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Unearthed: Fatal Secrets

The search for Nelson Mackay Chavarria - family man, government lawyer, possible subversive - began one Sunday in 1982 after he devoured a pancake breakfast and stepped out to buy a newspaper.

It ended last December when his wife, Amelia, watched as forensic scientists plucked his moldering bones from a pit in rural Honduras. Spotting a scrap of the red-and-blue shirt her husband was wearing the day he disappeared, she gasped: "Oh my God, that's him!"

Along with Amelia Mackay, the nation of Honduras has begun to confront a truth it has long suspected - that hundreds of its citizens were kidnapped, tortured and killed in the 1980s by a secret army unit trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The intelligence unit, known as Battalion 316, used shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in unmarked graves.

Newly declassified documents and other sources show that the CIA and the U.S. Embassy knew of numerous crimes, including murder and torture, committed by Battalion 316, yet continued to collaborate closely with its leaders.

In order to keep U.S. dollars flowing into Honduras for the war against communism in Central America, the Reagan administration knowingly made a series of misleading statements to Congress and the public that denied or minimized the violence of Battalion 316.

These are among the findings of a 14-month investigation in which The Sun obtained formerly classified documents and interviewed U.S. and Honduran participants, many of whom - fearing for their lives or careers - have kept silent until now.

Among those interviewed were three former Battalion 316 torturers who acknowledged their crimes and detailed the battalion's close relationship with the CIA.

U.S. collaboration with Battalion 316 occurred at many levels.

  • The CIA was instrumental in training and equipping Battalion 316. Members were flown to a secret location in the United States for training in surveillance and interrogation, and later were given CIA training at Honduran bases. Starting in 1981, the United States secretly provided funds for Argentine counterinsurgency experts to train anti-Communist forces in Honduras. By that time, Argentina was notorious for its own "Dirty War," whichhad left at least 10,000 dead or "disappeared" in the 1970s. Argentine and CIA instructors worked side by side training Battalion 316 members at a camp in Lepaterique, a town about 16 miles west of Tegucigalpa.
  • Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, who as chief of the Honduran armed forces personally directed Battalion 316, received strong U.S. support - even after he told a U.S. ambassador that he intended to use the Argentine method of eliminating subversives.
  • By 1983, when Alvarez's oppressive methods were well known to the U.S. Embassy, the Reagan administration awarded him the Legion of Merit for "encouraging the success of democratic processes in Honduras." His friendship with Donald Winters, the CIA station chief in Honduras, was so close that whenWinters adopted a child, he asked Alvarez to be the girl's godfather.
  • A CIA officer based in the U.S. Embassy went frequently to a secret jail known as INDUMIL, where torture was conducted, and visited the cell of kidnap victim Ines Murillo. That jail and other Battalion 316 installations were off-limits to Honduran officials, including judges trying to find kidnapvictims.The exact number of people executed by Battalion 316 remains unknown. For years, unidentified and unclaimed bodies were found dumped in rural areas, along rivers and in citrus groves.Late in 1993, the Honduran government listed 184 people as still missing and presumed dead. They are are called "desaparecidos," Spanish for "the disappeared." Mackay is the first person on the list to be found and identified. The discovery of an identifiable body has enabled prosecutors to try to bring his killers to justice.To this day, the events in Honduras have been little noticed, an obscure sideshow to a highly publicized struggle in the region. They came about as the Reagan administration was waging war against a Marxist regime in Nicaragua and leftist insurgents in El Salvador.Honduras, a U.S. ally, was used by Washington as the principal base for its largely clandestine effort. Keeping Honduras secure from leftists was Battalion 316's mission."I think it is an example of the pathology of foreign policy," said Jack Binns, a Carter appointee as ambassador to Honduras who served from September 1980 through October 1981. "The desire to conduct a clandestine war against Nicaragua out of Honduras made us willing to go beyond turning a blind eye andmade us willing to provide assistance to people doing these things even though we knew they were doing them."Elliott Abrams, former assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs from December 1981 to July 1985, when he was appointed assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, vigorously defends the Reagan policy."Disappearing people - murdering people, was not the policy of the United States. Nor was it our policy to avert our eyes," Abrams said.Abrams and other Reagan administration officials said that while