Chile: The human rights abuses and the case of Adriana Rivas

Adriana Rivas Chile

Human rights abuses in Chile began shortly after Pinochet and the other military leaders of the coup took power. Between September 12th and 13th, just days after the take-over, the National Stadium in Santiago was turned into a large detention center. The Red Cross estimated that on September 22, 1973 there were about 7,000 prisoners being held there, many of them complained to the Red Cross of torture and produced evidence.

On June 14th, 1974, the military JUNTA mandated for the creation of the National Intelligence Direction (DINA). DINA established interrogation and detention camps, in which former members of Allende’s Marxist government and the Leftist movements were incarcerated, brutally tortured, killed and many subsequently disappeared.

On December 15th, 1976 eleven people, all members of the Communist Party were arrested by members DINA agents. The methods used for arresting them were similar, in particular that all the arrests took place in the streets of Santiago and were carried out by multiple agents, the victims hooded and violently introduced in vehicles. Many eye witnessed the arrests or their detention in clandestine centres.

The victims’ families took administrative and legal steps to learn on the fate of their relatives and in all the cases the government’s official response to the courts was that the eleven people had crossed into Argentina on foot via “Los Libertadores” pass, between the end of 1976 and the beginning of 1977. Later civil court investigations were able to determine both the falsity of the version given by the authority and the illegal detention of these people.

Over three decades many legal proceedings have taken place to learn the fate of these eleven disappeared. However, the investigations were hampered by the military and by the Amnesty Decree Law, passed in 1978 by Pinochet that excludes all individuals who committed human rights violations of criminal responsibility. In 2001 after years of investigations the remains of four of the eleven disappeared in 1976 were found in an abandoned mine close to Valparaiso. They are Lincoyán Berríos Cataldo; Horacio Cepeda Marinkovic, Fernando Ortiz Letelier, and Ángel Guerrero Castillo. The fate of the rest is still unknown.

The existence of Simon Bolivar Detention Centre came to be known only in 2007 when it was revealed by Jorgelino Vergara (alias “Mocito”) an ex DINA agent. Operated by “Brigada Lautaro” and “Grupo Delfin”, the centre was a place of torture, death and disappearances. Extermination orders came directly from Manuel Contreras who ordered his agents to “make them suffer” – in reference to the detainees. Various forms of murder were carried out by DINA in this centre: asphyxiation, electric shocks, cyanide injections, beatings and sarin gas. Vergara has declared that seven of the eleven disappeared in 1996 were tortured and murdered in this centre: Victor Diaz Lopez, Alfredo Navarro Allendes, Reinalda del Carmen Pereira Plaza, Juan Fernando Ortiz Letelier, Lincoyan Berrios Cataldo, Horacio Cepeda Marinkovic and Hector Veliz Ramirez.

Although Manuel Contreras, is currently serving 287 years in jail most involved in these crimes are free and this is the case of Adriana Rivas who was Contreras’ assistant and who played a major role in interrogating victims during torture sessions in the Simon Bolivar Detention Centre.

Rivas lives in Sydney since 1978 and is wanted for her role as author of aggravated kidnapping of these people.

Rivas must be returned to Chile to face truth and justice.