The Inferno: A Story of Terror and Survival in Chile

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    As a member of Salvador Allende’s Personal Guards (GAP), Luz Arce worked with leaders of the Socialist Party during the Popular Unity Government from 1971 to1973. In the months following the coup, Arce served as a militant with others from the Left who opposed the military junta led by Augusto Pinochet, which controlled the country from 1973 to1990. Along with thousands of others in Chile, Arce was detained and tortured by Chile’s military intelligence service, the DINA, in their attempt to eliminate alternative voices and ideologies in the country. Arce’s testimonial offers the harrowing story of the abuse she suffered and witnessed as a survivor of detention camps, such as the infamous Villa Grimaldi.
    But when faced with threats made to her family, including her young son, and with the possibility that she could be murdered as thousands of others had been, Arce began to collaborate with the Chilean military in their repression of national resistance groups and outlawed political parties. Her testimonial thus also offers a unique perspective from within the repressive structures as she tells of her work as a DINA agent whose identifications even lead to the capture of some of her former friends and compañeros. 
    During Chile’s return to democracy in the early 1990s, Arce experienced two fundamental changes in her life that led to the writing of her story. The first was a deep spiritual renewal through her contacts with the Catholic Church whose Vicariate of Solidarity had fought for human rights in the country during the dictatorship. The second was her decision to participate within the legal system to identify and bring to justice those members of the military who were responsible for the crimes committed from 1973 to1990. Luz Arce’s book invites readers to rethink the definition of testimonial narrative in Latin America through the unique perspective of a survivor-witness-confessor.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Powerful reading. . . . A devastating book . . . [which] itself became part of an important controversy within Chile at the time of its appearance, about whether former leftists and secret police collaborators should be welcomed or rejected in society, and by whom."—Steve Stern, author of Peru’s Indian Peoples and the Challenge of Spanish Conquest

"The Inferno is a searing and haunting memoir of one woman’s journey through the hell of Pinochet’s torture chambers and secret police."—Peter Winn, Tufts University

“Arce’s testimony . . . draws from her direct proximity to and experiences of the machinery of violent death.”—Patrick Timmons, Latin American Research Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780299195540
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2004
  • Series: Living in Latin America Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 402
  • Sales rank: 1,526,235
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Luz Arce is a freelance writer living in Santiago, Chile.

