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João in the Chile Stadium

I was taken prisoner. on the very same September 11th. At around midnight, due to my being a special case more or less, some two hundred soldiers arrived, well certainly a very large contingent, out of all proportion; I was taken to the barracks, its called the Telecommunications School of the Army. There were already several prisoners (When I arrived). Myself and two other colleagues were taken to a room by mere chance one was another international official, He was a Colombian, and had also worked for the United Nations doing research on population problems; the other one was a Chilean. For a good part of the night they beat us. It lasted until nearly four o'clock in the morning. A prolonged beating, very violent, with a very brief interrogation. The impression we gained from the interrogation was that its purpose was nothing more than window dressing. I was not very coherent. This was until four o'clock, when they transferred us to the Police Station. Well, they treated us fairly well there, as one of the carabineros gave us the impression that he did not agree with the treatment accorded to the prisoners. So we were not beaten there. We received no food, at least in the section where I was being held as a prisoner. At seven in the morning of the 12th, the Army came back for us and took us once again to the barracks at the Telecommunication School of the Army, where the beatings continued, without any pretence of an interrogation. They were hitting people with rifle butts, without worrying too much about whether they would leave a mark or not; because, well, they thought they were[17] the masters. Several times sham executions were held in those barracks. That ... it lasted until five o'clock in the afternoon.

At five o'clock in the afternoon they transferred us by bus to the Chile Stadium. Around forty prisoners were already there. When we arrived in front of the Chile Stadium, there is a sort of alleyway, a small passage where there is a very high wall of a building. It was there that the prisoners were being positioned, they were being placed in front of the wall. Well, as far as I could see there were hundreds of carabineros and troops. . . and well, they positioned the prisoners in front of the wall and started to beat them, to manhandle them; after that they forced the prisoners to enter the Chile Stadium.... they forced them (I don't know how you call it over here, a sort of 'Polish Corridor', a corridor that had a soldier at each side and one has to run the gauntlet in the middle, receiving blows). Well. . . there at the time that I went when they took me inside the Chile Stadium, there were around 1500 prisoners outside. When we arrived inside, we were placed in a sort of hall, very large, where they would beat up the people before interrogating them. This was done by the Civil Police of Investigations.... This beating, in my own personal case was between 5 and 6 in the afternoon, the time I arrived until two o'clock in the morning, without interruption. They were always beating people without ever stopping, and the important fact was that, generally, it was done by officers including high ranking officers. I was even beaten by the Camp Commander, who was a Colonel whose name I forget now. I was subjected to continuous violence. Well, at around two o'clock in the morning, I do not have a clear idea of the time, I was very dizzy, they took me to a room for questioning. By the way they interrogated us they did not give us a chance to answer their questions properly. So that the questioning was carried out in a form that would elicit the answers that they wanted to hear. It was not an interrogation to obtain information, rather a type of self-incrimination. After the questioning we were [18] taken to the stands inside the Stadium. When I arrived there were about 6000 people. The Stadium's capacity is 40,000 people. There were people in the Stadium's stands. Each stand was guarded by some 50 soldiers. There were microphones that were used to call the prisoners to the torture chambers, installed in a sort of underground basement. The torture there was slightly more scientific. They were already using electric shocks and other instruments which do not leave much evidence of torture. People would enter the torture chamber in groups of ten or one by one. In the case of the Chileans, of the Chilean prisoners, there were hundreds who died of the blows they received from rifle butts.

There were above all, clearly outlined. groups. Generally the ones with revolutionary views, belonging to MIR or to the Socialist Party: well, those were already doomed to die. Their torture was not to elicit information but only to kill them. In these cases, they did not use the torture chambers but the baths. Groups of between ten and fifteen would enter the baths. They would beat their heads in with their rifle butts until....... well.... until their heads were squashed. Later they would send soldiers to clean up. Although they cleaned up, one could still see evidence of the violence, because there was blood on the walls and at times even chunks of flesh that had been splattered by the.... by the type of blow administered.

There were a series of corridors that took one to the torture chambers and also to the infirmary, here some of the tortured were taken. There were no doctors, only army medical orderlies. Sometimes we would feign any type of problem so as to get there and see, see which of our comrades were dying. At the side of this corridor there were heaps of corpses, which would later on be taken away by ambulances. All the time ambulances were leaving, transporting the bodies which they took out in stretchers, a sheet covering them, so that we could not see whether they were sick or dead.


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A United Nations Official was able to reach, on Sept. 19th, one of the corpse depositories of the city of Santiago in the Legal Medical Institute, to see with the help of the wife of the deceased, if he could identify the body of a Bolivian student at FLASCO (Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences). He could, count 180 'fresh' corpses, of which there were 5 children; the majority of the bodies had some part that seemed as though it had been torn off, probably the result of an explosion, maybe a grenade. Later on he was told that the bodies in the room he visited only represented the 'crop' of that day.

United Nations Official


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They killed many, but not the ones that they wanted to keep, because they could become potential informers. Well, inside the Stadium there was an atmosphere of immense terror, because.... well, when they called people, even if they did not kill them, we had no way of knowing whether they were going to die or not. So great was the nervous tension, that many people went crazy, like a boy of 16 who became completely crazy. He would walk around the' stadium and every-body knew that he was totally crazy. He said such things as: "Forgive me, God!" This boy had to be killed or silenced soon. One of the corridors was opened so that the boy could enter. When he went in one of the soldiers took aim. The boy became frightened and started to shout and they shot him in front of 6000 people. He died.

