19 September 2000, National Security Archive: CIA: CIA Activities in Chile (PDF)
19 September 2000, National Security Archive: CIA Acknowledges Ties to Pinochet's Repression
8 February 1987, NYT: Chilean Admits Role in '76 Murder
AUG. 8, 2015
Manuel Contreras, Chilean Spy Chief, Dies at 86
By PASCALE BONNEFOY
SANTIAGO, Chile -- Gen. Manuel Contreras, Chile's intelligence chief during the military dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, died on Friday in the military hospital in Santiago while serving 526 years of multiple prison terms for human rights violations. He was 86.
General Contreras, who had colon cancer and advanced diabetes, spent the past 20 years in two special military detention centers, one of which more resembled a resort, as judges piled on almost 60 prison sentences for crimes committed by the National Intelligence Directorate, or DINA, the secret intelligence agency he directed from 1973 to 1977. Appeals were pending in dozens of other cases.
After the announcement of his death, dozens of people gathered outside the hospital to celebrate, chanting and opening bottles of Champagne. Dozens of others did the same in Plaza Italia, near downtown Santiago. Some waved Chilean flags and held up pictures of people who had disappeared after General Pinochet's coup in 1973 that overthrew President Salvador Allende. One woman held a sign saying, "Happy trip to hell, assassin."
DINA, which was established weeks after the coup, operated clandestine detention and torture centers across the country and had been found responsible for most human rights abuses during General Pinochet's 17-year dictatorship. Official human rights reports estimated that more than 3,200 people were executed or never found after being seized, and almost 38,000 were imprisoned and tortured during that period.
General Contreras wielded unbridled power to eliminate political opposition and have his agents infiltrate all echelons of society, including government offices, as well as Chilean exile groups. He often boasted that he reported solely to General Pinochet. In the most recent decisions against him, on July 29, judges sentenced General Contreras, who had retired from the military, to 15 years for the disappearance in 1974 of a university student and 20 years for the murder in 1975 of six members of a family, including a pregnant woman. Imprisoned in a DINA torture center, some of those victims had their eyes gouged out, and others were burned with boiling oil or water, according to the investigation.
A C.I.A. report released in 2000 said that by April 1975 it had become clear that "Contreras was the principal obstacle to a reasonable human rights policy within the Junta." Nevertheless, weeks later, "elements within the C.I.A. recommended establishing a paid relationship with Contreras to obtain intelligence based on his unique position and access to Pinochet." The suggestion was overruled, the report said, but "given miscommunications in the timing of this exchange, a one-time payment was given to Contreras."
General Contreras never admitted to any of his crimes. In his last televised interview in 2013 by CNN Chile, he was defiant and completely unrepentant, denying that any prisoner had ever disappeared, saying that "they are all in the General Cemetery."
"In the approximately 25 human rights cases related to the DINA in which I have taken part, Contreras never cooperated or provided any truthful information," said Francisco Ugas, executive secretary of the Interior Ministry's Human Rights Program, which has served as a plaintiff in a number of judicial investigations.
Manuel Contreras was born on May 4, 1929, in Santiago. He is survived by his wife Nelida Gutierrez and one son and three daughters from a previous marriage. As the director of DINA, he orchestrated a secret alliance known as Operation Condor among the intelligence services of the military governments in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia in the 1970s. It involved intelligence-sharing and coordinated operations to capture, interrogate, torture and exchange prisoners in Condor member countries and carry out assassinations abroad, one of them in the United States.
On Sept. 21, 1976, a bomb planted by DINA operatives under the car of Chile's former ambassador to the United States, Orlando Letelier, killed Mr. Letelier and an American colleague, Ronni Moffitt, in Washington.
An F.B.I. investigation traced the crime to DINA, and under pressure from the Carter administration, the Chilean government in 1978 handed over to the United States an American citizen Michael V. Townley, a DINA agent involved in the murders. Mr. Townley served a short prison term and was enrolled in the witness protection program.
"Manuel Contreras will go down in history as a criminal and will always be remembered as a criminal," said Senator Juan Pablo Letelier, the son of Orlando Letelier.
In 1978, a grand jury in Washington indicted General Contreras; his deputy, Pedro Espinoza; and another DINA agent, Armando Fernandez Larios, and sought their extradition for the Letelier-Moffitt murders. Chile's Supreme Court denied the request, but in 1987, Mr. Fernandez surrendered to American officials  and reached a plea bargain. Mr. Fernandez currently lives in Miami.