The Fall of the DINA

"Thanks to the CNI, you sleep peacefully."
General Pinochet

Contreras was not to remain in power indefinitely. The Letelier/Moffit murders had caused concern among Chilean governmental officials. The navy and the air force pulled their members from the DINA and advisors warned Pinochet that Contreras' rash actions could endanger his own political career. In 1977, Pinochet removed Contreras as head of the DINA (although he promoted him to the rank of general) and effectively dissolved the organization.

This crime also changed the stance of the United States toward Chile. Before, Henry Kissinger had indicated support for Pinochet's regime but advised them to do something about their continuing violation of human rights so as to look better to the US Congress. It also inspired Senator Edward Kennedy and Representative Thomas Harkin, both democrats, to increase their efforts at banning US aid to Chile. Since 1974, the Ford administration had refused to discontinue aid, but in 1976, Congress approved their proposals. Under President Carter, excoriation of Pinochet's regime increased with US representatives to the UN voting on resolutions to cut loans to Chile.

Pinochet created the Central Nacional de Informaciones (CNI) to take over the job of the DINA. He put General Odlanier Mena, a man who had long criticized Contreras' harsh tactics, in charge. Despite a new name and a new director, the CNI continued to be influenced by Contreras. The CNI agents who had formerly been part of the DINA were still loyal to Contreras and acted as informants on Mena and the other "soft liners." Gradually, tales of abuses by the CNI leaked out. Politicians who had once ignored human rights' abuses had learned to take them seriously and began to criticize Mena. MIRistas were becoming bolder and killed an army intelligence officer which prompted a call for the "preventative work" of the DINA. Pinochet replaced Mena with General Humberto Gordon who was in close contact with Contreras.

More murders and financial scams followed, including one where an organization linked to Contreras had illegally made millions in dollars in tax refunds by filing fraudulent receipts for exported copper. Some of the receipts were written using the names of some of the disappeared. The CNI was finally disbanded after Pinochet was voted out of office in 1989 and stepped down in 1990.

Although Pinochet gave himself and his generals immunity to prosecution in Chile, Contreras was sentenced to seven years in prison for the murders of Letelier and Moffit on November 12, 1993. Contreras asserted that he was acting under orders from General Pinochet in "every action that he undertook."