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Regiment Tucapel

Temuco; Region IX

        The Infantry Regiment No. 8, Tucapel, was another of the regiments utilized as a center of torture by elements of the Army in the days following the military coup. Regiment Tucapel, together with the 2nd Police Station of Temuco, is closely linked with the detention, torture and subsequent murder of a number of political prisoners of the region: Juan Antonio Chávez Rivas, Juan Carlos Ruiz Mancilla, Victor Hugo Valenzuela Velasquez, Amador Francisco Montero, Pedro Mardones Jofré.

 Under the pretext of a "state of war," massive arrests and grave violations of human rights were effected in the city of Temuco. A vast number of detainees were brutally tortured by beatings, rape, humiliation and electric shock. During this period, six regional directors, among them an invalid, were murdered by members of the Army and Police. According to the "official version" of that time, on the 10th of November, 1973, these six persons had been "...taken down during an attempted armed take-over of the Tucapel Regiment..." Subsequent investigations, however, show that all had died from torture received during detention at the Tucapel Regiment. Records compiled by families of the victims and the witness of persons who were detained together with the six show that without exception they had been detained several days before the supposed "confrontation" and were deprived of liberty in the Tucapel Regiment, where they had been tortured to death. In the first instance, a number of the detained had been transferred to the Second Police Station immediately after their arrest, where they were tortured and then moved to the Tucapel Regiment, where their suffering continued. In the case of Juan

Carlos Ruiz, he was detained previously in Punta Arenas, tortured there and then transferred to Temuco only to be executed, showing a clear national coordination in the extermination process that had been planned against political bosses of that time. Autopsies carried out in the days after the killings indicated that the corpses of the victims showed clear signs of torture. In many cases their bodies were almost completely destroyed with multiple fractures and riddled with bullets. In the case of Amador Montero and Victor Hugo Valenzuela, the injuries were consistent with blows to the head so violent that their skulls were crushed.

Testimonies of survivors have helped establish that Tucapel Regiment was much used as a center of torture for political prisoners from that region. The political prisoners of Temuco and its environs were first taken to the Temuco Jail, where they were processed. They were then transferred in military trucks to Tucapel Regiment to be tortured. According to investigations by the Visiting Ministers (that examined some of the cases of disappeared prisoners of the region), Arellano Stark and his retinue (the so-called "Caravan of Death"), had been at the Tucapel Regiment during this period and would have been directly involved in the disappearance ofmany political prisoners of that time.


Criminals and Collaborators

Army: Colonel Hernán Ramírez (Intendant of Cautín Province and Chief of the Zone in the state of emergency at that time), Commandant Pablo Iturriaga Marchesse (Tucapel Regiment), Major Luis Cofre, Captain Nelson Ubilla Toledo, Lieutenant Manuel Vázquez Chaguan, Lieutenant Jaime García Covarrubias, Lieutenant Raimundo García Covarrubias, another lieutenant whose last name was Espinoza, the recruit Juan Carrillo, a sergeant Moreno.

Police: Sergeant Juan Fritz, Corporal Omar Burgos Leylan ( both members of the Second Police Station of Temuco).

Civilians: Mario Olate Melo (Minister of the Appeals Court of Temuco).

 Sources: Informe Rettig; Book: "La Noche Del Diez de November (The Night of the Tenth of November); www.australtemuco.cl; www.diarioelgong.cl; Memoriaviva Archives.



July 13, 2003

The movement of the Caravan of Death through "La Araucanía" is being investigated. During recent weeks, "La Araucanía" has become the epicenter of various inquiries that visiting ministers and judges are developing to try to deal with the question of what happened to "disappeared" prisoners after the military coup of September 11, 1973. Visiting Minister Fernando Carreño who is looking into the disappearance of 25 people, has focused his attention on Cautín Island (where the bodies of "disappeared" prisoners would most likely have been buried). And one can add to this the investigations of Minister Daniel Calvo who has ordered the arrest of two uniformed and two civilian individuals registered as residing in the commune of Lautaro. It is now a week since personnel of the Fifth Police Department of Investigations were transferred to Region IX in compliance with orders given by Visiting Minister Juan Guzmán Tapia, who is attempting to establish the movements of the Caravan of Death through the Ninth Region.