fighting communism was the primary goal, they encouraged military leaders in Central America to curtail human rights abuses. In contrast to the Carter administration, which had emphasized human rights in crafting foreign policy,they tackled the issue privately, Abrams said. "A human rights policy is not supposed to make you feel good," he said. "It's supposed to do some good in the country you're targeting."Some of the victims of Battalion 316 were subversives, involved in such crimes as bombings and robberies. Nelson Mackay, an easy-going man of Australian descent, had many friends in the military. But he was suspected of arranging gun sales to a radical student group.Many others were kidnapped and killed for exercising the same freedoms that the United States said it was fighting for in Latin America. Victims included students demonstrating for the release of political prisoners, union leaders who organized strikes for higher wages, journalists who criticized the military regime and college professors demanding fair tuition for the poor.Among the kidnapped were 14 who described their treatment in interviewswith The Sun. Nine said members of Battalion 316 clipped wires to theirgenitals and sent electric currents surging through their bodies."They started with 110 volts," said Miguel Carias, an architecturaldraftsman who was held captive with Nelson Mackay for a week in 1982. "Thenthey went up to 220. Each time they shocked me, I could feel my body jump andmy mouth filled with a metal taste."Former members of Battalion 316, interviewed in Canada where they areliving in exile, described how prisoners were nearly suffocated with a rubbermask wrapped tightly around their faces. The mask was called "la capucha," or"the hood." Women were fondled and raped, the torturers said.The body of Mackay, who was 37 years old and the father of five, showedsigns of other tortures.Farmers who found Mackay's body in 1982 and later buried it reported thathis hands and feet were tied with rope and a noose was around his neck. Ablack liquid spilled from his mouth. The farmers recognized the substance as"criolina," a thick, black liquid rubbed on cattle to kill ticks and mites.Before being kidnapped and tortured, suspects were stalked by Battalion316.Jose Valle, a former battalion member now in Canada, describes a typicalsurveillance: "We would follow a person for four to six days. See their dailyroutes from the moment they leave the house. What kind of transportation theyuse. The streets they go on."Once the battalion determined the time and place an individual was mostvulnerable, the person was kidnapped, often in daylight by men in black skimasks. They ambushed their victims on busy streets, then sped off in cars withtinted windows and no license plates.The prisoners of Battalion 316 were confined in bedrooms, closets andbasements of country homes of military officers. Some were held in militaryclubhouses at locations such as INDUMIL, the Military Industries complex nearTegucigalpa.They were stripped and tied hand and foot. Tape was wrapped around theireyes.Those who survived recall interrogation sessions that lasted hours.Battalion members shouted obscenities, accused them of being terrorists, andtold them they would never see their families again if they did not answerquestions and confess.Milton Jimenez, former leader of a radical leftist student group, endured such interrogation. He and several college housemates were kidnappedby military police on April 27, 1982. When Jimenez refused to answerquestions, he said, the officers told him they were going to kill him."They said they were finishing my grave. ... I was convinced that I wasgoing to die."They stood him before a firing squad. They aimed their guns at him,promising that it was his time to die. But they never fired.Eventually, he was released."They never accused me of anything specific," said Jimenez in an interviewin Tegucigalpa, where he is now a lawyer. "They said they knew I was aterrorist and they asked, 'Who are your friends?'"There was nothing sophisticated about the torture employed by Battalion316. In addition to la capucha - a piece of rubber cut from an inner tube thatprevents a person from breathing through the mouth and nose - they used ropeto hang victims from the ceiling and beat them, and extension cords withexposed wires for shock torture.Gloria Esperanza Reyes, now 52, speaking in an interview at her home inVienna, Va., describes how she was tortured with electric wires attached toher breasts and vagina. "The first jolt was so bad I just wanted to die," shesaid.Jose Barrera, a former battalion torturer interviewed in Toronto, recallssuch pleas from prisoners. "They always asked to be killed," he said. "Tortureis worse than death."Battalion 316 got its early training from Argentines, who had been invitedto Honduras by General Alvarez, himself an honors graduate of the ArgentineMilitary Academy."The Argentines came in first, and they taught how to disappear people.The United States made them more efficient," said Oscar Alvarez, a formerHonduran special forces officer and diplomat who was the general's nephew."The Americans ... brought the equipment," he said. "They gave thetraining in the United States, and they brought agents