Santiago de Chile – More than 400 people marched on Saturday in the rain through the streets of Santiago de Chile, the capital, to remember the 119 detainees who disappeared from the so-called Colombo operation, during the Chilean dictatorship.
“It is an act of memory so that the people, the population, the public opinion know that we have not forgotten them, that many are missing here,” said Mario Aguilera, 71, who participated in the march.
The procession, led by 119 silhouettes representing the victims, passed through different emblematic points of the fight for human rights.
All this within the framework of the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état against the government of Salvador Allende (1970-1973), on September 11, 1973. After the military overthrow, a dictatorship was installed that left more than 3,200 victims, including dead and missing.
“I’m here because I’ve always been looking for my son, since we found out about his arrest,” said Hilda Saldívar, 93-year-old mother of Gerardo Silva Saldívar, who has been detained and disappeared.
The march began at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, passed through the outskirts of the La Moneda government palace, the capital’s main square, and ended at the Museum of Fine Arts.
“It is essential that a people recover, exercise their rights and exercise their historical memory, because memory is what allows us to move forward,” said Roberto D’Orival, 62, the brother of Jorge D’Orival, another detained-disappeared.
The Colombo operation, set up in 1975 by the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990), was a disinformation action to try to disassociate themselves from responsibility for the arrests and disappearances of political opponents.
For this operation, the dictatorship transferred the bodies of detainees who had disappeared in Chile to Argentina and staged scenes there to suggest that their deaths occurred in internal confrontations or executions between members of the Chilean Movement of the Revolutionary Left (MIR).
The next step was the publication of articles in unknown media in Argentina and Brazil, about the supposed death of about 60 MIR militants in several Latin American countries, especially in Argentina, due to alleged internal conflicts or executions.
Said information was later replicated by Chilean newspapers in July 1975.
At that time, the United Nations and inter-American organizations were already accusing the Chilean regime of serious human rights violations.
In the different versions of the disinformation campaign, 119 people were mentioned, mostly MIR militants but also from other parties or without political militancy, who were detained in Chile between May 1974 and February 1975 by the dictatorship.
For this case, the justice system challenged and prosecuted Augusto Pinochet in 2005, although with the death of the former dictator in December 2006, he was dismissed.