DIRECTORATE OF INTELLIGENCE
KIDNAPINGERRORIST TACTIC IN LATIN AMERICA
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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Directorate of Intelligence 7 0
Kidnapingerrorist Tactic in Latin Anerica
Since the, Latin American terrorists have conducted kidnapingseans of embarrassing governments or obtaining money. It is only within the past yearalf, however, that foreign diplomats have been seized and held in exchange for prisoners. Subsequent to the kidnaping of US Ambassador Elbrick in Brazil last September, five otherof thembeen abducted. In addition, the foreign minister of Guatemala was kidnaped shortly before the Guatemalan elections in March, and an attempt was made in Argentina to abduct two Soviet diplomats. So far, the governments involved have complied with terrorist demands in all but two instances. In one case, Argentina, the hostage was released unharmed; in the other, Guatemala, he was killed. The Latin American governments may be increasingly confrontedonflict between internal security and diplomatic amenities. An additional factor is that rightist terrorists and the military may be more likely to kill leftists before they can be captured.
Hose: Thia memorandum was produced eolely by CIA. It uae prepared by the Office of Current Intelligence and coordinated with the Office of national Eatimatea and the Clandestine Service.
he Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) in Guatemala, an extremist pro-Castro group, has often kidnaped wealthy peopleeans of raising money. It is estimated that during the last six months5 alone the group received at least SI million in ransoms, and69 at least SI million more. It was only after the kidnaping of US Ambassador Elbrick in Brazil that the FAR demanded the release of prisoners in exchangeostage.
Terrorists in other Latin American countries have frequently kidnaped individuals, in order to show the ineffectiveness of the government security forces. One of the first of these cases occurred in Cuba8 when members of Fidelh of Julyabducted Juanell-known Argentine racing driver, and held him for several days. He was released unharmed, and the groupreat deal of favorable publicity.
The pro-Cuban Armed Forces of National Liberation in Venezuela (FALN) adopted the same tactics for the same purposes3 During the presidential campaign, the FALN mounted an all-out attempt to sabotage the elections and the democratic system. That summer an outstanding Spanish soccer star, whose team was playing in Caracas, was abducted. He was well-treated and, when released, spoke highly of his kidnapers. The FALN twicemembers of US military missions, releasing them unharmedew days.
In8 the Guatemalan FAR killed US-Ambassador Mein when he apparently tried to escapeidnap attempt. It is not known, however, whether the kidnapers planned to hold him for ransom or merely to use him to obtain world-wide publicity.
One of the first instances of holding hostages to force the release of government prisoners occurred in3 in Bolivia. Leftist tin miners seized four US citizens and held them foreek in an attempt to compel the government to release
three Communist labor leaders. The government moved troops into the area,ompromise was finally reached. The troops were withdrawn, the Communists were assuredair trial, and the hostages were released.
occasionally have backfiredperpetrators. Inpparently inspired by FARthe Roman Catholic cardinal. Theyhoped that the ineffectiveness of thewould so outrage the military that thewould be overthrown. The cardinal washowever, and there was littleeventually was released unharmed.
first incident of the new wavekidnapings occurred in Brazil in roup of university students workingNational Liberating Action, some of whosehad been trained in Cuba, kidnaped US He was only releasedlown to Mexico. This episodeewterrorist kidnapings and prompted the term At the time there were fears thatwould be emulated elsewhere inbut no other kidnapings occurred untilof February Two days before thegeneral elections. Foreign Ministerwas abducted by the FAR. He was exchanged for
a student leader who had been arrested shortly before, but the terrorists' primary aim appears to have been to upset the electoral process. In any event, the incident may have influenced voters to -cast their ballots for the rightist Colonel Carlos Arana, who was the eventual victor.
stimulated by this success,March the FAR abducted the US labor attach^and obtained the release of fourof whom had been detained in connection withminister's kidnaping. Onarch thePopular Revolutionary Vanguard (VPR) in Brazil
seized the Japanese consul general in Sao Paulo. The VPR, which is ledenegade Army colonel, demanded the release of five prisoners. It also demonstratedrack-down by security forces following the Elbrick kidnaping had not destroyed the terrorist groups.
