Latin America remembers Kissinger’s ‘profound moral wretchedness’

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By LatAm Reports Editor

In recent developments, the passing of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has reignited discussions in Latin America about the impact of American foreign policy during his tenure. Particularly in Chile and Argentina, Kissinger’s role in supporting military coups and dictatorships has been critically reassessed, highlighting a contentious legacy in the region.

Kissinger’s involvement in the 1973 coup in Chile, which resulted in the overthrow of President Salvador Allende and the rise of General Augusto Pinochet, has been a focal point of criticism. Juan Gabriel Valdés, Chile’s ambassador to the US, referred to Kissinger as a person whose “historical brilliance” could not mask his moral failings. Historian Gabriel Salazar emphasized Kissinger’s pivotal role in disrupting Chile’s constitutional framework and aiding the establishment of a neoliberal economic model that persists today.

Beyond Chile, Kissinger’s influence extended to Operation Condor, a covert program that linked various military regimes in Latin America for the purpose of suppressing left-wing opposition. His perceived disregard for the principles of national sovereignty and human rights in favor of realpolitik has been condemned by experts like Peter Kornbluh, a senior analyst at the National Security Archive in Washington DC. 

In Argentina, Kissinger’s backing of military dictatorships has been characterized as tragic by figures like Myriam Bregman, a human rights lawyer and political candidate. Survivors of the era, such as Miriam Lewin, recall Kissinger’s apparent indifference to the human rights abuses occurring during the 1978 World Cup in Argentina.

Documents declassified by the National Security Archive reveal Kissinger’s central role in the Chilean coup, detailing his efforts to prevent Allende’s election and subsequent presidency. This included a plan to kidnap General René Schneider, a constitutional loyalist, which resulted in Schneider’s death.

In response to these revelations, Latin American voices have been critical of Kissinger’s legacy, viewing it as a symbol of US interventionism that left a lasting and controversial mark on the region’s history.