The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights prepared its First Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile as a result of an in loco observation conducted in Chile from July 22 through August 2, 1974. This report was presented to the General Assembly of the Organization at its fifth regular session, in view of the time that had elapsed since the Commission’s visit and the fact that the Government of Chile had at that time agreed to the request of an ad hoc working group of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to visit Chile in the next few months, the General Assembly took note of the report and requested the Commission to keep it informed of the situation in Chile and to present another report to the Assembly at its next session.


          At its sixth regular session held in Santiago, Chile, in June 1976, the General Assembly of the OAS received a Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile and requested the Government of that country to “continue adopting and implementing the necessary procedures and measures for effectively preserving and ensuring full respect for human rights in Chile” and “to provide appropriate guarantees to persons or institutions that may provide information, testimony, or other types of evidence, to the Commission; the Assembly also requested the Commission to report to it on the situation of human rights at its seventh regular session.


          In compliance with that mandate, the Commission presented its Third Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile to the General Assembly, at its seventh regular session. On that occasion the member states requested the Government of Chile to “continue to adopt measures to establish the complete enjoyment of human rights and that it report to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights so that the information it provides may be taken into consideration when preparing the Annual Report” (Resolution 313).


          At its Forty-Third Session, held in Caracas from January 26 through February 4, 1978, the Commission, on the basis of the data and background information compiled by it, including that provided by the Government of Chile, approved a Special Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, which covered the period since its Third Report; it also decided to include it in its Annual Report for 1977, in accordance with the mandate contained in Resolution AG/RES. 313.


          At its eighth regular session, the General Assembly, when approving the Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Resolution AG/RES. 368), which included a special chapter on the Situation of Human Rights in Chile, resolved the following in operative paragraph 5: “To call upon the Government of Chile to continue to adopt and put into practice the measures necessary effectively to preserve and ensure the complete enjoyment of human rights in Chile, and to request it to continue to provide the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with any cooperation it may need to carry out its work and that it respect and grant the necessary guarantees to individuals and institutions that may provide information, testimony, or evidence to the Commission.”


          For its part, the Commission, at its Forty-Sixth Regular Session, when considering the resolution adopted by the General Assembly and in view of the human rights situation existing in Chile at that time, decided to include a report on the developments in Chile in the area of human rights during 1978 as a special chapter in its Annual Report and to submit it, through this Annual Report, to the General Assembly for consideration.


          This report, therefore, refers to those events that have transpired in Chile during 1978 and that are related to the observance of human rights. However, so that the report may be timely and present an up-to-date picture of the situation in Chile, footnotes have been added which refer to events that have occurred during 1979.


          This report uses the same format that the Commission has used in its previous reports on the situation of human rights in Chile.





          The major legislation enacted during 1978 related to human rights is as follows:


          a) Supreme Decree Nº 391, from the Ministry of National Defense,

          March 10, 1978


          Supreme Decree Nº 391, from the Ministry of National Defense, declared a State of Emergency throughout Chile for a six-month period, on the grounds of “public calamity.”


          This declaration of a State of Emergency is characterized as follows:


          i.          In 1960, a “public calamity” was included as one of the grounds for granting extraordinary powers to the military authorities in cases of catastrophies caused by natural phenomena; its immediate roots were the earthquakes that struck the southern part of the country on May 21, and 22, 1960.


          In March of 1978, the “public calamity” which the Government invoked as its grounds for decreeing the state of juridical exception had not occurred in the country.


          ii.          The law, in keeping with the purpose of the emergency regime, empowers the President of the Republic to declare it only “in the affected zone.” However, Supreme Decree Nº 391 declares a state of emergency throughout the entire territory of the Republic.


          iii.          The state of emergency decreed in March 1978 is distinct from that provided for traditionally in Chile’s juridical system; this is due to changes introduced into the system by the Military Junta. For example, Decree Law Nº 1,281 of December 11, 1975, which empowered the authorities to declare a state of emergency “for one time only” was abolished. The Military Junta has consecutively extended the states of emergency since September 1973. By virtue of Decree Law Nº 1,281, the following powers were added to those of the Military Chief of the zone during a State of Emergency: “to suspend the printing, distribution and sale of up to six editions of newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and printed literature in general, and up to six days of broadcasts by radio and television stations or any other similar information media that publishes opinions, news or communications that tend to create alarm or dissatisfaction among the population, distort the true dimension of the events, are clearly false or contradict instructions issued to them for reasons of internal order, in accordance with the preceding provision. In cases of repeated offenses, intervention to censure the respective communications media and their workshops may be ordered.”


