Chile: Viviana Elisa Díaz Caro

We would give our own lives in order to know what happened to our missing relatives and to make the executioners assume their responsibility.

— Viviana Elisa Díaz Caro

Since 1976, when her father was kidnapped by the Chilean Armed Forces, Viviana Díaz has never stopped looking for him. Along with the Association of Relatives of Disappeared Political Prisoners, she broke the wall of silence that tried to hide the facts from the world and from Chilean society's conscience. Her constant claims and protests saved uncountable lives from the claws of the Chilean dictatorship. Her fight for justice reached its highest point with the capture of General Pinochet, in London, in 1998.

“On September 11th, 1973, the day of the state coup led by General Augusto Pinochet, my life changed forever. That morning, my father left the house and never came back. I was 22 years old,” remembers Viviana Díaz. In 1976, Víctor “El Chino” Díaz, who was sub-secretary of the Communist Party, was living clandestinely far away from his beloved family when he was taken by force from his place of refuge. “From that moment on, a search began that has not yet finished.” While asking about the whereabouts of her father, Viviana found other families in the same situation and she joined the Association of Relatives of Disappeared Political Prisoners (Afdd). “Our aim was to find out where they were kept and to save their lives.” “The representatives of the Chilean government denied, both, to the relatives and to the world at large, the existence of ‘the tortured and the missing.’” The Afdd began an untiring campaign of protest, during which women chained themselves to the doors of the Ministries, began numerous hunger strikes and even went to the UN. “Although there came a time, when we understood that our loved ones were dead, the constant mobilization allowed us to save other lives and forced the dictatorship to modify its repressive strategy.” The dictatorship ended in 1990. Ten years later, General Pinochet was captured in London and extradited to Chile to be judged under a commitment made to the international community. The process is still running, as is the prosecution of 300 others held to be responsible for the exterminations. “In 2001, the army handed over information about 175 of the 1197 prisoners who had disappeared. They stated that my father had been thrown into the sea. What had happened to the others? We know that this information exists. Knowing the truth is the indispensable condition for the rebuilding of dignity and peace for Chile's future.”

Agrupación de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos (Association of Relatives of Disappeared Political Prisoners)