News

Newsroom: Latest News•Archives•Features•The Media and Human RightsChronology of Human Rights in ChileBibliography•Archives•Glossary•Chilean Human Rights OrganizationsPhoto GalleriesInteractive: Contact Us•Newsgroup•Related SitesSearch Engine

Dictatorship Years
Victims
Perpetrators
Judiciary
International
Human Rights Today
Landmark Events
About DERECHOS Chile
Chile Profile
Sites of Memory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

top

 

Unmarked grave in Patio 29, Santiago General Cemetery. Photo by Helen HughesDictatorship Years: Victims

In this page, you will find information on victims of human rights violations, with "victims" broadly defined as individuals, families, social and political organizations and society as a whole.
The page characterizes the types of victims according to different chronological periods, and outlines the repression against specific target groups and these groups methods of resistance and organization.

 

Victims of the Military Regime

"In Chile, there exists a high degree of consensus, that during the military regime, human rights were repeatedly violated with the aim of annihilating the political opposition to the regime as a necessary condition for laying the foundations of a new state whilst making the economic model of this new state a reality."

(Persona, Estado, Poder. Vol. II, Chile 1990 - 1995. CODEPU)

 

"At first I was afraid, I couldn’t control myself. When I was left on my own, isolated... I never cried. I thought of dying, I thought of my son, and I asked myself if everything I was doing was really worth it. My convictions and ideologies were strengthened. I didn’t feel sadness, only great anger and impotence."

(Testimony of young woman tortured by repressive agents, 1984, from Persona, Estado, Poder. Chile 1973 - 1989. CODEPU)

 

"(During the national protests) ... people who were not previously selected by the perpetrators died, they were not being searched for because of who they were, nor was their political militancy of any importance, neither were their personal relationships. Those who died were children and old people, adults and young people, men and women, those who were participating in the protests, and people who were not taking part in them."

(Comisión Chilena de Derechos Humanos y Centro IDEAS.
July, 1991)

Types of Human Rights Violations

1973 - 1990

The types of repression used in Chile by the military regime included: arbitrary arrest, imprisonment, torture, forced disappearances, summary executions, collective executions, the negation of the right to appeal War Council sentences, homicide, exile, internal exile, abduction, intimidation, attempted homicide, death treats, raids, dismissal from jobs and surveillance. Such treatment violated the following rights: the right to life, the right to personal integrity, the right to personal liberty, the right to personal security and the right to live in one’s country.

 

Violation of the right to life:

  • Death. Carried out through executions, after being made to disappear, through torture, in alleged armed confrontations, premeditated homicide, abuse of power and others.
  • Disappearances.
"Can anyone explain why Alejandro was sentenced to die without a trial? Why were his remains buried clandestinely in Army property? Why were his detention, murder and burial concealed for 15 years? Who is responsible..."

(Read excerpt from Utopías de fin de siglo: verdad, justicia y reconciliación, 1995)

Violation of the right to physical integrity:

  • Torture. Various methods of torture: physical and psychological, electrocution, sexual violence, blows, forced intake of drugs, burning, immersion in liquids.
  • Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
  • Frustrated homicide attempts.
  • Wounding.

 

Violation of the right to personal freedom:

  • Arbitrary detentions. Selective, individual arrests, and arrests during protests, mass raids and kidnappings.
  • Political prisoners.
  • Internal exile, to distant and isolatedplaces.

 

Violation of the right to personal security:

  • Harassment and threats.
  • Raids.

 

Violation of the right to live in one’s country:

  • Exile.
  • Refugees.

 

top State Terrorism

The application of the National Security Doctrine by the state during the 1973 to 1990 period culminated in the most systematic and massive violation of human rights in Chile’s recent history. The following is a brief description of some cases which characterize the types of state terrorism applied throughout the 17 years of military rule:

- The bombing of the presidential palace La Moneda on September 11, 1973, in which President Salvador Allende dies before his ministers and collaborators are detained and many of them killed or disappeared.

- The execution of seven people arrested in Curacaví on September 17, 1973. Out of the seven people that are taken away to be executed, two survive. One of these, José Barrera, after finding out through the Defense Ministry that he is no longer wanted, stops living a clandestine life and returns to Curacaví in March 1974, only to be arrested once more. He becomes one of the disappeared.

- The execution of 19 people from Laja and San Rosendo by Carabineros police from Laja. They are executed September 18, 1973, on the road to Los Angeles and their bodies concealed.

- Jose Gabriel Campos Morales, a 26 year old farm worker and union leader, was at home when soldiers arrested him on September 18, 1973. Taken initially to the Linares public jail, he was later brought to Investigations police headquarters in Constitucion, from which place he was not seen or heard from since.

