The Miami Herald
October 23, 1998

             Kin of Chile's terror victims rejoice

             News that Pinochet may finally face trial is cheered

             By TIM JOHNSON
             Herald Staff Writer

             SANTIAGO, Chile -- In the Soria household, news that Gen. Augusto Pinochet
             had been arrested in London for genocide, terrorism and torture brought whoops
             of joy.

             ``It was like Carnival around here,'' said 17-year-old Amalia.

             A special irony added to the joy. Pinochet's supporters complained that his
             diplomatic passport protected him from arrest at the London clinic where he is
             recuperating from back surgery.

             But the Sorias knew that a diplomatic passport didn't amount to a hill of beans
             during Pinochet's 17-year military regime. Amalia's grandfather, Carmelo Soria,
             held a diplomatic passport when he was snatched off the street by secret police on
             July 14, 1976, never to be seen alive again.

             Soria was a Spaniard, and his is one of the 94 cases that a Spanish judge, Baltasar
             Garzon, has used in his inquiry of Pinochet, which may lead to his extradition from
             Britain to Spain to stand trial.

             Joyce Horman has waited an eternity for this.

             Widow of Charles Horman, an American researcher and journalist who was killed
             after Pinochet's 1973 coup, she feels relief.

             ``Twenty-five years is a long time, but I can't help but feel glad about this arrest,''
             she said in a telephone interview from New York City, where she lives. ``It's a
             huge step for global human rights, and I am delighted.''

             Horman's disappearance received worldwide attention when it was portrayed in
             the 1982 movie Missing, starring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek.

             The pain still sears deeply in Horman's mother, Elizabeth, who is in her 90s, and
             also lives in New York: ``Nothing is going to bring my son back. He was

             Immunity from prosecution

             For many victims, hope was never bright that Pinochet might some day respond to
             charges that his regime killed 3,000 of its opponents, and sent at least 15,000
             more into exile. Pinochet towered too grandly, the nation's wounds were too deep,
             and the constitution that made Pinochet a senator-for-life gave him parliamentary
             immunity from prosecution.

             ``Here in Chile, it's been said that Pinochet is God. He's not God. For me, in total
             candor, he's more of a nightmare. But for 25 years, the country has been in his
             hands,'' said Gabriel Valdes, a Christian Democratic senator and former foreign

             ``Truthfully, I never thought I would see this day,'' said Estela Ortiz, whose father
             was killed by Pinochet's death squads in 1976 and whose husband was beheaded
             by a police unit in 1985. ``You have to understand the Chilean process, all the
             impunity that is built into the constitution. I thought that he would die of old age,
             and that we'd never see him in prison.''

             Reminded that Pinochet may yet go free if a Spanish request to Britain for his
             extradition is denied, Ortiz said something has still been gained.

             ``At least we have the joy that he will never be able to travel out of the country
             again without worrying about arrest,'' she said. ``This country will become his jail.''
             It is the Soria case, though, that may help prove Pinochet's undoing.

             An exile from Spain's civil war, Carmelo Soria fled to Argentina in 1936, then to
             Chile in 1940, where he married a Chilean woman and settled down, eventually
             working for a U.N. agency on demographics.

             Soria was carefully monitored after the 1973 military coup that ousted Socialist
             President Salvador Allende. Soria's wife was a member of the Communist Party
             and he had helped several colleagues flee Chile.

             ``He knew they were following him,'' said Soria's daughter Carmen. ``The cars
             that tailed him all day were always parked outside.''

             Soria, 54 at the time, was intercepted five blocks from his home and taken to the
             house of Michael Townley, an American working for the international branch of
             the DINA, Pinochet's dreaded secret police. There, it is believed, he was tortured
             to death.

             Two days later, his car and body turned up in a canal near the Andes.

             Death called a suicide

             A disinformation campaign kicked in immediately. Newspapers influenced by the
             Pinochet regime reported his death as a suicide.

             ``The first press account said my father had died because he was drunk and had
             found out that my mother had a lover. The same day, another newspaper said it
             was he who had the lover, and that he hadn't wanted to confront the family, so he
             killed himself,'' she recalled. ``But the slander was so great and the coverup so
             sloppy that it turned into a big mistake.''

             Carmen Soria and her two siblings dug for evidence and succeeded in gathering
             key details. But courts would not prosecute.

             Judges threw the case out in 1978. In 1996, another court ruled that the secret
             police were protected by the country's amnesty and could not be tried for Soria's

             Weariness and rage bubble deeply within Carmen Soria, eased only by the
             satisfaction she feels over Pinochet's current dilemma.

             ``These crimes don't have borders, and there is no immunity that has any value in
             these matters,'' she said.

             Her anger is also aimed at the centrist Christian Democratic Party and its allies in
             the Unity coalition that has governed since 1990. Chile's ruling politicians have
             failed to rein in the military, she said.

             ``I feel that President Frei's Unity coalition feels terrified by the military,'' she said.

             Changes in Chile cited

             Her contempt for Chile's democratic process is not shared by Estela Ortiz, who
             awoke often at night during the dictatorship fearful that her own life might be taken,
             like those of her father and her husband, Jose Manuel Parada.

             Ortiz, a member of the Communist Party until the return of democracy in 1990,
             said much has changed in Chile in the past eight years.

             ``These days, at least we feel safe in our houses. These days, you can speak
             without being afraid of getting arrested for expressing a dissident opinion. This is
             truly valuable,'' she said.

             But the judiciary remains weak, and it is good that Pinochet may be tried abroad,
             she added.

             ``Here in Chile, unfortunately, the conditions don't exist for such a trial.''