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Inside Chile’s Prisons

To the Editors:

Your readers may be interested in the following excerpt from a letter I received from Guillermo Nuñez, a well-known Chilean artist who has been released from the Puchuncavi concentration camp in Chile.

Dore Ashton

New York City

…I think you should know about the situation of several thousand Chileans who are still in our country.

The DINA has perfected its techniques; arrests are less extensive and more selective; torture has not diminished (the report of the Ad-Hoc Committee of the UN is very emphatic about this). Now people are kidnapped and disappear forever. The Supreme Court of Justice refuses all the demands of habeas corpus because the Ministry of the Interior does not admit that any political prisoners exist in Chile—so a macabre vicious circle has been created. No one knows exactly where the prisoners are. They are sent to various secret camps where they are tortured (among them may be camps at Tejas Verdes, Crimaldi, Colonia Dignidad, Bucalemu, Colina, Colliguay).

Some people are murdered: Marta Ugarte was found on La Ballena beach about 180 kilometers north of Santiago; Eduardo Charmes (who became a friend of mine in the Puchuncavi concentration camp) was killed by the DINA on the street in Santiago. His death was covered up by the DINA report that an armed confrontation with extremists had taken place.

Recently the Military Junta has publicized the release of some 300 prisoners from the Puchuncavi and Tres Alamos concentration camps. These were officially recognized prisoners, some of whom were imprisoned again and disappeared. This is the Junta’s way of covering up for the 900 so-called “processed’ prisoners, the 2,400 condemned by War Councils, and the more than 2,500 missing persons who have disappeared from places throughout Chile. (Among these are two of my best friends: Dr. Ivan Inzunsa and Professor Fernando Ortiz.)

Inside the Chilean prisons, a day, an hour can be a long, sorrowful period. I hope it will be possible for those people in the arts in the United States to protest to their senators, to the president, and to the UN so that the calvary in our country may be shortened.”

Guillermo Nuñez

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