Operation Toucan (KGB)

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Operation TOUCAN was a KGB/DGI public relations and disinformation campaign directed at the military government of Chile led by Augusto Pinochet, particularly the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (DINA). According to former KGB officer Vasili Mitrokhin, the plot was originally conceived by Yuri Vladimirovich Andropov. It was approved in August 10, 1976.[1] The plot's twofold task was to organize sympathetic human rights activists to pressure the United Nations and generate negative press for the Pinochet regime.


As part of operation TOUCAN, the KGB also forged a letter tying the CIA to an assassination campaign by Chile’s DINA and many journalists, including columnist Jack Anderson of the New York Times, used this information in their news stories as evidence of the CIA’s involvement in the more nefarious parts of Operation Condor. In 1976, the start of TOUCAN, The New York Times published 66 articles on Chile’s human rights record and four on Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge and only 3 such articles on the human rights situation in Cuba. It forged letters from Miguel Contreras, DINA's director, to Pinochet, which were accepted as genuine by the newspaper and other major news outlets in the West.[1] One of these included a missive "sent" by Contreras to Pinochet detailing a plan to neutralize the opposition figures living in Mexico, Argentina, Costa Rica, France, Italy, and the United States.[2]

When the operation ended, it was marked "particularly successful in publicizing and exaggerating DINA's foreign operations against left wing Chilean exiles."[1]


  1. ^ a b c Horne, Alistair (2009). Kissinger: 1973, the Crucial Year. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 221. ISBN 9780743272834.
  2. ^ West, Nigel (2017). Encyclopedia of Political Assassinations. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 46. ISBN 9781538102381.
  • Andrew, Christopher; Mitrokhin, Vasili. The World Was Going Our Way: The KGB and the Battle for the Third World. Basic Books (2005)
  • Horne, Alistair.Small Earthquake in Chile: A Visit to Allende's South America. Papermac (1990)
  • Billingsley, Lloyd. "Chili con Commies." Frontpage Magazine (24 January 2006).