          The changes referred to above are such that the state of emergency now in effect is extraordinarily similar to the state of siege previously in force, given the extent of the powers granted to the authorities.


          b)          Decree Law Nº 2,191, of April 19, 1978


          Decree Law Nº 2,191 granted an extraordinarily far-reaching amnesty for criminals, including those guilty of common crimes. The measure benefited the following individuals:


          i.          all those who, as principals, accomplices or accessories, had committed criminal offenses during the state of siege, unless they were presently being brought to trial or sentenced.


          ii.          individuals who had been sentenced by military tribunals subsequent to September 11, 1973. However, those who invoked D.S. 504, and are now abroad, must request authorization to return from the Minister of the Interior.


          iii.          those who were criminally liable for any of a series of crimes enumerated in Article 3 of the D.L. 2,191, which crimes are not political in nature but rather common crimes (e.g.: forgery, misrepresentation, perjury, crimes committed by civil servants in the performance of their duties, crimes against the family order and against public morality, except kidnapping, corruption of minors, rape, incest, the crimes of homicide, bodily injury, dueling, calumny and slander, larceny, usurpation, fraud, etc.).


          Basically, this amnesty did not change the situation of dissidents under the military regime and only meant the release of those who were in jail, some of whom were forced to leave the country. The situation of exiles did not change and numerous requests to return were rejected.


          c)       Supreme Decree Nº 1,364, of the Ministry of National

                    Defense, September 8, 1978


          Supreme Decree Nº 1,364, from the Ministry of National Defense, declared a State of Emergency throughout the country for a six-month period, invoking the grounds of a “public calamity.”


          The same observations made with regard to Supreme Decree Nº 391, of March 10, 1978, apply to this decree as well.




          a)          Homicides attributed to the authorities


          During the period covered in this report, the Commission received no denunciations alleging that any detained person had died in the hands of the Government under irregular circumstances.


          However, on the other hand, the Commission has been informed that at least two individuals—the leader of the Revolutionary Leftist Movement (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria –MIR), Gabriel Octavio Riveros Rovello, and a minor by the name of Lorena del Pilar Labarca Lagos—died as a consequence of actions taken by security agencies.


          Lorena del Pilar, a three-year old minor, died as a consequence of an act committed by Carabineros belonging to the 9th Precinct of Santiago. On October 4, at 1:05 a.m., the Carabineros from the 9th Precinct came to the home of Pedro Manchileo Jorquera, an uncle of the minor; without prior warning, they opened fire to force open the door. The gunshots wounded Pedro Manchileo and Lorena del Pilar; the latter was hospitalized at the Children’s Hospital “Sótero del Río” and subsequently died on October 8. The death certificate lists “a bullet wound in the abdomen” as the cause of death.


          b)          Individuals detained and later disappeared


          No cases were recorded during 1978 of individuals having disappeared following arrest; however, note should be made of a number of important events that occurred during 1978 in connection with individuals who had been missing since 1973 or thereafter.


          i.          The April 1978 Amnesty: The amnesty decreed by the Government during April of 1978 did not change the status of those who had disappeared since the time of their arrest. On the contrary, it meant that their situation became worse, as the tribunals that were investigating the disappearances initially dismissed the proceedings because of the amnesty. These decisions were appealed before higher courts, which ruled that the proceedings must continue.


        ii.          The Government’s promise to investigate: In June 1978 the Government, through the Minister of the Interior, expressed to the Cardinal and to the President of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Chile a willingness “to clarify, within a brief period of time, the fate of each one of the individuals whose disappearance has been certified before competent organs” (Statement of the National Episcopate, June 6, 1978).


          Later, on June 15, in a statement broadcast via a national network, the Minister of the Interior stated “whatever the truth may be in each case, the Government will explore every serious channel it can find in connection with any specific case.”


          In response to this promise on the part of the Government to investigate the cases of the disappeared, a number of bishops of the Catholic Church sent individual letters to the Minister of the Interior providing background information on hundreds of specific cases of disappeared detainees.


