The Bombmaking Vintner of Colchagua
Bloomberg Businessweek|September 02, 2019
The Bombmaking Vintner of Colchagua

Carlos Cardoen sold weapons to Saddam Hussein, then became a renowned winemaker in Chile. The U.S. wants him extradited.

Daniela Guzmán

There are certain elements a good winemaker should know. Soil rich in iron, for example, gives merlots and malbecs notes of tobacco, graphite, and mushroom. Calcium and magnesium give pinots the tang of earth, anise, and spices. But there’s another element that Carlos Cardoen, a winemaker in Chile’s bucolic Colchagua Valley, is familiar with for very different reasons.

A civil engineer with a doctorate in metals science, Cardoen started an explosives company in the 1970s meant to serve the mining industry. With regional tensions rising, Chile’s then dictator, Augusto Pinochet, asked him to start making bombs and land mines. Cardoen’s business soon expanded internationally, and Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein became a fan of his zirconium-laced cluster bombs, designed to blow up and burn a target on impact.


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September 02, 2019