During their stay in the capital of "La Araucanía", the specialized personnel of the Metropolitan Region (Santiago), questioned civilians and former uniformed individuals who could provide records that would enable the judge to establish with precision that on the 2nd and 3rd of October, '73, Arellano Stark and his retinue were in the region of the capital, using Temuco as his base of operations.

Among the civilians who made statements is the coordinator of the Center for Investigations and Promotion of Human Rights (Cinprodh), Victor Maturana, who handed over valuable records he had obtained while confined at Infantry Regiment No. 8, Tucapel.


In the decade of the '60s, Victor Maturana entered the School for Carabineros (Police), because he felt a need to involve himself in public service. Once in the ranks, he was able to perceive various injustices that would alter his way of viewing the social and political context in his country. In 1970, he left the institution after an administrative summary, but with a different view of what was happening around him. In 1973, he began studies at the Temuco branch of the University of Chile, involving himself in the "Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionario (MRI)" (Revolutionary Movement of the Left). On the 13th of September of that year, he was arrested by military personnel and charged with treason - because he had once been in uniform. He was taken to a jail in the capital region (Temuco Jail), where began a nightmare that would last until 1975, when he was transferred to the Santiago Penitentiary as a political prisoner sentenced to life imprisonment. In January of '76, his sentence was commuted and he was exiled from the country. After returning, this man of now 62 has dedicated a large part of his life to promoting human rights and also to supporting investigations that may establish the final resting places of the "disappeared," which in "La Araucanía, as well as the rest of the country, remains an open wound.


Is there a disappearance in Temuco that occurred precisely on that date?:  "Yes, there are some things that happened. Just at that time when the Caravan of Death passed through here, there were some executions, particularly in the Tucapel Regiment. I remember the case of Guido Troncoso Pérez, who was executed October 2 in that military precinct."

What record did the Caravan of Death leave of its passage through Araucanía?: "I remember one occasion - around the first of October, 1973. While I was in a cell that was located near a guard post, awaiting my turn to be tortured, I noticed that there was a flurry of activity on the part of the guards. They were sweeping the patio, cleaning everything. I asked one that was sweeping near me why all the activity and he just said they were expecting a visit. That was all he said. A little while later, I heard a helicopter that had landed in the regimental patio.

Was it the Puma, Arellano Stark's helicopter? I don't know.

What other information did you relay to the Fifth Department?: "While I was in that same cell - I don't remember exactly what day it was - two officers came in. They were relatively young (from their look, I thought they could be lieutenants), and they were accompanied by another officer from the regiment. What stood out for me was that the two young officers were wearing camouflage and their faces were painted. They came into my cell and while they were watching me one of them observed, 'you can't have any compassion for these bastards.' He spit at me and they left. From their attire, they were not from the Tucapel Regiment, but I don't know what unit they were from."

What was the routine for a prisoner in those days?: "From the start, the center of detention was the Temuco Jail. From there we were taken in a military vehicle to the Regiment where we were tortured. We were kept there two days at the end of which those who had survived were taken back to the jail."

What kinds of torture did you receive at the Tucapel Regiment?: "It's not easy to remember everything that happened. First and most basic was the electric shock. Once we arrived (always blindfolded), we were stripped naked and made to stretch out on a metal cot - the grill, they called it. We were tied to it and cables of live current were applied to our genitals, to our mouth, to every part of us....every part."

 What other forms of torture were used?: "We were beaten frequently. They all did it. They all wiped their boots and hands on us. They also employed the so-called "submarine." There were two kinds: dry and wet.  In the first, they put a large plastic bag over you and tied it at the waist. You were hermetically sealed inside. Then they left you like that until you began to suffocate. When you were about to pass out, they loosened the bag, let you recover a bit, and repeated it. They did this several times. In the second version, you were bound and your head submerged in a drum of  sewage water.

When you were about to drown, they pulled you out, let you recover a bit and repeated the same procedure over and over. And they employed the feigned execution. It proceeded all the way to their firing on you - but the bullets were blanks. They also used Pentothal injections - considered the "truth drug." The injection leaves you totally unconscious, but before losing consciousness, there is a period in which you can be manipulated by the interrogator."

