One of Argentina’s most powerful unions’ honoured members of the “Condor Operation” which 45 years ago hijacked a commercial aircraft and had it flown to the Falklands/Malvinas Islands where the group flew the Argentine flag.
The “Condor Operation” took place 28 September 1966 was organized by “young workers from the metal industry” and had the blessing and logistic support from the Metal Workers Union, UOM, at the time under the leadership Augusto Timoteo Vandor.
After boarding in Buenos Aires a scheduled Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Rio Gallegos, the group of 18 had the flight rerouted to the Malvinas Islands, where following a complicated landing at the Stanley race course, they displayed the Argentine flag “in an act of national recovery and dignity”.
At the time the Falklands had no commercial or military air strip.
The commemoration took place at the UOM headquarters in Buenos Aires City and counted with the attendance of nine of the original group still alive and relatives of those deceased.
Antonio Caló, UOM chairman and leaders of other friendly unions also attended the ceremony as well as journalist Roberto Bardini who is writing a book of the “epic” event, “Operation Condor history” and César Trejo president of the Malvinas Veterans Centre.
“Today is a historic day for UOM because we are honouring these true heroes who displayed no fear but much courage, on taking an aircraft and have it flown to our Malvinas Islands”, said UOM leader Caló.
The union leader said that in the future when Argentine history refers to recent decades, UOM is going to be present for many events, but also because it openly sponsored and supported the epic display of those youngsters involved in the Condor Operation”.
The ceremony ended with the award of remembrance plaques to the living members of the operation and relatives of the rest of the 18-strong group.
Less than a decade later the name “Condor Operation” was given to the coordinated action by South American military dictatorships to hunt, torture and disappear dissidents and opponents from the different regimes of the region.
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Bolivia were part of that concerted effort that left thousands dead and disappeared.
Likewise the UOM leader Vandor was killed and his office destroyed in 1969 as a result of in-fighting between the hegemonic Peronist movement.