Chapter II


Torture - applied to those arrested after the military coup - sought three fundamental objectives. First, to obtain information quickly for the purpose making more arrests and uncovering suspected subversive activities on the part of the leftist political parties. Second, to weaken the prisoner’s resistance, undermining his political position and incapacitating him for future partisan or oppositional activities. Last, to punish him in revenge for his partisan or ideological affiliation. In these activities, the services of the military intelligence division of the the armed forces, "Carabineros e Investigaciones", acted without respite during the first months following the coup. Some of its members proved to have been trained in the uses of torture, most likely in the School of the Americas, USARSA, located in the Panama Canal Zone and in other sites or by agents from Brasil or Uruguay, countries also ruled by brutal military dictatorships at the time.

The methods of torture described in the preliminary reports from COPAHI (" Comité de Cooperación para la Paz en Chile"), the Cooperative Committee for Peace in Chile (September 11th – end of October, 1973) are the following:

Physical tortures:

· Application of electrical current in various parts of the body, usually the gums, genitals and anus.
· Blows.
· Blindfolding or hoods.
· Burning with acids or cigarettes.
· Immersion in gasoline or water.
· Whipping in general.
· Incarceration in unhealthy conditions or with vermin.
· Being forced to participate in or witness sexual activities [62].
· Being rolled over rocks.
· Being forced to witness torture.
· Ingestion of excrement.
· Rack.
· Hanging by the neck.
· Deprivation of water for a week.
· Deliberate fracture of a wounded arm.
· Being thrown from a height blindfolded.
· Knives inserted under fingernails or toenails.
· Cutting on the hands.
· Being exposed naked to the sun.
· Not identified (caused death).

Psychological tortures:

· Threatening references to family members.
· Mock firing squad.
· Mock running over with a car.

October 31 – December 31, 1973:

Physical tortures:

· Electricity.
· Blows.
· Blindfolding or hoods.
· Burning with acids or cigarettes (caused death).
· Whipping in general.
· Removal of testicles (caused death.)
· Smashing of skull with loss of brain matter (death)
· Being forced to witness whippings.
· Immersion in cold water (caused death).
· Firing of guns next to ears.
· Asphixiation (caused death).
· Extraction of fingernails.
· Fracture of arm.

Psychological tortures:

· Threatening references to family members.
· Mock firing squad.
· Photographing in obscene positions.
· Mock rape.

Period from approximately January 1 – March 11, 1974::

Physical tortures:

· Electricity.
· Blows.
· Blindfolding or hoods.
· Burning with acids or cigarettes (caused death).
· Torture in general.
· Rack.

· Hanging
· Being forced to witness tortures.
· Being punctured.
· Dragging on the ground.
· Being tied to a chair naked for two days.
· Extraction of fingernails.
· Fracture of arm.
· "Pihuelo (Pau de Arara)" - Being hung by feet and by hands.

Psychological tortures:

· Mock firing squad.

Some consequences detected:

· Insomnia, headaches, eye pain, persistent memory loss.
· Repeated symptoms of miscarriage.
· Fractured ribs, internal injuries, fractured limbs.
· Head injuries, crushed ribs and pelvis.
· Pulmonary edema, bruised thorax.
· Dislocated shoulder.
· Burned hands.
· Shattered jaws.
· Legs with stab wounds.
· Seriously wounded limbs.
· Serious emotional problems. [64]

References to some cases reported in COPAHI of people dead from the consequences of injuries produced by torture:

1. Injuries produced by blunt object , death by asphixiation – Precinct of Investigations.

2. Injuries produced by blunt object , electricity – Death attributed to the Law of Fugitives.

3. Injuries produced by blunt object , electricity, removal of testicles – Discovered in the Institute of Legal Medicine.

4. Smashed skull, extraction of fingernails, fractured arms -- Discovered in the Institute of Legal Medicine.

5. Absence of cranial matter, skull destroyed -- Discovered in the Institute of Legal Medicine.

6. Injuries produced by blunt object , genital burns -- Discovered in the Institute of Legal Medicine.

7. Body covered with injuries produced by blunt object – Discovered in Rio Mapocho.

8. Fractured legs, genital burns – Tejas Verdes.

9. Death caused by repeated injuries produced by blunt object – Petroca.

10. Injuries produced by blunt object, immersion in cold water – Estadio Chile.

[note - mn: The following portion of the translation is provided thanks to Linda Grayson, and is posted at her excellent site, http://]

Visit from the OEA Commission, July1974, to the Anexo Capuchinos.

