DETENTION FACILITIES AND TESTIMONY OF PRISONERS
1. One of the most important tasks accomplished by the Commission was to visit a number of detention facilities to examine the conditions under which persons deprived of liberty were kept, and to conduct interviews with a large number of such persons. Some of these interviews were tape recorded.
Transcribed or summarized below are the notes prepared by the Commission members in charge of these visits, with the assistance of Executive Secretary Dr. Reque and Drs. Gómez and Holzman.
2. Before the Commission reached Santiago—in some cases the day before—a number of transfers of groups of detainees or prisoners took place. Thus, for example, prisoners on Dawson Island had first been transferred to various detention facilities in Santiago and then to Ritoque, north of Valparaiso. “Tejas Verdes,” which had been identified in a number of denunciations as a place where torture took place, was already empty as was “Cerro Chena” and “Chile Stadium.” In other cases, the Commission was informed that its visit had caused considerable improvement in the treatment of prisoners.
3. In most cases, names of persons interrogated have been omitted, either at their express request or because the Commission does not have written authorization to proceed otherwise. Information that might make possible easy identification of the declarants has also been omitted. This information is on file at the Commission.
4. It should be noted that individual situations have been mentioned further on to show the general situation prevailing with regard to those detained for political reasons. Mention of these situations and statements that have been gathered or formulated concerning them does not in any way constitute prejudgment of the individual cases that are now in process before the Commission as a consequence of the formal denunciations received.
5. Finally, it should be repeated that everything said in this chapter reflects the verifications made, or the complaints received, by the Commission during its visit to the particular facilities, and therefore, does not in any way, exclude the possibility that circumstances may have changed since the visits.
A. “Tres Álamos” Detention Facility
6. This facility was visited on the morning of July 26 by the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Commission, Drs. Jiménez de Aréchaga and Dunshee de Abranches, who were accompanied by Dr. Holzman, a Commission staff member.
7. “Tres Álamos” is in a suburb of Santiago which is made up of very modest houses. It is a country estate containing the remains of former vineyards. The property is approximately one or two hectares in area and contains buildings, some of them two stories high, that belong, according to what the Commission was told, to a religious congregation. All of the work needed to guarantee the security of the detention facilities, such as walls, barbed wire, etc., have been completed.
Aside from the central buildings, which comprise the offices of higher level personnel, kitchens and other general services, there are three longitudinal buildings, made up of adjoining rooms whose doors lead to an open corridor, as do the bathrooms and toilets. The larger room at the end of the corridor appears to be intended for common use by the prisoners in the particular building.
Each of these buildings has an exit onto a yard, used for recreation.
8. The first building visited was occupied by around 30 women. We first noted the interior installations and determined that each room contained between two and four beds, leaving little free space. There were some magazines on the beds, and clippings from magazines were attached to the walls. A crib in one room indicated the presence of a child a few months old. Toilets and baths appeared to be suitably clean. We did not determine whether hot water was available in the showers, and the prisoners later denied that there was any.
In the common room, we noted some ten sewing machines which, the staff of the facility informed us, were used by the prisoners to sew items they sold for their own profit.
Prisoners who were interested in talking with the Commission's representatives were asked to go out into the yard or garden. All of them, without exception, went there. One group surrounded Dr. Abranches and the other surrounded Dr. Jiménez de Aréchaga, who was assisted by Dr. Holzman operating a tape recorder.
It was thus possible to talk with almost all of the prisoners and to tape record what most of them said.
9. Serious violations of the right to personal integrity were denounced to us. According to the denunciations, the torture, abuse and cruel and inhuman treatment were not applied in Tres Álamos, but rather in other facilities to which the prisoners were periodically transferred for interrogation.
We could see the degree of intense emotional disturbance of the overwhelming majority of the prisoners. Many of them could not hold back convulsive weeping and related their experiences without containing their indignation, even though they could easily be overheard by the authorities of the establishment and by Colonel Espinoza, who was a few meters away. Others were to emotionally disturbed to make any statement.
According to the prisoners' statements, some of them were less than 18 years old.
10. In general, the most serious charges made by these prisoners against those who interrogated them away from “Tres Álamos” are the following:
a) Every kind of sexual aggression, including the commission of such aberrant acts as successive rape by several individuals, etc.;
b) The use of electric current, applied to the most sensitive areas of the body, successively or simultaneously;
c) Beatings and torture in the presence of their husbands or companions;
d) Threats against their parents, children, husbands, or other persons closely related to them;
e) The use of drugs of the “pentothal” type, to inhibit any physical or psychological resistance to sexual aggression or during the interrogations.
Many of the prisoners stated that they were suffering, as a consequence of the events denounced, serious injuries to their genital organs and intense psychological disturbances. We heard about such as these: “I want to die! I can't stand it any longer,” or: “Have a committee of independent psychiatrists come to examine us! They will be able to verify that we are crazy or psychologically destroyed!”.
Most of the statements were recorded.
11. The prisoners also stated that:
a) What the director of the establishment and the physician had previously indicated to the effect that they were supplied meat, fish, eggs and fresh vegetables was absolutely false. Their food—they stated—consisted basically of lentils and peas or beans. The lack of variety in their diet, they added, was causing them serious disorders;
b) There was not hot water in the showers, contrary to what the authorities asserted;
c) The sewing machines had arrived at the establishment only two days before the Commission's visit, and had not been used by the prisoners;
d) One of the prisoners, in an advanced state of pregnancy, said she needed treatment that could not be given in “Tres Álamos”.
It was only at the conclusion of the visit that a woman, who was better dressed than the others, appeared and stated to the Commission Chairman in an almost confidential manner, clearly avoiding being heard by the prisoners, that she had always been treated in a gentlemanly way and that life in the facility was comfortable.
12. According to the prisoners' statements, no accusation of any kind had been brought against them, and many of them had not been interrogated by any other authority than the police. They all denied having committed any crime whatever or that they had been specifically accused of having committed any crime whatever.
13. The second building housed only men, and their number was easily equal to the number of women detained in the other wing.
They were of various social and cultural levels, and of varied philosophical and political beliefs. Among them were lawyers, engineers, electronic specialists, dentists, professors, etc., as well as manual laborers.
Only two or three of them were observed to be reticent to communicate with the Commission members. The others gladly accepted doing so and thanked us for coming. In general, they asked to be heard separately from the group, because they believed that there were some individuals among them who were instructed to spy on them.
14. One of the first questions the Commission asked the director of the establishment when it arrived was whether any minor was detained there. This question was asked because actually information had been received that there were minors of one or the other sex detained there. We have already indicated that some of the women said they were 16 or 17 years old. While we were speaking with the detained men, we were informed that ten minutes before our arrival a minor, Chacaltana, had been removed from the yard and transferred to the upper floor of the central building. The Chairman of the Commission immediately contacted the Director of the establishment and asked him to order the minor, Chacaltana, to be taken to the offices on the lower floor to be interrogated at the end of the visit. The Director then admitted that the minor was indeed there, and gave an unclear explanation to the effect that he expected an order at any time o release him.
15. Continuing the visit to the detained men, we received many extensive testimonials—some of them tape recorded—regarding physical and psychological torture suffered by most of them. According to their statements, the tortures consisted in general of:
a) Application of electric current to sensitive parts of the body, particularly the genital organs, successively or simultaneously;
b) Cigarette burns on various parts of the body;
c) Injuries caused by being hung by the wrists or the ankles;
d) A mock firing squad firing over the head of the prisoner or beside him;
e) Threat of abuse of wives, children, or sisters;
f) Forcing them to witness torture of other prisoners or to hear their screams while they were tortured;
g) Simultaneous cuffing with the open hands on both ears to injure the eardrum.
The Commission could see that one of the prisoners had scars on his upper and lower limbs that obviously were caused by recent injuries.
As in the case of the women, the prisoners expressed the same criticism regarding the food supplied to them, which was mostly lentils and beans, without meat, fish, or fruit. Both the men and the women criticized the doctor of the establishment.
Almost unanimously, both men and women indicated in response to our question as to whether they had filed an appeal of amparo, that the authorities of the establishment had told them that “they could not” file such an appeal and that they were forbidden to have lawyers visit them.
16. In conclusion, three final comments:
a) Although the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Justice, and interior told us that we could freely visit any detention facility, we were not permitted to go beyond the Director's office at “Tres Álamos” until Colonel Espinoza was called in by telephone.
b) Despite our interest in visiting the establishment's third wing, in which, according to what many prisoners told us, there was a group of persons who were being repeatedly interrogated and tortured, and whose cries they said they had heard, it was not possible to overcome the resistance of the authorities present. The fact that our visit had already been prolonged for several hours contributed to the situation.
c) Although we were not permitted to take photographs in the establishment, an official photographer took many photos during our conversations with the prisoners, which visibly upset them, because they feared the use that might subsequently be made of the photographs. We did not receive copies of the photographs, despite repeated promises that we would be furnished them.
17. With regard to the places in which—according to the statements received—prisoners were tortured during interrogation, the prisoners particularly indicated the building of the investigations center called “La Patilla”; the premises of Nº 38 Londres Street, also known as the “house of terror” or the “house of the bells” because the bells of a nearby church can be heard there; the Military Hospital; and very particularly, the Air Force Academy, in Santiago.
18. As examples of the complaints received during our visit to this establishment, it would be useful to transcribe some of the notes taken by the Commission members during the visit, eliminating names and other data that would make it possible to identify the declarants.
I. PERSONS HELD WITHOUT CHARGE OR TRIAL
Nº 1 Arrested in mid-October, 1973 and released at the end of December 1973, was again arrested early in 1974.
Nº 2 Imprisoned from early May 1974, initially in the Chile Stadium.
Nº 3 Arrested the last week of April 1974.
Nº 4 Arrested shortly after the establishment of the new government. His family has been deprived of economic resources.
Nº 5 Arrested early in March 1974; was previously in other detention facilities. Reports that he was a member of the Communist Party, but never took part in subversive activities. States that he received invitations to teach or work in foreign universities. Requests intervention of the CIDH to obtain his release, even if it should be on condition of immediately leaving Chile.
Nº 6 Arrested last week of February 1974; states he has not taken part in political activities. Attributes his arrest to the fact that he has signed an appeal for relief in behalf of a detained person. Denounces the disappearance of Dr. Luiz Ortiz Quiroga, who was imprisoned in the Tejas Verdes facility.
Nº 7 Arrested in mid-June 1974 and taken blindfolded to an unknown house. Denounces the detention of two minors, Carlos Orlando Ayres Moreno (16 years old) and Carlos Soto, but does not know whether they are now held in the men's building or somewhere else.
Nº 8 Arrested in May 1974.
Nº 9 Arrested in 1973, was released by the Prosecutor in July 1974, but was again arrested and transferred successively to two detention centers, together with two other persons.
Nº 10 Detained from October 30, 1973, in the women's House of Correction in Santiago, and transferred June 28, 1974, to the Tres Álamos facility. Requested the Under Secretary of Foreign Affairs to arrange for her release and allow her to remain in Chile, or if that could not be done, to make the necessary arrangements for her to leave the country. Requests CIDH intervention to recover her identification card and leave the country with the assistance of the National Committee for Aid to Refugees. Was later released and was able to leave Chile on August 2.
II. PERSONS DENOUNCING PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DURESS
Nº 1 Accused of distributing subversive pamphlets, apparently was tortured in the building of Nº 38 Londres Street (shows scars on wrists; says not able to identify the tortures).
Nº 2 Arrested September 1973 and taken to Nº 38 Londres Street (shows no scars, but accuses policemen names approximately Luicajón, Sapalo and Raúl Romo of alleged torture).
Nº3 Arrested in mid-April 1974 and taken to Nº 38 Londres Street (marks on wrists had already disappeared).
Nº 4 Arrested in mid-June 1974 and taken to Air War Academy, where says was tortured by a captain whose name could not identify (still shows visible scars on wrists).
Nº 5 Arrested late January 1974. Alleges she was sexually abused by three persons at locations she could not identify because she was blindfolded. She states she was examined by a physician of the Women’s House of Correction (Santiago) who signed a certificate attesting to her allegations. She states that the only reason for her detention and maltreatment she was subjected to would be the facts that she visited Cuba in 1972, for reasons having nothing to do with politics. The emotional state of the complainant indicates the need for medical-psychiatric treatment.
Nº 6 Very young. States was arrested with other students and accused of subversive propaganda activities in high school. States was tortured in the house on Londres Street, in Santiago. Was released after the conclusion of the Commission's visit to Chile.
Nº 7 Imprisoned in the Stadium, and released in mid-June 1974. Was tortured in the house on Londres Street.
Nº 8 Imprisoned since early October 1973. States was tortured in the house on Londres Street.
B. “Capuchinos” Detention Center, Santiago
19. In the morning of July 26, Ambassador Robert F. Woodward, accompanied by Dr. Luis Reque, visited the Capuchinos Detention Center, located in downtown Santiago, some three blocks from the Senate Building. The center has large dormitories with a capacity of 30 persons, and other dormitories for four or eight persons. Some of the prisoners have radios. There was a television set. Everything had obviously been cleaned shortly before the visit. When Mr. Woodward and Dr. Reque arrived, the prisoners were assembled in an enclosed yard. There were 167 prisoners; 95 of them were members of the armed forces. Of the 95, 30 were officers of various ranks.
20. Since the Commission had received denunciations regarding several serious cases, Mr. Woodward and Dr. Reque began by requesting that they be permitted to interview the alleged victims of those acts, whose names they supplied. They were informed that the prisoners were not at that center.
21. As examples of the complaints received, a transcription or summary of some of the notes taken by Mr. Woodward and Dr. Reque are given below, with required deletions.
Nº 1 Arrested October 1973; was prisoner of armed forces some ten months (during five of them remained in a small room where there was not even room to sleep on the floor). Was transferred to “Capuchinos” in May 1974. States that no charges have been brought against him, and says that he has done nothing against the military Junta.
Nº 2 Was arrested in late October 1973 under suspicion (false) of taking part in political meetings. No specific charge has been brought against him. Says that he has done nothing, nor has spoken with anybody concerning any action against the armed forces.
Says that he was beaten so severely during interrogation that he suffered complete paralysis of his left side. Has recovered the use of his left side but still suffers disturbing aftereffects; in particular cannot read for more than one hour. Was forced to remain standing for two entire days.
Nº 3 Was arrested early in March 1974, accused of having participated in political meetings. Says no specific charges were brought against him, that he has never done anything against the Government, and has had nothing to do with politics. During the first ten days of his detention, was repeatedly tortured with electrical shocks over his entire body. During the first five days was continuously blindfolded and hooded.
Nº 4 Sentenced to three years in prison for alleged conversations with two other persons in a “Communist cell”. Stated that he does not even know the other persons. During interrogations, was beaten and was kept blindfolded for a long period.
