Jaime Yovanovic Prieto Returns to Chile

Jon Flanders jonathan.flanders at verizon.net
Wed Aug 20 17:57:55 MDT 2003


Allegation of Innocence.
I come to claim my right to justice.

To the jurists and the authorities and to those who are neither jurists
nor authorities:

For nearly 20 years now the media in Chile have violated the most
elemental legal principles in my case, especially the presumption of
innocence of anybody who stands accused.

I have been dealt with by the press as a participant in the action that
culminated in the death of General Urzua in 1983, an accusation that I
deny categorically.

I believed then and I believe now that it is legitimate, as established
by the United Nations letter of principles, to have taken up arms
against those that did away with the legally instituted government of
Salvador Allende.  I believe that I have fulfilled my role as a part of
a people in resistance with honesty and dignity.   It never crossed my
mind to take a soldier prisoner, to make him disappear, to torture him
and throw him into the sea from a helicopter.  The companions that I
knew in those times were also worthy and altruistic human beings
prepared to make great sacrifices to put an end to the black night of
Chile and see to it that true democracy could return.

Therefore, with my head held high I face the present Chilean
institutions with the certainty that today it is possible to clarify
this case once and for all.

It is public knowledge that after the death of General Urzua, the
resistance groups that fell into the hands of the DINA-CNI were
assassinated, their houses attacked with rocker launchers, in short, a
furious raid fell upon those that fought for democracy with arms in

Within that context, the only solution was to leave the country and that
is why we took refuge in the Papal Nuncio, where we handed over the arms
that we were carrying, in so doing we were complying with the principles
of the Geneva Convention relating to armed conflicts.

My resulting appearance in the newspapers enabled those who were
torturing Jorge Palma Donoso to show him my picture asking if I were by
chance the other participant in the Urzua operation carried out by the
Miguel Enriquez commando of the MIR, and to this Palma answered in the
affirmative, which enabled the DINA-CNI to practically close the case by
incorporating my name.  Except that Jorge Palma, when he was able to
speak, declared publicly that that affirmation was pulled out of him
through torture and induced by those that pressured him physically.

Jorge Palma stated, and it appears as such in the newspapers, that he
didn't know me, that I took no part in that armed action and he denied
the affirmation extracted in an illegitimate way.

It is not possible, Ladies and Gentlemen Jurists and Authorities, and
Ladies and Gentlemen who are neither jurists nor authorities, that faced
with these two statements, one extracted under the worst tortures and
the other when the words could come out freely, the media echoed the
first version, that of my guilt, and unleashed a media campaign against

It was not difficult in those times to implicate my name and stain my
clean trajectory as a fighter for the highest of social values.
To be more "convincing", the secret services of the day circulated the
news that among the weapons handed over to the Nuncio were some that
were used in the Urzua operation, thus showing that their "secret"
character was strictly functional.

The idea of the DINA-CNI was to judge me publicly and lead public
opinion towards the version obtained under torture, forever hiding and
burying the last statement of Jorge Palma precisely because it worked in
my favor.

 The media reproduced time and time again the fabricated "proof" used
against me, but never had the integrity to repeat the denial of Jorge
Palma even once. The same DINA-CNI that claims to know so much about the
case knew perfectly well that those arms were used in different actions
and later returned to a central depository.  A journalist said that it
was strange that one would arrive with the same weapons, that there was
something unexplained in that, but once again silence was forced and the
accusatory paraphernalia continued seeking to turn a lie into truth by
often repeating it.

Thus I have been judged and condemned, I have been declared guilty by
the DINA-CNI and the press.  The propaganda put this idea into the heads
of a certain sector of public opinion, which is why I chose not to turn
myself in nor permit myself to be detained because I knew that I would
fall into the middle of a game played with marked cards.

20 years have passed, Ladies and Gentlemen Jurists and Authorities, and
Ladies and Gentlemen who are neither.  Today it is possible to
differentiate between the civil tribunals and the military tribunals.
Today it is possible to restore due process.  I don't know if it will be
possible to demand that the press, instead of raising another media
campaign, respect the essential principles of all defendants, that they
are innocent as long as not proven otherwise, that they spread the idea
of my innocence and that it should be the then secret services
themselves who support, if they can, the burden of accusatory proof, and
that I will make my defense in the proper place at the proper time with
my lawyer.

But I have not spent those 20 years wrapped up in myself, since if
anything has motivated my conduct during the dictatorship and my exile,
it has been the hunger and thirst for justice and the real fulfillment
of human rights.  I have spent 20 years fighting for this in the most
diverse of countries, having had to leave because of the unjust
persecution to which I was subjected.  My first destination was Cuba,
where I arrived as a refugee from UNHCR (UN High Commission on
Refugees), and I graduated in Law, joined the National Union of Cuban
Jurists and I worked in the area of housing and population in the
Municipality of Central Havana.  Later, in 1990 I was invited to Brazil
by the now Methodist University of Sao Paulo and I gave classes in
various universities in, among other things, the disciplines of
Philosophy of Law, Human Rights, Penal Law, History of Law and I acted
as post graduate professor in charge of the discipline of
Comparative Penal Law.

