Human rights violations during the Military government of Chile

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The Human Rights Violations during the Military government of Chile refer to all acts of human rights abuses, persecution of opponents, political repression and state terrorism committed by the Chilean armed forces and the Police, government agents and civilians in the service of security agencies, during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in Chile since September 11, 1973, until March 11, 1990.

According to the Commission of Truth and Reconciliation (Rettig Commission) and the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture (Valech Commission), the number of direct victims of human rights violations in Chile, it accounts for at least 35,000 people: 28.000 were tortured, 2.279 were executed and around 1.248 continued as Disappeared. In addition some of 200,000 people have suffered exile and an unknown number would have gone through clandestine centers and illegal detention.


He shut down parliament, suffocated political life, banned trade unions, and made Chile his sultanate. His government disappeared 3,200 opponents, arrested 30,000 (torturing thousands of them) ... Pinochet’s name will forever be linked to the Desaparecidos, the Caravan of Death, and the institutionalized torture that took place in the Villa Grimaldi complex."

Thor Halvorssen, president of the Human Rights Foundation, National Review[1]

The military rule was characterized by systematic suppression of all political dissidence, which led some to speak of a "politicide" (or "political genocide").[2] Steve J. Stern spoke of a politicide to describe "a systematic project to destroy an entire way of doing and understanding politics and governance."[3]

The worst violence occurred in the first three months of the coup's aftermath, with the number of suspected leftists killed or "disappeared" (desaparecidos) soon reaching into the thousand.[4] In the days immediately following the coup, the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs informed Henry Kissinger, that the National Stadium was being used to hold 5,000 prisoners, and as late as 1975, the CIA was still reporting that up to 3,811 prisoners were still being held in the Stadium.[5] Amnesty International, reported that as many as 7,000 political prisoners in the National Stadium had been counted on 22 September 1973.[6] Nevertheless, it is often quoted in the press, that some 40,000 prisoners were detained in the Stadium.[7] Some of the most famous cases of "desaparecidos" are Charles Horman, a U.S. citizen who was killed during the coup itself,[8] Chilean songwriter Víctor Jara, and the October 1973 Caravan of Death (Caravana de la Muerte) where at least 70 persons were killed.[9] Other operations include Operation Colombo during which hundreds of left-wing activists were murdered and Operation Condor, carried out with the security services of other Latin American dictatorships.

Some funeral urns of political activists executed by the Chilean military dictatorship, from 1973 to 1990, in the cemetery of Santiago

Following Pinochet's defeat in the 1988 plebiscite, the 1991 Rettig Commission, a multipartisan effort from the Aylwin administration to discover the truth about the human-rights violations, listed a number of torture and detention centers (such as Colonia Dignidad, the ship Esmeralda or Víctor Jara Stadium), and found that at least 3,200 people were killed or disappeared by the regime.

A later report, the Valech Report (published in November 2004), confirmed the figure of 3,200 deaths but dramatically reduced the alleged cases of disappearances. It tells of some 28,000 arrests in which the majority of those detained were incarcerated and in a great many cases tortured.[10] Some 30,000 Chileans were exiled and received abroad,[11][12][13] in particular in Argentina, as political refugees; however, they were followed in their exile by the DINA secret police, in the frame of Operation Condor which linked South-American dictatorships together against political opponents.[14] Some 20,000-40,000 Chilean exiles were holders of passports stamped with the letter "L" (which stood for lista nacional), identifyng them as persona non grata and had to seek permission before entering the country.[15] Nevertheless, Chilean Human Rights groups maintain several hundred thousand were forced into exile.[12]

According to the Latin American Institute on Mental Health and Human Rights (ILAS), "situations of extreme trauma" affected about 200,000 persons; this figure includes individuals killed, tortured (following the UN definition of torture), or exiled and their immediate relatives.[citation needed] While more radical groups such as the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR) were staunch advocates of a Marxist revolution, it is currently accepted that the junta deliberately targeted nonviolent political opponents as well

