Audio Transcript:

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World. The dramatic rescue of those 33 trapped miners in Chile captivated millions of TV viewers around the globe this week. For many, the official face of the rescue was that of Chile's president, Sebastian Pinera. He was on hand to greet and hug each miner as the men were pulled to safety one by one. Now Pinera is vowing that Chile will never again allow its miners to toil in unsafe and inhumane conditions, like the ones at the now-collapsed San Jose mine. It's worth noting that almost exactly 37 years ago, Chile's then-leader, General Augusto Pinochet, viewed the miners in the area very differently. He suspected them of leftist sympathies and sent a special group to Copiapo, the town next to the San Jose mine. That group killed sixteen men, some brutally. It was part of what has become known as �the caravan of death�. Mark Ensalaco is director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Dayton. Mark, give us the context here. What did General Pinochet have against the miners?

MARK ENSALACO: The miners all belonged to the Socialist or the Communist Party. They were organized in labor unions. They supported the ousted government of Salvador Allende. And Pinochet and generals like him who took a hard were determined to exterminate these people. They really wanted to decapitate the left, to be able to install an authoritarian military regime. And so General Pinochet, about a month after the coup, sent a special delegation with an official delegate to tour a series of cities where he suspected military officers were taking a soft line. And in the wake of this so-called caravan of death, more than 100 were killed, including the 16 in Copiapo.

WERMAN: And who exactly were the people who carried out the massacre?

ENSALACO: The man that Pinochet named as his official delegate was a man by the name of Brigadier General Sergio Arellano Stark, General Arellano. He'd been instrumental in organizing the coup, even more than Pinochet himself. He brought with him a number of officers, an adjutant to second in command and some others. All of whom later made their way, or three of them made their way, into the notorious secret police known as the DINA, who carried out murders in '74 to '77, including an assassination in Washington. And actually one of the members of the caravan of death delegation is hiding somewhere in the United States in the Department of Justice Witness Protection Program. He testified in the 1976 assassination of Orlando Letelier in the United States. But he was a member of the caravan of death and was widely regarded as a psychopath, someone who killed with great brutality in these series of massacres.

WERMAN: I mean General Stark must have had intelligence officers all over the country just fingering people who they thought may be ready to go against the new regime.

ENSALACO: There's a lot of unanswered questions about who they selected and why they selected them. But in all probability General Arellano arrived to each of these garrisons where massacres were committed throughout two weeks in October and he had names of people he was specifically looking for. They were well known as labor leaders or members of Socialist or Community parties and actually the modus operandi was the delegation would arrive aboard a helicopter, in case of Copiapo at 10 o'clock at night, General Arellano would immediately go to the commander's office, look at the files of the prisoners who were held there, select those he thought were most dangerous, click off their names, and then order his second in command to execute these people. In Copiapo the order was given to members of the garrison there. The colonel in charge was not happy about the order to execute. He gave the order to a captain who protested the order, but was told that he could face firing squad himself. Order was given to execute these men outside the garrison. They didn't want to affect morale. They were taken to a remote area, they were executed and their bodies were put back on a truck and as the truck was returning to Copiapo, General Arellano's second in command rendezvoused with the trucks, he climbed on board the truck, according to witnesses. Blood was flowing through the floorboards. He lifted up a tarp that covered the bodies and one by one lifted their heads by the scalp to verify that the dead bodies in fact belonged to the men they wanted executed. And then they drove to a hotel where General Arellano was lodged. He greeted them in a bathrobe and his second in command simply said your order's been completed, general. Later that morning, three more mining officials from a town called Salvador were killed, but very brutally, whereas the other ones were shot, these were slashed to death with military knives called Corvos, crescent-shaped knives. Those three bodies have yet to be discovered. So as bring up these miners and this wonderful rescue operation, it just bears remembering that three miners who were killed 37 years ago, their bodies have yet to be found.

WERMAN: As I listen to you recount this story, clearly the details are pretty well established. Has there been any official coming to terms or apology for the 1973 massacre in Copiapo?

ENSALACO: There's been no apology. Pinochet left the presidency in 1990. He retained his title of commander in chief and blocked any type of investigation. There was a truth commission which alluded to this so-called caravan of death, although they didn't use that name. Judge Juan Guzman conducted an incredible investigation. I've seen his files. He went to Copiapo and other places, put together the facts as best he could, and was able to indict General Arellano in 1999. He gained the impeachment of Pinochet in 2000. But it really wasn't �til 2005 that Arellano was official convicted of these related crimes, not the crimes in Copiapo, but other caravan of death crimes. But he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and his six-year prison sentence was lifted to allow him to undergo medical treatment for Alzheimer's, so there hasn't been punishment in a sense of criminal prosecution, but the world knows the truth now. For a long time in Chile and elsewhere in Latin American where these type of atrocities occurred, we've said never again. Nunca Jamas. It should never happen again. And that shouldn't detract from this wonderful rescue operation. It should really put it in the context that, well as I've said before, what a difference democracy makes. Under an authoritarian regime, miners were singled out for murder. Under a democracy, the government spared no expense to bring them out alive.

WERMAN: Mark Ensalaco, director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Dayton. He's the author of Chile under Pinochet: Recovering the Truth. Mark, very good to speak with you. Thanks so much.

ENSALACO: Thank you.

