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 the Commission, of persons who have been detained and are presently missing contains over 250 names.

(3) No legal procedures are followed on a systematic basis, not even those appropriate for the “state of war and the state of siege” in the light of Chilean laws. Detentions continue indefinitely without charges being preferred. The access of lawyers to their clients is curtailed in violation of the Code of Military Justice, Codigo de Justicia Militar, Libro II, Tituto IV, Art. 184. Proceedings of military tribunals are secret in contravention of Art. 196. The request of the Commission to observe a trial was denied by the Vice Minister of Justice. Additional sentences are arbitrarily imposed after military tribunals pronounce their sentences.

(4) The use of torture continues. The Commission has obtained (a) written depositions of family members, (b) eyewitness accounts, (c) testimonies of released prisoners detailing the nature of wounds inflicted. As of December 11, 1973, there have been at least forty-two published reports of more than 410 persons killed “while attempting to escape.”

(5) The use of economic sanctions with regard to those suspected of sympathies toward the government before September 11 is widespread: our estimate is that a total of approximately 160,000 were expelled from their work for this reason. An unknown number has been forced to retire prematurely, forfeiting the accumulated social security and retirement benefits. Those on the government blacklist are barred from other employment.

(6) Of 137 national unions, 30 of the less important are functioning; the rest were either dissolved or suspended. The national and regional bodies of the Central Federation of Workers (CUT) were disbanded. All delegated labor bodies and meetings of such bodies were abolished and prohibited. Several union members were picked up at random and shot in the presence of other workers, for example eleven railway repair and maintenance workers in San Bernardo.

(7) Unemployment is estimated to have reached 20 percent. The work week was extended by four hours. Inflation since the takeover has been 1,000 to 1,100 percent. Wages were raised by decree from 200 to 300 percent depending on work category on January 1, 1974. Unemployment compensations are based on 75 percent of the average wage during the past twelve months, but because of the inflation, such compensation, even when provided, is below the level of subsistence; hunger is widespread.

(8) All universities and several private elementary and secondary schools are under military administration. Several university schools and departments are closed. Police and nonuniformed agents are often present in classrooms. No extracurricular activities are allowed. Tuition has been instituted and access to education made much more difficult. The estimated number of students expelled reaches 20,000 (6,000 in Concepción alone); 300-400 professors are seeking employment and many more of those expelled have left the country. New educational programs are expected to drastically curtail the study of the social sciences, journalism, and public health.

(9) All periodicals which the Junta views as opposition have been closed. Of the eleven major newspapers which appeared daily in Santiago prior to September 11, only six continue to be published. Of these six, three are controlled by the Edwards family. Moreover, La Prensa, the Christian Democratic newspaper, recently announced that it will discontinue publication. Copies of newspapers (1971-September, 1973) sympathetic to the Popular Unity government were removed from the National Library and other libraries. After a period of self-censorship, prior censorship has been reinstituted by the Junta. Some bookstores were closed, their books confiscated and burned. Most of the books dealing with philosophy, politics, and social problems are dangerous to own. Many people voluntarily burned their books, journals, and posters out of fear.

(10) From the early days of the takeover, there was an intense campaign against foreign residents in Chile. According to El Mercurio, as of February 17, 3,647 foreigners were given safe conduct passes to leave the country. A total of 7,317 persons obtained safe conduct passes while 243 persons are said to remain in foreign embassies. All embassies party to the right of asylum (Montevideo Convention, 1961) are carefully patrolled and access to them is prohibited.

(11) The Embassy of the United States seems to have made no serious efforts to protect the American citizens present in Chile during and after the military takeover. It refused to aid Charles Horman, directing him to seek assistance from his local police; it maintains not to have known anything about the arrest of Frank Teruggi, Jr., until notified by Stephen Volk on September 24, 1973. This must be contrasted with the conduct of several Western European embassies which threatened to break diplomatic relations if any of their nationals suffered at the hands of the military. The United States Embassy is one of the embassies where no asylum was given. The US consular officers continue to reject those seeking refuge in the United States whom they consider to have leftist sympathies.

(12) Contrary to the assertion of the Chilean Junta, Mr. Frank Teruggi, Jr., was murdered while in military custody at the National Stadium. He was tortured and shot seventeen times. Contrary to the statements of the US Embassy, protection was sought on his behalf the morning after he was detained and before he was murdered. Contrary to the assertions by the Embassy, no thorough investigation has been made with regard to the circumstances of his death by the Junta. Actually, the information concerning his death was unearthed by Frank Teruggi, Sr., while in Santiago.

