Chile: Patricia Verdugo Aguirre

We should preserve in adults the confident and joyful attitude of small children.”

— Patricia Verdugo Aguirre

Patricia Verdugo is a Chilean journalist and writer. She has oriented her work towards human rights, covering the period before, during and after the military government (1973-1990), and to the promotion of democracy. Since 1979, she has written more than ten books concerning what happened during the dictatorship in Chile. She has received a number of awards: in 1997, in Chile, the National Journalism Prize; in 1993, in the United States, the María Moors Cabot Prize; and in 2000, the Latin American Studies Association recognized her work.

Journalist and writer, she is the daughter of an executed politician and sister of a member of the military. Patricia Verdugo Aguirre, opponent of the military regime set up in Chile from 1973 to 1990, joined the thousands of people who denounced the violations of human rights in her country and who were actively working for the return of democracy. In 1977, she became the co-founder of the magazine ‘Hoy’ (Today), a publication that, along with other written media, maintained an independent and critical position in face of the dictatorship. Her father's murder prompted her to join the protest movement of many women who were searching for truth and justice. In 1983, she co-founded the Women's Movement for Life, which–along with other women's groups–protested against general Augusto Pinochet and his military regime. Her books, based on rigorous journalistic studies, are crucial, not only for the preservation of historical memory and to promote the human rights, but also for judicial trials. One of them, ‘Los Zarpazos del Puma’ (The Claw Marks of the Puma) (1985), served as a basis for the investigation of the Caravan of Death, which involved the imprisonment of top intelligence chiefs. Besides the books named above, she also wrote: Una herida abierta (1979), André de La Victoria (1984), Quemados Vivos (Burnt Alive) (1986), Operación Siglo XX (Operation XX Century) (1990), Tiempos de días claros (Times of Clear Days) (1990), Interferencia Secreta (Secret Interference) (1997), Bucarest 187 (2001), Allende: cómo la Casa Blanca provocó su muerte (Allende: how the White House provoked his death) (2003), De la Tortura (no) se habla, (About torture, [no] one talks) (2005), among other books.