There was a protest. The people began to shout and to calm down the situation, the Camp Commander who was a Colonel ordered the soldiers to fire a volley of shots. They did not fire on the people, but at the walls. This lasted for five minutes and provoked a tremendous panic. There was the case of a worker who was pushed by the soldiers. He protested "There is no need to push, there is no reason for it". The soldier started to [20] shout at him and later called the Camp Commander, saying that the worker had rebelled, that he had tried to get hold of his revolver. The Commander ordered two officers from the' special troops, called Black Berets, trained in Panama, to deal with him. They started to beat him up until he fell down, dead. When he had died, and was well dead - we saw it because we were very near to him - the Commander took out his pistol and fired at his head. There was a new protest and another firing volley. Six persons died.

I was in the Stadium from around five in the afternoon of Sept. 12th, until the Sunday afternoon of the 16th. One can not calculate the precise number of dead because the transportation of the corpses was a continuous one. The repression was much more violent on the MIR people; in general they were killed also with the workers from the factories, and later with members of the Socialist party. They considered them the most dangerous because they said they had a great number of fire-arms.

They were also very violent with the young people because they felt that they were the most extreme revolutionaries. For example, in some factories, given the type of work, there were workers of 16, 17, 18 years of age. When they took over a factory, they would take everybody prisoner. I know of a factory where 400 people were taken prisoner. With relation to the foreigners, I can say that during the first moments, during the first few hours of the Stadium functioning as a concentration camp, the harshest beatings were given to the foreigners. Later on, during the tortures, they were harder on the Chileans, and it is a fact that they killed more Chileans. There were very few foreigners killed. For example, I was tortured for a long time, but they did not use electric shocks on me. Nevertheless they hit me with a sort of rubber truncheon with a steel cable inside, which does not, leave any marks. It does not leave any marks, but it causes internal damage. Well, that was the principal thing that I had to contend with, although I also had some problems with [21] my ribs. A comrade that was with me had two fractured ribs and has been without treatment until now, when they had started treating him. When those torture sessions finished, I could not walk or move. I was even taken to a seat in the stands where they had to help me sit down. I spent a day and a half without moving, without being able to move my head. But I did not suffer any torture on the feet. Generally speaking that was left to the Chileans. Also they did not strip me. The worst treatment afforded to the foreigners was in relation to food. I remained from the 12th to the 16th without receiving any type of food, the only thing they gave me one day was an eighth of a loaf of bread, one loaf for eight people, everybody in the stadium except the foreigners received this ration.

There was one comrade who jumped from one of the high stands after he shouted "Death to the fascist murderers!" He fell on one of the lower stands and remained unconscious, but recovered soon although he was wounded and remained lying down. Some Black Beret officers arrived, and took him away; two held his feet, picking him up in a vertical position, so that the feet could not touch the ground; two took him this way while two others administered rifle butt blows on his face. They took him across the stadium in this manner, and when they arrived at the stairs, the stairs that led to the torture chambers, he was dead. He was dead from all the blows that he had received on. his face. The Camp Commander shot him in the head.

There was another comrade who stood up and shouted "Down with Fascism!" The Commander asked, "Who was that?" Then he stood up again and said: "I did". The Commander ordered: "Come over here". The comrade slowly started to walk over, very calm; when he reached the stairs he received a shot in the neck.

There were cases in which twelve people died, some of them very young; two of them must have been between 16 and 17 years old. That group was taken to one of the baths, stripped and beaten to death. Their moans could be heard all over the [22] Stadium. These sessions lasted, in general, fifteen to twenty minutes, they took such a violent form that in 15 to 20 minutes one could die. After these sessions in the baths, a team of soldiers would clean up, so as to clear up the evidence of blood. After this cleaning up job, the Chileans generally had free access to the Stadium. At one point, one of the Chileans whom I had known before, called me to have a look. I went down to the basement with the excuse of going to the infirmary, and in a corridor I noticed around 6 naked bodies that were mutilated by bayonets, waiting to be transported out by ambulance.

There was a worker who went mad and started to shout meaningless words. He shouted things like "Please forgive me; my Colonel, my only fault was to drink a little bit too much". He became very troublesome and had to be ,taken away. He was given an injection but he immediately recovered and once again started to scream. He was then tied to a stretcher and taken to a room in one of the stands, ,equipped with an infirmary and given another injection. They left him alone as they thought he was sleeping. But once again he recovered and this time came out running and flung himself from the stands falling on to the playing field. He remained there for a few minutes unconscious, then he got up and flung himself against.... how do you call them?, a colon? a column, he ran head first at the front of the column and fell unconscious. They took him out to the basement and on the stairs they shot him.

Another thing that added to the general condition of the Chile Stadium was that sleep was impossible. Apart from the tension, hunger (four died of thirst), one could not sleep,firstly, because of the nervous tension, and secondly because of the noise that the tortured prisoners made. To this must be added the fact that we were seated in the stands or in the playing fields, very close together and without being able to move. A moment was reached when the people were so tired that even the soldiers were affected by it; reaching such a level [23]that the Camp Commander had, to take the microphone and speak of the need to be calm and that the people should not be afraid; that he was going to read out a newspaper so as to distract them, the third edition of La Hora de Santiago. The people were so nervous and perturbed that when he finished reading, they applauded him. It was a form of protest, the only, one that was allowed.