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Chile launches push to find people disappeared in Pinochet era

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As Chile approaches the 50th anniversary of its 1973 coup, the country’s government has launched an initiative to search for people who disappeared during the authoritarian rule of General Augusto Pinochet. The National Search Plan aims to locate the remains of people who were forcibly disappeared or executed during the post-coup repression that lasted until 1990.

 The plan was announced by President Gabriel Boric on Wednesday, coinciding with the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. He said that the commitment to truth and justice is “inextinguishable” and that the state has a responsibility to find the missing victims.

 According to official figures, 1,469 people went missing as a result of forced disappearances and 377 were executed without their remains being returned to their families. Only 307 of them have been identified so far. Some of them were thrown into the sea or buried in mass graves across the country.

 The plan will seek to establish the circumstances and conditions under which each person was disappeared, guarantee access to government records, and provide reparations and guarantees for victims’ families. It will also centralize information on the missing victims, who have been symbolically included on the electoral roll since 2021.

 The plan is the result of eight months of consultations with victims’ families and other organizations. It is considered a permanent state policy and will be coordinated by the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

 The announcement comes as Chile prepares to mark 50 years since the military coup that overthrew the democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende and installed Pinochet as a dictator. During his 17-year rule, more than 40,000 people were victims of human rights violations, including imprisonment, torture, exile, and assassination.

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