Photo: Smoke from fire set by protesters at Tejas Verdes School of Engineers in Chile.
By Ed Dalton
In the context of a general strike across Chile where more than two million people were mobilized, on November 12 the people set fire to the Tejas Verdes School of Engineers in San Antonio, the site of one of Pinochet’s former fascist torture centers.
The fire set by protesters destroyed the main building as well as some of the other facilities used to train officers. The people also broke into a storage facility and expropriated supplies from the army.
The Tejas Verdes Complex had been operational as a fascist torture center, being one of the first precursors to Pinochet’s butchery before the CIA-backed military coup against Salvador Allende.
The torturers themselves were backed by the Brazilian army. First-hand reports recall hearing Portuguese spoken by the instructors as part of Operation Condor, a joint venture guided by US imperialism which collected various pro-fascist Latin American regimes.
The reactionary Chilean military has denounced the fire, claiming that it is harmful to the peace of the Chilean people. The same reactionaries, along with the police, are responsible for the murder of dozens of protesters in recent weeks and the overall oppression and exploitation of the Chilean people. Their peace is the type which Lenin described as “imperialist predatory peace,” which there is no way of getting out of without the overthrow of imperialism itself.
The death toll of Chilean protesters murdered by the state has increased to at least 23 since people began taking to the streets in mid-October. The Chilean Public Prosecution Service stated that seven of the victims died as a result of the actions of state agents, two of which occurred after police detention (summary execution). Reactionary prosecutors quibble that 16 of the dead protesters were killed during alleged “common crimes.”
Baquedano subway station, in Santiago, was reported by a 23-year-old protester as a torture site being used by the Chilean police as recently as October of this year. The Chilean National Institute of Human Rights reported that there were as many as 19 official complaints of such centers being used against demonstrators in the popular revolt. Materials used to tie people up as well as blood were found in the subway reported by the torture survivor, who upon release was treated by Red Cross.
The modern existence of such centers highlights the history of fascism in Chile, which according to many Chileans was never fully overcome. Protests that started out due to public transportation fare hikes adopted the revolutionary slogan, “this is not for 30 pesos, but for 30 years!” meaning that 30 years of oppression and exploitation have continued since the end of the Pinochet regime.
The burning of an infamous fascist torture center only confirms such a slogan. The masses of Chile who rise in rebellion against reaction are the real heroes, the flames themselves symbolize a change in the sky, the need to smash the old world to pieces and build a new one.