On September 11, 1973, the duly elected Socialist government of President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a military coup engineered by Col. Augusto Pinochet with the backing of the Nixon/Kissinger administration in Washington. President Allende died in his office and thousands of Chilean leftists were rounded up, forced into the National Stadium in Santiago and summarily executed. Two US citizens, Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi were also arrested, detained and murdered in Chile by Chilean military intelligence agents, Rafael Gonzalez and Pedro Espinoza.
In March 2015, Chilean Court Judge Jorge Zepeda found Gonzalez and Espinoza guilty of the murders and sentenced them to prison. Judge Zepeda’s ruling found that US intelligence agents had supplied confidential background information to the Chilean military on the “subversive” activities of the two murder victims.
Forty-two years later, these findings are of great significance in the human rights community and serve as an important reminder that the US government has and continues to provided derogatory and false information to foreign military dictatorships, as was the case in Chile under Pinochet and the Philippines, under Marcos.
The Charles Horman Truth Foundation, headed by Charles Horman’s widow Joyce, has carried the banner for justice for more than four decades. This harrowing story was written about in a book and later made into an award-winning movie, both called Missing.
Below are a few findings from Judge Zepeda’s decision that echo the complicity of US intelligence in the murders of Charles Horman and Frank Teruggi:
The court found that Charles Horman was murdered on Sept. 18 at 9:45am and concluded the murders occurred because “[Chilean military intelligence] had classified him as “subversive” for his work …in accordance with background information provided about him by US agents operating in Chile.”
On Sept. 15th, four days after the coup, Horman left Viña del Mar for Santiago transported by Ray Davis, Chief Official Commander of the U.S. Naval Group in Chile. This event facilitated and hastened Horman death. The court also found that the US State Department was aware of Horman’s “disappearance” before the murder but did nothing to assist him.
“…[B]etween the night of the September 21 and dawn of September 22, 1973, Frank Randall Teruggi Bombatch was killed outside the parameters of any legal proceeding by agents of the State, who had ordered his detention in the National Stadium, and those same agents abandoned his body in the streets of Santiago; Teruggi was killed by multiple gunshot wounds while he was detained by agents of the State.”
“..[T]he action taken against the life of Charles Edmund Horman Lazar occurred as a result of the secret U.S. investigation of U.S. citizens affected by data collection activities about their political activities in the U.S. and in Chile…”
“…[A]ccording to documents declassified by the U.S. Department of State, Frank Randall Teruggi Bombatch was the subject of a secret investigation carried out by U.S. agents during July, 1972 …”
“[A]s with Charles Edmund Horman Lazar, the action taken against Frank Randall Teruggi Bombatch falls within the secret investigations conducted against U.S. citizens as a result of a clandestine effort to collect data about the political activities they were engaged in; investigations carried out by agents of the U.S. Military Intelligence Group for America in Chile, with regard to political extremism both inside and outside of the U.S.”
“[T]hese crimes constitute, under International Human Rights Law, crimes against humanity, since this law categorizes said crimes as cruel, atrocious crimes, and serious violations of human rights; and given these elements, in this case they cannot go unpunished.
As in the Hormon and Teruggi case, the Philippine and US military intelligence agents were complicit in the summary executions of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes and also “ … cannot go unpunished.”