9. The VPR's action added another dimension to the entire problem of the Many observers had believed that underlying anti-US feeling hadey factor in the incidents, with prisoner exchange and governmental embarrassment being valuable side benefits. With the kidnaping of the Japanese, no foreign official in any Latincountry could feel completely secure,where the new demands threatened to stretch security forces beyond their capabilities.
10. riefatin American terrorists struck again in widely separated incidents during the last week in March, Onarch the US Air Attache in the Dominican Republic was kidnaped. His abductors demanded that more thanrisoners be released^ Moreover, they were to be set free within the country, not, as in previouslown to Mexico. The Dominican Government, however,to comply completely with the demands and on flying the prisoners out of the country.
11. Onarch the FAR again entered the kidnaping business, seizing the West GermanKarl von Spreti, in Guatemala City. Theydemanded the release ofrisonersansom The government, under strong pressure from the armed forces, refused to deal with the terrorists. pril the ambassador was murdered. This was the first instance of murderostage, and Germany has threatened to break diplomatic relations with Guatemala. This action by the FAR could have serious effects for tho gov-ernment--even to the point of Mendez' ouster unless he takes stem repressive measures against the extreme leftists. In desperation, the terrorists may well soon attempt other abductions, particularly against US officials. The Swiss ambassador has already been threatened*
4 April terrorists in Portotried to kidnap the principal officerUS Consulate. The official was shot, butto escape his assailants. The attemptmade by the extreme leftistVanguard-Palmares.
Recent events in Argentina and Guatemala havereak in the pattern of previous abductions of diplomats Late in March members of the Argentine Liberationaraguayan consul in Argentina and demanded the release of two imprisoned leftists. Their demand placed the Argentine security servicesifficult position, because one of the prisoners had died under police interrogation. The government decided not to bow to the terrorists' demands, President Stroessner, who was vacationing in Argentina, agreed to this course of action. The terrorists finally released their captive) this marked the first timeovernment haddefied the kidnapersiplomat.
The Argentine picture was confused,when membersightist organization closely linked with the security and intelligence services attempted to abduct the Soviet commercial attache*
in Buenos Aires at the end of olice official was involved in the plot, and some high-ranking police and intelligence officials were aware of it. When their plans were frustrated, the rightists gave theeadline to leave the country, threatening to blow up the embassy and several public buildings if he did not go. The publicity given these developments may lead other right-wing groups to take similar action. Such moves would probably be prompted primarilyesire for publicity. Some extreme rightists in the government may also be using these groups to get the message across to leftists that the government will no longer tolerate terrorist tactics.
NO FORE-fGN DISSEM
The firm position of Argentina wasby other Latin American governments, especially those where kidnapings had occurred. Several had been reluctant to deal with the abductors, and security forces were unhappy at the prospect of risking their lives to capture extremists only to have them released.
At the time of the Elbrickumber of Brazilian military officials wereat the idea of releasing theroup of paratroopers even tried to prevent the plane from leaving for Mexico. When the Japanese consul general wasidespread search for him was instituted. One of the kidnapers' demands was that this operation be suspended. Thecompliance caused much unhappiness within
the army and among the police. In an intercepted message the 2nd Army commander told the foreign minister, "We have complied with our part, bitter though it was, because it was with great sacrifice, even the risk of losing their lives, that they [his men) were able to arrest those people just to release them afterwards." The foreign minister replied that he realizedacrifice it was and added, "Every time this is repeated, it becomes more serious." One military officer,idespread opinion within the security services, said, "If [the Japanese] died, it would be our good fortune because other cases would not occur."
the Dominican CommunistsUS Airumber of police andwere extremely reluctant to accede todemands. President Balaguer himselffirm position against freeing the prisonerscountry, believing that to do so wouldto resume terrorist activity at once. was willing to negotiate with thehowever, through the good offices ofof Santo Domingo. ompromisewas reached, and the prisoners wereto Mexico. Another abduction in thewould severely test the willingnessof the government to comply with thedemands.