here to provide sometraining in Honduras."They said, 'You need someone to tap phones, you need someone totranscribe the tapes, you need surveillance groups.' They brought in specialcameras that were inside thermoses. They taught interrogation techniques."The United States did not come here and say kill people," he added. "Inever saw any efforts by the United States to create death squads."General Alvarez's chief of staff, Gen. Jose Bueso Rosa, also describes theU.S. role in developing the battalion. "It was their idea to create anintelligence unit that reported directly to the head of the armed forces," hesaid. "Battalion 316 was created by a need for information. We were notspecialists in intelligence, in gathering information, so the United Statesoffered to help us organize a special unit."(In 1986, Bueso was convicted in U.S. District Court in Miami ofparticipating in a failed drug-financed plot to kill former Honduran PresidentRoberto Suazo Cordoba.)In the United States and in Honduras, the CIA trained members of the unitin interrogation and surveillance, former Battalion 316 members and Honduranofficers said.The training by the CIA was confirmed by Richard Stolz, then-deputydirector for operations, in secret testimony before the Senate SelectCommittee on Intelligence in June 1988.In testimony declassified at The Sun's request, Stolz told the committee:"The course consisted of three weeks of classroom instruction followed by twoweeks of practical exercises, which included the questioning of actualprisoners by the students."Physical abuse or other degrading treatment was rejected, not onlybecause it is wrong, but because it has historically proven to beineffective," he added.He confirmed that a CIA officer visited the place where 24-year-old InesMurillo was held during her captivity.Interviews with members of Battalion 316 confirm Stolz's testimony: TheCIA taught them to apply psychological pressure, but not physical torture. Butformer battalion members and victims say the CIA knew that torture was beingused.Florencio Caballero, a former battalion member, recalls the instructionand the reality."They said that torture was not the way to obtain the truth during aninterrogation. But Alvarez said the quickest way to get the information waswith torture," he told investigators of the Senate intelligence committee.The Senate investigators interviewed Caballero in Canada as part of thesame investigation in which Stolz testified.In an interview with The Sun, Oscar Alvarez also recalls the reality."What was supposed to happen was that the intelligence unit would gatherinformation and take it to a judge and say, 'Here, this person is a guerrilla,and here's the evidence," he said. "But the Hondurans did not do that."Slashing his finger across his neck, he said, "They took the easy way."And, he said, "U.S. officials did not protest."Mark Mansfield, a spokesman for the CIA, said: "As a matter of policy, wedon't comment on liaison relationships." But, he added, "The notion that theCIA was involved in or sanctioned human rights abuses in Honduras isunfounded."When Alvarez took command of the Honduran armed forces in 1982, at the ageof 44, Washington had a man ideally suited to its mission to combat Communistinsurgency in Central America."Gustavo Alvarez was very much out of national character - dynamic, firm,uncompromising," said Donald Winters, CIA station chief in Tegucigalpa from1982 to 1984. "He knew where he wanted to go."Alvarez was the son of a high school principal who made him recite poetryto overcome a stutter. But his preferred reading was military history. He soadmired Germany's "Desert Fox" of World War II, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel,that he named one of his sons Erwin and another Manfred, after Rommel's son.General Alvarez made no secret about his belief that terror and violencewere the only ways to deal with subversives. As commander of the nationalpolice force known as Fuerza de Seguridad Publica (FUSEP), he had alreadycreated an intelligence unit that would become known as Battalion 316.On Feb. 6, 1981, while still FUSEP commander, but already selected as headof the Honduran armed forces, he told Binns of his admiration for the way theArgentine military had dealt with subversives and said that he planned to usethe same methods in Honduras.The U.S. ambassador was shocked. In an urgent cable to superiors inWashington, he described the conversation:"Alvarez stressed theme that democracies and West are soft, perhaps toosoft to resist Communist subversion. The Argentines, he said, had met thethreat effectively, identifying - and taking care of - the subversives. Theirmethod, he opined, is the only effective way of meeting the challenge."When it comes to subversion, [Alvarez] would opt for tough, vigorous andExtra-Legal Action," Binns warned.Four months later, Binns was outraged to learn of the violent abductionand disappearance of Tomas Nativi, a 33-year-old university professor andalleged subversive. Nativi was dragged from his bed on June 11, 1981, by sixmen wearing black ski masks, according to witnesses and a 1993 Hondurangovernment report.He has not been seen since and is presumed dead.In his cable on the incident to Washington, the ambassador