National Security Archive and Archivos Chile will seek documents on U.S. Citizen Disappeared during Pinochet Era Using Chilean Access to Information Law
Twenty five years after the disappearance of Boris Weisfeiler in Chile, his family announced today that they would seek the declassification of Chilean government records on his fate, and how the military regime and subsequent civilian governments handled his case. "After 25 years, it is past time for all relevant records to be made public," said his sister, Olga Weisfeiler, who has pursued a judicial investigation of her brother's disappearance through the Chilean courts for over a decade.
Boris Weisfeiler is the only U.S. citizen among more than 1100 disappeared Chileans from the Pinochet era. He disappeared on January 5, 1985, during a hiking trip in the region of Parral near the German enclave known as Colonia Dignidad. While the Pinochet regime insisted he had drowned trying to cross the Nuble River, declassified U.S. documents implicated local Carabinero forces and an Army patrol in kidnapping, torturing and disappearing him. According to the secret documents, one informant from the Chilean secret police, who called himself "Daniel," told U.S. Embassy officials in 1987 that Weisfeiler had been taken to Colonia Dignidad where he was designated a "Jewish spy" and imprisoned.
"The U.S. has declassified more than 400 detailed documents on the Weisfeiler case, and now it is time for the Chilean government to declassify its files," said Peter Kornbluh who directs the Chile Documentation Project at the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research organization in Washington specializing in freedom of information. "The release of these records," Kornbluh said, "can advance the cause of truth and justice in a case that, after 25 long years, is still dismally lacking in both."
On behalf of the Weisfeiler family, the National Security Archive will collaborate with a new research organization in Santiago, Archivos Chile, to draft and file requests under the Ley de Acceso de Informacion y Transparencia. Archivos Chile is a research organization that uses Chile's new freedom of information and transparency law to obtain government documents and conduct investigations of government actions. It is a project of the nonprofit Center for Investigation and Information of Washington, DC. "Chile's Access to Information law has been in effect less than a year," said John Dinges, director of Archivos Chile. "This petition will be an important test of whether the government's promises of transparency will apply to documents of both past and present government actions, even when documents released might reveal embarrassing information."
The first petitions to the Chilean Defense and Foreign Ministries are expected to be filed today.
For more information, visit the homepage of the Archive's Chile Documentation Project: www.nsarchive.org/chile