In the 1980s, Chile suffered from mass confusion and worry as hundreds of people disappeared amidst political turmoil. Now, 30 years later, officials are serving justice to the people responsible for many of those disappearances.
This week, the high court in Chile sentenced 33 former intelligence agents for abducting and killing five political activists. Chilean officials say the agents abducted the activists, who went missing in ’87, as revenge for kidnapping an army colonel. According to reports, the agents threw some of the activists’ bodies into the ocean after murdering them.
The kidnapping occurred under the rule of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who ruled from 1973 to 1990. The 33 people arrested worked for Pinochet in the CNI intelligence service. Furthermore, the former head of the organization, Gen. Hugo Salas Wenzel, and the former operations chief, Maj. Alvaro Corbalan Castilla, were among the arrested. Along with already serving prison sentences for abusing human rights during their tenures, they two receive an additional 15 years each.
Additionally, officials sentenced the other 31 criminals to prison for terms ranging from five to 10 years.
What happened to the political activists
The five activists disappeared in September 1987. They were members of the Community Party, as well as its military, the Manuel Rodriguez Patriot Front. Accordingly, they used guerrilla warfare tactics to fight against Gen. Pinochet and his military.
Because of their involvements, Gen. Pinochet’s secret police arrested the five. His military took the activists as retaliation for abducting Col. Carlos Carreño. Ultimately, the group released Carreño in December that year after his family paid $50,000 in food and clothing. Accordingly, the activists used that compensation to provide for the impoverished in the country.
After the activists disappeared, investigators never found their bodies. However, Judge Mario Carroza determined that Gen. Pinochet’s tea threw their bodies out of a helicopter and into the ocean. Judge Carroza did not know if they were already dead before the body drop.
Furthermore, investigators found that the activists are just a few of the 3,200 people who disappeared under Pinochet’s rule. While some people consider him a right-wing hero, many consider him a dictator who ran a torturous regime. Ultimately, Pinochet removed himself from power in 1990 after losing a referendum that would support his power. He later died in 2006.