Torture Victims Receive Reparations

According to Reuters, President Ricardo Lagos of Chile proposed that more than 28,000 Chileans, who were tortured by government agents under Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship, receive reparations and special pensions.

On Sept. 11, 1973, Pinochet planned and led the military coup in which the Marxist government of former president Salvador Allende was defeated. When Pinochet was named president, he immediately began to silence Chile’s liberal opposition, arresting approximately 130,000 individuals over the first three year period. 

Mike Gatehouse in a statement for BBC News in 1998, remembers the turmoil of Chile in 1973 saying,  “The majority of us, prisoners of all ages, professions and nationalities, were there for more or less random reasons—because we worked for public institutions or the government, because we were foreigners, because we were factory workers, nurses, teachers, university lecturers, lived in a shanty town or any of the other ordinary occupations and groupings that suddenly became proscribed or suspect under the new military dispensation.” 

The new proposal is one of many measures taken by the government to address the human rights violations that occurred.  The Chilean government has already made reparations to families of people who died or disappeared in the political violence, as well as to dissidents who were forced into exile. 

“The state must make compensation, however austere, as a way of recognizing its responsibility,” Lagos said in a televised address.

Lagos said he would send a bill to Congress proposing a monthly pension of $185, as well as health and education benefits for torture survivors, most of whom are older than 55.