Monday, February 22, 2010

Chile: Dirty War corpses identified

Chile’s Dirty War ended about two decades ago and former dictator Augusto Pinochet is dead and buried. Yet the memories of that brutal period of political repression and the injuries caused by state abuse continue to linger.

Case in point: the identities of thirteen bodies buried in an abandoned mine were identified last week. Chile's government and researchers at the University of Texas studied genetic information from the corpses such as the DNA and chromosomes. The dead men ranged from the age of 17 to 51 years and were all killed by the army shortly after the 1973 military coup. (The burial site itself was discovered in 1978 and Pinochet would subsequently pardon the officers guilty of the crime).

The identification of the bodies was welcomed by the families of the deceased who suspected that their loved ones were illegally buried. The circumstances surrounding their deaths are spine chilling and symbolic of the ugly nature of the Pinochet regime:
Fifteen residents from the neighborhood of Lonquen near Santiago where among those secretly buried in the ancient brick-making oven. They were detained by police for diverse reasons after supposedly being transferred to a Santiago jail.

Among the victims were a farmer and his four sons, day workers, and even a teenager caught smoking a joint. - [ed. Translated text]
Image- BBC News
Online Sources- La Nacion, La Verdad, EPA, The Latin Americanist

No comments: