CIA killed Chile Army commander, says Pinochet’s spy chief

Carlos Prats

Carlos Prats

The convicted former chief of Chile’s intelligence services during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet has accused the CIA of murdering the deposed leader of the Chilean army and former Vice-President of Chile, in 1974. General Carlos Prats González was a close political ally of Chilean President Salvador Allende, who was toppled by a CIA-assisted military coup in 1973, led by General Augusto Pinochet. General Prats managed to escape with his family to neighboring Argentina. It was there where, in 1974, he was killed along with his wife, Sofia Cuthbert, in a massive car bomb. A Chilean court has convicted General Manuel Contreras, who headed Pinochet’s feared DINA secret police, for the murder of General Prats and his wife. But Contreras, 81, who has been in prison since 1995, servicing over 100 years for several kidnappings and murders of anti-Pinochet dissidents, now accuses the CIA of the Prats murders. Speaking last Thursday to a group of carefully selected Chilean journalists, Contreras argued that DINA “had nothing to with the killing” of Chile’s former Army commander. Instead, he said, “the Prats homicide was the work of the CIA”, which feared that Allende’s ally was preparing to depose General Pinochet. The former DINA chief alleged that he was told so by none other than Richard Helms, Director of the CIA from 1966 until 1973, who believed Argentine President Juan Peron had pledged to lend Prats thousands of Argentine troops to invade Chile and depose Pinochet. Speaking to the Associated Press, CIA spokesperson George Little rejected Contreras’ claims. He was echoed by Peter Kornbluh, director of the Chile Documentation Project at George Washington University’s National Security Archives, and author of The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability. In a related development, last month, US researchers unearthed a loaded 1971 dialogue between President Richard M. Nixon and his trusted national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, which appeared to confirm that the CIA had a role in the 1970 assassination of Prats’ predecessor, General Rene Schneider.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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