Operation Condor was a coordinated, U.S. backed attempt to wipe out opposition to dictatorships across South America in the 1970s and 1980s. Some 50,000 people are estimated to have been killed or “disappeared” because of it.
September 18, 2016
Former Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said Sunday that recent accusations of corruption and money laundering against former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva represent a new “Operation Condor” in South America.
Fernandez tweeted Sunday a link to an editorial published in Ecuador’s El Telegrafo Saturday which made the claim, saying that the piece “impressed” her with its “accuracy.”
The editorial, titled “The new Plan Condor now takes aim at Lula and Cristina Fernandez,” asserts that it is no “coincidence” that former left-wing leaders in South American countries are now accused of public malfeasance by former conservative rivals who have seized political power across the region.
“If before it was armed groups within Latin American military institutions, now it is the judicial and media devices. But the same ones are always behind it,” reads the El Telegrafo editorial. “They use the weapons of smearing, defamation, and the recurring claim that everything progressive governments and leaders do ends in corruption.”
The accusation of a new Operation Condor in Latin America references the U.S.-backed covert operation aimed at wiping out left-wing “insurgents” and stabilizing dictatorships in South America in the 1970s and 1980s. It is estimated that some 50,000 victims were killed or forcibly “disappeared” under the bloody Cold War-era counterinsurgency and state terror campaign across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Washington provided financial, logistical, and technical support, particularly in the area of intelligence operations.
The El Telegrafo editorial argues that the new Operation Condor is a right-wing backlash against the progressive policies that have threatened their wealth and profits since being introduced in various countries under the so-called socialist Pink Tide that swept South America beginning with late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in 1999.
The authors claim that the architects of the destabilizing campaign are the business elite in their respective countries, keen to reinstate unfettered profits which was previously allowed under dictatorship regimes and their conservative successors.
“There is no doubt that it is a strategy with one goal,” reads the editorial. “To recover imperial power, neoliberal hegemony, and destroy an entire period of very significant social advances, poverty eradication, and national sovereignty.”
Fernandez said she found the analysis “concise and accurate.”
The editorial responds to charges against Fernandez that she was involved in a money laundering scandal and accusations against Lula that he was the mastermind behind a bribery scheme in the state-run oil company Petrobras. Supporters of both former left-wing leaders argue that the allegations are politically motivated.
Recent polls have revealed that Lula is the favored candidate in the next presidential race, leading critics to accuse anti-corruption investigations of looking to sully his image only to push him out of the running for Brazil’s top office. As El Telegrafo’s editorial put it, Lula’s adversaries “live with the anxiety that he is the most popular man in the country.”
Claims of a new Operation Condor in South America have been gaining traction among the region’s left-wing leaders in recent months. Both Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have slammed a coordinated, right-wing campaign in the region under the banner, pointing to what they call a “coup” against Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff as one example of the re imagined Operation Condor.