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Latino Daily News

Wednesday May 23, 2012

Chilean Voting Rolls Still Contain 1,000 Who “Disappeared” During The Pinochet Era

Chilean Voting Rolls Still Contain 1,000 Who “Disappeared” During The Pinochet Era

Photo: Child holds a poster of a "disappeared" person

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

One thousand people who disappeared in custody during the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship remain on Chile’s voting rolls, the head of the electoral authority said Tuesday.

Juan Ignacio Garcia disclosed the figure in an exchange with Lorena Pizarro, leader of the AFDD group representing families of the “disappeared detainees,” who called the phenomenon a manifestation of the state’s failure to “face the situation of forced disappearance.”

The fact came to light following the implementation in January of a system whereby all Chilean citizens are automatically registered to vote on reaching adulthood.

Authorities hope that automatic registration and an end to obligatory voting will attract more young people to the polls, as the age profile of the electorate has become markedly older than that of the general population.

Chile is holding nationwide municipal elections later this year and the next presidential ballot is set for 2013.

The inclusion of the Pinochet-era disappeared on the voting rolls is not a mistake, Garcia’s deputy, Elizabeth Cabrera, told reporters Tuesday.

The electoral service cannot remove their names “because there is neither a death certificate issued by doctors, nor a verdict of presumed death issued by some court,” she said.

Pinochet’s regime killed upwards of 3,000 people, tortured more than 25,000 and drove hundreds of thousands into exile.