Nº 4 Arrested October 1973. Was released in February 1974. In May 1974, was again arrested. Was held incommunicado for four days. Has not been tortured. The authorities are seeking the death sentence in his case. Says he is not in politics. Needs medical attention, which is not available in the prison.
Nº 5 Says he belongs to a group of persons who were arrested early in November 1974. Was tortured with electric shock, beatings with clubs, irons and cuffing with the palms of the hands on his ears. Was attended by a physician, who found evidence of torture. Was held five months incommunicado, in a very small cell. Has been brought to trial. A sentence of life imprisonment is being asked. Ten to twenty years in prison is being asked for some of the persons detained with him. Was brought before the war council, but they had to suspend the hearing for lack of sufficient evidence. Food in this prison is not bad. During the time he was held incommunicado, the food was bad; he did not see light for five months; was first in a jail and in January 1974, they put him in a cold basement.
Nº 6 Arrested in September 1973 and taken to Chilean National Stadium, where he was beaten. Was hospitalized in the field hospital during the last week of September, 1973 in the National Stadium. Was interrogated for the second time and again beaten.
Nº 7 Detained around mid-December 1973 at his work, by civilians. Was tied for two days and blindfolded. Was tortured with electric shock on the ears and body. One ear is in rather bad condition, with internal injury, and he may have to be operated upon. Has signs of torture on the feet and hands. His family had news of him in January 1974. He was transferred to the Santiago Public Jail in mid-February 1974. He is under psychiatric treatment and takes medicine to sleep and remain tranquil during the day. It could be seen that he was in a very nervous state. His wife wanted to go to the Commission's office in the Hotel Crillón, but they would not let her in. Says that no charges have been brought against him and that there is no torture in this prison.
Nº 8 The pertinent part of his taped statement is transcribed. “The treatment we received has truly surpassed anything imaginable. We have been subjected to the worst abuse and torture of the most vicious kind. Their marks remain in our bodies. We went several days without receiving water, remained standing for two, three days and if we fell because we were tired or weak, we were brought to our feet by kicks and blows with rifle butts; we were tortured with electric shocks in the testicles and anus; were hung by the feet and hands; were crucified; needles were driven under our fingernails; we were injected with drugs; we were subjected to mock firing squads; and to tortures in the presence of wives and children, who were also tortured.” “In my case, I was arrested in a raid by 20 carabineros, who pointed their guns at my four-year-old daughter.” “In my presence, with my hands tied and without a hood, they killed a person who had his hands tied, and they said to us: 'That's how we are going to treat you if you do not cooperate.' “We have misgivings about our stay here, after the Commission leaves.”
“We request that an OAS representative inspect the treatment given to the 7.000 prisoners throughout Chile, after the Commission withdraws.” “In the Santiago Public Jail, there is a sick boy with a liver attack. The guard was notified, but said that nobody died of a liver attack, and they left him without any medical attention.”
“In our country, up to September 11, 1973, there were no political prisoners.”
“We had information that they are preparing a kind of document or legislation, which will set forth a number of provisions affecting political prisoners. What will those provisions be regarding international stipulation on human rights of the United Nations and the OAS? We request OAS intervention to make that document more humane and legal, and to make it respect the human rights of men with a right to defense.”
“We were kept with common criminals in wards 5 and 6.”
“Although we have been prisoners for ten months, they have still not brought us to trial. When we are taken to the interrogation rooms, they take us in chains, with hoods, and torture us because we do not say things that are not true. We have cases of persons who have been taken as political prisoners to military interrogation centers and have not yet returned.”
“Another very serious point is the situation of our families. Our children do not have the right to work or receive education, because they have family members detained. It has reached the point of destruction of the family.”
“We request the Commission to try to eliminate extreme penalties and the death penalty for charges invented by the Prosecutor.”
“We fear for the lives of two companions: Darío Pavez, who is thought to have been sent to the Air Force War Academy, and Julio Stuardo, who is believed to be in Chacabuco.”
“Three youths who were with us in Wards 5 and 6 were found dead the following day at the foot of a high tension tower. They are accused of trying to commit criminal assault.”
“General Bachelet died in the jail… for lack of medical treatment and for lack of air. He had heart trouble. He was taken in chains to the interrogation room.”
The death penalty had been requested for Captain Carlos Patricio Carvacho and Captain Vergara.”
“Previously the International Red Cross Commission was denied access to the jail.”
Nº 9 The death penalty has been requested for him. The relevant passages of his statement are transcribed: “I was arrested in September 1973 and taken to the Air Force War Academy. I was kept standing for two days. I was interrogated and tortured while hooded. Electric shock was applied to my genitals, mouth, and ears. I was beaten, I was tied to a kind of grating; I have marks of torture. I was held incommunicado for 45 days, with a guard armed with an automatic weapon. One of the guards accidentally fired a shot and killed one of the prisoners. Later I was transferred to the Main Ward. One hundred and ten of us are left out of 135, and we were transferred from there to here twenty days ago. We are all right here. We have been informed that here, in Capuchinos, we will be sentenced by the Secretary of the War Council on Tuesday, July 30, at 14:30 hours.”
Nº 10 Detained for six months. Says that no charges against him. Has been beaten; shows marks; has three ribs broken as a result of beatings and tortures. Tortures also in hands, feet, mouth and teeth. Says was tortured in Tejas Verdes and in another place that he did not recognize, in which he was blindfolded for nine days and was again tortured with electric shock in the ears, feet and hands, razor cuts on the fingers, hands and feet. The treatment in the jail was inhuman. He remained for two months on bread and water, was tortured at nine different locations. One of them was in the Barco Lebo, in Valparaiso; on one occasion a black liquid was forced down his nose. It is his family he is worried about. He asked the Commission to do something for them if possible.
Nº 11 Arrested in September 1973. Has been denied release on bail. Preferred not to speak of tortures. “No charges against me; however, I am suffering consequences of the state of war. I do not rely on the judicial authorities, they have denied me the remedy of amparo. If I were judged by normal laws, there is no charge whatever against me.”
22. Four prisoners making up a so-called “Committee of Political Prisoners in Capuchinos” said that many of the 167 political prisoners detained in Capuchinos did not know the reason for their detention, after 10 months of being deprived of liberty. Only three of the 167 had been sentenced. The rest, that is to say 164, had no specific charges brought against them. The slowness of procedures is almost worse than the lack of judicial proceedings. It appears that most of the prisoners are suspected of having taken part in “Plan Z” (which the Committee Chief said never existed).
They stated that the Capuchinos prison is relatively good, at least there is no maltreatment there.
They stated that torture had been systematic; the use of the hood for long periods and always during interrogation; blows, kicks, and blows from rifle butts; being forced to stand for entire days; long periods with nothing to drink, up to 48 hours, in one case; electric shocks; threats of torture to wives and children in the presence of the prisoners; hanging by the tied hands, etc.
Wives lose their jobs because their husbands are in prison. This has happened in 14 cases among the prisoners in Capuchinos. In addition, children of prisoners are not admitted to the universities.
The head of the “Committee” expressed the hope that a Commission member might be able to visit the prisons periodically to continue the favorable effect and reduce the possibility that the good effects might be temporary. He mentioned that Wards 5 and 6 of the Santiago Public Jail are particularly bad because of the small size of the cells and the large number of prisoners kept in the small rooms.
C. Chile Stadium
23. Was visited by Professor Manuel Bianchi, Dr. Genaro Carrió and Dr. Alvaro Gómez, a Secretariat staff member, on July 26, 1974. The group was accompanied by Commander Correa, of SENDET.
The Chile Stadium was mentioned in a number of denunciations as a place where acts of violation of human rights had taken place and as a place where a large number of persons were detained under the “state of siege.”
24. Commander Correa reported that this place was no longer used as a detention center. He added that during the time it functioned as a center, persons who were brought there were interrogated, in principle, to establish their status. If there were charges or grounds for suspicion of subversive or criminal activities, such persons were transferred to other detention centers, more particularly, the jail on Capuchinos Street, the Investigations Department, or the Chacabuco camp.
D. Tejas Verdes Engineering School
25. The same group visited this place—located 109 kilometers from Santiago—at 3:00 p.m. on July 26, 1974, and were received by the commanding officer of the center. He reported that, since late January 1974, no persons had been detained there.
A visit was made to the sector which according to information supplied by the officer, had been used to house prisoners. The place consisted of a series of 30 wooden barracks, divided by a wire fence into 15 for men and 15 for women, with doors but with no windows. We were informed that the center could house 200 prisoners.
When the Colonel was asked approximately how many persons could be housed in each barracks, he stated that they were able to house 4 or 5 persons. He indicated that “technical material” was now kept in the barracks. It was noted that some of the barracks were empty with their doors open; next to the exit gate there was a guard tower.
26. The Commission asked the ad hoc prosecutor, Colonel Rodríguez, to submit the records of the persons who had been detained in the installation. The following irregularities were noted in the records:
a) It had loose interspersed pages, while the numbers of the other pages were inexplicably consecutive;
b) There was no appropriate space to indicate the release of detained persons, so that in various places, without consistent order, the record showed that in some cases the prisoner had been “released”, but nothing at all was specified for other prisoners;
c) It was noted that in a certain part of the records the term “jail” was used with respect to some prisoners; and when the prosecutor was interrogated as to the cause of this irregularity, he said that the notation meant that the persons indicated had been transferred to the San Antonio jail, in the installation itself, or to the town hall of Tejas Verdes;
d) It was also noted that, in the registry section for indicating “Reason for Detention”, the terms “activists”, “propagandists”, and “socialists” often appeared.
In one case, the reason for the detention indicated in the register was being the “Chauffeur of Matías Sánchez.” It was noted that Matías Sánchez had indeed been arrested also on September 22, 1973, but there was no record as to whether he was released or transferred to another place, etc.
Finally, great irregularity was noted with regard to the registry of “Entry” and “Exit” of women detained in Tejas Verdes.
According to the register, the last prisoner entered there on January 30, 1974.
E. “El Buen Pastor” Detention Center
27. In the afternoon of July 26, Ambassador Woodward and Dr. Reque visited the Buen Pastor House of Correction. This is a jail located in a suburb far from downtown Santiago, in the neighborhood of San Bernardo. The establishment is under the supervision of nuns. Conditions in the dormitories appear to be good; there is a television set; the environment is tranquil. There are 38 prisoners; they were in the open air, many of them knitting small garments with wool they received free from the Red Cross. They said that they earned a little money from the sale of the garments; they also made clothing for themselves. They complained of the shortage of wool. The Tres Álamos Prison is nearby. There was clear indication of fear regarding the possibility of being transferred to that jail, which has a very bad reputation.
28. Since the Commission had received denunciations mentioning the Buen Pastor House of Correction, Mr. Woodward and Dr. Reque began the visit by asking that they be permitted to interview the prisoners individually.
The Mother Superior reported that there were 38 prisoners, 37 of whom were imprisoned for political crimes. Of the 37, five had been sentenced and 32 were being prosecuted. There was no obstacle to speaking directly with the prisoners. In a large room, Ambassador Woodward and Dr. Reque spoke to the prisoners to explain to them the purpose of the visit. Later, using as reference the lists the Commission had of the persons detained, they were interviewed in private.
29. Ambassador Woodward interrogated the following prisoners:
Nº 1 Arrested early in October 1973; interrogated at the Stadium and sent to “Buen Pastor” late in October. No specific charge brought against her, but the military prosecutor who interviewed her two months ago informed her that air force intelligence had a file on her anti-patriotic ideas, expressed in a book written several years ago by her.
The prisoner stated that she had written in that book what she believed was the truth regarding a number of aspects of Chilean history.
Nº 2 Was arrested in mid-March 1973, when the authorities raided her apartment looking for weapons. The prisoner stated that she had never taken part in any acts of violence or in the preparation of acts of violence. Was tortured at the air force headquarters, where she was kept blindfolded for two months and a half and received concentrated electric shock on three occasions, all over her body. This caused injuries, such as a hernia in her back.
Nº 3 Was arrested in late September because of her political ideas. Was interrogated and tortured up to late October, before being sent to Buen Pastor. Was beaten but did not receive electric shocks. Was not visited by the military prosecutor until early February 1974. States that there are no specific charges against her. Has so far not been permitted to have a lawyer.
Nº 4 Was arrested early October 1973. Was tortured and interrogated at the Stadium and sent to Buen Pastor early in November 1973. Still does not know of any charge against her.
Nº 5 Was arrested in September 1973 and accused of having acted as a spy or as an intelligence agent for air force matters. Said that she had not taken part in any political activity. Was tortured an entire night with beatings and electric shocks in the Chilean air force headquarters and sent to Buen Pastor late in October, 1973. Still no specific charges against her and was not visited by the military prosecutor until July 1974.
Nº 6 Arrested in late June 1974. Was severely beaten and subjected to electric shock during five days of interrogation at the Investigation Department of the Civil Police and sent to Buen Pastor, where she had been in bed until a few days previously. Mr. Woodward asked to speak to her when he saw her walking very slowly with the help of two young prisoners. She said that she had never had anything to do with violence nor with preparations for violence. They raided her house looking for weapons, but found none.
Nº 7 Arrested September 1973. Never took part in political activities. Does not know charges against her, although she appeared before a “War Council”, when she saw for the first and last time the attorney appointed to defend her. Was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Nº 8 Does not know the charges against her. Said that she never took part in political activities. Was sentenced to 400 days.
Nº 9 Was arrested in San Antonio in September 1973, accused of having weapons in her apartment. Her apartment was raided and thoroughly searched, but no weapons were found. By beatings and electric shock, her captors made her say what they wanted. That was how she had falsely stated that she had had a weapon. Was sentenced to three years.
Nº 10 Said that she was sentenced to 15 years for having taken part with her husband in a meeting with a group of farmers after September 11. Said that they are all uneducated, that they cannot read the newspapers, and that they rarely listen to the radio. They did not know that a meeting with some neighbors could result in arrest and punishment. Her husband is in jail in Santiago. They were accused of possessing weapons, but she says that they did not have any.
30. The following persons were interviewed by the Executive Secretary:
Nº 1 Was arrested in September 1973 and taken to the National Stadium. Was transferred in November to Buen Pastor. Said that proceedings had been initiated against her for having lent her house during 1971 and 1972 for political education. Said that she did not have a lawyer, and that the prosecutor did not permit her to have one. Was subjected to torture, regarding which she did not want to give details for fear of reprisal.
Nº 2 Was arrested in November for having permitted a person to take lodging in her house a few days immediately after the events of September. Was subjected to torture in the Buin regiment, where she was held incommunicado for 40 days. Se was deaf as a result of the electric shock that had been applied to her ears. Said that she had no medical attention. Requested that the Commission take steps to expedite proceedings against her.
Nº 3 Was arrested in September for having permitted another person to take lodging in her house. Was transferred to the National Stadium where she was tortured. Stated that the person lodging in her house was a young woman who was killed by police forces. Was transferred to Buen Pastor in October, 1973. Her children have been left abandoned. She requested that steps be taken to expedite her case.
