Carlos Prats

Carlos Prats

Infobox Person
name=Carlos Prats

birth_date=birth date|1915|2|24|mf=y
birth_place=Talcahuano, Chile
death_date=death date and age|1974|9|30|1915|2|24|mf=y
death_place=Buenos Aires, Argentina

General Carlos Prats González (February 24, 1915 - September 30, 1974) was a Chilean Army officer, a political figure, minister and Vice President of Chile during President Salvador Allende's government, and General Augusto Pinochet's predecessor as Commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army. He was killed with a car bomb in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1974.


He was born in Talcahuano on 1915, the oldest son of Carlos Prats Risopatrón and Hilda González Suárez. He joined the Army in 1931, and graduated top of his class. In 1935 he was commissioned as an artillery officer. Three years later he became a Sub Lieutenant. Soon he returned to the Military Academy, this time as a teacher. He taught there and at the War Academy until 1954. In 1944, he married Sofia Cuthbert Chiarleoni, with whom he had 3 daughters.

In 1954, he was promoted to Major, and sent to military mission in the US, as adjunt military attaché, until 1958. That year he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and returned as teacher to the War Academy. In 1961, he became commander of the Artillery Regiment Nº3 “Chorrillos”, and in 1963, became commander of the Regiment Nº1 “Tacna”.

In 1964 is promoted to Colonel and sent as military attaché to Argentina. He returned to Chile in 1967 as commander of the III Army Division. In 1968 is promoted to Brigade General and Chief of the General Staff. The following year is promoted to Division General, and after a brilliant career, was named Commander-in-chief on October 26, 1970, by President Eduardo Frei Montalva, following the assassination of his predecessor, General René Schneider a few days earlier, on October 22. His nomination allayed all fears of a possible military intervention because of the election of Salvador Allende to the presidency.

Public role during the Allende years

General Prats became the head of the "constitutionalists", all members of the armed forces who lined themselves behind the Schneider Doctrine. With time, he became the strongest supporter of President Allende, and was a member of his cabinet several times, even becoming his vice-President in 1972.

Alejandrina Cox incident


On June 29, 1973, he was the key player in putting down a bloody coup attempt known as the "Tanquetazo" .


Shortly afterwards another very public incident occurred. This one involved the wives of his Generals and officers who, on August 22, 1973, staged a rally in front of his home and called him a coward for not restoring civil order in Chile. That event made clear to him that his policies had no support among his fellow officers. This time General Prats resigned his position both as Interior minister and as Commander in Chief of the Army the very next day. With only two other generals in favor of a constitutional solution to the political crisis, Generals Mario Sepúlveda Squella and Guillermo Pickering (both in key troop command positions), also presented their resignations in a show of support. His replacement as Commander in Chief of the Army was his second in command and an officer thought to be loyal to Allende, General Augusto Pinochet.

General Pinochet took over the position on August 23, 1973. General Prats' retirement removed the last real obstacle for a military coup, same that took place only three weeks later, on September 11, 1973. Immediately after the coup, on September 15, 1973, he exiled himself and his wife to Argentina.


On September 30, 1974, in Buenos Aires, he was killed along with his wife Sofia Cuthbert, outside his own apartment, by a radio-controlled car bomb, throwing debris up to the ninth storey balcony of the building across the street. Later, it was found that the assassination was planned by members of the Chilean secret police DINA, led by Michael Townley, who also carried out the Orlando Letelier assassination.

Legal aftermath and investigations

In Chile, the judge investigating this case, Alejandro Solis, definitively relaxed Pinochet on this particular case, after the Chilean Supreme court rejected in January 2005 a demand to lift the ex-dictator's immunity. The direction of DINA, including chief Manuel Contreras, ex-chief of operation and retired general Raúl Iturriaga, his brother Roger Iturriaga, and ex-brigadiers Pedro Espinoza and Jose Zara, are accused in Chile of this assassination.

In Argentina, DINA's civil agent Enrique Arancibia was sentenced to life imprisonment in General Prat's case. SIDE agent Juan Martín Siga Correa has been detained by Argentine justice in 2000 on orders of federal judge Maria Servini de Cubria [ Dictan nueva orden de detención en caso Prats] , "El Mostrador", May 22, 2000 es icon ] . Martín Siga Correa was DINA's main connection with the SIDE and with Intelligence Battalion 601, and was also a member of the Tacuara Nationalist Movement.

In 2003, federal judge Maria Servini de Cubria asked Chile for the extradition of Mariana Callejas, who was Michael Townley's wife, and Cristoph Willikie, a retired colonel from the Chilean army - all three of them are accused of this crime. But Chilean judge Nibaldo Segura from the Appeals court, refused in July 2005, arguing that they had already been prosecuted in Chile [ [ Chilean agent convicted over Prats' killing (in Spanish)] ] .

It also has been claimed that Italian terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie was involved in the murder of General Carlos Prats. Along with fellow extremist Vincenzo Vinciguerra, Delle Chiaie testified in Rome in December 1995 before judge Maria Servini de Cubria that Enrique Arancibia Clavel (a former Chilean secret police agent prosecuted for crimes against humanity in 2004 [ [ Vital rights ruling in Argentina] ] and Michael Townley were directly involved in this assassination [ [ Michael Townley's interrogation (in Spanish)] ] .)

Additional information

ee also

*1970 Chilean presidential election
*Schneider Doctrine
*Salvador Allende
*Chile under Allende
*Alejandrina Cox incident
*Chilean coup of 1973
*Operation Condor


External links

* [ Official biography] es icon
* [,0,38035857_172985963_183737849_1,00.html Biography] es icon
* [ The Carlos Prats Assassination]
* [ Human rights report on the case]
* [ Non-official account of murder] es icon
* [ Chilean agent convicted over Prats' killing]
* [ Trial watch]
* [ Letter from Allende thanking him after his resignation] es icon

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