          As of the date of approval of this report, the Ministry of the Interior has not responded to any of the cases presented by the Chilean bishops.


          iii.          Request for ad hoc ministers: With the failure of the attempts made by relatives and the Church to have the Government clarify the situation of the missing persons, on November 3, 1978, the vicars of the Church in Santiago requested the Supreme Court to appoint special ad hoc ministers to investigate the disappearance of 650 detainees.1


          iv.          Discovery of bodies at Lonquén


          On the basis of information given to a priest by a private party, the discovery of human remains in an abandoned lime quarry in the town of Lonquén was verified, which is located 14 kilometers from the city of Talagante, Province of Santiago. Once a committee appointed by the archbishop of Santiago had confirmed the information at the scene of the events, the facts were brought to the attention of the President of the Court of Justice.


          On December 6, the Supreme Court appointed Mr. Adolfo Bañados, minister of the Court of Appeals of Santiago, ad hoc minister to take charge of the investigation.


          At the Lonquén mine, two ovens were found that were approximately 9 meters high; they had opening inside, measuring approximately 2.5 meters in diameter. Also found were 15 corpses, as indicated by the number of skulls removed from the mine. The bodies were unidentifiable, since only bones remained. Numerous inquiries had to be made and on the basis of the background information provided by relatives of disappeared detainees, it was determined that the individuals interred there were those who had been detained by the Carabineros from the town of Isla de Maipó: Sergio Maureira Lillo, his sons José Manuel, Segundo Armando, Sergio and Rodolfo Antonio Maureira Muñoz, Manuel Jesús Navarro Martínez, Enrique Astudillo Alvarez and his sons Omar and Ramón Astudillo Rojas, Miguel Brandt Bustamante, the brothers Carlos Segundo, Nelson and Oscar Hernández Flores, Iván Ordóñez Lama and José Herrera Villegas. The authors of the arrests and murders of these individuals were the following Carabineros, all of whom belong to the post of Isla de Maipó: Lautaro Eugenio Castro Mendoza, Juan José Villegas Navarro, Félix Héctor Sagredo Aravena, Manuel Enrique Muñoz Rencoret, Jacinto Torres González, David Coloqueo Fuentealba, José Luis Mario Belmar Sepúlveda and Justo Ignacio Romo Peralta.


          Once Minister Bañados found that the authors of the crimes were police agents, he declared himself incompetent and the files were forwarded to Military Tribunals.1


          b)          Illegal executions


          During 1978, the Commission did not receive any communication denouncing illegal executions by Chilean authorities.




          a)          Individual detentions


          During 1978, the Commission was informed of hundreds of arrests made by security agencies (CNI) and police agencies (especially, the Carabineros and the Investigations Unit). As a general rule, the legal procedures governing arrest were not followed. Under the state of emergency now in force, only the President of the Republic is empowered to arrest, which should be carried out by the regular police. However, most of the arrests during 1978 were made by the Central Nacional de Informaciones (CNI), an agency that is empowered to make arrests only in exceptional circumstances (when there is an order from a military tribunal.) By making these arrests, the CNI exceeded its authority. Moreover, it also failed to observe the provisions contained in Decree Law Nº 146, which stipulate where the individuals arrested are to be confined; in many cases the detainees were taken to secret places for detention.


          In accordance with the information in the hands of the Commission, the arrests involved around 1,500 individuals, although most of them were released after a few days in detention.


          d)          Mass arrests


          During 1978, there were numerous cases of mass arrests, especially by the Carabineros. Generally the detainees were taken to police headquarters where they were interrogated and, in some instances, mistreated. This happened, for example, on May 1, International Labor Day, when approximately 80 individuals were arrested; in June, when the university students expressed solidarity with families of the disappeared detainees and held a hunger strike, which led to the arrest of approximately 400 individuals; in September (69 detainees), because of the labor unrest in the Province of El Loa; on December 14, approximately 70 individuals were arrested on the occasion of a public event called by labor leaders.


          c)          Refusal to allow Chileans to re-enter their country


          Most of the denunciations received by the Commission during 1978 in connection with the physical liberty of persons referred to the many Chileans who, by a decision of the Ministry of the Interior, were denied the right to re-enter their own country; thus it failed to observe the text of Article VIII of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. In most of the cases, the reason given by the Chilean authorities was simple that re-entry into the country was not being authorized for “reasons of national security,” an explanation that the Commission considers inadequate.


          In accordance with Chilean law in force, the right to re-enter the country is subject to the arbitrary will of the authorities, as provided in Decree Laws Nº 81 (which is in force under the state of emergency) and Nº 604.