Nº 4 Was arrested early April 1974. Was taken to the Air Force War Academy. Was raped, tortured with electric shock, and as a consequence, the doctor requested that she be committed to a psychiatric clinic. She is accused of belonging to the left. Stated that she has no right of defense until the prosecutor authorizes her to have counsel. Stated that her parents had died and that she is responsible for several siblings. She asks that her case be expedited.
Nº 5 Was arrested November 1973 and taken to the National Stadium. Was accused of bearing arms. Says that the War Council had sentenced her to 241 days in prison, and expects that she will be released August 3.
Nº 6 Was arrested in early October and taken to a Chilean Air Force installation where she was tortured. Has gynecological problems, for which she requires medical attention. She stated that she has a lawyer, but does not know what she is accused of.
Nº 7 Arrested in October 1973 and taken to the Investigation Section and then to the National Stadium. Stated that reprisals were taken in the Stadium against persons who talked to the Commission's Executive Secretary during his visit in October last year. Requests that steps be taken to expedite her case. No charge of any kind has been brought against her. She was tortured in Investigations, where she was disrobed, subjected to electric shock, and made to witness the torture of other prisoners.
Nº 8 Was arrested in October 1973 and tortured in the Police Investigations Room. Was transferred to the National Stadium and later went to Buen Pastor. No charges were brought against her. Her husband, who has also been arrested, lost an eye as a result of torture.
Nº 9 Was arrested in November 1973. Was transferred to Police Headquarters and later to Investigations, where she was held incommunicado. No charges have been brought against her.
Nº 10 Was arrested in September in Arica. In late December, 1973, the War Council sentenced her to eleven years in prison, but two days later, the sentence was increased to 26 years. Has no right of appeal. They transferred her to Santiago in a prison van in January, 1974. Was in the common criminals section in Buen Pastor, but six weeks ago was transferred to the incommunicado section. Has requested transfer to the section where political detainees are held. This request was denied, and they threatened to take her again to the common criminals section. Requests review of her case.
Nº 11 Was arrested by the police in mid-September 1973. Was held incommunicado 22 days. After a month's detention, without knowing the charges against her, she was sentenced by the War Council to 20 years in prison. Says she was not permitted to have counsel. Is now serving her sentence in Buen Pastor. Does not complain of maltreatment.
Nº 12 Her house was “taken” (they took possession of it) by a leftist party. She reported voluntarily to the Carabineros Academy on September 19, 1973, to explain the matter of her house. They arrested her that day and took her to the National Stadium, where she remained until October 26. She was free until February 4, when by order of the Prosecutor, she was arrested and taken by a lieutenant to the Matadero Lieutenancy, from which she was transferred to the Fourth Carabineros Station and was interrogated by the Prosecutor, Jaime Rojas. Was finally sent to Buen Pastor. After February 4, she was interrogated two more times, says that her case has not been tried. She alleges that she is entirely innocent and does not know whether she will be released. Requests that her status be clarified.
Nº 13 Was arrested in December 1973 by elements of the SIM (Intelligence Service.) Was taken to “Tejas Verdes” and detained there until late December 1973. Was tortured with electric shock, beatings, and psychological torture. Was held incommunicado, she says, “in a cage one meter wide by two meters long.” Was brought before a War Council in Tejas Verdes in early January 1974. Accused of assault against the carabineros and intellectual sabotage. Was sentenced to six years in prison. Was transferred to Buen Pastor in early March. Had no defense. Her lawyer was designated by the War Council, and was barely given time to ask her name. Requests that her case be reviewed, since there is no proof of the charges brought against her.
Nº 14 Was arrested in late June 1974. Was accused of secretly making Molotov cocktails, because she was found in another factory on September 12, 1973. They took only one statement from her. She was transferred to Buen Pastor and was held incommunicado for the first six days. Her case is pending and will be brought before the War Council. Requests that her case be expedited.
Nº 15 Arrested in early May 1974 by members of the SIM. They tortured her with electric shock, beatings on the lower part of her body, the use of the electric bed, etc. for the first two days. The last four days she was placed with other persons in a ditch full of excrement. In early May, she was taken to the Military Prosecutor and was made to sign a paper but does not know what it said or what it dealt with. She was charged with being a political activist, because pamphlets of a leftist party were found in her possession. She was taken to Buen Pastor the same day. She does not know what will become of her later. Requests that she be released because her children are shifted from house to house with no one responsible for them. She says that there is no guarantee that she will be set free, because she may be taken from Buen Pastor to Tres Álamos.
Nº 16 Was arrested in early January 1974 and accused of being an accessory. Was taken to Investigations and was forced to turn over her house to her captors. She was only interrogated and then transferred to Buen Pastor. She has been a prisoner since then, and in almost seven months has not been informed of anything, whether proceedings have begun in her case, or whether she will be brought before the War Council. In March of this year the Prosecutor came to see her. She says that her only crime was to have had in her house a former official of the previous regime, who has now left the country, while she continues in jail.
Nº 17 Was arrested in mid-January 1974. They did not tell her the reasons for her arrest. After three days she was taken to Tejas Verdes where she was interrogated with torture, beatings, etc. She was there 35 days. Then she was transferred to Buen Pastor. Later, in early April, she was transferred to the Chile Stadium, where she remained a month without having been interrogated. In early May, she returned to Buen Pastor. She hopes to be released with a dismissal of her case in two weeks to one month. She asks to have the signing of her release expedited.
Nº 18 Her house was raided in March 1974, and she was taken prisoner to the Chilean Air Force Investigations Section (El Bosque Air Force Base), for no reason at all. She was blindfolded. Six other persons whose names she does not know were with her. They were interrogated four times a day with torture: beatings, and electric shock. She was found guilty of being an accessory, because a young socialist was living in her house. She was then transferred to “Tejas Verdes” in mid-March 1974. There she says that they tortured her only one day. She remained 45 days locked up in a wooden building (a kind of cabin) together with about 20 women. Food was very bad. They were given two plates of food a day and two cups of tea. She was taken to Buen Pastor where she remained until late April. She does not know what charges were brought against her.
31. At the express request of some of the prisoners, who stated that they had been subjected to serious torture, all reference to their particular cases has been omitted, because they expressed fear that their attitude would provoke reprisals.
F. The Ritoque Detention Center
32. The Government that was installed after September 11, 1973, decided to detain in Dawson Island, south of the Straits of Magellan, at the extreme southern tip of the American hemisphere, a group of political personages—around 30—connected with the previous regime: an ex-Minister of Foreign Affairs, an ex-Ambassador of Chile to the United States, Senators, an ex Secretary of the President of the Republic, Popular Unity party leaders, etc.
These persons were flown to Punta Arenas, handcuffed, and then taken in a ship to their destination.
33. Dawson Island is a particularly inhospitable place, lashed by hurricane winds, snow and hail from the South Pole. The temperature is usually many degrees Centigrade below zero. Prisoners told the Commission they were transferred without being permitted to get any clothing in addition to what they had been using as detainees. They also stated that the place where they were lodged lacked the installations that are essential for decently housing anybody in comfortable and sanitary conditions.
34. Before the Commission reached Chile, these prisoners were ordered transferred. Only some local prisoners from Punta Arenas, who are more accustomed to the particularly harsh elements of the region, remained. The transferred prisoners were first taken to various military establishments in Santiago, and shortly thereafter to the Ritoque installation, near the Quintero Airbase, on the Pacific coast, north of Valparaiso.
35. The Government authorized the Commission to visit the installation and to converse freely with the prisoners. Five of the Commission members present in Chile made the visit on July 27.
36. The Commander of the Quintero Base explained the organization of Ritoque Camp.
He stated that the “detainees camp” (that was the term used by him) was in charge of the air force. There is a superior officer for the entire jurisdictional area of the Quintero zone. He is the Commander of Wing 2. The direct responsibility for the custody and care of the prisoners was assigned to Commander De La Fuente.
The camp is divided into two parts:
a) The administrative section (covering matters relating to correspondence, office work and keeping of records in charge of a civilian; and
b) The executive section, in charge of an officer who is appointed in rotation by the army, the carabineros, and the air force, every two weeks.
The detainees camp was first under the supervision of the air force, receiving its orders from this base, and a number of personnel for the custody and security of the camp. All problems occurring in the camp are resolved by the Commander. No visits are permitted without his authorization. For the Commander to be able to give his authorization, a communication must be sent from Santiago, announcing the name of the visitor and the day and hour of the visit. Prisoners supplies go to the base and are checked there, to ensure that nothing affects the security of the prisoners. Later, if appropriate, the requested item is delivered to them. The base also receives items that prisoners request from outside, such as newspapers and cigarettes, which are distributed through the administrative official.
Commander Lamas is in charge of what is called the Ritoque Camp. Under him is the Camp Commander, assisted by the counsel, correspondence, and prisoner control sections. There is a health section, consisting of a resident doctor, dentist, and nurse. The Naval Hospital is also available for emergency cases. In the weeks since the prisoners had arrived two of them had been taken to the Naval Hospital: Mr. Osvaldo Puccio who had been given an electrocardiogram, and Mr. Vergara, who was prescribed an exercise program for problems in one hand. Two or three other prisoners had been treated by the nurse. There are also an administrative and a surveillance system. The administrative system is in charge of food, supplies, and transportation.
The installation had available what little equipment there was in the camp, plus other items sent by SENDET and some from the base itself brought in on loan. There is one vehicle and a station wagon, both new, available for transportation.
Surveillance is in charge of a lieutenant, a captain, or a sub-lieutenant. At that time, the air force was in charge, and a lieutenant was on duty; later the army or the carabineros would be in charge.
Prisoners were organized into five sections, corresponding to the barracks in which they were lodged. There are five barracks in the camp, and each barrack houses about nine or ten prisoners. The residents of each barrack have selected a section head, who is their representative, and from amongst all of them they have selected a representative who receives requests, complaints, and petitions.
The head representative is Hugo Miranda. The section heads are: from Barracks B, Alfredo Joignant; from Barracks C, Pedro Ramírez; from Barracks D, Hugo Miranda, who has already been mentioned; from Barrack E, Orlando Cantuarías; and from Barracks F, Sergio Bitar. Barracks B also lodges Clodomiro Almeyda, Alfredo Joignant, Hernán Soto, Tito Palestro and Carlos Matus; Barracks C houses Daniel Vergara, Benjamín Teplizky, Luis Corvalán, José Cademartori, Fernando Flores, Jaime Concha and Pedro Ramírez; in Barracks D are, Jorge Tapia, Alejandro Jiliberto, Carlos Morales, Hugo Miranda, Osvaldo Puccio (junior) and Aníbal Palma; in Barracks E are, Orlando Letelier, Luis Matte, Miguel Muñoz, Miguel Launer, Julio Stuardo González and Orlando Canturías; and in Barracks F, Maximiliano Marcos, Sergio Bitar, Enrique Kirberg, Duarte Pinto, Andrés Sepúlveda, Luis Vega, Sergio Vuscovic and Leopoldo Zuljevic.
All of the prisoners are adults, and none of them is held incommunicado. They are allowed visits twice a week. They themselves have requested that visits not take place on weekdays, because most of their families are from Valparaiso or Santiago. Therefore, visiting hours were set at 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
With regard to food, we were informed of the menu last week. Monday: stew, lentils, roast apples and tea for lunch; vegetable soup, potato pie, and pears for dinner. Tuesday: cream of tomato soup, chicken with mushrooms, canned pineapple and tea, for lunch; avocado with lettuce, Italian stew, and cucumbers, for dinner. Wednesday: tuna salad, pork stew, beans, and tea, for lunch; beef “a lo pobre”, and hot milk for dinner. Thursday: meatballs, fried fish with salad, bananas and tea, for lunch, etc.
37. After these explanations, the Commission went from the Quintero base to the Ritoque detainees camp.
The place where the prisoners are kept was a public beach facility constructed near some sand dunes barely covered with grass. The place has been surrounded by a high wall with barbed wire and watch towers on all corners, in which guards armed with machine guns could be seen. It was indicated that this installation is very close to the beach.
Inside the enclosure are five wooden barracks, divided into small rooms with 2 two-deck beds in each, that is to say, with room for four persons. Toilets and showers are in a separate barracks. The roofs and walls of these buildings and of the common dining room, are of thin wooden boards, without insulation. As twilight neared, the building became cold.
There are a small infirmary, guard houses, troop quarters, etc., all with the same construction. All of the rooms are clean and in meticulous order.
The enclosure has free spaces, enough for the prisoners to be able to exercise.
It was pointed out to us that stoves have been provided for the prisoners although the guards do not have any. We could see that stoves were in the dining room, but they were not lighted.
38. As the prisoners stated, the Commission's presence meant a relaxation of the strict discipline. The Commission members expressed their desire to share lunch with the prisoners, which was granted. There were two courses served: a kind of broth with a small pieces of boiled meat, a sweet potato, a potato, and a pork chop boiled with garlic. An apple for dessert. The menu was considered exceptional by the prisoners, as well as the fact that they were provided with knives and forks, and not simply spoons. They said this was the first time that had occurred since their detention in September 1973. No liquid was served at the table.
39. After lunch, the Commission had ample opportunity to talk with the prisoners. All conversations were tape recorded. The following is a transcript of the recording with the sole elimination of some names at the request of the persons concerned.
After the Commission Chairman briefly explained the reasons for the visit and the scope of the authority conferred on this OAS Organ, one of the prisoners made a general statement, which is transcribed as follows:
Prisoner: First of all, I appreciate, Mr. Chairman, the openness with which you have indicated the Commission's authority, because I want to tell you in all frankness that there are undoubtedly few of us who thought the OAS has the necessary structure to be able to attain full observance of human rights in all the member countries. So that I appreciate the frankness with which you, Mr. Chairman, have indicated to us the limitations of your Commission. We understand all of those limitations perfectly, and we have exchanged opinions among ourselves, even with respect to the ultimate meaning that your report might have, because we understand perfectly well the political way this material will be discussed, if it is ever discussed, some day in the Assembly of the Organization of American States. That is the reason for this explanation, and I thank you for the frankness with which you have defined the actions of this Commission. It seems to me that to proceed in an orderly fashion, the first thing is to give an outline of our long detention. You already know that we have been prisoners for ten months. Some of my companions may tell you later of aspects such as interrogations, the tortures to which they have been subjected, and the really brutal way in which we have been treated on many occasions, and finally some will make comments relating to the problem of the observance of human rights, not only as it affects us, but also with respect to human rights in general, at this time in our country.
