Aurelio Grandón León, originario de la provincia
de Antofagasta, relata sobre los padecimientos que compartieron
miles de chilenos como prisioneros a consecuencia del golpe
militar. En las semanas después del golpe, fue detenido
en el Estadio Nacional, desde donde fue trasladado al Campo
de Prisioneros de Chacabuco y posteriormente a Tres Alamos.
Fue acogido como refugiado político en Canada, donde
vive hasta la fecha en la ciudad de Edmonton.
On September 24, 1973, around 17:00 hours while at my job
with the Carabinero Police Social Insurance Office, a police
patrol under the command of an officer who identified himself
as Captain Villarroel, arrested me. I was taken to the Third
Police Station located at San Pablo and Teatinos Streets in
There, Captain Villarroel and his subordinates forced me to
stand against a wall, with my arms above my head and my legs
wide apart. They yelled insults and abusive language, claiming
I was a prisoner. They kept me a long time in that position
while police took turns verbally abusing me.
Later, they pushed me into the guardroom, closed the doors,
and the captain, assisted by two subordinates, physically
and verbally assaulted me with inhuman, degrading and humiliating
means. During these attacks, the officer searched and stripped
me of my personal identification and possessions. Accusing
me of being a dangerous criminal, political activist, extremist
and professional agitator, he and his men struck blows over
my body, especially on my neck, back and waist. The brutality
of the tortures was so intense that I lost control of my urinary
system. Captain Villarroel accused me of participating in
a plan to assassinate police, as described in the fictitious
"Plan Zeta." Next, he forced me to kneel with my
hands on the back of my neck. He drew his gun, pointing it
to my head and, smiling sadistically, threatened to kill me
right on the spot. Instead, he put the gun away, saying that
it was better to send me to the National Stadium for the Army
to kill me there. Again the police put me against the wall
with my arms up and my legs wide apart. After a while, they
led me to a police bus. Inside, they forced me to lay face
down in the aisle, with my hands on the back of my neck. Police
deliberately stepped on my body, and forced me to remain in
that position during the trip to the stadium. At the stadium,
I was transferred into the custody of Army soldiers who had
transformed the stadium into a concentration camp.
In that concentration camp, inhuman, degrading and humiliating
treatment continued. Military personnel notified me that I
was a prisoner of war and that I had no rights. While they
filled forms with my personal data, I was again subjected
to physical and verbal abuse. Afterwards, they confined me
to one of the corridors under the bleachers where hundreds
of people were held, under inhuman conditions. All of us lacked
basic necessities such as regular meals, rest and personal
On October 10, military personnel took me, with other detainees,
to the adjacent cycling stadium for interrogation. In that
building, Army personnel inflicted more abusive, degrading
and humiliating attacks. Confining prisoners to a tunnel-like
corridor and forcing us to face the wall, they ordered us
to place blankets over our heads that covered us entirely
down to our feet. A soldier, yelling all kinds of insults
and defamatory accusations, kicked the prisoners and striking
each one with his rifle butt. After that, the military took
me out of the corridor. With my body still covered by the
blanket, they blindfolded my eyes and led me to another place
in the same building for interrogation. The interrogators
demanded me to identify myself, describe my alleged political
activities, and confess where I had hidden weapons that they
falsely accused me of possessing. The torturers also questioned
me about my activities on the day of September 11, asking
whom I planned to kill and other questions along these lines.
During all that time, an individual, standing behind me, subjected
me to constant blows and applied electric current to my body.
When I fainted and lost my balance, the torturers themselves
kept me standing up.
Once the torturers decided to put an end to the interrogation,
they ran the bandage from my eyes, without removing the blanket
over my head. They forced me to sign some written pages but
did not allow me to read them. Later they returned me to the
principal enclosure of the stadium.
In early November, the military took me, along with thousands
of other citizens under arrest, out of the stadium to board
public transportation buses. Accompanied by a huge military
deployment, including airplanes and helicopters, the prisoners
were transported to the port of Valparaiso, on the Pacific
coast. Under the custody of the Chilean Navy, we were forced
to board the cargo ship Andalien, a sodium nitrate carrier,
where they made us descend to the lowest compartment. Again
we endured inhuman, degrading and humiliating treatment, besides
threats and psychological coercion. Our care of basic personal
necessities was constrained to the limits of the compartment.
Navy personnel only allowed us to come up to the upper deck
for the two daily meals. While eating the food, we had to
stand facing horizon, and never look about ship or the coastline.
The prisoner had to eat quickly and immediately return to
the compartment below. The ship navigated north for three
days until arriving at the port of Antofagasta in the dawn
of the third day. In that port and under Army surveillance,
we were led to a narrow railway cargo train. The train carried
the prisoners to Baquedano, an isolated place located on the
highlands east of Antofagasta, where we boarded Army trucks,
which took us to Chacabuco concentration camp. This internment
compound was built inside a former saltpeter processing plant
of the same name in the Atacama Desert.
In the Chacabuco concentration camp, run by the Army, we again
were victims of inhuman, degrading and abusive treatment with
constant threats and harassment. Immediately after being confined
in the electrified, razor wired fenced enclosure, surrounded
by tall guards towers and a mined field, camp commander Captain
Carlos Minoletti Arriagada, made us line up on an open field.
He ordered us to undress, spread our personal belongings on
the ground, and wait without moving for him to personally
inspect each of us. Displaying his brutal arrogance and scorn
of the imprisoned citizens, Captain Minoletti conducted his
search with insults, obscene language and slanderous accusations.
He struck us with his fists while hurling contemptuous comments.
