Orlando Letelier, a Chilean diplomat associated with the deposed socialist President Salvador Allende, was assassinated by agents of General Augusto Pinochet in a car-bombing in Washington, DC on this date in 1976. With him died Ronni Moffitt, his 25-year-old American assistant (her husband of four months was also in the car but survived the blast). The CIA, headed by George H.W. Bush, quickly covered up the role of the Chilean secret police, but in 1978 Michael Townley, a CIA contract agent, confessed to hiring five anti-Castro Cubans exiles to booby-trap Letelier’s car. Townley then provided evidence against these men in exchange for a ten-year sentence; he was soon after freed under the federal Witness Protection Program. Ronni Moffit (Ronni Susan Karpen) was born in Passaic, New Jersey and had been a public school teacher in Maryland before coming to work at the Institute for Policy Studies, which awards an annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award.
“It was said of my sister that when the revolution came, she would most certainly be a part of it; maybe not on the front lines, but she would be there giving support and guidance to those who needed it, and probably serving chicken soup to the injured and the ill. . . .”—Michael Karpen