Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Former DINA agent Cristian Labbe appointed lecturer of political thought

FotoInstead of facing justice for the atrocities committed during Pinochet's dictatorship, former DINA agent, torture instructor and ex-mayor of Providencia Cristian Labbe has been appointed lecturer of 'Evolution in Political Thought in Chile' at the Santiago Unviersity of Finis Terrae. The university's student federation claimed it was not alerted to Labbe's appointment.

Spontaneous protests eurpted on campus on Labbe's first day at university, with indignation spreading on social media. Tweets exhibiting the hashtag  #EnLasClasesDeLabbé created a parody out of the situation, refusing to wallow in oblivion and constructing a parallel to the colonel's stint in DINA. "Those who copy will be detained for three days." "Physical activity will be conducted in the Estadio Nacional." References to torture, including the parilla, and the omnipresence of DINA were not omitted from tweets. In an interview, Labbe's son declared "It has not been easy for my father to reinvent himself."

Labbe's stint in DINA is highlighted by the following.

Apart from his role in Tejas Verdes, Labbe was also instrumental in instructing and administering torture at Rocas de Santo Domingo, Venda Sexy, Villa Grimaldi and Londres 38. Testimony from torture survivors recall Labbe in his role as torturer, applying electric shocks to detainees.

Labbe was also involved in the repression and murder of fifteen peasants in Valdivia, who are listed as desaparecidos.

Collaborated  with his close friend Miguel Krassnoff  Martchenko and Ingrid Olderock.

Involved in Operacion Colombo, which targeted and annihilated MIR and Communist Party militants. The intention of the dictatorship was to deny these disappearances and attribute their deaths to a fabricated political strife between the socialist factions.

Following the Chilean transition to 'democracy', Labbe held influential positions and benefited from impunity, despite evidence linking him to atrocities committed during Pinochet's reign. As mayor of Providencia, Labbe employed Erasmo Sandoval Arancibia; also known as Pete el Negro, condemned in 2007 of murdering the youngest victim of the dictatorship - a fourteen year old boy who was shot four times and doused with gasoline. Arancibia also formed part of the DINA operation known as Operacion Retiro de Televisores, an encrypted message instructing agents to move the remains of desaparecidos from Cuesta Barriga and dispose of them permanently by incineration or deposed into the sea from helicopters to ensure dispersion.

Reinventing one's self from torture instructor to a 'professor' of political thought is a mere superficial process. If Labbe has encountered any difficulty in his 'reinvention', it would be the futility of reinventing Chilean individual and collective memory which has proved resilient against Pinochet's enforced culture of oblivion.


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