said: "Ibelieve we should try to nip this situation in the bud. I have already asked[CIA] chief of station to raise this problem obliquely with ... Alvarez (whoseminions appear to be the principal actors and whom I suspect is theintellectual force behind this new strategy for handlingsubversives/criminals)."Binns recommended that the U.S. government act to stop the militaryviolence by threatening to withhold military aid. "Those suggestions drew athunderous silence from Washington," he said in a recent interview at his homein Tucson, Ariz. "My message was not a message anyone wanted to hear."The Reagan administration had made it clear that it would diminish thecriticism of human rights abuses by its allies in places such as CentralAmerica where it wanted to go on the offensive against the Communist threat.Thomas O. Enders, former assistant secretary of state for inter-Americanaffairs and a chief architect of the early Reagan strategy, described thechange of policy in a recent interview in New York, where he is a managingdirector of Salomon Brothers Inc., an investment banking firm."We didn't think that we could effectively sustain the resistance to theguerrillas in Central America without being willing to give significant publicsupport to their governments," Enders said."We were afraid that the approach that had been adopted by the Carteradministration, which was highly critical of them and would result in theirdemoralization, would fail to convince the Soviet Union or the Salvadorans,Hondurans and others that we really meant business."In the Reagan strategy, Honduras, which the United States had used beforeto advance its objectives in Central America, was ideally located betweenNicaragua and El Salvador. General Alvarez seemed an ideal partner."Alvarez was a darling of the Reagan administration," said Cresencio S.Arcos, U.S. Embassy press spokesman from June 1980 to July 1985 and ambassadorto Honduras from December 1989 to July 1993.While General Alvarez's star was rising, President Reagan was issuingorders for an aggressive, largely secret thrust against communism in CentralAmerica.By March 9, 1981 - after less than two months in office - Reagan signed apresidential "finding" that ordered the expansion of covert operationsauthorized by the Carter administration, to "provide all forms of training,equipment, and related assistance to cooperating governments throughoutCentral America in order counter foreign-sponsored subversion and terrorism."On Dec. 1, 1981, he ordered the CIA to work primarily through"non-Americans" against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and leftist insurgents inEl Salvador.The "non-Americans" were to include Argentines, paid for by the CIA,Enders said in an interview last month. He said there did not seem to be anyalternative to using the Argentines, despite their poor record on humanrights."There were not many people with counterinsurgency experience," Enderssaid. "How many people were there who were Spanish speakers? [Human rights]was obviously a concern, but when we got through looking at it, we didn't seethat we had any clear choice."By the end of 1981, the Reagan administration had replaced AmbassadorBinns with John Dimitri Negroponte, a man viewed as committed to theadministration's decision to confront communism in Latin America.The partnership with Honduras and General Alvarez expanded. Military aidto Honduras jumped from $3.9 million in 1980 to $77.4 million by 1984.The tiny country eventually was crowded with so much U.S. militaryequipment and personnel that some started referring to it as "the USSHonduras."While the U.S. government heaped money and praise on Alvarez, evidence ofhuman rights abuses mounted.One accusation came from Col. Leonidas Torres Arias, after he was oustedas intelligence chief for the Honduran armed forces.In August 1982, he told a packed news conference in Mexico City aboutBattalion 316, "a death squad operating in Honduras that was being led byarmed forces chief, General Gustavo Alvarez." He mentioned three victims byname, including Nelson Mackay.At the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa, U.S. officials were confronted withpersonal and written appeals for help from relatives of the disappeared.Former Honduran Congressman Efrain Diaz Arrivillaga said he spoke severaltimes about the military's abuses to U.S. officials in Honduras, includingNegroponte."Their attitude was one of tolerance and silence," he said. "They neededHonduras to loan its territory more than they were concerned about innocentpeople being killed."Negroponte, now U.S. ambassador to the Philippines, has declined repeatedrequests by telephone and in writing since July for interviews about thisreport, including most recently in a hand-delivered letter to the embassy inManila.Almost every day, Honduran newspapers published stories about themilitary's violence and full-page ads with pictures of the missing. In 1982alone, at least 318 stories were published about military abuses.Some directly named Alvarez."General Alvarez, as a human being, I beg you to free my children," readone headline from El Tiempo on April 30, 1982.Members of the Honduran Congress drafted resolutions calling forinvestigations into the disappearances.Relatives