LINKS REPORTED AMONG LATIN DEATH SQUADS - 1984/01/12

Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
05776271
Release Decision: 
RIPPUB
Original Classification: 
U
Document Page Count: 
1
Document Creation Date: 
April 3, 2019
Document Release Date: 
April 12, 2019
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
January 12, 1984
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Body: 
Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C0677627 ARTICLE APPEARED ON PAGE-J=44 Links Reported Among Latin Death Squads Behind the violence in Latin America are not only left-wing guer- rillas but right-wing assassins who belong to death squads. They have cast a dark specter over the peace process. I have learned there's an interna- tional league of death squads oper- ating from Mexico to Argentina. Or- dinarily, they maintain the strictest secrecy about their operations. But, through a contact in the Honduran secret police, my associate Jon Lee Anderson arranged a face-to-face interview in Honduras with an out- spoken leader and founder of the Honduran death squad. He is a thin, fair-haired man in his 30s, whom I will call El Lobo (The Wolf). By day he is a doctor at the National Hospital in Teguci- galpa. By night he is an assassin for ELA, the Spanish initials for Anti- Communist Combat Army. The ELA is a relatively new death squad, founded in 1979. Unlike its counterparts in Guatemala, El Sal- vador and Argentina, the ELA is not made up primarily of paramilitary security forces, according to El Lobo. Perhaps it was his amateur status WASHINGTON POST 12 January 1984 that made El Lobo indiscreet enough to brag to a Yankee reporter: "We are affiliated and in contact with similar groups in other coun- tries." The ELA had close ties, he said, with the Maximilian´┐Ż Hernandez Martinez Brigade in El Salvador. This is the group that recently slaughtered nine members of a peas- ant cooperative, including two preg- nant women, as part of a stepped-up campaign of terror. Human rights groups estimate that 40,000 people have died in El Salvador since 1980. About half of those were civilians who were sus- pected of leftist leanings and were murdered by the death squads. El Lobo expressed admiration for the Salvadoran death squad and the general whose name it took. Gen. Hernandez was a Salvadoran dicta- tor who ordered the massacre of an estimated 30,000 Indians and peas- ants after a communist-backed up- rising in the 1930s. "He handled communists the right way," said El Lobo. "He killed every one he caught." El Lobo gave this account of the international fraternity of death squads: "We go to annual confer- ences. I went to last year's. It was in Buenos Aires. The Triple A put it on." He was not referring to an auto- mobile association, but to the Argen- tine Anti-Communist Alliance. This is a clandestine confederation of po- lice, military and paramilitary goons responsible for thousands of murders and other disappearances during the "dirty war" of the 1970s. The overall umbrella group for the death squad network is CAL (Latin American Anti-Communist Confederation), based in Mexico. "CAL is our political front," said El Lobo. "We are all 'La Mano Blanco.'" La Mano Blanco (The White Hand) is the name for the warning white glove or hand print left on or near a victim's body. According to a former CIA "dirty tricks" specialist, La Mano Blanco was set up by the CIA in Guatemala in the 1950s after the agency engineered the ouster of leftist president Jacobo Arbenz. Although now a member of La Mano Blanco's network, the Hondu- ran death squad organization was set up independently, El Lobo said. Footnote: The resurgence last au- tumn of right-wing squads in El Sal- vador led Congress to order a stop to U.S. backing for the Salvadoran se- curity forces that control the assas- sins. But President Reagan vetoed the measure, and suspected leftists are still being murdered with impu- nity by goons whose salaries are in- directly paid by US. taxpayers. The White House, however, is pressuring the Salvadoran government to purge police and military officials who are known death squad members. Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C05776271