(13) The Church high schools and Catholic University have been placed under military control along with state schools. At least 130 priests have been forced to leave Chile; at least three were killed and many tortured…. The Junta campaign in the press includes “letters” to the editor which denounce the Church as infiltrated by Marxists and as being an agent of international communism.

Interviews with the Junta Representatives

During its stay in Santiago, the Commission had various interviews with official representatives of the Junta. It is the impression of the Commission that the Junta representatives made no attempt during these interviews to present us with a portrayal that would be in any way compatible with the situation known to them and easy to observe by anyone outside their offices. To the contrary, we were impressed by the fact that those Junta representatives felt most assured that they can present obviously transparent lies with utmost impunity.

We were told, for example, that every prisoner is given the charges against him (Vice Minister of Justice Max Silva, Lt. Col. Mario Rodriguez) and even that the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Clodomiro Almeyda “is in his house” (taped interview with Max Silva). Upon telephoning Almeyda’s wife, the Commission learned that he had been held on Dawson Island and removed to Santiago military hospital for treatment. He is allegedly no longer in the hospital, but she has no idea of his whereabouts.

When the Commission requested to see José Toha, former editor of La Ultima Hora, former Minister of Interior, Defense and Agriculture, the Minister of Justice responded that he was in a military hospital in Santiago and could not receive visitors. (He has since been reported dead under mysterious circumstances.)

It is clear that the Junta is bewildered by the fact that anybody might actually be concerned about the status of human rights in Chile. Anyone who does not uncritically accept the pronouncements of the Junta is regarded as an enemy. Their vilifications range from the United States Senate (“infiltrated by Marxists”), Senator Edward Kennedy (“agent of international communism”), the Ford Foundation (“not only infiltrated but controlled by Marxists, including admitted communists”—La Segunda, December 20, 1973), to Ambassador Harald Edelstam of Sweden (“the Red pimpernel”—La Segunda, February 22, 1974).

General Atmosphere of “State of War,” “State of Emergency,”

State of Siege” The campaign of terror developed by the Junta seems to have assumed a systematic and organized character. Repression is more selective than during the first months following the takeover, but it is thorough and well prepared. Names of prisoners, their location and details of arrest are computerized; it is assumed these lists include potential prisoners as well. For example, while persons who spent three months or more in Cuba were arrested during the first wave of detentions, persons who spent two months there were arrested subsequently, and those who were one month in Cuba are being detained at present. (II, 13)

Official reasons cited for continuance of the “state of war” include reports of assaults, enemy plans, sabotage, resistance, arms caches, etc. People in general said there is no way of knowing the truth since the mass media are completely controlled and carry primarily local news. Arbitrary arrests and seizures are known only to the family affected and neighbors; people are afraid to report those missing for fear suspicion would be cast on themselves.

[Among the means used to sustain terror are the following:]

Cadavers Found in Rivers and on Streets

a. There is widespread talk among the population about bodies being found in the Mapocho River in Santiago and elsewhere. The Junta authorities are anxious to discredit such accounts. However, we learned from numerous sources that this was true. For example, a resident of a high-rise apartment building overlooking the Mapocho River confirmed shootings on the river bank with the bodies falling into the water. (III, 14)

b. Seven Brazilians were routed from their apartment in September; only one had been engaged in politics. They were shot on the river bank; one of them was not killed. Falling into the water, he remained there, floating down the river until nightfall when he managed to find refuge. (II, 2)

c. A Spanish priest of the Salesian order, Juan Alsina, 29 years, was arrested at San Juan de Dios Hospital where he was the director of hospital personnel. His body was found in the Mapocho River and claimed through the help of the Spanish Embassy. He had died from torture. (II, 2; II, 12)

d. On January 8, 1974, the bodies of five prisoners were found in the Pilmaiquen River (IV, 9, 22)

e. Two dead bodies were found lying outside an elementary school. One died with his identification card in his extended hand. Some army men passing by commented to the teachers and students gathered in front of the bodies, “It must have been the police. We take our cadavers to the morgue.” (II, 22)

Searches and Seizures

In spite of General Oscar Bonilla’s television speech in November during which he explained the rights of citizens during search and seizure operations, the military and paramilitary patrols enter homes with no search warrants, make arbitrary arrests and take articles of value. Many searches occur during the night, but they are equally common in daytime.

