Relatives of Victims Refuse to Barter Money for Justice





May 24, 2003
Santiago, Chile

Today the Associations of Relatives of the Disappeared and Executed Political Prisoners throughout the country have come together to analyze and define our position regarding the "Proposal of the Independent Democratic Union."


The disappeared persons and persons executed for political motives are victims of crimes against humanity perpetrated by agents of the state of Chile during the military dictatorship. These crimes, which have universal jurisdiction, are not subject to statutes of limitation or amnesty laws. Consequently, the victims and we, their family members, are endowed with rights that may not be waived under any circumstances. Moreover, the democratic state has a moral, legal, political, and, above all, humanitarian obligation to prosecute the penal responsibilities in these crimes, as well as adequately "repair" the various forms of damage that derive from these crimes.


As if a well-staged theatrical presentation, the UDI keeps the country in suspense concerning its announced proposal to offer "a solution to the drama of the relatives." That this political party, which harbors human rights violators, ideologues and persons who hold political responsibility for the crimes, should emerge today as the humanitarian bearer of the frustrated demands of certain family members of the victims evokes repudiation, indignation and is offensive.

Considering the UDI's view that everything is an object of mercantile transaction, the offer should not surprise us. They insist on believing and acting as if everything could be bought and sold. They aspire to privatize even the issue of human rights and have no qualms in reaping political dividends from the pain of the families of the victims of a drama, of which they were accessories and bear responsibility. They make use of a real problem that is still unresolved, among other reasons, because they have counted on achieving impunity. Once again, they are mistaken. They will not succeed in deceiving us with this true reality show that they are intent upon orchestrating between victims and the perpetrators of the crimes. Never will they succeed in buying the dignity of our loved owns nor our own.

We recommend that they turn over the names of the perpetrators responsible for the crimes to the courts of justice. The failure to do so places them in a position of accessories or covering-up the crimes, and that is also a crime subject to law.


We do not judge you. All of us are direct family of the victims. We understand your desperation; we also feel it. We share an immense, indescribable and immeasurable pain. We regret, as you surely do, the mounting frustration almost 30 years after losing our loved ones. The needs you feel are familiar to us because we too have experienced them. We also respect different personal choices. However, we must sincerely recognize that the roads we travel are different, and that is painful to acknowledge. The road you have chosen will not prosper. Your frustration will increase and you will not obtain the truth seated around a table facing the assassins. Reparation is a right of all of us that we must exercise, but we do not have to give up justice in order to obtain these rights. The allies you have sought are precisely those who applauded the military coup and who, as civilians or in military uniform, abducted our kin to make them disappear or to execute them.


Because 30 years later this country has not resolved the issue of truth and justice for the victims of human rights violations.

Because at the beginning of the transition to democracy, the governments of the Concertation lacked the political will to confront this issues. Nor did they have the courage to tell the country what secret agreements they made with the Right to obstruct justice.

Because during many long years, during dictatorship and in democracy, the courts failed to fulfill their essential role to bring justice and unveil the truth. Only recently do we see progress that needs to be reinforced and fostered by every citizen.

Because Parliament has been incapable of undertaking legislative initiatives conducive of these objectives. It suffices to recall a single example: the bill to repeal the Amnesty Decree Law that has been filed away somewhere in the basement of Congress.

Because the democratic political parties have been weak, lacking initiatives, inoperable, and have distanced themselves from the victims of their own parties. They have failed to meet the expectations of the Chilean people and, particularly, the expectations of the Associations of Families of the Victims.


The historic demands of truth, justice and memory remain unchanged and our Associations will never relinquish them. For us the life, the death, and the disappearance of our loved ones have no price. No proposal in lieu of justice can ever be acceptable. We desire and need closure for our mourning in the only possible way: by sanctioning those who hold penal responsibility and reclaiming the role of our kin as social fighters. Reparation is a component of justice and is our right.

Our demands:

1. The Government must publicly reject the proposal that will be presented by the UDI.

2. The Courts must be more exacting in the investigation of every case related to disappeared persons and persons executed for political motives until achieving truth and justice.

3. Parliament, through its respective Human Rights Committees, forthwith repeal Decree Law 2191 (the Amnesty Law); promote the legal initiative that creates the crime of Forced Disappearance of Persons; and foster a law of Declaration of Forced Absence in order to solve the legal problems family members face.

4. The Government and Parliament sponsor the bill to amend Law 19,123 on Reparation that the Association will soon present.

5. The entire Chilean society must repudiate any attempt to exchange justice for money.

Associations of Families of the Disappeared and Persons Executed for Political Reasons of Iquique, Pisagua, Calama, La Serena, Santiago, Paine, Talca, Parral, Chillan, Los Angeles, Concepcion, Temuco, Valdivia, Osorno, Coyhaique.


May 28, 2003

The political parties and community leaders, who endorse this document, publicly pledge to support the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared in its search for truth, justice and reparation.

1. The forced disappearance of persons, as a method of repression practiced by the dictatorship, mean the disappearance of 1197 Chileans, dramatically affecting their families, as well as political or social group.

2. Thirty years after the Military Coup, we reiterate the pressing need for all branches of government to take up this still unresolved issue. The victims' families and society as a whole have the right - through justice - to know the truth, to see the perpetrators punished, and to measures of reparation for the moral damage caused.

3. The Armed Forces and Police have the duty to present the Courts with all information they possess regarding the fate of the disappeared persons as well as to purge their ranks of all individuals who participated in the execution and planning of terrorist policy of the state in dictatorship.

4. Parliament has the duty to legislate in conformance with international law that obligates states to respect the principle that "Crimes against humanity are not subject to statutes of limitation of amnesty laws."

5. The Judicial Branch has the obligation to intensify the investigation of human rights cases until reaching results incumbent to judicial investigations, namely determine the truth and penal sanction for those responsible for the crimes.

6. The Executive Branch must understand that the demands of the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared are unchangeable and must adopt all measures that may achieve our historic objectives.

7. Finally, we accept the task of publicizing, raising awareness, and seeking support, socializar for demands of the family of the victims as a commitment to the life and legacy of each disappeared person.



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