Bautista van Schouwen

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Bautista van Schouwen Vasey (San Lorenzo de Tarapacá, Chile, 3 April 1943 - Santiago de Chile, 13 December 1973) was a medical doctor and one of the founders of the Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR), the Chilean guerrilla organization which earliest resisted the Military Coup of Augusto Pinochet in 1973. Five among the "Ten most wanted" opposition figures wanted by the military government after the 11 September coup were militants of MIR. Bautista van Schouwen was at the time member of MIR's "Comisión Política" and the "Secretariado", the highest executive organ of the MIR. The military had set a reward of 500 000 Escudos to anyone who would lead them to the capture of Van Schouwen.[1] He was abducted in Santiago December 13, 1973, in the church Parroquia Capuchinos (2345 Catedral Street), after having been caught when the priest who was sheltering them, unwittingly let slip to his military cousins, that they were at the church. Father Enrique White was also detained and tortured, later exiled to England.[2] Van Schouwen and his lieutenant Patricio Munita had previously obtained clandestine refuge in the Capuchinos church-premises. They were soon after their capture killed under torture in the Army-managed detention and torture centre of Villa Grimaldi. The assassinations of Van Schouwen and Munita were however concealed by the Pinochet government and the Van Schouwen case during several years labelled as desaparecido (the "missing ones") by Human-rights organizations in Chile (see below Demise whereabouts).


Bautista van Schouwen Vasey was the first son of Industrial Chemical Engineer Bautista van Schouwen Figueroa and Carlota María Valentina Vasey Crozier. He had two younger brothers named Carlos and Jorge. The family arrived in the Concepción region in 1953 and established first in a rural property in the nearby La Florida and then in Concepción. During the second half of his high-school studies he met Miguel Enriquez and Marcello Ferrada de Noli. These friends,[3] together with an elder brother of Miguel Enríquez (Marco Antonio) and a new comrade they met at the first year of medical studies at the University of Concepcion (Jorge Gutiérrez Correa) started the secret group Movimiento Socialista Revolucionario in 1962. Other two members joined 1963-1964. The group first entered the socialist cell "Sierra Maestra" (also called "Espartaco", of the Socialist Party Youth in Concepción) led by Marcello Ferrada de Noli [4] and who have according to their plans established earlier a "pie de terre" in the Socialist Party 1961. In fact, the group was from the beginning a fraction within the Socialist Party in Concepción. Historians have referred that this political group developed around their publication "Revolution" which first issue appeared in 1963.[5]

Bautista van Schouwen Vasey married in the summer of 1968 to Inés Enríquez Espinosa, an English literature graduate and the only sister of Miguel Enríquez Espinosa, the best man of their wedding was their other old-time friend Marcello Ferrada de Noli. Bautista van Schouwen Vasey and Inés Enríquez Espinosa had one child named Pablo.

In October 1965 Bautista van Schouwen Vasey participated in the foundation of the MIR in Santiago and was elected at that opportunity member of MIR's Central Committee.[6] Two years after was elected chairman of MIR's Regional Committee for Concepción, the largest in the MIR, nationwide. In 1966 he was President of the Medical Student Union of the University of Concepción and led with Nelson Gutierrez (President of the Sociology Students Union), Marcello Ferrada de Noli (President of the Philosophy Students Union) and Luis Moreno (President of the Engineer Students Union) a long, and at times bloody, struggle for a university reform at the conservative University of Concepción. Together with medical student Luciano Cruz (another notorious MIR leader, died 1971) and other students of prominent participation in such struggle – mainly from the Movimiento Universitario de Izquierda, MUI - they finally succeeded in 1968 obtaining a university reform which became model for the student movement in the country elsewhere. Years 1968-1969 the student-movement in Chile had scored notable victories but at the same time increased a confrontation with the authorities both at the universities and government. It was at that time when Bautista Van Schouwen Vasey and Miguel Enríquez Espinosa published the document De las luchas estudiantiles a las filas de la Revolución ("From the students' struggles to the ranks of the Revolution").

