Chilean filmmakers repressed
Junta attacks increase

by Emergency Committee to Defend
Latin American Filmmakers

from Jump Cut, no. 8, 1975, p. 25
copyright Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media, 1975, 2004

[JUMP CUT 6 reported the repression of Chilean film workers. Below is a more recent report. We urge you to support this effort.—eds.]

Among the most recent victims of Chile’s military junta are Carmen Bueno, a 25 year-old film actress, and Jorge Muller, a 27 year-old cameraman. Carmen studied film and drama at the School of Arts of the Catholic University of Santiago. She has worked as a production assistant on numerous films, including Patricio Guzman’s feature documentary, THE FIRST YEAR, and has also produced children’s programs for television. Carmen is most noted, however, for her work as a film actress, including leading roles in feature films such as A LA SOMBRA DEL SOL and Miguel Littin’s award-winning film, THE PROMISED LAND, now in distribution throughout the world.

Jorge Muller studied at the Film School of the University of Chile at Vine del Mar and has worked as an assistant cameraman and director of photography on many award-winning Chilean and international productions, including documentaries such as Patricio Guzman’s THE FIRST YEAR, Saul Landau’s BRAZIL: A REPORT ON TORTURE, as well as feature films such as Raul Ruiz’s THE PENAL COLONY, Saul Landau’s QUE HACER? and Miguel Littin’s THE PROMISED LAND.

On November 29, 1974, while working on a documentary for the Peace Committee of the Chilean Churches, Carmen and Jorge were forced into a car and abducted by agents of the infamous Dirección Nacional de Inteligencia (DINA), an agency modeled after the Nazi Gestapo. Little been available as to either their whereabouts or their physical condition and their families and friends have been unable to contact them.

A few days after Carmen’s arrest, agents from DINA arrived at her parent’s home and at her sister’s place of work in an attempt to obtain information about Carmen from them. Subsequently, two former prisoners recently released from the Tres Alamos concentration camp near Santiago said they had seen Carmen there. One reported having seen Carmen, in very bad physical condition, being carried by two men. Another testified that both Jorge and Carmen had been subjected to beatings and torture with electric currents and said that, in addition,

“Carmen received special attention from the torturers of the SIFA (Servicio Inteligencia de la Fuerza Aerea) and DINA ... for several weeks straight she was taken on a daily basis to long torture sessions where she was brutally raped. They would bring her back with her legs half paralyzed, and we would hear her screaming in pain day and night.”

The latest news we have about Carmen is the inclusion of her name in a list of 119 Chileans reportedly killed in several countries outside Chile and said to be the victims of in-fighting among leftist groups. The list appeared in several different government-controlled newspapers along with articles giving the junta’s version of the deaths of these Chileans. The junta’s story, however, has been shown to be a complete fabrication (see, for instance, the front page article in The New York Times, August 3, 1975). And the list includes names of people whom the Chilean government itself had earlier admitted were being held in jail.

The list of 119, then, is part of a current campaign the junta is conducting through the Chilean press to perhaps explain away the deaths of those actually killed in its own concentration camps. Another possibility, though—a possibility which makes it imperative that we act immediately on Carmen’s behalf—is that the list includes the names of those prisoners whom the junta now feels it has an excuse to eliminate.

Jorge’s name did not appear on the list of 119 but it is exactly because of this status as an ‘unrecognized prisoner’ that immediate action on his case is also called for. Jorge’s name did appear in April ‘75 on an unofficial list of prisoners reportedly being held at the Tres Alamos camp. The following month, Jorge’s mother heard that she would be able to visit her son but on arriving at the camp was not allowed to do so. The junta has consistently denied his detention, and it is their refusal to officially recognize him as a prisoner that makes Jorge, like so many political prisoners before him, subject to sudden and complete “disappearance.”

It is such complete disregard for the most basic of human rights by the Chilean junta—including its recent denial of entry to members of the United Nations Human Rights Commission—which has outraged people throughout the world and led the governments of many countries, including the U.S., to strongly rebuke the junta and demand an improvement in human rights in Chile. International pressure is mounting and the junta is now on the defensive.

It is for all these reasons that we urgently request your assistance in the effort to save the lives effort to. save the lives of Carmen Bueno and Jorge Muller.

The minimal effort we are asking you to make can be of tremendous importance at this time. Please send letters or cables, requesting the immediate release of Carmen Bueno and Jorge Muller, as well as the cessation of the torture and imprisonment of all other political prisoners in Chile, to the following addresses:

1. Your Senators and Representative.

2. Kurt Waldheim, UN Secretary General, UN Building, New York, NY 10017.

3. Enrique Cid, Ministerio del Exterior, Oficina de los Derechos Humanos, Santiago, Chile.

4. Manuel Trucco, Embajada de Chile, 1736 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036.

It is important for us to learn the number of letters and telegrams actually being sent. We would also like to hear from all those who are interested in being informed of the continuing activities of the Committee and especially those who would like to support or contribute to the Committee’s work. Emergency Committee to Defend Latin American Filmmakers, 333 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10014.