Basque Fatherland and Liberty

Fatherland and Liberty

The Fatherland and Liberty Nationalist Front (Spanish: Frente Nacionalista Patria y Libertad or simply Patria y Libertad, PyL) was a nationalist and authoritarian political and paramilitary terrorist grouping, denounced by their opponents as being fascist and a front for CIA activities in Chile.

The group was formed by Pablo Rodríguez Grez in 1970, and turned more and more clandestine through the presidency of Salvador Allende, It was officially dissolved on 12 September, 1973, following Pinochet's coup.

In June 1973, the group launched an abortive coup against Allende known as the Tanquetazo. In July 1973, the group received a plan from the Marines, who opposed the legalist Schneider Doctrine, to sabotage the country's infrastructures. The collaboration between Fatherland and Liberty with the Chilean Armed Forces increased after the failed October 1972 strike which had aimed at overthrowing the Allende administration. In agreement with the anti-Constitutionalist sectors of the military, the group assassinated on 26 July 1973 Allende's naval aide, Arturo Araya . The first sabotage was committed this same day. Others include creating a power outage while Allende was being broadcasted .

Members of PyL were then recruited by Chilean security services and participated in the repression against political opposition enacted by Pinochet's junta. Since the transition to democracy, some small groups have since claimed its inheritance, but are not officially linked to the original PyL.

Creation of the group

Headed by Pablo Rodríguez Grez, the group was spawned in the Catholic University of Chile. It formally organized itself in 1970, a short time after the election of Salvador Allende. Patria y Libertad gathered mainly upper-class students who, united by common anti-Communist beliefs and anti-parliamentarism, engaged in street brawls against leftist opponents, armed with nunchakus and molotov cocktails . Patria y Libertad criticized the division of Chile among various political parties, and hoped for the appearance of a "caudillo" which would transcend political divisions and become the "incarnation of the national sentiment" . Along with the youth movement of the Christian Democracy and of the National Party, they participated in demonstrations against the Allende administration .

Financial support

The group was funded by the CIA during the first year of Allende's presidency, including via the Agency's Track II program.. According to Prof. Michael Stohl, and Prof. George A. Lopez, "After the failure to prevent Allende from taking office, efforts shifted to obtaining his removal. At least $7 million was authorized by the United States for CIA use in the destabilizing of Chilean society. This included financing and assisting opposition groups and right-wing terrorist paramilitary groups such as Patria y Libertad ("Fatherland and Liberty").. Former head of DINA Manuel Contreras declared to Chilean justice in 2005 that the CNI, successor of DINA, handed out monthly payments between 1978 and 1990 to the persons who had worked with DINA agent Michael Townley in Chile, all members of Patria y Libertad: Mariana Callejas (Townley's wife), Francisco Oyarzún, Gustavo Etchepare and Eugenio Berríos . Assassinated in 1995, Berrios, who worked as a chemist for the DINA in Colonia Dignidad, also worked with drug traffickers and DEA agents . Michael Townley has been convicted for the 1976 assassination of former Chilean minister Orlando Letelier, and was involved in the 1974 assassination of General Carlos Prats in Buenos Aires.

Clandestine activities

June 1973 sabotage plan

The June 1973 plan by the Marines included sabotage of bridges, oil pipelines, energy towers and sources of combustibles. The plan was revealed after the transition to democracy by Roberto Theime, the leader of the military operations of Fatherland and Liberty. Thieme had exiled himself to Argentina after the failed Tanquetazo, before returning to Chile in mid-July 1973, two months before the military coup . Roberto Thieme also revealed that he had received pressions from the military, in 1973, to assassinate the Senator Carlos Altamirano, who had been the general secretary of the Chilean Socialist Party since 1971 .

Olaf Palme assassination

The Swedish journalist Anders Leopold, in his 2008 book Det svenska trädet skall fällas, makes the case that PyL leader Roberto Thieme was the assassin in the still-unsolved 1986 murder of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme. According to Leopold, the Swedish prime minister was killed because he had freely given asylum to so many leftist Chileans following the 1973 coup against Salvador Allende.

2004 declarations

Roberto Thieme, leader of the military operations of PyL, signed on 2 December 2004, along with other leaders José Agustín Vásquez and Arturo Hoffmann, a declaration which referred to the Valech Report and begged pardon for their responsibilities in the repression against civilians operated by Pinochet's junta. They indicated that many members of the group had been recruited by the Chilean security services and had thus collaborated to the repression, including acts of torture and of forced disappearances. Thieme also opposed the neoliberal economic policies of Pinochet's regime, and criticized Pinochet's lack of repentance following his 1998 arrest in London and subsequent judicial procedures in Chile.

Judicial procedures

Juan Patricio Abarzúa Cáceres, a former member of PyL, was arrested in 2005, charged of the "disappearance" of Juan Heredia, a sympathisant of the Popular Unity government "disappeared" on 16 September 1973


See also

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