A court in Chile sentenced, on March 19, 2008, 24 former police officers in cases of kidnapping, torture and murder that happened just after a U.S.-backed coup overthrew President Salvador Allende, a Socialist, on September 11, 1973.[16]

Repressive agencies[edit]

Further information: Operation Condor and Operation Colombo

The Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional (English: National Intelligence Directorate) or DINA was the Chilean secret police in the government of Augusto Pinochet. DINA was established in November 1973, as a Chilean Army intelligence unit headed by General Manuel Contreras and vice-director Raúl Iturriaga, who fled from justice in 2007. It was separated from the army and made an independent administrative unit in June 1974, under the aegis of decree #521. DINA made it possible for Augusto Pinochet to come to power.

DINA existed until 1977, after which it was renamed the Central Nacional de Informaciones (CNI) (National Information Center).

Main Human Rights Violators[edit]

Since human rights violations during the military regime corresponded to a state policy, the number of people involved in these acts as authors, accomplices or accessories, is high. While it is difficult to determine their number, it is estimated that exceeds several hundred. Approximately sixty persons have been condemned by Chilean courts.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pinochet Is History: But how will it remember him? National Review Symposium, December 11, 2006
  2. ^ [1] The legacy of human-rights violations in the Southern Cone
  3. ^ Stern, Steve J. (2009). Remembering Pinochet’s Chile: On the Eve of London 1998. 2004-09-30: Duke University Press. pp. 32, 90, 101, 180–81. ISBN 0-8223-3354-6. Retrieved 2013-07-12. 
  4. ^ [2] BBC: Finding Chile's disappeared
  5. ^ Thinking About Terrorism: The Threat to Civil Liberties in a Time of National Emergency, Michael E. Tigar, pp. 37-38, American Bar Association, 2007
  6. ^ Chile: an Amnesty International report,, p. 16, Amnesty International Publications, 1974.
  7. ^ [3] El campo de concentración de Pinochet cumple 70 años
  8. ^ [4] New Information on the Murders of U.S. Citizens Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi by the Chilean Military
  9. ^ [5] BBC: Caravan of Death
  10. ^ [6] Valech Report
  11. ^ Augusto Pinochet's Chile, Diana Childress, p.92, Twenty First century Books, 2009
  12. ^ a b Chile en el umbral de los noventa: quince años que condicionan el futuro, Jaime Gazmuri & Felipe Agüero, p. 121, Planeta, 1988
  13. ^ Chile: One Carrot, Many Sticks, Monday, Aug. 22, 1983.TIME MAGAZINE.
  15. ^ Chile since the coup: ten years of repression, Cynthia G. Brown, pp.88-89, Americas Watch, 1983.
  16. ^ Decades after coup, 24 sentenced for rights violations in Chile. CNN. 2008-03-20. Retrieved 2013-07-12. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f Condenan a seis miembros de la DINA por cinco crímenes en Tejas Verdes, retrieved on 31 January 2013. The 6th is Manuel Contreras
  18. ^
  19. ^ [8]
  20. ^ La Nación - Los sabuesos de los derechos humanos. Brigada de Asuntos Especiales de investigaciones
  21. ^ El Mercurio - Condenan a 14 ex agentes de la CNI por crimen de José Carrasco Tapia
  22. ^ El Mercurio - Texto completo del fallo de desafuero de Pinochet (I parte)
  23. ^{e0939285-b84d-40a6-b376-237ee956e25e}
  24. ^ Fernández Larios acusado en Miami por "caravana de la muerte"
  25. ^ Memoria Viva - Humberto Gordon
  26. ^ La Nación - Carlos Herrera Jiménez insiste en culpar a ex edecán Krauss de crímenes de Pisagua
  27. ^ La Nación - Procesan a ex agentes por crimen de primo de Martínez Busch
  28. ^ [9] Memoria Viva - Miguel Krassnoff
  29. ^ Punto Final - Torturador al descubierto
  30. ^
  31. ^ El Austral - Alta tensión en juicio contra Alfonso Podlech
  32. ^