|"We saw the desert, large and
extensive; the heat increased, we drove slowly. We couldn't talk. The caravan had been
travelling more than an hour when we began to see a tall chimney, indicating the presence
of the old offices of the Chacabuco nitrate company, Anglo Latauro (a British company). We
arrived at some thick walls and entered through a large opening. Some tanks pulled up
alongside the buses, pointing their threatening cannons at us. We became more and more
nervous, almost trembling with fear. The buses stopped in front of a fence. The
Carabineros police handed us over to the Army."
(Excerpt from "Chacabuco y Otros Centros de Detencion," 1994)
Location: About 110 kilometers from Antofagasta in the middle of the Atacama desert. It was formerly a small mining town where the nitrate mining company, Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile (Soquimich), ran an office. The town was abandoned in 1938 and used by the Army for military exercises.
Duration: early November 1973 until April 1975
Prisoners: The number of political prisoners varied from 600 to 1,000.
Conditions: The Comite Pro Paz reported in late 1974:
Prisoners lived in adobe corridors, each containing 10 small houses. Each house had two or three floors and held six prisoners. There was a common dining room as well as cold-water showers and bathrooms. The camp had no electrical lighting until July 1974.
The camp was run by the Army First Division based in Antofagasta, but guard duty rotated between Army, Air Force and Carabineros personnel.
Many of the prisoners were released in early 1974, a period in which new prisoners were brought to Chacabuco. The camp began to gradually empty out starting in July 1974, with prisoners being transferred to different camps in Santiago and Valparaiso (Tres Alamos, Ritoque and Melinka).
Other detention centers in the country:
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