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Chile after Pinochet - The Search for the Disappeared

May 10, 2024

Under Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship, thousands of Chileans disappeared without a trace.

DW Dokumentationen | Nahaufnahme Chile nach Pinochet
Image: SWR

Juan Eduardo Rojas-Vásquez lost his father and his brother. His quest to find out what happened to them led him to the Colonia Dignidad.

DW Dokumentationen | Nahaufnahme Chile nach Pinochet
Juan Eduardo Rojas-VásquezImage: SWR

For 50 years, Juan Eduardo Rojas-Vásquez has been trying to find out what happened to his father and older brother. In September 1973, General Augusto Pinochet seized power in Chile in a violent coup. One month later, Juan's father and brother were arrested and never seen again. The family lived near the Colonia Dignidad, home to a pseudo-religious German sect founded by Paul Schäfer, who was later convicted of child sex abuse. He allowed the Chilean secret police to set up a detention and torture center on the grounds of the colony.

Juan is convinced that his father and brother were murdered there, their bodies burned and buried. His father had been in a dispute with the landowner for whom he worked, while his brother was a member of the Communist Party - which was likely his death sentence. Now resident in Germany, Juan travels back to Chile in search of the truth about their disappearance.


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