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The Price of Solidarity


I was arrested on August 6, at three in the morning, on my ship here in Valparaiso. They took me to the Marine School in las Salinas in Viña del Mar. During the rest of the night I was whipped and tortured (from three until eight or nine in the morning of August 6).

They hung me from a wooden cross with my hands and arms tied with a rope. It is difficult to explain. I was like that [he spreads out his arms and legs]. . ., they placed me like a cross, but with my legs so far apart as if they intended me to do the splits. They started to beat me all over my body, especially the genitals.

I was taken there with orders that I should confess to everything they told me. I said nothing. During the meeting with the prosecutor I said that I had once again been beaten up.! was told that I had disobeyed the orders they had given me to confess that I was guilty. From that moment onwards they did not allow me to sleep. Every fifteen minutes they woke me tip for some more blows. I spent the whole of Sunday night this way.

All the people who beat me up were officers of the Marines. There were no soldiers. On Monday, August 13 they took me to the Prosecutor Jimenez to gaol me with some other sailors. I said only that we were opposed to the coup d'etat and that we would not support anybody who committed it. I insisted once again that I had been beaten and that my declarations should be written down. The Prosecutor refused. I said that I did not have to prove that I had been beaten as he could see [2]the marks on my body and on the other sailors. I also told him that my body could not bear any more and that I would try to commit suicide if the beatings continued and that I had been beaten on the head. The Prosecutor only changed the place of detention.

On Monday night they carried on beating me with the others. That night they took me on one of their raids. It was to invade the Vergara brothers' flat, in the centre of Concepcion: they wanted me to say that I recognised these young men, boys I would say; I refused, as I had not seen them before in my life and because I noticed that they were very young, around 16 or 17 years old. Afterwards I was put in gaol with them.

At midday on Tuesday I was taken, once again, to the Naval Prosecutor, who ordered that I should be taken to the Island of Quiriquina. Afterwards I received electric shocks. Nobody interrogated me. The electric current was high, and my left arm was dislocated because of the shaking it produced. When they saw that I was in bad shape they took me down, blindfolded me and put me in a coffin. I saw it because before they blindfolded me it was on the floor. Once inside they rolled the coffin down a slope. They threatened me with death and they said they did not want to waste a bullet on me. After this they hung me by the feet and placed me in a well, which, from the smell, seemed septic. I was kept there until I could no longer breathe. Coming out of the well for the third or fourth time I fainted. They made me get up by kicking me.

After I had suffered all this I realized that I would not come out alive from the ordeal, so that I tore off the blindfold and saw that twenty marines were guarding the place. When they realised that I had taken off the blindfold they hit me so hard that I lost consciousness for at least four hours. I realised that such a long time had elapsed because it was dark (when I had taken off the blindfold it had been daytime). Scarcely had I recovered consciousness when they started to hit me again, especially with kicks at my head, because there was [3] no where else on my body that they could hit. Afterwards they hung me again on the cross and I received electric shocks as well. At midday of the sixth day they brought in two comrades who underwent the same treatment. They got them to sign documents to the effect that I was the leader of the subversive movement.

I was there from three in the morning of Monday 6th until late at night the same day.

That same night we were taken to Silva Palma. I can name many sailors who are willing to testify in my favour, who saw me enter the barracks in a very bad physical shape. The officers wanted to teach us a lesson - all those in the navy who opposed the coup.

They took me to the infirmary. The medical orderly on seeing me said: "I am not getting into this mess, this man should be seen by a doctor, I refuse to look at him". He also did not want to look at the other two; he insisted that he was not going to get involved. Although the medical orderly refused to look at us, the man in charge of the gaol did not want to take us to the Naval Hospital to avoid spreading the news of what was happening. They also administered a torture that consists in placing one on the back of a bench; on one's back and weighing one down at the head and the feet, like a balance, I felt my spine was being crushed.

The next day I was taken to an officer with the surname of Bilbao, a Major. This was the Administrative .Prosecutor. He told me, among other things, some things that I will never forget: "In the case of a coup d'etat, no left-wing leader will remain alive".

Afterwards, from Tuesday 7th until eleven o'clock at night on Friday 10th, I was kept at Silva Palma. Every day they would take me out to torture me. I shall not relate these tortures as they were more or less the same as those I have already mentioned. On Friday at eleven o'clock at night and in a very secret manner, I was taken out of the barracks that was guarded by numerous marines, armed as though they were ready for [4] war. Also travelling with me were the other three that had been arrested, they took us to Carriel Sur, in Concepcion by airplane. When we arrived we climbed on to a big Jeep and they made us lie in threes on the Jeep's floor, three more on top, face downwards and at right angles to us. Then two others joined the heap. Finally, some twelve 'cossacks' [marines] climbed on top of this heap. We were taken to a marine camp which is situated near the Borgoño fort. When we got out, they immediately started hitting us. My comrade had a cracked skull and lost consciousness. Another sailor, a gunner, had his ear drums pierced. We were beaten and kicked. The gunner recognised one of those who were beating us called Luis Guerrero. My comrade recognised another one, nicknamed 'Cara de Pato' (Duckface). A man from the School of Engineering had his teeth, gums and all, knocked out of his mouth by savage kicks. (This man was later released because of lack of evidence).

The man in charge of the operation was Captain Koeller. He gave me many chances to escape. That way he could kill me. Once I was alone and sitting down. I immediately thought of escaping but restrained myself when I saw a group of soldiers with machine guns hiding behind the bushes. Among them was Captain Koeller.

On Friday August 17th, around six in the evening we were taken to Carriel Sur. From there we were sent to the Silva Palma barracks in Valparaiso. Once there I was immediately placed in solitary.

During the softening up sessions a Commander, Chief of Naval Intelligence in Talcahuano, harangued us saying that we should not take political lawyers and that the Navy would provide us with defence lawyers. In Valparaiso they took X-rays of my whole body. From then onwards I underwent intensive care so as to reduce the swelling and to erase the torture marks. They gave me injections and my dislocated [5] arm must have been fixed by a doctor, because when I awoke one evening it was bandaged.



Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, Tortured and accused of 'sedition and mutiny' because of his loyalty to Allende.

- 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.1-5.