Fascist Augusto Pinochet a Player in BAE Affair

18 de junio de 2007

June 19, 2007 (LPAC)--Gen. Augusto Pinochet's reputation as the fascist dictator of Chile from 1973 to 1990, and kingpin of the Operation Condor international murder and torture machine, is well known. Less well known is his role in the BAE affair, in which he collaborated with leading figures in the British and European financier oligarchy in a multitude of arms and money-laundering deals from which he profited handsomely--to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

When Pinochet was arrested in London in the Fall of 1998 and charged with human rights violations, he was visiting as a guest of BAE subsidiary Royal Ordnance, as he had done on many previous occasions throughout the 1990s. But his relationship with the British company dates back to 1982 at the latest, when he backed then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in her imperialist assault on Argentina in the Malvinas War. It is known that leading figures in British government, business, and diplomatic circles applauded Pinochet's 1973 coup against Salvador Allende.

According to Argentine investigative journalist Rogelio Garcia Lupo, in 1997 Pinochet forged a joint venture between Chile's military industries company, FAMAE, and Royal Ordnance, under the name FAMAE-Ordnance, Ltd. The launching of the new firm was to lay the basis for an international weapons marketing program. During his 1998 visit to London, Pinochet was slated to receive a commission from BAE/Royal Ordnance of $4.43 million, his cut from having arranged the purchase of three British ships for the Chilean Navy.

Although he nominally left power in 1990, the weak oversight powers of the Chilean government permitted Pinochet to use FAMAE as his personal vehicle, not only for signing weapons deals with several private European weapons producers, but also for orchestrating the illegal sale of 36 tons of FAMAE weapons to Croatia in 1992. Chilean investigators have charged that Pinochet used some of these funds to protect and cover up the atrocities committed by many former Operation Condor operatives during the 1970s and 1980s, who were wanted internationally for crimes against humanity.