One does not talk about torture

A project by José Giribás M.

The portrayed survivors of torture


Member of the Communist Party, arrested in Talca on 23 April 1975 by a civil patrol, first held prisoner in the "Colonia Dignidad", then transported to Santiago. She was then held in a house, the address of which she was able to find out after taking off her blindfold, when she found an electricity bill with the address "Irán 3037": the address of the "Venda Sexy".

"My life changed on 23 April, the moment I was incarcerated in "Colonia Dignidad". Since then, there has been a "before" and an "after" for me and my daughters.

I never imagined that a human being could suffer such humiliation, and I never believed the excesses that sadism could reach. Never, neither before nor after, could I measure in such a tragic way my own fragility, but also my own strength. In the face of torture, I experienced the power of inner dignity, and that set me free forever."


A member of the Chilean Communist Party, he was arrested in 1975 and taken to the "Nido 20" camp, where he witnessed several murders, one of them by chain-lifting. He was then transferred to the "Malinka" prison camp in Puchuncaví, where he was eventually released.

After his release in Puchuncaví, he refused the Red Cross offer to go abroad and stayed in Chile to join the resistance. In 1986 he was arrested a second time, held by the civilian police in Santiago for almost three months, but at least without being tortured.

Carlos Sergio*

Arrested on 18 May 1976; brief stay in the "Clínica de Santa Lucia", then transferred to the "Villa Grimaldi" and finally, at the beginning of July, transferred to "4 Alamos" in a larger group of severely tortured fellow prisoners. Further imprisonment in "3 Álamos". On 24 June 1977 he was sent to Sweden in forced exile. He was not allowed to return until 1988; however, he went to Berlin in 1991 and did not return to Chile until 1996.

"Shortly after our arrest, it became clear to all of us that we would have to strengthen the left parties and movements as one. There was no point in sectarianism, under any circumstances and for any of us.... For us, the enemy was exclusively the cruel dictatorship that oppressed us daily.... and was only waiting for us to destroy each other. The self-organisation of the prisoners and the great solidarity among each other were something like a collective therapy..."


He was arrested on 7 July 1973 on the destroyer Blanco Encalada as a suspected member of the "Marineros Constitucionalistas", an informal group of sailors who tried to protect the Allende government from the coup. He was taken to the "Cuartel Silva Palma", where he was beaten and sadistically tortured, but then released on 4 September 1973.

In March 1976, he was arrested again and taken to the "el Morro" fort in Talcahuano. There he was tortured again, among other things by being immersed upside down in a barrel of water and urine. After two days "I was taken to a man who was supposedly the head of the secret service (Captain Fuentes) and he told me that they had examined me for a long time but that they had found nothing. I had to promise not to talk about the torture in order to be released, and if not, they would come for me again."

Eduardo Andrés*

Arrested in July 1980 by the police (Carabineros) after participating in several bank robberies to raise money for the resistance movement. Because of the head injury suffered during the arrest, he was initially taken to hospital, then transferred to the "Cuartel Borgoño" of the CNI (Central Nacional de Informaciones). Released after two days, re-arrested in September 1980 and tortured with electric shocks on the so-called grill. Transferred to Santiago prison, imprisoned there for eleven years without due process of law.

"I currently work with the Committee for the Preservation of the Cuartel Borgoño, whose aim is to make this place of horror a place to honour those who sought a life of dignity for our country and suffered torture and death to do so."


Born 1947, social work student and member of the MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria). Arrested on 17.11.1975 in Bolivia, together with a group of Argentinean, Bolivian and Chilean fighters of the People's Liberation Army/Revolutionary Party of Workers (ELN-PRT). Taken from Cochabamba to La Paz to the secret prison "Achacolla" and finally illegally transferred to the DINA in Arica on 13 March 1976 together with other Chileans in the framework of the "Operación Cóndor" (Coordinated Cooperation of Latin American Dictatorships); from there taken to "3 y 4 Álamos", "Villa Grimaldi" and finally to Puchuncaví in the camp "Melinka"; released at the end of 1976. Arrested again in October 1980 while trying to leave the country with the support of the MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria). Detained for 20 days in the "Cuartel Borgoño". Charged and sentenced as a member of the MIR in the following military court proceedings. "After 11 years in different prisons, I was finally released in October 1991.

In June 2016, we, a group of survivors, managed to prevent the complete demolition of the former headquarters of the CNI (Central Nacional de Informaciones), creating a place of memory of arrests, torture, murder and at the same time resistance."

Haydee *

Born 1974, student of history and geography in Valparaíso, elected representative of her course in the student association and member of MAPU. Expelled from the university after the coup and banned from studying.