The inspection lasted several hours under the hot desert sun,
after which he ordered us to round up and rebuked us again
with false accusations, offensive epithets and threats of
all sorts. Minoletti, full of conceit and posing as a supreme
judge, notified us that we were there " because of the
fucking actions you did and the actions you thought about
The Army and Air Force took turns in camp surveillance and
in imposing the arbitrary internment regime. Other officers,
who grossly mistreated prisoners, were Captain Santander and
Alejandro Ananias. Captain Santander, who boasted of being
a Pan-American shooting champion, intimidated prisoners, claiming
that when he fires his gun, the bullets hit precisely where
he aims. More than once at mealtime, he made us eat under
a large deploy of soldiers pointing their guns directly to
our head. On other occasions, he abruptly interrupted the
meal and ordered us to line up for no reason. One day he rounded
us up to blame us of making some political graffiti on the
On International Workers' Day, May 1, 1974, Captain Ananias,
in an ostensible show of abuse and arrogance, summoned about
thirty prisoners from a list, including me, to perform forced
labor. Soldiers forced us to carry iron scrap by hand from
one place to another some two hundreds meters away, during
the whole morning for no apparent reason.
Air Force combat planes constantly flew over the camp at low
altitudes provoking fear and anxiety.
On July 30, 1974 approximately 60 of us were taken out of
the camp and transported in military trucks to the Cerro Moreno
Air Force Base in Antofagasta. Air Force personnel led the
detainees to a transport airplane, and made us sit in complete
silence without looking at the other passengers that were
already inside the aircraft. The plane landed in Los Cerrillos
Airport in Santiago. On the tarmac, the prisoners had to line
up with their hands behind their neck, standing still around
the plane while the guards proceeded to check each of us.
Under threats and shouts of all sorts, the military with their
machine guns pointing at the prisoners arbitrarily hit prisoners,
before boarding police buses. In the bus, the police inferred
the same humiliating and inhuman treatment to the prisoners.
The prisoners were taken to Tres Alamos concentration camp
where police again inflicted inhuman treatment. The prisoners
were ordered to line up, with our hands up against the buses.
In that position, we were searched again. Then, the policemen
led the prisoners to an inside room where a Major, using abusive
and obscene language, notified them that they were going to
be released, adding threats and vicious warnings about our
future. He ordered each prisoner photographed and fingerprinted.
He also demanded the prisoners to pay in cash for the cost
of the photographs and to sign a release form in which the
person declared that he had been well treated and that had
no complain to file against the police. Any prisoner, who
had no money or refused to sign, would remain in detention.
Close to midnight, when the curfew began, the prisoners were
allowed to leave the concentration camp. The Ministry of Defense's
National Executive Secretariat for Detainees issued us certificates
signed by Colonel Jorge Espinoza Ulloa, stating that we were
released "for failure to verify infringement of Constitutional
norms of the Nation."
The saga of personal persecution not only affected me but
my family as well, both during the period of my imprisonment
and after my release. Twice immediately after the coup, military
personnel searched our apartment, destroyed some of our belongings
and leaving the place in disarray. The soldiers had no respect
or consideration for my wife, who was eight months pregnant,
causing her a complicated delivery.
My wife, who had our first child on October 14, 1973, informed
me that on two other occasions while I was imprisoned, police
went to our residence to interrogate her. Amid the tense and
frightening situation they provoked specially on our son,
they asked her where I was. They also falsely charged her
with holding political meetings at home. At the same time,
my family had to endure a fearful daily life, due to constant
surveillance of all residents of our apartment building, Tower
18 of the San Borja Housing Complex.
In mid November 1973, my wife sought an interview with the
then Vice-president of the Social Insurance Department for
the National Police Force, retired General Eduardo Yañez
to request my salary payments and inquire about my employment
status while I was imprisoned. Yanes treated her arrogantly.
My wife was incredulous to hear this official declare that
he was going to fire me if I did not show up for work by December.
He and the entire Department knew full well that I was imprisoned.
After the Constitutional Government was overthrown, the military
appointed new authorities to run the Social Insurance Department.
One of their first actions was to launch a political persecution
against me. They arbitrarily removed me from my position as
Pension Division Manager that I held legitimately since the
Honorable Council of Administration appointed me. Orlando
Gonzalez, the new Personnel Administrator, notified me of
After my detention, they suspended my pay. A few months later,
the new Personnel Administrator, Ruben Jimenez Santibañez
signed a resolution expelling me from the Department on December
31, 1973. After my imprisonment, my wife's salary and assistance
from my relatives were our only means of support.
My family and I were also victims of abuse and arrogance of
the Civil Investigations Police. On September 11, 1974, when
the dictator's adherents celebrated the anniversary of the
coup at Bustamente Park, an agent who identified himself with
his official badge stormed into our apartment. He informed
us that he would remain there for security reasons. He entered
our bedroom and lay down on our bed. After several hours he
My health was directly affected. I started suffering continual
nightmares of being interned in a concentration camp. I lived
under permanent anxiety and insecurity due to the fear of
being detained again.
Under the circumstances that I have described above and the
pressure from surveillance 24 hours a day by agents by DINA
agents who had set up a station inside our apartment building,
my wife and I decided to apply to immigrate to Canada. We
arrived October 26, 1976 and were given the opportunity to
freely make a meaningful life in this country.
I make this affidavit in the city of Edmonton, Province of
Alberta, Canada. I declare that all I have written is the
truth and nothing but the truth. I take full legal and civil
responsibility for I have said here.
LANDY AURELIO GRANDON LEON
to "Reclaiming Memory"