Valech Report released

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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

SANTIAGO, Chile — The Valech Report, officially titled The National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture Report, was made public yesterday (November 29, 2004) by Bishop Sergio Valech, the head of the eight-member panel commission into abuses committed in Chile between 1973 and 1990 by agents of Augusto Pinochet's military regime. It was prepared by the National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture at the request of the president, and it is freely available to the public as a document on the Internet.

The report was based on testimonies given to the commission by more than 35,000 people. A little over 27,000 of those testimonies were regarded as legitimate by the commission.

On addressing the nation on November 28, 2004, president Ricardo Lagos said he would propose a bill that will provide compensation to the victims.

Most witnesses described behavioral, emotional and psychosocial effects. Many said they had felt — and still feel — insecure and fearful, humiliated, ashamed and guilty; depressed, anxiety-ridden and hopeless. Some persons mentioned alterations in their concentration and memory; others cited conflicts, crises and breakups within their families, as well as conjugal problems. They also mentioned the loss of reference groups and social networks. Most victims mentioned sleep disturbances and chronic insomnia, as well as behavioral inhibitions, phobias and fears.

This Commission heard testimony from 3,399 women, almost all of whom said they were the object of sexual violence; 316 said they were raped. Of the latter, 229 were detained while pregnant. Because of the torture they suffered, 20 of them aborted and 15 gave birth while in prison. Thirteen women said they were made pregnant by their captors; six of those pregnancies came to term.

The full report, in Spanish, can be found here.


Excerpts from the report as translated by The Miami Herald [1].

Consciously or unconsciously, a conspiracy of silence about the torture spread slowly through the country. Political prison and torture constituted a state policy during the military regime, defined and promoted by the political authorities of the period which mobilized personnel and resources of various public organizations and issued decrees and laws that protected such repressive behavior. And this had the support, explicit sometimes but almost always implicit, of the only power that was not a member of that regime: the judiciary.
[More than 18,000 of the 35,868 respondents] said they were detained between September and December 1973. During that period, torture was practiced by members of the Armed Forces and Carabineros [paramilitary police] in what became a generalized practice on a national scale.
[More than 5,266 respondents] were political prisoners detained between January 1974 and August 1977, when new modalities of detention and torture were created. By June 1974, the DINA [Directorate of National Intelligence] was granted full legal recognition and its own budget.
[Almost 4,000 respondents] were persons detained for political motives between August 1977 and March 1990. The final period of the repressive process was distinguished by the activities of the CNI [National Information Center.] In 3,059 cases, the detainees were kept in CNI facilities.
As the citizenry rearticulated itself politically, the Investigations Department Police [police detectives] and Carabineros intervened again most actively in the tasks of coercion, detaining (for shorter periods) and torturing (with the usual methods) either on their own or placing oppositionists at the disposal of the CNI, military or civilian tribunals for processing.

See also