How the DFS Categorized its Secrets (And Why It Matters)

Declassified DFS documents offer a glimpse into a strange filing system. Reports like "President's Daily Briefing" with intrigue and "Cliff's Notes on Local Unrest" for presidential visits reveal how the DFS categorized and monitored information to control the narrative.

How the DFS Categorized its Secrets (And Why It Matters)
Spying on the "riff-raff": The DFS kept tabs on everyone from students to politicians.

The release of the documents of the Federal Security Directorate (DFS) represents a step forward in the construction of truth, memory and the search for justice, reparation and non-repetition of human rights violations. In this sense, it is crucial to understand how the DFS drafted its documents to obtain greater clarity when searching for and consulting information. Otherwise, this task could become extremely complex.

The report "INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL OVERVIEW IN WHICH CONTEXT THE FEDERAL SECURITY DIRECTION WAS BORN AND DEVELOPED" created in 1984, includes background information on the directorate, its organization, the institutions that composed it, the selection of personnel, among other aspects. But one of the most interesting features is the description of how these reports were produced, as each one was classified according to its content. The objective was to "assist in decision making", so they were sent daily to the President and the Secretary of the Interior on duty. Occasionally, depending on the problem, they were also sent to other government agencies.

The classification of the reports was as follows:

  • Analytical synthesis of the events of greatest political importance. This document was sent daily to the Presidency of the Republic.
  • National Panorama of Predictive Analysis. This document was sent directly to the Ministry of the Interior. In it, the most important events to be held on that day are ranked and sectorized.
  • National Overview of Compiled Information. This document contains political reports from all sources covering elements of the DFS.
  • State Overviews of Political Information. They contain updated information on the main issues presented by the Entity visited by the President of the Republic. They are elaborated, by sectors, highlighting those conflicts that because of their relevance, could motivate a rapprochement of the non-conformist groups before the President himself. These documents are sent to the Secretary of National Defense, the Chief of the Presidential General Staff and the President's private secretary.
  • Political Background Studies of Pre-candidates and candidates for elected office. The DFS tries, in all cases, to present the curriculum and political profiles of these, in an impartial manner, highlighting the inconveniences of personal conduct, in such a way that the superiority takes the necessary measures to avoid the non-conformity of the voters. These works include overviews of the entities, highlighting the conflictive situations in these.
  • Special Political Information Studies. These include the analysis of specific problems that because of their political importance, affect National Security. In general, they present a strategy that allows for an adequate solution.
  • Operations Orders: These documents are related to all types of popular demonstrations, and have the objective that the corresponding authorities take the measures that the circumstances require. For the follow-up of all types of demonstrations, the DFS establishes special devices to keep the superiority informed, from the beginning to the end of the demonstrations.
  • Activity Reports of Political Personalities. They contain aspects of the participation of political leaders, workers, peasants, students, teachers and public officials involved in conflicts generated in the different entities of the country.

The typology described above is of vital importance in the consultation process of the DFS collection, since it can facilitate the search, provide orientation within the documents and improve the accessibility of the information. It is important to note that this document does not mention any periodicity or validity of the classification created by the management, so it is not clear from what year it began to be used. This opens the door to possible research on the evolution of the reports and their content. Understanding the structure and purpose of each report allows researchers to navigate more efficiently through the vast archive of the Federal Security Directorate.

Cover of the DFS report.
Cover of the DFS report. Credit: AGN
Document sheet that recounts the production of reports and intelligence material.
Document sheet that recounts the production of reports and intelligence material. Credit: AGN

Source: Archivo General de la Nación. “La clasificación de los informes de la Dirección Federal de Seguridad.”, Accessed 20 June 2024.