The Words of "Camilio Henriques", in a Paris Café
I am going to use the pseudonym "Camilio Henriques". In honour of all the journalists that are now hiding, tortured, murdered or have simply vanished; as well as mentioning the founder of my trade, over there in Chile. It is obvious that the relatives of people who make statements abroad on the situation in Chile can be persecuted.
. . . .I will tell you of three cases that I know well:
I know a man who belongs to the highest oligarchy of Santiago. I am not sure about some of the details as I forget them. I could not bring my notes. But this man, his two surnames come from the fifty families. His parents, as I have said, come from the highest oligarchy. They are complete zombies. Naturally enough they support the present government, the Junta. Their son was up north, I believe in Arica. He worked in the University. He disappears. His parents enquire about him. They go to Arica by car to look for him. They are told to ask around. Go to the Police, they will be able to inform you. The carabineros say: "Yes... we knew that he had been arrested. . . but we do not know what happened to him. He's disappeared." A relative of the boy told me this. The father then says: "I demand that you tell me where he is. If you executed him, where he's buried".
The Police did not want to say anything and these people returned to Santiago by plane and took the matter up with the Military Junta. They took it to that level because they were people of that level. The Military Junta immediately issued orders that the body should be returned to the parents. They returned up North; the carabineros had to obey the order; and were taken to the cemetary [sic], then the mother said because the father did not want to:
"I want to see my son. Uncover the box".
They uncovered it and he had his ears cut off; his eyes burnt and no fingernails left on his hands. These are not stories out of Edgar Allan Poe. They are absolutely true. This boy from the top fifty families. I don't know the rest of the details. Put one can imagine what happened.
Another case: a woman who had been a colleague mine at work. Teacher and psychologist. One day she arrives at my office and says:
"I have come from going to leave some food at the National Stadium. Not for a specific comrade, but for all the prisoners, the communist prisoners. I can only tell you what I saw while I queued up to deliver this food; food that is not given to the person you send it to, but fortunately, to the Red Cross who distribute it. Very good? No: Because when the soldiers do the distribution, they take it all and do not give any out.
I was in the queue, a queue of more or less 2000 people, men and women in the National Stadium, waiting to hand over food, clothes, medicine. It was a young woman who told me this and she is totally trustworthy, she was not making anything up. Also what I am going to tell you is very simple, although it is terrible.
"All of a sudden trucks arrived with new prisoners. This was during October. One pulled up very near to where I was standing in the queue of 2000 people and in which we haven't a hope in hell of handing in anything because when closing time arrives the soldiers simply chuck out people, throw you out quite literally. Many well dressed boys got out of this truck, they seemed to belong to the bourgeoisie. But already, after what they had been through, they were a little.... what should I say. . . some arrived with their clothes in threads, but they had the look of belonging to the bourgeoisie. All came with the classic posture which almost epitomises Chile now, hands behind their heads. They just got off the truck when they were ordered to 'lie down'. 'Lie down' means to prostrate yourself, there on the floor, with your hands behind your head. The blows they receive when they hit the ground are terrible. More so if the floor is made of stone, brick or cement. Then, let me tell you, whoever drops his hand receives a rifle butt blow or a bayonet gash or gets kicked with their heavy boots. Wherever this may fall on the body. There was a boy among them who holding one hand up with the other. Because his right hand was in shreds, he could not hold it up, so that he had to hold it up with the other one. But as it was shattered it kept falling down again and again. Each time it fell down he was punched. He fell on the floor and he had to hold his hands behind his head. And his hand was shattered, not only bleeding but totally shattered. His only thought must have been: My life depends on whether I can hold this hand up! He did so while he could, and then it fell down, fell down, and they threw him on the floor and hit him".
This girl said that she could not stand it any longer, but what, struck her the most to see a man of 50 years old, who cried, screamed, shrieked, the typical impotent lament of somebody who could not do anything but who had to witness it, because all that was done so that the 2000 people in the queue would see. There was more to it than that. For example people who could not resist any more shouted "How much more!" and were taken inside. They were no longer queuing up but imprisoned. This thing that nobody writes about is occurring.
Another story: I can't name this person. I know her name. She is not a friend of mine. She is a girl of 20. Maybe she is now in Paris. I shall tell her story, which at least is a happy one, by way of an epilogue.
She is the daughter of the headmaster of an important school. They took her prisoner in the suburb in which she lived, which is a bourgeois one. Why was she arrested? It seems that when they first searched the house of one of the Mirista leaders they found a photograph of this girl. This leader seems to have had a minor love affair with this girl.
Finally they placed her, found out where she lived and arrested her. She was taken to the National Stadium. Only her Mother knew what was happening. They had savagely tortured her, even introducing hot iron rods into her vagina. She was totally shattered, probably will remain so for the rest of her life. Later she was released.
[in box at bottom of the page:]
Some of the women who escaped from the Stadium state that a type of torture used during the interrogation of female prisoners considered to be 'dangerous extremists' was to introduce hot iron rods into their vaginas.
[end of box]
One morning the girl got up to see that troops had been stationed below her house. A real hysterical fit overtook her, screaming and tearing things up, and the people there, including her Mother, are amazed by her strange behaviour. "But why! What's wrong? How is it possible? Don't worry, you've done nothing wrong". As a consequence of this event the girl decided to leave and went to one of the French Embassy offices. And afterwards, what happened when this girl was arrested? The whole suburb, which was slightly insular, the people at the doors and balconies clapped, when the soldiers arrived to take her away. It seems impossible which is why I want to say that this situation produces such a climate of immorality that all vestiges of humanity are lost, and people who are not entirely left-wing i.e. people who do not favour social change, applaud because she had a boy friend who was a member of the MIR.
- from Evidence on the Terror in Chile. Report compiled by Raul Silva, Brigitta Leander, and Sun Axelsson. translated by Brian McBeth. London (Merlin Press) 1974. originally published Stockholm (Ab Raben & Sjogren) 1974. pp.55-61.