CHILEAN GUARD INCRIMINATES MASS MURDERERS (w/comments)
chris_brady at SPAMearthling.net
Thu Jun 29 01:49:26 MDT 2000
FORMER GUARD CONFIRMS STADIUM MURDERS
Santiago Times, June 28, 2000
Sources: EL MOSTRADOR
Keywords: MILITARY; ABUSE OF POWER
A retired Chilean Army officer says he witnessed numerous
executions at Santiago's National Stadium during the months
following the Sept. 11, 1973 military coup and is willing to identify
those responsible for much of the killing.
Retired Officer Roberto Saldias, who made his allegations on a
nationally televised interview Monday evening, said he was one of
the guards at the stadium when it was converted into a prison camp
in the months after the coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Approximately 8,000 individuals were detained at the stadium, and
at least 320 executions are believed to have occurred there.
"Prisoners at the stadium were organized in groups identified by
yellow, black and red discs," Saldias said. "Whoever received a red
disc had no chance (of surviving)." "The stadium was an
executioners' camp...," he added. "There were killers there who hired
out their services.... There were middle-level officials who took
justice into their own hands and who are now afraid to show their
faces. I can show my face. And I can tell you who they (the killers)
are." Although Saldias said he would prefer to identify those
responsible for the killing directly to the courts, he did name former
Army Lieut. Armando Fernandez Larios as one of the principal
assassins at the National Stadium.
"Amando Larios is a psychopath and the biggest murderer in Chile,"
Saldias said. "In my regiment he took a soldier from my section and
disfigured his face. He tortured him for an entire week because his
name allegedly appeared on a list of Communist Party members at
the Antofagasta Boys High School. To top it all off, the information
was false." Saldias' public confession comes as Chile, for the first
time in its 10-year transition to democracy, begins to seriously deal
with the human rights legacy of the 17-year Pinochet military regime,
during which more than 1,000 individuals "disappeared." A nine-
month human rights roundtable concluded its discussions June 13,
recommending an expanded "professional secrecy" law to grant
anonymity to members of the armed forces who provide information
on the missing. Congress passed the recommended legislation on
June 21. The information gathered by the armed services and
religious organizations will be compiled in a secret document and
given to President Ricardo Lagos. Lagos then will pass the
information on to the Supreme Court.
Saldias, however, chose to forgo the anonymity provided by the new
Fernandez Larios, the Army officer named by Saldias as a "murderer"
and "psychopath," fled Chile in 1987 to cooperate with the U.S.
Justice Department in its investigation of the 1976 car-bomb
assassination of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and his
U.S. citizen secretary, Ronnie Moffit, in Washington, D.C.
Fernandez Larios was arrested by U.S. officials in January 1987 and
held through September of that year. By providing evidence linking
Chile's secret police to the Letelier assassination, he received a
reduced sentence for his role in the crime and benefits from the
U.S. government's witness protection program.
In Chile he is a fugitive from justice, charged with the "aggravated
kidnapping" of 19 people in connection with the so- called "Caravan
of Death" case. The Supreme Court began extradition proceedings
in October 1999 to bring him back to the country.
_ _ _
This is interesting to me for several reasons. First, though,
let me tell you that I had realized many years ago, and you should
too, that The National Stadium in Santiago de Chile was a primary
site for the mass murders of leftists during the coup in 1973.
Nevertheless, I had a taxicab driver in Santiago tell me that no one
was killed in the Stadium, and that in fact most leftists were cowards
who fled the country when the military took control in 1973.
Ironically or by design, this cabby had picked me up as I left the
Santiago house of Pablo Neruda. He was waiting inside when I
went in to take the tour. However, now we have a member of the
armed forces breaking ranks and confessing and pointing the finger
While in Chile and Argentina I took several photographs of torture
Centers in the anticipation of one day giving a talk on the last Thirty
Years of the Twentieth Century in the Cone. I really am not an
expert but it is amazing how little ordinary Americans know about
their countrys exploits around the globe. The Stadium has green
lawns and Classical sculptures out front. A big map of the grounds
shows where the soccer fields are, where the tennis courts are, the
location of the olympic pools, bicycle tracks, etc., but there is no
hint of how the Stadium was used so horribly in 1973. But that
would not be sporting.
I also have photos of Villa Grimaldi, once a country estate in
eastern Santiago with a long colonnaded veranda. It was razed after
1990 and the land was leveled for what is now a Peace Park of
fountains, pools, beautiful trees and flowers. But mosaic plaques
are set into the earth at certain points of historical interest, such as
the pool where prisoners were dunked and half-drowned, the
oven-like solitary confinement cells, the womens cells,
this is the spot where electrodes were attached to genitals, etc.
Strangely, the taxicab driver I took to Villa Grimaldi also
downplayed the Pinochet Period. He asserted that the figures
of the disappeared and murdered, the tortured and exiled, were
all ridiculously exaggerated. The military had some needed
policing to do in those days, and it was a dirty job but it had to be
done. People who criticize, like me, first of all are not Chilean
and dont know what they are talking about. When I asked why
anyone would want to exaggerate such horrible things, he said
it was all politics. He thought it was all somewhat humorous,
and chuckled derisively.
I have shots of ESMA (the naval engineers school) in Buenos Aires.
Some people want to tear it down. I am looking at these photos now.
ESMA is a beautiful colonial structure that gleams bright white in the
sun by a broad avenue lined with gorgeous, purple-blooming
cacaranda trees. A large Argentinean flag floats in a blue sky with
fluffy clouds. Palm trees hang fronds from tall trunks. Birds chirp
in my recollection.
My point is that these places themselves are visually pleasant,
if one can cauterize ones memory.
On the coast of Chile from Valparaiso to San Antonio there are
several discos where young people go to dance, drink, meet each other,
and have fun. These dance houses designs are based on the same
theme: Halloween horror, fun house thrills. One outside of El Tabo
is called Aquelarre (the Coven) and has pictures of spiders and bats and
hunchback monsters with bloody axes and witches, etc. A slicker joint
in El Quisco looks like a dark castle guarded by giant winged demons
on its roof. Titillation for teens might be the idea, but to me it was
surreal to see the real houses of horror looking so staid and
respectable, while the clubs where young people went for a good time
appeared like dungeons. I thought, "Things are all topsy-turvy on
the other side of the world..."
Today, Americans weep or cheer the return of a small boy to his
Cuban home, but too few have heard of Frank Terrugi. Young Frank
had his throat cut in the National Stadium in 1973. Hundreds of
Chileans such as the popular folksinger Victor Jara were brutally
slain in that abatoir, along with another American named Charles
Horman, another leftist among hundreds who did not flee soon enough.
Who is the coward?
The one who cried out in pain?
Or the torturer backed up with armed troops?
Shit on them.
Shit on their masters in their mansions.
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