- The execution of 18 rural workers from Paine September 24, 1973 by officials from the San Bernardo regiment.

- The execution of an estimated 22 people in the southern city of Valdivia in October, 1973 by Army personnel.

- The execution of six political prisoners shot while allegedly trying to escape, in Pisagua, September 30, 1973.

- The execution of four university students in Cauquenes, October 3, 1973 by local military personnel.

- The execution of 13 farm workers in Mulchén in October, 1973 by a group of Carabineros police, military personnel and civilians.

- The execution of 72 political prisoners between October 15 and 19, 1973 in the cities of La Serena, Copiapó, Antofagasta and Calama, at the hands of the so-called "Caravan of Death," a military delegation headed by General Sergio Arellano Stark.

- The death March 14, 1974, of Air Force General Alberto Bachelet as a result of torture.

- An elementary school teacher and former secretary to a Communist member of Congress, Elsa Victoria Leuthner Munoz, who was married and mother of three, was apprehended by agents of the DINA secret police while at a friend's house. Her whereabouts have been unknown since the time of her arrest on August 15, 1974.

- Death of former Army head General Carlos Prats and his wife Sofía Cuthbert in Buenos Aires, Argentina September 29, 1974, as a result of a car bomb.

- Publication July 23, 1974, in Brazil and Argentina of a list of 119 disappeared Chileans who were reported dead in alleged internal MIR party purges and alleged armed confrontations.

- Murder of Spanish diplomat Carmelo Soria in July, 1976. His tortured and strangled body was found in a canal July 16. His death occurred at the hands of DINA agents.

- Homicide of former Chilean UP minister Orlando Letelier September 21, 1976, in Washington, D.C. as a result of a car bomb, which also killed his US assistant, Ronnie Moffitt.

- Death of journalism student Eduardo Jara Aravena July 23, 1980, as a result of prolonged torture by Covema a paramilitary organization supporting Pinochet, which kidnapped Jara along with a number of other people suspected of being involved in the July 15 murder of Army intelligence head, Coronel Roger Vergara.

- Homicide by stabbing and shooting of union leader Tucapel Jímenez, February 25, 1982.

- Twelve-year-old Francisco Antonio Fuenzalida died in his home March 27, 1984, from a bullet fired from a helicopter by Carabineros police attempting to disperse a neighborhood protest in Santiago against the military regime.

- Death of Loreto Castillo, May 16, 1984. The victim is tied to an electricity pylon and blown up with dynamite.

- Kidnapping and murder of three Communist Party members, Manuel Guerrero, Jose Manuel Parada and Santiago Nattino. All three are found with their throats slit March 29, 1985.

- Death of young brothers Rafael and Eduardo Vergara, both of whom are shot by Carabineros police March 29, 1985 on a Santiago street. On the same day, 20-year old Paulina Aguirre is shot dead by CNI agents.

- The young photographer, Rodrigo Rojas is burnt to death on a Santiago street by a military patrol July 2, 1986. At the same time, Carmen Gloria Quintana is also doused with petrol and burnt alive. She survives with horrifying burns to 60 % of her body. Rodrigo Rojas was one of seven people killed on July 2 and 3, 1986 while participating in street protests against the military regime.

- Kidnapping and shooting to death of four opponents of the regime: José Carrasco, Abraham Muskablit, Felipe Rivera and Gastón Vidaurrázaga. They are killed between September 8 and 9, 1986, by armed civilians calling themselves the "September 11 Commando" who claim to be taking vengeance for a failed attempt the day before on Pinochet’s life by members of the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front (FPMR).

- Twelve members of the FPMR are murdered by the CNI between June 15 and 16, 1987 in Santiago in the so-called "Albania Operation," otherwise known as the "Corpus Christi Massacre."

- Death by shooting of MIR party leader Jecar Neghme September 4, 1989 in Santiago.

 

top Who were the victims?

In the months immediately following the regime, the majority of those who become victims of the violation of human rights were:

- Leaders and collaborators of the Popular Unity government

- People who sympathized or were suspected or accused of sympathizing with the UP government

- Leaders, members and sympathizers of leftist political parties, that is, the Revolutionary Left Movement, (MIR), the Communist Party (PC), the Socialist Party (PS), the Christian Left (IC), the MAPU; some members of the Radical Party (PR) and the Christian Democrats (PDC) also became victims at this stage

- Trade Union leaders and workers

- In the countryside, leaders and sympathizers of the agrarian reform movement were targeted as well as people accused or perceived to be sympathizers of the left

- The family members and close friends of the above groups of victims were also targeted by the regime’s repressive agencies

- The regime also targeted representatives from the cultural world, intellectuals and university personnel and students

- Military personnel, ranging from conscripts to high-ranking officers, including a former commander in chief who opposed the military coup and the actions of the repressive agencies, also became victims of violations of all the human rights mentioned above

Throughout the regime, the above named continued to be targets of repression.