Most of us were arrested the same day the coup d'etat occurred, September 11. Many of our comrades here were in La Moneda, others in the Defense Ministry. I believe the Defense Minister went to the Ministry; he was detained in the Ministry. You already know the details of how the bombardment of La Moneda occurred, and how prisoners were taken from there, some to be transferred to regiments and most of them to the Military Academy. One of them, or two (at this time there is one) was taken to a Stadium and treated with unusual violence: he is a 21 year old youth (he became 21 in detention), Oswaldo Puccio, who was accompanied by his father, the Private Secretary of the President of the Republic; and that is why he was in La Moneda. In other cases, companions were brought in, whose names appeared in edicts of the Military Junta. We were transferred on the 14th or 15th—noon of the 15th—of course without communications of any kind, without notifying our families, without taking clothing, appropriate for the weather that we were going to suffer on Dawson Island; and with a really extraordinary, unnecessary violence, we were taken in mini-buses to Cerillos, treated with great violence, and shipped to Dawson Island. We arrived at Punta Arenas. In Punta Arenas, an event occurred during the transfer from Punta Arenas—from the airport of Punta Arenas to the port—which really should be pointed out, because of the consequences that it had further on, and that is the fact that we were transferred in military vehicles, in military trucks, military cars—of course covered—and the rifle of one of the soldiers guarding us went off, ricocheted off the roof, and struck the right hand of Daniel Vergara Bustos, who was given cursory treatment in the fort, without further examination, with a very superficial treatment, and despite that, was taken to the Island with the rest of us. He still has not recovered use of his right hind; and it is still being treated. We were shipped in barges, naturally without receiving anything more than a sandwich for the whole day. We were treated with considerable violence, without being able to speak with each other, without being able to sleep. One of our companions who fell asleep, Aniceto Rodríguez, who is now in Caracas—the Senator—was struck with a rifle butt. An officer hit him with a rifle butt because he had fallen asleep. We reached the Island About 5:00 o'clock in the morning; and I repeat, without adequate clothing.
There where old people there, like Dr. Edgardo Henríquez, the Rector of the University of Concepción, who was Minister of Education at that time, a man perhaps 65 years of age. There was Julio Pallestro, also a rather old man. We were then taken on foot—we went ashore from the barges onto a beach covered with snow—we had to travel several kilometers on foot. The older people—there were only five of us—were transferred to a car after going about two kilometers. Finally we reached a Navy Engineers Camp, which of course did not have the accommodations needed for a group as large as ours. There were something like 36 of us at that time, or less. We were received that morning by the Naval Officer in charge of the camp, Jorge Felé, who was a lieutenant, no, a commander. Jorge Felé came out and immediately informed us that we were prisoners of war—that was the first notification we had regarding our status. When we were visited by the Minister of Justice in the Military Academy, he told us that he was making the visit on his own account, without instructions from the Junta, and that he wished to intercede in our behalf so that we might leave the country. We were not told at that time what our legal status was then in the view of the Junta. Commander Felé told us for the first time that we had the status of prisoners of war, and in the first two or three months, we were treated with great violence: we had to sleep in small barracks, absolutely unsuitable, without ventilation and above all without the minimum space needed.
Dr. Aréchaga: May I ask just one question to try to understand better: you were informed that you were detained as prisoners of war? Were some of you arrested in circumstances where you were making use of arms? (There is an interruption, and another prisoner speaks).
Prisoner: They issued an edict by radio, summoning such and such persons to come forward, and those who were named then reported voluntarily on the same day, the 11th, because they were called in. Under the state of siege nobody could go out into the street. So those who were not arrested in the usual places, the Ministry, La Moneda, or at home, reported voluntarily. Therefore, nobody was caught unawares with weapons.
Dr. Aréchaga: And those who were caught in La Moneda, for example, a place that was under air attack at that time, didn't any one have a weapon in his hands?
Prisoner: They were surrendering, most of then went out with a white flag. Also, many of us here are from that sector, and others have disappeared.
Dr. Aréchaga: Thank you very much.
Prisoner: We can give you all of those details. The truth is that our legal status at that time was changing, because shortly after we arrived, as I said, they classified us as prisoners of war, and referred to the Geneva Convention regarding how we were to be treated, so that we were then considered as prisoners in concentration camps. Later, we were considered political prisoners. If I remember correctly, by Marine Commander Carrasco. It was only yesterday that we were informed that this camp would be called a military camp. They surely must have told you that. So that we have had different legal classifications.
Another prisoner speaks: Mr. Chairman, I am one of the few who has had the opportunity to speak with attorneys, because most of the others have not had that opportunity in ten months.
Dr. Aréchaga: Who are the lawyers?
Prisoner: I believe that there are two here. We have all had the opportunity to speak with our layers. I asked him expressly what my legal status was, whether he knew what it was, because he had been in contact with the Ritoque authorities. So it seems that, in general, our status has not changed. (Another prisoner interrupts).
Prisoner: Regarding our legal status, I think it should be added at this time that even in the text of one of the decree laws hidden away there we are, in addition to being prisoners of war, in a kind of hostage status, as the word can be interpreted, because we are detained for what might happen with or without our will both inside the country and abroad. And this status of hostage has clearly been shown in the kind of treatment they have announced to us and have given us. At any rate, we are under the threat even here of mediate punishment in the event of an attack on the camp, whether it be real or fictitious. We have been subjected to attack drills in which the entire procedure centered on the need to eliminate the group at the first sign of attack. And this is true, although our alleged responsibilities of any kind have never been brought out, because even now many of us have never really been interrogated except on property matters, regarding taxes. They even informed us openly in some of the detention centers that the specific mission of the guards was to liquidate us before defending the camp.
Another prisoner speaks: That's true. In one of the places where I was detained, in the Air Force Academy, I was immediately told that any attack against the Academy would mean that the prisoners would be shot. All the prisoners including myself were told this.
Dr. Aréchaga: Thank you very much, gentlemen. I thing that we should continue with the statement to keep the record straight.
Prisoner: Very well, I believe that the excessive, and furthermore unnecessary, violence to which we were subjected as soon as we reached Dawson Island should be stressed here—absolutely inadequate housing, the lack of sanitary services. We were forced to wash ourselves with water we took from a ditch that had passed through the sanitary services in the previous group's camp; there were prisoners here when we arrived; they were prisoners from Magallanes, the Province of Magallanes. You know that that island is south of the Straits of Magellan. Consequently, we had to wash even our cooking utensils in the same water that had previously passed through the latrines of the other camp. With regard to food, it should also be stressed that it was absolutely insufficient, as was verified by the doctors, the two doctors who were imprisoned with us: the former Minister of Public Health, Dr. Jirón, and the personal physician of President Allende, Dr. Patricio Gijón. This was later confirmed by two National Red Cross doctors, who came to visit us after one or two months I believe, more or less. Then, in addition to that, not to go into too many details, it should be pointed out that, as soon as we arrived, we were subjected to forced labor. It need not be pointed out that we were surrounded with barbed wire fences. Consequently, we could not move about, we were confined to a very small yard, and then we were subjected to forced labor, which of course had a number of undesirable effects on our health, I believe, because we did not have even the minimum clothing suitable for the region. The forced labor meant for example that one of the prisoners, Vladimir Arellano, the former Budget Director of the Treasury Department, suffered an accident at work that cost him a paralyzed right arm because of a fracture. During our stay on Dawson Island, we put up at least some 16 to 18 kilometers of telephone poles and wire.
Dr. Aréchaga: About 200 poles?
Prisoner: No, many more. One for every 50 meters. The word basically consisted of setting up telephone poles.
Dr. Aréchaga: What is the peat bog work I've heard about?
Prisoner: Two of our companions here worked very actively in the peat bogs.
Another prisoner: It's a project they invented. They didn't know anything about it. The stuff is a kind of mud, a bog, in which a particular type of fern has decomposed. The military maintained—maybe they're right, maybe they have technical information on the subject—that it's good for fertilizer. So we had to work in that mud. Of course those who had boots suffered a little less than those of us who had no boots at that time. They had to get into the mud, pull out the decomposing ferns and pile them in big heaps; but the worst part of the work is that we spent a great deal of time on it and later they made no use of the material whatever, that is, we couldn't even have the satisfaction that the work was of some use. That was the famous peat bog – mud all day long.
Another prisoner: It might be useful to give a brief description of our work. Basically, there was setting up telephone poles, a work for which we of course had no protection, because workers who do that kind of work of course use special hard hats, gloves, boots, safety belts, etc. Then there was loading trucks with large cobblestones, again, with no kind of safety measure. We cleared the road, dug ditches and trenches, put up wire fences (because livestock is raised on the island), carried sacks of gravel on our shoulders on the run. To make the last part clear, it was forced labor, and they were very violent, particularly because they gave no consideration to any safety aspects. The worst part is, as I said, that a rather serious accident occurred, since Arellano still has not completely recovered the use of his right arm. We were under those conditions about two months, before receiving letters from our families and before receiving any kind of clothing suitable for the region, to protect against strong winds, rain, and snow. And all this with food consisting in the first few months of a very simple lentil soup in the morning and evening, a cup of tea with bread in the morning—we had milk with the tea when assistance arrived from the International Red Cross. As a result of all of this, we lost an average of from 10 to 12 kilos per person and in some cases 20. For example there is the specific case of the Minister of Interior and Defense, José Tohá, who was first transferred to Punta Arenas, returned to the island again, and was transferred to Santiago, where he met the end that you know about. This fundamentally affected his health. We have already spoken of José Tohá, Dr. Edgardo Henríquez, and Julio Palestro.
Dr. Aréchaga: What was the state of health, as you were able to determine, of José Tohá, when he left Dawson Island the last time?
Prisoner: Well, of course, he had lost considerable weight, it was really alarming. He was a man perhaps 1 meter 90 tall, or more, about 1 meter 92, and he lost an amount of weight that of course really affected him. There was also the case that has been mentioned here of the former Rector of the University of Concepción, the Minister of Education. In addition to losing weight, he had a very serious heart condition which made it necessary to take him first to Punta Arenas, and then to Santiago. He was then returned to the island in much worse physical condition than when he was taken to Santiago. The same is true of Palestro, and Tohá, and Daniel Vergara, as well as Arellano and Puccio. Arellano was taken to Punta Arenas, and while not fully recovered, was returned to the island. Daniel Vergara's case is exactly the same; he isn't fully recovered. Puccio and Daniel Vergara were in the military hospital, were transferred without having been released and without the knowledge, and against the advice, of the doctors. They were then immediately taken from here to the Valparaiso Naval Hospital.
Dr. Aréchaga: Where is Dr. Puccio now?
Prisoner: He is here.
Another prisoner: He is Puccio's son.
Dr. Aréchaga: Your father is also here now?
Prisoner: Yes, he is.
Prisoner: The forced labor continued; the bad food continued; the system continued. Naturally the weather improved a little when the summer arrived, and we were transferred to a concentration camp made for that purpose, with two or three rows of barbed wire around some barracks, common dining rooms with sentry boxes overlooking them, with guards carrying automatic pistols and machine guns—really extraordinary display of force. We had various commanders at that place, which was first called a camp, or a concentration camp, and then was called a prisoners camp. But among the various commanders and armed forces groups that were in charge of us, perhaps mention should be made of the group in charge of the marines, whose commander was Marine Lieutenant Carrasco. Immediately after that officer arrived, he assembled us in the compound of the camp which contained in addition to ourselves, prisoners sentenced by the Military Court of Magallanes. They were about 300 in all. He assembled us in the central yard to notify us that from that time on, we would be under military discipline and that consequently, we were forced not only to sing the national anthem at 8 o'clock in the morning and at 6 o'clock in the evening—which we still do—we not only have to do military drills, but we are subject to real military discipline—an actual military regime, with corporal punishment, with excessive physical exercises. For example, the forced labor now no longer consists of merely doing the work itself, but those who carried sacks of gravel on their shoulders were forced to go in formation while they carried the sacks and return on the run, with military drills, with military instruction, because they declared that they had instructions from the Junta that we were to receive military instruction. We were forced to sing various military songs—marches; and violence reached its maximum level in that period. There are some cases here, for example, Anibal Palma, the distinguished Jaime Concha, Vega, Lawner—many of us, including myself suffered a great deal. There was the famous machine that was turned by hand to make electric current for a transmitter, which of course when it lasted over a half an hour was torture and a really exhausting thing. They force Anibal Palma to climb a steeper hill than this on the run once, twice, three, four, five times. And after that he was forced to do knee bends. Jaime Concha was forced to run 1,000 meters and then do knee bends. In short there was much punishment. Alejandro Jiliberto, who is also here with us, was locked up for a very minor thing. Then one day, before the marines came, an army colonel whom we had never seen suddenly arrived. He summoned us together in the central yard to tell us that weapons had been found in an inspection that had been made in the camp two days before, and this had been mentioned by the Junta President himself, General Pinochet, who stated in a public speech that preparations were being made for a rebellion on the island and that arms had been found. He even said that a machine gun had been found, and you can understand that nobody came on the island without being previously searched by the military. We had been searched, our baggage had been searched—if I said 50 times I would be underestimating. So that we were assembled in the yard after the search in which they found what they called weapons—some pieces of wire that had been sharpened. The ends of the wire had been sharpened so as to make drawing on some rocks that are found on the island beach. The rocks are very black and very soft so that drawings could be made on them—I don't know whether there are any around here or not. This was only known by all the authorities, but was even encouraged by them. So that Lieutenant Barriga, who was second in command, and Commander Felé, who was later in charge of us attempted to hold a contest among the prisoners on engraving these stones, and it was these items provided by themselves that we prepare in the workshop of the camp's marine engineers, with the knowledge of the officers, the non-commissioned officers, etc. They were classified as weapons that were in our possession to provoke armed rebellion on Dawson Island. Of course, the prisoner who at that time was the delegate for the group of prisoners from Santiago and Valparaiso stepped forward to tell the Colonel that this was absolutely false and capricious. He said that there was a Lieutenant named Santiago present there who could verify that we did our work openly, in broad daylight, and in front of our guards, so that these objects, these primitive tools, could hardly be classified as weapons, particularly against the rather high caliber machine guns that they had in their hands. So that if there were a fight, it would have been rather unequal. From the time we arrived at the Military Academy, until two days ago here, the excessive firing drills in the camps in which we have been has been really incredible, unnecessary, and absurd. I believe that of course the long time we have now been prisoners has in some way influenced our minds. As soon as we arrived at the Military Academy, we had to put up with machine-gun fire around the Academy night after night. This continued first at the Dawson camp, then at the second camp, and now here in this place, which was a prisoner camp and now for the last 24 or 48 hours has become a military camp. It used to be a beach resort. A Lieutenant threatened us that any failure to obey an order might result in shooting. (Interruption by another prisoner). While we were in the first camp, there were also mock firing squads for the prisoners from Magallanes, and I want to add that the situation is becoming more serious than it might appear at first glance, because it is becoming constant. Especially in the last phase, we were subject to constant provocation, particularly by the officers in charge of the troops. In their treatment of us, in the speeches with which they threatened us, there were so many insults that we had no doubt that what they wanted to do was to provoke a reaction from us so that they could carry out their plan.
