Thursday, August 1, 2013

Echoes of Pinochet's 'Caravan of Death'

A revelation made by an unidentified soldier prior to his death led to the discovery of rails used to dispose murdered opponents of Pinochet's dictatorship into the sea. Less than five remnants of rails were found on the shores of Caldera - the second discovery pertaining to the crimes committed during the 'Caravan of Death'.

It is estimated that around 500 dictatorship opponents, amongst them members of MIR and Partido Comunista, were disappeared in the ocean between October 1973 and August 1977. The recently discovered rails are now located at the PDI's Criminal Laboratory in Santiago, to determine whether any further information regarding the crimes may be obtained. The probability of establishing further proof is remote, particularly if no further details regarding the operation were divulged prior to the soldier's death.

It has been reported that two particular cases might be linked to the recent discovery - the case of three extrajudicial killings at Copiapó in 1973, and the case of 26 prisoners murdered in the Atacama desert in 1973. The bodies were recovered by the dictatorship in 1976 and disposed of into the ocean from helicopters.

The criminal procedure has been narrated in great detail by Jorgelino Vergara Bravo - a servant in the household of Manuel Contreras who later served at Cuartel Simon Bolivar. following severe torture, detainees would usually be administered a lethal injection before the bodies would be 'packaged' in the middle of the night, awaiting their final destination.

Only one victim defied the intended disappearance, thus enabling identification as well as proof of the atrocity. Marta Ugarte, a teacher, seamstress and member of the Chilean Communist Party, had been detained by DINA and tortured at Villa Grimaldi in August 1976. A month later, her body was discovered on the shores of La Ballena in Los Molles. The body was discovered inside a bag, with a wire around the victim's neck indicating strangulation. According to official records, the wire had been used by DINA agent Emilio Troncoso Vivallos upon realising that despite the administered lethal injection, Ugarte was still alive. 


No comments:

Post a Comment