 

As the opposition to the regime began to take shape and Chile’s political parties and social organizations started to organize in the mid 70's and into the 80's, repression by agents of the state was aimed at members of other organizations such as:

- Human rights activists.

- Members of organizations created by relatives of victims of executions, forced disappearances and political imprisonment.

- Religious leaders and members of religious movements who opposed the regime.

- Members of the armed opposition to Pinochet’s regime, for instance the Manuel Rodríguez Patriotic Front.

- Members of leftist social and political organizations which sprang up as opposition to the regime.

- The family members and friends of the aforementioned groups, also became subject to arrest, imprisonment, torture, vigilance, exile, internal exile among other violations of human rights.

 

During the 1980’s, arrests, physical violence and shooting deaths became common during the national protests which emerged and gained strength during the period.

The report of the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, created in 1991 by the civilian government of Patricio Aylwin, also identified a group of victims it categorized as "victims of political violence." In other words, throughout the period of military rule, not all the victims were targeted beforehand. For instance, the Rettig Report cites a number of deaths which occurred as a result of shooting by military personnel on bystanders and pedestrians during raids and protests. It also cites deaths resulting from stray military bullets which penetrated the walls of the victims’ homes, as well as victims killed for violating the curfew imposed by the military.

 

Statistics

(From the book La memoria y el olvido: Detenidos Desaparecidos en Chile
by Elias Padilla, 1995, Ediciones Origenes.)

So widespread was the repression unleashed upon Chile’s population, that some sectors immediately organized in order to assist the victims of human rights violations, despite the real dangers this posed. By doing so - organizations such as the Catholic church’s Comité para la Paz (Peace Committee), created in October 1973, and the Vicaria de la Solidaridad, founded January 1976, as well as a large number of non-government organizations - managed to collect data and information which to the present date give an insight into the extensive scope of repression carried out by agents of the state.

From March 1974 onward, the Comité para la Paz began to receive large numbers of protective writs from family members of people imprisoned or disappeared. By the end of 1974, the Committee had received 1,341 such writs. From 1976 -1985 the Vicaria assisted 34,000 people with legal, social, medical or psychotherapeutic assistance.

"According to figures given by the military regime and registered by the Vicaria de la Solidaridad, between 1973 and 1975 there were 42,486 political detentions. Also, according to the Vicaria, between 1976 to 1988, 12,134 people were individually arrested for political reasons and 26,431 collective arrests took place. Between 1977 to 1988 4,134 persons were threatened or harassed, 1,008 were victims of forced disappearance and 2,100 people died for political reasons." (Estado, Poder, Persona, Vol. II, CODEPU, 1995)

The Latin American Institute on Mental Health and Human Rights (ILAS), created in 1988 with the aim of assisting victims of human rights violations, estimates that 10 % of the total population of Chile in the early 1980s was affected by a repressive situation. ILAS defines a "repressive situation", as arrests for any length of time, threats, a relative in prison, killed or disappeared, as well as expulsion for political reasons from the place of work or university. ILAS cautions that this figure is conservative. Of this total ILAS believes "situations of extreme trauma" affected some 200,000 persons, a figure derived from the numbers of prisoners in detention camps until 1975, persons forced into exile, persons tortured, executed or disappeared, and their immediate family.

The Rettig Report and the National Corporation for Reconciliation and Reparation, established January 3, 1992 to continue the work of the Rettig Commission, concluded in 1996 that:

- A total of 3,197 people died or went missing between September 11, 1973 and March 11, 1990 as a result of human rights violations at the hands of the state agents of repression.

- Of these 1,102 classify as disappeared and 2,095 as deaths.

The Rettig Report and the National Corporation for Reconciliation and Reparation only investigated those cases which concluded in death or disappearance. They did not take into account the thousands of cases of torture and imprisonment which took place during the period of military rule.

 

top

 

The Far Reaching Effects of Repression

 

Victims and the Family


Dancing "La Cueca" alone. Relatives of the disappeared perform Chile´s national dance without their partners, March 8, 1978 in the Caupolican Theater, Santiago. Photo by Luis Navarro

The Solitary "Cueca"

I am mother, I am wife,
I am daughter, I am sister...
My name is Pisagua and I dance the cueca.
I dance for you.
I dance the cueca and I dance alone,
I dance alone so that you see me,
with you and without you I dance,
approaching and moving away,
I dance the cueca alone.
I make a toast to truth,
justice and reason,
so that oppression and insecurity
do not exist
with courage and dignity,
We must overcome this evil,
we will reconstruct,
with firm foundations,
so that never again
does this happen in Chile.


