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New life for properties used as detention and torture centers under Pinochet
Londres 38, located on a quaint cobblestone street in downtown Santiago, housed the offices of the Socialist Party until the day of the coup that vaulted Pinochet to power. Taken over by the military, the three-story building was used by the secret intelligence service DINA to hold and torture prisoners, mostly in 1974. About 70 prisoners at a time were forced to sit on chairs day and night while blindfolded, their feet and hands tied. Interrogations and torture would usually take place on the third floor. Detainees typically remained there no more than one month, before they were taken to other secret detention centers. According to reports, 96 people were executed or disappeared there. Thirteen of them were women, two of them pregnant.
The military eventually handed the property to the right-wing Instituto O’Higginiano, which, in an attempt to erase history, replaced the street number 38 with 40. Former prisoners, victims' relatives and others came together to turn the property into a memorial, which should be inaugurated in September. They have already changed the street number back to 38.
(Londres 38 as it looks today. Pascale Bonnefoy/Global Post)
(The entrance to Londres 38. Prisoners recall seeing the black and white tiles from beneath their blindfolds. Courtesy of http://kallejero.wordpress.com)
(About 70 prisoners would be held in these rooms, their hands and feet tied. Courtesy of http://kallejero.wordpress.com)
(Black and white tiles like those on the first floor of the building were placed in front of Londres 38 with the names, circumstances of death or disappearance and political affiliation of victims. Source: Colectivo Londres 38)