In these interrogations, what did they ask?: "Where are the weapons? The first thing they asked us was to name our companions and declare the weapons. Supposedly we were all armed to the teeth."

Were there doctors who advised the torturers in all this work?: "Clearly in applying "Pentothal" they had to be supervised by doctors. There were doctors who determined whether or not a subject could withstand the torture."

And where in the military precinct did all this occur?: "We always imagined that it took place in the gymnasium, but because we were blindfolded we couldn't see our surroundings."

Have you forgiven?: "That's a very personal thing. And I respect the opinions of others linked to cases of Human Rights. In my own mind, I think I have forgiven. What I keep finding in the streets, whenever I run into someone I know participated in torture, is that my only reaction is to face them. And that's a sign I've forgiven. I've understood that you can't live a sane life possessed by hatred. But that doesn't mean you forget."

Who made up the Court Martial in your case?: "It was composed of representatives from branches of the Armed Forces. But what struck me was that it was presided over by a minister of the Appeals Court of Temuco, Mario Olate Melo who arrived dressed in military uniform."

 Sometimes, in moments of reflection, Víctor Maturana remembers his time as a member of the police. Those images underlie the cold nights in the cells, where he shared the pain of dozens of others, some of whom he would never see again - such as Jaime Eltit, Omar Venturelli, Luis Almonacid, to mention only a few.





Lawyer Rodrigo Luciano Lillo brought criminal charges against army uniformed officers and police for various crimes, among them torture and homicide on behalf of the families of those who, after September 11th, 1973, were executed by military personnel. The executed had been accused by authorities of attempting to blow up a gunpowder magazine in the Tucapel Regiment of Temuco. This case was one of the most emblematic in the context of the prosecution of human rights in that region.

The indictment indicates in one of its parts that "The official version of the facts was given through a Proclamation of the Intendant of Cautín and was published in the "Diario Austral" of Temuco on the 11th, 12th, and 13th of November, 1973. According to this version, the victims died when they assaulted and tried to explode the gunpowder magazine of the Tucapel Regiment, and were executed by military personnel with their weapons of combat."

Following is the text of the suit presented before the extraordinary visiting minister, Fernando Carreño, the version of the association of lawyers for human rights,



 IN THE MAIN: deduce criminal charges for the indicated crimes. FIRST ADDENDUM: deny bail for slander. SECOND ADDENDUM: accompanying documents. THIRD ADDENDUM: investigations. FOURTH ADDENDUM: take into consideration. FIFTH ADDENDUM: power of attorney.


 RODRIGO LUCIANO LILLO VERA, C.I. 9.983.342-4, lawyer, residing at 696 Arturo

Prat street, office 415, commune and city of Temuco, at US. I., respectfully declares:

In this action, and representing SERGIO VALENZUELA VELÁSQUEZ, GASTÓN PATRICIO VALENZUELA VELÁSQUEZ, JAVIER ANIBAL CHAVEZ RIVAS, ECARNACIÓN ALARCÓN MUÑOZ, all listed individually in the attached warrant which I petition be taken as part of this presentation, I bring criminal charges against HERNÁN RAMIREZ RAMIREZ, army colonel, Intendant of the Province of  Cautín and Head of the Zone when in a state of emergency, JUAN FRITZ, police sergeant, LUIS COFRÉ, army major, NELSON UBILLA TOLEDO, army captain, MANUEL VÁSQUEZ CHAGNAU, army lieutenant, JAIME GARCÍA OVARRUBIAS, army lieutenant, RAIMUNDO CARCÍA CARRILLO, military, OMAR BURGOS LEYAN, police corporal, and an army sergeant MORENO, JUAN CARRILLO, army recruit, and against all those who bear responsibility whether as authors, accomplices or shelterers, for the crimes of illegal arrest, kidnapping, homicide, application of tortures, association for the purpose of committing genocide, sanctioned on the date of the facts in articles 391 No. 1, 292, 148 and 150 of the Penal Code, as related to article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949; Article 4.2 of Protocol II, in addition to the cited agreements "On the Protection of Victims of non-International Armed Conflicts," as well as all the laws of the Republic in effect on the date that the acts against FLORENTINO ALBERTO MOLINA RUIZ, JUAN ANTONIO CHAVEZ RIVAS and VICTOR HUGO VALENZUELA VELÁSQUEZ were committed. Likewise, I bring charges for the crimes committed against JUAN CARLOS RUIZ MANCILLA, AMADOR FRANCISCO MONTERO MOSQUERA and PEDRO JUAN MARDONES JOFRÉ.

