WikiLeaks cables confirm collusion between Vatican and dictators

15.04.2013 22:08

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks released
a new archive of 1.3 million
diplomatic cables and intelligence
records last Monday encompassing
the years 1973 through 1976,
dubbed “The Kissinger Cables.”
The database includes documents
revealing the ruthless operations
led by the US worldwide, at a time
when the international working
class was on the offensive and the
bourgeoisie was waging a ruthless
counterattack.Among the cables, a series of
diplomatic communications
exposes the relationships between
the Vatican and a number of
dictatorial regimes, from Chile’s
Augusto Pinochet to Argentina’s
Jorge Rafael Videla to Spain’s
Francisco Franco.
On September 11, 1973, a CIA-
backed coup led by general
Pinochet overthrew the elected
government of Socialist Party
President Salvador Allende. In
Pinochet’s 17-year dictatorship,
thousands of left-wing activists,
students, trade unionists and
anyone suspected of opposing
Chilean and international capital
were killed or disappeared by the
regime. Hundreds of thousands
were jailed and tortured, or sent
into exile.
The names of these criminal state
operations, such as “Operation
Condor” or “The Caravan of Death”
are forever embedded in the
consciousness of Chilean workers.
Pinochet’s “struggle against
Marxism” remains one of the most
violent developments in the history
of the 20th century.
The main goal of such struggle was
to destroy the working class and its
organizations, both physically and
through the imposition of
aggressive economic policies of
privatization and deregulation.
These created a model of
enrichment by a small oligarchy for
the following decades.
Many governments joined this
“struggle,” with the US leading the
pack. President Richard Nixon and
his National Security Adviser Henry
Kissinger allocated $8 million for
the campaign to destabilize Allende.
While maintaining an appearance of
liberal reforms and a more relaxed
policy toward the USSR initiated by
John XXIII, the Vatican, led by
Pope Paul VI, lent support to the
Chilean dictator.
In a cable dated October 18, 1973,
Archbishop Giovanni Benelli,
Vatican Deputy Secretary of State,
denied the crimes committed by
Pinochet’s junta, expressing “his
and Pope’s grave concern over
successful international leftist
campaign to misconstrue
completely realities of Chilean
More precisely, the cable
documents Benelli’s view on the
“exaggerated coverage of events as
possibly greatest success of
communist propaganda, and
highlighted fact that even moderate
and conservative circles seem quite
disposed to believe grossest lies
about Chilean junta’s excesses.”
His source of information was
Cardinal Raúl Silva, a staunch
opponent of communism.
According to the cable, “Cardinal
Silva and Chilean Episcopate in
general have assured Pope Paul
that junta making every effort to
return to normal and that stories
alleging brutal reprisals in
international media secret are
The role played by figures like Silva
or Paul VI himself—promoted as
“progressives” at the time—
emerges quite clearly in these
documents. Benelli states that
“validity and sincerity of Cardinal
Silva cannot be challenged since
Silva is known internationally as
one of Church’s leading
progressives who, moreover, gave
tacit support to President Allende.”
This evidence shows not only the
denial of Pinochet’s crimes by the
Vatican and the Chilean Church: it
reveals the bankruptcy of the
Allende government, which based
itself on relations with layers of the
Church that were completely
hostile to it.
In fact, the Archbishop states that,
“leftist forces have greatly cut
losses by convincing world that
Allende’s fall due exclusively to
fascist and external forces rather
than to shortcomings of Allende’s
own policies as is rightly case.”
If there is any objective truth in
Benelli’s statement, it is the fact
that Pinochet, who was appointed
by Allende as head of the armed
forces, took advantage of the
political environment created by
Allende’s retreat from the reforms
he had promised. Allende was
himself a capitalist politician,
promoting a “Chilean road to
socialism” but fundamentally
committed to demobilizing the
working class. This prepared the
field for a right-wing military
In November 1973, in the
immediate aftermath of Pinochet’s
coup, another cable documents
negotiations for the renewal and
revision of the Concordat,
originally signed in 1953, between
the Vatican and the fascist regime
of Francisco Franco in Spain, which
effectively rejected the principle of
separation between state and
Archbishop Agostino Casaroli—the
Vatican’s Secretary of Public Affairs
at the time and another “
Ostpolitik reformist” figure who
developed new relations with
Eastern European countries in an
attempt to boost the Church’s
influence in Stalinist-ruled
countries—met with Spanish
officials. It was agreed that a low
profile be maintained.
There were several reasons for this:
first, events in Chile had created
immense opposition among
workers and students, and the
Church risked being publicly
exposed as an ally of dictatorial
regimes. Secondly, there were
disagreements inside the Vatican
itself on how to best manage the
Vatican’s image and distance it
from fascist dictators.
A cable dated November 7, 1973
states that a “difference of views
between the Vatican and the
Spanish Episcopate is on the
fundamental question of whether
there should be a new Concordat
negotiated.” The record shows that
the Episcopate was “amenable to
partial accords or revisions of the
1953 one, since they believe a new
Concordat might once again
associate the Church with the
regime” while they are “trying to
disassociate the Church from the
GoS [Government of Spain] in the
eyes of the Spanish public.”
While layers of the ecclesiastic
hierarchy were concerned that
after Franco’s death negotiating
terms would be less favorable and
were pushing for a new deal, the
“liberal,” “progressive” section of
the Vatican sought to “maintain its
liberal image if only partial accords
on the most vital points of friction”
were renegotiated.
Contrary to Casaroli’s request to
keep the visit under the radar,
Franco’s regime “promoted
extensive press and television
coverage of the visit,” provoking a
reaction from the Vatican.
According to the Italian publication
l’Espresso , Casaroli protested to a
Spanish minister for “the offensive
violation of the reassurances
received from the Spanish
government to maintain a low
A few years later, on March 24,
1976, Argentine Commander Jorge
Rafael Videla headed the coup that
overthrew President Isabel Perón,
wife of former President Juan
Perón. Videla ran a brutal police
state, adopting free-market
economic policies similar to
Pinochet’s. His regime, infamously
associated with the “Dirty War” and
“Operation Condor,” became
synonymous with disappearances,
murder and torture.
Videla’s close accomplice in the
coup and the military dictatorship
that followed was Navy Admiral
Emilio Massera. New cables show
the close ties between Massera and
Pio Laghi, Apostolic nuncio (Holy
See diplomat) in Argentina.
A cable dated November 7, 1975
reveals that Laghi “talked with
Admiral Massera early November 5
on same subject [President Perón],
and recently with many other
participants. Nuncio [Laghi]’s
analysis was that Mrs. Perón must
leave as soon as possible by leave
of absence, resignation, or golpe
”—that is, a coup.
Besides being a close friend of
Massera, Laghi was well respected
in military and diplomatic circles.
As the same cable confirms,
“Nuncio is well connected and is
astute observer. His overall
conclusion was that she is finished.
Only form of departure remains in
question. However, he commented,
it could take longer than expected
and be an agonizing process.”
Ultimately, the real agony was
experienced by tens of thousands
of workers, students and political
activists, labeled “terrorists,” who
actually fought in opposition to the
state terrorism which characterized
the Videla regime, but were either
killed or tortured, jailed and
Pio Laghi was more than a known
entity for the US government. In a
cable dated May 14, 1974, Laghi is
depicted as “highly educated,
personable, speaks excellent
English, and is well disposed toward
the United States.”
These revelations shed light on the
recent installation of the new Pope
Francis, the former Archbishop of
Buenos Aires, Argentina. The new
Pontiff is deeply implicated in the
“Dirty War” waged by the Argentine
military junta (see “The ‘Dirty War’