SANTIAGO – Every Mar. 29, El Día del Joven Combatiente (The Day of the Young Combatant) is commemorated in honor of brothers Rafael and Eduardo Vergara Toledo. They were executed by police in 1985 in Estación Central district. Violent protests are common on this day across the country.
Every Mar. 29 protests erupt in Santiago’s lower-income neighborhoods, including the city center, and in cities like Antofagasta, Concepción, Iquique, Temuco, and Valparaíso. The protests are linked to the 1985 killings of Rafael (18) and Eduardo (20) Vergara Toledo in Villa Francia, a neighborhood in Santiago’s Estación Central district.
The brothers were killed by Carabineros on Mar. 29, and 20-year-old Paulina Aguirre was killed the same day by an intelligence squad in Lo Barnechea district.
Long before the killings, the Vergara Toledo family had been subject to state harassment and surveillance because of its political views and popularity in the neighborhood.
Protests are often violent and media outlets urge viewers to stay home.
Rafael and Eduardo’s Execution
The press reported the brothers’ deaths as result of an attempted robbery, a common tactic during the dictatorship as the media collaborated to slander the victims of state terrorism.
According to reports by the Carabineros police force, the brothers opened fire and were killed in the ensuing shootout.
But the Rettig Report, published by a truth commission in 1991, detailed that Rafael was the victim of political persecution. The reasons for Eduardo’s death were never fully established, but the report suggests “he was a victim of political violence.”
The Carabineros’ version was roundly dismissed, as the brothers were killed in different places and at different times.
In May 2008, examining magistrate Carlos Gajardo sought a 15-year sentence for former Carabinero Jorge Marín Jiménez, and a 10-year sentence for officers Alex Ambler Hinojosa and Nelson Toledo Puente for the murder of the Vergara brothers. The decision was upheld by Santiago’s appellate court on July 3, 2009.
Later on, however, the Supreme Court lowered the sentence to 10 years for Marín Jiménez and seven years for Ambler Hinojosa and Toledo Puente.