In 1969 the Christian Democratic government of Eduardo Frei declared MIR out-law and many MIR cadres had to pass to clandestine life. The government implemented a nationwide persecution of the thirteen most known leaders of the organization at that epoch (among those wanted were Miguel Enríquez, Luciano Cruz, Bautista Van Schouwen, Nelson Gutierrez, Marcello Ferrada de Noli, Anibal Matamala, Jose Bordas, José Goñi, Juan Saavedra Gorriategy, and others).[7] Bautista Van Schouwen was however never captured. The cause against the MIR was eventually dismissed the year after by the new government of Salvador Allende through an amnesty decree. By then Bautista Van Schouwen had moved to Santiago and had taken the political leadership and the editor-in-chief post of El Rebelde, MIR's official newspaper.

Bautista van Schouwen Vasey graduated in 1968 from medical school with the second best marks of his promotion and he took afterwards an internship and postdoctoral training in neurology. He left those activities shortly thereafter for full-time dedication to the political and military activities of MIR, in preparation to resist the imminent 1973 Chilean coup d'état against the Salvador Allende government which finally took place on the 11th of September, 1973. Some time before in 1972 Bautista Van Schouwen Vasey was married for the second time to Astrid Heitmman, a registered nurse at the university hospital.

Ideological stands[edit]

The ideological stands among the early generation of youngsters from Concepción that founded MIR in 1965 correspond to a variety of political ideologies ranging from Social-liberalism to Marxist and Trotskyite positions. Although official declarations of the epoch, MIR had not a truly uniform ideological stand until the Congress of 1967 (see Movement of the Revolutionary Left) in which prevailed the Leninists positions represented by the new elected General Secretary Miguel Enriquez. Bautista Van Schouwen did follow his friend Miguel Enríquez in this regard. However, it has been put forward that van Schouwen would have been a closer follower to the doctrine of Rosa Luxemburg, favouring general strikes over cadre-organization political work as in Leninists traditions.[8] Other authors of the epoch have placed Van Schouwen's earlier ideological positions in the line of socialist humanism and also sympathetic with social-anarchist positions. Contrary to what "official" versions have maintained,[9] historians have established – based in interview testimonies of Marco Antonio Enríquez, a History Professor at Sorbonne ( also referred above as elder brother of Miguel Enríquez) - that Bautista Van Schouwen did not participate in the elaboration of the first historical document in the foundation of MIR, The "Insurrectional Thesis".[10] Bautista Van Schouwen was nevertheless a prolific writer of political documents and he was trusted by his peers the political and ideological leadership of MIR's official newspaper "El Rebelde". The last known MIR-document in which Bautista Van Schouwen had personally participated was the situation-analysis of December 1973 authored by the Secretariado of MIR (the MIR executive committee, led by Miguel Enríquez).

Demise whereabouts[edit]

Bautista Van Schouwen was killed under captivity by DINA late at night December 13, 1973 with a bullet on the head; later abandoned under a tree, at a cross-road in the proximities of Villa Grimaldi, and again his body perforated from the back with multiple bullets from machine-gun fire. Another military patrol discovered later the corpses of Munita and Van Schouwen (with no identifications) and – unaware of the above facts – took them routinely to the Forensic station in Santiago. There was an autopsy performed, and the victim's identities were also established, which was routinely reported thereafter to the police. When this report reached DINA their operatives confiscated the corpses and ordered a secret burial, at night, in Patio 29 at the "Cementerio General" of Santiago. On the 16 February 1974, again in a secret operation – this time presumably under the direct orders of Augusto Pinochet to General Ernesto Baeza, the Interior Minister [11]- DINA arranged the exhumation and incineration of Bautista Van Schouwen's remains. The secret killing of Bautista Van Schouwen had remarkable consequences.

