Pinochet torture victims angry at pension

Thousands of people tortured under Augusto Pinochet's former military regime in Chile were granted compensation yesterday. President Ricardo Lagos made the offer as an official report was published detailing abuses committed between 1973 and 1990 and announced life-long pensions and educational and health benefits for 27,000 victims.

Thousands of people tortured under Augusto Pinochet's former military regime in Chile were granted compensation yesterday. President Ricardo Lagos made the offer as an official report was published detailing abuses committed between 1973 and 1990 and announced life-long pensions and educational and health benefits for 27,000 victims.

He also recognised that torture had been a state policy, an acknowledgement expected to open the way for new legal proceedings against torturers.

"This is not only about recognising the horrors committed 31 years ago," President Lagos said. "It's also about the damage those people continue to suffer until today. It has to do with a truth we owe these families, one that is necessary to complete the justice and compensation we owe them."

The Commission on Torture and Political Prison took one year to interview nearly 35,000 alleged torture victims and compile the report. Human rights organisations estimate that more than 200,000 people tortured during Chile's 17 years of military rule.

Of those questioned, 27,260 victims meet the strict criteria for material compensation. President Lagos said the state will provide life pensions worth 112,000 pesos (£100) a month to the accredited victims.

But the victims had mixed reactions. "The pensions are an insult," said Carmen Gloria Diaz, who was detained and tortured for two years before fleeing Chile. She lived in Britain for 15 years until democracy was restored in Chile in 1990. "Not only are not enough victims covered, but the commission had recommended that compensation be equivalent to what the families of those who were killed or disappeared receive, and that's 300,000 pesos a month. So this is a joke."

President Lagos also made the first public acknowledgement that torture was a state-sanctioned policy, and Ms Diaz said that was to be applauded because it will have a major impact. "It's a recognition that cannot be erased, and it will serve as the basis for us to initiate a rash of new legal proceedings," she added.

Chile began confronting its past human rights abuses with the return to democracy in 1990, when the government of Patricio Aylwin established a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Its 1991 report detailed the 2,000 executions and 1,200 disappearances under Pinochet's rule. But the commission never addressed torture by the military.

Hugo Gutierrez, a human rights lawyer, said torture victims had largely been ignored. And no one had been convicted of torture in Chile. But Mr Gutierrez said the report should help change this, given that it will include the names of denounced torturers, and details never before disclosed about places of torture. "It's important because it will establish an official truth," Mr Gutierrez said. "What's missing is that the torture be investigated, and that the torturers be condemned."

President Lagos said the report aimed to bring reconciliation and it would mark the beginning of a healing process, which many say is long overdue. Bishop Sergio Valech, who headed the commission, said the report recounted untold truths that all Chileans need to know, because "without yesterday there is no tomorrow".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'