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Table of Contents

A Note on This Translation xi
Acknowledgments xiii
Prologue xv
Preliminary Thoughts xix
Part 1
Early Experiences 3
In the GAP (Group of Personal Friends of the President) 5
Socialist Militant 8
GEA (Special Support Groups) 10
September 11, 1973 15
Clandestine Life 24
A Personal Choice 25
Contact on Italia Avenue 28
Party Work 29
Ricardo Ruz Zanartu 32
At the Yucatan Detention Center 35
Tejas Verdes 41
Military Hospital (Hosmil) 47
Other Prisoners at the Hosmil 52
Conversation with the Assistant Director 55
The Chaplain and the Eucharist 57
Nightmare in the Bathroom 59
Rodolfo, Air Force Soldier 61
End of the First Detention 63
Freedom under Surveillance 65
Second Detention 73
My Grandfather 76
Private Rodolfo Under Interrogation 82
In the Tower at Villa Grimaldi 85
Back to the Yucatan Detention Center 89
Ricardo Lawrence Mires 92
Collaboration 95
Further and Further 105
Nightmares 107
Marcelo Moren Brito 110
At the Yucatan Detention Center Again 112
A Companero from the Party 113
Mario Aguilera Salazar 114
Another Detention Center 117
You Are Luz, I Will Be Sombra 119
Osvaldo Romo 124
Cuatro Alamos 128
The Unborn One 129
Part 2
Ollague Detention Center 133
Traitor and Whore 142
Palmira Almuna Guzman, "Pepa" 146
Lieutenant "Pablo" 147
My Lung Infection and My Last Meeting with My Brother 151
Thoughts at Ollague 152
Hunger for Bread 154
Seeing My Family 154
Female Personnel at Ollague 155
Lumi Videla Moya 158
Sergio Perez Molina 164
The Day Miguel Died 166
Alejandra's Suicide Attempt 168
Captain Ferrer, Alias "Max Lenou" 169
The Terranova/Villa Nova Grimaldi Detention Center 173
Another Christmas Present 176
Christmas 1974 177
New Year's Eve at Terranova 178
Investigation 183
My Son and Family Court 185
Creating the Vampiro Group 186
Rolf Wenderoth Pozo 187
A Companero: "Joel" 195
Bill Beausire Alonso 196
Hugo Martinez, Alias "Tano" 197
The Eight from Valparaiso 199
Lautaro Videla's Arrest 201
Marcelo Moren Brito's Nephew 202
The Press Conference 202
The Little House Next to the Tower 203
Major Wenderoth's Trip 204
General Bonilla's Death 206
Alfredo Rojas's Arrest 207
Delia 208
Ariel Mancilla 210
Pedro Espinoza's Trip 210
The Cigarette Case 212
Leonardo Schneider, Alias "El Barba" 217
DINA Employee 219
"Marcos's" Escape 220
The Arrests of Ricardo Lagos, Exequiel Ponce, and Carlos Lorca Tobar 221
At the San Borja Towers 222
The 119 223
An Incident with Fuentes Morrison 224
Battle on Malloco Street 225
Christmas at Terranova 229
Patricio 230
Hasbun and Contreras 234
Testimony before the United Nations 234
Analyst at the Department of Intelligence 236
Edgardo Enriquez Espinoza 238
OAS Meeting in Chile 239
Carmelo Soria 240
The DINA behind Criminal Acts 240
My Son's Visit with His Father 241
National Intelligence School 244
After the National Intelligence School 253
"Chaty," Army Second Lieutenant 254
Uruguayan Identity 255
Change from the DINA to the CNI 257
Colonel Contreras 259
Contreras's Promotion to General 264
Contreras Is Replaced 267
Michael Townley 269
Farewell Reception at the General's House 270
Incident with Colonel Pantoja 272
Rolf Wenderoth's Resignation 273
Interval in San Antonio 275
The CNI Investigates the DINA 277
Another Meeting with Pantoja 278
Colonel Suau 279
The Trial and the Incident with Colonel Concha 281
Part 3
In the CNI's Computer Unit 287
Peace and Instability 289
Letter of Resignation 294
Fragments of an Identity 297
Operation Celeste 300
An Incident at the Munchen Restaurant 303
Dolly's Place 304
Visitors from Chile 307
Trip to Santiago 310
Back to Montevideo 311
Return to Chile 313
Ricardo Ruz's Death 314
Meeting Juan Manuel 316
In Hiding Again 319
Pain and Happiness in My Family 319
Conversion and Father Gerardo 321
Father Jose Luis 324
Declaration before the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission 326
Carlos Fresno 330
Meeting with Erika and Viviana 332
In Europe 336
Above All a Christian 337
On Hatred and Reencounters 338
Gloria Olivares 340
The Chilean Bureau of Investigation 341
In the Courts 343
Encounter with Rolf Wenderoth Pozo 344
Encounters with Gerardo Urrich and Manuel Carevic 346
Basclay Zapata, Alias "El Troglo" 348
Fernando Lauriani 350
Miguel Krassnoff Martchenko 354
Face-to-Face with Marcelo Moren Brito 355
Encounter with Ricardo Lawrence Mires 357
Other Court Proceedings 358
Maria Alicia, Alias "Carola," Alejandra, and Luz 360
Dobra Lusic Nadal 363
"I Did Not Do This for Me Alone" 364
From Slavery to Freedom 365
How Can I Hate Someone Who Could Someday Be My Brother? 366
The Iron Fist 371
Index 373
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