Dr. Aréchaga: You said that during the time that you were on Dawson Island, some other prisoners arrived there, transferred from Punta Arenas. Did you have the opportunity to get to know any of those persons? Did you meet up with Ivan Aristides Contreras Martínez? A young 20 year old student. Ivan Aristides Contreras Martínez, who was transferred from Punta Arenas to Dawson Island.
Prisoner: On what date?
Dr. Aréchaga: September 18, 1973.
Prisoner: No, we were separated in different barracks.
Another prisoner: However we can give you information that might be just as important as that, about people we do know. For example, the Deputy from Magallanes, Carlos González, who—and there are a number of witnesses to this—was not only subjected to brutal and tremendously harsh physical treatment, which left indescribable after-effects, but they even cut a “Z” on his back with a bayonet. I believe he can still show it to you; it will be there for many years.
Dr. Aréchaga: Thank you.
Another prisoner: The treatment was as violent as you have been told, and not only physically, but also psychologically, with harassment of all kinds, during all the months that we were there. Perhaps I should go into more detail just to show better the environment in which we were living. When the marine group arrived, we were told of a number of signals, whistles, sirens, etc. to warn us, among other things, of a possible attack from outside, which would be signaled with bugles, while fire, would be signaled by sirens. In the event of attack from outside, we were to stay in our barracks. In case of fire, on the other hand, we were to go outside and fall in in front of the barracks, so that they set up an entire system to deal with emergencies. One night there was an exercise with great commotion by those of them who were leaving the Island. They sounded the bugle simultaneously with the fire siren. This of course confused many of us, because if we went out, the guards were under orders to shoot us, as we had been previously notified. Both the camp Commander and the officers had officially announced that. There was a lot of machine-gun fire, of all calibers, because they had also installed larger caliber weapons. It all lasted for a rather long time, and we were never given any explanation of any kind.
There was a system to deliver packages, which worked in the beginning, after we were there two months. It worked relatively well, but the system ended up by being absolutely discriminatory in that we did not know what was send to us, but we did know how little we received. It was explained to us later that this was a system to set up a common fund, etc. But the fact is that the packages were not being received, and of course our families had a great deal of difficulty in sending them because they are not receiving the salaries and income that they used to; they are in very difficult economic straits. It should also be pointed out how a large quantity of books was confiscated from us by order of Commander Zamora—Captain Zamora—the last military officer we had. First, all of the books—all of them, absolutely all of them—were taken without any explanation whatever. It is a matter of record that the books had been authorized previously by the SENDET office—by the authorities who were in charge of us. After many difficulties and many petitions, only a few of them were returned to us—very few. To date, most of those books have not been returned to us; some of them were very valuable, language studies, etc. This Captain Zamora—the one who confiscated the books—also confiscated food, radios, and packages sent to us by our families. The packages were constantly rifled by them. The items that were sent to us were so different from those we received: In order to expose this deliberate robbery, our people sent us lists of the items in the packages. We never received the lists, but only an enumeration of the three or four items that were delivered to us. All the others remained for their use and benefit. Similarly, the items sent to us by the Red Cross—such as blankets and powdered milk—were for the exclusive benefit of the guards. We did not receive most of the things that were sent to us.
Dr. Aréchaga: Did you receive correspondence with any regularity?
Prisoner: Yes, it was delayed around 60 days, and censored.
Another prisoner: I personally received a telegram from my lawyer that was totally censored. They left the salutation and the name of my lawyer. I still have the telegram.
Prisoner: It was all deliberate. Pedro Luis Vega, who has two sons who are fighting in the Israeli army in the Middle East conflict, received a letter from one of them with a paragraph reading: “Dear Poppa, I am sorry to have to tell you about a misfortune that is going to hurt you a great deal”… all the rest was censored. A boy who is in Israel cannot affect in any way the internal factors of international policy, not even the security they seek. But it was a matter of suggestion, of crushing an individual who is in this concentration camp, and leaving him to worry about the fate of his other son. (Text omitted).
Prisoner: I was detained in the Military Hospital. With authorization of the chief of the Intelligence Service of the Military Hospital, who read my letters, I wrote to my son, who was in Las Melosas, and this is all my son received (he displayed a paper with a number of parts clipped out, leaving only a few fragments). This is a letter of May 30 from someone who had been a prisoner eight to ten months. I knew by that time what I could say and what I could not say. For that reason, I sent the letter to the Major and asked him: “Tell me if this will past.”
Prisoner: That was how the correspondence system was, with censorship such as you have just heard. It continued that way. And there was the food system—not only the bad quality, and the absolutely insufficient quantity—but in the beginning we were given only a very few minutes to eat, in a tent where the cold was really hard to bear. And then we had to wash up, ourselves, without any facilities of course, with water from that sewage ditch. On one occasion, the lights went out, and of course we were warned that any movement would be punished by a machine gun burst. We always are with soldiers aiming at us, and with soldiers inside the dining room; this continues to this day. I don't know whether they will withdraw them now that you are here. Until today, we had soldiers right here. Also we were absolutely forbidden to speak in the dining room. In the last period, we ate in absolute silence. Of course we lined up before entering the dining room, and lined up to go out, etc. (Text omitted). Some officers were worse than others; some were more vicious than others. For example, one of them who looked like a schizophrenic constantly played with a hand grenade while we were eating. He was always loading his rifle and constantly threatening us, absolutely all the time, during mealtimes, except for the forced labor that we have indicated. Then some of them tried to increase the pressure on some of us, for example, on Luis Corvalán—I don't know if he's around here. Luis Corvalán is the Secretary General of the Communist Party. They piled work on him. Up to the time I'm telling you about, the delegate had the task of assigning work, and naturally, he did it taking age into consideration, rotating people, so that they would be better able to stand up under it. Although Corvalán sometimes was given lighter work, he was taken from it and assigned to heavier work. They watched over him especially, made him run, made him carry heavy sacks, push heavy wheelbarrows, etc., and all on the run. The day before we were to return to the center of the country, quite a bit of rain fell. They kept us working there under the rain, with inadequate clothing, with nothing to protect us from the rain until we were practically soaked through. The transfer was also something that was really contemptible and ill-intended. We were told absolutely nothing that evening, and then we were awakened at 5:00 in the morning, with orders to gather all our things, and were taken on foot from the camp to the airport, which was rather far away. Although the camp had its own trucks, we walked at forced march about 12 kilometers. There were old men, some with very high blood pressure, such as Miguel Muñoz, who has hypertension. There were other like Andrés Sepúlveda, who has heart trouble, Jirón, who had a bleeding ulcer. The 12 kilometers on foot that I described included crossing a ditch that had torn up the road. We had to jump in some cases; it was difficult to get by. Then we had to cross a river, in the icy water, in May, in the middle of the winter, at 3:00 in the morning naked up to the waist. We had to cross the river and go on, and a few minutes later the truck came back, which had carried the … Not all of them, it wasn't for all of them. The big river washed away the road in that season, but of course the truck is able to cross it perfectly well. However, we had to go on foot. Captain Zamora forced us to cross on foot, naked up to the waist. Of course he waited in the truck and returned in the truck. And under what conditions was the flight made? When we arrived in Punta Arenas, we were given a light snack, and then taken into a huge Hercules airplane. They took away our belts, our shoe laces, our pens, our cigarette lighters, our cigarettes—we haven't seen most of those things since—before we were taken to the plane. They tied us with some nylon cord. We were tied there and taken to Santiago. When we landed in Santiago, there was a “show” that is something to remember, because it was almost picturesque. When we arrived in Santiago, the camp was all lit up. Waiting for us there was the Chief of the SENDET office, Colonel Espinoza, with a large detachment of the four branches of the armed forces. There then appeared some individuals who seemed to be male nurses, dressed in white, very correct, carrying what looked like first aid kits, wearing the Red Cross uniform. Then each of us was greeted by the Colonel, who inquired about our health, about our stay in Dawson, etc. We were then very cordially invited by the persons dressed as Red Cross nurses, to step forward. This was done in the most cordial way possible, and then when we reached the lighted area, hoods were placed over us, and we were taken to various vehicles and handcuffed and taken away.
Dr. Aréchaga: By those individuals?
Prisoner: Well, we didn't know. They put a hood over us so we couldn't see. (Other prisoners speak). Well we arrived there, and each of us was taken to different vehicles. We lost sight of each other and were transferred to different places. Some to regiments, others to the air force, one group to the police, where most of us were held incommunicado. Here of course the various groups will have to tell their story, because after more than two months, we came together again here. There was no interrogation, but there was the order from SENDET—as we were told by the Office of Prisons—for us to be held incommunicado. This of course is a very general statement, which I believe only reflects…
Dr. Aréchaga: I would like to ask one question to complete the picture. I believe I have the answer, but of course, I would prefer to hear your reply. During all this time, have you had any contact with any judicial authority, either civil or military, who has interrogated you?
Prisoner: Some of us. Of course, that is why I said that this first part is a very general statement regarding our detention. Now is the time for the individual cases. But as a group, we have not been interrogated by any judicial authority, either civil or military. We were interrogated in January, in Dawson, by officials of the Internal Revenue Service, the tax office—in January. And then two days ago, that is to say, almost six months later, they came to this camp to continue their interrogation about the same matters. I would like to know why we were interrogated. If there is a question of beginning proceedings with respect to that area, it would be a matter for regular courts to handle. It would certainly not be a matter for military courts, nor would the cases be political. So that on this aspect of our detention in various places after coming to Dawson Island, on our stay here, and on the particular case, I believe that the second question that we should consider, in addition to clarifying several things…
Another prisoner speaks: A group of seven of us here are from Valparaiso. The seven of us were tortured on the ship “Esmeralda” for nine days. I want to explain one of the tortures that was applied to me. I was stripped to my shorts and my hands were handcuffed behind me. There was a post there and they tied me to it. They applied electric shock on my skin, on my testicles, on my chest and back. Also the officers who were interrogating me hit me 50 times in this part with their fists. All of this left me black and blue, as the Red Cross verified when they came to Dawson. They saw how all of this was left black and blue from the blows. Also I want to tell you the following: That was because—and I heard this—because the Naval Command had given orders to respect me, that is to say, not to torture me or to do anything to me. I am a Communist, I am a university professor. My name is Sergio Vuscovic Rojo, and I was the Mayor of Valparaiso. The Naval Command had given that order, and yet they did that to me. I also want to tell you that I was three and a half days alone in the Chaplain's stateroom… they wouldn't let me sleep there. I couldn't sleep for six days, because they woke me up every ten minutes night and day by slamming the door so I couldn't sleep. They also did the following to me: when I was taken for interrogation, they blindfolded me, and the guard who went with me put his pistol here on the back of the neck, and asked me: do you know how to swim? I answered: “Some”. “Good… because we're going to throw you overboard.” Then twenty or thirty persons were gathered together. I say persons because they were both men and women. We were wearing only underpants. We could hear how the others were tortured right there where you were. And all this was done to both men and women, in the training ship of the Chilean Navy (Interruption). The seven of us from Valparaiso were tortured in that way, electric shock was applied to us, for example. They applied current to me here on the temple, and all the while they were asking us if we had weapons, knowing perfectly well that we had no weapons, nobody had weapons. They asked whether we belonged to military groups—nobody belonged to military groups—and things of that kind. I therefore want to inform the Commission of all of this, and at the same time to make a formal denunciation in the case of the seven of us from Valparaiso and other companions who are here who have also been tortured. This is a complete violation of human rights, because the United Nations Charter on Human Rights prohibits physical and psychological torture, and we were subjected to both. (Interruption by another prisoner).
Dr. Abranches: Can you give the names of the persons who took part in these acts?
Prisoner: Yes (interruption).
Dr. Aréchaga: Excuse me, I believe that Dr. Abranches is referring not to the persons who suffered the tortures, but whether you know who were the torturers.
Prisoner: The problem is that we were blindfolded (interruption and another prisoner speaks) Actually, the seven of us from Valparaiso were horribly tortured. (A passage is omitted here from the verbatim transcript, because it identifies the prisoner)… On the basis of that, I was severely punished, beaten, constantly. I was struck with a rifle butt. They threw me under the bed. And made all of us who came out for breakfast eat kneeling on the floor, wearing only our shorts. The proof is that from the time I arrived, I urinated blood for 20 days. On the “Esmeralda” I began to urinate blood on the third day. They knew what was happening to me. I reached the island urinating blood, having been beaten as all of us were. I am perfectly familiar with the situation of the ship “Esmeralda,” because I was a sailor for 26 years. They were marine officers who dressed as sailors. In that way, they hid their identity, but I knew perfectly well that they were officers. And then there were the beatings that we were subjected to. Actually, we do not know who they were, because we were blindfolded, but the important thing is this: that we were terribly beaten. One of our companions arrived with a piece burned out of his tongue, and that happened to most of the prisoners from Valparaiso. Later, when we returned from Dawson, we were taken aboard a small plane, bound hand and foot, and blindfolded. When we reached Quintero, we were handcuffed and then placed on the floor of a station wagon to be taken to the concentration camp of Puchuncaví.
Dr. Aréchaga: How long were you in Puchuncaví?
Prisoner: A little over two months.
Dr. Aréchaga: Were the living conditions there similar to those here?
Prisoner: Yes. We cannot complain about Puchuncaví. We were treated fairly humanely there. It would be contrary to the truth if we said that we were treated inhumanely there.
Dr. Aréchaga: So that actually you cannot identify in any way any of the persons who directly participated in these acts of torture? (Interruption, with all of the prisoners talking at once).
