34. Telegram From the Embassy in Paraguay to the Department of State1

4260. Subject: Second Meeting With Chief of Staff RE Letelier Case.2 Ref: Asunción 4375

1. On October 11 I called again on Chief of Staff General Alejandro Fretes Dávalos. After preliminary courtesies, he read me the acta or summary minutes resulting from the visit of General Orozco, Chief of Chilean Intelligence, to Asunción. The document itself makes no direct reference to the Letelier case. Fretes said the President had authorized him to brief me on the acta but he preferred to read it verbatim.

2. The document is basically an agreement to coordinate all intelligence resources in order to control and eliminate subversion. It speaks of exchange of information, prompt use of communication facilities, monitoring of subversives and their detention and informal hand over from one country to the other. It repeats over and over the need for full cooperation and mutually facilitative acts in the context of a fight to the death against subversion.

3. In response to my questions, Fretes Dávalos gave the following account of the meeting between Chile and Paraguay. It was simply another in a regular series of meetings which take place annually among the Chiefs of Intelligence of the countries of the Southern Cone. This system of consultations came into being mainly as a defense against the threat of Argentine subversion spreading to other countries. Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay make of the net, although Uruguay is now almost on the inactive list. Fretes Dávalos [Page 141] said the meetings are not particularly useful anymore, in his judgment, because the main threat (from Argentina) has been eliminated. They keep in touch with one another through a U.S. communications installation in the Panama Canal Zone which covers all of Latin America. This U.S. communications facility is used mainly by student officers to call home to Latin America but it is also employed to co-ordinate intelligence information among the Southern Cone countries. They maintain the confidentiality of their communication through the U.S. facility in Panama by using bilateral codes. In his view the whole network is practically useless and serves mainly to permit Chiefs of Intelligence to exaggerate their own diminishing importance.

4. Comment: Obviously this is the Condor network which all of us have heard about over the last few years. Although Fretes Dávalos told me he had only mentioned to President Stroessner that we were going to talk about the meeting, I suspect the president vetoed Fretes’ stated intention of providing me with a copy of the ACTA and instead told him to read it to me. Either I misunderstood or Fretes misspoke in our previous meeting (RefTel) when he said Argentina had also attended. Appearently two bilateral meetings with Chile and Argentina took place one after the other and some sessions may even have overlapped.

5. Recommendation: The two FBI agents here3 tell me there is likelihood Condor will surface during Letelier Trial in the U.S. If General Fetes Dávalos is accurate in describing the communications it uses as an encryped system within U.S. communications net (and I have no knowledge whether this is true), it would seem advisable to review this arrangement to insure that its continuation is in U.S. interest.4

  1. Source: Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Asunción, 1969–1979. Confidential; Roger; Immediate. The Department repeated the cable to Santiago as telegram 265779, October 20. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Santiago, 1963–1979)
  2. Dated October 10. White reported that during his October 9 discussion with Fretes Dávalos, he had asked about “the recent meeting of Southern Cone intelligence chiefs in Asunción.” Fretes had assured White that the meeting “was in no way related to the Letelier case” and that “not all the Southern Cone intelligence chiefs attended; only Argentina, Chile and Paraguay.” Fretes offered to “supply” White “with the acta or written record of the meeting.” (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Asunción, 1969–1979) In telegram 4237 from Asunción, October 2, the Embassy reported that Orozco visited Asunción around September 11–14. The Embassy cited “an unconfirmed report” that a “secret meeting of the chiefs of intelligence of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and perhaps Bolivia” had taken place, and that the meeting’s purpose “was to discuss the Letelier case and adopt a common position.” However, “the meeting ended badly because the Argentine representative tried to influence the others to his government’s point of view of the Beagle Channel case.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780403–0415)
  3. Clegg and Scherrer.
  4. In telegram 290735 to Asunción, Santiago, and Panama, November 16, the Department reported: “We have looked into the allegation (reftel) by General Dávalos that a U.S. facility is being used to coordinate intelligence information among the Southern Cone countries. We do not rpt not believe he can be referring to the Condor communications network, which is centered in Santiago and does not rpt not use any U.S. facilities.” In addition, “The U.S. operated net control stations” in the Panama Canal Zone “have never detected any transmissions by Southern Cone participants of the nature described by General Dávalos.” (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Roger Channel, Asunción, 1969–1979)