          The Commission has been informed of numerous cases of individuals whose right to return to the country was denied during 1978. Such was the case with the following individuals: César Godoy Urrutia, Víctor Arancibia Palma, Hernán Alegría Vera, Graciela Arancibia Gutiérrez, Alejandra Benítez González, Sergio Bobillier Camus, David Bravo Ibarra, Jaime Cárdenas Aguirre, Jorge Daved Sumar, Régulo Díaz Barría, Elsa Escribar Lagos, Hernán Fuentes Bustamante, Carlos Gómez Gómez, Jesús Guinat Morales, Nivio Gutiérrez G., Oscar Letelier Guzeta, Enrique Leyton Sánchez, María López Miranda, Rafael Mellafe Campos, Mario Moreno Aqueveque, Armando Muñoz de la Parra, Edgardo Parrau Tejos, Guillermo Pavéz Phillips, Juan Peñaloza Rojas, Nicolás Pereira Iturriaga, Rusela Phillips Araya, Miguel Rebolledo González, Luis Vásquez Meza, Ramón Villalobos Ramírez, Moisés Soler Rioseco, William Rebolledo Vera, Erike Bennings Cepeda, Emilio Quinteros González, Claudio Huepe García, José Martínez Maldonado, Renán Castillo Urtubia, Milton Castillo, Antonio Trujillo Cuitiño, Luis Esparza Carvajal, Roberto Donoso Salinas, Raúl Manzano Isla, Sandra Hoces Salas, Mario González Valdéz, Alexander Boyko Fauser, Mario Moreno Opazo, Altamira Lorca Peña, Sergio Ravanal Depassier, Carlos Vasallo Rojas, Gustavo Rojas Garay, Carlos Valdéz Bastias, Nicolás Andrés Szinadel Bosze, Atila Szinadel Bosze, Mónica Fuentes Eldan, Ernesto Méndez Fuentes, Ricardo Olivares Olivares, María Zúñiga Reyes, Matías, Sebastián y Facundo Sepúlveda Pizarro, Lucepe Kessling Davidson, Arcalus Coronel Araneda, Pedro Buqueño Cortéz, Mónica Alvarado Inestroza, María Silva Fuentes, José San Martín Espinoza, María Quiroga Aravena, Luis Sepúlveda Vega, Evelyn Ruth Koorteschiner, Raimundo Chaigneau Valdéz, Juan Valenzuela Vuille, Luz Aguirre Baeza, Manuel Jaña Marcoleta, Hernán Guerrero Sepúlveda, Violeta Cereceda Parra, Olga Sthahandier Soto, Miguel Angel Solar Silva, Violeta Castex Díaz, Víctor Berberis Castex, Franco Barberis Castex, Juan Vadell Amión, Jaime Fernández Palou, Nelly Moya Naut, María Reyes Noriega, Gustavo Medrano Zavala, Miriam Marticorena Jelvez, Gonzalo Ruíz Fernández, Catalina Ruíz Barbaste, Raúl Espinoza León, Eugenia Velasco Martiner, Graciela Alvarado Rojas, Héctor Mellado Diez, Arturo Montes Larraín, José Diegues Rebolledo, Patricio Vogel López, Sergio de los Reyes Herrera, Pedro de la Paz, Clodomiro Almeyda Medina, Jaime Suárez Bastidas, María Elena Carrera Villavicencio, Hugo Facio Ricazzi, Luis Valente Rossi, Erick Schnake Silva, Janaina Méndez Fuentes, Mario González Valdés, Mireya Baltra Moreno, Hildegard Hudorling Marcovij, Jaime Manuel Iturre Arredondo and Rafael Agustín Gumucio.


          A number of these individuals submitted a formal denunciation to the Commission, which, in view of the unsatisfactory replies it received from the Government of Chile, adopted, in accordance with its Regulations, the pertinent resolutions, which are published in another part of this Annual Report.




          Although the Commission is of the opinion that the practice of torture has declined considerably as compared to previous years, at the same time it notes that unfortunately this practice was not abolished in Chile during 1978. In fact, a number of detainees have denounced that they have been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment during their confinement, at the hands of agents of the CNI in most cases, and by Carabineros and others.


          Furthermore, the Commission has no knowledge that the Government of Chile has adopted measures to sanction those responsible for the torture practiced since 1973.




          The Commission notes that during 1978 the right to a fair trial and to due process of law was still subject to significant limitations, principally because of the active role of the military courts in handling the proceedings that affect certain basic rights and the failure of the regular courts in general to actively investigate violations of the most basic human rights.