At the end of 1975, a few days after her mother and one-and-a-half-year-old daughter were imprisoned in Valparaiso, Haydee was arrested in Santiago and transferred to the "Cuartel Silva Palma" in Valparaíso. At that time she was four months pregnant. During the interrogations, a scimitar was used to provoke a miscarriage. Later, the Naval Intelligence Service transferred her to DINA (Dirección Nacional de Inteligencia), which continued the interrogations in various torture centres in Santiago, including the Air Force War Academy, "Villa Grimaldi" and "4 Álamos". Her last detention was in "3 Álamos". After its closure in 1976, she was released following international pressure. Although several countries offered her asylum, she remained in Chile and was arrested several times in the following years.


Student of engineering. Joined the MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria) in 1972, was in the resistance from 1974 and worked with the Socialist Party. His mother was arrested on 22.09.1974 and detained in the "Venda Sexy" to make him surrender to the military. He himself was arrested on 23.09.1974 and sent to "La Venda Sexy" for a week, then to "4 Álamos" for four months. In November 1974, he was expelled to Spain, where he fled from the Franco regime to France in 1975. "I realised how fragile one is and consciously felt the dehumanisation."

Jaime Andres*

Arrested on 5 May 1975, imprisoned and tortured until 20 May 1975 in "Villa Grimaldi", then imprisoned in "3 y 4 Álamos" and in the "Melinka" camp in Puchuncavi. He was released in June 1976.

"Let us continue on the path towards the goal that those of us who were political prisoners during the dictatorship had: To end exploitation, misery and injustice in order to achieve a better world."


Was a member of the MAPU and was arrested on 03 October 1973 in Valparaíso by the Naval Intelligence Service. Within 14 months, he passed through various naval camps and facilities, including "Cuartel Silva Palma", the prison and hospital of Valparaíso, where he had been taken for treatment of spinal injuries suffered from torture. He received his freedom in exchange for exile. On 7 February 1975, with the help of Amnesty International, he left the country. Due to the spinal injuries, he was dependent on a wheelchair for years and still needs crutches today.

"The government of Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle (1995-2000) had the motto:

'Let's turn the page and look only to the future', to leave the past behind with the crimes. One of the main reasons for my work (as a journalist) was to establish historical memory in Chilean society about these crimes. No to forgetting!"


joined the Chilean Navy in 1965. He belonged to the "Marineros Constitucionalistas", an informal group of sailors who tried to protect the Allende government from the coup.

In August 1973, José Lagos was arrested on board a cruiser and sent to the Cuartel Silva Palma in solitary confinement. He then went through several camps where he was tortured; finally he was held in the Valparaíso public prison until his release in August 1976, after serving a sentence imposed by the Valparaíso prosecutor's office. In 1977, he went into exile and has lived in Berlin ever since.

José Miguel*

born in 1943 in Santiago de Chile, was a co-founder of the Frente de Trabajadores Revolucionarios (FTR), the trade union organisation of the MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria) and was active in the JAP (Junta de Abastecimientos y Precios), a citizens' initiative to support the Allende government by distributing food. On 17.09.1973 he was dismissed from his job on the grounds that he had violated the labour law. Four days later he was arrested by air force personnel at his home, taken to the National Stadium, interrogated and tortured. He was released on 3 November 1973 and was able to leave for Argentina with the help of the "Comité pro Paz". After Chileans who had fled there were also persecuted, Miguel went into exile in Berlin.


Imprisoned as a member of the MIR from February to October 1976, first in "Villa Grimaldi", then various stays in the secret clinic "Santa Lucía", in "3 y 4 Álamos", in the barracks Silva Palma, then "Puchuncaví" and again "3 Álamos". A court martial in Valparaiso ended in 1976 with subsequent banishment and exile in Venezuela. His wife was also arrested and only released after he left the country.

His sister Lumi Videla Moya was tortured to death by the DINA secret police on 3 November 1974. Afterwards, her body was thrown into the garden of the Italian embassy and the rumour spread that she had died in an orgy of refugees in the embassy. The autopsy revealed that she had been suffocated.

"As an organising officer for the MIR in Santiago, I naturally knew a lot of people, so although I was often tortured into revealing information, on the other hand there was an interest in keeping me alive so that I might get something out. I experienced through unexpected acts of kindness by my guards that the 'Stockholm Syndrome' can indeed go both ways.... And finally also learned that our 'traitors' are ultimately victims too."

