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Police Suppress Demonstrations Protesting Killings Of Dissidents

March 31, 1985

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) _ Riot police used clubs and water cannons Sunday to disperse hundreds of demonstrators protesting the murders of two political dissidents and a painter who had been kidnapped by armed gangs.

Witnesses said seven people were slightly injured and at least six people were arrested during the demonstration in front of the Roman Catholic cathedral in central Santiago.

Some of the demonstrators fled into the cathedral where Archbishop Juan Francisco Fresno was expressing his ″indignant rejection″ of the killings. He ended his homily quickly as scores of screaming people rushed into the church.

Two major opposition groups, the Christian Democrats and the Popular Democratic Movement, a Marxist coalition, claimed the military government’s security agents may have been involved in the murders.

President Augusto Pinochet’s government said it has nothing to do with the deaths and ordered an investigation. Sunday newspapers quoted an ″official spokesman,″ who was not identified, as saying the murderers probably were extremists seeking to cause unrest.

Kidnapped and killed were Manuel Guerrero, a regional secretary of the Marxist-led Chilean School Teachers Association; Jose Manuel Parada, a communist sociologist and human rights activist, and Santiago Nattino, a painter.

Their bodies were found Saturday in a field near Santiago’s international airport by a farm laborer, Jose Antonio Ruiz. He told reporters, ″All three were horribly slashed on the throat with deep cuts from a knife.″

Parada and Guerrero were kidnapped Friday by three gunmen at the Santiago school where Guerrero taught. Parada was there to drop off his son for classes. Another teacher, Leopoldo Munoz, was shot in the stomach when he tried to stop the adbuctors.

Nattino and four teachers were seized Thursday night by 10 armed men who raided the Teachers Association office. There was speculation Nattino may have been kidnapped by mistake because he rented a studio next to the union office.

The four teachers were released several hours later and said they had been beaten and asked ″political questions.″

Alejandro Traverso, secretary-general of the Teachers Association, said police entered the union’s office Sunday, arrested three people and tore down a petition asking the government for an explanation for the murders.

The Christian Democratic Party issued a statement on the killings saying ″it is impossible to believe that an action like that can be carried out without the complicity of the security services or of persons linked to them.″

Jose Sanfuentes, a spokesman for Popular Democratic Movement, said the government ″will never be able to evade its direct responsibility.″

The Chilean Human Rights Commision said methods used by the kidnappers were similar to those of government agents who have seized hundreds of dissidents since the 1973 military coup.

Pinochet, the army commander, led the coup that ousted the elected government of Marxist President Salvador Allende. The military said Allende committed suicide in his office with a carbine that was a gift from Cuban President Fidel Castro, but his supporters said he was slain by soldiers.