The billionaire who can’t leave Chile for doing shady business

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In 1993, Interpol issued an international arrest warrant against Cardoen at the request of the United States in connection with these charges.

However, it was not until March 22 of this year that the U.S. Department of Justice finally registered a formal request for the detention of the 77-year-old businessman.

The Chilean Supreme Court ruled that Cardoen had house arrest and gave the United States 60 days to formalize the extradition request.

Cardoen insists that the bombs were sold to Iraq under the full knowledge and consent of the United States and his lawyers are litigating against the extradition request.

Since Interpol issued its “red alert”, Cardoen has devoted its time and considerable wealth to the promotion of its native region, in the Colchagua Valley, and to the preservation of the cultures of Chile’s Indigenous Peoples.

This latest initiative has won wide praise and, in 2005, he was decorated with the Orden al Mérito Docente y Cultural Gabriela Mistral. When the then Minister of Education, Sergio Bitar, announced it as a winner, he declared that “no one on Earth is an angel”.

Tribute to the miners

Cardoen has put his hometown of Santa Cruz “on the map”, according to his son Andrés, who manages the family’s Foundation.

“My father’s museum has generated interest in the region,” he points out in reference to Cardoen’s private collection of artifacts, one of the largest in South America.

Among the pieces on display at the Colchagua Museum in Cardoen is the original document written during the first meeting of the Government of Chile, in 1810.

It also boasts one of the largest collections of mapuche indigenous jewelry and an extensive audiovisual tribute to the 33 Chilean miners-and their rescuers – who were trapped underground for 69 days in 2010.

“My father is not the type of collector whose belongings are contained within four walls. He wants to share, that’s his passion,” says Andrés Cardoen.

Wines, cars and weapons

A short drive through the valley is what Luis Navarra, from the Santa Cruz tourist office, calls the “Disneyworld of wine”.

One of those foreign markets was Iraq. Cardoen insists that the bombs manufactured by his company for use in Iraq between 1982 and 1991 were sold under the full knowledge and consent of the United States.

But when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, catalyzing a US-led counteroffensive, the US stance changed, the analyst points out.

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