As the legacy of Chile’s former CIA-backed dictator Augusto Pinochet still haunts the South American country 10 years after his death, a grandson of ousted socialist President Salvador Allende called on Norwegian authorities Sunday to arrest former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during his visit to the Scandinavian nation for his support of the 1973 coup in Chile and the brutal repression it unleashed.
Pablo Sepulveda Allende’s call joined the voices of thousands who have demanded Kissinger’s arrest in Norway since the Nobel Peace Prize Committee announced that the notorious hardline former national security heavyweight — who oversaw an expansion of war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia and U.S. intervention in Latin America — would deliver a speech on peace in Oslo on Sunday, a day after the awards ceremony.
“When a government claims to defend peace and human rights like Norway does,” wrote Sepulveda in a letter, “is it too much to ask that a war criminal with direct responsibility for genocide, torture and military coups be declared persona non grata or be detained and stand trial according to international law?”
Kissinger, who has a notorious track record of supporting U.S. intervention, dictatorships, torture and brutal counterinsurgency strategy in Latin America, was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize together with his Vietnamese counterpart Le Duc Tho in 1973 — the same year the then-secretary of state backed a coup against Chile’s Allende.
In the letter, titled “Dear Norway, arrest Henry Kissinger, the man that planned the coup d’etat in which my grandfather was killed,” Sepulveda added that he was “shocked” by the “tribute” to Kissinger that he argued “belittles millions of victims” of the former secretary of state’s abuses.
He noted that Kissinger, together with the CIA, supported and helped orchestrate “ political terror campaigns and murder of leftist, Indigenous people, trade unionists and others who stood in the way of U.S. objectives for control of the region."
In the days immediately following the 1973 coup that installed the brutal dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, military intelligence agents rounded up and killed or tortured thousands of supporters of Allende’s socialism. Over the 17 years of Pinochet's bloody rule, the military regime killed or disappeared more than 3,200 people and tortured more than 28,000.
Meanwhile, across Latin America, a CIA-backed Dirty War known as Operation Condor, aimed at wiping out opposition to U.S.-supported dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s, killed and forcibly disappeared an estimated 50,000 people across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
“Norway opened its doors to thousands of Chileans who fled the regime in terror,” continued Sepulveda in his letter. “That’s why it is incomprehensible that Kissinger be received and honored in Norway on the occasion of awarding the Nobel Peace Prize.”
Kissinger attended the awards ceremony Saturday, where Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work negotiating a landmark peace agreement with the country’s largest rebel army, the FARC. Representatives of the FARC were not recognized for their role in ending the 52-year-old internal armed conflict, nor were they invited to the ceremony.
Human rights groups have repeatedly called for Kissinger to face charges for war crimes. The U.S. anti-war coalition CodePink has attempted to perform a citizen’s arrest against Kissinger, while most recently the organization RootsAction has spearheaded a petition calling for his arrest in Norway. The petition had garnered over 6,700 signatures by Sunday, the day of Kissinger’s controversial scheduled speech in Oslo.