The military torture teams, graduates of the Americas School in the Canal Zone, have revealed a degree of human bestiality with Chilean women that puts them way ahead of their American trainers.9
A woman professor at the East Santiago campus of the University of Chile, married, with two children, was detained for forty days in the National Stadium. She wrote me this about the "female prisoners of war":
They were obliged to remain all day long face down with their hands on their necks and their legs spread. . . . There were lines of them kneeling or standing against the walls, and at the slightest movement they were struck or kicked - and, in several cases I saw, shot. In rooms fifteen by eighteen feet there were a hundred women. Food came only once a day, at 4 or 5 P.M. There were mainly two groups of women: workers and university professors. Girls and women were harassed, obliged to disrobe, manhandled, and insulted as a preamble to the interrogations. The academics among us had been taken out of our classrooms at gunpoint. One group of schoolteachers had a typically sad experience: at the investigatory commission one of them had her hair cropped off . . then at Los Cerros de Chena, the eyes were always blindfolded. To go to the bathroom, they had to be accompanied by guards who took the opportunity to manhandle and beat them. They were interrogated naked. Electric current was applied to the mouth, hands, nipples, vagina. Water was poured over their bodies to intensify the pain The language used with them was completely degenerate: they were forced to repeat, over and over: "I am a cunt, I am a cunt A hospital technician was taken to the Quinta Normal naval enclosure. She was kept there for three days without sleep, and subjected to electric tortures every few hours. She also had electricity applied to her vagina. Afterward they brought her t the National Stadium She was taken for interrogation there too, blindfolded as others were. This time she apparently was taken to the cycle track, where by then the torture chamber had been installed. Besides electric shocks, this time she was forced to take something in her hand. They had given her an injection, which she guessed was Sodium Pentothal, and it had made her dizzy but she was still conscious. At once she realized the object was a penis which on contact with her hand became erect. They thrust it into her mouth where it ejaculated.10
I have other memoranda from women prisoners who were able to write to me afterward.
Essentially they tell the same story, although they add that some officials would intimate that there were "hard methods of interrogation" to "soften." "extract information," and "morally intimidate."
Some novelties appear in those memoranda: "They stretched the women out on tables and dripped candle wax on their stomachs." "There were rapes, either in groups or individually. 'Move, you Marxist whore,' they would tell the victims. 'If you don't respond you're going to have to suck cock, even for General Pinochet, you shitty whore. '" "Some officers started by sticking their fingers in my vagina. hoping to excite me..."
There are plenty of examples; the newspapers of the world are filled with them. The cemeteries of Chile are filled with mutilated corpses. I would like to quote, as a kind of summary of the art of torture the military uses in my country, the testimony published by Daniel Samper Pizano, a reliable columnist. in the Bogota daily El Tiempo, on March 26 and 27,1974, on the editorial page. The witness was a university student in Valparaiso.
I was arrested in mid-October right on the university campus where I attended classes. The rector appointed by the military would allow the naval intelligence thugs on campus, and I have the impression that the rector himself was informing against leftist students. They took us with the rest of the prisoners to the Navy Academy of War. This is a four-story steel building located on a promontory over the sea, at Cerro Playa Ancha. When we got there, we were blindfolded and made to climb up to the fourth floor on the iron staircase. The falls and their shoves were the beginning of the torture. As we went up, we heard terrible screams. We thought they were recordings to frighten us, but later we realized they were real cries from people being tortured. They stuck us in a room and forced us to remain standing, with our hands on our necks and without talking. Anyone who moved or talked was thrown on the floor and beaten with rifle butts and kicked. We spent a whole afternoon there waiting for them to call us for interrogation. They caught us and punished us brutally, but that was how I found out that in that room there were already people from Customs who were being tortured. One of them was a professor of literature at the University of Chile. There was also a Catholic priest, and another, a man named Juan, well known in the workers' districts of Valparaiso, who later died during a torture session. They gave us reasonably good food, but nobody could eat because of the ghastly screams in the area and the fear we felt. The guards would say sadistically: "You better take advantage of it, it's your last meal." Nobody slept the whole time I was in the building because the screams were really nerve-wracking. They were unbelievable howls of pain, and they never stopped, day or night.
The first day they took away a lot of people who had arrived before us: the Customs people, the literature professor, and the Catholic priest. They never came back. Later I caught a guard remarking to his companion: "The priest fell apart on them right away; they're going to make it look like suicide."