The murder of the West German ambassador will weaken tho Guatemalan Government's position during its last three months, because the military are disgusted that the terrorists can wield such power. The FAR is likely to undertake additional action, believing that the government will not dare refuse its demands again. US personnel may bevulnerable, as the FAR probably believes that it was US pressure that caused the government to stand firm.
Several governments that have not had to deal with abductions of diplomats have indicated their unwillingness to make bargains. Uruguayan President Pacheco has said both publicly and privately thatruguayan officialepresentativeoreign government is kidnaped, he will not accede to terrorist demands. There have been two politically-motivated kidnapmgs in Uruguay, the most recent in The National Liberation Movement, known
as the Tupamaros,rominent Uruguayan banker in September and held him until November. Although the government steadfastly refused to deal with the kidnapers, two of the bankers' associates finallyrivate ransom. President Pacheco strongly disapproved of this action and removed the two men from the government posts they held.
The Chilean Government has stated that in the event of the kidnapingoreign diplostat it would be unable to agree to the release of any prisoners. Claiming that there are no political prisoners in Chile, the government stated that it would merely be able to "inform the judiciary of the kidnapers' demands, as prisoners are under judicial authority." The US Embassy in Chile has received threats, but so far there has been no overt action.
One of the most interesting reactions has come from tho Cuban Government, whenf therisoners exchanged for Ambassador Elbrick flew to Cuba from Mexico, they were met at the airport by Fidel Castro. Since then, although the Cubanhas continued to give wide publicity to kidnapings. It has also become concerned with
the vulnerability of its own diplomats to attacks by Cuban exiles interested in freeing anti-Castro prisoners in Cuba. In an intercepted circular message, the Cuban Foreign Ministry advised its embassies that the government "cannot nor should not accept an exchange of any kind" inuban official were kidnaped.
kidnapings will probablybut it seems unlikely that they willat the same high rate--four attempts infew weeks. The refusal of the Argentinegovernments to accede to the demandskidnapers may cause some terrorist groups tomaking similar attempts. It will now be
more difficult for any Latin American government to agree to release prisoners in exchange for diplomats with these precedents of refusal. On the other hand, leftist terrorist groups may be willing to test the local government's determination toemand for exchangeS diplomat, evenefusal would risk his death and provoke serious repercussions.
several countries there are eithernumber of terrorists or key individualleaders in prison who could provide thefurther kidnapings. In Bolivia, RegisCiro Roberto Bustos, both of whom werewith-Che Guevarare still in jail.
In Uruguayembers of the Tupamaros are imprisoned, and Chileeader of theMovement of the Revolutionary Left. Hugo Blanco, leadereasant guerrilla movement, is in jail in Peru, and an important Nicaraguan extremeis being held in Costa Rica. Any large-scale roundup of extremistsountry like Brazil could provide the excuseew kidnaping. actor militating against kidnapings in countries like Chile, however, is public respect for law.
prerequisite for successfulto be an effective urban terroristthat has some support from the general public.
NO FOREIGN D
TOP SECRIp no pore^ttTn
In Bolivia, for example, extremists are so poorly organized and havo so little urban apparatus that the likelihooduccessful attempt is less than in such countries as Guatemala, Brazil or the Dominican Republic, where terrorists have urban organizations. It is worth noting, however, that in countries like Bolivia, where terrorists are poorly organized, security services are ineffective and diplomats are thus particularly vulnerable-
Security services in Latin /America are likely to become increasingly reluctant to release their prisoners. Brazilian officers have commented that perhaps the solution is to kill extremists rather than capture them, as the government would then have no one to exchange. Ifolution is widely adopted, hostility between extremists and security services will become even greater.
In many countries in Latin America civilian governments operate at the sufferance of the military establishments. In these cases, governmentalwith kidnapers' demands couldoup.
Rightist terrorists in countries like Argentina and Guatemala are also likely to renew their counter-terrorist activity. They probably believe, like tha military, that the way to prevent kidnapings is to murder leftists before they can
be captured.Original document.