Chile’s president initiated a nationwide program to investigate what happened to the nearly 1,500 people who went missing during the Pinochet dictatorship. The government wants to reconstruct the final days of detainees, search for remains, and give relatives access to information about their missing loved ones. The plan rolls out less than two weeks before the commemoration of the coup d’état in Chile.
As the 50th anniversary of the 1973 coup d’état nears, the Chilean government has taken a historic step in trying to confirm what happened to 1,162 so-called “detenidos desaparecidos,” who disappeared during the Pinochet era. Through a “National Plan for the Search for Truth and Justice,” the Boric administration aims to clarify what happened to these victims of the dictatorship.
“We take responsibility as a State to do everything in our power to clarify the circumstances of disappearance and/or death and the final fate of the victims of enforced disappearance,” President Gabriel Boric said. “It is time for us to agree on something that is very basic and does not require further explanation, which is that we will never again interrupt democracy and that we will never again violate the human rights of another person for thinking differently.”
The program has widespread support from human rights organizations and civil society. However, leaders of rightwing parties were absent during the presentation ceremony on Aug. 30.
The aim of the Chilean government is to gather information about all 1,162 missing Chileans, using archives from universities, authorities, and organizations, and analyzing the resulting records and information with artificial intelligence. The project is a challenge as many documents were destroyed during and after the dictatorship, and many of those in know – military officers – are either long dead or still alive but silent, still refusing to this day to assist with any investigations.
As state agents were responsible for these kidnappings and disappearances, the current government feels duty-bound to resume the search to bring friends and relatives whatever answers it can and whatever modicum of peace might be gained from finally knowing what happened. This year, 307 disappeared were identified.
The program, according to the government, has three main objectives. The first is to clarify the circumstances of disappearance and death of the victims, the second is to guarantee family members access to information in the search process, and the third is to implement reparation measures.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today.