Ending Impunity: Seeking Justice for the Murder of My Brother in Pinchet's Chile

Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Ending Impunity: Seeking Justice for the Murder of My Brother in Pinochet’s Chile
Stern Center, Great Room – 7:00 p.m.

Chili Poster
Issue in Context
In the Chilean presidential election of 1970, Salvador Allende, running for the socialist-leaning coalition, Unidad Popular (Popular Unity), defeated the sitting president. He won a narrow plurality of 36.2 percent to 34.9 percent of the vote over the former president. In conjunction with members of Chile’s conservative wing, the United States government, particularly the CIA, helped engineer a coup twelve days before Allende’s inauguration. In a failed kidnaping attempt, General René Schneider, Commander in Chief of the Chilean Army, was assassinated by rightists. Ironically, this unpopular action only helped end military opposition against Allende. The president would remain ostensibly unchallenged for the next three years. On September 11, 1973, Augusto Pinochet led a bloody coup d’etat against then President Allende. The brutality of the immediate aftermath would portend the brutality of years to come. American freelance journalist Charles Horman and Chilean folk-singer Victor Jara were among the many tortured and killed in the days following the coup. Over the next month and a half, the infamous Caravan of Death, a Chilean army squad, summarily executed at least 72 political prisoners, many of whom had voluntarily turned themselves in to the military authorities. The number of those killed or “disappeared” is officially placed at around 3,000, but many believe the number is actually much higher. Estimates also have the number of incarcerations reaching 130,000 in just the first three years of the dictatorship. Despite the erosion of many of the legal safety-nets established by Pinochet and his regime, and the subsequent successful prosecution of several officials in the regime, Augusto Pinochet has yet to be successfully prosecuted for war crimes.

About the Speaker

Zita Cabello-Barrueto is a filmmaker, activist, and professor born in Chile in 1950. On October 17, 1973, in the early morning hours, a Chilean military death squad known as “the Caravan of Death” murdered 13 political prisoners, including her brother, Winston Cabello. Dr. Cabello-Barrueto has spent the last 30 years conducting interviews, researching and gathering evidence to confirm the facts of her brother’s brutal murder as well as others who were killed or “disappeared” by the Pinochet regime. In 2003, her research culminated in the successful prosecution of Major Armando Fernández Larios, one of the men responsible for her brother’s murder.

In addition to bringing the case against Fernández Larios, Dr. Cabello-Barrueto has been active in examining the wider effects of torture and disappearances on the social fabric of Chile. From 1995-1998, she traveled back to Chile on numerous occasions to interview survivors of Pinochet’s policy of terror. These encounters became the basis for a documentary film that Dr. Cabello-Barrueto produced in 1998, entitled Never Again Shall We Say ‘Never Again’. The film focuses not on acts of torture and terror, but rather encourages reflection on our role, as individuals, in the construction of the world we live in. Ultimately, crimes against humanity are committed by individuals, and it is the individual’s role in mass violence with which Dr. Cabello-Barrueto is most concerned.

Dr. Cabello-Barrueto has a master’s degree in economics from the University of Chile, a master’s degree in public health, and a doctorate in developmental economics from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1989, she became a professor of Latin American Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz. She now lives with her family in Foster City, California.

Related Links
More About the Speaker
Zita Cabello-Barrueto – The Center for Justice and Accountability

Pinochet Pages
Augusto Pinochet – Wikipedia – General Biography of Chilean Ex-President
The Pinochet Page – Criticisms and Commentaries about Pinochet
The Truth About Chile – A Pro-Pinochet Website by a Chilean Journalist and Professor