Punta Peuco

Chile must not forget the horrors of dictatorship-era crimes

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.

Javier RebolledoHuman 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.

Read more at Eureka Street

MIGUEL KRASSNOFF’S LAWYER SUSPENDS APPEAL FOR PROVISIONAL LIBERTY

Following the news that seven former military offices convicted for crimes against humanity walked free from Punta Peuco prison, it was revealed that Raul Meza, the lawyer representing former torturers, had filed an appeal, and subsequently suspended it “for now”, for the release of the worst torturer in DINA’s ranks, Miguel Krassnoff Martchenko. 

In a statement, Meza said he will continue working for all convicted torturers to be released.

Recently it was revealed that Krassnoff participated in the death flights in 1973 and disposed of three detainees, while still alive, from a helicopter into the sea off the coast of Rocas de Santo Domingo. 

Krassnoff was also a participant in the killing of MIR leader, Miguel Enriquez.

A graduate of the School of the Maericas (SOA), Krassnoff was third in DINA’s hierarchy. He was the commanded of Brigada Caupolican and Brigada Halcon, specialising in the kidnapping, torture, extermination and disappearance of MIR militants. Upon DINA’s dissolution, Krassnoff was integrated into the CNI and tasked with the surveillance and eventual killing of MIR militants.

Krassnoff is serving more than 300 years for crimes against humanity.

He has described himself as “a soldier who has been transformed into a political prisoner”. It is enough to read the testimonies published on Memoria Viva to dispel this blatant lie. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Convicted DINA official released from Punta Peuco on parole

Marta Ugarte

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 to the 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. 

 

Court indictment for Punta Peuco inmate

juan-mauricio-poblete-tropa-671x1000.80Former Chilean General Patricio Enrique Jeldres, an inmate at Punta Peuco prison, was indicted last Friday for the kidnapping of 20 year old MIR militant, Juan Mauricio Poblete Tropa.

The crime occurred on September 23, 1973, in Chillan. Poblete was kidnapped from his home close to midnight. His headless corpse was discovered on December 24, 1973. The forensic results of the remains were communicated on December 19, 2017.

 

Former DINA agent dies at Punta Peuco

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.

 

Will the errors of Chile’s left facilitate a right-wing victory?

My feature article on Chile’s 2017 presidential elections is published at TRT World. Featuring exclusive comments by historian Alberto Harambour, investigative journalist and author Nancy Guzman, torture survivor Pedro Alejandro Matta and activist Jorge Hostt.

Right-wing presidential candidate José Antonio Kast’s adulation for the dictatorship

José Antonio Kast, a right-wing contender for the forthcoming Chilean presidential elections, has been generating outrage in Chile as a result of statements lauding the dictatorship and which signal additional impunity for perpetrators in the event of electoral victory.

In August 2017, Kast addressed an audience at Teatro Caupolicán, during which he pledged, if elected, to “defend, with honour, the military government.” He also vowed that, if elected president, he would terminate”judicial persecution of former military officers,” with reference to the ongoing efforts to bring former torturers and murderers to justice.

Kast also challenged former president Sebastian Piñera over the 2013 closing of the luxury prison Penal Cordillera and subsequent transfer of prisoners to the military prison of Punta Peuco. The closing of the prison led to the suicide of former DINA agent and CNI director Odlainer Mena. Mena was convicted for three murders in the Caravana de la Muerte operation.

Another item on Kast’s manifesto is the removal of Salvador Allende’s statue from La Cuidadania square, as well as all other forms of tribute, including those inside the presidential palace of La Moneda.

In his latest attack on Chilean memory, Kast declared that the years of the Unidad Popular government were a dictatorship and that “the people brought down Allende, not the military.”

Kast’s presidential campaign is financed, among others, by former DINA and military officers.