I was interrogated the second day for more than three hours. They undressed me and beat me, using their fists and boots all over my body. There seemed to be a lot of them. Then they applied electricity to my testicles. When they turned off the current, they began to hit me again with their hands and feet. feet. They concentrated on my stomach. This was because when the torture began I felt a karate chop and instinctively hardened my muscles. The torturer shouted at me: "So you're trained, eh? Now you're going to get it" During the entire interrogation they kept me blindfolded and my wrists handcuffed. The muscular contractions caused by the electricity made the handcuffs tighter each time, and the flesh of my wrists was cut down to the bone. By that point I didn't feel pain anymore. I only realized that I was being burned by the electricity. After the interrogation, in which they hoped to find whether there were weapons in the university, they led me to another room where they took off the blindfold so I could walk, but I kept falling down. They made me crawl to another room where there were tortured people lying on the floor. I knew one of them a university professor, by sight; one whole side of his body was black with 'bruises; they had punctured his eardrum, which made him howl with pain. The rest of them were all as badly beaten up as I was, or worse. Many had broken ribs and couldn't even breathe. None could walk; their legs were fractured both from the blows and from the muscular contractions produced by the electricity,. There were a lot of women as badly beaten up as the men were. They bad also been brutally raped; they had internal ruptures and were bleeding profusely. One kept moaning. The torturers had inserted a sharp object in her vagina, and it had cut through the peritoneum. Some of the people there said they had recognized the interrogators: they were Navy infantrymen trained at the American bases in Panama.
The third day they sent me over to the Lebu. which had been turned into a jail. I was put in Hold 3, where there were already 160 people. Going down, I smelled a nauseating stench of excrement There was no toilet, and we had relieve ourselves in cans right there in the hold. There were laborers, office workers, physicians, lawyers, students, professors. Among them, I remember, were Patricio Muñoz, president of the university of Chile Student Federation in Valparaiso; Sergio Fischer, a prominent cardiologist; Nelson Osorio, a physicist. and many others whom I cannot name. I lived with them forsixty-five days. The food was disgusting They served us poroto beans with grubs, that is, with worms. For a while they tried to be a little more humane and the commandant of the place, a naval officer named Osorio, let us go up on deck, but so they wouldn't be able to see us from the city, we were forced to stay seated without moving in the sun. Our heels and thighs were burned by the heat of the deckboards. Then Osorio realized that we were being photographed from an Italian boat, I think it was the Verdi; and after that he forbade going up on deck.
We were made to get up at 6 A.M. and do exercises naked. Offenses - smoking, talking, not saying "sir" when we were interrogated - were punished by blows with rifle butts and having to stand rigidly upright with our ands on our necks without moving for as long as twenty-four hours. The slightest movement was rewarded with rifle blows. Every morning and evening we were forced to sing the national anthem as the flag was struck or lowered. We were forbidden to sing the verse that goes "O la tumba serás de los libres, o el asilo contra la opresión" [Either you (Chile) will be the tomb of free men, or the asylum against oppression] because it seems that at the beginning the prisoners would sing those verses louder and the sailors took it as an innuendo against them.
One day we were very surprised because they made us clean up. They gave us mess kits, and lowered mattresses into the hold for all of us. That day a delegation came from the International Red Cross. As soon as the Red Cross left they took away our mattresses and we never saw them again. In rare cases the Navy was interested in hiding the very serious tortures inflicted on people the international organizations asked after, or whose death might cause a scandal abroad. These people were taken to the Naval Hospital, where some of them committed suicide. This happened, as I know for certain, with a girl who had been repeatedly raped. When she committed suicide, all the fourth floor personnel were summoned to the hospital to find out who had allowed the suicide to happen.
When the news came that the Lebu had been sold for scrap, they released me under the supervision of the military police district commissariat. I had to present myself there every day for checking. Once they had the new concentration camp ready [the torture camp in Colliguay Alto, Valparaiso, where the ships' prisoners were transferred in December], they rearrested the people who had been freed. Before they sent me home under guard, they tried to leave me psychologically conditioned and they took me to the Academy of War for a new torture session. I was there four days. I realized their methods had gotten much crueler and more refined They beat me more often and they used more electricity. I nearly lost my mind, not so much because of my own suffering hut because of that of people weaker than myself. I saw young university women who were unspeakably tortured; one of them, who was pregnant, had been repeatedly struck on the stomach and was showing symptoms of aborting. Men over sixty had been burned all over their bodies with cigarettes and electricity. Men and women had their fingernails pulled out with pliers. Afterward, they took me to the Navy Infantry's Silva Palma barracks. After two days, they inexplicably set me free, demanding that I present myself once a day for checking and not tell what I had seen. I never found out why I was arrested, since I didn't know about any weapons at the university. I wasn't an extremist, and I didn't belong to any leftist party. I had only participated in the volunteer youth work programs, as had all the other university students. I had excellent grades, and my professors thought highly of me. My parents asked the rector to intercede on my behalf, and perhaps that's why they let me go. The fascists are so arbitrary that I'll never know why.