a. Evidence includes a detailed account of a house search and arrest by unknown individuals on January 30, 1974. Three members of the family were taken away after the family and their factory employees were terrorized. In addition various personal items and valuables were stolen. As of February 23, there is no news of the whereabouts of the father, son, and daughter who were taken. (IV, 3)

b. In the working-class areas, periodic searches are common. For example, in La Legua area of Santiago, military arrive every two or three days, some twenty to thirty prisoners are taken each time; some are released. (II, 12)

c. When the military searched a home in Las Barrancas, Santiago, the wife apparently complained that it was the third such search and wouldn’t they please leave her family in peace. As the military departed, they said to the little boy outside, “So long, kid, you won’t be seeing us around anymore.” The child, surprised, inquired, “You mean you found my Daddy hiding in the roof?” The military reentered the house, brought the father downstairs, and shot him in front of his family. (II, 20; III, 12)

Turning Oneself In

a. According to Decree 81 of November 6, 1973, any person cited for presentation in the Diario Oficial must appear before the authorities within five days. Failure to comply is punishable by prison sentence regardless of the verdict on any other charges that may be pending against the person.

b. Among the persons who did turn themselves in, the fate of three is known. Pediatrician Jorge Mario Jordan Domic was killed October 16. Dr. Jorge Avila, young and recently married, turned himself in September 19 or 20; shortly thereafter, he disappeared; his death was confirmed in December (IV, 6; IV, 13). On September 22 a high school student, 17 years, turned herself in after hearing her name over the radio. She was four months pregnant. Electric current was applied to her genitals during interrogation. She was afterward treated at a hospital where the prognosis was grave mental damage to her unborn child. She remains a prisoner in Santo Domingo. (V)

Economic Pressures

a. According to Decree 6 of the Code of Military Justice, during a “state of war,” everyone is only provisionally employed.

b. Workers, political leaders and intellectuals find themselves in the most distressed situation economically. The number of those dismissed for political reasons exceeds 150,000. Under the Law of Desahucio, prior to September 11, 1973, a fired worker was entitled to severance pay for a determined period of time. Junta decrees permit firing employees without this compensation. Further, in limited cases where payments are made, the effects of inflation (between 1000-1100 percent from September to February) outweigh the compensation which is determined by the average income for the previous year.

c. Workers are being fired or forced to resign and thereby lose all rights to pension plans provided by the state system and retirement benefits.

Detentions and Executions

The Commission found that the National Congress building now houses the Bureau of Detention and Prison Camps which is in charge of all prisoners.

Frequency and Manner

a. It is not Junta policy to inform families where prisoners are taken; if they do find out, it is through their own means. Letters to prisoners at Estadio Chile from their families indicate that many relatives did not know where prisoners are being held (III, 8). There are hundreds of cases of missing persons, either those taken at home or those who never returned home after leaving for work or an errand; whereabouts is unknown. (IV, 30; V)

b. There are numerous cases of multiple rearrests by different groups. Of particular importance is the seeming arbitrariness of these arrests and the autonomy of different branches of the armed forces. For example, x (name known to us) was interrogated five times. First, his house was searched, a day later he was arrested by military intelligence; the third time, a month later, he was arrested by policemen; the fourth time by a patrol of military and policemen. His present whereabouts is unknown (V). Y (name known to us) was arrested on three different occasions and is presently missing. Z (name known to us) was arrested four times; the last time by plainclothesmen (V).

Charges and Sentencing

Those arrested are presumed guilty. Interrogation and torture are used to extract confessions. Often, only after such methods are used, the prisoner is released because no charges are placed. Those released are generally threatened with death if they reveal maltreatment; they frequently must sign releases which certify that they have been well treated.

—Most of the 223 prisoners at Estadio Chile are being held without charges. None seemed to know what charges might be leveled at them. Their relatives, waiting outside the prison to deliver messages, are not aware of any charges. For some the military was in the process of gathering charges; according to Rodriguez, these would be for crimes under the previous regime as well as acts deemed criminal by the decrees and laws instituted by the new government [applied retroactively].

—A worker in the south of Chile turned himself in the week following the takeover. He was held six weeks during which time he was tortured by electric shock applied to four parts of his body. He was eventually released because there were no charges against him (V).

