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    Chile's President Michelle Bachelet (L) shakes hands with Maria Eugenia Ilabaca, mother of Laurence Maxwell, who was arrested during a protest in Mexico City, at the Presidential Palace in Santiago, November 20, 2014. (Photo: Reuters) | Photo: Reuters

A Chilean coalition member said forced disappearances were a memory from Chile’s dark past under Pinochet at a meeting with human rights observers in Mexico.

On Friday, the Court of Appeals in Santiago, Chile sentenced eleven former agents of the country’s civil-military dictatorship for disappearing two Uruguayan citizens by force in 1973, according to official reports.  

The disappeared, Julio Cesar Fernandez, 24, and Nelsa Gadea Galan, 29, were arrested in Santiago after the military coup d’etat which installed General Augusto Pinochet in power on September 11, 1973. Survivors last saw the two missing Uruguayans at the prison camp Tejas Verdes on Chile’s central coast.

The Chilean tribunal sentenced the eleven former agents for the crime of forced disappearance. The sentencing was confirmed unanimously in the twelfth chamber of the court.

One of the eleven sentenced,  former general Manuel Contreras, was previously head of the infamous National Intelligence Directorate (DINA). He was sentenced to 426 years in prison.

Meanwhile, Chilean government coalition members are in Mexico observing the situation of one national, Laurence Maxwell, who was arrested in Mexico City on November 20 for taking part in a solidarity demonstration for 43 rural college students that were kidnapped in the state of Guerrero on September 26. Maxwell is now in custody at the High Security Prison in  Veracruz.

After a meeting at the San Lazaros government headquarters in Mexico on Friday with human rights commissioners, Daniel Núñez Arancibia, one of the Chilean delegates and member of the Communist Party, expressed his concern for Maxwell’s situation and for the overall political climate in Mexico.  

Nuñez said the disappearances in Mexico remind him of the Pinochet dictatorship in his own country forty years ago, but which “continue to be an open wound.”

During the civil-military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990), according to official statistics, some 3,200 people died at the hands of government agents, and 1,192 continue to be missing.

Also on Friday, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet met with Maxwell’s mother, Maria Eugenia Ilabaca, at the Presidential Palace La Moneda in Santiago.

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