Bernardo Leighton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Honorable
Bernardo Leighton
Bernardo Leighton.jpg
Leighton in the early 1970.
Chilean Minister of the Interior
In office
November 3, 1964 – February 5, 1968
President Eduardo Frei Montalva
Preceded by Sótero del Río
Succeeded by Edmundo Pérez Zujovic
Chilean Minister of Education
In office
February 27, 1950 – February 4, 1952
President Gabriel González Videla
Preceded by Manuel Rodríguez Valenzuela
Succeeded by Eliodoro Domínguez
Chilean Minister of Labor
In office
May 24, 1937 – March 12, 1938
President Arturo Alessandri
Preceded by Roberto Vergara Donoso
Succeeded by Juan José Hidalgo
Member of the Chilean Chamber
In office
May 15, 1969 – September 21, 1973
Constituency Santiago
In office
May 15, 1945 – May 15, 1949
Constituency Antofagasta
Personal details
Born Bernardo Leighton Guzmán
(1909-08-16)August 16, 1909
Nacimiento, Chile
Died January 26, 1995(1995-01-26) (aged 85)
Santiago, Cile
Nationality Chilean
Political party National Falange
Christian Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Ana María Fresno Ovalle (m. 1940–95); his death
Parents Bernardino Leighton Gajardo and Sinforosa Guzmán Gallegos
Alma mater Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
Profession Lawyer
Religion Catholic Church

Bernardo Leighton Guzmán (August 16, 1909, Nacimiento, Bío Bío Province – January 26, 1995, Santiago) was a Chilean Christian Democrat who was targeted by Operation Condor.


Early life[edit]

Bernardo Leighton was born on August 1909, son of the judge Bernardino Leighton Gajardo and Sinforosa Guzmán Gallegos. He grew up with an admiration to the father, reputed a "justice man". He live his childhood in Los Angeles, in the Bío Bío Province. In 1921, Leighton moved to Concepción for studied as apprentice in the laical section of the seminary, and the later year he moved again to Santiago for work in the local Jesuit School St. Ignacio.[1]

Political life[edit]

As student leader to the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, in 1927 parteciped to the riots against the Carlos Ibáñez del Campo's dictatorship, that was deposed in 1931. In this year, Leighton was sent by the Minister Marcial Mora to Coquimbo to placate the local military riots supported by the population.[2] Finally, in 1933 was graduated as lawyer with a thesis on the rural works.[1]

In 1937, was appointed as Minister of Labor by Arturo Alessandri Palma. During this time, Leighton founded, along with his friend and associates Eduardo Frei Montalva, Radomiro Tomic and José Ignacio Palma, the National Falange, that in 1957 merged in the Christian Democratic Party.[3]

In 1945, he was elected deputy to the Chamber of Deputies, for the Antofagasta constituency. Leighton also served as Minister of Education in the Videla Government (1946–1952), and as Minister of the Interior in the Montalva Government (1964–1970)

He was elected another time in 1969, and served as deputy until the Chilean coup d'état of 1973.

Exile and assassination attempt[edit]

On February 1974, Leighton fled in Europe with the wife, and started a campaign against the Augusto Pinochet's Junta.[4] His criticism against the military government caused his exile from the Chile. Finally, he moved to Rome, in Italy.

On October 6, 1975, at 20:20 hour, Leighton and his wife were shot by a neo-fascist sympathizer, who was near to Stefano delle Chiaie, a far-right terrorist.

According to CIA documents released by National Security Archive, in 1975 in Madrid, Italian terrorist Stefano Delle Chiaie met with DINA agent Michael Townley and Cuban Virgilio Paz Romero to prepare, with the help of Francisco Franco's secret police, the murder of Bernardo Leighton. On October 5, 1975 he and his wife were severely injured by gunshots while in exile in Rome.

The day after, Leighton was operated on brain, to prevent the lost of speech.[5] Nevertheless, his brain was definitively damaged, and he alternated for his remainder life clarity moment and lapse moment. This event caused the end of his pacification intention to reunite the various opposition to Pinochet, including the lefts.

In 1978, the Chilean government allowed him to return from Italy,[6] and Leighton retired himself to private life. He died on January 26, 1995.

Personal life[edit]

On August 15, 1940, Leighton married Ana María Fresno Ovalle, a Juan Francisco Fresno's relative. Fresno, that became paraplegic in 1975 after her shooting (along with her husband), died in 2011. The couple never had children.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "[missing title]". January 27, 1995. p. 1. 
  2. ^ "[missing title]". January 26, 1995. p. 12. 
  3. ^ Armando de Ramón y Otros (2003). Biografías de chilenos: miembros de los poderes Ejecutivo, Legislativo y Judicial (1876-1973). Catholic University of Chile. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "ROMA: Leighton, opera do para evitar que perdiera el habla". October 8, 1975. 
  6. ^ "Chile to Allow a Top Politician To Return From Exile in Italy". New York Times. 1978-05-14.