Legal Counsel

a. We are told repeatedly that lawyer involvement usually begins when charges are already drawn up and the case is ready. The lawyer can see the statement of charges against the defendant some 24 to 48 hours prior to sentencing. We were told that in the north, lawyers are given one to two hours. Frequently the only opportunity for lawyer and client to meet is the moment of sentencing. Hence the only recourse of the lawyer is to request clemency. In the case of a student from Arica, his meeting with his lawyer took place three hours before the trial and lasted three to five minutes. (II, 4, 5, 11, 18; III, 8; IV, 16)

b. Further, lawyers are appointed from a roster of the Chilean Bar Association and tend to be ultraconservative (see its document “Illegal Acts Committed under the Allende Government and the Bar Association Support for the Junta”). Lawyers who would be sympathetic to the client’s case are threatened. Trials are absolutely secret. (II, 4, 11, 18; III, 8)


The use of torture is widespread, although treatment depends on various factors: who the prisoner is or is thought to be, the individual in charge of the local or regional center, and the branch of the armed services conducting the interrogation. It is general opinion of people interviewed that the Chilean Air Force is the most brutal, most likely to torture and kill. In contrast, the prisoners and populace in general regard the carabineros or national police force as more humane.

a. The most striking evidence came from some of the prisoners at Estadio Chile. Although Lt. Col. Rodriguez had arranged formal interviews with seven prisoners, there was a covert opportunity to communicate with other prisoners by leaning over the balcony. This was at first done by signaling: (pointing) what happened to X’s arm (in sling). This person would then casually walk by the balcony and let his arm hang down, limp, while making a slicing sign indicating it had been broken. As the men got bolder, more and more walked by, lifting shirts, showing inside of arms to indicate electric shock burns. They told us where they had been tortured: Tejos Verde, Cerros de Chena. (These places were later confirmed as sites of torture by our evidence.) By the end of the hour and one half, they were carrying on a full conversation, in English or French, once they learned of our other languages. (II, 4).

b. There is widespread belief that Brazilian military, skilled in the use of methods of torture, were brought in immediately following the military takeover to interrogate Brazilian prisoners and Chileans as well. A number of sources told us that US and Brazilian torture equipment is used: electric shock units, nail bar, etc. [unconfirmed]. Other sources indicated that training in such methods was received by the military prior to the takeover in US training schools in Panama and in Texas. (II, 24)

c. Methods of torture being used include electronic shock applied to various sensitive parts of the body, fingernail extraction, shooting off guns next to the ear—along with more “conventional” brute methods—beating with gun butts, knife slashing, cigarette burns, sexual molestation and rape.

d. The cases are numerous: that of Victor Jara, internationally famous folksinger and artist is well known (IV, 1, 2). For details of others see documents IV. Documents which would compromise the sources are being shown to selected persons in the United States and abroad. These documents include several testimonies of persons who were tortured and released. For example, X was exposed to electric shocks, a gun was shot next to his ear drums, he was blindfolded for a week. Y was given electric shocks, he was blindfolded for fourteen days. Z’s death certificate said he died of bronchial pneumonia. Upon exhumation several lacerations were discovered on his body. (V)

e. The torture is being used at the present time. A mother found the body of her son on February 13, 1974. His hands and genitals had been cut off. His body was covered with burns from cigarettes and slashed with knives. (II, 8).

f. According to a letter dated February 14, 1974, which was smuggled out of X prison and given to the Commission, a man was arrested in the middle of January and tortured until he signed a confession. (IV, 17).

Executions and theLey de Fuga

When pressed by the Commission for an estimate, Vice Minister of Justice Max Silva stated that in the early days of the military government, there were some thirty persons executed, but there are none now. [Interview taped; available from Ms. Anna Langford] The evidence makes this statement ridiculous.

a. An unusually large number of escapes while under police custody are reported. This usually occurs in the following manner: “While being transported from x prison to y, the following prisoners attempted to wrest guns from their guards (or simply, to escape) during a breakdown of the vehicle. They were shot by the guards.” However, it is generally known that prisoners are bound and under heavy guard while being moved.

