Chile recovers a well-known torture center from the dictatorship

By Sebastian Silva |

Santiago de Chile (BLAZETRENDS).- Just one room away, Jorge Silva Huerta felt how the political police of the Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006), tortured his companions. It was March 1975 and his militancy in the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR) made him a target of repression in the province of San Antonio, on the central Chilean coast, 114 kilometers from Santiago.

At the time of his arrest, the second since the coup that overthrew Salvador Allende in 1973, Jorge was only 22 years old. Then, the terrifying Directorate of National Intelligence (DINA), formed in the Regiment No. 2 of Tejas Verdes in San Antonio, had appropriated to commit its horrors the popular resort of Santo Domingo, recovered this week by the Chilean Government as a place of memory. and future school of human rights.

Kidnapped aboard a Chevrolet C10, Jorge arrived at the Balneario Popular Rocas de Santo Domingo – one of the 16 recreational spaces for workers built by the Popular Unity – gagged and blindfolded, and spent 34 days incommunicado, subjected to torture and interrogated about an armament that he says never existed.

“We could get out of here dead or free,” he told BLAZETRENDS, sitting on the foundations of those old cabins that went from being a popular vacation center to clandestine prisons and torture centers during the Chilean dictatorship. “We are going to remember this all our lives, today we are happy to recover this place,” he emphasized.

Government memory policy

The Historic Site Former Detention Center Balneario Popular Rocas de Santo Domingo was recovered by the Chilean treasury. Part of a memory policy promoted by the government of the president, Gabriel Boric. Its goal is to concession one memory site per region during this administration.

“This is a milestone in the recovery of this property that was administered for many years by the Army. A place where horrific events occurred, a detention, torture and experimentation center for human rights violations,” said the Minister of National Assets, Javiera Toro.

Similar acts have already taken place in other latitudes of the South American country. In the northern zone, in the desert region of Antofagasta, the State recovered the former Carabineros La Providencia barracks. Space that was given in concession to the Providencia Historical Memory Group to implement memory policies on that torture center.

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“When we remember, we not only settle a debt with the past, the victims and survivors, but also with society. Today we face new threats to democracy, in Chile and in the world. And saying never again and promoting human rights into the future is also giving back to current and future generations the right to build their own future,” she added.

“This story is not just death”

One of the protagonists of this effort is the historic leader of San Antonio, Ana Becerra. At the age of 17, she became one of the survivors of torture in the Santo Domingo spa.

A militant of the MIR, like Jorge, Ana was detained for more than a month and subjected to torture in the cabins of Santo Domingo. From there she was transferred to the Villa Grimaldi and Tres Álamaos torture centers in Santiago.

“In the end we reached an agreement, and the San Antonio Memory Foundation promises you that in a few more years, this site will be converted into a Human Rights school, that is our dream and that will be,” said Ana upon receiving the administrative act that seals the concession.

“This is not just death, this is a site that had joy, it had its dark side, but it will be reborn again with the two parts together, the history of the site and the laughter of the young people from the Human Rights school”, added to applause.

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