Prisoner: I was not called in by any of the military edicts. I therefore did not turn myself in, and I was free from September 11 until October 10, when I was arrested in a house where I was lodging. I was arrested, of course, without being in possession of a single weapon, without there being any grounds to justify either my arrest or the treatment I was subjected to later. I was taken from there to the Military Academy, where there were others of our companions, among them Angel Masuli, President of the Radical Party; the former Minister of Public Words … (inaudible)… former Senator Raúl Cuero; Deputy Camilo Salvo, who was here with me; Julio Stuardo; Luis Corvalán was there; and I personally was held 42 days incommunicado. Luis Corvalán, for example, was kept, from the time he was arrested—and he can tell you this—a considerable time in a bathroom two meters by two meters. I personally was held 42 days in solitary confinement of course, without a radio, without anything to read, without a newspaper, without communication with my family—all day long… Cleaning the room was the only activity that we were allowed to have. At night, they did not let me sleep. They woke me up every half hour, asked me my name, made me show them my wrists. It was constant intimidation. After one week there, I was interrogated three consecutive times, by SENDET personnel, without physical maltreatment at that time, but with a rather strong psychological intimidation. I was threatened with the firing squad. They threatened my family. And at the end of the third interrogation, I was taken back with much violence to the room where I was being held. I was told that I could only sit down on the bed, and it was already late at night, around 10 o'clock at night. I was then prevented from sleeping, and I was even prevented from going to the bathroom. I could not take care of my minimum necessities. During all of that night, I could neither sleep nor go to the bathroom. And the next day, I was taken to a place where many of my companions were—and they can tell you about it—the War Academy of the Chilean Air Force, which is in Santiago, on the upper part of Las Condes Avenue. When I reached the War Academy, at first I wasn't able to identify where I was, because they had transferred me blindfolded and also handcuffed. I realized—I believe this is true—that we were in the Air Force Hospital. The truth is that it is rather close to the Air Force Hospital. I wasn't familiar with the establishment. I also realized later through the dishes and the food that it was an Air Force establishment. They took me there—kept me constantly blindfolded, constantly standing. I was kept there one week, but the harassment and maltreatment only lasted four days. I was continuously beaten, until I was taken to be interrogated in the evening with electric shock. That evening they interrogated me twice. Each session must have lasted several hours. The electric shock was applied to my penis and my temples. There are a number of persons who were subjected to it, but the dial was only given two turns for them. The dial was given eight turns for me, to try it out, and I was given 50 to 70 shocks like that during the interrogation. The next day, I was interrogated by the Prosecutor's legal assistant; I was blindfolded. Then at the conclusion, he read me the statements that he had transcribed and made me sign it blindfolded. The next day, the changed the treatment and instead of interrogating me with electric shock, they subjected me to narcoanalysis. I don't have the slightest idea what I told them. It was only the following day that an officer interrogated me on the fact that under narcoanalysis, it seems I said that some of the militant members of my party of the Christian Left might have had personal weapons, as many people do. He told me to try to remember, and I told him that I had no information about that. I was there for four more days, with the light lit constantly and usually seated or standing, without being permitted to move, without communication with my family. During my interrogation, the person interrogating me even said: “Look, we can take all the time we want here, because neither your family nor anybody else knows you are here.” Actually, I learned afterward that my family had given me up for lost, and had no idea where I was. Now, the War Academy is under an Air Force Colonel called Horacio Oteiza. There is an officer under him, also of high level, who is called Barahona. There is also a lieutenant there. Later they had the unfortunate idea to take me back to the War Academy after I left Dawson. I was there with other companions, and this time under other conditions, and I was able to identify by his voice that the lieutenant was named García Huidobro. I want to tell you that at that very moment, when we were in the War Academy, for two and a half months, just before being transferred here, they were keeping constantly in the basement there some 50 to 60 persons, among them several women, with their eyes blindfolded; torturing them, with the light lit all day long; standing; with physical intimidation; in the permanent installation. And I am absolutely convinced that it will be difficult for you to get to that place. At this very moment, they are conducting continuous tortures there. When we sometimes heard persons screaming constantly there, they turned the radio on loud (interruption).
Dr. Abranches: Can you repeat the full name of Lieutenant García?
Prisoner: García Huidobro.
Dr. Abranches: García Huidobro. And can you repeat your surname?
Prisoner: My surname?
Dr. Abranches: Yes.
Prisoner: Yes I can, but I wouldn't want to have it recorded.
Dr. Aréchaga: I would like to invite all of you, in whatever order you wish, to come close so that our recording will be as clear as possible.
Prisoner: Very well, my name is Clodomiro Almeyda. Yes, thank you very much. I want briefly to tell you about my experience when, after being transferred to Santiago, I was taken two weeks later to the Air Force Academy where I was subjected to a treatment similar to that indicated by the person who previously gave his version of what happened to him. In my case, I was in that establishment about 40 days. For about one month I was kept blindfolded, night and day, and subjected to psychological intimidation, which even included the threat of the firing squad. I was held absolutely incommunicado until my wife arrived, when the Air Force authorities permitted me to see her. Throughout that time, I was constantly subject to psychological intimidation, including as I said being threatened with the firing squad, under the pretext of trying to escape or something of that kind. Of course under those conditions, I was not permitted to smoke, to read, or to have any contact with the outside. I slept handcuffed, with the light lit and music playing all night long. At times it was turned up to avoid our hearing what has being said in neighboring rooms, as the person who spoke before said. In the place where I was kept, I could see how the boys were treated, because the door was kept open. There were generally boys and girls. Many girls arrived at that establishment, and in that respect, I confirmed what we heard him say before. As was the case with the others, seeing this hurt me more even than what I experienced myself at that time.
Dr. Aréchaga: Thank you.
Dr. Aréchaga: I don't know whether you want to identify yourself before your statement, or whether you want to do it at all.
Other prisoner: I don't know what the practice will be (interruption, and another prisoner speaks).
Prisoner: I arrived on February 1 at the Tacna Regiment, and was transferred on the eighth of February to the Air Force War Academy. I remained there until April 3, when I was returned to Tacna. That is to say, I was there for almost two months—three days less than two months—and was held absolutely incommunicado, most of the time blindfolded. But here my case is different from what you have recorded before. I was tortured about as follows: I was totally undressed, and they put plastic cloths on each knee, on each wrist, and on each elbow. Then they made me squat down. Excuse me if I show you what happened, but you will understand it much better. So, seated like this, you put your hands here, tied, and then they put a pole here. Then they raise you and hang you on two sort-of racks, so that if you breathe a little, must by breathing, you tend to move; this produces an imbalance, and causes the body to swing. When that happens, because one is resisting putting all of his weight on his wrists (and that's the reason for the plastic cloths, to avoid leaving marks), this produces a phenomenon that the doctor later—because after they torture you the doctor immediately sees you to see that you're in good condition to be able to continue receiving the tortures—said that this produces what they explained to me as scchymosis. That manifested itself with me as follows: this finger was absolutely paralyzed for some 20 days after the tortures, and even now I have no feeling at all in that entire part. I feel nothing, absolutely nothing; I was left without any feeling at all, but all of this is accompanied by connecting a magneto to the head of my penis. It still hurts, I don't suppose you want a demonstration here. And they also applied the current to the rectum. All of this takes place while you are hanging there, and of course, the electric shocks. I must tell you that I definitely recognize—although I was blindfolded—I definitely recognize the Air Force Colonel by his voice, because I saw him frequently. The man who blindfolded me is Lieutenant García Huidobro. He was the one who applied the plastic cloths—coffee colored plastic cloths. As for the other two interrogators, according to the physical description that I have absolutely clearly, one of them is a Commander named Barahona, and I do not know the surname of the other. I can tell you that, in any case, the tortures that I was subjected to were certainly considerably less than those applied to other persons. I saw them torture—because they don't even take any precautions about such things in view of the very nature of the place—a foreign journalist, who I later learned from reading in the “Times” was a Swiss journalist. I was talking a few days ago about this with Red Cross people. What happened with the journalist was as follows: They took me one day to the room where the “court” functioned, and while we were talking, I could hear, with my eyes blindfolded, the beatings that were going on in the next room, and the screams of a person who spoke in French. It was a very tense scene. Later, they took me from the “court”, they were removing that person from there, and he was in very very bad condition. Later, when I was transferred to the Tacna Regiment, where I had access to the press, I learned what had happened to a Swiss journalist. I talked with the Red Cross people, and they told me that actually, one of them had had the opportunity to talk with him in Geneva, when he left Chile, and he told me what I have just told you. Without intending to, I had been virtually an eyewitness. In summary, I can tell you that one of the most incredible torture centers—because I saw it personally—is the War Academy. I have no objection at all in giving you my name. I don't want my name tape recorded, but I have full confidence that in making this denunciation, my name is not going to be divulged to the military authorities of this government, because I have a family that has already suffered enough. That is all.
This is Luis Corvalán speaking: The Commission Chairman asked in this morning's meeting, before we left for breakfast, the names of specific torturers that we might give him. Some names have been given, and it has been explained that not all of them can be given, because many persons were tortured while blindfolded. But I want to add that the present government stated several seeks ago in a public declaration that there are no tortures, and that if there have been any, if there have been any, they are foreign to the government's way of thinking and acting and would therefore be the responsibility of isolated officials. That is not true. The responsibility for the tortures falls to the government, and, first of all, to General Pinochet, because there is an entire apparatus set up. They have an entire apparatus set up, and these tortures continue as my companions who were in the Air Force Academy a week ago have testified. The members of the OAS Human Rights Commission will be able to hear in other concentration camps even more horrible stories, because I believe that those of us here have not been the worst victims of the physical maltreatment that has been employed. But it might be said that all of this is a necessary evil, things that had to be done in the face of X situation in which the country finds itself, and that is what the government is asserting. They maintain that we had a particular plan, plan Z, designed to do nothing less than decapitate the armed forces, to liquidate their entire officer corps. That is completely false. There was no such plan. Furthermore, General Pinochet in statements made to the Ercilla Magazine, in the first or second week of March—we had the opportunity to hear this interview on the radio before we lost the right on Dawson to listen to the radio—General Pinochet said at that time, that already in May, 1972, a group of high officers of the armed forces had reached the conclusion that the situation in Chile had no other solution than the military one. So that this was prepared, and everything that has been affirmed and that surely has been told to you members of the Human Rights Commission, about the Junta, to the effect that the previous government had violated the Constitution and the Law is also completely false. It has been stated that we used loopholes in the law. What are these so-called loopholes in the law? The use of particular decree laws issued, some of them in 1932, by administrations in exceptional circumstances, which had been used by many other administrations. It has been stated that we did not enforce the orders of the Judiciary. That is completely false, except as it relates somewhat to the eviction of land tenants. But on that subject—and I don't want to go into to many details—there is a very anachronistic law, and several governments—the government of President Frei for one—curtailed the application of eviction orders because the orders were inhumane. It has been maintained that the Supreme Court, the General Accounting Office, and the Chamber of Deputies arrived at the conclusion, which is set forth in very well known documents, that the government had acted illegally and they proclaimed this on behalf of the Constitution and the law. But these were all political statements, which were part of the creation of a climate designed solely to set up a coup d'etat and consummate the plans already made in May, 1972, according to the confession or declaration of General Pinochet himself. Well, where are we now? The least that could be said, the least that they do say, is that with respect to us the law is enforced, the state of siege is applied, emergency legislation is applied, which, according to the Junta, is in existence. And that's the way it is in all constituted countries. In all countries—and I am going to end with this—the State Political Constitution establishes that the government can resort to a state of siege or a law authorizing exceptional political authority, in addition to economic powers, but this must be authorized by Parliament. In addition the state of siege constitutionally authorizes—and this must be approved by Parliament—certain things that have been done. But they haven't merely censored the press here. The press that exists now is under censorship, but there are newspapers—four or five newspapers—that were prohibited from publishing. They were closed down, and there is no legislation in Chile authorizing any government to do that. So that we have a government that is absolutely arbitrary, absolutely illegal, absolutely unconstitutional, and even accepting the assumption for the sake of argument that we deviated in some measure from constitutional and legal criteria and obligations, well, this government had deviated from them absolutely. It has liquidated the rule of law that existed in this country. And Mr. Bianchi, who is a Chilean, knows perfectly well that there has never been in the history of Chile a dictatorship as brutal as that which our people unfortunately have and now suffer from. Thank you very much.
Another prisoner speaks: Mr. Chairman, I wanted to speak today to denounce as an instrument of terror and oppression a so-called military operation functioning under the military command in investigations in Santiago. I do not know the situation in the provinces. When I was arrested by this military operation, I was taken to investigations and I want to denounce at this time the system that was used in that operation to interrogate prisoners. In round numbers there must have been approximately 100 to 120 persons continuously detained in the investigation cells. I was taken from my cell blindfolded, with my hands handcuffed behind my back. As you go from the cells in this place, there are three or four steps to go down and then another four or five that must be climbed to get to the second floor where the interrogation room was located. They began breaking the prisoner by giving him as he went down the stairs blindfolded and handcuffed, a cuff on the ears with the open palms, which in Chile we call “un cachuzaso.” This caused the prisoner to lose his balance and go tumbling down the stairs. He was then led to the second floor, and there they began a treatment with blows to the stomach with each question. They didn't care what the reply was; regardless of the reply, the blow in the stomach was immediately given. This was repeated until you fell to the floor several times. You were then led to another room and forced to disrobe. But under the pretext that the prisoner moved too slowly, his clothing was torn from him in shreds. After the prisoner was naked, the treatment with blows then continued. Each person who passed by—and I understand this happened to everybody—stomped on the prisoner's bare feet with the heels of their shoes. I had the bruises, the marks, on my toes for a long time until they went away… these hematomas produced by being stomped on by anybody who passed next to you. And then, while naked, they proceeded to apply electric shock. In my own case, I can only tell you that it was really brutal. Because at times they applied shock—as several of you have heard—on the penis, on the testicles, in the anus, in the mouth, in the nostrils, and on the temples, simultaneously. I recall clearly that I staggered all around the place, through all the rooms, because it was really terrible. And then they prevent the prisoner from drinking. According to what I have been told, drinking and applying electricity produces shock, so that for the five days the interrogation lasted, under that system, several times a day—I lost track and I can't say whether they interrogated me two or three times a day because I no longer was aware of whether it was night or day—and in addition when I was taken back to my cell food had already been distributed. Consequently I didn't have anything to drink. I fell into a state of loss of awareness, and of course I saw no other outcome than death. During those days I even thought that the best thing was to die rather than continuing suffering that kind of torture. Because the physical pain no longer mattered. Together with all of this was the psychological attack that they practiced with me and that they practiced with all of the prisoners. In the days following, I could see that all of the prisoners who were in that investigations wing under the military operation, all of them were tortured. And from the window or the peephole that the cells have, I could see how all of the prisoners who had been interrogated came back. They all came back dragging themselves along on their hands and knees, as I had done. I saw them come back every day in the same condition, having been beaten and shocked with electricity. There were whole groups there who had been rounded up in the factories or in the streets. I could see groups of 20 to 30 workers who had been taken from their factory. They were brought there, and subjected to al kinds of maltreatment and torture. Some of them left after one or two weeks. Others were transferred to other places of custody. I saw many of them when I was taken from the military operation to the Chilean Stadium. There I saw several whom I had seen in Investigations. I make this denunciation because, while this military operation has terminated in the way it was functioning. I believe that it is still valid because of what I have heard regarding the Air Force War Academy. Because just as there is an Air Force Prosecutor's office in that place, there are others in Santiago and in other locations in Chile places especially intended for the application of torture in these interrogations.
Dr. Aréchaga: Excuse me, are you referring to the Air Force Prosecutor's Office on Agustinas Street?
Prisoner: The Air Force Prosecutor's Office is in the same building as the Air Force War Academy.
Dr. Aréchaga: Thank you.
Prisoner: I have been informed that on Londres Street, there was a place where torture such as I described was used. I know from other persons who can tell you so, that these places are installed or transferred elsewhere. They terminated the military investigations operation apparently for reasons of police effectiveness. Because, when Investigations devoted all of its time to us, they could not carry out their duties of, let us say, fulfilling the obligations of their office. So the torture is being done elsewhere and continues today, just as has been said.
Dr. Abranches: Can you give the dates on which the events in which you took part occurred?
Prisoner: January of this year.