María Antonia*

Arrested on 5 October 1973 by the police (Carabineros), taken to the building of the former Naval Military Academy, a torture centre of the so-called "death squad" of the Naval Special Forces. Transferred to a ship, then to the women's prison "Buen Pastor". In March 1974, taken to the "Silva Palma" barracks with three other women and subjected to interrogation and torture. Back in "Buen Pastor", she was informed of her expulsion; on 13 November 1974 she was taken to Santiago airport with her daughter to leave the country for an indefinite period. Exile in the GDR. "No legal proceedings were ever opened against me, nor did I have the right to a lawyer. I received neither unemployment benefits nor compensation for the loss of my job. There were no concrete accusations, only the persecution of political conviction."


born in 1946, was arrested at his workplace on 12 September 1973 as a "very dangerous person". He was taken to Linares city prison, where he was held alone in a 2 x 2 m isolation cell for about a month. Later he was taken with a group of prisoners to the Linares regimental barracks, where they stayed for about 4 months.

He passed through several camps, including "Chacabuco" in the Atacama Desert, "Melinka" in Puchuncavi, and "3 y 4 Álamos", until he was released in July 1976.


In 1966, he was one of the founders of the student theatre group Aleph in Chile, which was initiated by Eduardo Sabrovsky.

On 20 November 1974, he and his sister were arrested and taken to the "Villa Grimaldi". A few days later, his mother and brother-in-law, a member of the MIR, went to the secret police to object to the arrest. Both were arrested and have since disappeared.

Oscar Castro then went through the "3 and 4 Alamos" camps, "Malinka" in Puchuncavi and again "3 Álamos" until he was released on 20 November 1976. After his release, Ramirez went into exile in France with his wife and sister, where he founded the Aleph Theatre in Ivry sur Seine.

The French government made Oscar Castro Ramirez a Knight of the Legion of Honour on 14.07.2018. "Every failure is a strange victory."


was arrested by CNI agents at her home in Concepcion on 23 August 1984, while waiting for her four-year-old daughter to arrive from kindergarten. The arrest took place as part of Operation Alfa Carbón, in which the CNI executed seven members of the MIR, including Nelson Herrera, her husband.

She was taken to Santiago the next morning to the "Cuartel Borgoño", where she was beaten, tortured with electricity, threatened with death and made to disappear. She was brought back to Concepción and handed over to the military prosecution. In 1985, she was transferred to the prison in the city of Coronel along with other women prisoners. "A year later I was released on parole, and it wasn't until 2007 that we were cleared of all charges, regained our civil rights and had our designation as terrorists expunged from the civil registry."

Pedro Alejandro*

Student at the Universidad de Chile, member of the Socialist Party; was arrested in May 1975 by persons in civilian clothes and incarcerated in "Venda Sexy" for about a week. He then went through several camps before being allowed to leave for New York from the "Cuartel Silva Palma" in July 1976 after being questioned by US Embassy staff. "'Venda Sexy' is a profound, emotional and psychological break in my understanding and concept of what it means to be human... through the revelation of the darker side that humans have within them."


Member of the Liaison Committee of the Central Committee of the Socialist Party; went into hiding after the coup. Arrested by the DINA (Direción de Inteligencia Nacional) on 17.3.1974 and first taken to "Lon-dres 38". Then he was held in the following internment camps: the "Rocas de Santo Domingo", the "Estadio Chile", the "Cárcel de los Médicos" (former school of the Social Service of the University of Chile), the "Camp of Chacabuco" (in the Atacama Desert), where he was a member of the Council of Elders. Then the "Malinka camp" in Puchuncaví, where he participated in the hunger strike to denounce the murder of the so-called "119" in Argentina. After 18 months in prison, he was released in "3 Alamos".


Arrested as a member of the Chilean Communist Party in July 1975 by the DINA (Direción de Inteligencia Nacional) and taken first to José Domingo Cañas 1367, then to "Villa Grimaldi" for a few days, then to "4 Álamos". For one month she was taken to the resort "El Salitre" in San Juan de Pirque together with 120 other prisoners from 4 Álamos to deceive a UN commission investigating human rights violations.

Shaira was then transferred to 3 Álamos, from where she was released in 1975 and went into exile in Paris.


was a member of the Marineros Constitucionalistas and was arrested on 8 August 1973 on the ship "Kreuzschiff Prat". He was first placed in solitary confinement in the "Borgoño Fortress" near Talcahuano, where he was tortured by sailors from the marine corps. He then went through the naval base "Cuartel Rodríguez", the prison of Concepción and the prison of Valparaiso. "At the end of 1975 I fell ill with tuberculosis and was sent to the sanatorium in Peñablanca. I remained there as a dangerous prisoner (with two guards) until September 1976, when I was able to go into exile in Oslo through the solidarity of the Norwegian government."


was arrested as a member of the MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucioaria) on 17 August 1978 and taken to the "Cuartel Borgono" where he was tortured until 23 August. "The place where I was tortured was destroyed in 1996-97 to build the new building of the anti-drug unit of the PDI (Policía de Investigaciones)." He was then transferred to Santiago prison with other members of the resistance. He was charged under the "Internal Security and Arms Control Law" and sentenced to ten years in prison. "I was released from prison on 12 May 1987 after eight years and eight months and served the rest of my sentence on parole."