of Battalion 316's victims marched by the hundreds through thenarrow streets of Tegucigalpa demanding the return of the missing."Alive they were taken! Alive we want them back!" they chanted, mostlywrinkled old women with white scarves covering their heads, carrying posterswith drawings of their missing sons and grandsons.But, determined to avoid questions in Congress, U.S. officials in Hondurasconcealed evidence of rights abuses."There are no political prisoners in Honduras," asserted the StateDepartment human rights report on Honduras for 1983.By that time the embassy was aware of numerous kidnappings of leftists andhad participated in the freeing of two prominent victims whose abduction andtorture had become embarrassing.Specific examples of brutality by the Honduran military typically neverappeared in the human rights reports, prepared by the embassy under the directsupervision of Ambassador Negroponte. Those reports to Congress were requiredunder the Foreign Assistance Act, which in most circumstances prohibits theUnited States from providing military aid to nations whose governments engagein a consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights.The reports from Honduras were carefully crafted to leave the impressionthat the Honduran military respected human rights.(A fuller account of how this was done will appear Sunday in part four ofthis series).By 1984, other Honduran officers began to worry that Alvarez had draggedthe country too far into violence against their own people.Col. Eric Sanchez, now retired from the armed forces, thought Alvarez was"obsessed."Recalling a conversation with Alvarez about Battalion 316, Sanchez saidthe armed forces chief told him: "One had to fight Communists with all weaponsand in every arena, and not all of them are fair."Gen. Walter Lopez, currently one of Honduras' three vice presidents,recalled in an interview: "[Alvarez] was dangerous. He was pushing our countryto do something we did not want to do. We were willing to be trainedprofessionally, but only to defend our country. Not for so-called undercoveroperations."On March 31, 1984, Alvarez's military career came to a sudden andunexpected end.Accused of misappropriation of funds, he was ousted by his own officers.One junior officer held a gun to the general's head and handcuffed him. He wasput on a military plane for Costa Rica.Later the same year, Alvarez and his wife and five children landed inMiami, where they lived for five years. He joined an evangelical church inMiami and embraced religion with as much passion as he had embraced the fightagainst communism.In 1988, Alvarez said he had been urged in a dream to go back to Hondurasand preach the gospel. Shunning offers of protection from friends in themilitary, he preached on street corners, saying, "My Bible is my protection."On Jan. 25, 1989, five men dressed in blue and wearing hard hatssurrounded his car and riddled it with bullets from machine guns. Momentsbefore he died, bleeding from 18 wounds, Alvarez asked: "Why are they doingthis to me?"The assassins have never been found, but a group called the PopularLiberation Movement claimed responsibility.In a statement, the group referred to Alvarez as a psychopath who tried"to escape popular justice by disguising himself as a harmless and repentantChristian."Lilia Alvarez, the general's widow, defends his memory."He knew they would criticize him for what he did. ... There were someillegal detentions, and maybe the army executed some people, but think abouthow many lives were saved. Thousands of people were saved because my husbandprevented a civil war."The Honduran government has taken several steps forward in the pursuit ofthe truth about the disappearances of the 1980s.In a 1993 report, "The Facts Speak for Themselves," the government liststhe name of each of the disappeared and admits that it did not protect itscitizens from the abuses of the military."Extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions and the lack of dueprocess ... characterized these years of intolerance," stated the report ofthe National Commissioner for the Protection of Human Rights in Honduras."Perhaps more troublesome than the violations themselves was the authorities'tolerance of these crimes and the impunity with which they were committed."The report represents the first time that the Honduran government hasadmitted that the disappearances occurred and that it shares responsibility.Within a year after he became president of Honduras in 1994, CarlosRoberto Reina took further steps to identify those responsible."Those of us who lived in that time are committed not to relive it," saidHonduran Attorney General Edmundo Orellana. "We are committed to building asociety that says, 'Never again.' "One of the most important developments in that task was the discovery ofan identifiable body of a "desaparecido" - Nelson Mackay. With an identifiedbody, a murder investigation could be undertaken. The case has been helped bythe willingness of Miguel Carias, his alleged co-conspirator, to testify.In an interview, Carias described their last encounter.They were together in a brown brick house on the northern edge ofTegucigalpa that Battalion 316 used as a secret jail. Mackay was held in abedroom, his