          Nevertheless, certain positive events have occurred in this regard, such as the acceptance on the part of the Courts of Appeals of their competence to hear recursos de amparo; the Supreme Court’s appointment of an ad hoc minister to investigate the discovery of the bodies at Lonquén, as explained in Part II of this Report; and the request made by a number of bishops of the Catholic Church in Chile in November of 1978, that the situation of disappeared detainees be investigated, subsequently agreed to by the Supreme Court, although only in part.




          In this area, the severe restrictions imposed by the state of emergency and Decree Law 1231 of December 11, 1975, continued in Chile.


          Serious measures were adopted in 1978 to limit freedom of expression among students; university authorities (in Chile, all rectors of universities are officers or former officers of the Armed Forces, appointed by the Government itself) went so far as to expel certain dissident student leaders.


          On the other hand, except for the suspension of two editions of the evening paper “La Segunda”, the press did not encounter major obstacles during 1978 and was even permitted to circulate a number of publications that were either critical or independent of the Government.1




          During 1978, the rights of assembly and of association continued to be seriously restricted, because of the state of emergency and other laws of exception.


          One area in which those limitations were patently obvious was labor, as demonstrated by the following events that occurred during 1978:


          a)          A number of labor organizations were denied the right of assembly to celebrate International Labor Day on May 1. Even so, demonstrations were held and the police authorities arrested approximately 780 demonstrators;


          b)          On August 31, Decree Law Nº 2,326 was enacted, which declared a State of Siege in the Province of El Loa, in the degree of simple international disturbance. This measure came about because of the labor unrest among the copper workers in that zone. As a result of that measure, 69 labor leaders were deprived of their freedom;


          c)          On October 20, seven labor federations and confederations, whose total membership numbered in the hundreds of thousands, were ordered dissolved;


          d)          On October 30, national elections were held for union leaders, which were called four days beforehand. During those elections the then existing leadership of 2,500 industrial and trade unions was changed. Workers who had been politically militant or who had participated in political activities in the last ten years could not present themselves as candidates in those elections; neither could those who had sought office by popular election or who had held a labor post prior to September 1973 or who had been government-appointed leaders.




          Political rights in Chile remained suspended during 1978 and the Commission is unaware of any significant step taken during that period to reestablish representative democracy.




          The Commission has no knowledge of any case of a Chilean being deprived of his nationality during 1978; but at the same time, it has also not been informed that Chilean authorities have taken any measures to restore citizenship to those who were previously deprived of it in an arbitrary manner contrary to international law.




          In light of the events and background information presented above, the Commission feels that during 1978, significant changes occurred in Chile with regard to the situation of the two most fundamental rights—the right to life and the right to humane treatment—as reports of cases of disappeared detainees have stopped and the practice of torture has dropped considerably, although it has not yet been completely eradicated in Chile.


          However, the situation with regard to the other rights of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man—principally the rights to physical freedom, to a fair trial to due process of law, freedom of expression of thought and of information, the right of assembly and association and political rights—remain as they were in those previous years which have been covered in reports prepared by the Commission; severe limitations on the exercise of such rights persist.


          On the basis of such considerations and in order to enable the Government of Chile to adopt measures that will effectively improve the situation of human rights, the Commission has drawn up the following recommendations:


a)              To adopt those measures necessary to clarify the situation of the disappeared detainees swiftly and definitively;


          b)          To make it possible for all Chilean exiles to return to their country, in accordance with Article VIII of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man;


          c)          To abolish the state of emergency and amend the special legislation in order to make possible effective enjoyment of the rights to physical liberty, to a fair trial and due process, to freedom of expression of thought and information, and to assembly and association;


          d)          To take the steps necessary to reestablish representative democracy which, as the Commission has repeatedly indicated, significantly contributes to the observance of the human rights set forth in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.

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1            This request was settled by the Supreme Court on March 21, 1979, which partially agreed to it (it did not agree to appoint ad hoc ministers for the Courts of Iquique, Antofagasta, Copiaó, Valparaíso, Talca and Valdivia; as for the Santiago cases, it excluded those being processed in the jurisdiction of Pedro Aguirre Certa, San Bernardo and Talagante.)

1            Later, the military courts took prisoner a number of police officers named in the investigation conducted by Minister Bañados, and charged them with a crime of unnecessary violence.

1            However, the most important and typical of such publications, the magazine “Hoy”, was suspended for 60 days in the month of June 1979.