Similarly, I was a member of the Commission on Human Rights of the Order
of Lawyers of Brazil (OAB in Spanish)-Sao Paulo and advisor of the
Association of Tutelage Councils for the Defense of the Rights of
Children and Adolescents. I acted as an advisor of the Association of
Justice Officials of the State of Sao Paulo and consultant of the
General Secretariat of the National Federation of Judicial Workers of
Brazil.  I founded, along with the Union of Psychologists of Sao Paulo,
the Permanent Commission for the Rights of the Marginalized, just as I
founded and was the coordinator of the network of Popular Legal Offices
of Brazil, together with student groups, lawyers and other law
professors.  Even today, different Brazilian jurists recognize my role
in the promotion of human rights and the development of jurists with
social sensitivity towards the neediest layers of the population. In
Brazil I also published the book INTRODUCTION TO THE SCIENCE OF LAW AND
ALTERNATIVE LAW which can be found along with others in the library of
the Faculty of Law of the University of Sao Paulo and is utilized by
professors in various Brazilian universities.

In Mozambique I acted as an advisor of the director of the Faculty of
Law of the University Eduardo Mondlane and consultant of the Ministry of
Agriculture in the areas of communication and investigations with the
rural population.  In South Africa I worked with Planact, an entity that
carries out investigations and community training.

By the same token, different peripheral neighborhoods of the cities of
Brazil, Bolivia, South Africa, Mozambique and others were the backdrop
for my activities with children and young people in field
investigations, songs, dances and games in search of new ways of
understanding the behaviors and the yearnings of a group united in
rebuilding of the social being within the community, autonomous, free
and creative, the subject of democracy, the driving force of every
social project, the common man and the common woman, the subject of
poverty, the social subject who in the midst of marginality and misery
is capable of dreaming and making those dreams a reality, emancipation,
which should start in the hearts of each one, no longer in theories.
ideologies, tactics and strategies, but rather in the practice of life
in common and the joy of being, in the everyday embrace with others and
seeing each other face to face, solidarity, respect and affection, hand
in hand and the beginning of seeing the world through the most profound
shared sentiments.

I have changed; of course I have changed.  I have grown like a tree with
the roots firmly in the earth, our Pachamama, spreading my branches
towards the infinite, and now I have come to caress other roots, to turn
myself into a forest. Where many trees and dreams can interweave paths
towards the horizon. Therefore I claim my right to justice, to an end to
the infamous campaign that has been carried out against me, that I be
permitted to walk freely and feel the wind from the cordillera and the
breeze from the sea on my face, that I be permitted to continue my path
as educator, teaching how to learn, since I have nothing new to pass on
beyond my old desire to live and be free, to laugh, sing, jump, dance,
kick up my heels and climb mountains, like the song in French that I
always teach in groups that I am a part of:

Enfant de la montagne
Je retourne, je retourne
Enfant de la montagne
Je retourne en chantant

La fatique me gagne
Mais mon coeur, mon coeur
La fatique me gagne
Mais mon coeur est content

This can be translated something like:

Child of the mountain
I return, I return
Child of the mountain
I return in song.

I am weary
But my heart, but my heart
I am weary
But my heart is glad.

I thank you all in advance, jurists, authorities and those who are
neither jurists nor authorities, for the measures and actions taken to
make this cry for justice a reality.

Jaime Yovanovic Prieto
(Profesor J)

Translated from El Mercurio
Wednesday August 20, 2003

Surprising Return from South Africa:
Mirist Accused of Assassinating General Urzua Arrives in the Country

Jaime Yovanovic Prieto decided to turn himself over to the Chilean legal
system to prove his innocence, said his lawyer Alberto Espinoza last
night. 20 years after the assassination of the intendente [mayor] of
Santiago, General Carol Urzua, Jaime Yovanovic Prieto returned last
night, one of the Mirists accused of being one of the main perpetrators
in the attack against the entourage of the regional chief and his
escorts Jose Domingo Aguayo and Carlos Riveros.

Yovanovic, 55, professor of law, was living in Johannesburg, South
Africa after having been expelled from Italy last August.  His relatives
and lawyer Alberto Espinoza were waiting for him in the Arturo Merino
Benitez airport.

  Mr. Espinoza said that his client returned voluntarily to turn
himself over to the Chilean legal system in order to prove his innocence
in the events of August 30, 1983.

"He was free in South Africa and as long as he was abroad he had the
status of a free citizen, but there is an order from the military
prosecutor for his capture and he will be detained as soon as he steps
foot on Chilean soil" said Mr. Espinoza.  That occurred at 11:25 PM last
night, as soon as he stepped off the Varig flight.

He explained that some days ago Yovanovic came before the Chilean
Consulate in Pretoria saying that he wanted to turn himself in.
[Investigations] sent a detective to accompany him on his return.
Last year the government of Chile requested the extradition of Yovanovic
from South Africa, but the Ministry of Government of that country
rejected the request because according to them the assassination had
political motives.

"My client absolutely denies any participation in the assassination of
General Urzua.  He has the legal right to the assumption of innocence.
He has never made a statement before a Chilean tribunal, therefore any
precedent that the military prosecutor might have must be very
precarious", explained Espinoza who believes that Yovanovic will be
favored by the [statute of limitations].

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