TDISH: The Insecurities of a Dictator

On September 21, 1976, a car bomb rocked central Washington, DC only about a mile away from the White House.  The bomb had been placed under the driver’s seat of the car owned by a Chilean national living and working for the Institute of Policy Studies named Orlando Letelier.  He had been the foreign minister of Chile under former President Salvador Allende.  When the Socialist Allende was overthrown in a military coup by General Augusto Pinochet, Letelier was one of the first men arrested and tortured by the new regime.

Letelier left Chile and arrived in the United Sates in 1975 and quickly took up an anti-Pinochet mantle.  He became one of the leading voices calling for economic sanctions against the regime in Chile.  General Pinochet was concerned that Letelier’s actions would lead to the fall of his government.  As such, on Pinochet’s direct orders, the Chilean intelligence services planted the bomb to kill th399px-ronni_moffitte troublesome former minister.  While the assassination of any individual is a tragedy, what makes this attack even more sad is that Letelier gave a ride to a colleague, Ronni Moffitt, and her husband that morning since the couple was having car troubles.  The explosion killed both Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt.  Michael Moffitt, who was sitting in the back seat, survived, but suffered severe injuries in the bombing.

Details of responsibility for the bombing remained hidden for decades after the attack until US intelligence documents were unclassified by the Obama administration.  These documents show the direct role played the General Pinochet and also seem to imply a possible role by United States Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.  The role of Kissinger seems to be limited to blocking a communique from being sent to the South American countries warning against perpetrating assassinations on United States soil.  This communique was to be sent a mere few days before Letelier’s death.

Featured Image: “Orlando Letelier.” By Unknown – Museum of Memory and Human Rights, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Image 1. “Ronni Moffitt.” By Moffitt family/Institute for Policy Studies, CC BY-SA 3.0.
Sources: Franklin, Jonathan. “Pinochet directly ordered killing on US soil of Chilean diplomat, papers reveal.” The Guardian. 8 October 2015.
Hidalgo, Louise. “Orlando Letelier: Murdered in central Washington DC.” BBC World Service. 21 September 2011.

TDISH: A Candidate Gunned Down

On August 18, 1989, leader of the New Liberalism Party of Colombia Luis Carlos Galan was assassinated by a machine-gunning carrying man as he stepped to a podium in Bogota.  Galan was running fPablo_Escobar_Mug.jpgor president on a platform that stood against the drug cartels that had long dominated life in Colombia.  Earlier in the decade, Galan had publicly turned down money from notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar.  Escobar did not forget the slight.

As he was running for president, Galan’s growing popularity worried many drug cartels that he would open up extradition to the United States – a fate greatly feared by most drug lords.  While the assassination of Galan has never been fully solved, the gunman appears to have been hired by Pablo Escobar and former Justice Minister Alberto Santofimio Botero who was suspected of being in Escobar’s pocket.  Unfortunately, for the drug lords, despite Galan’s death, his party still went on to win the presidential election of 1989, with Galan’s former speech writer Cesar Gaviria winning the election.

Featured Image: “Luis Carols Galan.” By TV Screenshot, broadcasted by Venezolana de Televisión.
Image 1. “Pablo Escobar.” By Colombian National Police – Columbia National Registry; Colombian National Police, Public Domain.
Sources: Stone, Robert.The Autumn of the Drug Lord.” New York Times Books. 15 June 1997.
Ex-Colombia minister held for murder.” BBC News. 12 May 2005.


TDISH: The Hand of God

On June 22, during the Quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup in Mexico, Argentina’s Diego Maradona scored a controversial goal in which he quite clearly hits the ball with his hand into the goal – an illegal move in soccer (yes, I’m from the US).  Despite vigorous protest from the English team, the goal was allowed and Argentina went on to win the match – and the entire World Cup.  Check out the goal below!

TDISH: The Horrors of Political Violence

On June 16, 1955, on a cold winter’s day, a large crowd gathered outside of the President’s Residence in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  They were there to express support for their embattled president, Juan Peron.  Peron had been the popular leader of the country since 1946.  His popularity stemmed at least partially from his incredibly charismatic wife, Eva, better known as Evita.  Eva had died after an illness in 1952 and Peron’s popularity waned among the elite even as Evita’s popularity stayed strong among the common people.  By June 1955, however, Juan’s position was tenuous at best, especially among the military.

On this date, Argentine naval aviation pilots flew over the gathering and to the shock and horror of those present, indiscriminately strafed and dropped bombs on the crowd – all in an Plaza-Mayo-bombardeo-1955.JPGattempt to assassinate Peron.  This assault, without thought given to the approximately 300 – 400 civilians killed, marked the start of 30 years of political violence between the Peronists and the anti-Peronists.  Yes, this one man would completely dominate politics in the second largest country of South America for over a quarter of a century – even when he was not in power.

Featured Image: “Juan Peron.” By Unknown – here, Public Domain.
Rogers, Marc. “On This Day in… 1955: The Bombardment of Plaza de Mayo.” Argentina Independent. 16 June 2013.
Image 1: “Civilian Casualties.” Public Domain.