National Information Center (Chile)

The National Information Center (Spanish: Central Nacional de Informaciones, CNI) was the political police and intelligence body which functioned as an organ of persecution, kidnapping, torture, murder and disappearance of political opponents during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile. It was created immediately after the dissolution of its predecessor, the Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA), due to pressure from the United States government as a result of the crime of Orlando Letelier in exile in Washington in 1977.[1]

National Information Center
"Central Nacional de Informaciones"
Agency overview
FormedAugust 13, 1977
Preceding agency
DissolvedFebruary 22, 1990
TypeSecret police


The CNI was created on August 13, 1977 by the Decree of Law 1878, with the objective of "gathering and processing all the information at the national level, coming from the different fields of action, that the Supreme Government requires for the creation of policies, plans and programs and the adoption of necessary measures to safeguard national security and the normal development of national activities and maintenance of the established institutions".[2][3] The CNI was a "military body, a member of the National Defense," which gave it independence in its actions; however, its relationship with the government was through the Ministry of the Interior. In other words, the CNI depended on the President of the Republic.

Its first director was the general Manuel Contreras, an ex-militant of the DINA, and he was replaced by Odlanier Mena in 1977,[4] who was in command until 1980, the year in which he was replaced by General Humberto Gordon. Gordon's tenure was marked by several of the most iconic episodes starring the CNI. Humberto Gordon became a member of the Military Junta in 1986, being replaced in the CNI by Hugo Salas Wenzel.

The CNI was responsible for numerous cases of repression, political infiltration, assassinations, kidnapping and torture of people, including the murder of the union leader Tucapel Jiménez, the carpenter Juan Alegría Mundaca, and the so-called Operation Albania. His participation in the alleged poisoning that would have caused the death of former President of the Republic Eduardo Frei Montalva in 1982 is currently being investigated.

One of its main agents in charge was Álvaro Corbalán, who is currently serving multiple prison sentences for crimes against humanity. Among other crimes, there is the poisoning and use of sarin gas and other toxins, in prisoners opposed to the regime, the Frei case being perhaps the best known. One of his agents, Eugenio Berríos, who was assassinated by former CNI agents in Uruguay, was the chemist who used the deadly toxins on his victims.[5]

The CNI was also responsible for the assassinations of various former members of the Revolutionary Left Movement (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria, MIR) during the 1980s, in which they used the tactic of "false confrontations." They are also related to the robbery of banks, drug trafficking and illegal weapons, and the fraud called "La Cutufa", which involved one of Augusto Pinochet's sons.

It was dissolved on February 22, 1990 by Law 18,943, shortly before the return to democracy.[6] Many of its agents were reassigned to public safety, industrial or commercial duties during the 1990s.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Torture in the Eighties". Remember Chile. Retrieved 2020-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ "Central Nacional de Informacion CNI". Retrieved 2020-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ "Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional | Ley Chile". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2020-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ "CNI - Doce Años de Terror" [CNI - Twelve Years of Terror] (PDF). 1989.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "Jefe de seguimientos de la CNI a Frei Montalva confesó uso de venenos de Eugenio Berríos". El Mostrador (in Spanish). 2009-12-16. Retrieved 2020-10-26.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Nacional, Biblioteca del Congreso. "Biblioteca del Congreso Nacional | Ley Chile". Retrieved 2020-10-26.