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Oscar-nominated film exposes how the powerful in Chile still don’t pay for human rights abuses

Creator : Carole Concha Bell, PhD Candidate, Division of Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Research, King’s Faculty London

This text accommodates references to sexual assault and rape that some could discover distressing.

Chilean stop-motion animation movie Bestia, up for an Oscar within the shorts class, has uncovered wounds in a rustic nonetheless grappling with the demons of its previous. Bestia, directed by Hugo Corruvias, tells the chilling story of Ingrid Olderock a Chile-born German generally known as “The Canine Girl”. Olderok was an agent of the Nationwide Directorate of Nationwide Intelligence (DINA), which was created by Augusto Pinochet after overthrowing Salvador Allende in 1973.

Accounts by her victims alleged that she had educated her German Shephard Volodia to rape feminine left-wing dissidents in the course of the Pinochet regime. The movie is impressed by Journalist Nancy Guzman’s e book La Mujer de los Perros (The Canine Girl). Guzman interviewed the now-deceased torturer in 1996.

The movie exposes the depths of torture and corruption in Chile via the troubled thoughts and on a regular basis ideas of Olderok. After Pinochet fell, those that had dedicated the worst atrocities had been let off scot-free and allowed to reintegrate into society.

The identical occurred once more in 2019 after Chileans rose in opposition to persevering with inequality and injustice. Whereas the dictatorship-era structure was abolished, politicians used it as soon as once more to not pay for his or her crimes. Bestia exposes how the highly effective in Chile then and now can keep away from punishment for such human rights abuses.

The Canine Girl

Ingrid Felicitas Olderock Bernhardt was raised within the German Colony of Peñaflor in central Chile the place her grandparents settled shortly after the second world warfare. She went to a German faculty and he or she and her siblings had been forbidden to talk Spanish or combine with Chileans. She advised Guzman:

I used to be a Nazi from childhood. Germany had by no means been stronger than below the Nazis.

In her 20s, Olderock turned a policewoman, rapidly ascending the chain of command because of her diligence and work ethic. She was Chile’s first feminine parachutist to leap 1,000 ft and a talented markswoman.

Shortly after the 1973 coup, she introduced a undertaking to her boss: to coach an anti-Marxist feminine commando. A yr later, she was accountable for 60 trainees on the College of Santo Domingo, equipping them to shoot, observe, detain and torture left-wing feminine dissidents.

In 1975, Olderock was requested by the top of the key police (DINA) to take part within the interrogation of prisoners. Volodia the German Shephard canine turned Olderock’s most terrifying instrument of torture.

Within the dank basement of an atypical home in Santiago nicknamed La Venda Attractive (attractive blindfold), she is alleged to have directed the hound to sexually abuse and maul detainees, most of whom had been killed after which disposed of. It wasn’t till 1981 when an try was made on her life by two members of the underground resistance, that Olderock’s title and heinous deeds turned recognized to the general public.

How was such a sinister character allowed to reside in anonymity till she died in 2001? Put merely, Pinochet’s navy pact of silence and a tradition of impunity that also thrives in Chile as we speak.

Pressing Reform

Neither the navy nor police drive has been reformed for the reason that begin of Chile’s weak democracy. This era of transition started when Pinochet misplaced the 1988 referendum after which he was compelled to concede energy to a civilian authorities.

This transition towards democracy got here with circumstances hooked up. Pinochet demanded the silence of the survivors of torture, and immunity from prosecution for those who dedicated human rights abuses in the course of the regime. This compelled victims to reside alongside their former abusers, like Olderock. To this point, the whereabouts of round 4,000 folks disappeared by the regime remains to be unknown.

Claymation dog and woman sit at a dining table in a kitchen.
Bestia follows former secret police agent Ingrid Felicitas Olderock who was recognized to make use of her canine to torture dissidents.
Hugo Covarrubias

With an unreformed navy whose silence and crimes are protected by the present structure, a brand new era of torture victims are having to reside in silence.

A Democracy Bathed in Blood

Trendy political developments in Chile have all been rooted in political agreements that assure immunity for the navy, exclude essential social actors and make sure the mannequin carried out by the regime stays untouched. In 1985, the nationwide settlement searching for a path towards democracy was signed by the Catholic Church, the regime and a small variety of opposition teams. Teams affected by the repression, left-wing politicians and nongovernmental organisations had been excluded.

In 1991, the “Rettig Report” into human rights violations was printed on the situation that retaliation violence from left-wing teams was included. Giant sections of print had been blacked out, defending the id of navy personnel concerned in human rights aberrations.

In 2004 torture victims had been invited to present their testimonies to the “Nationwide Fee of Political Jail and Torture”. They had been paid a paltry sum and the file closed for 50 years.

After the social uprisings over the price of dwelling in late 2019 dubbed “El Estallido” (social outbreak), Chile’s legal professional common’s Workplace launched 8,581 whole instances of alleged police abuses. This was in response to widespread navy repression in opposition to protesters that resulted in over 500 ocular traumas, 35 deaths and tens of hundreds of accusations of torture.

The 2019 “Acuerdo por la Paz” (peace settlement) was a well timed resolution for the president Sebastián Piñera and his cronies. In alternate for a brand new structure, he would get himself off the hook and create a mechanism to quell the rebellion. Consequently, most of the instances have been closed with out prosecution.

As soon as once more, the settlement was made by an elite group, mistrusted by most people and excluding essential social actors. It additionally side-stepped the various human rights violations, including one more layer of impunity in Chile’s imperfect democracy.

Through the dictatorship Chileans resisted impunity via track, murals and textile artwork. Within the digital age, a brand new era of filmmakers and content material producers proceed the wrestle in opposition to repression, cronyism and lingering injustices. On this context, Bestia serves as each testomony and homage to Chile’s forgotten victims.


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