From state terrorism to state errorism: Post-pinochet Chile's long search for truth and justice

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Public Historian, 2010, 32 (1), pp. 31 - 44
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Patio 29 lies in the northern sector of Santiago's General Cemetery. To the naked eye, it is a grim unweeded field of some twelve hundred rusted tin crosses. But to the families of the 1,197 detained-disappeared during Augusto Pinochet's brutal dictatorship, Patio 29 is both a site of horror and a site of hope. Its story begins in September-December 1973 when 320 early victims of the repression were brought there in makeshift wooden crates that held as many as three bodies each, and buried in unmarked graves. A few years later, two hundred of those graves were exhumed by the military, and the remains presumably cremated. For another decade, the mass grave remained silent, yielding few of its secrets to the families' demands to know: Where are they? Today, nineteen years into the so-called transition to democracy, Patio 29-the most important single finding in relation to Chile's detained-disappeared-still refuses to reveal the identities of those victims, pressing upon the government of Michelle Bachelet a new question: Who are they? First state terror, now state error have conspired to make Patio 29 one of Chile's principal horror-cum-hopescapes. © 2010 by The Regents of the University of California and the National Council on Public History. All rights reserved.
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