b. According to 42 separate newspaper accounts, approximately 410 persons were shot while “attempting to escape” as of December 12, 1973, or during three months. The latest evidence is as of January 31 in Puerto Montt which reports the names of four prisoners “shot while attempting to flee.” This seems to indicate this method is still being used. (IV, 7, 9)

c. There are repeated cases of alleged suicides of prisoners. Most recently, former Minister José Toha allegedly hanged himself in the military hospital to which he had been transferred for medical care. Toha, who was six feet, three inches tall, reportedly weighed less than 112 pounds when brought to Santiago from Dawson Island. In another case of an alleged suicide while in custody, X was said to have hanged himself with his shirt. He was dressed in a short sleeve cotton shirt; his body when claimed at the morgue was found covered with lacerations on the stomach and legs. (New York Times, March 17, 1974; V)

d. Many cases are reported of prisoners being executed after military tribunals have sentenced them to a definite period of time. While some of these cases could be attributed to the responsibility of local commanders, a series of such assassinations were a direct order from Santiago carried personally by Chief of the Santiago area General Arellano Stark. This mission of death started in mid October in La Serena where 15 people were shot on October 16. The source of the order became public knowledge in La Serena after Jorge Washington Peña Hench, a respected musician and founder of La Serena’s Symphony Orchestra, Conservatory and Children’s Symphony, was killed. As there are 80 families in the symphony, his assassination became known. When the townspeople protested in outrage, the district military commander, Lt. Col. Ariosto Lapostol, published a statement in La Provincia newspaper saying that he was under orders from Santiago (III, 11; IV, 6)

e. The estimates of the total number of executions between September 11 and the visit of the Commission range very broadly. The official Junta figure is 2,170 including military men killed in the takeover (Chicago Daily News, February 27). Aside from Max Silva’s figure of 30, the most conservative estimate encountered was 1,000 given by Gil Sinay. Informed foreign observers say that at least 5,000 deaths have been accounted for. The prevailing figure among our sources was 20,000 to 25,000, but the range reaches 80,000 if we are to accept the estimate of a conservative Chilean businessman. (II, 2, 5, 11, 12, 14, 25) Some names of those murdered were obtained by the Commission (IV, 31).

Partial list of those persons detained by military or paramilitary and whose present whereabouts is unknown is appended (IV, 30)



a. In January, wage and salary levels were readjusted with an estimated increase which may or may not be the real increase after February changes. The long-announced “readjusted” salaries were scheduled for February, 1974. But no one knows what this will mean, in fact. Guesses are that salaries will approximately double or even triple. Minimum salary per month will be about 18,000 Escudos. The following figures are approximate and change monthly, but nonetheless they provide some idea of the economic situation as of January 31, 1974:


b. The work week was increased by Junta decree a mandatory four hours. This means a 48 to 52 hour work week for workers; a 40 in-school week for teachers and university professors (II, 6, 22, 23).


a. The Commission noted that the stores seem to have a plentiful supply of goods, although few people can afford to do much buying. The Junta is running an economic campaign with such slogans as these: CHILEAN, LEARN TO BUY! and FREE COMPETITION IS A JUST PRICE

b. The economic situation and purchasing power can be seen by the following examples:

(1) Rent: According to El Mercurio, February 15, 1974, the price of rents was allowed to increase five times over January, 1974.

(2) One family of five which the Commission interviewed spends an estimated 9000 Escudos on bread and milk alone (II, 13).

(3) The Commission was impressed by the fact that:

A worker who takes one bus to and from work, six days a week, 4 weeks per month, spends…..2160 E.

If he buys 1 1/2 kilos of bread for his family per day, bread at 130 E./kilo, 1.5 × 130 × 30 days…..5850 E.

[Total for transportation and bread 8,010 E.]

If he should be a pack a day cigarette smoker and smoke the cheapest brand (range 130-220 E./pack), 130 × 30 days…..3900 E.

Approximate total [transportation, bread, cigarettes]…..12,000 E.

In other words, just for minimal transportation to and from work and bread for his family, a worker spends approximately 44 percent of what will be the minimum wage. Should he be a smoker, the cigarettes and bus fare (just for himself) and bread for his family will total 67 percent of the minimum wage.

(4) Articles of clothing have gone beyond the means of reach for the average worker. A blouse costs (average) 3000 E.; a man’s shirt, 4500 E.; shoes, 5000-8000 E.; children’s shoes, 3000-5000 E.

Trade Unions

  1. The Central Federation of Workers (CUT) is closed; any union activity whether written or by any other means is outlawed as of September 17, 1973 (Decree no. 12 of the Junta). The Commission found a padlock on the doors of the CUT offices. Funds of unions have been frozen. All delegated labor bodies and meetings of such are abolished and prohibited (II, 1; IV, 4).

