelona, 1974. pp. 177-184
- Les manifestations de rue à Santiago du Chili (1970-1973) (Street demonstrations in Santiago de Chile, 1970-73), University of Paris I: Panthéon-Sorbonne, 7 April 2002 (in French)
- Church Committee (18 December 1975). Covert Action in Chile 1963-1973 (PDF) (Report). U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 31.
- "The State as Terrorist: The Dynamics of Governmental Violence and Repression" by Prof. Michael Stohl, and Prof. George A. Lopez; Greenwood Press, 1984. Page 51
- Contreras dice que Pinochet dio orden "personal, exclusiva y directa" de asesinar a Prats y Letelier Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, La Tercera, May 13, 2005, mirrored on CC.TT. website (in Spanish)
- El coronel que le pena al ejército Archived 2007-03-12 at the Wayback Machine, La Nación, September 24, 2005 (in Spanish)
- New book: Chilean fascist leader killed Olaf Palme Politiken February 29, 2008 (in Danish)
- Ex Patria y Libertad llamó a pedir perdón por horrores de la dictadura, Radio Cooperativa, December 3, 2004 (in Spanish)
- Policía detuvo a ex Patria y Libertad por caso de detenido desaparecido, Radio Cooperativa, 8 October 2005 (in Spanish)
- BLUM, Williams. Killing Hope: U. S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II - Part I, Londres: Zed Books, 2003, ISBN 1-84277-369-0
- PAREDES, Alejandro. La Operación Cóndor y la guerra fría. Universum. [online]. 2004, vol.19, no.1 [citado 12 Octubre 2008], p. 122-137. Disponible en la World Wide Web: <http://www.scielo.cl/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0718-23762004000100007&lng=es&nrm=iso>. ISSN 0718-2376.
- Church Committee (20 November 1975). Interim Report: Alleged Assassination Plots Involving Foreign Leaders (PDF) (Report). U.S. Government Printing Office.