Patricio Alywin, in the first democratic election since the coup, replaced
as President of Chile. However, Pinochet still remains head of the military.
By June of that same
year, the remains of fifty people were discovered in mass graves through
out Chile. In Pisagua
alone, a town north of Calama, twenty-one bodies of local men were found.
Due to the extremely
dry climate and high concentration of nitrates in the earth, the bodies
were so well preserved that
mostwere easily identifiable.
With the change of government, more witnesses were willing to come forward.
As a result of
one such incident, On July 19th, 1990 the women were finally led to a mass
grave site fifteen
kilometers from Calama. Now began a new nightmare - the process of identification.
Pisagua, the bodies were not whole. It was determined that the men had been
crushed by military
bulldozers in the 1980's in an attempted cover-up to remove and transport
the bodies elsewhere.
What the women found were fragments of fingers, sections of spines and jaws,
pieces of skin, bits
of clothing, and strands of hair. These remains were sent to a forensic
lab in Santiago in the hopes
that some identifications could be made. One man was identified, Haroldo
Cabrera by a finger tip
alone, his print was still clear.
In February of 1991, the forensic lab returned a portion of the remains
unidentifiable. The women received sixty-one small bags each filled with
different body parts. The
bags arrived in three cardboard boxes measuring two by three feet. The women
placed the boxes in
a single coffin which they carried to the cemetery.
Paula Allen, Copyright 1996