167 people were detained: 95 of them were members of the Armed Forces. Of those 95, 30 were officials of various ranks; (...) Here is a transcript of some of the notes taken...

- Detained in October 1973; placed in cells for about 10 months (during five of these he was left in a small cubicle where there was no place to sleep on the floor).
- Detained since the end of October 1973 under suspicion of participating in political meetings... He says he was struck forcefully during interrogations, that he suffered complete paralysis of his left side which he has now recovered although he still suffers from disturbing symptoms, especially not being able to read for more than an hour. He was made to remain standing for two full days.
- Detained since the beginning of March 1974, for having allegedly participated in political meetings. During the first 10 days of imprisonment he was repeatedly tortured with electrical impulses on his entire body. During the first five days he remained constantly blindfolded and hooded.
- Condemned to three years of prison for alleged conversations with two other persons in a communist group. During interrogations he was beaten and left blindfolded for a long time.
- Detained in November 1973. He was tortured by electrical current and blows with sticks, irons, and by hand. He was left for five [days?] incommunicado, in a tiny cell.
- "I was detained in September 1973 and taken to the Air Force Academy. There I was left to stand on foot for two days. Hooded, I was interrogated and tortured. Electrical current was applied to my genitals, mouth, ears; I was beaten, I was tied to a type of grill. I still have marks from the tortures. I was left incommunicado, and for five days I was left alone with a guard with an automatic weapon. One of the guards opened fire and killed one of the prisoners."
- He was whipped, showing welts; he has three broken ribs as a result of beatings and tortures. Also tortured in hands, feet, mouth, and teeth. He said he was tortured in Tejas Verdes and in another place that he didn't recognize, where he was blindfolded for nine days and again tortured, this time with electrical current on the ears, feet, and hands. He lived on bread and water for two months, and was tortured in nine different locations. One of these was on the ship "Lebu" in Valparaiso; on one occasion a black liquid was applied to his nose.
- They explained that the tortures were systematic: the use of hoods for long periods and always during interrogation; beatings, kicks, and pistol-whipping; he was forced to remain on foot for entire days; extended periods with nothing to drink, for as long as 48 hours; electrical discharges, threats of torturing wives and children in front of the prisoner, remaining shackled with hands bound.
"I arrived on February 1 at the Tacna Regiment, and on the 8th I was transferred to the Air Force Academy. I remained there until April 3, when they returned me to Tacna. That is to say, for all practical purposes, for two months minus three days I was kept absolutely incommunicado, most of the time blindfolded. I was tortured more or less in the following way: I was stripped completely naked and a plastic cloth was used to bind each of my knees, wrists, and elbows, then I was forced to squat down. Forgive me for explaining this so graphically, but you are going to understand much better, or cooperate better, posed in this way, with your hands bound; then here they poked me with a stick; then they raised it over me and let it dangle." [66]
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Roberto Moreno Burgos, 38 years old, Economist, married, 2 children. Detained on March 27, 1974

We were all driven, tied up and hooded, to the underground vaults of the Air Force Academy. I was taken to the offices of the high officials of the Intelligence Service of the Air Force and submitted to interrogations and tortures during the rest of the night. While I stayed in those offices, the tortures consisted of blows to different parts of my body, preferentially in the testicles, manual crushing of them, piercing of the skin on my chest with a pick, twisting of my extremities to the point of fracturing, and threats of various other physical damage. I was moved to another branch office where I was made to strip down to be hung by my legs, mouth down, applying electric current to my feet, testicles, penis, nipples, armpits, and face. They kept me blindfolded during the whole time and the interrogations went on for various weeks, although only the beatings and the threats. To this they added various forms of oppression, combined with attempts to persuade me into betraying, to bribe or corrupt me by offering to liberate me in the country of my choice along with my wife and children.

Sergio Santos Senoret, 32 years, Accounting student

On Saturday, June 1, 1974, when I was accompanying a friend to her vehicle to meet another person on Cuevas Street, we were suddenly attacked by a blue "MG" car in which there were four people. In our surprise, I, who in this moment was going to take the steering wheel, started backing up so that I could see what damage they had done to the car. At that moment, the driver of the MG without uttering a word, and to our astonishment, began to shoot. Confronted with this fact, I opted to take off. I was pursued for about 10 blocks, under continuous gunfire that was coming from three vehicles: a C-10 truck, and MG and a cream coloured Fiat. Finally, there was a collision and we were thrown against a house, where there was a big commotion. This was in Tocornal with Marin. During the pursuit, I was hit by a bullet in the back, around my shoulder.