 I base these charges on records of the facts and the rights we are here to put forward:


After the 11th of September, 1973, the victims of the cited crimes, executed political prisoners, all members and heads of the Communist Party of Chile at that time, were arrested under circumstances listed below according to the specifics of the case. The "arrests" were made by persons who were neither in uniform nor carried identification but who belonged to the security services of the armed forces and the Temuco police - "SICAR." Later the prisoners were moved to the Tucapel Regiment where they were executed the 10th of November, 1973 by personnel of that military unit.

The official version of the facts was given by way of the Proclamation of the Intendant of Cautín and published in the "Diario Austral" of Temuco on the 11th, 12th, and 13th of November, 1973. According to this version, the victims died while assaulting and trying to explode the gunpowder magazine of the Tucapel Regiment. They were executed by military personnel with their combat weapons. According to records presented during the trial, and others that appeared in the course of investigation, this information is totally distorted and its true intention revealed: to hide the assassination of important bosses of the Communist Party of that time. The official version is seen to be absurd because all the executed were prisoners in the police unit, some of them showing visible signs of having been tortured, as in the cases of PEDRO MARDONES JOFRÉ, AMADOR MONTERO, VICTOR HUGO VALENZUELA VELÁSQUEZ and FLORENTINO ALBERTO MOLINA RUIZ. Their deaths are explained in the pertinent certified document as a product of "encephalic cranial attrition" (crushed skull produced by blows from a heavy instrument).

 1. FLORENTINO ALBERTO MOLINA RUIZ:    Born the 28th of December, 1928, living (at that time) at 1318 Miraflores street, Temuco, married to the plaintiff CARNACIÓN ALARCON MUÑOZ. He was arrested at home the 5th of November, 1973 at 6:00 PM by two plain clothes men, employees of the Police Intelligence Service (SICA), Juan Fritz and Corporal Omar Burgos Leyán, both of the Second Police Station of Temuco. He was taken in a red wagon to that Police Station where he passed the night. The following morning, he was conducted to the Tucapel Regiment, supposedly by order of Commander Pablo Iturriaga M. and Army Major Luis Cofré. He stayed there five days. On the 11th of November, his wife and children gathered at the guard post to ask about him, as was the usual custom. At first, they were informed that he had been given his liberty. But when the wife protested, they said she should look in the jail. When he wasn't found there, they returned to the Regiment. On their return, and with the persistence of the family, a guard signaled, between sobs, that they return next day to claim the man's belongings.. Later, they were informed that the previous night seven detainees had been "put down."

The following day, the wife of FLORENTINO MOLINA went to Major Cofré, who insisted that he knew nothing about such an execution and suggested she go to the morgue to identify the body and confirm the death of her husband. The body of the victim was in terrible condition: the left arm was destroyed, the right temple bore a large hole, there were bullet wounds in the jaw and throughout the body. His death report shows that the cause of death was a crushed skull and multiple bullet wounds. An action of the Military Unit. FLORENTINO MOLINA RUIZ was, up to September 11, 1973, a member of the Central Committee and Regional Secretary  in Cautín of the Communist Party.

2. JUAN ANTONIO CHAVEZ RIVAS:   Born June 30, 1947, married, student at the State Technical University in Temuco, living at that time at 051 Diego de Almagro, Temuco, brother of plaintiff JAVIER CHAVEZ RIVAS. He was arrested September 13, 1973 in the house of friends. The arrest was made by members of Group N0. 3 of the Chilean Air Force (FACH). He was transferred to that unit where he remained until two o'clock in the morning of the 14th. From there he was taken to the Tucapel Regiment. And then, the same day, he was taken to a jail where, after several days held incommunicado, he was let go.

