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Operation Condor and Covert War in Latin America
J. Patrice McSherry
This powerful study makes a compelling case about the key U.S. role in state terrorism in Latin America during the Cold War. Long hidden from public view, Operation Condor was a military network created in the 1970s to eliminate political opponents of Latin American regimes. Its key members were the anticommunist dictatorships of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil, later joined by Peru and Ecuador, with covert support from the U.S. government. Drawing on a wealth of testimonies, declassified files, and Latin American primary sources, J. Patrice McSherry examines Operation Condor from numerous vantage points: its secret structures, intelligence networks, covert operations against dissidents, political assassinations worldwide, commanders and operatives, links to the Pentagon and the CIA, and extension to Central America in the 1980s. The author convincingly shows how, using extralegal and terrorist methods, Operation Condor hunted down, seized, and executed political opponents across borders. McSherry argues that Condor functioned within, or parallel to, the structures of the larger inter-American military system led by the United States, and that declassified U.S. documents make clear that U.S. security officers saw Condor as a legitimate and useful 'counterterror' organization. Revealing new details of Condor operations and fresh evidence of links to the U.S. security establishment, this controversial work offers an original analysis of the use of secret, parallel armies in Western counterinsurgency strategies. It will be a clarion call to all readers to consider the long-term consequences of clandestine operations in the name of 'democracy.'
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Size: 6 3/4 x 9 1/4
978-0-7425-3686-9 • Hardback • June 2005 •
978-0-7425-3687-6 • Paperback • May 2005 •
978-0-7425-6870-9 • eBook • July 2012 •
Political Science / General
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J. Patrice McSherry is professor of political science and director of the Latin American & Caribbean Studies Program at Long Island University.
Chapter 1 What Was Operation Condor?
Chapter 2 Cold War Security Coordination: The Global Context
Chapter 3 Operation Condor's Structures and Functioning: The Parallel State in Operation
Chapter 4 Condor's Killing Machine: Phase II Transnational Operations
Chapter 5 Phase III: Condor's Assassination Capability
Chapter 6 Commanders and Operatives of Condor
Chapter 7 The Central American Connection
Chapter 8 Conclusions
This important book is must-reading for graduate students and public policy officials interested in Central and Latin America. It is also a significant contribution to an understanding of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War with respect to international state terrorism. Highly recommended.
Eloquently traces the roots of Operation Condor in the 1970s to a broad policy of anticommunism after World War II. . . . Contributes significantly to studies of the Cold War. . . . McSherry defines Condor as part of a broad and systematic trans-American policy actively pursued by the United States under the banner of anticommunism. Her work goes beyond other studies that have tended to reduce U.S. Cold War policies in Latin America to specific episodes. . . . McSherry's concept of the parallel state is also a provocative invitation to re-examine the relationship between the state and civil society in modern Latin America.
American Historical Review
McSherry's book makes a number of important contributions to our understanding of Operation Condor. First, she adds a wealth of factual information to the familiar, if hazy, outline of what is already known about Condor, drawing on an impressive range of sources. . . . Her skillful use of this fragmentary evidence enables her to draw compelling conclusions and could serve as a model for research into the complex and difficult field of secret intelligence operations.
Journal Of Third World Studies
J. Patrice McSherry’s book occupies a central place in this new literature [documenting the history of long-known abuses in Latin America] as it successfully analyzes the extent of U.S. involvement in the region and the connections between U.S. Cold War policies and some of the most egregious human rights abuses that took place in the region. . . . McSherry’s careful analysis of newly declassified documents allows her to unveil the role that the U.S. played in aiding and abetting criminal regimes to conduct extraterritorial operations to kill their 'enemies' throughout the globe.
Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture
Extending over six decades, this study highlights the importance of historical memory. . . . A major strength of this book is precisely its global context and the comparative angle of its analysis, well beyond the scope of Latin America.
The Americas: A Quarterly Review of Latin American History
, January 2008
explains in well-documented detail how the Condor system worked, how the United States participated (especially through the CIA), and how the countries involved worked to keep their activities secret.
Latin American Politics and Society
, March 2008
An important and timely read. It provides a unique and dark historical perspective on political 'swings' in Latin America, and the story has particular significance and political weight today as Latin America once again garners international attention and anxiety from its perceived 'turn to the left.' The exhaustive documentation of US covert and extra-legal involvement in the manipulation and control of Latin American political and social transitions, all in the name of ‘security,’ is presented with conviction and courage, leaving the reader with a simple and palpable warning about the consequences and legacies of 'anti-subversive' fervour, the pursuit of militaristic 'solutions' and contemporary policies of global interventionism.
Bulletin of Latin American Research
McSherry provides direct answers to many of the most important questions surrounding US involvement in death squad operations overseas during the Cold War. . . . [She] has assembled a wealth of information that firmly establishes the central role of the US government in the use of paramilitary death squads as a tool of counterinsurgency strategy in the Cold War.
The Salvador Option
Provide[s] important new details on the working of the system of internal repression.
, March 2008
J. Patrice McSherry has deftly utilised [newly available] resources in an analysis that combines a conceptual framework with a compelling account of repression, suffering and death. McSherry's primary theoretical thrust is that counterinsurgency fundamentally changed the relationship between state and society. . . . McSherry's analysis should be viewed not only as a discussion of the past, but also as a cautionary tale for the present and future.
Journal of Latin American Studies
, February 2008
The reasons for intervention, subversion, terror, and repression are not obscure. They are summarized accurately by Patrice McSherry in the most careful scholarly study of Operation Condor, the international terrorist operation established with U.S. backing in Pinochet’s Chile.
Noam Chomsky, MIT
; Monthly Review
In this remarkable example of investigative scholarship, J. Patrice McSherry systematically and compellingly explains the logic of the emergence of Operation Condor and details the actors, phases, activities and consequences of this regional anticommunist network. . . . A magnificent example of meticulous secondary and primary research, powerful writing, and responsible activism. . . . McSherry's book serves as a damning testimony of the horrors of the security-focused parallel state and a warning to citizens, scholars, journalists, politicians, and democratic activists to resist the logic of the security parallel state and demand transparency and accountability.
; New Political Science
[McSherry] has achieved scholarly excellence. . . . Readers will learn a great deal about Condor that was not identified and developed in other scholarly or journalistic accounts. . . . Sources have been expertly utilized. . . . A must-read in U.S. departments of international relations, political science, and in programs of Latin American Studies. . . . This study is ground-breaking in its scholarly integration of primary data and social science theory.
Martha K. Huggins, Tulane University
McSherry is uniquely qualified to write this book. . . . [It is] a very important contribution to our knowledge of international state terrorism and its connection to U.S. foreign policy in the era of the cold war.
Brian Loveman, San Diego State University
Provides a conceptual framework that brings out the formal nature of Operation Condor and South American repression more generally. . . . The book’s attention to detail is impressive.
Gregory B. Weeks, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, author of The Military and Politics in Postauthoritarian Chile
-Based on a broad range of newly discovered primary sources and original research.
-Includes interviews with Condor victims as well as Latin American officers and U.S. officials.
-Unearths new details about Condor's history and operations.
• Winner, Choice Outstanding Book of the Year 2006
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