MARCO WERMAN: I'm Marco Werman. This is The World. The dramatic rescue of those 33 trapped miners in Chile captivated millions of TV viewers around the globe this week. For many, the official face of the rescue was that of Chile's president, Sebastian Pinera. He was on hand to greet and hug each miner as the men were pulled to safety one by one. Now Pinera is vowing that Chile will never again allow its miners to toil in unsafe and inhumane conditions, like the ones at the now-collapsed San Jose mine. It's worth noting that almost exactly 37 years ago, Chile's then-leader, General Augusto Pinochet, viewed the miners in the area very differently. He suspected them of leftist sympathies and sent a special group to Copiapo, the town next to the San Jose mine. That group killed sixteen men, some brutally. It was part of what has become known as �the caravan of death�. Mark Ensalaco is director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Dayton. Mark, give us the context here. What did General Pinochet have against the miners?

MARK ENSALACO: The miners all belonged to the Socialist or the Communist Party. They were organized in labor unions. They supported the ousted government of Salvador Allende. And Pinochet and generals like him who took a hard were determined to exterminate these people. They really wanted to decapitate the left, to be able to install an authoritarian military regime. And so General Pinochet, about a month after the coup, sent a special delegation with an official delegate to tour a series of cities where he suspected military officers were taking a soft line. And in the wake of this so-called caravan of death, more than 100 were killed, including the 16 in Copiapo.

WERMAN: And who exactly were the people who carried out the massacre?

ENSALACO: The man that Pinochet named as his official delegate was a man by the name of Brigadier General Sergio Arellano Stark, General Arellano. He'd been instrumental in organizing the coup, even more than Pinochet himself. He brought with him a number of officers, an adjutant to second in command and some others. All of whom later made their way, or three of them made their way, into the notorious secret police known as the DINA, who carried out murders in '74 to '77, including an assassination in Washington. And actually one of the members of the caravan of death delegation is hiding somewhere in the United States in the Department of Justice Witness Protection Program. He testified in the 1976 assassination of Orlando Letelier in the United States. But he was a member of the caravan of death and was widely regarded as a psychopath, someone who killed with great brutality in these series of massacres.

WERMAN: I mean General Stark must have had intelligence officers all over the country just fingering people who they thought may be ready to go against the new regime.

ENSALACO: There's a lot of unanswered questions about who they selected and why they selected them. But in all probability General Arellano arrived to each of these garrisons where massacres were committed throughout two weeks in October and he had names of people he was specifically looking for. They were well known as labor leaders or members of Socialist or Community parties and actually the modus operandi was the delegation would arrive aboard a helicopter, in case of Copiapo at 10 o'clock at night, General Arellano would immediately go to the commander's office, look at the files of the prisoners who were held there, select those he thought were most dangerous, click off their names, and then order his second in command to execute these people. In Copiapo the order was given to members of the garrison there. The colonel in charge was not happy about the order to execute. He gave the order to a captain who protested the order, but was told that he could face firing squad himself. Order was given to execute these men outside the garrison. They didn't want to affect morale. They were taken to a remote area, they were executed and their bodies were put back on a truck and as the truck was returning to Copiapo, General Arellano's second in command rendezvoused with the trucks, he climbed on board the truck, according to witnesses. Blood was flowing through the floorboards. He lifted up a tarp that covered the bodies and one by one lifted their heads by the scalp to verify that the dead bodies in fact belonged to the men they wanted executed. And then they drove to a hotel where General Arellano was lodged. He greeted them in a bathrobe and his second in command simply said your order's been completed, general. Later that morning, three more mining officials from a town called Salvador were killed, but very brutally, whereas the other ones were shot, these were slashed to death with military knives called Corvos, crescent-shaped knives. Those three bodies have yet to be discovered. So as bring up these miners and this wonderful rescue operation, it just bears remembering that three miners who were killed 37 years ago, their bodies have yet to be found.

WERMAN: As I listen to you recount this story, clearly the details are pretty well established. Has there been any official coming to terms or apology for the 1973 massacre in Copiapo?

ENSALACO: There's been no apology. Pinochet left the presidency in 1990. He retained his title of commander in chief and blocked any type of investigation. There was a truth commission which alluded to this so-called caravan of death, although they didn't use that name. Judge Juan Guzman conducted an incredible investigation. I've seen his files. He went to Copiapo and other places, put together the facts as best he could, and was able to indict General Arellano in 1999. He gained the impeachment of Pinochet in 2000. But it really wasn't �til 2005 that Arellano was official convicted of these related crimes, not the crimes in Copiapo, but other caravan of death crimes. But he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and his six-year prison sentence was lifted to allow him to undergo medical treatment for Alzheimer's, so there hasn't been punishment in a sense of criminal prosecution, but the world knows the truth now. For a long time in Chile and elsewhere in Latin American where these type of atrocities occurred, we've said never again. Nunca Jamas. It should never happen again. And that shouldn't detract from this wonderful rescue operation. It should really put it in the context that, well as I've said before, what a difference democracy makes. Under an authoritarian regime, miners were singled out for murder. Under a democracy, the government spared no expense to bring them out alive.

WERMAN: Mark Ensalaco, director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Dayton. He's the author of Chile under Pinochet: Recovering the Truth. Mark, very good to speak with you. Thanks so much.

ENSALACO: Thank you.