hands and feet tied with rope. Carias, locked in the closet,heard Mackay praying."Hail, Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongwomen ..."Mackay's voice grew louder as he recited the prayer over and over."I told him, 'Mackay please shut up. I am going crazy with all yourprayers,'" Carias said.Mackay kept on. "Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and atthe hour of our death ...""I never heard or saw Nelson again," Carias said.More than a decade after the execution of Mackay and others, forces inHonduras still seek to thwart the investigation into the crimes of theHonduran military.Carias is kept under round-the-clock guard. Two other Honduran witnessesin previous inquiries have been killed.The Honduran human rights commissioner, Leo Valladares, has received somany threats that, in April, he moved three of his children out of Honduras.The move was hurriedly arranged after one of Valladares' bodyguards was gunneddown on a bus. No arrest has been made in the slaying.Despite this sort of intimidation, the relatives of the disappeared remaindetermined. Once a month, they meet in front of the Honduran Congress, in thecenter of Tegucigalpa, and pass out fliers with the names and faces of themissing.Fidelina Borjas Perez, 66, has been searching for her son, Samuel, sincehe disappeared in January 1982 from a bus traveling to Honduras fromNicaragua."One day I hope God lets me find my son, even if it is only his cadaver,"she said.Not one of the relatives believes that the disappeared are alive. But theywant to know how their relatives died and who is responsible."We are never going to stop looking," says Maria Concepcion Gomez, whosecommon-law husband, a union leader, disappeared in August 1982. Sitting in herliving room beneath a picture of The Last Supper, she said: "We are nevergoing to get tired. If the army is hoping that we will forget or that we willgive up, they are wrong."Nelson Mackay's widow, Amelia, shared that determination.A few weeks after her husband disappeared, she stopped her public searchfor him because of telephone threats against her children. Instead, she workedlong hours to keep them enrolled in private schools.During the day she worked as an administrative assistant at the HonduranForeign Ministry. At night, she baked cakes and sold them to friends tosupplement her income.She stashed beneath her bed a box containing her husband's dental records,his identification card listing his height and weight, and a photograph of himwearing the red-and-blue checked shirt he wore the day he disappeared."I could not sleep at night," she remembered. "I would walk around thedark house thinking maybe he would come home. Maybe he would appear."Honduras is the original "banana republic," a term coined to describe thecountry's political and economic dependency on U.S. fruit companies during theearly 1900s.The north coast of Honduras, the country's richest farm region, wascontrolled by U.S. fruit companies at the turn of the century. By 1914, theyowned nearly a million acres of Honduras' most fertile territory.The fruit companies built Honduras' only rail lines to transport produce,installed their own banking systems, and bribed politicians and union leadersto do their bidding.Almost none of the wealth stayed in Honduras, the poorest country inCentral America.It was disclosed this year that a Guatemalan army officer linked to twohigh-profile killings was a paid CIA agent. One of the victims was an Americaninnkeeper in Guatemala, the other a leftist guerrilla married to aBaltimore-born lawyer.CIA officials allegedly knew that the Guatemalan, Col. Julio RobertoAlpirez, was involved in the killings, but concealed the information.Created in 1947, the CIA has conducted covert operations in Latin Americasince its inception. In 1954, the CIA engineered a coup launched fromneighboring Honduras that overthrew Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz Guzmanand installed a military regime.The CIA supported the overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende in1973, then launched a covert program to enhance the reputation of Chileanstrongman Gen. Augusto Pinochet. U.S. officials have admitted that the CIApaid former Panamanian military ruler Manuel Antonio Noriega more than$160,000 as an intelligence source.In the 1980s, the CIA expanded its activities in Latin America. The agencytrained and funded a clandestine paramilitary force known as the "contras" toattack the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.In El Salvador, Col. Nicolas Carranza, then-Treasury police chief,reportedly was on the CIA payroll during the 1980s as an informant. Carranzaand the Treasury police have been linked to right-wing Salvadoran deathsquads.In one of its most controversial Cold War actions, the CIA orchestratedthe failed invasion of Cuba by a force of Cuban exiles at the Bay of Pigs inApril 1961.With the end of the Cold War, questions are being raised about the role ofthe CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. The intelligence agencies,particularly the CIA, are undergoing an intense re-evaluation by apresidential commission that is expected to report its findings early nextyear.
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