Chilean psychologists, human rights activists and other sectors working with victims of human rights violations coincide in that the effects of such violations reach deep into Chilean society.

The research by these groups concludes that within families of the affected there exist two categories of victims: direct victims and indirect victims. Persons who are tortured, forced to disappear, executed, murdered, detained, abducted or forced into exile, are direct victims of human rights violations. The work carried out in Chile with victims and their families concludes that direct victims, or first generation victims, also includes the entire family group of the person subjected to a human rights violation. Children who are born later into this family group are considered indirect victims, as they too are affected by the change in relationships within the family which occur as a consequence of the deep anxiety suffered by the family group to which the victim belongs.

These anxiety-filled situations include the death or imprisonment of a relative, the search for a disappeared family member, police raids on the family home, the dispersal of family members, children placed in the charge of other families for months at a time, and long separations when a member of the family must assume a clandestine existence.

 

The Politics of Fear: Society as a Victim

Studies carried out in Chile on the effects of the military regime upon Chilean society coincide on the use of fear as a means of controlling the population. According to ILAS researchers Elizabeth Lira and Isabel Castillo: "The entire Chilean society is transformed into victims by the threatening tone of the official language used by the regime, which materializes in repressive actions which are legitimized by decreed laws."

Lira and Castillo describe the atmosphere of fear created by the military presence in the country: "Heavily armed military forces are visible in the streets; helicopters fly over major cities at night. Arrests are made in the light of day, and people are taken away in Armed Forces vehicles. The press and mass media relay extensive information about military operations."

"one hears the silence of fear in the subway stations and other places where many people congregate and which were always noisy in the past... No one whistles, no one hums a tune, no arguments are heard. One sees the fear in the fleeting glances, in the controlled gestures, ... In exaggerated courtesy..."

(Read excerpt from Persona Estado Poder: Estudios Sobre Salud Mental,
Chile 1973-1989, CODEPU, 1989.)

According to the ILAS researchers, the large-scale exhibition of the regime’s repressive capacity and apparatus, the application of the Doctrine of National Security, the concept of the "enemy within" and the message that everyone is a potential enemy and therefore under surveillance "strikes generalized terror and fear through all the population, regardless of each person's real political participation."

They describe how the press collaborate in the creation of this climate of fear: "Through the El Mercurio daily newspaper, on September 17, 1973, "...the military forces appeal to citizens to aid armed forces and police in locating Marxist leaders and activists who must be put on trial for their anti-patriotic activities... in identifying these individuals, one must take into consideration that it is likely that they have altered their customary appearance by either shaving or growing a mustache or beard, dyeing their hair, or even using feminine apparel."

Lira and Castillo also speak of the official language employed by the military rulers, particularly the use of the verb "to clean", to describe military operations: "Public walls are cleaned. With black or white paint, slogans and murals of the past are erased. Public offices are "cleansed," and everyone who brought dirt into the workplace is out of a job. ...In one clean-up operation thousands of books, magazines, phonograph records and posters are confiscated from the San Borja high-rise apartment complex (in Santiago) and burned in public bonfires."

Furthermore, say Lira and Castillo, "The regime remodels the very perception of social reality, changing names of towns and streets that recall forbidden ideas... A community born of a land occupation during the Popular Unity government was named "New Havana." The military rulers renamed the place "Nuevo Amanecer" (New Dawn). In Temuco, the low-income community of "Lenin" became "Lanin," the name of a volcano which exists on the Argentine-Chilean border. In Tarapaca, the new officials forbade residents to paint their houses red."

Thus, the politics of fear erase the past.

(Psicología de la Amenaza Política y del Miedo, Elizabeth Lira and María Isabel Castillo, ILAS, 1991)

At least 80 children 15 years of age or younger died as a result of violent repression or were shot outright. Young people between the ages of 16 and 30 accounted for more 62 % of all victims of repression. At least 68 minors and young people are among the disappeared. At least 691 children are known to have become orphaned when their parents were arrested and subsequently disappeared.

Although the street - where more than 24 % of all disappeared were apprehended - was the most dangerous place to be during these years, the home harbored no assurances of safety: 28.5 % of the disappeared were taken from their homes.

 

continue:

Chronological Development

Targets of repression

 

KEEP AN EYE ON THIS PAGE FOR ADDITIONS AND UPDATES!