Prisoner: I want to make a very brief specific denunciation regarding people who have disappeared and were murdered in the La Moneda Palace on September 11. I want to make clear that there was no fighting in La Moneda, because it was bombed from the air, and shelled from a distance, and army units only entered it when the people there had surrendered. There were a little less than 50 persons in La Moneda. Of those, only 14 came out alive. They were a group that was in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was not damaged. Another group left to parley, on instructions of the President of the Republic, and there were some doctors who were found there wearing their white gowns. The rest of the people were killed afterwards. In La Moneda itself, nobody was wounded or killed except for ex-President Allende and the journalist Augusto Olivares. A group of about 40 persons surrendered, and they were taken to the Tacna Regiment. They have not been heard from since. Most of them have been found dead. I can give you specific names. The following were found in La Moneda and left it alive: the former Director of Investigations, Eduardo Paredes, the former Under Secretary of the Government, Arsenio (not audible), Dr. Enrique París, who was Council of the University of Chile, the sociologists Jorge Klein and Claudio Jimeno, the Superintendent of the Palace, the former Manager of the Central Bank, Jaime Barrios, the former Under Secretary of the Interior, Lautario Ojeda. Nothing has been heard of many many of these people, for example Lautario Ojeda and Jaime Barrios. We have heard that others were later found dead. In every case, those people were murdered after they left La Moneda and surrendered.
Dr. Aréchaga: Are you referring to Claudio Jimeno?
Prisoner: Yes, Claudio Jimeno, the sociologist who was working in an agency called CENOP, Center for the Study of Public Opinion, which was under the General Secretariat of the Government. The other sociologist, Jorge Klein, was working with him. Turning to another matter, I want to state also our complete lack of confidence in any legal proceedings that we might be subjected to by military justice, for the following reasons: the Chief of Staff himself and members of the Junta have on a number of occasions called us criminals and other epithets. How can we have confidence in the military justice that is under them?
Dr. Aréchaga: Thank you.
G. Detention Facilities on the Quiriquina Island
And the Naval Base of Talcahuano
40. Professor Dunshee de Abranches and Dr. Holzman, after observing, together with Dr. Aréchaga, the trials held in Linares on July 30, 1974, went by automobile to Concepción on the 31st, accompanied by Colonel Espinoza, and Lieutenant Letelier, who had been designated by the Chilean Government for that mission. Dr. Aréchaga had to return directly from Linares to Santiago to attend to other duties.
The city of Concepción is 525 kilometers from Santiago by asphalt road, and Quiriquina Island is in the Pacific Ocean near a peninsula northeast of Concepción, some 30 kilometers by a good highway which runs through the city of Talcahuano.
The Commission representatives were lodged in the Hotel Araucano with the officials accompanying them. Protocol visits were made to the military commander of the area and the Commander of the Naval Base, Naval Captain Aníbal Aravena Miranda. They both stated that they had been informed of the purposes of our visit and offered us any assistance needed to carry out our mission.
41. We traveled to Quiriquina Island on a fast boat from the Base Command, which made the crossing in half the time taken by the boat used by non-commissioned personnel and families of the prisoners on visitors days.
The island is two and a half miles long and 500 meters wide, mostly covered with abundant vegetation. The main buildings are the School for Apprentice Seamen, attended by almost 1,000 students, a club house, a gymnasium, about a dozen houses for the instructors and their families, etc.
In a depression in the terrain, large barracks were constructed which serve as a detention facility, comprising dormitories, dining rooms, baths, and toilets, a small infirmary, and other rooms used by the guards.
Some of the rooms of the barracks were unfinished, and the prisoners were working to finish them. The dormitories are collective, each one with about 50 four-tier beds. The baths and toilets of the barracks are still not in operation, so the baths in a temporary structure about 60 meters away are being used. The kitchen is primitive and is located in a shed separate from the barracks. The overall condition of the establishment was still unsatisfactory, but when the work is completed, it would be adequate. According to the prisoners' statements, the condition of the place was worse previously, but it had considerably improved in recent months.
The food, which was being prepared at the time of the visit, was similar to that of other detention facilities visited by the Commission in the country. The military guards in the barracks reported that they receive the same food as the prisoners, but some of latter complained that they didn't get enough.
42. The prisoners were decently dressed and in general seemed healthy. They fell in in the yard to receive the Commission's visit and were informed by Professor Dunshee de Abranches of the purpose of the visit and that they had the right to speak in private with him and with his companion, Dr. Holzman. At first, the prisoners appeared somewhat reluctant, even when the authorities remained far enough away to ensure privacy. The reluctance gradually eased, and groups formed around each Commission representative. The prisoners then explained that they had suffered reprisals after having complained to foreign journalists who previously visited the island with the government's permission.
Some of the prisoners reported that about 30 persons, whose names were contained on a list, were in the Naval Base, housed in the gymnasium, to which those who were to be submitted to interrogation were periodically taken.
43. The most relevant points of the complaints of the prisoners who spoke with the Commission representatives are the following:
a) Some of the prisoners have not had specific charges brought against them. They had a Prosecutor's hearing, but they continued to be deprived of their liberty, without means of supporting their families.
b) Some of them stated that they were subject to “beating” and other harassment during the interrogations, but they expressed fear of making specific complaints by giving the names and other means of identification of those who perpetrated the violence.
c) The complainant who provided the most specific information on the alleged harassment suffered during his interrogation was a prisoner accused of concealing a secret place for storing explosives after September 11, 1973.
d) Those who complained of having been subjected to acts of violence during their interrogation, indicated that although they had been taken blindfolded to the place utilized for such purpose, they would affirm that it was a building near the gymnasium of the Concepción Naval Base (Talcahuano), where the group of persons waiting interrogation were lodged, until they returned to the barracks on Quiriquina Island, or were transferred to another prison, or were released.
e) Another person stated that he had been arrested only because he was a member of leftist political parties, and that, in being interrogated, he was forced to sign statements without reading the text.
44. In view of the information supplied by those who made complaints during the Commission's visit to Quiriquina Island, Professor Dunshee de Abranches decided, after returning to the Naval Base, to request permission from the Commander to visit the gymnasium which allegedly housed persons whose names appeared on the list of prisoners but who were not on the island. After some hesitation by the authorities there, the Commission representatives and those accompanying them, were taken in an automobile from the landing facing Headquarters Command to the base gymnasium.
45. The gymnasium is located on a private road of the base, surrounded by other buildings and near the market which is open to marine officers and troops. It is a large solid and clean building. There were over 20 prisoners inside, some of them playing ball, others reading or talking, which showed that the visit was unexpected.
46. At the exact time when the Commission representatives entered the gymnasium, they saw a blindfolded person, in civilian clothes, led by two military guards, who had left the building to the left of the gymnasium, going east. Professor Dunshee de Abranches requested permission to speak with the prisoner, but the authorities refused citing security reasons and indicating that the person was being held incommunicado.
The prisoners in the gymnasium received permission to speak in private with the Commission representatives, but only a few of them accepted the offer. These indicated that they had arrived there a short while ago and that they were receiving reasonable treatment. They had no complaints other than the delay of their trials and the deprivation of liberty without charges brought against them. They explained that some of them did not want to speak, because they expected to be released soon. None of them indicated that acts of violence were then taking place during the interrogations.
When the Commission representatives terminated the visit, the person who had been seen with his eyes blindfolded and who could be identified by his physical appearance and clothing, came up to Professor Dunshee de Abranches. He stated that he had been subject to interrogation without any harassment, and that he had no other complaints but the desire to return to his home. He showed no outward signs of any physical violence.
H. The Santiago Public Jail
47. The Commission Chairman and Executive Secretary visited the Santiago Public Jail on July 31.
Yards 5 and 6 were reserved for political prisoners.
The cells, which were very small, had a door leading to the yard. Tiered beds are against two walls. The length, which is the same as the wall against which they are standing, is barely enough for a man lying down. In some cells, we saw up to four beds in tiers. There are cells in which eight persons are living. The cells are filthy, and their only furnishing aside from the beds are some cans and rags.
48. The Commission Chairman talked with the following persons in sight of the jail personnel, without being molested. The main denunciations and charges are summarized:
Nº 1. Arrested six months ago. Was held in Investigations in Negra Island (San Antonio). Tortured—they tore off two of his toe nails and injured his fifth lumbar disc. Electric shock was applied to his eyes, causing cataracts. He can no longer see with the eyeglasses given to him by the Red Cross ten or twelve days ago. He says that the treatment is good in the jail.
Nº 2 Arrested mid-June 1974. The person who made the arrest was recently identified in the Ninth Police Station. He is not a member of the Carabineros, Investigations, or Intelligence. The prisoner was not tortured. He belonged to the “Private Guards”, an agency authorized by decree with legal capacity since 1940. He was arrested for alleged usurpation of police functions. He has not yet testified to the Prosecutor. Received good treatment in the jail.
Nº 3 Says that he did nothing after September 11, 1973. Electric shock in the Air Force War Academy. Blindfolded for 75 days. Worried about other companions he says have been tortured.
Nº 4 Arrested by Investigations early in June, under weapons control law. His father, being very sick, tried to commit suicide with a caliber 32 or 38 revolver that he (the father) had in his possession. The son hid it from him, and that was how it had been found. He has not testified to the Prosecutor. Treatment in the jail is good.
Nº 5 Arrested September 11, 1973. Accused of having killed a Carabinero. Had an automatic pistol that a C.U.T. leader had given him. He says that he fired only two shots to try to open a door, without hurting anybody. Three hundred and twenty workers were arrested. Nine (including him) attended the C.U.T. distribution of weapons, and five of them were arrested with him. He denies responsibility for the death of the Carabinero. Was sentenced by the War Council to life imprisonment, for planning the killing. He requests banishment or exile. Maintains that treatment in the jail is good.
Nº 6 Was arrested 97 days ago. Was detained and tortured by the Carabineros. Was subjected to electric shock, beatings with chains, etc., until he was hospitalized late in April. Found a pistol that had been thrown away in Santiago, and not wanting to turn it in here, because he said others had been tortured, he took it to the Police Station in a nearby locality. They arrested him there for “carrying weapons.” Tortures caused a heart attack. A month ago his house was burned, and his 11-year old daughter was killed. Asks that his case be expedited and that he be permitted to see a lawyer.
Nº 7 Arrested in September 1973 by Carabineros. Proceedings have not been initiated against him. His house was raided. He has eight children. No weapons were found. Subjected to physical torture.
Nº 8 Arrested six months ago; shot at by a carabinero, because, according to him, they confused him with somebody else. Testified at the office of the Second Prosecutor of the Minister of Defense. Does not have a lawyer. Says that his detention is making him psychologically unbalanced.
Nº 9 Toward mid-July, came to Talcahuano to visit a younger brother. Was arrested by carabineros, was subjected to kicks, punches, blows with rifle butts, was falsely accused of attacking a carabinero. Suffered fracture of a left rib, his coccyx and left arm. No political affiliation. Does not have money to pay a lawyer. Asks that a lawyer be assigned to him.
Nº 10 After our visit to “Tres Álamos”, in which he made denunciations, they had transferred him in reprisal. That is what the Director of Tres Álamos had told him. Was in Chacabuco before. Has had no news of his family.
Nº 11 Forty-five days of imprisonment. No criminal or political background. Fernando Andrade lent him a revolver and then denounced him. Now Andrade is also in detention. Asks that his case, 6/35, under the Weapons Control Law, be expedited.
Nº 12 The death penalty has been asked in his case, now before the Santiago Court of Appeals. The only thing that concerns him is that his “adopted mother” is being frequently arrested and maltreated. They have sacked the house, and objects of value disappeared. He asks protection for her.
Nº 13 A resident in Chile for 19 years. Arrested late in July, 1974 for alleged mistreatment of a carabinero (is getting on in years). He says that he complained to the carabineros because a cigarette vendor had treated him insolently. He was arrested and beaten. His left ear is visibly injured, and there are blood stains on his clothing.
Nº 14 Arrested late September, 1973. Voluntarily reported when he learned that his companions were being arrested. Is part of the Bachelet2 trial, but has not yet been sentenced. Says was tortured in Air Force War Academy, in the School of Specialists, and in the Defense Ministry, in the room facing the Prosecutor's office.
Nº 15 Detained since October, 1973. After a time, was transferred to the Specialized School, where he was tortured. The person responsible for the torture is Colonel Manfredini. He was “burned” with electric shock on the genitals and the anus. Was blindfolded during interrogation. Then taken to the Air Force War Academy, where he was not tortured, but asserts that they tortured others. They threatened to torture his wife, if he did not confess to having committed espionage for the U.P. He is also involved in the Bachelet case.
Nº 16 Arrested late November 1973. Death penalty requested for him and was sentenced to life imprisonment for planning the mistreatment of a carabinero. Sixty/two members of the INDUMET were imprisoned with him, and he is the only one remaining. No political affiliation. Requests exile.
47. The Commission Executive Secretary talked with the following persons:
Nº 17 Says was arrested September, 1973. Transferred to a police station in San Juan, where was tortured. Was transferred to the National Stadium, where he was beaten and electric shock was applied all over his body. Has been sentenced to five years in prison for having organized a group of workers. States that, at the police station, one of this companions named José Machado, was killed by a bullet in the chest.
Nº 18 Arrested five months ago. Accused of attacking the armed forces. Says he was beaten and subjected to electric shock. He is a student, and his mother is taking the necessary steps to obtain his release.
Nº 19 Arrested mid-September 1973. Was taken to the National Stadium where he remained 20 days, and then was transferred to jail. States that he was taken only once to the Prosecutor's office to testify.
Nº 20 Was arrested three months ago for being a political activist. Says no proceedings against him.
Nº 21 Arrested early in March 1974. Taken to the Carabineros Headquarters and then to jail. Said that he was accused of having violated the law on weapons control.
Nº 22 His wife made a denunciation to the Commission in the Hotel Crillon. Was arrested in October 1973 and taken to Air Force facilities, where he was beaten for three hours and subjected to electric shock. Said that they hung him up and kept him there for two days. Is a union leader, and proceedings have been brought against him.
Nº 23 His family submitted information to the Commission in the Hotel Crillon. Has been imprisoned for two months. Said that he was beaten in the Air Force installation. Is accused of offenses against the armed forces.
Nº 24 Arrested two months ago. Is accused of belonging to leftist groups. No proceedings have been brought against him. Requests that he be tried and released, because he has to support his wife, his mother, and four children.
Nº 25 Arrested in January 1974. Was in Tejas Verdes, the Chile Stadium, and later was transferred incommunicado to the Public Jail. Is accused of forming para-military brigades. Says he was tortured in Tejas Verdes. Married, with one daughter. His wise has visited him in the jail. Says that six of his comrades were executed in Tejas Verdes. He supplied their names and professions.
Nº 26 Arrested a month ago and accused of falsifying documents for travel abroad. States that no proceedings have been brought against him, he has not been brought before the Prosecutor, and was held 18 days incommunicado. Requests he be tried or released.