  2. Of 137 national unions, only thirty of those less important are functioning. The remaining 25 percent do not exist as unions because there can be no grievances filed, no collective bargaining; and union meetings cannot be held except with prior approval of the agenda by the police. Such meetings are limited to an explanation of military degrees. Election of union officers is also forbidden. The Junta has been attempting to replace former union officials by their own approved men (II, 1; IV, 4).

  3. Many workers are not entitled to any compensation because they were not fired but left “voluntarily” when their employers threatened to denounce them to the authorities as “extremists.” Many other workers are dead or missing (IV, 30). There is no official fund for widows and orphans. Trade unionists who collect funds for widows, orphans, and unemployed run a grave risk of punishment.

  4. It seems the military are trying to physically eliminate union leaders. Leaders of CUT have been imprisoned, harassed, killed, or forced into exile (IV, 4). Two men were shot during searches of their homes: Luis Rojas Valenzuela, regional secretary of CUT in Arica, and Luis Almonacid, provincial secretary of CUT in O’Higgins. In the case of the General Secretary of CUT Rolando Calderon, the military tried to shoot him near the interior of the Swedish Embassy; he received facial wounds in the forehead and eyes (IV, 4).

  5. The following table illustrates the status of the trade union movement in Chile at the present time:


Health and Social Services

There are systematic campaigns of persecution against the doctors, medical personnel, and students who did not participate in the strike of professionals [in protest against the Allende government] and who were politically active prior to September 11. Many physicians and hospital functionaries were tortured and killed. Many more were expelled or suspended from the medical profession (Chilean Medical Association and National Health Service) (IV, 13).

—A detailed plan of persecution was designed by Dr. Augusto Schuster Cortes and followed by military prosecutors (IV,11;IV, 12). Details of this persecution are given in statements by these prosecutors citing charges against professors, students, and functionaries and the subsequent suspensions and firing of same (IV, 14; IV, 15). Similar measures were taken in all branches of the School of Medicine in Santiago, the School of Veterinary Medicine, and the National Health Service.

—Among the many physicians and personnel of the health service arrested are the director of the Linares Health Zone, Dr. Carlos Azmorano; the former Minister of Health Dr. Mario Lagos; nutrition expert Dr. Giorgio Solimano Canturias; director of Health for greater Santiago Dr. Gustavo Molina; director of the third Health Zone Dr. Asbalon Werner V. Other names are appended to the Report (IV, 30).

—The military seems to be initiating a campaign against socialized medicine to the effect that the practice of medicine cannot be good quality unless services are “paid for.” The charges for services are presently 3000 Escudos for a visit with a doctor of nine years experience or less; 4000 E. if ten years or more; 5000 E. if twenty or more years (II, 7, 8).


  1. All universities and several private elementary and secondary schools, including the pontifical Catholic University, are under military administration; rectors have been replaced by military officers. The Rector of the University of Chile, a Christian Democrat, protested the violation of university autonomy; he is presently in exile. San George’s School, one of the most progressive institutions in Chile and run by the Holy Cross Fathers, has been intervened in by the military; the gymnastics teacher was made principal (II, 6, 12, 15, 16, 20, 22, 23).

  2. The Junta is attempting to develop an elite educational system. Access to education has been made much more difficult since tuition is being instituted: 18,000 E. [unconfirmed]. The work-study programs have been abolished; moreover, many students who participated in them have been suspended or expelled on the grounds that “they did not demonstrate a sufficient interest in their subjects.” Students must now show means of support (e.g., working wife, family support) in order to attend the university.

  3. The most conservative estimate that the Commission heard was 10 to 20 percent of the professors, functionaries, and students were suspended, forced to resign, or expelled. However, this figure does not accurately reflect the situation in the universities since some departments were particularly hard hit. For example, in Concepión, between 200-300 university professors (of 1,200) were suspended; approximately 6,000 of 18,000 students were suspended and/or expelled (II, 7, 16, 20, 23, 25).

  4. In the School of Public Health, which had an outstanding reputation in Latin America, 70 of 120 persons have been suspended; it is not clear how many will be allowed to return. Charges against those dismissed or expelled are vague; for example, students and faculty in the Department of Economics, School of Political Economy were cited “for one of the above mentioned charges” after a listing of four or five counts was given (IV, 10).