The MIR let it be known for many years that Van Schouwen was instead alive, under captivity by the military, but heavily wounded due to torture. MIR even published a picture of Van Schouwen depicting him with bandages supposedly imprisoned in a military medical compound. On the other hand, the military have given contradictory information to the public; first the interior ministry informed, and echoed by the press [12] (17 August 1974) that Bautista Van Schouwen had been captured on December 13, 1973, and that he was "in custody at an undisclosed location".[13] Later that year the military retracted the information on that Van Schouwen was in custody in Chile and affirmed instead that he had "escaped to Cuba on the 2nd of February" 1974.[14] Nevertheless, Amnesty International informed in their first report about the human-rights violations by the Chilean Junta that Van Schouwen was held prisoner and had been transported to a variety of detention sites by the military. The Chilean human-rights organizations, for their part, for years went on demanding clarity on the "disappearance" of Bautista Van Schouwen and his case was included in a variety of judicial processes that ensued around the missing ones in Chile (those whose whereabouts were unknown). As late as 1998 his friend and MIR co-founder Marcello Ferrada de Noli, then a university professor in Norway, filled in European courts a criminal case against Augusto Pinochet [15] for the assassination or disappearance of Bautista Van Schouwen and Edgardo Enriquez.[16][17] Pinochet was then under house arrest in London but was ultimately granted by the British government returning to Chile without processes in Europe.

In 2007 an Appeal Court in Santiago de Chile processed the former DINA commander, Army General (R) Marcelo Moren Brito, for the criminal killing of Bautista Van Schouwen and his lieutenant Patricio Munita.[18]

In 2013 Bautista's son Pablo began legal proceedings against the Chilean state in a civil action. The court hearing with full witness testimonies began on January 31, 2017 in Santiago.


  1. ^ Diario "El Mercurio", Santiago, Chile, 28 Septembre 1973
  2. ^ Nancy Guzmán Jasme, "Un grito desde el silencio: detención, asesinato y desaparición de Bautista van Schouwen y Patricio Munita". LOM Ediciones, Santiago, 1998, page 153-
  3. ^ Christopher Minster (2009) Chile's MIR: The Revolutionary Left Movement. Urban Guerrillas Declare War on the Pinochet Dictatorship. Latin American History [1]
  4. ^ Pedro Naranjo, "La vida de Miguel Enríquez y el MIR". En: Naranjo P., Ahumada M., Garcés M y Pinto J. Miguel Enríquez y el proyecto revolucionario en Chile. Ed. Lom, 2004. Page 37
  5. ^ Julio Cesar Jobet. "Historia del Partido Socialista de Chile". Cuadernos de Orientación Socialista. Santiago de Chile, 2003. Primera edición digital 2003 [2]
  6. ^ Pedro Alfonso Valdés Navarro (2008) "Elementos teóricos en la formación y desarrollo del MIR durante el periodo 1965-1970". Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile. Tesis de grado. Pages 1-121 [3]
  7. ^ Diario "El Mercurio", Santiago de Chile, "A Través de la Historia Terrorista del Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR)", 25 August 1973
  8. ^ Pedro Alfonso Valdés Navarro (2008) "Elementos teóricos en la formación y desarrollo del MIR durante el periodo 1965-1970". Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile. Tesis de grado. Pages 1-121 [4]
  9. ^ i.e. Naranjo Sandoval, Pedro; "La vida de Miguel Enríquez y el MIR", in Naranjo Sandoval, Pedro (ed); Miguel Enríquez y el Proyecto Revolucionario en Chile. Ed. LOM. Santiago, 2004. p. 44
  10. ^ Pedro Alfonso Valdés Navarro (2008), cited work above, page 121
  11. ^ Nancy Guzmán Jasme, "Un grito desde el silencio: detención, asesinato y desaparición de Bautista van Schouwen y Patricio Munita". Lom Ediciones, Santiago, 1998. Page 133 -
  12. ^ Diario "El Mercurio", Santiago, Chile, 17 August 1974
  13. ^ Mark Ensalaco, "Chile under Pinochet. Recovering the truth". University of Pennsylvania Pres, Philadelphia, 2000. Page 72 [5]
  14. ^ Mark Ensalaco, quoted work. Page 72
  15. ^ Svenska Dagbladet, Stockholm, 06-11-1998. Brännpunkt, page 10
  16. ^ Associated Press, November 1, 1998. "Chilean in Norway files against Pinochet". OSLO, Norway, November 1 (AP)
  17. ^ NTB/Dagblad, "Pinochet politianmeldt i Norge", Oslo, 1 Nov 1998
  18. ^ Diario "La Nación", Santiago, Chile, 25 July 2007