Terror in Chile I: The Chicago Commission Report

What follows are excerpts from the report of the Chicago Commission of Inquiry into the Status of Human Rights in Chile, which visited Santiago in February, 1974. Large sections of the report are omitted, as is the separate volume of documents and other supporting evidence referred to in the text by roman numerals. The full report can be obtained by writing to Joanne Fox Przeworski, 1320 East Madison Park, Chicago, Illinois 60615, or Doris Strieter, 1600 South 14th Avenue, Maywood, Illinois 60153, or other members of the Commission. The report and documents cost $1.50, plus fifty cents for mailing costs.

The Chicago Commission of Inquiry

The Chicago Commission of Inquiry Into the Status of Human Rights in Chile (henceforth referred to as “the Commission”) was constituted as an ad hoc group of Chicago citizens concerned about the conditions of human rights in Chile after the military takeover of September 11, 1973. The Commission was formed upon the initiative and with the assistance of the Chicago Citizens’ Committee to Save Lives in Chile, a loose coalition of groups and individuals. Members of the Commission hold differing political views and religious beliefs. They also vary in their attitudes toward the policies of the Popular Unity government headed by the late President Salvador Allende.

The members of the Commission are:

Ernest DeMaio, General Vice President, United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE)

Abraham Feinglass, International Vice President, Amalgamated Meatcutters and Butcher Workmen

Geoffrey Fox, Instructor of Sociology, University of Illinois, Chicago; Vice President, Chicago Circle Federation of Teachers

Father Gerard Grant, S. J., Professor of Philosophy, Loyola University

George Gutierrez, Counselor, Chance Program, Northern Illinois University; Member, Human Relations Committee, Dekalb

Anna Langford, Lawyer and Alderwoman, Chicago City Council

Dean Peerman, Managing Editor, Christian Century

Joanne Fox Przeworski, Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Committee for the Comparative Study of New Nations, University of Chicago

Jane Reed, Associate General Secretary, Board of Church and Society, United Methodist Church

James Reed, Pastor, Parish of the Holy Covenant, United Methodist Church

Doris Strieter, Village Trustee, Maywood, Illinois

Frank Teruggi, Sr., father of Frank Teruggi, Jr., murdered in Chile

The members unanimously endorse the full contents of this Report.

Summary of the Findings

Given the limitations of time and resources, the Commission cannot estimate the frequency of detentions, torture, and executions in Chile. Moreover, because of the necessity to protect several of its sources, no documentation can be made public with regard to several cases of searches, seizures, detentions, and torture. [These limitations are discussed in detail in the full report of the Commission.]

The principle findings of the Commission are the following:

(1) The campaign of terror developed by the Junta seems to have assumed a systematic and organized character;

(2) Cases of politically motivated detentions are numerous: (a) the estimate of the number of persons detained as of January 20, 1974, exceeds 18,000; (b) an estimated total of 80,000 have been detained in the past six months; (c) a single list, made available to…

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