  5. The Junta has instituted changes in curriculum and dress code. Uniforms and briefcases are required for all students. According to one educator, “the military doctrine for all high schools and elementary schools will be reduced to discipline, cleanliness, obedience and uniforms” (II, 23). There also will be decided emphasis on military history and nationalism (II, 15).

  6. No group meetings are allowed on university campuses. When the State Technical University reopened, the new rules included no talking outside of the classroom. The universities are continually patrolled by the Chilean police. Within the classrooms, intellectual dialogue is inhibited by fear of plainclothesmen and right-wing students, etc. (II, 15, 20).

  7. Publishing will be under strict guidelines; scholars are fearful to even present a manuscript which might contain material anathema to the military censors. There has been evidence of pressure on the substance of teaching and of writing, particularly in the social sciences, social work, and education (II, 7, 23).

  8. Educators have been taken prisoner, tortured, and killed; they are still being arrested. The day the Commission was leaving Santiago, it received the news that a professor Meruane from the Catholic University had been taken at 4 p.m. the previous day (II, 23; IV, 30).

Mass Media

Freedom of the press, radio, and television has been effectively crushed by the Junta. All communication systems have been seized, leftist publications banned and offices closed. Of the eleven major newspapers which appeared daily in Santiago prior to September 11, only six continue to be published. Of these six, three are controlled by the Edwards family. Moreover, La Prensa, the Christian Democratic newspaper, recently announced it will discontinue publication. Prior censorship has been reinstituted.

  1. Copies of the newspapers shut down have been removed from the historical records of the National Library and other libraries throughout the country. Selected books and works of certain authors are being removed from the library collections (II, 10).

  2. Leading bookstores of radical and leftist literature, records, and posters (such as PLA, Prensa Latina-Americana) are closed and their property confiscated. All bookstore owners must present a list of inventory for review. Those books censored must be removed, at a loss to the owner. Even if the newly ordered books are confiscated at customs, the owner must repay the bank for dollars advanced for the order. All political science books, right or left, are banned; also, social science books relating to Chile and any Marxist literature pertaining to Chile (II, 9).

  3. Since some books are dangerous to own, and this category remains undefined, many people have burned their libraries. A sociology professor told a member of the Commission that he burned his doctoral thesis because it pertained to aspects of the Popular Unity government (II, 23). A middle-class woman, communist, burned her entire library out of fear: her first husband was in exile; her second husband, a communist, had been killed; her father had been killed as a “political extremist” (II, 20).

  4. Of 6,000 people employed in the mass media, approximately 2,000 have been fired and most of these are unable to find other work. Even foreign correspondents have been given harsh treatment; a few have been taken into custody for up to fourteen days; some have been held at gunpoint while their quarters were searched (II, 11).


During the Allende regime private schools and universities continued to receive government subsidies, the Catholic University television station became a bastion of Allende’s opposition, two-thirds of the radio stations were controlled by the opposition, and by late 1972 in all the universities except one there had been elected rectors and governing bodies who were opposed to the government. Six weeks before the coup one could find on the same newsstand in downtown Santiago magazines of the extreme Right justifying the violent overthrow of the leftist government and others published by the Left calling for resistance by soldiers to their military superiors. El Mercurio, the principal opposition newspaper, continued to publish throughout the Allende period (it was closed for one day in June, 1973), while the government-owned La Nacion and the government-subsidized Chile Hoy and the Quimantu publishing house, as well as two of the three Santiago TV stations, presented the Allende government’s point of view.

Chile under Allende had a greater range of freedom of expression for political views of all kinds than any other country in the world. It is true that the Allende government tried to put economic pressure on the only independent paper company, but this was successfully resisted, as was a plan announced in March, 1973, to establish a unified national school system.

…the total number of politically related deaths during the three years of the Allende regime is surprisingly low. Not more than a half dozen were killed in street fighting in the entire period, and none of these deaths was attributable to police action. Libro Blanco, the White Book published by the military junta after the coup, lists ninety-six deaths under the Allende government. Twenty-two of them took place during the military uprising of June 29, 1973. Only one came from the action of troops against lower class settlers (in August, 1972), and Allende immediately went to the settlement and apologized.

—Paul E. Sigmund, Professor of Politics at Princeton, in World View, April, 1974.


Workers under the Junta June 27, 1974

Terror in Chile June 27, 1974

Sorry! June 13, 1974