Student and worker in the textile industry, was arrested on 11 September 1973, was first imprisoned in the "Estadio Chile", then in the "National Stadium" until 16 October 1973.

Having already been involved in a coordination office for former political prisoners, he has been working for the "Memorial Estadio Nacional" since 2012 and supports the establishment of places of remembrance in the National Stadium complex. "Our lives hung on the simple gesture of madmen who ruled over us by raising or lowering their thumbs, like Roman caesars."

Higinio Alfonso*

was a member of the Central Committee of the MIR (Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria) and was first arrested on 3 April 1975. He was first tortured in the "Villa Grimaldi", then taken to "3 Álamos" and finally to the "Melinka" camp near Puchuncavi until he was released in 1976. In 1977 he went underground, in 1983 he was arrested again and remained imprisoned until September 1991. "From the moment I was released, I dedicated my life to the cause of memory, truth, justice and reparation. State terrorism and genocide by the dictatorship cannot go unpunished, because only in this way can the condition of non-repetition be created, making it possible to advance the construction of a more just and civilised society."


Member of the youth organisation of the Communist Party of Chile, arrested for the first time by the "Comando Conjunto" as a 16-year-old in 1975, first held in the former premises of the newspaper "El Clarín", later taken to the "Villa Grimaldi" and finally to "4 Álamos", where she was finally released.

During the torture with electric shocks, the 16-year-old girl was seriously injured in the chest. In 1976 she was arrested again, held for two months in the "Villa Grimaldi", then again in "4 Álamos". On 10 September 1976 she was released in "3 Álamos". "Since I was still a minor in "3 Álamos", I was offered lessons by many fellow prisoners, which I gladly accepted. After a week, however, it was unbearable, because from 10 o'clock in the morning I was the only pupil whom everyone wanted to teach.

My story does not end there: I completed my schooling, later studied law and graduated with a master's degree in human rights. Today I am part of those who still seek justice, truth, reparation and remembrance."


Fedor Luciano*

Born in 1954 in Lota, Chile. Member of the Communist Youth and student leader at the time of the military coup. Arrested for the first time on 13.09.1973 and held for six days on Quiriquina Island. Second arrest on 22.09.1973 and imprisoned in the regional stadium of Concepción until 15.01.1974. Then sent to "Camp Chacabuco" and held there until the closure of this camp at the end of 1974. Then imprisoned in the "Melinka camp" in Puchuncaví until mid-1975, then transferred to "3 Álamos". "I was expelled from this camp to Panama at the beginning of September 1975, together with about a hundred prisoners from Chile: banned from returning to my country."

Abbreviations and explanations

MIR Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucinaria (Movement of the Revolutionary Left)

FTR Frente de Trabajadores Revolucionarios

(Revolutionary Workers' Front)

DINA Direción de Inteligencia Nacional (Head of the National Intelligence Service) (until 1977)

CNI Central Nacional de Informaciónes

(successor organisation of DINA from 1977)

MAPU Movimiento de Acción Popular Unitaria (Movement of Unified People's Action)

FACH Fuerza Aéra de Chile (Chilean Air Force)

„Comando Conjunto“ (Joint Commands)

The existence and functioning of the Joint Command was completely secret, without any legality. The command was responsible for coordinating the intelligence work of the different security services of the army and the police (carabineros).

Lager Chacabuco“: a decaying former saltpetre mine in the Atacama Desert.

„Lager Melinka“: Camp in Puchuncaví about 100 km north of Santiago, formerly a bathing recreation facility for workers' families.

Case of the 119 prisoners: Operation Colombo was a military operation during the days of the Chilean military dictatorship (1975) that led to the disappearance of 119 opposition members. These facts were to be clarified after the end of the Chilean military dictatorship. According to the indictment, the Chilean secret service DINA, under the orders of the dictator Augusto Pinochet, had murdered disagreeable opposition members and tried to blame this murder on left-wing guerrillas of the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR). Besides Pinochet, former General Manuel Contreras was also accused. Pinochet, who had been declared fit to stand trial in 2005, died in 2006, however. In 2008, former colonel Mario Manriquez Bravo was convicted as the person responsible for carrying out the operation. Judge Juan Eduardo Fuentes Belmar subsequently ended the trial.

*To protect the privacy of the victims, only the first names of the persons are mentioned here.