Former director of Radio Magallanes, Guillermo Ravest, passed away in
Guillermo Ravest, former director of Radio Magallanes
Mexico at 91 years of age. Ravest had been the individual responsible for broadcasting President Salvador Allende’s last speech, defying a ban by the military that forbade radio messages on September 11, 1973.
Ravest’s role did not end there. Following the broadcast, he had the speech recorded and copies made for dissemination, in direct defiance of the Pinochet dictatorship.
Chile remains a country of contradictions, influenced by the struggle between memory and forgetting. The dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet has left a legacy that has not been adequately challenged since the country’s return to democracy.
Human rights and memory groups in Chile have struggled against state institutions and military secrecy over dictatorship crimes. They demand, for example, that Punta Peuco, the luxury prison for former agents of National Intelligence Directorate (DINA, the Chilean secret police under Pinochet) be closed and the inmates transferred to ordinary jails. That such demands remain unmet provide foundations from which impunity can make inroads.
Last week, Chilean media reported that Javier Rebolledo (pictured), an investigative journalist and author specialising in uncovering dictatorship era crimes, was taken to court by former DINA agent and Punta Peuco inmate Raul Pablo Quintana Salazar. Rebolledo is facing ‘calumny’ charges in court, over one particular quote published in his most recent book, Camaleon.
Marta Ugarte, a dictatorship victim who was destined for disappearance. Her body was discovered at La Ballena beach.
The Santiago Court of Appeals has ordered the release of Luis Felipe Polanco Gallardo from Punta Peuco. Polanco was one of the officers who participated in the Caravan of Death and a former military pilot operating the death flights who was condemned to prison for the murder of history professor Marta Ugarte, whose body was discovered in September 1976 on La Ballena beach. Ugarte was one of the victims destined for disappearance, like other political opponents who were murdered and their bodies disposed of in the ocean.
Ugarte was detained in August 1976 and transferred to La Torre in Villa Grimaldi, where she suffered excessive torture – her nails were ripped off and her body burned during torture sessions.
Investigations also showed that despite being given a lethal injection by Dr Osvaldo Pincetti (a torturer within DINA who also worked at Cuartel Simon Bolivar), Ugarte was still alive at the time her body was being packaged for disposal into the ocean.
Her body was discovered half naked in a sack, with a wire around her neck. According to evidence given to the courts, Ugarte was strangled quickly before being taken on board the death flights. Ugarte’s body was tied tothe rails used to weigh down the body to ensure sinking into the ocean with the same wire used to strangle her. However, the wire loosened, thus causing the body to float and eventually carried to rest on a beach.
Ugarte, who held the position of National Comptroller of Education during Salvador Allende’s presidency, was the first confirmed victim of the Pinochet dictatorship.
Former DINA agent and torturer Raul Pablo Quintana Salazar, is suing Chilean
investigative journalist and author Javier Rebolledo, for “calumny”.
Quintana, who is serving a prison sentence in Punta Peuco for crimes against humanity committed during the dictatorship era, is being represented in court by his daughter.
Rebolledo is a well-respected journalist and an author of several books which are heavily based on testimony. His research has uncovered the crimes of the torture and extermination centre Cuartel Simon Bolivar, as well as the early origins of DINA through accounts and analysis of the Tejas Verdes contingent.
Please help Rebolledo by signing this petition – it is unthinkable that a former torturer claims to have incurred damages while a journalist is facing a possible prison sentence merely for uncovering the truths about Pinochet’s violent dictatorship.
Two former DINA agents, Manuel Carevic and Patricio Silva, have been sentenced to 541 days of imprisonment for the kidnapping and disappearance of Gonzalo Toro, a professor of Musical Arts at the University of Chile and MIR militant.
Toro was kidnapped on April 4, 1974 and severely injured. He was transferred to the military hospital where he remained until August 1, 1974, when he was due to be discharged from hospital. On the same day, DINA agents apprehended him from hospital. He was subsequently disappeared.
In contrast to his electoral campaign rhetoric which was on a milder level than that of his counterpart Jose Antonio Kast, Sebastian Pinera’s adherence to right-wing ideology is revealing itself with the appointment of Hernan Larrain, a defender of Colonia Dignidad’s leader Paul Schafer, as Minister for Justice.
During an interview, Larrain defended Schafer, saying that the accusations levelled against the German Nazi who established a colony in Chile and collaborated with the dictatorship was the victim of a frameup.
Alicia Lira, President of the Association of Relatives of Executed Political Prisoners (AFEP) denounced the appointment, declaring it a “sad precedent”, in view of the fact that Larrain was part of Schafer’s circle of friends.
Colonia Dignidad was shrouded in secrecy, thus making investigations into human rights abuses difficult. Schafer had fled from Germany to Chile after accusations of child molestation in 1959. For dictator August Pinochet, Schafer provided both location and opportunity for dictatorship crimes, including torture, murder and disappearance of political opponents. In return, Schafer’s depravity and torture of his own community were assured of impunity.
Basclay Zapata Reyes, a former DINA agent imprisoned at Punta Peuco, died at the age of 71 from cancer. Zapata Reyes former part of Brigada Aguila within DINA and considered one of the most brutal torturers within the intelligence agency. Lorena Pizarro from the Association of Families of Disappeared Detainees, declared Zapata Reyes as “one of the bloodiest agents of the dictatorship, who we will remember for his brutal and inhuman nature, and one of the first individuals associated with the torture and murder of the disappeared detainees.”
Zapata Reyes also formed part of DINA’s joint command, which was responsible for the majority of disappearances in Chile.