Immediately after the crash, they both hurled themselves at the cars, civilian men who carried sidearms. Without being asked questions, we were violently taken from the car. They took off my tie, with which they blindfolded me with and handcuffed my hands behind my back. Seeing that I was dripping blood, they talked among themselves about taking me to the hospital. I was thrown on the wet ground of the truck. There they started a long trip; I did not know where they were taking me.

After this I didn’t find out anything more about what had happened to my friend. Once in the hospital, they gave me treatment without anesthetic; it was very painful. They stripped me of all my clothing, in search of cyanide. I was treated very rudely by the doctor who addressed me in disrespectful terms. During all this time I stayed blindfolded.

From there I was moved to the War Academy, where they left me standing, handcuffed and blindfolded. Judging by the number of stairs that I went down, I supposed that I was underground vault. An armed guard took care of me; each time I moved he put his gun in my ribs.

After several hours I was taken to the interrogation. This was between shouts, fists, and kicking in all parts of my body. The interrogators came back to repeat this but with other methods. Hanging, with current applied to my testicles, anus and nipples. All this while shouting and with threats to hand me over to the DINA and to detain my wife and my two year old son. Threats with a pistol en the nape of my neck. This one was a woman. In the vault one lived in a [78 ] climate of terror, between shouts and complaints of pain, an assembly of arms, voices that implored that the cardinal come, gunfire. Confronted with this situation, I tried to take my own life by cutting my neck in the bathroom. I was surprised and taken to the hospital, since my neck was slashed.

This was on Sunday afternoon. On Mon. morning they arrived at the hospital proceeding to take away the serum and beat me and threaten me with a knife. They twisted my ears, seemingly with pliers. They threatened to inject me with drugs. They created an uproar in the room, so much so that the nurse shouted and I was very weak, since I had lost a lot of blood. This was not a problem for my torturers who continued beating me until the doctor appeared and said that I could not be taken out. I was injected something that made me sleepy. In the afternoon they returned and proceeded to take out the serum needles and put me on a stretcher and took me down to an ambulance with my hands and feet handcuffed. They started to put electric current on me. From the hospital I was taken again to the AGA . There I stayed on my feet for 10 days without eating, sleeping or drinking water. There was the gunfire of mock battles. They took me out to interrogation at least 2 or 3 times a day during this time and the following days. I was beaten and they constantly threatened to detain my wife and son.

At night they got me up when I had just managed to fall asleep and I was interrogated again under beatings and psychological pressures. I stayed uncommunicative and with my eyes covered for a period of several months. Until January. IN the room we neither move nor say a word. We were only allowed to go to the bathroom once a day and for a few minutes. To change position when we were seated we had to ask permission from the guards and only do so under their authorization, many times we spent entire days completely immobile.

In the month of October the DINA detained my sister, her husband, my mother in law, her 82 year old almost blind mother and my mother in law’s sister. My mother in law and my sister managed to be detained for one week in the Incommunication Section of the 3 Alamos. They accused them of being links of mine and Miguel Henriquez’s and of taking messages from the Academy. I had not seen them since my detention. I was told that the DINA had taken my wife, my son, and my mother who was very ill. I kept this information until many days later when I was authorized to see my wife.

On Feb. 1 I was moved to a house located in Apoquindo, where I was until March 11. During that time I was permitted to go out of the room every 3 days for 15 minutes. In order to see my wife and my son I was moved close to other detainees, to the house located in Marun 650, requisitioned by the SIFA. In that house my wife, my son, and I lived until the day of my detention.

On March 11 I was transferred to the Penitentiary and had the opportunity to talk with my lawyer and to see my family in a free way. At the end of May I was "incomunicado" in the punishment gallery number 12. I stayed there for 10 days because they had found a notebook of mine that contained notes about the economy which they considered dangerous. After 10 days I was taken out of there and returned to my usual gallery. I was told that it had been an error and they had nothing against me.

At present, I am staying in the Penitentiary and hoping for a verdict…