Shadow Of The Condor
“Operation Condor” was a 1970s secret military plan sponsored by the United States during the Dirty War years, which aimed to eliminate the political opponents to the right wing military regimes. It took place in six countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
It officially started in late 1975, when the secret services had a meeting in Santiago, Chile to define a strategy to use common resources and exchange information, man power and techniques to execute the plan. Thousands of people, mostly left wing workers and students, were arrested, tortured and executed, leading to 60,000 deaths, although a final number could never be confirmed because of the number of mass executions.
This project aims to show the scars and enormous impact left on the survivors and families of those who were killed. From the Amazon jungle in Brazil to the cold lands of Patagonia, thousands of victims still lay buried in unmarked graves, and the survivors struggle to cope with their memories.
Since the beginning of this investigation back in 2005, I have begun to take interviews with victims and families of those who disappeared, and have also visited sites of imprisonment, executions, and burials. I believe that by making these images I can help build a collective memory about the people behind this secretive operation who have never been held accountable.
I will return to the region and continue to build this body of work in Bolivia and Paraguay. These two countries still require much time to research and photograph. I will talk to survivors like Martin Almada, a lawyer who found the archives where thousands of documents prove the existence of “Operation Condor” in Paraguay.
No complete documentary project of this scope in all six countries has ever been completed, and none relying on photographs has been attempted. I hope to help generations of South Americans to know and understand the story of their countries.
Joao Pina was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1980, began working as a photographer at age of 18.
His images have been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, Newsweek, Stern, GEO, El Pais, D Magazine, Viso and others.
In 2007 he published his first book “Por teu livre pensamento” featuring 25 former Portuguese political prisoners. The book inspired an Amnesty International advertising campaign that won a Lion d’Or award, at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity 2011.
He has also been awarded the Estao Imagem grant in 2010 and a finalist for the Henri Nannen, Care award. Until 2010 he lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he continues to document the remnants of “Operation Condor”, a secret military operation to destroy the political opposition to the dictatorships in South America in the 1970s.
Lately he has been a privileged observer of the “Arab Spring”, traveling on several occasions to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, while continuing his work in Latin America.