Nº 27 Arrested in October 1973. Said he was tortured in the Ministry of Defense and in the Air Force Specialists School. Was sentenced by lower court. Was accused of being a co perpetrator of robbery, and the Prosecutor requested a sentence of three years and one day in prison. Was acquitted of the charge, but was accused of rebellion, and the War Council sentenced him to 15 years in prison. Has tuberculosis and was hospitalized two months. Requests medical attention.
Nº 28 Arrested in mid-May. Is accused of offenses against the armed forces. Was tortured and subjected to electric shock. Was kept blindfolded four days.
Nº 29 Twenty years old, arrested in June 1974 and accused of wearing the army uniform. Denies the charges. No proceedings against him.
Nº 30 Arrested in July 1974, accused of attacking the police. Says that there are no charges and that no proceedings have been instituted against him.
Nº 31 Arrested in November 1973. Accused of having broken the weapons control law. Because they have very little money, his family, who live in the interior, cannot visit him. Says he was tortured and beaten.
Nº 32 Arrested in October 1973 and taken to the Marine Camp in Valparaiso and from there to Chacabuco. Was released in five months and was free for six days. Was arrested again early in April 1974 and accused of belonging to the Communist Party. Said he was tortured in Valparaiso and was held incommunicado for three days. Has not been tortured in the Public Jail.
Nº 33 Was arrested in February 1974, accused of breaking the weapons control law. Says he was beaten and tortured. Was subjected to electric shock. Was brought before the Prosecutor, where he was questioned with respect to the socialist leader Altamirano. Requests that proceedings against him be expedited.
Nº 34. Arrested early in June 1974. Is accused of the crime of usurpation of functions. Requested that proceedings against him be expedited.
I. Chacabuco Detention Center
50. Ambassador Woodward and Commission official Dr. Gómez traveled to Antofagasta, by LADECO plane at 9:00 a.m. on July 30. Antofagasta is 1,395 kilometers from Santiago. The Director of the Chacabuco Prison, an army commander, did not keep his promise to receive Ambassador Woodward and Dr. Gómez at the airport at 12:00 noon. They looked everywhere in the airport for half an hour. The Director of the airport lent the visitors an automobile to get to the Hotel Turistica in the city. From there, they called Dr. Reque in Santiago and asked him to communicate with Colonel Espinoza so that he might call the Commander of the Chacabuco Prison.
The Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Jorge Farias Rodríguez, arrived personally at the hotel at 4:30 p.m., much too late to visit the prison on that day, since its is 100 kilometers from Antofagasta, in the middle of the Atacama Desert, approximately halfway to Calama.
Ambassador Woodward and Dr. Gómez made an appointment with Commander Farias to leave in a station wagon at 7:00 a.m. on the 31st, to interview as many prisoners as possible before returning to the airport to catch a plane at 3:00.
51. The Chacabuco Prison is in a town abandoned in 1925 by the saltpeter industry. The place was converted into a detention center in October 1973. The Commander said that some 5,000 persons were living in the town. The extremely dry climate preserves the barracks of the former miners, and the town includes large factories and warehouses, and a church of impressive size.
The trip from Antofagasta to the Chacabuco camp in the station wagon took an hour and 15 minutes because of the early morning mist. The return trip, including time to change a tire, took exactly one hour.
52. The Political prisoners camp in Chacabuco houses 587 prisoners, after transferring 51 prisoners to Santiago on July 30. Lieutenant Colonel Farias, the Camp Commander, informed us that one of the prisoners was sentenced by a “War Council” and that the remaining 50 were released when they reached Santiago. He submitted copies of the relevant documents.
53. The Commission checked in the prisoners' records for the names of those persons who were reported in Santiago to be detained there. Of the total of 78 persons on the Commission's list, it was found that 72 were actually in the camp. The names of the persons not listed on the camp records are the following:
- Luis Fuentealba Muñoz: Arrested December 27, 1973, taken to the Chile Stadium and then to Tres Álamos. Is a graduate chemist educated in the U.S.S.R. (1966-72). According to the information, his documents are in the SENDET. Reportedly no charges against him.
- Eduardo Puebla Hermosilla: Arrested May 2, 1974, taken to the Sixth Police Station in Santiago and then to the Chile Stadium. Reportedly no charges against him.
- Patricio Corvalán Carrera: Arrested September 14, 1973, by personnel of the Investigations Service. Was detained in the Chile Stadium. An appeal was filed before the Santiago Court of Appeals, without result.
- Eugenio da Via Ferreira: It was reported in Chacabuco that he was in the Santiago jail serving his sentence, which according to the informant, would be completed on August 3, 1974.
- Claudio Mario Vargas Vargas: Arrested January 2, 1974, by the Investigations Service, and then on orders of the Military Intelligence Service, was successively transferred to the Chile Stadium, Santiago Jail, Tres Álamos, and from there to Chacabuco (according to data furnished in the SENDET). This prisoner was suffering from frequent internal hemorrhaging, and his state of health was very precarious, according to the claimants.
- Rolando Rosendo Rodríguez Aguirre: Arrested in the factory where he was working (Textil Progreso) on September 12, 1973, and taken to the Chile Stadium, then to the National Stadium, where he remained for two months, before being sent to Chacabuco.
54. Mr. Woodward requested the guards to call in two prisoners, with whom he held a brief interview to determine their physical condition and their status. In summary, he reported the following:
a) That both had been arrested six months ago, no charge of any kind had been brought against them and they had not even been interrogated.
b) That both had been severely beaten in a place called “House of the Bells”, in Santiago, at the time of their arrest. They were then taken to Tejas Verdes, where they had also been tortured, although no interrogation of any kind had been made.
55. The Commission then visited the camp barracks to contact the prisoners.
Mr. Woodward interviewed the members of the so-called “Council of Elders” (presided over by Professor Gregorio Meno). The Council submitted a list of complaints on the conditions in the camp.
In addition, the Council of Old Men reported the following, in summary:
a) The 587 men detained in Chacabuco were there without any specific charge against them. Of the 587 prisoners, 400 had been detained over 8 months. There were no women in the prison.
b) The main desire expressed by almost all of the prisoners was to return to the normal life of the country, to work and earn their living. The principal concern of most of them is the pressing economic situation of their families. A census taken by the prisoners indicates that the members of their families total over 1300. The National Red Cross and the Welfare Association give minimum assistance.
c) Conditions in Chacabuco are much better than those in other detention centers. Prisoner complaints are mainly that they themselves had had to organize most of the medical service, since there was little official care provided. It is very difficult to arrange hospitalization in real hospitals like the one in Antofagasta, except for the most urgent cases. Dental service is also deficient. The diet is not balanced, lacking fruit, vegetables and adequate protein. Some weeks, mail delivery (once a week) is capriciously delayed. Censorship (performed by the Catholic Chaplain) does not seem to cause complaints in itself.
d) The prisoners told us that most of them had been severely tortured in interrogation centers during the first few days of their detention. They spoke of a place they called “House of the Bells” (they are not sure of its address, having been taken to and from the place blindfolded and with hoods over their heads). The main forms of torture they mentioned were blows and electric shock all over their bodies. They have suffered no physical maltreatment in Chacabuco. One of the prisoners reported he had not been maltreated.
e) As for their worries about the economic and psychological status of their families, most of the prisoners stated they had been fired from their jobs because of their arrest. The “Secretary” of the prisoners' “Council of Elders” gave us a list of the 587 prisoners in Chacabuco at that time, indicating that proceedings against 384 of them had been dismissed and the status of all of the rest—except for 16 cases—is very indefinite.
f) At the present time, according to the data that we were given, there are 31 minors under 21 years of age detained in Chacabuco.
g) At the meeting with the Council of Delegates, almost all of them said they were forced to sign papers in the first few days after their arrest, without any possibility of knowing what they were signing, because they were blindfolded. In addition, because they were blindfolded, they were not able to identify their interrogators or torturers.
h) We were also informed that prisoners about to be released in Santiago were required to sign a document stating that they had never been maltreated.
i) All of them said that one of their biggest worries is that when they are released, or sent to Santiago allegedly for that purpose, they would again be subjected to new arrests or even to transfers to a place much worse than Chacabuco.
j) They felt that Chacabuco was obviously so isolated in the Atacama Desert that it was not a suitable place for political prisoners. There were no complaints regarding the limitation of visits. Visitors arrive by bus from Santiago and other regions of the country on Saturdays and Sundays. Over half of the prisoners are from Santiago. The buses take 16 hours from Santiago. One prisoner estimated that up to 200 visitors had arrived last Sunday.
k) There are currently no lawyer's visits because the prisoners do not have lawyers nor could they pay for lawyers. When I asked about this point, I got the impression that the idea of having a lawyer never had occurred to the prisoners. The Commander informed us that the President of the Press Club and three other men, including the Press Club's lawyer, visited nine journalists in the prison a few weeks ago. The Commander said there was no limitation on visits from lawyers.
l) There are six persons in the camp who have been “tried” by the “Council of War”, and they continue in detention, without any explanation. In the case of one of those prisoners, Eduardo Rojo Cortés, of Copiapó, the sentence was for 61 days (which had already been served). The other five prisoners were “acquitted” by the War Council, but they continued in prison. One of the other prisoners, Marcos Saavedra Brafman, who had been transferred to Chacabuco from the Bio Bio jail in Los Angeles, on April 24, 1974, received information some two weeks after his transfer, from his mother, that a “War Council” in Los Angeles had sentenced him to five years, without his presence at the “War Council” and without transmitting any information to him up to that time.
m) The International Red Cross had sent representatives to the camp two times for very brief periods.
n) There are two prisoners in the Chacabuco camp who are not political prisoners, according to the information given to Mr. Woodward when he asked about this point. However, the member of the Council of Delegates said that the political prisoners were not bothered by the presence of those two common criminals.
o) In the conversation about alleged “places of torture”, reference was made to Tejas Verdes. The prisoners in Chacabuco said that when visits were made to Tejas Verdes by groups or individuals such as the Commission members, the authorities transferred the prisoners temporarily in trucks to a nearby cold storage plant, or locked them up in trucks while the visits took place.
56. Despite the desire of the Commission representatives to talk personally with the greatest number of prisoners possible, and dividing up the work between Ambassador Woodward and Dr. Gómez, they were unable to do much more than to speak with groups of prisoners during the 3 hours and 30 minutes their visit to the camp lasted.
57. The prisoners informed us that treatment varied with changes in subordinate personnel: a platoon of some six non-commissioned officers was changed every two weeks. The Commander informed us that he tried to select the best qualified personnel from among the many non-commissioned officers of the regiment stationed in Antofagasta.
58. The Commission interviewed some of the 31 minors imprisoned in the camp. The following information was gathered, in summary:
a) That they were housed in the same barracks as adults, although in the case of Carlos Ayress Moreno, who was arrested together with his father, he preferred it that way, so that he could take care of his sick father.
b) They had been subjected to torture in the places where they had been previously detained after their arrest. In particular, one of them showed marks of having been tortured with electric shock on the back, shoulders, arms, chest, and genitals.
c) One of the minors had been held in the Chacabuco Camp for 10 months, by order of the former Minister of the Interior, General Bonilla. The reason for it was not known up to that time.
d) Even if they were immediately set free, the schools where some of them had been studying had cancelled their registration, and it was impossible to register in other schools because of the mere fact that they had been arrested, according to information their families had. They protested that the government policy with respect to minor students who had been arrested made it impossible for them to continue their studies in Chile.
59. Although, in general, most of the prisoners alleged that they had been victims of physical and psychological harassment, some of them insisted on giving specific details of their cases, as follows:
Nº 1 Arrested in September 1973 by carabineros, taken to the Chile Stadium first, and then to the Tacna Regiment, to Tejas Verdes and Chacabuco. Shows various deep marks of maltreatment on the wrists, both arms, and the upper and lower back. Also shows lacerations and scarring on the genitals, which, according to one of the doctors imprisoned in the camp, can only be produced by the application of electric shock. According to the doctor, he may suffer permanent damage to the left testicle and scrotum.
Nº 2 Arrested October 1973. Says he was beaten a number of times on the head and back at Tres Álamos and at Londres Street. Shows marks from maltreatment on the back and a wound (scarred) on the frontal region of his hand.
60. The Commander reported that a number of sports, cultural and handicraft activities were carried out in the camp, in which the prisoners participated. There was a sparsely equipped workshop in which the prisoners have begun making modest articles that they intend to sell in Antofagasta, to help somewhat with their needs. There is also a general store and a cooperative.
J. Military Hospital
Dr. Luis Reque, the Commission's Executive Secretary, visited this installation on August 2, 1974, at 11:00 a.m., accompanied by a Secretariat staff member. He was received by Commander Rubén Castillo Juay, the Military Deputy Director of the Military Hospital. Commander Castillo indicated that he had already received the visit of the International Red Cross representative. He indicated that Mr. Gonzalo Toro Garland, a political prisoner, was not in the hospital. The following persons were interviewed:
1. Mr. Tovar: Does not remember when he was arrested. Does not remember how long he has been in the hospital either. Says he was informed there were no charges against him.
Commander Castillo indicated that Mr. Tovar had been in the hospital since July 24, 1974.
2. Mr. Jaime Tohá: Was arrested September 11, 1973. Has been in the hospital for a week. Stated that his family had been informed that there are no charges against him and that he would be released after a series of medical examinations. He stated that he was on Dawson Island and that he was transferred to the Buin Regiment on May 8.
3. Mr. Jaime Jorquera: Stated that he was arrested on September 12, 1973, and that he had been hospitalized since July 15, 1974. Stated that there were no charges against him and that the authorities had informed his family he would be placed under house arrest. He stated that he had received visits from Red Cross officials; that he is a retired journalist, and that he had a 12.000 escudos pension, which had been cancelled. He indicated that he did not owe the government any money.
K. San Bernardo Infantry School
Ambassador Robert F. Woodward and Commission Executive Secretary, Dr. Luis Reque, visited this detention center on July 26, 1974, at 4:00 p.m.
They were received by Colonel Pedro Gustavo Montalva, who told them that only four prisoners had been at that place, three of whom had been transferred to Santiago, so that at that time, the only remaining prisoner was Mr. Vladimiro Arellano Colima, the former Director of the Budget of the Treasury Department.
Mr. Arellano Colima stated that he reported to the Defense Ministry on September 11, 1974, because he was called in by a military edict. He was transferred to the Military Academy and in four days was taken to Dawson Island where he remained until May 8, 1974, and then was transferred to the San Bernardo Infantry School.
He stated that he had not received physical maltreatment in any establishment and that his wife visited him both in Punta Arenas and in San Bernardo.
He said Colonel Montalva had stated he would be released in a few days.
2 Air Force General Accountant, General Alberto Bachelet, who was appointed to manage the State distribution agency called “National Bureau for Distribution and Marketing”.