A recently declassified CIA document reveals that Ecuador — like many countries of the Southern Cone — was part of the U.S.-backed Operation Condor plan, which took hold of the region from the 1970s to the mid-1980s.
The document states that Ecuador became part of Operation Condor in 1978, joining dictatorships of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in endorsing state-sponsored terror to control what was perceived to be the threat of communism and eliminate subversive sectors of society.
Ecuador’s office of the attorney general is currently investigating if the 1981 plane crash that killed President Jaime Roldos was part of the plan, as leftist leaders were targeted throughout the region.
Attorney General Galo Chiriboga told the press, "We asked for documents in the United States to be declassified, in particular a CIA document, which establishes that Ecuador was one of the countries where Plan Condor operated. With this information, we are going to examine information of whether the accident which killed President Roldos was in fact an accident or was not an accident."
The three-page CIA document stipulates that Ecuador's intelligence services, along with its army, navy and air force, agreed to gather and share information with other states, monitor telecommunications and engage in psychological warfare as part of the plan. It also outlines Ecuador's relationship with Argentine and Chilean officials who installed telecommunications systems in the country, and offered scholarships and training to the Ecuadorean military.
"They financed an entire network of people to work in their interests. They wanted to destroy communism, and affect the position of sovereignty of Ecuador to break its relations with Cuba. This was not good. This caused us a lot of damage. It is the period that the left experienced the greatest repression,” said journalist Francisco Herrera Arauz, who recently coauthored the book “The CIA Against Latin America, Special Case of Ecuador,” which examines interventions throughout the period.
The countries of Operation Condor agreed to share information, and work to eliminate leftist groups within their own countries, as well as persecute those seeking refuge abroad. Operation Condor knew no borders, as death squads, infiltrators and extra-judicial killings were rampant throughout the region.
A former member of the revolutionary guerrilla group Alfaro Vive ¡Carajo! Mireya Cardenas spoke to teleSUR English about Operation Condor.
"In our case, the CIA destroyed a structure in one night, it was destroyed in the city of Cuenca. And they assassinated our comrades. There were infiltrators also, who were paid. They were paid over a period of two years, three years, they were paid with dollars, when the currency here was the sucre."
An estimated 60,000 people were killed as a result of Operation Condor by its end in the mid-1980s. Through investigations of the death of President Jaime Roldos, the cases of the Alfaro Vive ¡Carajo! and other affected individuals and groups, Ecuador and the other countries making up this plan are working to uncover the truth of this period and provide justice for those victims of crimes against humanity.