Uruguay seeks secret US archives on ‘dirty war’

MONTEVIDEO (AFP) – President Tabare Vazquez has asked US President George W. Bush to declassify US documents on Uruguay’s “dirty war” (1973-1985) for possible clues to a 1978 murder and other crimes, his office said Monday.

“My government hopes it can count on the cooperation of the US government in clarifying all disappearances and human rights violations during that painful period in Uruguay’s history,” Vazquez told Bush in a letter already sent to the Whited House.

The letter, Vazquez’ office said, was suggested by the opposition National Party (NP) last month to help an investigaton into the 1978 poison murder of Cecilia Fontana, the wife of then NP leader Mario Heber.

A PN lawyer who pushed for the case to be reopened, last year had requested the US Central Intelligence Agency for classified documents on Fontana’s murder, but was turned down in June, when the CIA told him the papers were classified.

In addition to information on Fontana’s murder — she was poisoned with a bottle of wine intended for her husband, Vazquez also asked Bush to declassify all documents dealing with Uruguay when it was under the military dictatorship.

Meanwhile, Quito on Monday said it would investigate alleged CIA meddling in Ecuador, after Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa at the weekend vowed to put an end to the CIA’s “infiltration” of the nation’s intelligence services.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that “a top level civilian committee” would be formed to look into the allegations.

The complaints against the CIA follow the sacking Thursday of Army Intelligence chief, Colonel Mario Pazmino, for failing to tell the government about the death of an Ecuadoran during Colombia’s March 1 bombing of a Colombian rebel camp inside Ecuador.

On Saturday, Quito’s El Comercio daily reported that the CIA paid Ecuador’s Army Intelligence 16 million to 18 million dollars a year to “exchange information.”