On November 6, he was again arrested, this time by JUAN FRITZ and OMAR BURGOS, members of police from the second police station. They did not show identification and indicated that they were taking him to the Military Attorney to make a declaration. The detainee was transported in a red truck to the second police station. Only next day would he be moved to the Tucapel Regiment. Time and again, it was denied to family members that he was there, in spite of the fact that on Saturday the 10th, they could spy him facing the command, being tightly held. Later, and after many evasions, they were informed that JUAN ANTONIO CHAVEZ was dead, and that his body was at the morgue. His death certificate stated that he had died November 10th at 11:45 PM in the military precinct, as a result of a crushed skull and multiple bullet wounds.  An action of the Military Unit. Until September 11, 1973, JUAN ANTONIO CHAVEZ was egional Secretary and  member of the Central Committee of Communist Youth (JJCC).

 3. VICTOR HUGO VALENZUELA VELÁSQUEZ: Born August 7, 1951, public employee, single, living at that time at 1911 Manuel Montt street, Temuco; brother of SERGIO and GASTÓN VALENZUELA VELÁSQUEZ. He was arrested November 7, 1973 about ten o'clock in the morning at his place of work, in the Real Estate Registry of Temuco, by plain clothes individuals one of whom was Sergeant Moreno. They identified themselves as belonging to the Intelligence Service. He was arrested in front of other employees: Oscar Espinoza, Doris Melgarejo, Eleodoro Villarroel, Mireya Díaz, Magdalena Sandoval, Ana Seguel and Sonia Sepúlveda.

At the moment of the arrest, the Registry tried to intervene, but the plain clothes men indicated that this was just a routine matter and that he would be back at work later. When he did not return, the employees telephoned the lawyer Alfonso Podlech who indicated that the detainee could be found at the Tucapel Regiment. Sonia Sepúlveda went there immediately.

The father of the victim tried to get information and, through an Army Corporal, was able to make contact and verify that his son was indeed being detained at that precinct. It took him at least three days to get him some clothes and blankets. On the 12th of November he went to the Regiment, alerted by information in the newspapers and was informed that his son had died. He went to the morgue where he identified his son and saw that he had been wearing the clothing he'd sent. The death report showed the cause of death as "crushed skull and multiple bullet wounds." An action of the military unit. VICTOR HUGO VALENZUELA VELÁSQUEZ was Communications Secretary for the Communist Youth of Cautín.

 4. JUAN CARLOS RUIZ MANCILLA:    Born April 17, 1952, single, student of civil construction at the State Technical University in Temuco, residing at that time at 051 Diego de Almagro street, Temuco, brother-in-law of complainant, JAVIER ANIBAL CHAVEZ RIVAS. After the events of September 11, 1973, he traveled to Punta Arenas where his parents lived.  There, on the 7th of November, he was arrested and transported by plane to Temuco, where he was taken immediately to the Tucapel Regiment. He was seen there, together with JUAN ANTONIO CHAVEZ. Handcuffed and blindfolded, they were conducted to the office of the Military Attorney. The cause of death was "Shock, multiple fractures of the pelvis and right femur, multiple contusions and bullet wounds." JUAN CARLOS RUIZ MANCILLA was a member of the Communist Youth (JJCC).

5. AMADOR FRANCISCO MONTERO MOSQUERA:  Single, student at the State Technical University, he was arrested on the street and taken to the Tucapel Regiment. He was executed the night of November 10, 1973. The death certificate gave the cause of death as "Crushed skull and multiple bullet wounds."AMADOR MONTERO MOSQUERA was a member of the Communist Youth.

 6. PEDRO JUAN MARDONES JOFRÉ:  Single, student at the State Technical University, arrested at home, taken to the Tucapel Regiment, where he died November 10, 1973, during the night in circumstances similar to those already described. He was a member of the Communist Youth.

 Sources of information: Informe Rettig; Book, "La noche del 10 de noviembre" ("The night of the 10th of November"); Memoriaviva archives.

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